(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The synoptic Gospels"

FRQM THE LIBR&RX OF 

TR^TY COLLEGE 



• I 



THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

LONDON • BOMBAY • CALCUTTA ' MADRAS 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK ' BOSTON • CHICAGO 
DALLAS • SAN FRANCISCO 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD. 

TORONTO 



THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS 

EDITED WITH 

AN INTRODUCTION AND A COMMENTARY 

BY 

C. G. MONTEFIORE 

HON. D.D. (MANCHESTER) 



IN TWO VOLUMES 
VOL. II 



Second Edition revised and partly rewritten 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

1927 



v 2 



COPYRIGHT 

.Firs* Edition 1909 
Secvnd Edition 1927 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 
BY R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, EDINBURGH 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 
VOL. II. 

COMMENTARY (WITH TRANSLATION) UPON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING 
TO MATTHEW (pp. i — 359). 

PAGE 

A. The Birth stories, i. I — ii. 23. 

(1) The genealogy of Jesus ...... I 

(2) The Virgin birth . . 4 

(3) The adoration of the Magi . 8 

(4) The flight into Egypt . . 10 

(5) The massacre of the Innocents . . 10 

(6) The journey to Galilee . . . . . .11 

B. The Baptism, the Temptation and the opening of the Ministry in 

Galilee, iii. i — iv. 25. 

(1) John the Baptist ....... 13 

(2) The Baptism of Jesus ...... 16 

(3) The Temptation . .18 

(4) The return to Galilee ... 24 

(5) The first four Apostles . -25 

(6) Preaching in Galilee ... 25 

C. The Sermon on the Mount, v. i — vii. 29. 

(1) The Beatitudes ... ... 29 

(2) The salt and the light ... 45 

(3) Jesus' attitude towards the Law . . . .46 

(4) The old Law and the new teaching : (A) Of anger . . 55 

(5) On reconcilement ....... 60 

(6) The old Law and the new teaching : (B) Of adultery . 63 

(7) Of temptations and stumbling-blocks . . . .64 

(8) The old Law and the new teaching : (C) Of divorce . . 65 

(9) „ „ » (D) Of oaths . . 67 
(10) „ „ ., (E) Of retaliation . . 69 
(n) „ „ „ (F) Love your enemies 76 
(12) Of almsgiving ....... 94 

v 



vi THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS 

PAGE 

(13) Of prayer . .98 

(14) The Lord's Prayer . 98 

(15) Of fasting . .105 

(16) Treasures on earth and in heaven . . . 106 

(17) The internal light . . .107 

(18) God and mammon ...... 108 

(19) Worldly anxieties and occupations .... 109 

(20) Concerning hasty judgments and condemnations of our 

neighbour ....... 115 

(21) Pearls before swine . . . . . 116 

(22) Of prayer . .118 

(23) The golden rule . . . . . . .119 

(24) The narrow gate ....... 120 

(25) The false prophets, and how to know them . . » 123 

(26) The good life the only true mark of the true disciple . 123 

(27) The house on the rock . . . . . .125 

(28) Impression produced by the teaching of Jesus . . 126 

D. The Ministry in Galilee and in the territory of Philip, viii. I — 
xviii. 35. 

(1) Healing of a leper ...... 128 

(2) The centurion at Capernaum . . . . .128 

(3) Peter's mother-in-law ...... 131 

(4) Conditions of discipleship ..... 131 

(5) Storm at sea ...... v 134 

(6) The Gadarene demoniacs . . . . . 135 

(7) Healing of a paralytic ...... 136 

(8) The call of Matthew : Jesus eats with sinners and tax- 

collectors . . . . . . .137 

(9) Fasting . 137 

(10) The daughter of Jairus and the woman with an issue . 138 

(u) Two blind men and a dumb man are healed . . .139 

(12) The sending of the disciples ..... 140 

(13) The discourse to the apostles ..... 144 

(14) John the Baptist's inquiries . . . . .156 

(15) The Baptist and the Son of man .... 158 

(16) The Galilsean cities are condemned .... 167 

(17) Jesus and his Mission (a) The Father and the Son . . 168 

(18) „ „ (6) The yoke of Jesus . . . 176 

(19) The Sabbath 188 

(20) Healing on the Sabbath . . . . . .189 

(21) Many healings ....... 190 

(22) Satan and Beelzebul ...... 191 

(23) A sign is asked and refused ..... 201 

(24) The relapse ....... 203 

(25) Jesus and his family ...... 204 



TABLE OF CONTENTS Vll 

PAGE 

(26) The Parable of the Sower 206 

(27) The Wheat and the Tares . . 209 

(28) The Mustard Seed and the Leaven . . . * 210 

(29) Interpretation of the parable of the Wheat and the Tares . 211 

(30) The Treasure and the Pearl . . " ; ' . . 213 

(31) The Parable of the Net ... . 214 

(32) The Householder and his Storehouse . . * . 214 

(33) The rejection in Nazareth . i .••• • .215 

(34) Herod, Jesus, and John the Baptist . • . . 2» 217 

(35) Feeding of the five thousand > • -1 . . . 218 

(36) Jesus walks on the Lake ; . . . .219 

(37) The arrival at Gennesaret ; . . . . 221 

(38) Washing of hands : inward and outward purity . . 222 

(39) The Canaanite woman . . . . . 227 

(40) Fresh healings . ' . . . . . . 229 

(41) Feeding of the four thousand ..... 230 

(42) A sign is refused ....... 231 

(43) Bread and leaven . . . . . .231 

(44) The declaration of Messiahship. The conditions of dis- 

cipleship . . . . . . 233 

(45) The Transfiguration ...... 240 

(46) An epileptic child ...... 241 

(47) Second prediction of the Passion and Resurrection . . 242 

(48) On Temple tribute ...... 243 

(49) The question of superiority. Of stumbling-blocks . . 246 

(50) The saving of the lost : the value of the small . . 248 

(51) Duties and rights of the Community .... 250 

(52) The duty of forgiveness and the Parable of the Ungrateful 

Servant ........ 254 

E. Jesus on the way to Jerusalem, xix. i — xx. 34. 

(1) Divorce and adultery ...... 257 

(2) Jesus and the children ...... 266 

(3) The danger of wealth ...... 266 

(4) The Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard . . 272 

(5) Third prediction of suffering and death . . . 276 

(6) The sons of Zebedee 276 

(7) Healing of two blind men ..... 277 

F. The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and his teaching in the City. 

xxi. i — xxv. 46. 

(1) The entry into Jerusalem ..... 279 

(2) The purification of the Temple ..... 280 

(3) The fig-tree 281 

(4) The authority of John ...... 282 

(5) The Parable of the Two Sons 282 

(6) The Parable of the Vineyard 285 



viii THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS 

PAGE 

(7) The Parable of the Messianic Banquet . . 287 

(8) Give unto Caesar . . . 7 " . . 290 

(9) The resurrection life . . „• . . 291 
(10) The greatest commandment ... .291 
(n) Whose Son is the Messiah ? . . . -.' . 292 

(12) Attack upon the Rabbis and the Pharisees . .. . 294 

(13) Lament over Jerusalem .... . 304 

(14) The End and its Signs ... .308 

(15) The faithful and the faithless servant . . 314 

(16) The Wise and Foolish Virgins . . . . . 316 

(17) The Parable of the Talents ..... 317 

(18) The Day of Judgment ...... 322 

G. The Passion and the Resurrection, xxvi. i — xxviii. 20. 

(1) The decision of the priests and scribes . . . 328 

(2) The anointing in Bethany ..... 328 

(3) Judas's treachery ...... 329 

(4) Preparation for the Passover . . ... . 329 

(5) Jesus predicts the betrayal ..... 330 

(6) The Last Supper . . . . . . .331 

(7) Jesus predicts Peter's denial ..... 332 

(8) Gethsemane ....... 333 

(9) The arrest ........ 333 

(10) The trial before the Sanhedrin ..... 335 

(n) The denial of Peter ...... 339 

(12) Jesus is brought before Pilate . . . . . 341 

(13) The death of Judas . . . . . .341 

(14) Jesus before Pilate ...... 343 

(15) Jesus, Pilate, and Barabbas . . . . 344 

(16) Jesus is mocked by the soldiers .... 346 

(17) The Crucifixion . . . . . . -347 

(18) The death of Jesus ...... 348 

(19) The women who saw ...... 350 

(20) The burial of Jesus . . . . . 350 

(21) Roman soldiers watch the grave . . . . 351 

(22) The empty grave ....... 353 

(23) The guile of the Jewish authorities .... 356 

(24) The appearance of the risen Messiah in Galilee . . 357 

COMMENTARY (WITH TRANSLATION) UPON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING 
TO LUKE (pp. 360 — 646). 

A. The Prologue, i. i — 4 ....... 360 

B. The Birth and Infancy Stories, i. 5 — ii. 52. 

(1) The announcement of the birth of John the Baptist . 363 

(2) Prediction of the birth of Jesus .... 366 



TABLE OF CONTENTS IX 

PAGE 

(3) The visit of Mary to Elizabeth . . . >>. 369 

(4) Birth of John the Baptist . 372 

(5) The birth of Jesus ».< ni£\ -375 

(6) Circumcision and redemption of Jesus . .; '.-.> •*..-• . '379 

(7) Simeon . . . . >, . • .'/ • 380 

(8) Anna .... ., . 381 

(9) A story of the boyhood of Jesus . ,° . . 382 

C. The Baptism and the Temptation, iii. I — iv. 13. 

(1) John the Baptist . . .- .' . . £~ 385 

(2) The baptism of Jesus . . . . . . 388 

(3) The genealogy of Jesus . . . . 390 

(4) The Temptation . . ... . . 392 

D. The Galilaean Ministry, iv. 14 — ix. 50. 

(1) Jesus in Nazareth ...... 393 

(2) The unclean spirit in the synagogue at Capernaum . . 399 

(3) Peter's mother-in-law ...... 400 

(4) Many healings : Jesus leaves the city .... 401 

(5) The call of Peter 402 

(6) Healing of a leper ...... 404 

(7) Healing of a paralysed man i 405 

(8) CallofLevi 406 

(9) Fasting ........ 406 

(10) Two Sabbath stories ...... 408 

(n) Election of the twelve Apostles : many healings . . 409 

(12) The Sermon on the Level Place . . . .411 

(13) „ The Beatitudes and the Woes . . 411 

(14) „ Love of enemies .... 414 

(15) „ Against judging and condemning one's 

neighbour ..... 419 

(16) „ The criterion of virtue . . . 421 

(17) „ Hearing and doing . . . .421 

(18) The centurion and his servant . . . . . 423 

(19) The young man of Nain ...... 424 

(20) John the Baptist and his inquiries .... 426 

(21) Love and forgiveness ...... 428 

(22) Jesus and his wanderings ..... 438 

(23) The Parable of the Sower 439 

(24) The hidden and the revealed ..... 440 

(25) Jesus and his family ...... 441 

(26) The storm on the lake ...... 441 

(27) The Gerasene swine ...... 442 

(28) The daughter of Jairus and the woman with f an issue . 443 

(29) The dispatch of the Apostles ..... 445 

(30) Jesus and Herod Antipas ..... 445 

(31) The feeding of the five thousand .... 446 



X THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS 

PAGE 

(32) Jesus the Messiah : the conditions of discipleship . . 447 

(33) The Transfiguration ...... 450 

(34) The epileptic child . . 451 

(35) Second prediction of suffering . . . 451 

(36) Who is the greatest ? . . . '.-*'*' . 452 

E. " The great Insertion " : (Jesus journeys through Samaria towards 
Jerusalem), ix. 51 — xviii. 14. 

(1) The journey to Jerusalem : the Samaritan village . . 453 

(2) Discipleship and its conditions ..... 457 

(3) The seventy disciples . . . . . . 459 

(4) The return of the disciples . . *V », . 461 

(5) The Father and the Son . . . . . 462 

(6) The happy eye-witnesses . . . •*•'-• . 463 

(7) The acquisition of eternal life and the Parable of the Good 

Samaritan ....... 463 

(8) Martha and Mary . » . . 468 

(9) On prayer . ..... 471 

(10) Jesus and Beelzebul . . . . . . 474 

(n) Jesus and his mother . . . . . . 475 

(12) The sign of Jonah ...... 476 

(13) Similes about light . . . . * :. 477 

(14) Against the Pharisees .... . ". 477 

(15) The disciples are to proclaim the Christ openly and fearlessly 485 

(16) Against covetousness. The Parable of the Rich Fool u, 488 

(17) Against anxious care for worldly matters . . . i. 489 

(18) Treasures in heaven . . . . . . 491 

(19) Watch : the Lord is coming ! . . . . . 492 

(20) The wise and foolish steward ..... 493 

(21) Signs of the End ....... 494 

(22) Use the short time that awaits you and repent . . 497 

(23) The slaughtered Galilaeans and the tower of Siloam. The 

Parable of the Barren Fig-Tree .... 499 

(24) The woman healed on the Sabbath . . . .. 500 

(25) Parables of Mustard and Leaven .... 502 

(26) The narrow gate ....... 502 

(27) Departure from Galilee ...... 504 

(28) Lament over Jerusalem ...... 507 

(29) Healing the man with dropsy ..... 508 

(30) Banquet rules ....... 509 

(31) The Messianic banquet . . . . . . 511 

(32) True discipleship and its conditions : its cost should be 

counted beforehand . . . . . .512 

(33) God's love of the repentant sinner : the Parables of the Lost 

Sheep and the Lost Coin . . . . .519 

(34) The Prodigal Son . . . . . .522 



TABLE OF CONTENTS XI 

PAGE 

(35) The Parable of the Unjust Steward .... 527 

(36) The right use of money is the test of a man's fitness for the 

kingdom . . , . . . •-..', ". . 531 

(37) Pharisees and the Law . . . . J , < 532 

(38) The story of the Rich and the Poor Man . i . 536 

(39) On stumbling-blocks . . » . -. . 541 

(40) On forgiveness . . . , . . . 541 

(41) On faith . . . . , . .. . . . 542 

(42) The slave and his reward * . . . 7 542 

(43) The story of the ten lepers . . . . . 544 

(44) The when and where of the Parousia .... 545 

(45) The Parable of the Unjust Judge .... 552 

(46) The tax-collector and the Pharisee .... 555 

F. Jesus approaches Jerusalem, xviii. 15 — xix. 27. 

(1) Jesus and the children ...... 558 

(2) The danger of riches ...... 559 

(3) Renewed prediction of suffering and death and resurrection 560 

(4) Healing of a blind man ...... 560 

(5) Zacchseus the tax-collector ..... 562 

(6) The Parable of the Talents 563 

G. The Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and his Teaching in the City. 

xix. 28— xxi. 38. 

(1) The entry into Jerusalem ..... 566 

(2) Prediction of the fall of Jerusalem .... 568 

(3) The cleansing of the Temple ..... 570 

(4) The authority of Jesus and of John . . . -571 

(5) The Parable of the Vineyard 571 

(6) Give unto Caesar ....... 573 

(7) The life of the resurrection ..... 573 

(8) Is the Messiah David's Son ? . . . . . 575 

(9) An attack on the Scribes ..... 575 

(10) The widow's mite ...... 576 

(n) The Parousia, the End and its Signs .... 576 

H. The Passion and the Resurrection, xxii. i — xxiv. 53. 

(1) The decision of the authorities ..... 583 

(2) The betrayal ....... 583 

(3) The preparation for the Passover meal . . . 584 

(4) The Last Supper ....... 584 

(5) Prediction of the betrayal ..... 593 

(6) Who is the greatest ?...... 594 

(7) The prediction of the denial of Peter .... 599 

(8) Purse and sword ....... 601 

(9) Gethsemane ....... 608 

(10) The arrest 609 



xii THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS 






PAQB 

(n) Jesus is brought to the house of the High Priest . .611 

(12) Peter's denial i x . . . . 612 

(13) The ill-treatment of Jesus by the guard . . .612 

(14) The trial before the Sanhedrin ..... 613 

(15) Jesus before Pilate . .' .' . . . 617 

(16) Pilate and Herod . . ... . .618 

(17) Jesus and Barabbas ...... 621 

(18) Jesus and the women of Jerusalem . : j . .623 

(19) The crucifixion . . . . . . .624 

(20) The death of Jesus . . . . . . 627 

(21) The burial of Jesus . . . . I . 630 

(22) The empty grave . . . \ . . . 632 

(23) The appearance at Emmaus . . . . -634 

(24) The appearance at Jerusalem . . . . .641 

THE 'AM HA-'AREC by Dr. Israel Abrahams . . . -647 

INDEX . . . . . . . . . .671 



MATTHEW 



CHAPTER I 

1-17. THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS 
(Matthew only) 

1 Book of the origin of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of 

2 Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac ; and Isaac begat Jacob ; and 

3 Jacob begat Judah and his brothers ; and Judah begat Phares 
and Zara of Thamar ; and Phares begat Esrom ; and Esrom begat 

4 Aram ; and Aram begat Aminadab ; and Aminadab begat Naasson ; 

5 and Naasson begat Salmon ; and Salmon begat Boaz of Rachab ; 

6 and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth ; and Obed begat Jesse ; and Jesse 
begat David the king ; and David begat Solomon of the wife of 

7 Uriah ; and Solomon begat Rehoboam ; and Rehoboam begat 

8 Abia ; and Abia begat Asa ; and Asa begat Jehosaphat ; and 

9 Jehosaphat begat Joram ; and Joram begat Oziah ; and Oziah 
begat Jotham ; and Jotham begat Achaz ; and Achaz begat Heze- 

10 kiah ; and Hezekiah begat Manasseh ; and Manasseh begat Amon ; 

11 and Amon begat Josiah ; and Josiah begat Jechoniah and his 

12 brothers, about the time of the Babylonian captivity ; and after 
the captivity of Babylon, Jechoniah begat Salathiel ; and Salathiel 

13 begat Zorobabel ; and Zorobabel begat Abiud ; and Abiud begat 
J 4 Eliakim ; and Eliakim begat Azor ; and Azor begat Sadoc ; and 

15 Sadoc begat Achim ; and Achim begat Eliud ; and Eliud begat 
Eleazar ; and Eleazar begat Matthan ; and Matthan begat Jacob ; 

1 6 and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born 
Jesus, who is called the Christ. 

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen 
generations ; and from David until the Babylonian captivity are 

VOL. II I B 



2 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [I. 1-17 

fourteen generations ; and from the Babylonian captivity unto 
Christ are fourteen generations. 

I do not propose to make any serious changes in the very brief 
notes of my first edition to the first three chapters of Matthew. 
The subject-matter of those chapters has no special interest for 
Jewish readers, nor would anything that I could say about them 
be of any interest to anybody. In my first edition, chapters 
i.-iii. occupied 15 pages ; chapters v.-vii. (the Sermon on the Mount) 
occupied 73 pages, and in the present edition a similar proportion 
will be observed. As in the first edition so now I will begin my 
notes by a v useful quotation from Loisy : 

* Both in his subject-matter, as in the order of his material, the 
redactor of the first Gospel depends upon the second. But before 
the story of the ministry of Christ, he has placed a preamble, con- 
taining a narrative of the conception, the birth and the infancy 
of Jesus (Chapters i., ii.). After the preliminaries of the Gospel 
preaching (iii.-iv. 22), he lets us see the main object of his book, — 
namely, an exposition of what Jesus taught and did (iv. 23). The 
teaching indeed takes precedence of the doings ; the opening of 
each main section of the work is marked by a considerable oration ; 
a collection of sayings precedes a series of doings. Thus the Sermon 
on the Mount (iv. 24-vii.) precedes any detailed account of the 
miracles, and is followed by a series of ten marvels, which the 
redactor has brought together by taking from Mark a certain 
number of facts told before the death of John the Baptist, and 
changing their order (viii.-ix. 34) ; the speech to the apostles 
(ix. 35~x.) paves the way for a series of lessons combined with 
certain pieces of Mark which had not found a place in the preceding 
section (xi., xii) ; then comes the discourse of the parables (xiii. 
1-52), which is followed by other narratives from Mark (xiii. 53-xvii. 
23). A speech of smaller length (xviii.), but important to the 
Evangelist, because it has to do with the order and the peace of the 
Christian congregations, precedes the departure for Judsea (xix., xx.), 
and the incidents of the Jerusalem ministry (xxi., xxii.). The 
oration against the Pharisees (xxiii.), and the apocalypse (xxiv., 
xxv.), concludes the preaching of Jesus, and introduces the narrative 
of the Passion and the resurrection (xxvi.-xxviii.). 

* It is clear that the two first chapters are an added section put 
before the preaching of John the Baptist. In these very chapters, 
however, the opening genealogy (i. 1-17) detaches itself from the 
following narrative : it had at first a separate existence, and was 
drawn up without relation to the virgin birth ; a gloss at the close 
(i. 16) adapts it to the narrative, but probably at one time it im- 
mediately preceded the story of the Baptist (iii. i connects better 






I. 1-17] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 3 

with i. 17 than with the immediately preceding narrative). The 
stories of the conception, the birth, the Magi, the flight into Egypt, 
and the return, are all from the same hand, which seems to be that 
of the Evangelist himself. Their object is to show the accomplish- 
ment of prophecies, and they are arranged with an eye to the oracles 
which they are supposed to have fulfilled ' (E. S. i. pp. 120, 121). 

Thus the genealogy with which the Gospel opens is obviously 
only adopted and adapted by the Evangelist. For, if Jesus was 
not the son of Joseph, the genealogy is worthless and pointless. 
The genealogy was drawn up in a quarter and at a time in which 
the belief that Jesus was Joseph's son still existed. As the genea- 
logy was known, the Evangelist thought it well to adopt and in- 
clude it, though with a necessary modification at its close. For its 
whole point is to show that Jesus, on the father's side, was de- 
scended from David. The i6th verse must therefore have run 
originally : ' And Joseph begat Jesus.' For if he did not, the 
whole genealogy would be valueless. There is also some textual 
evidence. For instance, the Sinaitic Syriac reads : * Joseph, to 
whom the Virgin Mary was betrothed, begat Jesus Christ ' (see 
Carpenter, First Three Gospels, p. 106). Merx shows that even 
the S.S. is interpolated. Originally the text ran, * And Joseph 
begat Jesus.' Then after verse 17 there followed originally (in all 
probability) iii. I (Die vier kanonischen Evangelien, n. I, pp. viii. 
and 15). Those who are curious to see how orthodox Christian 
theologians try to avoid the seemingly obvious conclusion drawn 
from these facts can read Mr. Allen's, Prof. M'Neile's, and Prof. 
Box's commentaries. They can there see it argued that fyewrjae 
throughout the genealogy denotes legal, not physical, descent. 
Streeter, however, essays to show that the S.S. has ' small claim 
to be regarded as the true text ' (pp. 87, 267. But cp. Meyer, I. 
p. 62, n. 2). 

Jesus himself apparently never laid claim to Davidic descent. 
In fact Mark xii. 38 would seem to show that he was conscious 
that he could make no such claim. The humble family at Nazareth 
was probably totally ignorant of its ancestors. The genealogies of 
Luke and Matthew — discordant, the one with the other — are due 
to the obvious necessity for proving to the Jews the Davidic descent 
of the Messiah. They were composed after Jesus's death, but 
before the doctrine of the virgin birth had become widely known 
and accepted. The partiality for equal numbers, and for the 
sacred number seven, is shown in verse 17. 

As a matter of fact, even including Joseph (or Mary) and Jesus, 
there are only fourteen generations in the third series, if Jechoniah 
( = Jehoiachin) is counted again as the first of the third series as 
well as the last of the second. 



4 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [I. 18-25 

There are errors in the second series : four kings are omitted, 
i.e. Ahaziah (son of Joram), Joash, Amaziah, and Jehoiakim. 

In the first series, Rahab is oddly made the mother of Boaz. 
According to the Old Testament records and genealogies, there 
must have been 300 years between them. Holtzmann points out 
that Kahab attained in the New Testament to a certain importance 
(cp. Hebrews xi. 31 ; James ii. 25). The Kabbis also regard her as 
a famous proselyte. The genealogist liked to bring in famous 
women (Tamar, Kahab, Kuth, Bathsheba) as part of the Messiah's 
ancestry. J. Weiss points out the prominence given to women 
who in the Old Testament records have some sort of stigma attached 
to them — Tamar, Kahab, Bathsheba. Ruth was a Moabitess. 
The occasion for specially naming these women must have been, 
as J. Weiss thinks, that the Jews cast some reproaches against 
Mary. * If the Jews, in spite of those stumbling-blocks, do not 
cease to honour the sacred history of their nation, they have no 
reason for bringing a reproach against the new religion on the 
ground of a suspicion which the Evangelist is about to prove un- 
founded.' 

i. * Book of the origin, or genealogy,' like Genesis v. i. It is 
a heading to the genealogy, not to the whole Gospel. 

' Jesus Christ,' cp. Mark i. i. The full form was * the Messiah 
Jesus,' then came ' Messiah Jesus,' and by an inversion, Messiah 
becoming a sort of surname, ' Jesus Messiah ' — Jesus Christ. 



18-25. THE VIRGIN BIRTH 
(Matthew only) 

1 8 Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened thus. After his mother 
Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, but before they came together, 
it was found that she was with child of the Holy Spirit. Then 

19 Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to 

20 expose her to shame, determined to divorce her secretly. But 
while he thought over these things, behold, an angel of the Lord 
appeared unto him in a dream, saying, ' Joseph, son of David, fear 
not to take unto thee Mary thy wife : for that which has been 

21 begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth 
a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus ; for he shall save his 
people from their sins.' 

Now all this took place that that might be fulfilled which was 
23 spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ' Behold, the 



I. 18-25] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 5 

virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they 
shall call his name Emmanuel,' which, being translated, is, God is 
with us. 

24 And when Joseph arose from his sleep, he did as the angel of 

25 the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife. And he 
knew her not till she brought forth a son : and he called his name 
Jesus. 

Matthew adopted and edited the genealogy, but this next 
paragraph is probably his own. 

18. The S.S. reads ' of the Messiah ' only, without Jesus. 

* Betrothed.' They had not yet lived together in one house 
as man and wife, though they were legally married according to 
Jewish law. Mary does not appear to know the origin and cause 
of her pregnant condition. In Luke it is all explained to her. 
In Matthew, she receives no celestial message ; the destined name 
of her son is not previously told to her, but to Joseph, nor is it she 
who names him after his birth ; she is, in fact, given a less exalted 
place than in Luke, and Joseph, whose rdle is secondary in Luke, 
takes the more important place in Matthew. 

19. Si'/ccuo? wv. f A righteous man ' : used, some think, in a 
special, legal sense. Being ' righteous ' he was obliged to divorce 
her, but he did not wish to put her to open shame. Hence he 
determines on a secret separation. 

3cty/4cm'c7cu. ' To expose her to shame.' In actual fact he 
could not, by mutual arrangement and privately, have legally dis- 
solved the marriage ; but in a legendary narrative this difficulty 
does not matter. 

20. ' An angel in a dream.' Warnings by dreams only occur 
here, and ii. 12, 13, 19, 22, xxvii. 19, in the New Testament. 

21. The name of Jesus is historic ; an explanation of it was 
easy for his disciples. The name lent itself to deeper meanings. 
It fitted in with the interpretation which was given of his life. 
Its literal signification is : ' Yahweh is salvation.' 

' From their sins.' Jesus urged repentance, in order that the 
Messianic judgment might not prevent repentant sinners from 
entering the Kingdom. But here the words sound somewhat more 
technical, even as a more theological kind of salvation, depending 
upon a certain faith in Jesus's person, is suggested by xxvi. 28. 



6 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [I. 18-25 

22. The first example of Matthew's favourite way of introduc- 
ing a passage from the Old Testament. The life of Jesus becomes 
a prearranged fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy. There are 
fourteen instances of the phrase * that it might be fulfilled ' in 
this Gospel. 

23. The first example is a very unfortunate one, so far as the 
meaning of the original Hebrew is concerned. But Matthew 
gladly follows the Septuagint, which had erroneously translated 
the Hebrew almah (young woman) by ' virgin.' For as Matthew 
accepted the later tradition that Jesus was born of a virgin, this, 
passage in the Septuagint was an excellent ' proof ' for him, as 

4 proofs ' went in those days among both Jews and Christians. 

It is, however, a good indication of the careful and honest way 
in which Matthew used his sources that he includes in his Gospel 
phrases and even stories which show a complete ignorance of any 
supernatural origin of Jesus on the part of his mother, and of his 
family, and of people in general (cp. e.g. xii. 46-50, xiii. 55, 56). 
Many scholars think that the origin of the idea of the virgin birth 
must not be sought in the Septuagint's mistranslation of Isaiah's 
prophecy. It is not implied in the Septuagint that the virgin is 
still to be a virgin, so far as man is concerned, when she is with child. 
The roots, they think, lie much deeper. For the real origins those 
who care to pursue the subject can find much of value in a number 
of works, both English and foreign, which are easily accessible. 
Harnack, on the other hand, denies that mythological conceptions 
could have primarily suggested the idea of the Virgin Birth, though 
they may have stimulated it. He thinks that it is the Greek version 
of Isaiah vii. 14 which is really responsible for the whole story and 
idea. See his Beitrdge zur Einleitung in das neue Testament, iv. 
(1911), pp. 99-105. Worth reading is Meyer's section on the 
Geburtslegenden and the pagan parallels, i. pp. 52-60. 

The doctrine of the ' divinity ' of Jesus has passed through 
many stages. There are even in the New Testament many con- 
ceptions of his relation to God which are not consistent with each 
other. There is Mark's view that he became the Son of God at the 
baptism, and even then only received the Spirit ; there is the view 
indicated in Romans i. 4, that Jesus became the Son of God by the 
investiture of the Spirit at his resurrection ; or, again, there is the 
more prevailing Pauline view that Jesus was a pre-existent divine 
being. And it has been pointed out (e.g. by J. Weiss) that the 
theory of the virgin birth precludes the view that Jesus, even before 
his birth, lived as a divine being in heaven, and then assumed human 
form and flesh. The idea which is found in Matthew (and in Luke) 
' excludes a pre-existence in Heaven ; in the conception of Jesus 



I. 18-25] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 7 

begins, through a special miraculous act of creation, a new person- 
ality which, at most, had existed previously in the thought of God.' 
(Cp. Bultmann, p. 175 ; Bousset, Kurios Christos, 2nd ed., pp. 
268-274 ; Clemen, p. 115 ; the last named shows that Matthew has 
adapted a story or a source which knew nothing of the virgin birth. 
Clemen emphatically rejects the hypothesis of Harnack.) 



CHAPTER II 

1-12. THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI 
(Matthew only) 

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days 
of Herod the king, behold, there came Magi from the east to 

2 Jerusalem, saying, ' Where is the new-born King of the Jews ? 
for we have seen his star in the east, and have come to do him 

3 reverence.' When King Herod heard this, he was agitated, and 

4 all Jerusalem with him. And he gathered all the chief priests 
and scribes of the people together, and he enquired of them where 

5 the Messiah was to be born. And they said unto him, ' In 

6 Bethlehem of Judaea : for thus it is written by the prophet, And 
thou Bethlehem, land of Juda, art by no means the least among 
the governors of Juda : for out of thee shall come a Governor, that 

7 shall feed my people Israel.' Then Herod secretly called the 
Magi, and ascertained from them the time when the star had 

8 appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, ' Go and 
make careful enquiries about the child ; and when ye have found 
him, bring me word again, that I too may come and do him 

9 reverence.' When they had heard the king, they departed ; and, 
lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went before them, 

10 till it came and stood still above where the child was. When 
they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 

n And when they came into the house, they saw the child with 
Mary his mother, and they fell down, and did him reverence : and 
they opened their treasures, and they offered unto him gifts ; gold 

12 and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned by God in a 
dream not to return to Herod, they departed into their own 
country by another way. 

For the two main stories in chapter ii., which are not necessarily 
connected originally with each other, the student may conveniently 

8 



II. 1-12] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 9 

consult the brief remarks in Bultmann, p. 175. In their present 
literary form they are the work of the Evangelist. 

1. 'Magi.' Astrologers are meant. Against the older tradition, 
Jesus is here made out to be, not a Galilaean born in Nazareth, but a 
Judaean born in Bethlehem. He is born at Bethlehem to suit the 
prophecy of Micah cited in verse 5. 

The Magi represent the heathen world ; they, too, are interested 
in the birth of the Messiah. As to the origin of the legend, see 
Carpenter, First Three Gospels, pp. 108, 109, 119, 120, and Usener, 
in the article ' Nativity Narratives ' in Encyclopaedia Biblica, col. 
3351. Those who would like to see a modern plea for the historical 
character of the story, and even of the slaughter of the Innocents 
(in a somewhat restricted form), should read Mr. Allen's com- 
mentary, pp. 11-22. 

2. The special star or comet, which appears at great men's 
births and death, is a common feature of legend. The Messiah's 
birth must also have its special star. Numbers xxiv. 17 will have 
helped to form the story. ' In the east,' or ' at its rising.' 

4. Herod's action is charmingly naive ! 

6. The Hebrew text is considerably altered. Perhaps Matthew 
used some loose, oral, Aramaic translation. The original passage 
in Micah seems merely to mean that the Messiah shall be of David's 
line. 

8. Herod's request that they shall return to him so that he, 
too, may go and worship is given in obvious craft. It is odd that 
a learned commentator should call Herod's pretext ' incredible.' 
One must not break the butterfly of legend upon critical wheels. 

11. They worship and offer precious gifts in good eastern 
fashion (cp. Isaiah Ix. 6). 

12. The object of the dream is not to prevent the magi from 
becoming the victims of Herod's wrath, but to prevent them having 
to tell Herod, ' Yes : the child has really arrived.' Herod waits, 
and meanwhile Joseph escapes. 



10 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [II. 13-15 

13-15. THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT 
(Matthew only) 

13 And after they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord 
appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, * Arise, and take the child 
and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I 
tell thee : for Herod is about to seek the child to destroy him.' 

14 So he arose, and he took the child and his mother by night, and 

15 departed into Egypt. And he was there until the death of Herod : 
that that might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through 
the prophet, saying, ' Out of Egypt have I called my son.' 

13. The troublous childhoods of great heroes is a well-known 
subject of legend. One can compare the legends about Moses, 
Cyrus, and many others. 

15. The quotation from Hosea is drawn from the Hebrew or 
from some Greek translation other than the LXX. In reality 
Hosea referred here to Israel. It is possible that the story of the 
Flight into Egypt arose independently, but it is, perhaps, more 
probable that it was invented on the basis of the passage in Hosea 
and on the general idea that Jesus, the Son of God, the incarnation 
of the true Israel, must also be called out of Egypt like Israel of old. 

16-18. THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS 
(Matthew only) 

1 6 Then Herod, when he saw that the Magi had deluded him, 
was exceeding wroth, and he sent and slew all the male children 
that were in Bethlehem, and in all its district, from two years old 
and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from 

17 the Magi. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah 

1 8 the prophet, saying, ' A voice is heard in Rama ; weeping and 
much lamentation ; Rachel weeps for her children, and will not 
be comforted, because they are not.' 

16. There is little reason to suppose, and there is no confirma- 
tory evidence, that Herod ever did anything of the kind here 
suggested. The story is more or less modelled upon that of Moses. 

18. The passage from Jeremiah is, in reality, not a prophecy, 



II. 19-23] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW II 

but a retrospect. The personified Israel bewails the loss of the 
many Israelites who have been led away into Babylonian captivity. 



19-23. THE JOUENEY TO GALILEE 
(Matthew only) 

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared 

20 in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, * Arise, take the child and 
his mother, and go to the land of Israel : for they who sought the 

21 child's life are dead.' So he arose, and took the child and his 

22 mother, and came to the land of Israel. But when he heard that 
Archelaus was king over Judaea in the place of his father Herod, 
he was afraid to go thither : but, being warned by God in a dream, 

23 he withdrew into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt 
in a city called Nazareth : that that might be fulfilled which was 
spoken through the prophets, ' He shall be called a Nazarene.' 

20. The language is purposely modelled on Exodus iv. 19. 
He who was greater than Moses, and fulfilled (or supplanted ?) the 
Law which Moses gave, must have an early history which is parallel 
with, though it excels, the early history of Moses in danger and 
providential arrangement. 

22. Archelaus was ethnarch, not king. The story is rather 
clumsy here. The angel apparently forgot to tell Joseph about 
Archelaus, and the narrator forgets that Antipas the ruler of Galilee 
was also a son of Herod. 

23. By a roundabout process, Jesus is thus settled in his 
historic native town. The birth at Bethlehem and the journey to 
Egypt were apparently invented to make unreal fulfilments of 
misconceived prophetic passages. Finally, even the dwelling in 
Nazareth is made such a fulfilment. What it fulfils is, however, 
very obscure, as there is no passage in the prophets which says 
that the Messiah shall be called a ' Nazarene.' One rather super- 
ficial interpretation is that what the writer meant was a somewhat 
poor play upon words between ' Nazareth,' Jesus's dwelling-place, 
and * netzer,' a shoot, or branch, applied in Isaiah xi. I to the 
Messiah : * And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of 
Jesse, and a branch out of his root shall bear fruit.' The word 
' branch ' is in the Hebrew netzer. l Had the Evangelist some lost 
or apocryphal document in his thought, or was his fancy only 



12 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [II. 19-23 

playing round some ancient word in which, he imaginatively saw 
the name of Nazareth foreshadowed ? The latter is the more 
probable ' (Carpenter, First Three Gospels, p. 45). It has also 
been suggested that in the age of Jesus there was no city of 
Nazareth at all. ' No such town as Nazareth is mentioned in the 
Old Testament, in Josephus, or in the Talmud ' (Cheyne in Encyc. 
Biblica, s.v. ( Nazareth/ col. 3360). The idea is that Nazareth 
means really Galilee, and Nazarene means Galilsean. It is at any 
rate remarkable that there did exist a village called Bethlehem of 
Zebulun (Joshua xix. 15), which was situated only seven miles 
from the present Nazareth. In the Talmud this place is called 
1 Zoriyah,' which may be a corruption from * Notzeriyah,' i.e. the 
Nazarene or Galilaean Bethlehem. Hence too, perhaps, the origin of 
the tradition that Jesus was born at Bethlehem. He was born there, 
but not in the Bethlehem of Judah, but of Galilee. ' The title 
Bethlehem-Nazareth was misunderstood by some of the trans- 
mitters of the tradition, so that while some said, " Jesus was born 
at Bethlehem," others said, " Jesus was born at Nazareth." But it 
has to be noted that the Greek is not Nazarene, but Nazoraios 
(Na£a>/>atos), and this word may be quite disconnected originally 
with the name of the city or village of Nazareth. A useful summary 
of other possible interpretations can be read in Box's Commentary. 



CHAPTER III 

1-12. JOHN THE BAPTIST 
(Cp. Mark i. 1-8 ; Luke iii. 1-18) 

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness 

2 of Judaea, and saying, ' Repent ye : for the kingdom of heaven 

3 has drawn nigh.' For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet 
Isaiah, saying, ' The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare 

4 ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' And John had 
his clothing of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins ; 

5 and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him 
Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about the 

6 Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing 
their sins. 

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come 
to the baptism, he said unto them, ' offspring of vipers, who 

8 has suggested to you to flee from the wrath to come ? Bring forth, 

9 then, fruit befitting repentance : and think not to say to yourselves, 
We have Abraham for father : for I say unto you, that God is able 

10 to raise up children unto Abraham from these stones. Already is 
the axe laid unto the root of the trees : every tree, then, which 
brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 

nl baptize you with water unto repentance : but he that comes 
after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear : 

12 he will baptize you with Holy Spirit, and fire. His winnowing fan 
is in his hand, and he will purify his threshing floor, and gather his 
wheat into the granary ; but he will burn up the chaff with un- 
quenchable fire.' 

Matthew now begins to use and to incorporate large portions 
of Mark. 

I, 2. Matthew only. What John is made to say in Matthew is 

13 



14 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [III. 1-12 

much the same as what Jesus says in Mark i. 15 ; but the words in 
Mark i. 4 about the ' remission of sins ' are omitted. 

John and Jesus, then, begin with the same general message : 
' Repent : the great day is at hand ; then there will be no more 
chance to repent, for then there will be separation and judgment : 
the good will enter the Kingdom ; the bad will enter Gehenna.' 
How far we are from this conception ! This fundamental difference 
must never be lost sight of in dealing with the religious teaching of 
Jesus. The conception of progress and purification after death, 
so profoundly vital and significant to us, was quite unknown to him. 
Burkitt thinks that John only said * Repent,' and that he did not 
announce the imminent coming of the Kingdom. ' The message 
of John and the message of Jesus have been assimilated ' (Christian 
Beginnings, p. 16). 

* Kingdom of heaven ' and * Father in heaven ' are phrases used 
by Matthew. Mark says ' Kingdom of God,' and Jesus too probably 
used this phrase. 

7-10. Compare Luke iii. 7-9. These verses are not found 
in Mark : their source is perhaps Q, who may be supposed also to 
have included II and 12, whether these latter two verses are parallel 
to, or the source of, Mark i. 7, 8. Thus Q probably started at the 
same point of departure as Mark. 

7. Matthew often unites the Pharisees and Sadducees. He 
probably had only a vague idea who the Pharisees and Sadducees 
were. All he knew, or cared to know, was that they were opponents 
of his hero. Therefore they were bad people, for Matthew is a 
partisan, and uses the ordinary partisan language. The words 
which follow have no value as historical evidence about the characters 
of the real ' Pharisees ' or the real * Sadducees.' In the parallel 
passage in Luke, the vituperative speech is not addressed to the 
Pharisees and Sadducees, but to the ' people ' generally. This may 
be more original, or it may be Luke's correction to avoid the con- 
tradiction with the statement in Matt. xxi. 32, Luke vii. 30 that the 
Pharisees and Sadducees refused to receive the baptism of John. 
The vehement words are in keeping with the character of John. 

He compares them with vipers because of their hypocrisy and 
deceitfulness. 

' Who suggested to, or told, you to flee from the wrath to come ? ' 
The answer meant is, It was not I. I did not think of you or 
summon you. 

8. ' But if ye would really escape the Wrath, live more worthily ; 
show by your works that your repentance is real ; the works 



III. 1-12] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 15 

must correspond with, or answer to, the repentance.' Sound and 
customary Kabbinic doctrine. The word ^erdvoLa occurs in 
Matthew only here and iii. 3 (Q). In Mark it only occurs in i. 4. 
The verb (^ravo^lv) only occurs in Mark in i. 15 and in vi. 12. In 
Matthew it occurs in iii. 2, iv. 17, xi. 20, 21 (Q), xii. 41 (Q). An 
examination of these few passages would seem to show that the 
teaching of Jesus which the disciples cared most to preserve did not 
directly harp upon the mere term and word ' repentance.' Jesus 
took a more original line of effecting an end common both to himself 
and to John. He encouraged, stimulated, comforted. He did 
not merely din a summons to repentance into people's ears. Luke 
has the noun five times, the verb nine times. 

9. Like Amos, John seems to argue that God can reject his 
people. He can, in his omnipotence, make a new people out of 
stones. Anyhow, the Judgment is imminent, and its methods will 
be irrespective of race. Only those whose lives are good will escape 
* eternal fire.' This warning against a narrow self-delusion and self- 
righteousness based upon race renewed the teaching of the eighth- 
century prophets. That at the great Day of Judgment God would 
punish Israel's foes and deliver Israel was a fixed dogma of the age. 
But John and Jesus proclaim aloud the old prophetic faith : for un- 
righteousness there shall be no escape. The sinful Jew shall not be 
exempt because of his race or nationality. 

II, 12 = Mark i. 7, 8. Mark said that John baptized with 
water, Jesus with the higher baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus 
gives a higher grace, a better gift, than John. This idea is only 
in the background here. In the foreground is the idea that John 
is the precursor of the Judgment ; he summons to repentance ; 
Jesus is the lord and executor of the Judgment. He apportions 
to good and bad their final and everlasting doom. Matthew perhaps 
combines the * fire ' of his extra source with Mark's * Holy Spirit.' 
The threshing-floor is heaped up with chaff and wheat. It is 
1 cleansed ' by sifting the chaff from the wheat. The one is burnt ; 
the other garnered. The figure has many Old Testament parallels 
(e.g. Jeremiah xv. 7). 

Wellhausen suspects that the fire baptism has really to do, not 
with Jesus, but with the eschatological Messiah. It is he whom 
John had really in his mind as the executor of the divine wrath, 
and not the historic Jesus. He thinks, therefore, that a non- 
Christian tradition about John, which may be due to his disciples, 
has been mixed up with the Christian tradition as we find it in 
Mark, on the strength of a later identification of Jesus the Christ 
with the Jewish Messiah of the Baptist. I can only just allude to 



l6 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [III. 13-17 

the development this suggestion has received in the researches and 
theories of Reitzenstein. Whether they will be generally approved, 
or rejected, by competent scholars, it is, I suppose, still too early to 
know. Cp. Das mdndaische Buck des Herrn der Grosse, pp. 63, 64 
(1919), Das iranische Erlosungs-mysterium (1921), p. 124. Cp. 
also the section on the Baptism by Fire in Leisegang, PneumaHagion, 
pp. 72-80, and Clemen, p. 122 : ' The saying about a baptism with 
spirit and fire, as perhaps also only with spirit, has indeed to be 
explained by an hellenistic origin.' Volter supposes that John, in 
speaking of a ' stronger than he,' meant God. John's words have 
been edited in a Christian sense. What he really said was that One 
stronger than he (i.e. God) would come after him, who would in His 
great final judgment burn the impenitent with fire. The theory 
is worked out with much ingenuity, but seems very doubtful. 
(' Die Rede Jesu iiber Johannes den Taufer nebst Bemerkungen 
zur Rede des Taufers iiber Jesus," in Nieuw theologisch Tijdschrift, 
1920, pp. 76-97). 

13-17. THE BAPTISM OF JESUS 
(Cp. Mark i. 9-11 ; Luke iii. 21, 22) 

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan unto John, to be 

14 baptized by him. But John sought to prevent him, saying, * I need 

15 to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me ? ' But Jesus 
answered and said unto him, ' Permit it for the present ; for thus 
it befits us to fulfil all righteousness.' Then he permitted him. 

1 6 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the 
water : and, lo, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of 

17 God descending like a dove, and coming upon him : and, lo, a voice 
from heaven, saying, ' This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well 
pleased.' 

14, 15. Matthew only. The insertion which Matthew makes 
here is to meet the objection how Jesus, who was sinless, could have 
required or undergone a baptism which was connected with repen- 
tance. But if John had thus early recognized Jesus as Messiah, 
he would not have sent the enquiry of xi. 2, 3. 

15. Jesus explains that a merely temporary necessity must be 
fulfilled. l To fulfil all righteousness ' means to satisfy all divine 
ordinances till the new revelation is ripe or ready. The baptism 
is regarded as a kind of needful accommodation. Jesus has to sub- 
mit (as an Israelite) to a rite to which all Israelites were summoned. 



III. 13-17] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 17 

Hence the plural T]\UV. Cp. xviii. 27. The words of Jesus must 
be unhistorical. Not only does John recognize and acknowledge 
the Messiah, but Jesus himself knows himself to be Messiah and 
sinless, even before the Baptism. The word Si/ccuoowry is almost 
peculiar to Matthew. Mark does not use it. In Luke it is found 
once (i. 75), in John twice (xvi. 8, 10). In Matthew it is only 
Jesus himself who uses the word. See further note on v. 6. 

17. Here the voice does not address itself to Jesus, but to 
John or the bystanders. In Mark sight and sound are for Jesus 
alone. Both versions are doubtless equally unhistorical, but the 
second marks a later stage than the first. The baptism is no 
longer the moment at which Jesus becomes the Son of God. It 
is only the moment at which others are told of his true status. 
He has been the special Son of God since his birth. There 
some good remarks on the baptism story in Bultmann, 
Allen says we must render, ' This is my Son, the beloved>Hffe~Ts 
the Son in a metaphysical sense, he is ayaTrqros-, or eVAe/crd?, as 
the Messiah (cp. Klostermann). 



VOL. II 



CHAPTER IV 

i-n. THE TEMPTATION 

(Cp. Mark i. 12, 13 ; Luke iv. 1-13) 

1 Then was Jesus led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be 

2 tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and 

3 forty nights, afterwards he hungered. And the Tempter came up 
to him and said, * If thou be the Son of God, say that these stones 

4 may become bread.' But he answered and said, ' It is written, 
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that pro- 

5 ceeds out of the mouth of God.' Then the devil took him up 
into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, 

6 and said unto him, ' If thou be the Son of God, throw thyself down : 
for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee : 
and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou 

7 dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, ' Again it is 

8 written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.' Then the devil 
took him up again on to an exceeding high mountain, and shewed 

9 him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them ; and he 
said unto him, ' All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down 

10 and do me reverence.' Then Jesus said unto him, ' Get thee hence, 
Satan : for it is written, Thou shalt do reverence to the Lord thy 

11 God, and him only shalt thou serve.' Then the devil left him, and, 
behold, angels came and ministered unto him. 

For his account of the temptation Matthew went, not to Mark, 
but to Q. Whether Mark's version is independent, or a mere 
epitome of Q's is disputed. It looks, it must be confessed, like an 
abbreviation of some longer narrative. 

The story, or symbolic myth, of the temptation occupies two 
verses in Mark, eleven in Matthew, and thirteen in Luke. The 
best and most easily available explanation of it is to be found in 
Dr. Carpenter's splendid book, The First Three Gospels (pp. 134-143). 

18 



IV. i-n] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 1 9 

A condensed, but valuable, statement about it is obtainable in 
Bultmann, p. 155. 

Many causes may have combined to produce the story. First 
of all there was the belief that many great heroes of olden times, 
e.g. Abraham and Job, had been ' tempted ' and had conquered. 
Jesus, who was greater than Abraham, must also have been a 
greater conqueror. Secondly, there was the belief that one of the 
functions of the Messiah was to conquer Satan, the chief devil, and 
to overcome the demons. Thirdly, there were parallels in other 
religions, and it is not entirely impossible that the temptation stories 
of Buddha may have influenced the Gospel narratives. Fourthly, 
(as some think), the story puts at the beginning of the life of Jesus, 
in one concentrated and highly imaginative form, certain real 
temptations with which he possibly had to grapple in the course 
of his actual life. 

It is usually said that these temptations were mainly twofold : 
the temptation to ask God for signs and miracles, and the temptation 
to aim at worldly power. It is likely enough that the opponents of 
Jesus, or those who hesitated whether to believe his message or no, 
often asked him for a sign, a miracle. Instead of teaching, they 
wanted miraculous doing. Jesus did, according to the Gospels, 
work ' wonders,' but these were incidental to his teaching ; they 
were mainly miracles of healing or compassion. There was no 
formal ' sign,' like the sign granted to Elijah in the trial scene 
between him and the prophets of Baal. In the actual life of Jesus 
we have still further to discount the miracles, such even as they 
are, which the Gospel narrates. Many of them, we hold, did not 
happen. In that case, the desire to have the question settled by 
miracle would have been all the stronger. Some theologians regard 
this desire as sceptical or unspiritual, and therefore as characteristi- 
cally Jewish. ' Wundersucht ' is odious in their eyes. But I am 
not so sure that they are right. For Jesus put forward teaching 
which ran counter to the letter of the Law. If he was right, the 
Law was wrong. Could the Law — the word of God — be wrong ? 
Nothing less than a very big miracle, or many big miracles, could 
make it likely that teaching which criticized the Law could possibly 
be right. 

Jesus, doubtless, according to the views of his age, as he believed 
intensely in the divineness of his mission, believed that he could 
work miracles. He may, very probably, have believed that he had 
only to ask God to perform a miracle, and a miracle would happen. 
But he may have also believed that to make such a request to God 
was to tempt Him (Matt. iv. 7 ; Deut. vi. 16). He may have 
believed that his cause was to triumph, not by miracle, but by its 
own inherent power and truth. He may have felt that his life and 



20 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [IV. i-n 

his teaching were to prove themselves, and that no external, even 
miraculous, actions or events could add authority to them. In 
such a belief there was truth and nobility of soul, as well as courage, 
conviction, and self-restraint. Why should we not credit Jesus with 
these virtues ? 

Yet, as Bultmann justly says, Christian reflection — the re- 
flection and imagination of the early community — may have 
found a problem in the kind of Messiah which Jesus was, but if 
it saw in his miracles a proof of his Messiahship, how could it 
consider that the method of miracles was for Jesus a temptation 
of Satan ? 

It is, indeed, conceivable that, towards the close of his ministry, 
Jesus may have realized that his mission was only to succeed, and the 
Kingdom of God to be inaugurated, by his own suffering and death. 
In that case all suggestions to found an earthly sovereignty 
prematurely were mere temptations of the Evil One. His con- 
ception of his Messiahship may have been the conception of the 
Suffering Servant, through whose stripes and death men were 
healed, rather than that of the righteous and conquering king. In 
that case any appeal to force, any solicitation to become King of 
the Jews, in the old, outward, material sense, would have seemed 
to him the temptation of Satan. If the story which we read in 
Mark viii. 33 be historic, this must be its explanation. Jesus by 
that time may have come to believe that he was indeed the Messiah, 
but not the Messiah whom current desire or opinion expected. 
The consummation of his earthly career was the cross, not the crown. 
Hence his outburst to Peter, who seems to him to represent the 
very devil himself. It is this temptation (which could only have 
arisen when the Messianic views of Jesus had been fully developed, 
and when he foresaw the fatal, but yet inevitable and predestined, 
close of his career), which, in the story of Matt. iv. i-n, is placed 
at the opening of his ministry. 

This explanation of the temptation in the wilderness is suggestive 
and may be true. It seems, however, to involve a dangerously 
large insight into the inner consciousness of Jesus. 

Again, as Bultmann says (p. 155) : ' The attainment of world- 
rule by the Messiah is obvious, and the way to it here offered, the 
adoration of Satan, can indeed be no temptation to the Messiah. 
The idea of " worldly " rule or " worldly " means of ruling as 
the specific temptation has been read into the original text, 
and the S.S. to Matt. iv. 8, 9 marks the beginning of this/ 
(The S.S. in 9 for ' these things ' says more distinctly, ' These 
kingdoms and their glory hast thou seen ? To thee will I give 
them, if thou fall down and worship before me,' and in 8 for 
* the kingdoms of the world ' it reads * the kingdoms of this world,' 



IV. i-n] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 21 

which Merx, as usual, defends with great ingenuity and learning 
as the original reading.) Possibly, then, the customary inter- 
pretation of the Temptation legend may read too much into the 
whole story, the origin of which may be adequately accounted for 
by Old Testament and Buddhistic parallels and by the beliefs of 
the time. In his sketch of the career of Jesus, Loisy thinks the 
only safe thing to say is that after his baptism Jesus ' remained 
some time in the desert.' The proleptic anticipation of his Messiah- 
ship on earth involved the story of a temptation. For the Messiah 
had to fight and conquer Satan. Historically, the temptation 
which Jesus had to undergo was his death (Mark xiv. 36-38). 
But if he were Messiah from his baptism, an encounter with Satan 
had to be arranged for him. 

1. The whole purpose of the sojourn in the wilderness is said 
to be the temptation. This goes beyond Mark. 

2. In Mark the angels apparently feed Jesus during the forty 
days ; they do not merely appear after the temptation is over, as 
in Matthew. Nor is the hunger of Jesus the primary motive of the 
temptation, as in Matthew. The forty days and the fasting are 
borrowed from the story of Moses. 

3. The term ' Son of God ' seems here employed as a title of 
the Messiah. We may, however, compare the argument about the 
son or child of God in the Wisdom of Solomon, ii. 13-18. 

4. The quotation is from Deut. viii. 3. This verse from 
Deuteronomy and its predecessor are at least partially responsible 
for the make-up of the story. As Israel was * tempted ' in the 
wilderness, so was Jesus, but a more advanced theology ascribed 
temptations to Satan rather than to God (contrast 2 Sam. xxiv. I 
with I Chron. xxi. i). Jesus asserts that the word of God will 
provide for his physical needs. God can, by his creative word, 
fashion material whereby man's life can be sustained, as he did in 
the case of the manna. More simply, God will provide adequately 
for the physical needs of his messenger. 

5. The devil is highly personified. In Mark he is called 
' Satan,' and so Jesus calls him here in 10. Matthew follows the 
Septuagint, and uses the word ' Diabolos.' 

The pinnacle (nrepvyiov) must have been some well-known 
jutting-out spot upon the roof of the Temple. Jesus is carried 
about by the devil as Ezekiel is carried about by the hand of the 
Spirit (viii. 3, etc.). 



22 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [IV. i-n 

By quoting Deut. vi. 16 ' Jesus means to say that he had no 
right to throw himself into uncommanded danger, and then expect 
God to deliver him ' (Toy, Quotations in the New Testament, p. 22). 
This temptation sums up the refusal of Jesus to work idle signs and 
miracles. 

8. The third is the main temptation. There seems to be 
already contained in the suggestion of the devil the implicit idea 
that the kingdoms of the world, and all material power, are part 
of the realm of Satan. This world is evil and in the power of the 
devil. The quotation of Jesus is from Deut. vi. 13. Note the 
* fairy-tale ' touch of the mountain so high that all the kingdoms 
of the world could be seen from it. 

10. ' Get thee hence, Satan.' Cp. Mark viii. 33. The angels 
in Mark must be supposed to * minister ' unto Jesus (by giving 
him food ?) for the forty days. In Matthew he fasts for the forty 
days, and the angels ' minister ' unto him after the Temptation 
and the forty days are over. The whole story is curiously 
4 Rabbinic ' in form. Jesus at each temptation overcomes the 
devil by a quotation from Scripture, exactly in the Rabbinic 
manner. Loisy defends the usual interpretation of the third 
temptation. He says : ' The sovereignty of the world was in fact 
the right of the Messiah, and Jesus may have wondered why the 
heavenly Father did not give it to him at once. But to seek 
sovereignty for the sake of sovereignty, without waiting for God's 
hour, to share the interests and the passions of the world, to make 
himself at the outset the echo of popular aspirations, the champion 
of national independence, to aim at an ordinary royalty, and adopt 
the means which might lead to it, that is to say, human policy, 
cunning, and violence, would be to determine to rule by means of 
Satan, and not by means of God, and to abandon the cause of the 
heavenly Father for that of the devil. Hence Jesus, at this 
extreme limit of the temptation, drives away the tempter : " Get 
thee hence, Satan " ' (E. S. I. p. 422). 

I gather that M. Loisy holds that the temptation in the desert 
was a real fact in the history of Jesus. It was known that he did 
not at once reappear in Galilee after his baptism. Jesus must 
have spoken ' in general terms ' of his residence in the desert and 
of his inward temptations there. Upon this basis the stories of 
the temptation of the devil were spun out. For Jesus himself, 
speaking of the moral difficulties which are here called ' temptings,' 
would not have hesitated to attribute them to Satan. Thus the 
temptation narratives have no mythical, but a historical, origin. 
The details are, however, * made up ' out of Old Testament remini- 



IV. i-n] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 23 

scences, popular beliefs, and the later experiences and history of 
Jesus. M. Loisy's explanation is purely conjectural. It may be 
as he says : Jesus may have spoken in ' general terms ' about his 
inward trials and his spiritual victory after the baptism — but one 
feels how extremely subjective and hypothetical all this ex- 
planation is. 

And how far is Loisy right when he says that the great tempta- 
tion of all was the Messianic ideal of his contemporaries and of his 
* entourage ' ? First of all, M. Loisy's hypothesis supposes that 
Jesus already felt and knew himself to be the Messiah. This is 
extremely unlikely, but we will let it pass and assume it. But 
how curiously limited is the difference between M. Loisy's con- 
ception of Jesus's Messiahship and that of his * entourage.' Or 
rather how careful one must be, in order to make up a difference, 
to degrade the conception of the entourage or to despoil it of all 
its spiritual features. For, to Loisy, Jesus is a real Messiah, not 
merely a spiritual teacher of fine religion. He is the Messiah of 
the Jews, promised to Israel. There is to be a real dominion, upon 
a regenerated earth. The rule of the Romans is to disappear. 
Jesus did not go to Jerusalem to die, though the possibility of 
death may have entered his mind. But his hope was to triumph ; 
in other words, his hope was that God would at last intervene and 
bring about the final deliverance of the completed Kingdom. 

Where is the great difference of all this from the Messianic 
ideal of his contemporaries ? The difference is largely imaginary ; 
but it has to be assumed, because Jesus must be not merely a great 
teacher, a sublime figure, but wholly different from his contem- 
poraries, wholly unlike every other Jew. But unluckily the facts 
are against this arrangement of Jesus by himself on the one side, 
and of every other Jew, separated by a great gulf of morality and 
religion, upon the other. It is true that there was a ' zealot ' party 
who wanted to aid God by physical force. But, in spite of Isaiah 
xi., the majority of Rabbis were inclined to think that the Kingdom 
would come by divine intervention, just as Jesus thought that it 
would come. Where, then, is the great difference between their 
view and his ? I do not perceive it. M. Loisy indeed says : ' It 
was inconceivable to his contemporaries that the Messiah could be 
poor, could dispense with striking signs and with a kingdom in this 
world ; and Jesus regarded as a suggestion of the devil's the idea 
of laying any claim, in his character as the Messiah, to earthly 
wealth, or of enhancing his reputation by miracles, or of seeking 
royalty ; he trusted in the will of the Father, understanding that 
his present mission was first to attain for himself, and then to 
lead others to rise to, that moral condition which was needed for 
the coming of the Kingdom of heaven. He saw what the world 



24 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [IV. 12-17 

could offer him, the royalty that his fellow-countrymen were fully 
disposed to confer upon him ; and he saw also and chose freely the 
wholly spiritual r6le, humble and dangerous at the same time, 
which the will of the Father assigned to him. That was really 
the temptation of Christ ; no one but Jesus could have been tempted 
in this way ' (E. S. I. p. 423). I do not deny that what M. Loisy 
here says may contain some truth. When Jesus came to believe 
that he was the Messiah, the temptation may have come to him : 
' Shall I try to collect an army ? shall I fight for the Messianic 
crown ? ' And then he may have thought that his vocation and 
duty were to do what M. Loisy so well describes, and to leave the 
issue to God. God, not he, shall supply the ' force,' and intervene 
for the final triumph. But is this idea un-Jewish ? In any case 
the difference would be only one of means to an ultimate end. 
The end was the same both to Jesus and to many of the Rabbis. 
And the more proximate means were the same too : the inter- 
vention of God, and the establishment of the Kingdom super- 
naturally and miraculously. (I doubt whether M. Loisy would 
now accept what he said about the Temptation in E. S.) 



12-17. THE RETURN TO GALILEE 
(Cp. Mark i. 14, 15 ; Luke iv. 14, 15) 

12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been delivered up, he 

13 withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt 
in Capernaum, which is by the lake, in the district of Zebulon and 

14 Naphthali : that that might be fulfilled which was spoken through 

15 Isaiah, the prophet, saying, ' The land of Zebulon, and the land of 
Naphthali, towards the lake, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles ; 

1 6 the people which sat in darkness have seen a great light ; and to 
them who sat in the region and shadow of death a light has arisen.' 

17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim and say, * Repent : 
for the kingdom of heaven has drawn nigh.' 

12. Matthew follows Mark's order up to 22. The verb 
avcxwprjcrev, ' withdrew,' seems to show that Matthew thought 
that Jesus went to Galilee from fear of Antipas. Matthew did not 
remember, however, that the territory of Antipas included Galilee. 

14. Matthew's love of ' fulfilments ' leads him to strange 
interpretations. The obscure passage from Isaiah, here quoted 
with various modifications from the original Hebrew text, is, 



IV. 23-25] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 25 

however, a Messianic prophecy. ' Galilee of the nations,' or, 
rather, ' district of the nations ' (Hebrew gelil), was a district in 
the territory of Naphtali, with a considerable heathen population. 
In later times this ' district ' (gelil) was called Galilee, though 
Galilee included more land than the old ' district.' The ' light ' is 
Jesus himself. 

17. Mark i. 14, 15. The words put into Jesus's mouth are 
identically the same with those put into the mouth of John, iii. 2. 



18-22. THE FIRST FOUR APOSTLES 
(Cp. Mark i. 16-20) 

1 8 And Jesus, walking by the lake of Galilee, saw two brothers, 
Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into 

19 the lake : for they were fishermen. And he said unto them, * Come 

20 hither after me, and I will make you fishers of men.' And they 
straightway left their nets, and followed him. 

21 And going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the 
son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a boat, with Zebedee their 

22 father, mending their nets ; and he called them. And they im- 
mediately left the boat and their father, and followed him. 

20. Mark gives the abandoned father some * hired servants ' ; 
Matthew omits them. 



23-25. PREACHING IN GALILEE 
(Matthew only) 

23 And Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, 
and proclaiming the Good Tidings of the kingdom, and healing 

24 every sickness and every disease among the people. And the report 
of him went out through all Syria : and they brought unto him all 
that were suffering with divers diseases and afflicted with torments, 
and those who were possessed with demons, and those who were 

25 moonstruck and paralysed; and he healed them. And there 
followed him great crowds of people from Galilee, and from the Ten 
Cities, and from Jerusalem, and from Judsea, and from beyond 
Jordan. 



26 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [IV. 23-25 

Matthew here leaves Mark's order. He wants to tell of the 
teaching of Jesus even before he tells of his deeds and wonders. 
Before each group of ' deeds ' he inserts, or groups, a collection of 
sayings. So now he prepares the way by three summarizing verses 
for the Sermon on the Mount. Yet he depends on Mark for his 
summary. Cp. Mark i. 39 and iii. 7-10. So too for the scene of 
the Sermon we have Mark's familiar mountain. 

23. ' Gospel of the Kingdom.' So Matthew only, and in ix. 35 
and xxiv. 14. The good tidings consist in the certainty of the 
speedy coming of the Kingdom and in its nature and content. 
(Cp. Harnack, Constitution and Law of the Church in the First Two 
Centuries. E. T., 1910, pp. 286, 287.) 

24. ' Moonstruck,' i.e. epileptics. It is noteworthy that the 
S.S. has a less exaggerated form of text. ' Many are brought and 
he heals them all.' This seems more original. 



CHAPTER V 

THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT 

THE fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Matthew contain the 
famous Sermon on the Mount. Mark in i. 22 had said that men 
were amazed at Jesus's teaching which he gave on Sabbaths in the 
synagogues. This verse is partly reproduced by Matthew in iv. 23 
and partly in vii. 28 at the end of the Sermon. Presumably this 
statement of Mark's suggested to Matthew the advisability of 
setting in the forefront and beginning of the story of Jesus a long 
specimen of the teaching which produced this tremendous effect. 
The ' Sermon ' is apparently delivered in the presence of the people 
(v. I and vii. 28 ; the o^Aot or * masses ' are amazed at it), but in 
the sermon itself it is the disciples, and not the people in general, 
who are addressed. The ' Sermon ' is not a summons to repentance, 
or a proclamation of the imminence of the Judgment and of the 
Kingdom, but it would rather seem to be intended for those who 
have already accepted the call and message of Jesus, and are ready 
for his most developed teaching. It is not a sermon with which 
Jesus could well have started his career as teacher, but rather one 
in which he summed it up. It is, on the whole, ripe teaching for 
ripe disciples. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew partly corre- 
sponds with a Sermon on the Plain in Luke (vi. 17-49). But 
Matthew's Sermon is much longer than Luke's. It includes passages 
the parallels of which in Luke are found elsewhere than in the 
Sermon in the Plain, and it includes other passages which do not 
occur in Luke at all. There are a few verses which have parallels 
in Mark. These will be noted where they occur. There are also 
some verses in Luke's Sermon on the Plain which do not occur in 
Matthew's Sermon on the Mount. These will be noticed in the 
commentary on Luke. 

Both Matthew and Luke drew from a common source (Q), which 
each used and edited in different ways. The matter is further 
complicated because many scholars believe that Matthew's form of 
Q was not the same as Luke's form of Q ; in other words, Matthew 
and Luke used different recensions of Q. The passages in the 

27 



28 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 

Sermon on the Mount which are also found in Luke were, in all 
probability, taken from Q. Some extra bits in Matthew which are 
not in Luke may also have been drawn from Q. The passages 
common to Matthew and Luke are v. 3, 4, 6, 11-13, 1 5> *&> 2 5> 26, 
32, 39, 40, 42, 44-48 ; vi. 11-13, 19-33 ; vii. 1-5, 7-14, 16-18, 
21, 24-27. 

The Sermon, so far as it is authentic, is a collection of sayings 
of Jesus which have gone through a double process of editing. 
They were edited by Q, and Q was edited by Matthew. It may be 
that much which Matthew has brought together was already brought 
together by Q. The great theologian Harnack, who has a special 
interest in Q (for what is in Q may, he thinks, be almost always 
regarded as authentic, and he has a special desire to regard it as 
authentic), from the basis of a most minute examination of the 
text, argued that the passages in the Sermon which are common to 
Matthew and Luke, but which do not stand in the same order in 
both (being in Luke outside the Sermon), stood in Q where Matthew 
has them. Luke scattered them for reasons which we are unable 
to discover. Streeter's views of the sources of the Sermon are 
totally different, for they depend upon his theory of the Four 
Document Hypothesis and the special source M. ' All the phenomena ' 
(in the Sermon) * can be satisfactorily explained by the hypothesis 
that Matthew is conflating two separate discourses, one from Q 
practically identical with Luke's Sermon on the Plain, the other 
from M containing a much longer Sermon ' (p. 251). However all 
this may be, the sayings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount were 
in all probability spoken on different occasions. Jesus, doubtless, 
may often have given a ' Sermon ' as long as the Sermon on the 
Mount. But there was no one to take it down in shorthand, and 
what would best be remembered of his teaching would be short 
sayings and opinions. A comparison of Matthew and Luke, and a 
critical investigation of the Sermon itself, lead to the same conclusion. 
Much in the Sermon, as we have it in Matthew, goes back to Jesus, 
but some things do not, and the form and arrangement of the whole 
Sermon are due to Q and the Evangelist. Indeed, Wernle is perhaps 
not going much too far when he says (Sources, p. 138) : ' In reality 
what we have here are separate detached utterances from all parts 
of his life — with a whole year, perhaps, between two adjacent 
sentences — put side by side because they are connected by the same 
subject-matter, the will of God and righteousness. And the under- 
lying thoughts which unite them are not those of Jesus, but those 
of the earliest Christian community.' Many a detail in the wording 
reveals, or answers to, the conditions under which a later editor 
was living, and some of the ideas show traces of having been seriously 
* worked over ' (Klostermann, p. 180). While we can well under- 



V. i-i2] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 2Q 

stand how anxious many Christian commentators are to keep as 
much of this famous Sermon as possible for Jesus himself (except, 
perhaps, v. 18, 19), the interest for us is rather in the words than in 
their author. What we have primarily and mainly to do with is 
the Sermon itself : its value is in itself and its truth is in itself. No 
part of it is any better if Jesus said it ; no part of it is any worse if 
he did not. 

1-12. THE BEATITUDES 
(Cp. Luke vi. 20-23) 

1 And seeing the crowds, he went up the mountain : and when 

2 he sat down, his disciples came up to him. And he opened his 
mouth, and taught them, saying, 

3 * Happy are the poor in spirit : for theirs is the kingdom of 

4 heaven. Happy are they that mourn : for they shall be com- 

5 forted. Happy are the meek : for they shall inherit the earth. 

6 Happy are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness : for 

7 they shall be satisfied. Happy are the pitiful : for they shall be 

8 pitied. Happy are the pure in heart : for they shall see God. 

9 Happy are the peacemakers : for they shall be called sons of God. 

10 Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake : for 

11 theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy are ye, when men revile 

12 you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you 
falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and exult : for great is your reward 
in heaven : for so persecuted they the prophets who were before 
you. 

I. What is this mountain ? One must not ask. It is the 
editorial or stage mountain of which Mark makes much use — no 
mountain in particular. Though the parallel is incomplete, it can 
hardly be doubted that Jesus on the mountain is meant to recall 
Moses on Sinai ; Matthew wants to contrast the two Laws : the 
one old, imperfect and transitory ; the other new, perfect and 
definitive. The Law of Jesus fulfils the Law of Moses and the 
teaching of the prophets. This idea is wanting in Luke, but seems 
to dominate Matthew. 

' Seeing the crowds, he went up the mountain.' This is very 
odd. Moreover, the disciples (as has already been noticed) are the 
people really addressed. The ' crowds ' are forgotten till the end 
(vii. 28). ' Them ' in 2 can hardly be the crowds ; rather the 
disciples. (Is it possible that what lies behind our present text of 



30 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 1-12 

Matthew is a description how Jesus, in order to avoid the crowd, 
ascends a mountain whither the disciples follow him and receive 
special teaching ? So Merx.) The setting in Luke is curiously 
different. There Jesus, having gone up a mountain to pray, and 
having prayed alone all night, calls his disciples to him at day- 
break, and chooses out the Twelve. Then he comes down with 
them, stands * on a level place together with a large number of his 
disciples and a great multitude of people ' from all parts of the 
country, heals all their sick, and then, lifting his eyes upon his 
disciples, begins the Sermon. 

2. * He opened his mouth.' Note the solemn beginning. Cp. 
Job iii. i, Daniel x. 16. 

3-12. The Sermon opens with a series of beatitudes. The 
Greek word /Lta/captos- is the regular Septuagint translation of the 
Hebrew ashre, which means * happy.' Sentences of the type of 
the beatitudes beginning * Happy is he who does so and so,' or 
* whom such and such a lot befalls,' are common in the Rabbinical 
literature and even in the Old Testament. The word /ia/captos- 
does not occur in Mark. In Matthew, outside the Sermon on the 
Mount, it occurs four times (xi. 6, xiii. 16, xvi. 17, xxiv. 46). In 
Luke, outside the beatitudes, it occurs ten times. The A.V. 
regularly translates it by * blessed.' I have rendered it by * happy,' 
but neither ' happy ' nor ' blessed ' is quite accurate or adequate. 
The happiness implied is of a particular type. It is religious 
happiness. But, moreover, it may be doubted how far the meaning 
is that the persons described as happy experience acute feelings 
of delight. At any rate, this is not the only, and probably not the 
chief, meaning. The main meaning probably is that they are 
religiously fortunate, that they enjoy, or will enjoy, a peculiar 
divine blessing or favour. And here lies the paradox. Those e.g. 
whom men would call unhappy, because they are persecuted, are 
really blessed of God, possessed of his favour, and happy in the 
consciousness of that favour and blessing. 

The German selig gives a better rendering of maJcarios and of 
the Hebrew ashre than the English * blessed ' or ' happy.' If the 
substantive ' beatitude ' had an adjective, meaning ' he who is in 
the condition of, or possesses, beatitude,' that adjective would be 
the right translation of ashre and makarios. 

There are in Matthew's text, as we now have it, nine beatitudes, 
but there were certainly not so many originally, either in Q or when 
Jesus first proclaimed them. In Luke there are only four beatitudes, 
which more or less completely correspond with Matthew's first, 
fourth,- third, and ninth (or with his eighth and ninth taken 



V. i-i2] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 31 

together). There are three other points to notice about the 
differences between Matthew's version and Luke's, (i) The 
Beatitudes in Matthew, except the last, are general and in the third 
person ; the beatitudes in Luke are in the second person, or, at 
least, the justification in each case is in the second person. The 
meaning would seem to be, ' Happy are you disciples in that you 
are this or that.' Matthew declares quite generally that such 
persons as are this or that are happy. (2) Matthew qualifies the 
adjective in the first, and the participles in the fourth, beatitude ; 
Luke does not. (3) The nine kinds of people in Matthew who are 
declared to be happy fall under two classes, (a) those who are 
undergoing some suffering, (6) those who have a certain moral 
quality. Now it is noticeable that Luke's beatitudes deal ex- 
clusively with (a) — people who are undergoing some suffering, 
but that Matthew changes some of these by his additions into 
(6) — people of a certain moral quality. 

The question is asked : Whose form of the beatitudes is older 
or more authentic, Matthew's or Luke's ? Some have thought 
that Luke's version is throughout to be preferred; for example, 
Wellhausen, who says : * In Luke the human subjects of the 
beatitudes enter the Kingdom, not because of that which they are 
and do, but because of that which they suffer and want. In place 
of these sufferings and renouncements we have in Matthew mainly 
inward qualities or tendencies, through which men make themselves 
worthy of the Kingdom or strive towards it. In Luke there is a 
clear-cut contrast between the misery of the present and the joy 
of the future ; in Matthew this future is already being formed in 
the hearts of the elect. Doubtless inward conditions are also 
presupposed in Luke, but they are not expressly stated. Luke's 
variations from Matthew are always to be preferred. Matthew 
moralized the beatitudes, made seven of them, and enlarged their 
application beyond the disciples to all who possess the needful 
qualifications. Only in v. 11, 12 has Matthew kept the original. 
For there the disciples are specially addressed, and they are not 
promised reward for their virtues, but for the persecutions which 
they have undergone.' 

Others (e.g. Harnack) think that Matthew is always nearer to 
what stood in Q. The truth may lie in between these two extremes : 
in some respects the text of Matthew, in other respects the text of 
Luke, may be preferable and older. Luke, e.g. may, perhaps, have 
changed the original third person of Matt. v. 5-10 into the second 
person in order to put all the beatitudes in the same person (Matt, 
v. II has the second person), or the beatitudes may have been 
interpreted by the Christian community to refer to themselves, 
which interpretation was adopted by Luke. Yet in other respects 



32 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 1-12 

Luke's version may be nearer to the original. Each verse must be 
separately considered. I append Streeter's view. ' The Sermon 
in Q contained the four Blessings in the second person, as in Luke ; 
that in M gave four in the third person, corresponding to Matt. v. 
7-10. The Q Beatitude, " Blessed are ye when men . . . persecute 
you . . . for my name's sake " (Matt. v. II, 12) is a doublet of 
that in Matt. v. 10, " Blessed are they who are persecuted for 
righteousness' sake " which stood in M ; otherwise the two sets 
of four do not overlap. Matthew has simply added the two sets 
together, changing the person and slightly modifying the wording 
in three of those he takes from Q. Matt. v. 5 is, as the transposition 
in the MS. suggests, an early interpolation from Ps. xxxvii. n. 
The four woes in Luke vi. 24 f . may have stood in Q and been omitted 
by Matthew. His explanatory additions to the Blessings on the 
Poor ( + in spirit), and on those that hunger (+ after righteousness), 
show that he might well have thought the denunciations of the 
rich and the " full " (Luke vi. 24, 25) open to misunderstandings : 
poverty and hunger as such have no ethical value ' (pp. 251, 252). 

In Matthew's version verse 5 (third beatitude) is practically a 
quotation from Psalm xxxvii. II, and may be an interpolation. 
Verse ioa seems to be a sort of excerpt from n, while 106 repeats 
36. If verse 5 be omitted, we have six beatitudes in 3, 4, 6-9. Did 
Matthew add 10 to make up seven beatitudes (a holy and favourite 
number) in the third person ? There seems good reason to believe 
that 10, II, 12 ought to be distinguished from 3-9. Verse II (12) 
has the second person, and in its subject-matter is very different 
from 3-9. It deals with those who are persecuted because of their 
Christian faith, and is later in date than 3-9 (cp. Bultmann, p. 66). 
It may also be mentioned that a conservative commentator (B. 
Weiss) held that only verses 3, 4, and 6 belonged to the original 
Sermon ; the rest were spoken on other occasions. 

3. In Luke the first beatitude is simply : ' Happy are the 
poor,' or ' Happy are ye poor.' Matthew's words ' in spirit ' 
(literally ' in the spirit ') are wanting. Luke's version is probably 
more original. Jesus, if he spoke the beatitude, was not thinking 
so much of people who are materially impoverished as of those who 
belong to the class whom the Psalmists call the ani'im and the 
anawim, the poor and the humble. They are poor in the material 
sense, but they are also lowly, humble, and perhaps even oppressed. 
Cp. Psalms x. 8, 9, 10, 12 ; xxxiv. 2 ; xxxv. 10 ; Ixviii. 11 ; Ixxii. 
12 ; cxl. 12. The ideas of poverty, weakness, affliction, lowliness, 
humility, and piety tend in the Psalms (and in some prophetical 
passages) to run into one another. It is doubtless such people 
whom Jesus had in mind. In Isaiah Ixi. i the prophet says that 



V. i-i2] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 33 

God has anointed him to preach good tidings to the meek (anawim). 
Perhaps this verse was in the mind of the speaker. (In the LXX 
it runs evayyeXucraadcu, Trraj^ot?.) It is perhaps going too far to 
say as I said in my first edition : ' Jesus had a bias against the 
rich/ but in the sense in which the Psalmists seem to have a bias 
for the poor, and largely to identify poverty and piety, we may 
predicate the same sort of bias in the case of Jesus. As M. Loisy 
observes, the idea of a rich man, humble and self-denying, would 
have appeared to him as strange, almost as a contradiction in 
terms. Many seem to think the same to-day. 

Matthew's addition was not probably meant to do more than 
make the meaning plain. ' Poor in spirit ' does not mean weak 
in intelligence ; rather its meaning is humble, contrite, trusting in 
God. Cp. Isaiah Ixvi. 2 : ' On this man will I look, even on him 
that is poor and is crushed in spirit and trembles at my word.' 
* God saves those that are of a crushed spirit/ Psalm xxxv. 18. 
(In the LXX Ta-n-ewovs ra> -nvev^an.) We must not too hastily 
identify the people of whom Jesus is thinking here with the ' 'Am 
ha-'Arec ' of the Talmud. For we know that as a matter of fact 
some of these were rich. There is little reason to believe that all 
the poor people in the age and environment of Jesus were neglected 
outcasts, who did not observe the ceremonial law, and that all the 
rich people were rigid observers of the law (though formalists and 
sanctimonious). There must have been many poor people who 
did observe the law, and some rich people who did not. Doubtless 
there were also some poor people who were 'Am ha'-Arec in the 
technical sense ; ignorant and neglectful of the Law, social out- 
casts ; waifs and strays. But it is doubtful whether Jesus was 
thinking of them in any of these beatitudes. If, indeed, Jesus 
said anything like what we find in v. 17-19 it is hardly likely that 
he would categorically, and without any qualification as to repent- 
ance, have declared that the violators of the Law would be the 
first to inherit the kingdom of heaven. 

The present tense of the copula ' is ' must not be pressed. 
There would have been no verb in the original. The future tense 
in the next verses makes it certain that the future is also meant 
here. The Kingdom is the eschatological Kingdom : the Kingdom 
which is to come. As to its locale, the speaker was probably not 
thinking of ' heaven ' as distinct from ' earth,' the abode of 
spirits in the * sky.' He was more probably thinking of the trans- 
formed or regenerated earth of the Messianic age. 

The phrase ' Kingdom of heaven,' or literally, ' of the heavens,' is 
found in Matthew some 33 times. ' Kingdom of God ' occurs some 
three times, and in addition we find ' Kingdom ' by itself or ' his 
Kingdom,' ' thy Kingdom,' ' Kingdom of my father,' and ' Kingdom 

VOL. II D 



34 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 1-12 

of their father ' 12 times more. The full list is given by Mr. Allen, 
who seems to have omitted xiii. 33. The phrase ' Kingdom of God ' 
occurs 14 times in Mark ; Matthew five times substitutes ' Kingdom 
of heaven/ and eight times omits or paraphrases. On one occasion 
the reading is doubtful (Matt. xix. 24= Mark x. 25), but Mr. Allen 
strongly inclines here to the reading * heaven.' 

Out of these 48 occasions in which the Kingdom is referred to 
in Matthew, many obviously, or very probably, refer to the future 
Kingdom which was to be inaugurated when the Messianic age had 
come in its completion. This would be at or after the Parousia 
and the Judgment. Cp. for such usage in Matthew the passages 
v. 3, 10, 19 (bis), 20, vi. 10, 33, vii. 21, viii. n, xiii. 43, xvi. 28, 
xx. 21, xxvi. 29. In other passages the Kingdom is conceived as 
having drawn very nigh, or as having virtually begun, with the 
advent of Jesus the Messiah. Cp. iii. 2, iv. 17, 23, ix. 35, x. 7, 
xii. 28. There are a further number of passages in which the 
Kingdom seems to be present, and identified with the Christian 
community or church. Cp. xi. II, xiii. 19, 24, 31, 33, 38, 41, 47, 52, 
xvi. 19, xxiii. 13. It must, however, be admitted that these passages 
are not very numerous, and are mainly found in chapter xiii. Prob- 
ably future is the use in viii. 12, xiii. II, 44, 45, xviii. i, 3, 4, xix. 12, 
14, 23, 24, xxi. 31, 43. Dubious passages, needing special con- 
sideration are the following : xi. 12, xviii. 23, xx. I, xxii. 2, xxv. I. 
Thus of the 48 passages, 26 are certainly or probably * future ' ; 
six are, if not wholly future, yet not wholly present. Eleven only 
seem to refer pretty clearly to the existing Christian community, 
and in five the use is dubious. 

The Kingdom of God or Kingdom of heaven is a familiar Jewish 
and Rabbinic idea. ' Thy kingdom,' says the Psalmist, ' is an 
everlasting kingdom.' But by 'kingdom ' was usually meant not a 
sphere or place, but rule, dominion, and in that sense the Kingdom 
of God is often spoken of in the Rabbinical literature. The Kingdom 
of God is the rule of God, which men can acknowledge and confess 
on earth by observing God's law. But as the rule of God is only 
imperfectly realized on earth because of human wickedness, the 
oppression of God's people, and their sins, therefore his rule, as 
completely manifested and realized, is still future, and it will only be 
made complete, acknowledged by all, and manifest to all, in the 
Messianic age, or at the Resurrection of the Dead. Hence the 
Kingdom could be the herald of gloom or of joy ; the proclamation 
of it could be regarded as severe tidings or glad tidings. God's 
perfected rule would be a time of pain and darkness to the wicked 
and the unrepentant ; a time of gladness and of light to the 
repentant and the good. In the Gospels the Kingdom appears to 
be used in a somewhat broader sense. It is a sort of shorthand 



V. i-i2] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 35 

expression for the condition of beatitude and glory in which the 
righteous will find themselves after the Judgment, at the end of 
the present world order, and at the full inauguration of the next 
world order. It is also that new world itself. The Kingdom often 
appears to be the equivalent of the Rabbinic ' the world to come.' 
It is God's gift to the righteous, but it must also be striven for by 
man. To enter or inherit the Kingdom means to form one of the 
chosen band, one of those happy ones, who would be permitted to 
enjoy and witness God's perfected rule wheresoever that rule might 
extend. Hence the rule can, by an easy transference, be used to 
indicate the sphere of that rule, its locality. In that sense, the 
Kingdom is obviously future. It is the sphere, or even, one might 
say, the condition, in which the righteous will find themselves after 
the Judgment, or after the advent of the Messiah and the com- 
pletion of his work. In the Synoptic Gospels there is no dispute as 
to the Kingdom being often used of that perfect dominion of God, 
and of that sphere through which the dominion will extend, which 
were yet to come. The Kingdom as future is common enough. 
Doubtless Jesus believed that it was coming very soon — during his 
lifetime or soon after his death. As it was coming so soon, and as 
he was its herald, or even its bringer, it might be said, in a sense, to 
have already begun. It is a little doubtful whether he ever used 
it in ways or with meanings other than these. But when the 
human members of the Kingdom, the human witnesses of God's 
perfected rule, they who were to be admitted to its fullest glory, 
were identified with those who acknowledged, or should acknow- 
ledge, the Messiahship or Sonship of Jesus, the Kingdom could take 
on another meaning. The Kingdom or rule of God could be identi- 
fied with those who acknowledged, or who are to acknowledge, 
it, as distinguished from those who do not or will not. The 
Kingdom is realized in its witnesses ; the rule in its subjects. For 
Jesus — perhaps always, certainly at the beginning of his ministry — 
there was only one way in which one could * enter into the Kindom/ 
and that was by righteousness and simple faith in God. Only 
thus — but also not needing more — could one witness God's perfected 
rule and enjoy its bliss. That is the older conception. But 
after Jesus had died, and the Christian community had begun, 
another test was added. In order to enter the Kingdom mere 
righteousness is no longer enough. An extra and essential condition 
is to believe in and follow Jesus, to be his disciple. The Jews, 
though the born heirs of the Kingdom, are excluded from it. Into 
their place steps another restricted body — namely, they who 
call themselves by the name of Jesus : that is, the Christians. It 
is true that not all Christians will remain in the Kingdom in its 
perfection. At the Judgment there will be a sifting and a selection 



36 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 1-12 

(from many ' called ' few will be chosen). But this selection takes 
place within their ranks. Those outside are ipso facto condemned. 
And hence the Kingdom (as realized in the Christian community) 
is partly already present, though partly future. Whether the 
Kingdom was ever used in the Gospels in a more inward, spiritual 
sense, as present, but present, not in the external organization, 
but in the heart, will be discussed when we come to the supposed 
instances of such a use. The most important of these supposed 
instances is Luke xvii. 21. In Matt. v. 3 the meaning is tolerably 
plain. ' The poor in spirit ' will witness and enjoy the perfected 
rule of God. They will be the subjects of that divine Kingdom, 
throughout the limits of which there will be no wickedness or 
unhappiness, no misery or sin. There is an interesting excursus on 
the Kingdom in S.-B. Vol. i. pp. 172-184 ; the collection of Rabbinic 
passages is very useful, but the deductions drawn from them are 
not always fair or accurate ; especially inaccurate is the statement 
that there was no universalism, only nationalism and narrowness, 
and the desired destruction of the heathen, in the Rabbinic con- 
ception of the Kingdom, a statement in flat contradiction with that 
Alenu prayer which is one of the very passages quoted by S.-B. 
themselves ! (It is included in the Orthodox Jewish Prayer-book, 
Singer's edition, p. 76, and Abrahams' notes, p. Ixxxvi.) 

In some MSS. 4 comes before 5 ; in others 5 comes before 4. 

4. For * they that mourn ' Luke has * they that weep,' and for 
' shall be comforted ' he has ' shall laugh.' Some think Matthew 
more original ; others Luke. ' They that mourn ' seems based on 
Isaiah Ixi. 2. What do they mourn ? The word is, I think, best 
taken quite generally. They do not specifically lament the power 
of evil in the world ; but they mourn because they are unhappy. 

5. This verse is probably interpolated. It virtually repeats 
3, for the ani'im and the anawim are practically the same people. 
It is also a mere quotation from Psalm xxxvii. II (though ' the 
land ' or earth, as here understood, is not Palestine, but the re- 
generated world of the Messianic age (die erneuerte Erde auf die 
das Himmelreich hinabkommt, Klostermann). The verse is wanting 
in Luke. 

6. Two separate questions present themselves, (i) Is Luke's 
version of this beatitude which omits ' after righteousness ' and 
omits ' thirst ' more original than Matthew's version or vice versa ? 
Many scholars, and, I think, rightly, hold that Luke's version is 
older. And a literal hunger was probably intended. The whole 
idea of these beatitudes is that in ' the world to come ' — in the 



V. i-i 2 ] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 37 

Messianic era — there will be a complete reversal of the conditions 
obtaining now. Those who are in distress now — assuming them 
to be good people — will then be happy. Hunger, even physical 
hunger, is distressing, therefore in the Messianic era there will be 
no physical hunger. Such was doubtless the simple view of Jesus. 
(2) Matthew, disliking the reference to mere physical hunger, adds 
the words ' after righteousness.' He means quite simply, ' Those 
who long and try hard to be good shall be well rewarded for their 
longing in the Messianic era.' Another reason why /cat Su/ttjvres 
TTJV SiKaLocrvvrjv are probably a gloss is that ' irewav with ace. 
is unique, though a few late instances of Su/tav with ace. occur, and 
Xopracrdrjvon, denotes the satisfaction of hunger, not of thirst.' 
(McNeile). For the metaphor, as Matthew made it, one may 
compare Amos viii. II, Isaiah Iv. I, and other O.T. passages. That 
* righteousness ' is not here used to mean ' moral goodness,' or that 
the reference is to people who know that they cannot attain to any 
righteousness by their own power — or, at any rate, to any righteous- 
ness which is accounted as such by God — but who yet long for such 
unattainable righteousness, and who will be given the satisfaction 
of their longing by God, is, I think, unlikely. Pauline ideas must 
not be thrown backward into the simpler conceptions of the Gospels 
and of Jesus. Some suppose that ' to hunger after righteousness ' 
means here, not a longing to be good in our modern and merely 
ethical sense, but a longing to be held righteous, to be justified by 
God. Such a justification would come to those who now yearn for it 
with the new age or at the general Judgment. Some compare the 
Psalmic prediction that the ' righteousness ' of the afflicted shall 
be made manifest at the Judgment or Messianic era (cp. Ps. xxxvii. 
6). The poor sinners and outcasts — they who do not and cannot 
observe the Law — nevertheless yearn for God's grace, and they 
hope that God will justify them and recognize them as righteous in 
a truer and purer sense, for all that they want is to draw near to 
God, and they throw themselves upon His mercy. This interpre- 
tation is dubious. Dr. Abbott in an interesting essay, ' Righteous- 
ness in the Gospels' (Proceedings of the British Academy, 1918), 
seeks to show that Jesus may have used the word ' righteousness ' 
on all the occasions in which it is ascribed to him by Matthew, or 
that Matthew, at all events, took the passages in which the word 
occurs from a 'Biographical Collection of Logia,' and did not 
himself put the word into the mouth of Jesus. ' It may be taken 
as certain that Jesus, in thought at all events, protested against 
the "doing" of a spurious "righteousness" or "alma-giving," 
dictated by the love of the applause of men as well as by a belief 
that it would be rewarded in strict accordance with a debtor and 
creditor account registered by God. It may be taken as highly 



38 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 1-12 

probable that occasionally Jesus, when thus protesting, used the 
word "righteousness" in the technical sense in which it was used 
by the Jews in, and before, the first century. It is more probable 
that Luke omitted all these traditions as being too technical — and 
as being capable of expression in other ways — than that Matthew, 
without any authority, interpolated all of them in Christ's 
doctrine ' (p. 13). The other passages in Matthew in which 
* righteousness ' occurs are v. 20, vi. I, vi. 33, and xxi. 32. 

Burney is most interesting about the Beatitudes and about 
their rhythm and rhymes. He says : ' Both rhythm and rhyme 
speak conclusively for the original omission of TTJV SiKcuocruvrjv, 
an explanation which is hardly more necessary here than it would 
be in Isaiah Iv. I ff. (" Ho, every one that thirsteth," etc.), a passage 
which was probably in our Lord's mind when He framed the beati- 
tude. In the promise attached to this beatitude we notice the 
only occurrence of a two-stress in place of a three-stress stichos ; 
and, while it is by no means necessary to postulate absolute rhyth- 
mical uniformity, we may conjecture that possibly some such term 
as tab, " good," may have been accidentally omitted — d'hinnun tab 
mitrri Idyin, " For they shall be filled with good," would connect still 
more closely with Isaiah Iv. 2, " hearken diligently unto Me, and eat 
ye that which is good," than the passage does at present' (p. 167). 
Thus, while ' after righteousness ' is a gloss, it will be a correct 
gloss ; material danger and thirst would not be intended. 

7. Not in Luke. A very Rabbinic sentiment, even as com- 
passion is a very Rabbinic virtue. Cp. S.-B. pp. 203-205. 

8. Not in Luke. The verse is made up of Psalms xi. 7 and 
xxiv. 4, and the meaning of seeing God would be no less and no more 
than what the Psalmist meant by the phrase : the highest bliss. 
To see God is to be near him, and to know him, and to rejoice in 
him, in one. 

9. Again a thoroughly Rabbinic sentiment. ' Sons of God ' ; 
the original Aramaic would, so far as sense and sentiment are con- 
cerned, be more fitly rendered in modern English by ' children of 
God ' : the emphasis is not on the sex. Children or sons of God, 
because in the new order, in the higher sphere of existence, they 
will possess a nature which, like that of the angels, will be more 
like the divine nature than the nature which they possess now. 
Cp. Luke xx. 36. Or, perhaps, more generally, he who practises or 
imitates the divine excellences and attributes may be said to 
become like unto God — again a Rabbinic, though also a Platonic 
and Stoic, sentiment. There is an interesting article on this verse 
by Windisch in Z. N. W., 1925, pp. 240-260. 



V. i-i2] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 39 

10. The first part of the verse seems (as has already been 
noticed) to depend on n ; the second part of the verse repeats 
36. The whole verse can be regarded as Matthew's addition to 
3-9, bringing up the number of the beatitudes in the third person 
to seven. The perfect participle (SeSicoy/xeVot) * does not materi- 
ally differ from a present ; an Aramaic participle which it represents 
would be timeless ' (McNeile). Nevertheless, the tense does not 
seem to me totally valueless in one's judgment as to whether the 
saying is later than Jesus or not. ' For righteousness' sake ' : an 
addition in Matthew similar to the additions in verses 3 and 6. The 
' righteousness ' on account, or for the sake, of which they suffer is 
not quite the same as the righteousness of verse 6. The first Chris- 
tians were not ' persecuted ' because they were compassionate, or 
had all their goods in common, or were exceptionally virtuous ; 
they were persecuted, if they were persecuted at all, because of their 
belief that their Master was the Messiah. The righteousness which 
is alluded to in this verse is their fidelity to that Master and to his 
cause. Burney thinks that the beatitude in 10 ' may originally have 
run tubehon d'rdcT phin V sidk&, ' Blessed are they that pursue 
righteousness,' the Old Testament connection in thought being 
with Deut. xvi. 20, ' Righteousness, righteousness shalt thou pursue, 
that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which Yahweh thy God 
giveth thee ' (cf. also Isa. li. I, ' ye that pursue righteousness '). 
The prep I" in I'fidkd, which introduces the direct accusative, may 
then have been misunderstood in the sense for, and this may have 
led to the understanding of pQ*n as passive pDTi r'diphm, ' perse- 
cuted ' (lit. ' pursued ') instead of active pp~n rdd'phm, * pursuing ')' 
— a very interesting suggestion (p. 168). 

n, 12. Some think that 10 was not constructed out of n, 12, 
but that II, 12 are an expansion of 10. Anyway, n, 12 do not 
really belong to 3-9, but are different in character, and probably 
also later in date. Cp. Luke vi. 22, 23. 



II. ' Falsely,' ^reuSd/zevot. The word is wanting in some 
MSS. and versions, and should probably be omitted. Harnack 
would also omit eVeicev 



12. * Reward in heaven.' This does not mean that the reward 
will be enjoyed in heaven and not upon the regenerated earth in 
the Messianic age. It means that the reward is already, as it were, 
existent and prepared for you with God in heaven. 

II and 12 seem later than Jesus, though perhaps written in 
his spirit. They seem to reflect early persecutions endured by 
the young Christian community. 



40 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 1-12 

Harnack is intensely keen to keep all the main beatitudes 
(common to Luke and Matthew and hence taken from Q) as the 
utterance of Jesus : i.e. verses 3, 4, 6, 10-12. Not everything, 
he urges, which might be the result of subsequent events is therefore 
necessarily to be regarded as such a result. Why could Jesus not 
have said : ' Happy are ye when they revile and persecute and 
falsely speak all manner of evil about you.' ' Surely, even in the 
lifetime of Jesus, the disciples must have experienced such treatment 
again and again, and in the most varied forms ; and it seems quite 
impossible that He should not have spoken about it ' (Sprilche und 
Reden, p. 143, E. T. p. 205). With all respect to the distinguished 
German theologian, his argument seems to me exceedingly dubious. 
What good evidence is there that the disciples of Jesus or Jesus 
himself were persecuted in the Galilaean period ? For my own part 
I should think it very doubtful. Mark gives us the impression 
that Jesus might have had to undergo some adverse criticism, but 
not anything like what we should call persecution. There was 
somewhat more freedom of discussion and opinion in those days 
than is generally admitted. 

Present sufferings should not only be faithfully endured : they 
may be fitly undergone with rejoicing, because the ultimate 
reward — hi the perfected Kingdom — will be very great. The 
followers of Jesus may also rejoice in that they are the true 
successors of the prophets who were persecuted of old. Thus 
present woes are a mere transitory prelude to future bliss. But 
there is a higher note also. There is a touch of passion and 
enthusiasm ; a certain pride in suffering for the cause of righteous- 
ness and truth. 

Under the influence of Paul, and of Luther and of other teachers 
of the Reformation period, there is no doctrine against which many 
Protestant theologians fulminate more violently than the doctrine 
of reward. They do not mind punishment ; they could hardly 
mind it, when the extended use of Gehenna and Hell from the 
Gospel onwards right down to Luther and Calvin and up to modern 
times, is borne in mind, but they hate what they call eudaemonism — 
so much good action paid for by so much reward — and they assert 
that reward is the sheet-anchor of Judaism, and especially of the 
Rabbis. Man earns his reward in Judaism : the grace of God gives 
undeserved and unearned beatitude in Christianity. The result is, 
in one sense, the same : both Judaism and Christianity assume 
that the good and the believing will enjoy bliss, but what is earned 
reward to the one is a free gift to the other. Legalism, the hated 
red rag and unclean thing to Lutheran theologians, involves reward. 
Legalism and eudaemonism go together. It was necessary to 
smash legalism to get rid of the bribery and degradation of reward. 



V. i-i2] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 4! 

There is exaggeration in all this tilting against reward. It 
has been shown by Schechter and Abrahams and others that 
there is not only less * eudaemonism ' in Rabbinic theology than its 
antagonists would allow, but also that its eudsemonism is tempered 
by several other and very different strains. It has also been shown 
that the assurance and even the delineation of reward do not 
necessarily mean that good acts were performed for the sake of the 
reward, or that pure and disinterested piety was not as prized and 
familiar to the Rabbi as to the Christian. The familiar doctrine of 
Lishmah, which ninety-nine out of a hundred German Protestant 
theologians ignore, or have never heard of, is the best proof that 
the motive of reward was regarded as the lower and less desirable 
motive, ' for its own sake,' or ' for love ' as the higher and more 
desirable motive. Again, Jesus, who was happily ignorant of these 
antagonisms and oppositions, was quite ready, every now and then, 
to use the doctrine of reward, and to enunciate it, as here, in the 
very strongest and simplest terms. The Protestant theologians 
try hard to show that he does not really mean what he says, or that 
somehow his doctrine of reward is wholly different from the Rabbis' 
doctrine of reward ; his is pure, theirs is impure ; his is a mere use 
of popular language, theirs is seriously meant ; his is an exquisite 
statement of the gracious goodness of God, theirs is calculation and 
bribery — and so on. But for those who stand above the facts 
these differences are largely the creation of the theologians. On 
the other hand, it is true both that there is too much of measure 
for measure and of merit in the Rabbinic literature, and that there 
are some noble utterances against measure for measure, and against 
human goodness or the service of God meriting reward in the 
teaching of Jesus. Dr. McNeile says that Jesus ' introduced new 
elements ' into the idea of reward, which ' transformed the idea.' 
These new elements are : (i) reward is purely qualitative and is 
identical for all (Matt. xx. 1-16) ; (2) it is the Kingdom of heaven, 
with all that that involves (to this there would be good Rabbinic 
parallels) ; (3) it is given to those for whom it has been prepared 
(same comment) ; (4) service is a mere duty which cannot merit 
reward (Luke xvii. 9) ; (5) reward is free, undeserved grace, and 
is pictured as quite out of all proportion to the service rendered 
(also a frequent Rabbinic idea, existing side by side with the idea of 
earned reward). Thus the ' new ' elements in the teaching of Jesus 
would be (i) and (4). And I think we may truly say that (i) and 
(4) are virtually new, just as they are also notable and far- 
reaching in significance and power. We may, perhaps, add that 
all the five elements are comparatively more predominant in the 
teaching of Jesus than all that corresponds to them is in the teaching 
of the Rabbis. But it is going too far when, after quite fairly 



42 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 1-12 

giving a list of the passages which ' reflect, at least on the surface, 
the current opinions ' of Jesus's day, Dr. McNeile declares that 
the five ' new ' doctrines just cited * really eliminate the idea of 
reward altogether.' If Jesus had wished to eliminate the idea of 
reward altogether, his words were singularly uncautious, and he 
should not have been so ready to use ' the popular language ' 
when he pointed out * the sort of actions and spirit that God 
demands ' (p. 55). 

But it may be observed of the eudaemonism of Jesus, and often 
too of the eudaemonism of the Rabbis, that they are an eudaemonism 
of a special kind. They do not say, * Do this, or be this, because 
you will gain a reward,' or, * do not do this because you will be 
punished.' But they say, ' A certain line of action, a certain dis- 
position of mind, bring happiness now and hereafter.' The result 
follows necessarily from the cause. It is the law of God. ' Heaven ' 
and happiness follow as certainly from goodness, as their opposites 
follow from wickedness. The one is not an arbitrarily added 
reward ; the other is not an arbitrarily added punishment. The 
result is contained in the premiss, as surely as the result of health- 
giving medicines or death-dealing drugs is already contained within 
them. The bliss of virtue, both ' now ' and ' hereafter,' is a con- 
tinuous state, and not a something added ab extra to form a reward : 
and mutatis mutandis, the same way be said of vice. Thus the sting 
of the supposed ' eudaemonism ' is removed. 

Cp. Marriott (p. 179). ' It is upon the spiritual side [of the 
Kingdom] that the promises lay stress. There is no necessary 
inconsistency between the promises thus understood and the 
pronouncements of blessedness. For it is not needful to suppose 
that the conjunction on implies that the blessedness consists solely 
in the obtaining of these promises. Whilst they are future, the 
blessedness follows as an immediate result from the inner dispositions 
described. In fact, the force of on here seems to be " and the 
proof of it is " rather than " and the reason of it is." The on of the 
last beatitude, however, bears the meaning " because." 

It is curious that the same charges of eudaemonism and of 
impure morality, which are levelled by many German Protestant 
scholars against Judaism and the religion of the Rabbis, are 
brought by some modern Jewish teachers against Christianity 
and the religion of Jesus. The Jewish kettle makes a hot retort 
against the Christian pot. The ' Vergeltungsglaube ' of Judaism 
and the Rabbis is denounced up hill and down dale by the German 
Protestant theologians. The charge is that the one single motive 
or end for well-doing in Judaism is the hope of reward or the fear of 
punishment. The Jewish critic of Christianity and of the teaching 
of Jesus says that, though the scene of the reward or punishment is 



V. i-i2] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 43 

shifted to the life beyond the grave — to heaven and hell — the end or 
purpose of well-doing in Christianity and in the teaching of Jesus is 
that ' thy Father in heaven may reward thee ' in heaven. Moreover, 
the teaching is selfish and anti-social ; the one end sought is personal 
salvation. Nothing matters so long as you save your own soul : 
that is, and should be, the one overmastering care or object : that 
you, the individual, should avoid the pains of hell and secure the 
beatitudes of heaven. 

How curious that each set of critics make practically the same 
accusation. The historian, who is free from prejudice, will agree 
that there is some force in both accusations : of the Christian 
against Judaism and of the Jew against Christianity. Some force : 
but not more. And not more for three reasons. First, he will 
hold that some eudsemonism is justified. To believe that God — 
whether in this world or in the next — will always wed righteousness 
to calamity and sin to felicity is surely absurd. Secondly, it does 
not follow, because one strongly believes that righteousness and 
felicity must, and will, in the long run, be joined together, that 
therefore the desire for felicity is the only, or even the strongest, 
motive for moral well-doing. Judaism, and Rabbinism more 
especially, know and lay the utmost stress upon other motives, such 
as the Sanctification of the Name, Lishmah (virtue for virtue's 
sake), the love of God, and so on. Thirdly, to seek salvation and 
felicity after death is not selfish, unless it is taught that A's salvation 
means B's damnation or neglect. Moreover, the teaching of Jesus 
is that it is service which secures salvation : it is by serving others, 
and seeking to redeem the ' lost,' that we save our souls. Thus, if 
everybody sought to save his own soul, and saved it, there would 
be, even on earth, elysium. Moreover, self -development (and is not 
this a modern way of rewriting ' the seeking of salvation ' ?) is a 
duty incumbent upon each one of us. Each one of us is to seek the 
highest that he knows : what does this mean but that each one of 
us is to seek to ' save his soul ' ? The question is how is he to do it. 
The teaching of Jesus does not say that he is to do it in selfish 
isolation. The Christian is to imitate his Master who came, not to 
rule, but to serve. And the Jew prays to God that * God may open 
our hearts unto His Law, and place His love and fear in our hearts, 
that we may do His will, and serve Him with a perfect heart, and 
that we may be worthy to witness and inherit happiness and blessing 
in the days of the Messiah and in the life of the world to come.' So 
far as ethical purity and unselfishness are concerned, the best 
Rabbinic teaching and the teaching of Jesus are closely similar and 
akin. It is a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other. 

The beatitudes form a suitable and noble opening for the great 
Sermon. They set the note for all that is to follow. They pitch 



44 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 1-12 

the key. We are to hear about the right morality and the true 
religion for those who are to be ' happy ' in their poverty and 
affliction, and ' happy ' in their meekness and mercy. 

And if we choose rather to adopt Luke's version of the beati- 
tudes in verses 3 and 6, we may not unjustifiably divide the whole 
number in some such way as was indicated above, that is, into 
two groups, one of which deals with people who are suffering 
certain ills, and the other with people who possess certain qualities. 
Verses 3, 4, 6, and 10 will form one group, and 5, 7, 8, and 9 
the other. Each group has its own special characteristic. And 
whatever the number of the original beatitudes may have been, 
it may reasonably be urged that all of them are welcome and 
suitable, and that both groups are in keeping with the Sermon 
as a whole. 

The first group is, perhaps, the more striking and original. At 
first sight the originality may not be noticed, but it is nevertheless 
there. We have but to put the stress in the right place. For 
whatever the reasons given for the assertion that certain classes 
of persons are happy, the emphasis is upon the fact that they are 
so. It may be that the reason for their present happiness is their 
future ' reward ' : nevertheless, the fact remains of their justified 
happiness in the present. And in this present happiness or bliss lies 
the originality of these beatitudes. 

To comfort those who are now poor, or hungry, or mournful, 
or persecuted, is one thing. But to tell them that they not only 
will be happy, but are, or should feel themselves, really and truly, 
happy now, this is quite another thing. To tell them that they 
ought positively to be glad and rejoice in their misfortunes struck 
a new note — a note of great significance and power, a note which 
was to have great consequences of far-reaching importance. To 
rejoice in martyrdom, to seek it out, this was promoted by the 
beatitudes. Not merely to endure a life of hardship bravely, but 
to rejoice in it and to seek it out, this too has been the product 
of the beatitudes. And these notes and excellences have been, it 
must be acknowledged, distinctive of Christianity and of its saints 
and apostles and martyrs. And doubtless many thousands of 
humble sufferers have risen superior to their troubles and afflictions 
through the memory and influence of the beatitudes. 

Similarly, as regards the second set of the beatitudes, though 
perhaps with less originality. The meek, the merciful, the pure 
in heart, the peacemaker : these are not only to reap reward in 
the future : they are to feel happy now. For only in the highest 
goodness lies the highest rapture. 



V. i3-i6] THE GOSPEL ACCOKDING TO MATTHEW 45 

13-16. THE SALT AND THE LIGHT 
(Cp. Luke xiv. 34, 35, xi. 33, viii. 16) 

13 'Ye are the salt of the earth : but if salt lose its savour, where- 
with shall it be salted ? it is thenceforth good for nothing, except 

14 to be thrown away and trodden under men's feet. Ye are the light 
of the world. A city that lies on a mountain cannot be hidden. 

15 Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but upon 
the lampstand ; and it gives light unto all that are in the house. 

1 6 Even so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good 
works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 

The connection is not quite easy. Is it that { the disciples of 
Jesus ought all the less to allow themselves to be frightened by 
persecution, inasmuch as they are, by their very calling, destined 
to exercise over other men a nobler and healthier influence ' 
(Loisy) ? 

The metaphor of the salt and of the lamp occur both in Luke 
and in Mark. It may be presumed that both were found in Q, 
but whether Mark's versions are also dependent upon Q is in 
dispute. 

13. Apparently, proverbial sayings, or sayings by Jesus, about 
salt are applied to the disciples. Cp. Mark ix. 50, where ' salt ' is 
metaphorically used in a rather obscure verse. Loisy thinks that 
the * salt ' metaphor was at first, or originally, used in a simpler 
way than in that now found either in Mark or Matthew. The 
disciple who loses the spirit of discipleship is as useless as salt 
which has lost its saltness. This idea was then by Matthew 
enlarged. As salt is to food in general, so should the disciple, or 
the Christians, be to the world. They are to make it, as it were, 
palatable to God ; they are to give a higher religion and morality 
to the world. In this form the salt metaphor is later than Jesus. 
For the whole ' salt ' question cp. Abrahams, Studies, n. p. 183. 

14-16. Here we seem to have much the same idea as is expressed 
in the metaphor of the salt. The Christian must not live for himself. 
He must be seen and show himself, as much as a city which is on the 
top of a hill. The same conception is put forward in the metaphor 
of the light and the lamp. The good deeds and life of the disciples, 
or of Christians, must be a shining light and example to the world. 
Mark iv. 21 employs the metaphor for the teaching of Jesus, and 
this would seem to be the older use. The mountain city is again 



46 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 17-20 

a proverbial expression. Verse 16 appears to connect 13-15 with 
the following passage. Luke uses the light metaphor twice, once 
from Mark, once from Q (viii. 16, xi. 33). Perhaps the original 
use of the metaphor was that the Kingdom of heaven will ultimately 
be visible all over the world. The Gospel is proclaimed in a corner ; 
its fulfilment will be wide and general. The source of the metaphor 
is, perhaps, to be found in Isaiah xlii. 6. Cp. Abrahams, Studies, 
n. chap, iii., * The Light of the World,' pp. 15, 16. As a whole, 
the passage, as we now have it, is clearly later than Jesus. 



17-20. JESUS'S ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE LAW 
(Cp. Luke xvi. 17) 

17 ' Think not that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets : 

1 8 I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, 
Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no 

19 wise pass away from the Law, till all be fulfilled. Whoever then 
abrogates one of these least commandments, and teaches men so, 
he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven : but whoever 
does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom 

20 of heaven. For I say unto you, That unless your righteousness 
exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in 
no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. 

We now come to a main portion of the Sermon — the relation of 
the morality and religion of Jesus to the morality and religion of 
the Law, or, rather, it should perhaps be said, the relation of the 
teaching of Jesus to that of the Scribes or Rabbis. Verses 17-20 
form an introduction which is full of difficulties. Even compara- 
tively orthodox Christian commentators, who dislike doubting the 
authenticity of any of the words attributed to Jesus, feel uncomfort- 
able about 18, 19. They obviously are well content with 20, and 
17 they can interpret in a sense which is quite unobjectionable, but 
18, 19 stick in the throat. And, indeed, they are not entirely 
wrong. It is very difficult to believe that Jesus can have uttered 
so emphatic and theoretic an affirmation of the permanence and 
inviolability of the Law. 

Perhaps the calmest and most accurate view of 17-20 is to 
be found in Bultmann. He says : * 17-19 is due to the discus- 
sions of the conservative (Palestinian) Christian community with 
the liberal, law-free (Hellenistic) community. The words " do 
not suppose," show that 17 arose out of debates, and the words 



V. i7-2o] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 47 

" I came " look back upon the ministry of Jesus. His work is 
already looked upon from the point of view of teaching, for the 
" fulfilling " and " annulling " refer to his teaching, not to his 
practice, as 19 clearly shows. Verse 18, in its pointed, theoretic 
formulation, and in its contradiction with oldest tradition, can only 
have been produced by the community, while 19 is not a polemic 
against Jewish teachers and Rabbis, but against Christian 
Hellenists. Verse 20 does not properly belong to 17-19, but is a 
verse created by the Evangelist to form an introduction or transition 
to 21-48. Thus, 17-19 (Q) gives the attitude of the conservative 
law-observing Palestinian community in its opposition to the 
attitude of the Hellenists ' (p. 84). 

17. ' I came.' Cp. x. 34, Mark ii. 17. But the last passage 
seems to invalidate Bultmann's theory that rjXOcv necessarily 
' looks back ' upon a completed ministry. It must be a rendering 
of an Aramaic tense form which could have been used by Jesus to 
signify ' I came and am come.' * The Prophets.' ' The reference 
to the Prophets seems out of place. It is the Law alone which 
is taken into consideration in the rest of the chapter. The editor 
has probably added * or the Prophets,' in view of the fact that, 
according to Christ's teaching elsewhere, Prophets and Law alike 
(i.e. the whole Old Testament) found their fulfilment in Him ' 
(Allen). 

KaraXvaai, ' destroy,' ' annul,' ' abrogate.' This verb is fairly 
clear. Not quite so clear is TrAr/pwcrat 'fulfil.' It may mean 'to 
fill the Law, to reveal the full depth of meaning that it was intended 
to hold ' (McNeile). Jesus, or the man who wrote in his name, 
meant, perhaps, that he did not want to abrogate the law, but to 
deepen it, to give it a wider application than the ordinary Scribe 
understood. He did not want to abolish the law, ' Thou shalt not 
murder.' But he wanted to make it include all sorts of things 
which were not understood to fall within its range. He wanted to 
make the prohibition of adultery include the lustful thought as 
well as the lustful deed. 

But this interpretation of fulfilment is not without its difficulty. 
For though it works as regards some of the examples, it does not 
work as regards others. Jesus says, ' Do not swear at all.' How 
can that be a ' fulfilment ' in the sense described of the Law ? 
Again Jesus says, ' Resist not evil.' How is that a fulfilment of 
' an eye for an eye ' ? ' Fulfil ' would have to be used, at any 
rate, in a somewhat loose sense to apply to these examples, and it 
can only with difficulty be maintained that the new teaching does 
not occasionally ' annul ' or disavow or traverse the old. 

' Fulfil,' moreover, unless we take it to have a Pauline sense, 



48 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 17-20 

or a sense in which, it might have been used by such a writer as the 
author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, can be only applied to the 
moral, and not to the ceremonial, law. For verse 17 cannot mean 
that Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial law by overcoming it and making 
it needless. Such a meaning would not only be impossible for 
Jesus, but impossible too in this particular connection, or, indeed, 
in Matthew. It may, however, well be that Jesus was for the 
moment only thinking of the moral law, with which the following 
section (21-48) exclusively deals. Even his great saying about 
inward purity does not * fulfil ' the outward laws about purity 
except in a very special sense of the word ' fulfil,' which is different 
from the sense of ' fill out with a deeper meaning ' or ' add to the 
range.' Historically, we can hardly expect to get to any certain 
conclusion as to Jesus's theoretic attitude towards the Law, because 
he probably had not faced the question himself. He may have 
been inconsistent without being aware of it. In all probability he 
observed the Mosaic Law himself, and did not directly urge or 
desire his disciples to break any definite injunction. 

We have, however, seen already how difficulties and troubles 
actually arose. But from such difficulties to any idea that to point 
out the essence of the Law was to make its minor or ceremonial 
injunctions unnecessary is a very big step. The passage about the 
two greatest commandments may be authentic enough, and such 
teaching about the Law may be regarded as a fulfilment of it. 
But ' fulfil ' can not be stretched to mean : ' by pointing out 
what are the two greatest commandments, and upon what all the 
Law hangs, I show that the ceremonial injunctions need not be 
obeyed.' To a saying like that of Matt. xxii. 40 one could quote 
close parallels from the Rabbis. For the edification and needs of 
the moment a Rabbi would often use words which would seem to 
imply a ' fulfilment ' of the Law by an ignoring of its details ; but 
he would have been very much surprised if he had been asked by a 
pupil, ' May I then eat a rabbit ? ' Moreover, the Rabbis habitually 
1 fulfilled ' the Law in the same sort of way as Jesus fulfils it in his 
remarks about adultery and anger, which are singularly Jewish and 
Rabbinic ; but, because they well knew the difference between 
legal enactments and ethical perfection, they did not mean to imply 
that the legal enactment was not to be observed. If * fulfil ' 
means * give a deeper meaning to,' then it can be applied to the 
moral commands only, and even to some of them only with diffi- 



culty. There is a long discussion of 17-19 in Holtzmann's 

pp. 502-506. He 
thought of 17 is the product of the controversy about the Law 



NeiUestamentliche Theologie, i. pp. 502-506. He argues that the 



which was started by Paul. The very phrase ' fulfilling the Law ' 
is Pauline, and is found in Romans xiii. 8, 10 and viii. 4 ; Gal. v. 14. 



V. i7-2o] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 49 

' He that loves his neighbour has fulfilled the Law.' If 17 is later 
than Jesus, no less, as Holtzmann thinks, are 18, 19. 

Harnack vigorously champions the authenticity of 17 and 18. 
' Fulfil ' means ' complete,' ' deepen,' ' make the imperfect perfect.' 
' The Prophets ' may be an addition of the Evangelist. If 
' authentic,' the meaning is that ' er (Jesus) ihre (the Prophets) das 
Gesetz erganzenden Bestimmungen vollenden wolle. ' 18 is obviously 
authentic, for the saying ' almost from the very first became very 
inconvenient.' 19 is doubtfully authentic. The saying does not 
refer to the practical observance or non-observance of the Law, 
but to its authority and validity (Geltung). The word 770677077 must 
be interpreted in accordance with Xvarj : ' qui non abrogaverit.' 
(See the interesting essay in Zeitschrift fur Theologie und Kirche, 
1912, pp. 1-30, and ' Geschichte eines programmatischen Worts Jesu 
(Matt. v. 17) in der altesten Kirche,' in Sitzungsbericht der 
preussischen Akademie der Wissenschafien, 1912.) 

Streeter says : ' The passage 17-20 reflects the attitude of the 
Jewish Christians who, while barely tolerating the proceedings of 
Paul, regarded as the pattern Christian, James, surnamed the Just, 
because his righteousness, even according to the Law, did exceed 
that of the Scribes and Pharisees. It is to be remarked that this 
passage does not come in that part of the Sermon on the Mount 
which [I] have assigned to Q ' (p. 257 ; cp. also p. 512). 

Mr. Marriott has some ingenious remarks about ' fulfilment ' 
which my readers may like to hear. Even as regards perjury, 
retaliation, and love and hatred, he thinks that fulfilment may 
legitimately be used. ' Here also Christ's teaching seems to be 
a carrying forward to completion of the old. Let us consider each 
of the three instances separately. The Jewish law against perjury 
had regard to the duty of veracity and fidelity to promises. It did 
not, however, lay this duty down absolutely, but confined itself to 
the requirement that words attested on oath should correspond 
with truth or performance. Christ fulfilled this law by requiring 
an absolute fidelity to promise. With regard to the lex talionis, 
the case is not quite so obvious. The Law certainly enjoined it as 
a duty due to justice that a man should punish the offender. And, 
looking at it in this light, Christ seems simply to negative its teach- 
ing. But it has another aspect. Its original force was not only 
positive and mandatory, but also restrictive. It had regard to the 
excesses of vengeance to which man's unbridled passion is prone 
to run. It marked an ethical advance when first promulgated, for 
it curbed the lust for excessive retaliation, and limited this to an 
equal harm. Viewed in this light, it was fulfilled by Christ entirely 
forbidding what it had but restrained. Similarly, the precept, 
" Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy " has a double 
VOL. n E 



50 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 17-20 

significance. On the one hand, it enjoins hatred towards the 
enemy. In this respect it is flatly contradicted by the precepts of 
Christ. But, on the other hand, it restricts hatred to the enemy, 
and enjoins love towards the neighbour. In this respect it marked 
an ethical advance upon more primitive teaching, and is in the line, 
of evolution towards the higher doctrine of Christ. Thus, in each 
of these three instances, the fulfilment is of the same character. 
It consists in entirely prohibiting what had previously been re- 
stricted only, and in requiring to be observed absolutely and 
universally that which previous legislation had enjoined to be 
observed only within limits. These, then, are extensions outwards ; 
the boundaries restricting the areas covered by the precepts 
are removed, so that the extent of their application becomes 
unlimited ' (p. 250). But Mr. Marriott's remarks are not by any 
means entirely accurate as regards the Jewish and Rabbinic Law, 
which was a much higher law ethically than he appears to know. 

18, 19. If 17 is authentic, it does not follow that 18 and 19 are 
authentic too. Marriott thinks that 17 was taken by Matthew 
from Q's sermon, and that he added 18, 19, 20 from elsewhere 
(p. 83). J. Weiss is inclined to regard all the three as inter- 
connected, but later than Jesus and later than Paul. He points out 
that the Evangelist does not say ' to fulfil the Law,' but, generally, 
* to fulfil,' without a specific object. The new law of Jesus stands 
to the old Law of Moses in the same relation as a fulfilment stands 
to a prediction. But it is not implied that the old Law is to exist 
after * all has been fulfilled ' (18). Till the Judgment, when the old 
earth and the old heaven shall pass away, the old Law is to abide. 
It is binding upon all the community till that not distant period. 
Mr. Allen says with force and directness about 18 and 19 : ' Com- 
mentators have exhausted their ingenuity in attempts to explain 
away this passage, but its meaning is too clear to be misunderstood. 
Christ is here represented as speaking in the spirit of Alexandrine 
and Rabbinical Judaism. The attitude to the Law here described 
is inconsistent with the general tenor of the Sermon. Verses 21-48 
are clearly intended to explain and illustrate the way in which 
Christ fulfilled the Law. But they describe a fulfilment which 
consists in a penetrating insight into the true moral principles 
underlying the enactments of the Mosaic code, and verses 34, 39 
directly traverse two propositions of the Law. Fulfilment in this 
sense is something very different from the fulfilment which rests 
upon the idea of the permanent authority of the least command- 
ment of the Law.' Mr. Allen is too conservative, however, to regard 
18 and 19 as the composition of the editor. For he goes on to say : 
' It seems probable therefore that 18 and 19 did not originally 



V. i7-2o] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 51 

belong to the Sermon, but have been placed here by the editor, who 
has thus given to fulfil ( = to bring into clear light the true scope and 
meaning) a sense (viz., to reaffirm and carry out in detail) which 
is foreign to the general tenor of the Sermon. Verse 18 finds a 
parallel in an artificial context in Luke xvi. 17. It is therefore a 
well-authenticated traditional utterance of Christ. Both it and 
19 may well have been spoken by him on different occasions, and 
under circumstances which made his meaning clear, as hyper- 
bolical expressions of respect for the authority of the general tenor 
and purport of the Law.' 

More probably neither 18 nor 19 is authentic. They not only 
seem inconsistent with the attitude of Jesus to the Law taken as a 
whole, but they reflect (see above) later disputes. For 18 one 
may compare the words of Philo in his life of Moses, ii. 14 (Mangey, 
ii. p. 136 fin.) ' The Laws of Moses have endured unchanged since 
they were written down, and will, as we hope, endure for all future 
time, so long as sun and moon and the whole heaven and universe.' 



18. Cp. Luke xvi. 17. * Verily.' 'A^v, ' Amen.' Apparently 
a true record of a verbal habit of the historic Jesus. It is a sub- 
stitute for an oath which he would not use ; it is stronger than 
' verily.' It has no exact parallel in the Rabbinic literature. ' Most 
emphatically I say unto you.' It is never ascribed to any one else, 
or used by any one else, in the N.T., and must be regarded as a 
personal trick of speech faithfully preserved by Christian tradition. 
Cp. Dalman, Worte Jesu, i. pp. 185-187. 

' Till heaven and earth pass away.' The words are not to be 
taken too literally. They are a popular way of saying ' never.' 
As verse 18 is also (in a somewhat different form) in Luke, it prob- 
ably comes from Q. So Harnack holds that the opinion about 
the Law expressed in this verse was the actual opinion of Jesus. 
There is no parallel to it in Mark. There, on the contrary, we 
have xiii. 31 (' Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words 
shall not pass away '). Harnack adds : ' If we compare the one 
saying with the other, there can be no doubt which is secondary ' 
(Spruche und Reden Jesu, p. 145). As to the wording, Harnack 
holds that the text of Matthew is correct as against Luke. [W. 
has just the opposite opinion.] Luke says that the Law shall last 
longer than (the present) heaven and earth. ' We see Luke's 
genuine Hellenistic reverence for the Old Testament, a reverence 
which could be so sincere since it was theoretical, and had no 
relation to practical quarrels ' (p. 43). But the last words, * till 
all be fulfilled,' were probably added, he thinks, by Matthew, 
partly because fulfilment had been spoken of in the previous verse, 
and partly by reminiscence of Mark xiii. 30. The second ' until ' 



52 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 17-20 

is certainly awkward. The words ' till all be fulfilled ' should 
rather be rendered * till all happens ; ' the Greek has not the same 
verb as in 17. It runs ecus av Trdvra yeV^rai. The exact 
meaning of the words is uncertain. Do they refer to the Law and 
mean : ' till all that the Law demands shall be accomplished ? ' 
Or, ' till all the things concerning myself in the Prophets shall have 
been accomplished ? ' Or, ' till this world's life is over, till the 
Judgment ' ? Perhaps the words are ' a gloss, due to the similar 
expression in xxiv. 34 (Mark xiii. 30, Luke xxi. 32) which refers to 
the portents ushering in the Last Day ' (McNeile). 

' One jot,' Icora Iv. That is one Yod, the smallest letter in the 
Hebrew alphabet. It has, however, been pointed out that in 
the Hebrew writing of the time Yod was not smaller than Vau, but 
that it was very small in Aramaic writing, in which script the Old 
Testament must then have been transcribed. Perhaps Matthew 
added iwra (i) as the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. 

K€p€a is supposed to refer to the small strokes or hooks which 
at that time served to distinguish letters which otherwise closely 
resembled each other (i.e. * and i v and b, or 3 and 3 b and k, or 
rr and n h and ch). Other views are that ' the smallness of the 
alteration in the Law is perhaps connected, not with the size of the 
letter Yod, but with the fact that in many words it can be dispensed 
with — " not even a Yod, which is only demanded by correctness of 
spelling, shall pass away." And /cepe'a is treated similarly, if (as 
Burkitt conjectures) it can mean the "hook (letter)," i.e. Vau, which 
is as frequently dispensed with as Yod. But Luke's omission of 
latra tv suggests a further conjecture. If in an early Aramaic 
document, in which Yod and Vau were indistinguishable, the words 
were written as "one i," different translations might represent them 
by l&ra ev and /xt'a /ce/sea, the latter being used in Luke, the former 
in Matthew ; r? pta /cepe'a may then have been a later harmonizing 
addition in Matthew ' (McNeile). 

19. There are some who think that 18 is authentic (or, at any 
rate, that it represents the actual view and teaching of Jesus) but 
that 19 is not. ' The verse is possibly a gloss since no " command- 
ments" have been mentioned to which rwv eVroAcDv TOVTOJV can 
refer ; the use of Xvarj after KaraXvcrcu (17) is also noticeable ' 
(McNeile). Some see in it a polemical reference to certain followers 
of Paul. They are not excluded from the Kingdom, but they are 
to occupy the lowest place. The Kingdom is, perhaps, not the 
eschatological Kingdom of the future (as in 20), but the Christian 
Church. XVOTJ seems to mean the same as KaraXvaai, in 17. The 
same English verb, whether 'cancel,' ' destroy,' or * abrogate,' 
should perhaps be used in both verses, 



V. i7-2o] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 53 

Pfleiderer is still, perhaps,- worth hearing upon 17-19. He 
thinks that 19 is probably a later addition, but that 17 and 18 are, 
if not in the actual wording, genuine expressions of Jesus's actual 
teaching. That 18 occurs also in Luke xvi. 17 shows at any rate 
that it must rest on pretty old tradition. Moreover, the oldest 

* Church ' before Paul followed a rule of life in accordance with it. 
17 and 18, or their original form, were meant by Jesus quite simply 
to indicate the perpetual binding force of the Mosaic Law. The 
Evangelist meant to indicate something different. He meant that 
the Law was to be ' fulfilled ' spiritually and morally. He wants, 
like Luke, to preserve the due mean between antinomianism on 
the one hand and ceremonial legalism on the other. ' Fulfil ' and 

* destroy ' are Pauline expressions, and were doubtless employed 
by the Evangelist in a Pauline sense (Urchristentum, Vol. i. p. 564). 

It may be noted that even 17 could not have been spoken except 
at a fairly late period in the ministry. Who would have thought 
at first that Jesus came to destroy the Law ? In fact the verse 
gives one the impression of being a fine theoretic reflection of a 
later thinker upon Jesus's attitude. Jesus himself was hardly 
so theoretic. He took his line towards the Law as occasion de- 
manded. Wellhausen says : * The point of view which the new 
law-giver took up towards the Law of Moses was the burning question 
in early Christianity. In Mark x. i-io Jesus only occasionally 
touches upon this question, but when he does so, he is quite un- 
embarrassed. In Matthew, in the very first speech, he grapples 
with the question theoretically, but with much less simplicity ' (viel 
befangener). But it should be noticed that the passage is much 
altered in the second edition. 

20. This verse is probably Matthew's own, and intended as an 
introduction to what is now to follow (see above, from Bultmann). 
Some would connect it with 17 ; 18 and 19 being interpolated. Or 
again it might be a sort of qualification to 18 and 19, added on by 
somebody who disliked the point of view of these two verses and 
wanted to minimize their tendency. The * righteousness ' of the 
Gospel is contrasted with the presumed ' outward ' righteousness 
of the Scribes. The * for ' connects better with 17 than with 19. 
The teaching of Jesus deepens and intensifies the moral teaching 
of the Law. The ' righteousness ' demanded by the Law is in- 
adequate to secure admission into the Kingdom of heaven, into 
the bliss of the world to come. Or, perhaps, the sort of fulfilment 
of the Law which the Rabbis inculcated is not enough to secure 
admission. Even the sensible Scribe of Mark xii. 28 was only 
1 near ' the Kingdom (xii. 34). Or, if 20 is really independent of 17, 
then we may interpret it to mean, not that the Law in itself is 



54 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 17-20 

inadequate, but that the way in which the Pharisees and Rabbis 
fulfil it is inadequate to secure for them admission into the Kingdom 
of heaven. Yet the compiler of Matthew in adding 20 to 19 must- 
have had, one must suppose, something in his mind as to the re- 
lation of 20 to 19. Perhaps he put ' for ' when he would have liked 
to put ' but/ If that be so, 20 would be intended to soften the 
effect of 19. To enter the Kingdom a man must fulfil the Law in 
that deepened completeness of it which Jesus is about to teach. 

The higher righteousness of Jesus, his new commandments, 
are, as J. Weiss rightly says, intended for men who are soon to 
appear before the judgment seat of God. The sermon is spoken 
from the point of view of an expected and near ' end of the world.' 
The crisis is at hand. Hence the Sermon contains no programme 
for the improvement of this world and its institutions. It has no 
thought of a human race who are to live upon the earth for centuries 
upon centuries, but it is spoken to a small band of men who are to 
turn their backs upon earthly matters, and to expect and prepare 
for a new ' heavenly ' order. We can find in the Sermon no solution 
of our ' social question,' no plans upon which to organize the society 
of later ages. To the question, * How are we best to order the life 
of mankind ? ', we receive no answer ; what is answered is the 
question which an earnest and tender conscience must always put 
to itself : ' What must I do to be saved ? ' It is this quality of the 
Sermon — here rightly, if perhaps too one-sidedly, emphasized by 
Weiss — which makes a certain distinction between the ethics of 
Jesus and the ethics of the prophets. We can see how the teaching 
of Jesus could be misinterpreted to justify, and to lead to, a selfish 
individualism. For the question ' What must I do to be saved ? ' 
(' Was muss ich tun, dass ich selig werde ? ') could lead to unsocial 
asceticism, or to a careless and egoistic charity which has increased 
the evils which it professedly would cure. ' What must I do to be 
saved ? ' is a question which to some Jewish ears has a selfish and 
over-personal sound. It has been said by some Jewish critics that 
distinctively Jewish ethics say : * What is my duty towards others 
for their benefit ? ' and that distinctively Christian ethics say : 
' What is my duty towards others that I may save my own soul ? ' 
The antithesis is really a false one, and the teaching of Jesus, taken 
as a whole, is free from all egoistic taint. Nevertheless, just as 
Rabbinic religion has its peculiar dangers, so perhaps also has the 
religion of the Synoptic Gospels. 

Meanwhile, Christian commentators continue to repeat one after 
the other the old theory that Jesus taught and proclaimed a ' new 
righteousness,' that he taught and demanded this new righteousness 
consciously and deliberately, and that his claim was true. So, e.g., 
with emphasis and iteration Heinrici in his essay on the Sermon 



V. 2i, 22] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 55 

on the Mount ' begriffsgeschichtlich untersucht.' I believe both 
assertions to be false. They are obtained by an exaggeration of 
the ethical perfection and comprehensiveness of the Sermon, on 
the one hand, and by unjustified depreciation of ' Jewish ' teaching, 
upon the other. In spite of the ' antitheses ' of the Sermon, I do 
not believe that Jesus had any deliberate intention of teaching a 
new religion or a new ' righteousness.' He was well content with 
Micah's ' What does the Lord require of thee,' and with the love of 
God and neighbour demanded by the Law. And Rabbinic righteous- 
ness was vastly higher, purer, and more inward than Heinrici and 
his like know or allow. Till it is realized that each side has its good 
points and its weaknesses, that there are agreements and over- 
lappings as well as differences in the teachings of one and the other, 
a completely historic, a coldly judicial, assessment and appraise- 
ment will never be obtained. 



21, 22. THE OLD LAW AND THE NEW TEACHING : 
(A) OF ANGER 

(Matthew only) 

21 'Ye have heard that it was said to the men of old time, Thou 
shalt not murder; and whoever murders shall be liable to the 

22 court. But I say unto you, That whoever is angry with his 
brother shall be liable to the court : and whoever shall say to his 
brother, Raca, shall be liable to the high court ; and whoever 
shall say, Thou fool, shall be liable to the Gehenna of fire. 

2i. We now are shown in detail how the new ' gospel ' righteous- 
ness must exceed the old ' legal ' righteousness and differ from it. 
Five or six times it is said, ' Ye have heard that it was said to them 
of old time, so and so, but I say unto you ' — something finer and 
deeper, something more inclusive, completing, and profound. The 
opposition, ' Ye have heard that it was said to the men of old — but 
I say unto you,' is only found in Matthew. But most, though not 
all, of the material which is collected under the antithesis is not 
found in Luke. So we cannot conclusively argue from its absence 
in Luke that the antithesis is not authentic. It may or may not be. 
It is interesting to note that the formula chosen carefully avoids 
the use of the word * Moses.' Jesus does not say, or is not made 
to say, ' You have heard that it was said to Moses,' but only vaguely, 
' You have heard that it was said to the men of old time.' And 
again the wording chosen carefully avoids the use of the word * God.' 



56 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 21, 22 

It does not say ' You have heard that God said to Moses/ which 
would have been the real truth. ' Moses/ says Wellhausen, ' soil 
offenbar aus dem Spiel bleiben.' But he might also have added : 
' Gott soil auch offenbar aus dem Spiel bleiben.' But the artifice of 
the omission and of the substitute ' the men of old ' does not succeed. 
For clearly the references are to the Decalogue and to the Mosaic 
Law. It was God who said to Moses and ' to the men of old,' 
' Thou shalt not murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery/ and to 
Moses, ' Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' A good deal 
depends upon the view taken of 18, 19. If these verses, or if verse 
18, be authentic, one can hardly believe that Jesus would in one 
breath have taught the immortality and binding force of the Mosaic 
Law and in the next have set himself up as the new Lawgiver in 
opposition to the old. But if 18 is not authentic — and this is more 
probable — we have a freer hand. And, perhaps, all that Jesus 
really meant was, not to overthrow the Law, but to deepen its 
range, to show the real inclusiveness of its commands. The 
trouble is that this interpretation of the ' contrast ' works well 
for some of the examples, but not for all. Thus Dr. Schechter 
proposed a hypothesis, based upon a profound and also instinctive 
knowledge of Rabbinic and Hebrew usage, which is wanting to the 
Christian commentators. Dr. Schechter shows that the Rabbis 
were accustomed to give enlarged interpretations of Biblical utter- 
ances, and were wont to argue that more was intended and included 
by a given command or saying than the mere letter would imply. 
There is a fairly close Rabbinic parallel even to the very phrase of 
Matthew, ' Ye have heard — but I say/ which runs, * You might 
understand a given passage or law to mean, or to mean only, so and 
so, therefore there is a teaching to say that, ' etc. But Dr. Schechter 's 
interpretation, suitable for the first two examples, is unsuitable for 
the last two, and rather awkward though not impossible, for the 
middle two examples. It may, however, be that the antithesis has 
been added by the Evangelist or an earlier redactor to the last two 
and perhaps even to the third (divorce). In the fourth example 
it might perhaps be said that the command not to swear falsely 
implies the higher rule : swear not at all. (Schechter, Some Aspects 
of Rabbinic Theology, p. 214, n. i ; ' Rabbinic Parallels to the New 
Testament/ J. Q. R. Vol. xn. p. 427, April 1900; and see also 
Abrahams, Studies, i. p. 16.) 

Perhaps in the list of contrasts some things only go back to 
Jesus, and some are due to later writers who were more hostile to 
the Law than Jesus was, and more deliberately opposed to Judaism. 
Wellhausen observes : * Presumably the words of the Law are 
supposed to be the same thing as the Jewish religion, and yet the 
Jewish religion had, in many respects, advanced as much beyond the 



V. 21,22] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 57 

literal words of the Law as the Christian religion. The foil is 
darkened, that the light may shine more brightly. We have the 
echo of a temper which was produced among the disciples by the 
crucifixion and by the persecutions which they had to undergo. 
As a Jerusalem scribe, Matthew is much more Jewish (steckt viel 
tiefer im Judentum) than Jesus of Galilee, but he nevertheless 
criticizes his hostile fellow-countrymen, and especially their spiritual 
leaders, more sharply. He oscillates between two opposite poles.' 

The passage is suppressed in the second edition, and the 
following is substituted for it : ' Es liegt hier nicht eine zornige 
Polemik gegen den Pharisaismus vor, wie in Kap. 23, sondern eine 
grundsatzliche Unterscheidung zwischen Legalitat und Gesinnungs- 
moral. Dabei darf unberiicksichtigt bleiben, dass doch auch das 
Judentum nicht am Buchstaben des Gesetzes kleben blieb.' It 
would also make good sense to insert * nicht ' after the word ' darf ' 
and before the word ' unberiicksichtigt.' 

It is not quite easy to believe that Jesus would have put his teach- 
ing (for that is what it comes to) in contrast to the Decalogue. He 
would scarcely have wished to depreciate the Decalogue by the 
higher nobility of his own teaching, or wished his disciples to believe 
that the Decalogue was a poor and meagre sort of law, which it was 
reserved for him to deepen and to enlarge. Shall we, then, upon 
the whole, conclude that Jesus, as the prophetic teacher of inward- 
ness, wanted to show that the true fulfilment of the Law included 
and implied an inward and enlarged interpretation of the leading 
moral enactments ? He did not mean to rail against the very 
Decalogue itself, by depreciating it in contrast with the new law 
which he was giving to his disciples. There seems all the more 
reason to think that this was the original form and intention of this 
section of his sermon, inasmuch as the greater part of his interpreta- 
tions are so thoroughly Rabbinic in character and tone. 

A further point to remember is that the Pentateuch occupied 
a sovereign position among the Jews, so that the conception of 
* the Law ' or * of law ' as opposed to some higher principle of 
religion was unknown to them. * Torah ' to the Rabbis is not 
merely ' law/ but * teaching.' They freely use the word Torah 
even where they base their views and teachings upon Biblical 
passages outside the Pentateuch. Again, the Rabbis were quite 
aware of the difference between the letter and the spirit of the Law ; 
only they used different terms to denote letter and spirit. To 
illustrate both these points, take the Rabbinic terms shurot hctdin 
and lefanim meshurot ha' din. The one means ' the strict letter of 
the Law,' the other * beyond the letter, i.e. the spirit, of the Law.' 
Thus : * R. Jochanan said, Jerusalem was only destroyed because 
they gave judgments according to the letter of the Law ' (and not 



58 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 21, 22 

according to the spirit). Or this story : ' Some labourers broke the 
wine-barrels belonging to Kabba bar Chanan, and he took away 
their clothes. They came to Rab and told him what had happened. 
He said to Rabba, " Give them back their clothes." Rabba said 
to him, " Is this the Law ? " Rab said, " Yes, it is, for we read in 
Proverbs, That thou mayest walk in the way of good men." Rabba 
then gave them back their clothes. But they said to him : " We 
are poor, and have toiled all day ; we are hungry, and have nothing." 
Then Rab said to Rabba, " Go and give them their wages." Rabba 
said to Rab : " But is this the Law ? " Rab said to him, " Yes, it 
is, for it says in Proverbs, And keep the paths of the righteous " 
(Baba Mezia, 30 6#nd 83 a ; Wuensche, Der babylonische Talmud in 
seinen haggadischen Bestandteilen, n. 2, pp. 61, 85). 

21. * Ye have heard.' The simplest interpretation is that the 
' hearing ' refers to readings of the Law or expositions of the Law 
given in the synagogues. The words, ' Whoever shall murder 
shall be liable to the tribunal ' are not in the Old Testament. 
Jesus may have had a passage like Deut. xvi. 18 in his mind. What 
is 77 Kpiais ? It depends on the interpretation of 22. The ordinary 
interpretation is that it means the local court as contrasted with the 

* supreme court/ the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. Or it may mean 
merely * judgment.' The murderer is ' liable to the judgment,' 
i.e. guilty, and so condemned by the properly constituted authorities. 
Or it may mean ' the law,' ' judicial proceedings.' But whatever 
the meaning, the whole phrase is exceedingly odd. One would 
expect : ' he who murders shall be put to death.' The odd wording, 
odd too in its mildness, was probably chosen as an artifice for the 
sake of what is to follow. 

22. First let us suppose that all the verse was written at one 
and the same time, and as the sequel of 21. What then can be its 
meaning ? 

(a) One view is that Jesus distinguishes between three grades of 
sin, (i) Feeling of anger, (2 and 3) Two grades of abusive language. 
The signification of raka is uncertain : Matthew, perhaps, did not 
know and left it untranslated. It is probably the Aramaic rayka 
found in the Talmud, meaning ' empty-headed,' ' scamp.' ' Fool,' 
in Hebrew or Aramaic, would mean * impious one,' ' scoundrel.' Or 

* fool,' fjuojpe, may stand for the Hebrew word shoteh, which means 
' fool,' * madman ' in our sense of the terms. Jesus hardly means 
that a disciple or member of the new brotherhood is literally to 
be brought up before a local court, if he is angry with his brother. 
What he means is that in his teaching, with its increased demands, 
anger is as great a sin as murder was under the Law. And to call 



V. 21,22] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 59 

your brother raka is even worse than murder, while to call him 
fool, deserves the special punishment of God. The intensifications 
and order must not be literally pressed. We must not take it as 
the deliberate opinion of Jesus that if a man, say in hot blood, 
calls his neighbour a fool, he is likely to be sent after his death 
into Gehenna and 'eternal fire.' If that were the literal meaning, 
it would be intolerably harsh. 

(b) But there are many difficulties in the first view. Why 
should two unkind words be punished so much more heavily than 
the feeling of anger, the angry heart ? And what is the terrible 
difference between ' raka ' and ' fool ' ? How can the difference in 
abuse, if there be such, justify the great difference in degree of 
punishment ? So it is supposed that 22 has got confused, and that 
the second part also contains Jewish teaching to which Jesus 
opposes his own teaching in the last or third part of 22. * The 
Rabbis say that murder is liable to judgment, but I say that anger, 
its equivalent, is liable to (divine) judgment. And (the Rabbis say 
that) abusive language such as raka is punishable by the local court, 
but I say that abusive language such as w#re, its equivalent, is 
punishable by the fire of Gehenna ' (McNeile). If this view be 
true, Kpioret, in 21 must mean ' judgment ' generally, and not * local 
court.' And then too rw crvveSpiq) in 22 means not the supreme 
court at Jerusalem, but the local court of any town or congregation. 
And Kpicrei, in 22 means ' judgment ' as in 21, yet not human 
judgment (as in 21) but the judgment of God. 

Certainly (b) is more probable than (a), but more probable still 
is the view that 226 (after ' court,' or ' judgment,' Kpiaet,) is a later 
gloss. Jesus speaks of murder and anger quite generally. The 
command ' Do no murder ' does not merely mean * do not murder ' ; 
it condemns also all angry feelings. The gloss might have arisen 
from a misunderstanding of the word /cptcret which was taken 
to mean ' local court,' and then the extra gradations were 
added. 

In a fresh re-examination of the problem by Konrad Kohler 
(Z. N. W., 1919, pp. 91-94), he comes to the conclusion that the words 
os 8' av €L7Tr) fjLwp€ &TQ s, mere marginal explanation of os 8' av €*7rr) 
paKa (he who calls [his brother] raka). When this explanation got 
put into the text, a conclusion to it was given in the words Zvoxos 
IOTCU TO) oweSpioj. The original saying gave two examples of 
sin which is as bad as (or worse than) murder. These two examples 
are not to be contrasted with each other. ' But ' should be ' and.' 
' I say to you that every one that shows anger ' — not ' feels anger ' 
says Kohler — * to his neighbour is liable to the judgment [of God], 
and he who says to his brother Raca [or calls his brother raca] is 
liable to the Fire ' [i.e. of Gehenna]. Kohler establishes this as the 



60 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 23-26 

original reading on the basis of the citations from the Church Fathers 
and an elaborate examination of their readings. 

In 22 the ordinary text reads, ' Whosoever is angry with his 
brother without a cause,' but the Greek word for * without a cause ' 
(€LKrj) is probably a later insertion. The original ' was an austere; 
prohibition of all wrath, for within the Kingdom all men were 
brethren. It seemed a demand too great for human attainment, 
and so the Church took away its difficulty by limiting the doom to 
him who was angry with his brother without cause ' (Carpenter, First 
Three Gospels, p. 24). But Merx is keen that ' without cause ' is 
right, and original, and his arguments are strong. Jesus would 
then according to Merx, not have broken his own command in 
Mark iii. 5 ; his ' wrath ' would not have to be explained away. 

In these verses Jesus appears to regard the feeling of anger as 
no less terrible a crime than murder. Such paradoxical equivalences 
were quite usual among the Rabbis. But they must not be pressed 
too far, just as to feel anger and to control the feeling is obviously 
a less sin than to give free play to it. The teaching of 21 and 22 is 
Rabbinic, and contains nothing that is new. No sin was more 
atrocious to the Rabbis than putting your neighbour to open shame, 
to make him blush in public. That is why to abuse him and call 
him * fool ' was so deadly a sin. It is quite likely that Jesus took 
the same line, as, indeed, the whole of this passage contains Rabbinic 
commonplace. For it is false that Rabbinic ethics knows of nothing 
but * actions.' It is false that Jesus, in saying that God's law has 
to do with Gesinnung (inward disposition, motive, character), 
was opposed to the whole spirit of Judaism. It is false that in 
Judaism religion was mere outward obedience ; it is false that the 
relation of man to God was conceived of only as one of action and 
reward, and that character remains wholly out of account. It is 
false that the Law was an outward taskmaster, which evoked fear 
and not love. No one can understand the Rabbinic religion with 
these presuppositions. There is no such fundamental contrast 
between it and the religion of Jesus. The Law was not a mere 
external law, fulfilled from fear of punishment and for hope of 
reward. It was the Law of the all-wise and all-righteous God, given 
to Israel as a sign of supremest grace. It was a token of divine 
affection, and in its fulfilment was the highest human joy. 

23-26. ON RECONCILEMENT 
(Cp. Luke xii. 57~59) 

2 3 ' If then thou bring thy offering to the altar, and thou remember 
*4 there that thy brother has ought against thee, leave thy offering 



V. 23-26] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 6l 

there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled to thy brother, 
and then come and bring thy offering. 

25 * Become friends with thine opponent quickly, whilst thou art 
still on the way with him ; lest thy opponent deliver thee to the 
judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast 

26 into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come 
out thence, till thou hast paid the last farthing. 

23, 24. Some think that we have in 23, 24 and again in 25, 26 
two applications of the principle that to harbour anger is sin. 
Others, more probably, think that all four verses (whatever their 
source and provenance) break the connection. They would fit in 
better after vi. 15. It is held by some that the passage is rather 
suited for inhabitants of Jerusalem than for Galilaeans. The 
verses in any case imply that the Jewish state and Temple are still 
in working order. The teaching is again perfectly Rabbinic and 
usual. Whether the verses are based upon Mark xi. 25 is doubtful. 
A common source may be the origin of both. Or both may have 
been said by Jesus on different occasions. In Mark xi. 25 it is the 
person addressed who is ' angry ; ' in Matthew v. 23 it is his ' brother.' 
But, perhaps (it is not certain), the fact that the brother has some- 
thing against ' thee ' is meant to imply that * thou ' on thy side 
hast done something to justify his anger. If the verses are authentic, 
they would show, as Loisy points out, that Jesus did not dream of 
freeing his disciples from observing the legal sacrifices. Perhaps 
rather it should be said that the Temple and the sacrifices are merely 
used as a conventional setting for the moral teaching. But Jesus 
does not usually use the Temple in this way : Loisy is inclined to 
ask whether the adage was not born in that Judseo-Christian 
'atmosphere, where the saying was composed which canonizes all 
the ordinances of the Law.' Whether Jesus ever offered any 
sacrifices since the beginning of his ministry is uncertain. ' It 
seems that he did not : he prayed and taught in the Temple, but 
it does not appear that he took part in any sacrificial act ' (E. S. I. 
P- 573)- Wellhausen says : ' As they are preserved, the words 
w. 23-25 cannot have been uttered by Jesus himself, for they do 
not suit the Galilaeans to whom he was talking. They must have 
been formed in the Jerusalem community, and can only be explained 
if this community continued to practise and take part in the sacri- 
ficial service in the Temple ' (Einleitung, p. 62, n. I, ed. 2). 

In his interesting, novel, and suggestive little treatise, Die 
Bergpredigt im Lichte der Strophentheorie, the distinguished Semitic 
scholar, Dr. D. H. Miiller, points out that the teaching carries the 
Rabbinic command as to robbery one step further. For according 



62 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [¥.23-26 

to the Rabbinic law a man must first restore what he had stolen 
before he could bring his sin-offering. And if he had brought the 
offering, and it was discovered that the theft had not been restored, 
the sacrifice had to be destroyed as illegal, and the priest was not 
allowed to use it sacrificially. It had to be burned outside the 
temple. 

25, 26 (Luke xii. 57~59)- These two verses are by no means 
very clear. If there is no allegorical sense to be assigned to the 
judge and the prison, etc., they merely urge the practical advantages 
of early reconcilement. If there be an allegoric fuller meaning, 
the judge would be God, and the prison hell. The ' way ' would 
be the fife on earth, and the officer might be — though this is un- 
necessary — the angel of judgment. Such may be the meaning to 
Matthew. Perhaps the original meaning was that one must be 
reconciled with one's neighbour quickly so as not, perchance, to 
have to appear before God unreconciled with one's neighbour. 
God only forgives those who have forgiven, or who have sincerely 
sought reconcilement with, their neighbour. Another view is that 
of Loisy, who suggests that originally what may have been intended 
was an implicit comparison. ' When one has a bad case, it is best 
to come to an arrangement before one is condemned ; similarly, 
as regards salvation, it is wiser to settle accounts with God by a 
sincere repentance than to await the great Judgment which will 
also be eternal punishment ' (E. S. I. p. 574). It is not meant by 
26 that the punishment of hell is only temporary. 

1 Become friends with.' taOt, evvowv T& a^rtSt/coj. ' It is 



strange that the offending party should be exhorted to "be favour- 
abl minded " towards his oonent. 



ably minded " towards his opponent. Luke has 809 
aTT^AAax&u a7r s avrov ("to be quit of him"); and since the 
cause of complaint, as "the last quadrans" (v. 26) shews, is an un- 
paid debt, €vvoa>v may have arisen from a mistaken rendering of 
oStD (" pay back "), as though it meant " make peace " 
(McNeile). Can evvo&v (only here in the New Testament) be 
rendered as Moffatt does by ' make terms with ' ? 

Between 23, 24 and 25, 26 the connection seems, as Mr. Allen 
says, to be ' literary and artificial.' The verses are ' clearly a 
warning against the risk of appearing before God at the Judgment 
Day unreconciled to Him. He is alike prosecutor and judge and 
executor of judgment. Luke has the saying in a context to which 
this meaning is more applicable.' 



V. 27, 28] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 63 



27, 28. THE OLD LAW AND THE NEW TEACHING : 
(B) OF ADULTERY 

(Matthew only) 

27 'Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery : 

28 but I say unto you, That whoever looks on a woman to desire 
her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. 

This is the second example of the deepening of the letter of 
the Law. The seventh Commandment follows upon the sixth. 
The woman must be, some say, the wife of another. For the 
adultery is committed against her husband. It is said that accord- 
ing to Jewish and antique conceptions, fornication with an un- 
married woman even by a married man is not adultery. But I 
doubt whether Jesus had these limitations in mind. I am more 
inclined to think that Jesus would have said that if a married 
man coveted an unmarried woman, or an unmarried man coveted 
a married woman, he was equally guilty of this inward adultery. 
The doctrine that desire is sinful is quite Rabbinic, and can be 
readily paralleled in the Talmud. 

Wellhausen acknowledges that the Old Testament had advanced 
beyond the mere letter of the Law : ' Jesus, in spite of Matthew, 
does not go beyond Job xxx.' The Rabbinic parallels are oddly 
close. Indeed no simple Rabbinic Jew who read the utterance of 
Jesus for the first time would find in it anything startling, except 
the implication that there was any opposition between the old Law 
and the new. At the same time what Jesus says is not the whole 
truth. 

'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus, 
Another thing to fall. 

There is some willingness on the part of many Christian theo- 
logians to recognize the similarity of teaching between Jesus and 
the Rabbis on such a question as lustful desire, but the recognition 
is still a little half-hearted. What are we to make of a note like 
this on verse 28 ? ' The Rabbis had legislated for actions, not 
for thoughts ' (McNeile). But who can legislate, in the literal 
meaning of the word, for ' thoughts ' ? The Halachah deals 
with actions, as any other system of codified law must. But 
in their teaching, the Rabbis dealt with ' thoughts ' no less than 
Jesus. 



64 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 29, 30 

29, 30. OF TEMPTATIONS AND STUMBLING-BLOCKS 
(Cp. Matthew xviii. 8, 9 ; Mark ix. 43-47) 

29 ' And if thy right eye cause thee to stumble, tear it out, and 
throw it from thee : for it is better for thee that one of thy members 
should perish, rather than that thy whole body should be thrown 

30 into hell. And if thy right hand cause thee to stumble, cut it off, 
and throw it from thee : for it is better for thee that one of thy 
members should perish, rather than that thy whole body should 
come into hell. 

29, 30 are found in Mark ix. 43-47 and are repeated in Matthew 
xviii. 8, 9. Here they seem to have been inserted. The eye is in 
place as the seat and cause of lustful desire ; the hand is not. But 
verse 30 is wanting in the S.S. and in D. The ' right ' eye is odd. We 
see with both eyes. But in a passage in which man was urged that 
rather than yield to sin it were better to cut off the most precious 
member of his body, the right hand, as the more valuable of the 
two, would be in place : the eye would then have been assimilated 
to the hand. Self -mutilation is not intended. The language is 
metaphorical. 

There seems in this passage to be a distinct ascetic tinge. Nor 
can it be alleged that the ascetic element is wholly wanting in the 
teaching of Jesus. There is a tendency to regard abstention as 
higher than temperate enjoyment, just as it is considered higher 
to have no money than to use money well. There is a tendency to 
put celibacy above marriage ; there is a tendency to suggest that 
the highest religious life necessitates the abandonment of ordinary 
family ties. The result of this tendency has been seen, in its full 
fruitage, in the monastic institutions and life of the Roman Catholic 
Church. No student of history, no observer of facts, can deny the 
noble characters which this tendency has produced. But, at the 
same time, none can deny its dangers and its evils. Yet asceticism 
is a necessary element in every idealist religion. And the current 
objections to asceticism in modern Judaism tend to have the evil 
result of making religion too comfortable. ' Reasonable enjoy- 
ment ' ; ' God meant us to be happy ' ; ' the gifts of God, 
even his material gifts, are to be temperately used and enjoyed ' ; 
* this is no vale of tears,' etc., etc., etc. These statements are 
sensible enough, but just a little too sensible. They conform too 
well to the ordinary feelings and wishes of the ordinary man. They 
leave little room for the heroic. Yet, on the other hand, it is 
dangerous to confine religion to the ascetic life. The phrase ' to 



V. 31, 32] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 65 

live in religion,' meaning to live outside the family, is not in ac- 
cordance with Jewish conceptions of religion and morality. Judaism 
asks that lust should be tamed and sanctified. Lust is to become 
love. But the holy satisfaction of natural passion in married life is, 
according to the main stream of Jewish teaching, a higher thing 
than celibacy. In the age of Jesus there was, however, an ascetic 
branch of Jewish doctrine. The Essenes were ascetics. Some 
have thought that Jesus was influenced by Essenism. A remarkable 
parallel passage is quoted by Fiebig (Jesu Bergpredigt, 1924, p. 54) 
from Niddah 13 6, and a further one from Sabbath 108 6. In the 
first passage, and in the Mishnah passage on which it is based 
(Niddah 13 a), the punishment of having the hand cut off is to be 
the penalty of a man who is guilty of certain unclean acts. When 
R. Tarphon is asked whether, under certain circumstances where 
life might be in danger, such an act might not be justifiable, he 
replies, * It is better that his body should burst rather than that he 
should go down into the pit ' (i.e. Gehenna or Hell). I suppose 
that the expressions are all metaphorical. In spite of Deut. xxv. 12, 
there was, I presume, no question of a man's hand being actually 
cut off for any of the offences suggested. Besides, how could they 
be known ? The sayings and phrases, therefore, show how vivid 
and severe Oriental hyperbole could be. Cp. Matt. xix. 12. The 
Talmudic passages appear to strengthen the view that nothing 
literal is meant in Matt. xix. 12 any more than in v. 29, 30. 



31, 32. THE OLD LAW AND THE NEW TEACHING : 
(C) OF DIVORCE 

(Cp. Luke xvi. 18) 

3 1 'It has been said, Whoever would divorce his wife, let him 

32 give her a bill of divorce : but I say unto you, That whoever 
divorces his wife, except for unchastity, causes her to commit 
adultery : and whoever marries a woman that is divorced com- 
mits adultery. 

So far nothing has been said which is not Rabbinic and orthodox. 
The New Teaching, so far, is in complete conformity with Rabbinic 
teaching, except, perhaps, in the passage about Temptations and 
Stumbling-blocks. There is nothing in the sayings about Anger, 
Appeasement, Reconciliation, Lustful Desire, which would be new 
or surprising to a Rabbinic Jew. But now we do come to something 
new. The passage about Divorce (cp. Mark x. 1-12 ; Matt. xix. 3-9 ; 
Luke xvi. 18 and the notes) is the first really original utterance 

VOL. II F 



66 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 31,32 

in the series of contrasts, as compared with the best Rabbinic 
teaching. 

It is also the first real or apparent conflict with the letter of the 
Mosaic Law. In Luke the sentence about divorce follows im- 
mediately upon the sentence about the immutability of the Law. 
Luke, apparently, was conscious of no contradiction between the 
one utterance and the other. The second statement may be 
supposed to explain the first. The abrogation of divorce is only a 
* fulfilment ' of the Law which permitted divorce ; the permanence 
of the Law only meant its permanence in the higher ' fulfilment.' 

Whether Jesus himself thought like this is more doubtful. The 
excuse which he gives in Mark x. 5 for the opposition between the 
Law and his teaching is more likely to be historical. Divorce was 
merely permissive ; God, through Moses, did not order the Israelites 
to divorce their wives, as he ordered them not to eat rabbits. 
Knowing the hardness of their hearts, he merely permitted it. One 
can imagine that Jesus could honestly have thought that his war 
against divorce was in no wise a war upon the Pentateuchal Law. 
And though the teaching about anger and adultery ' fulfils ' or 
' completes ' the Law in an easier and less subtle a sense than the 
teaching about divorce, still it is by no means impossible that Jesus 
did regard his prohibition as a ' fulfilment ' of the concession made 
in old days to the weakness of human nature and the hardness of 
men's hearts. 

' Causes her to commit adultery,' i.e. by marrying another 
man. To marry a divorced woman is adultery, because this woman 
is still the wife of another man. The form of the saying in this 
verse, except ' save for unchastity,' may have been exactly as it 
stood in Q. Luke's version may have been influenced by Mark. 
Matthew's is independent of Mark. 

It is to be noted that the two cases mentioned in 32 are different 
from the two cases mentioned in Mark. There (i) the man who 
divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, (2) the 
woman who divorces her husband and marries another commits 
adultery. Here the cases are (i) of the divorced woman who 
commits adultery if she marry again, (2) of the man who marries 
that divorced woman. 

The words ' except for unchastity ' (or ' fornication ') are 
probably a later addition, with the object of mitigating the uncom- 
promising universality of the denunciation. But it is by no means 
certain that they change the intended sense. For even if the words 
are an addition of Matthew's, and were not in Q, they may only 
bring out the original meaning. For it may be argued that adultery 
on the woman's part of itself dissolved the marriage. Cp. the Notes 
on Mark. M. Loisy suggests that, when every disciple of Jesus is 



V. 33-3?] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 67 

even forbidden to allow an impure thought to arise in his mind, 
* the hypothesis of adultery being committed by an aspirant to 
eternal life need not be discussed ' (E. S.i.p. 579). But Christians 
were no more proof than Jews against human temptations and sins. 
The case of adultery speedily arose, and so, a redactor, by adding 
the words, ' except for fornication,' brought back the old law, at 
least for men, as applicable to Christians under special aggravated 
circumstances. 

The extreme attitude, possibly taken up by Jesus, that under 
no circumstances is divorce permissible, is untenable and objection- 
able ; but the implied attack upon the inferiority of women in 
Oriental society, and upon the unjust power of divorce given to men, 
was of the highest importance and value. Thus, upon the whole, 
we have to recognize that his words have been of service towards 
a higher conception of womanhood. Loisy says rightly : * So far 
as one can judge, Jesus condemned divorce as contrary to the law 
of love, without however reflecting on the social reasons which one 
may put forward for or against the practice ' (E. S. i. p. 235). 

The whole question now, with the equality of men and women, 
has assumed a different complexion. To take the words of Jesus 
as literally authoritative is a terrible burden and mistake. That an 
innocent man should not marry an innocent woman because she 
has been divorced from a scoundrel, or should not marry her 
with all the rites of religion, is to my mind shocking. No less 
shocking is it that a man or woman should be legally tied for life 
to a hopeless maniac, and other clear cases, over and above adultery, 
can be imagined, and do actually occur, where divorce should 
unquestionably be allowed. Some of these cases are more or less 
provided for by the Rabbis where the victim is the woman. But 
that Jesus came out strongly against Hillel and for Shammai, and 
that he apparently also saw the cruel injustice of the unequal 
position of man and woman in the divorce regulations of his time, 
was a permanent contribution to civilization and to morality. 



33-37. THE OLD LAW AND THE NEW TEACHING : 
(D) OF OATHS 

(Matthew only) 

33 ' Again, ye have heard that it has been said to the men of old 
time, Thou shalt not swear falsely, but shalt perform unto the Lord 

34 thine oaths : but I say unto you, Swear not at all ; neither by the 

35 heaven, for it is God's throne : nor by the earth, for it is his foot- 
stool : neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 



68 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 33-37 

3 6 And swear not by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white 

37 or black. But let your speech be, Yea, yea ; nay, nay : for what- 
ever is more than these comes from wickedness. 

33. The reference is probably to a combination of Pentateuchal 
passages and not only to one. Cp. in addition to the ninth Com- 
mandment, Exodus xx. 7 ; Lev. xix. 12 ; Numbers xxx. 2 and 
Deut. xxiii. 21-23. 

34. Did Jesus himself ever swear ? Some regard Matt. xxvi. 
63, 64 as such an oath. So, for instance, Holtzmann, who would 
explain the inconsistency by saying that it only shows that 'the 
Sermon on the Mount wishes to regulate the communal life of the 
members of the Kingdom, without, necessarily, placing them in 
opposition to the existing order of society ' (p. 212). But more 
probably there is no oath in the trial before the high priest. Jesus 
is ' adjured ' to swear, or to answer upon oath, but he replies by i 
simple affirmation or assertion. It is possible that the odd use of 
' Amen,' aprjv Ae'ytu v[uv, so often put in Jesus's mouth in Matthew 
and found also in Mark, was Jesus's favourite and original substitute 
for an oath (' Amen I say unto you,' usually rendered, ' Verily I say 
unto you '). Though he condemns oaths, he has to coin something 
in their place, a solemn affirmation instead of an appeal to God. 

The most probable interpretation of 34 is, therefore, that all 
oaths of every kind and on every occasion are forbidden for the dis- 
ciples and the members of the coming Kingdom. This would be 5 
in accordance with the practice and ethics of the Essenes. Others 
suppose that Jesus's words have nothing to do with oaths rendered 
before a court of justice, but only with idle oaths in conversation 
and ordinary social intercourse. I do not see that the interpretation 
of the passage is carried much further by the remark that ' Jesm; 
does not abrogate or modify the law : he simply goes behind it. 
pointing to the better way, and laying down a general principle : 
(Box, p. 119, and in almost the same words, McNeile). The question 
remains : Are the Quakers the true interpreters of the passage and 
its teaching, or are they not ? I am inclined to think that they are. 

35. The point apparently is that all these substitutes for the 
name of God are mere evasions. God is really brought in all the 
same. The throne of God and his footstool are taken from Isaiah 
Ixvi. I ; ' the city of the great King ' from Psalm xlviii. 2. 

36. To swear by oneself or one's own head is ridiculous, for 
our lives are not really our own : they are given by God and remain 
in his hand. This last example is somewhat different in form and 



V. 38-42] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 69 

idea from the others. It does not so much bid us respect the 
majesty of God as point out the absurdity of a creature swearing by 
his own head who has no power over himself and no proprietorship 
of himself. It has been suggested that this example is more likely 
to be authentic than the others with their scriptural quotations. 

37. * Let your speech be, Yes, yes ; no, no.' It is doubtful 
whether the saying of Jesus is accurately reported. Jesus would 
seem to give here a sort of affirmation formula. In James v. 12 
the saying is quoted in the form : * Let your yea be yea and your 
nay be nay/ which is much more intelligible and much more likely 
to be authentic, and for which there is an exact Rabbinic parallel. 
'E/c rov TTov-ripov. The adjective is probably neuter, and the words 
probably mean : * is the result of the evil which is in the world.' 

There was a tendency among severer Jewish and Gentile teachers 
to inculcate a certain fear and horror of all oaths ; so among the 
Essenes. As regards the Rabbis, the Rabbinic laws about oaths 
must be distinguished from the Rabbinic teaching about the 
morality of oaths. Apart from legal distinctions, discussions, and 
pronouncements, the Rabbinic teaching, in its higher and highest 
moments, does not greatly differ from that of Jesus. It is amusing 
how many Christian commentators are ready enough to use the 
developed Talmudic regulations and discussions about oaths as 
evidence of ' Jewish morality ' in the age of Jesus, while similar 
evidence against the perfect accuracy of any Gospel statements are 
at once countered on the score of date. 



38-42. THE OLD LAW AND THE NEW TEACHING : 
(E) OF RETALIATION 

(Cp. Luke vi. 29, 30) 

38 ' Ye have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and 

39 a tooth for a tooth : but I say unto you, Resist not wickedness ; 
but whoever smites thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other 

40 also. And if any man want to go to law with thee, and to take 

41 away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whoever forces 

42 thee to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him that asks 
thee, and from him that wants to borrow from thee turn not 
away. 

We here come to the most striking, and not the least famous, 
of the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount. But ' famous ' does 
not necessarily mean * authentic in all its details.' 



70 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 38-42 

If it was not easy to speak of a ' fulfilment ' of the Law as regards 
divorce and oaths, it is still more difficult, to speak of fulfilment a,s 
regards ' tit for tat.' For Jesus here apparently tells his disciples 
deliberately that a certain principle or method of punishment laid 
down in the Law is wrong, and that the very opposite principle 
should be adopted instead of it. It is hard to see how ' resist not 
evil ' can be regarded as the fulfilment of ' eye for eye.' All one 
could say is that Jesus fulfils the Law by correcting the Law. If 
the highest level, or the essence, of the Law, for example, is contained 
in the command, * Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,' the 
principle ' eye for eye ' conflicts with this * essence,' and Jesus, by 
laying down the principle * resist not evil,' corrects and completes 
the Law as a whole. But it is difficult to believe that this is what 
Jesus meant or that this was in his mind. 

38. The literal application of the so-called Lex talionis, or 
tit for tat, Exodus xxi. 24, etc., had been abolished by the Rabbis, 
probably as early as the age of Jesus, though this cannot be 
definitely proved. If a man in a quarrel knocked out another's 
tooth, the tooth of the evildoer could not be knocked out as a 
punishment. All that happened was a monetary fine, quite in 
accordance with modern ideas. The principle, however, of measure 
for measure, or of tit for tat, is one which has sunk deep into the 
human heart, and it cannot be denied that it sank very deep indeed 
into the Jewish heart and into the Jewish mind. A correspondence 
between desert and good fortune seemed just ; and that God allows 
the good to suffer and the bad to prosper seemed always the gravest 
problem. ' God requites every man according to his doings,' seemed 
the principle most consonant with divine justice, and the future 
life enabled this principle to be upheld, however this life contradicts 
it. If measure for measure was the right rule for God, it could not 
be the wrong rule for man. Jesus does not hesitate to use the 
principle on due occasion. He too thinks that God will reward the 
righteous after death and punish the wicked. But he also believes 
in another principle both for God (Matt. xx. 1-14) and for man. 
And the Rabbis believed in this other principle too, though they 
did not formulate it so sharply and vividly as it is formulated and 
illustrated in the Sermon on the Mount. It is not, I think, unfair 
when Dr. McNeile says that Jesus did not abrogate the principle 
of measure for measure, but that he penetrated behind it. * His 
disciples are to be so free of self that they do not even desire human 
justice. He " fulfils" the aKpifieia of the Law by the eVtet/caa of 
the Gospel. As before, He teaches the principle, without limitations 
by means of concrete instances ; and if modern Christians took 
His words ad literam, they would be doing precisely what He 



V. 38-42] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 71 

deprecates : they would be exalting the letter at the expense of the 
principle. To decline legal justice would often involve injustice 
to others ; St. Paul did not scruple to appeal to it.' * Resist not 
evil ' and ' turn the other cheek ' are, at bottom, the same teaching 
as Prov. xv. I, ' A soft answer turns away wrath/ expanded, 
systematized, glorified, and idealized. But such a view assumes 
that part of the object of the injunction, * Resist not evil ' is to 
convert the evildoer, and so to destroy the evil. It is, however, held 
by some that what the teaching as we have it in Matthew has in 
view is solely the agent himself. He is not to resist ; he is not to 
stand upon his rights ; he is to be concessive, yielding, forgiving, 
generous, for his own sake ; such is to be the temper, such the 
disposition, of the disciples of the new order and of Jesus. The 
effect upon others is not considered one way or the other. The 
example given in 41 would seem to confirm this view. If the 
soldier orders you to carry his baggage one mile and you carry 
it two, you will not help toward the abolition of the corvee or 
morally benefit the soldier. And if Jesus really meant in the 
fullest literal sense that evil must not be resisted at all, then the 
instance given, just because of its moral uselessness, is highly 
significant. And, accordingly, some interpreters suppose that the 
object of the teaching throughout is not to convert the sinner, but 
simply to show the martyr's temper. Jesus demands the utmost 
abnegation, the completest renunciation and self-denial, from those 
who would enter the nearing Kingdom. The disciple is, for his 
own sake, to be so devoid of every thought of retaliation that he 
would even be prepared to suffer the same injury all over again. 
This view seems rather exaggerated. Why should not the author of 
the teaching have considered the object as well as the subject ? 

On the other hand, Jesus was not thinking of public justice, 
the order of civic communities, the organization of states, but only 
how the members of his religious brotherhood should act towards 
each other and towards those outside their ranks. Public justice 
is outside his purview. Moreover, he believed that the old order 
was coming soon to a catastrophic end. What would even be the 
use of the old methods for the cure of evil ? Wickedness can only 
be cured by goodness, or annihilated by the intervention of God. 
It is indeed a difficult question how far we ought throughout the 
Sermon on the Mount to remember the eschatological background. 
There was little time to be lost. If you wanted to save your soul, 
the saving brooked no delay. If the end of the world is soon to 
arrive, the short interval is undoubtedly a time for extreme 
measures in every sense of the word. There is every justification 
for the utmost self-denial, the utmost exercise of love. The new 
order was at the door. 



72 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 38-42 



39. * Resist not evil.' Is rw Trovypu), masculine or neuter ? 
Probably neuter. ' Resist not wickedness ' is a better translation. 
Klostermann renders : ' You shall not defend yourselves against 
injustice.' 

It is clear that Jesus does not mean his injunctions to be taken 
literally. That would be to limit them. He is not thinking of the 
state, but only of the individual. He puts in as striking and 
picturesque a form as possible the doctrine that vengeance or 
requital is always evil. One can never cure injustice and wickedness 
by violence. The only chance is to cure it by long suffering and 
goodness. To hit a man back who hits you will morally benefit 
neither you nor him. The ' resist not evil ' doctrine has been 
sometimes adversely criticized. But it is doubtful how far the 
adverse criticism is correct. There is, at all events, no doubt that 
there are hundreds of cases where the doctrine is justified and 
desirable, and where good people, of all religions, actually carry it 
out. Not to answer rudeness by rudeness, to suppress a retort, to 
forgive an injury — what are all these things and dozens like them 
but not resisting evil ? 

On the other hand, to make the injunction include the work of 
the police or defensive war is out of place. For these spheres the 
injunction is, to my mind, wholly inapplicable and false. Jesus 
did not bother his head about the state. In spite of ' Give unto 
Caesar,' the days of Caesar were limited ; in the new order there 
would be no need for force or for policemen, for all the wicked 
would be safely prisoned in hell, and those who would live upon 
the regenerate earth would be all happy, righteous, and peaceful. 
It was a simple, comforting belief which Jesus shared with so many 
prophets of his own race and of others. Our own conditions and 
beliefs are less simple ; and therefore OUT own principles and rules of 
conduct have to be less simple too. 

' The right cheek. 5 Why right ? It has no special signification : 
it is due merely to the instinctive tendency to name the right limb 
before the left. * One cheek and the other ' would have done just 
as well : cp. Luke vi. 29. It may, however, be that * right cheek ' 
is original and significant. To strike a man on the cheek with the 
back of the hand, according to the later codified Rabbinic law, is 
twice as serious an offence as to hit him with the flat of the hand. 
Now if one strikes a man with the back of the hand, one would 
naturally hit the right cheek, and the man must turn his head in order 
easily to hit the other cheek. (Weisman in Z. N. W., 1913, p. 175.) 

Fiebig (' Jesu Worte iiber die Feindesliebe,' Theologische Studien 
und Kritiken, 1918, p. 48) points out that both objection to, and 
defence of, ' right cheek ' are old ; the objections are mentioned 
by Origen and Augustine, to whom Wetstein in solemn Latin 



V. 38-42] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 73 

replies : ' At parum videntur isti critic! attendisse, eum, qui subito 
excandescit, solere via brevissimum, hoc est, non vola manus 
explicitae, sed dorso sive parte opposita et exteriore alapam infligere.' 
But Burney shows that for metrical reasons ' right ' and * would 
go to law with thee ' are probably additions, and that Luke's 
version is probably more original (p. 114, n. i). 

40. The second instance of non-retaliation is even more para- 
doxical, taken literally, than the first. We have always the same 
two main points to remember : (i) the situation as Jesus conceived 
it, namely, the imminent end of the old order of society. Was it 
a time for lawsuits ? Surely not. It was a time for the saving 
of one's soul. (2) The Oriental hyperbole of his language. Did he 
mean this example to be taken any the more literally than the 
injunction to gouge out one's eye ? A man must not stand upon 
his rights, say the Rabbis. Jesus said so too, only with much 
greater vehemence and force. 

If we break the butterfly upon wheels, we should of course 
have to say that though the complete surrender of one's rights 
may be the means of making one's opponent realize his injustice, 
yet to maintain one's rights — e.g. to prosecute a man who has 
robbed you, rather than to let him off — may be a benefit to society. 
Jesus looked at the matter as if there was no such thing as an 
ordered society. He only thought of the two individuals. 

And of the two individuals, he thought more of the sufferer. 
The man is to do what costs him most moral effort. The natural 
impulse is to go to law and prevent the wrong ; the natural impulse 
is to hit back ; the natural impulse is to resist the corvee, if one can. 
Jesus wants us to adopt the harder course ; the one which involves 
most moral effort. The disciple must have complete self-control ; 
he must be utterly indifferent to personal wrong and injury. He 
must have utterly conquered the desire for retaliation, for revenge. 
He must turn his back upon the world and think only of the coming 
Kingdom of God. (To prosecute might for us to-day be often more 
in the spirit of Jesus than to let the offender off.) He wants us to be 
as perfect as we can. To forgive a theft, and even to make an 
additional present to the robber, makes the hardest moral demand 
upon us ; it conflicts with the ' natural man ' most. It is least like 
what a mere tit-for-tat sort of man would do. Therefore Jesus bids 
us do it. The effects upon the thief are not considered, unless Jesus 
means that the robber's heart may be touched ; the effects upon 
society are ignored. Jesus is giving counsels of perfection for those 
who are, or want, to enter the ' Kingdom.' He is not providing rules 
for ordinary society. He is telling what men must do in or amid the 
greatest crisis in the world's history, how they must behave in order 



74 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 38-42 

to endure that crisis, and then to become members of a kingdom in 
which the need and the occasion for such conduct will no longer 
exist. 

If the Rabbinic teaching is, on the whole, more sober and less 
enthusiastic than the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, it has 
the advantages of its defects. The Rabbis considered consequences 
more than Jesus. They had more common sense, if less genius. 
They had regard to the effects of a gift upon the recipient as well 
as to its effects upon the giver. They would scarcely have said, 
without any reserve or qualification, * Give to him that asks 
thee.' They had a more ' Charity Organization ' cast of mind and 
temper than Jesus. They did not forget society in their injunctions 
to the individual. And yet on fresh reflection I am not sure if this 
is not going too far. There is no ethical quality more characteristic 
of old Rabbinic Judaism than ' Rachmonuth ' — pity. The beggar 
whose point of view is that you ought to thank him for allowing 
him to give you the opportunity for showing ' Rachmonuth ' is a 
characteristically Jewish figure. 

It is quite likely that the world is the richer for both kinds of 
ethical teaching. The paradoxical enthusiasm of Jesus has helped 
the world, but it has also needed the cool, deliberate counsel of 
those ' who have looked before and after,' measured consequences 
and weighed the pro and con. We can never know how much hot 
anger has been quelled, how much lust for vengeance has been 
suppressed, how much self -sacrifice has been evoked, by the para- 
doxical, stimulating, and picturesque doctrine of the ' other cheek/ 
and of the ' coat and the cloak/ 

41. The third instance of not resisting evil is taken from the 
corvee. The Greek verb dyyapeva} is formed from the noun ayyapos, 
a Persian word, meaning a mounted courier. These couriers were 
kept ready at regular stages throughout Persia to carry the royal 
despatches, etc. They had the power to impress horses and men 
for their requirements, who should bear burdens, act as guides, and 
so on. Hence the example says, ' If you are impressed to go one 
mile, rather go two than resist the [unjust] requisition.' 

As I have already pointed out, this instance is the one which 
deals most exclusively with the agent (or the sufferer). Here it 
cannot possibly be urged that the object of the injunction or of 
the action required is to convert the sinner. Nevertheless, we have, 
I think, no right to rule out the sinner altogether from the purview 
of the whole passage. 

42. This fourth instance does not fit in well. The other 
three instances dealt with evil, and illustrate the general maxim 



V. 38-42] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 75 

given at the opening of 39. But the fourth instance does not. 
Even 40 has little to do with the lex talionis ; while 42 has nothing 
to do with it. This verse, according to Dr. McNeile, is one of the 
clearest instances of the necessity of accepting the spirit, and not 
the letter, of the injunctions of Jesus : * Not only does indiscriminate 
almsgiving do little but injury to society, but the words must 
embrace far more than almsgiving.' And Prof. Box says : ' While 
the maxim seems to sanction indiscriminate almsgiving, it really 
has a wider application. Here again it is to be remembered that 
Jesus is laying down a principle, which can be applied in many 
ways, but is not to be regarded as a rule.' This is true enough, but 
it is doubtful whether Jesus had any such reservations in his mind. 
For him such a saying as ' indiscriminate almsgiving does little 
but injury to society ' would hardly have been intelligible. 

Like most paradoxical moral teaching, these striking verses 
of the Sermon on the Mount seem only partly true. They empha- 
size one aspect of the truth, they ignore another. Righteousness 
is not tit for tat. To requite may produce no good moral result, 
whether for the doer or the sufferer of the original wrong. The 
good bishop's method in Les Miserables would not be always success- 
ful. The runaway convict repays the bishop's hospitality by 
stealing his candlesticks ; when seized and brought before the 
bishop, the latter, in the true spirit of Jesus, says, * I gave them to 
him.' This ' noble lie ' as Plato would call it, is the cause of the 
convict's moral restoration. He is literally touched to the soul. 
But perhaps one needs to be the bishop in order to use the episcopal 
methods with likelihood of good results. If * to resist not evil ' 
may be one aspect of righteousness, to resist evil is no less so. In 
such a matter as the traffic in women and children, who would 
not say that only second and third to the righteous labour of pre- 
vention and redemption is the righteous labour of punishment ? 
* Heaven ' is the source of love, but even Heaven wields a sword. 

Paulsen points out in his Ethics (n. p. 128) that ' one of the 
most painful gaps in the ethics of the New Testament ' is that it 
has no adequate place for the knightly virtue of actively redressing 
wrong. ' To work and suffer for others is familiar to New Testa- 
ment ethics, but the duty of fighting against injustice and violence 
for the protection of the injured is almost ignored. What ought 
the Samaritan to have done if he had arrived on the scene a quarter 
of an hour earlier, and, finding the robbers at their work, had 
realized that he could only save their victim by killing them ? I 
acknowledge that from the Gospel point of view I do not rightly 
know how to answer this question. Moses who slew the Egyptian 
gave an unequivocal reply.' Hoekstra (Zedenleer, in. p. 214) 
attempts to rebut this criticism of Paulsen, but not quite successfully. 



76 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 43-48 

Marriott discusses the ' non-resistance ' problem with a good 
deal of common sense. But he urges that in interpreting the say- 
ings in the spirit rather than in the letter, one must not whittle 
them away. ' Very possibly OUT Lord, in giving these precepts, 
had in mind the effect which such behaviour on the part of His 
followers would have in leading to the conversion of the offender. 
And perhaps a very literal observance of His injunctions would 
prove a more powerful influence in this direction than is commonly 
recognized. But considerations other than this may have been 
also present to our Lord's mind. He may, e.g., have thought of 
the effect on others which such conduct would produce ; of the 
witness before the world which His followers could thus give. The 
practice of non-resistance is arresting ; it impresses mankind, and 
thus has a missionary value. He may also have had in mind the 
effect of such conduct upon those who practise it. It is a form 
of self-denial which deepens the religious life, and intensifies our 
trust in God and our dependence upon Him. Probably, then, 
there is a larger place in the truly Christian life for the literal ob- 
servance of the rule of non-resistance than is commonly supposed. 
Too often it has been so far explained away that little or no room 
has been left for its literal fulfilment ' (p. 156). 



43-48. THE OLD LAW AND THE NEW TEACHING : 
(F) * LOVE YOUR ENEMIES ' 

(Cp. Luke vi. 27, 28, 32-36) 

43 * Ye have heard that it has been said, Thou shalt love thy 

44 neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your 

45 enemies, and pray for them who persecute you ; that ye may 
become the children of your Father who is in heaven : for he 
makes his sun to rise on the wicked and on the good, and sends 

4 6 rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them who love 
you, what reward have ye ? do not even the tax-collectors the 

47 same ? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more 

4 8 than others ? do not even the gentiles the same ? Ye, then, shall 
be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect. 

This is the greatest section of the whole. It is also the most 
important. There are several questions in regard to it which 
must be kept distinct, (i) The alleged citation from the Old 
Law ; its authenticity ; its meaning. (2) Meaning and value of 
the new teaching given by Jesus. (3) How far is it, or is it not, 
a contrast to (a) average Jewish teaching, (6) all Jewish teaching, 



V. 43-48] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 77 

(c) Rabbinic teaching ? Jewish criticism of this section has not 
usually been of a very satisfactory kind. It is indeed no wonder 
— for many reasons no wonder — that the section, and the usual 
Christian comments upon it, should arouse Jewish susceptibilities. 
The very fact that the section apparently starts with an untruth, 
inasmuch as it nowhere says in the Law, ' Thou shalt hate thine 
enemy,' is quite enough to put up the backs of Jewish readers. It 
seems a deliberate attempt to prejudice the case from the start. 
The result is that Jewish critics do not approach the section with 
that absolute freedom from prepossession and that perfect judicial 
calm, which are so necessary in enquiries of this kind. Here, if 
anywhere, is supposed to lie the essence of the teaching of Jesus, 
and here if anywhere its novelty is claimed to be. So here, if any- 

§ where, does the Jewish critic put forward all his strength to show 
that the teaching, so far as it is good, is not new, and so far as it is 
new, is not good. But the results are, I fear, only obtained by a 
certain unintentional, but no less real, misrepresentation of the 
meaning, which, on the one hand, makes it signify what it does 
not, and, on the other hand, makes it signify something less than 
it does. The meaning of the teaching must be set forth and its 
value assessed quite apart from the question whether the intro- 
duction to it (43) is accurate or false, and apart also from the 
question whether and how far the teaching was new. 

43. It is nowhere ordered in the Pentateuch, ' Thou shalt 
hate thine enemy.' On the other hand, in previous sections of 
the Sermon there have been statements that such and such words 
had been * said ' which are not literal quotations from any Old 
Testament passage. ' Whosoever does murder shall be liable to 
the Court.' And the words, ' Whoever would divorce his wife, let 
him give her a bill of divorce ' do not quote Deut. xxiv. I literally, 
or even quite fairly, for Deut., at all events, does not go so far as 
this. Hence the mere use of words which are not in the Pentateuch 
is of no great matter ; the point is : do they fairly sum up, or give 
the gist of, actual Pentateuchal legislation ? And, after that, one 
may ask : do they fairly sum up, or give the gist of, the Rabbinic 
interpretation of, or the Rabbinic additions to, the Pentateuchal 
Law ? For it may be said that even if the words ' thou shalt hate 
thine enemy ' are not textually found in the Pentateuch or in the 
Hebrew Bible or in the Talmud, the equivalent of it is found, and 
that the spirit of it rules and reigns there. 

Here one must distinguish. There is first of all the attitude 
of the Jew to the Jew to be considered, and then the attitude of 
the Jew to the non-Jew. 

As regards private enemies, the best teaching of the Rabbis is 



78 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 43-48 

not in spirit opposed to, or unlike, the teaching of Jesus. All one 
can justly say is that Jesus puts the teaching in a more inspired 
and enthusiastic way, and carries it to the extremest lengths. But 
it would be utterly false to say that the Rabbis taught a man to 
hate his private and personal enemy. 

The very Law itself does not teach this. Think of Exodus 
xxiii. 4 and 5, of which a great deal is made in the Talmud. Think 
of the Law, * Thou shalt not hate thy neighbour in thy heart,' and 
again, ' Thou shalt not avenge nor bear any grudge against the 
children of thy people.' The teaching of Proverbs xx. 22, xxiv. 20, 
xxv. 21, 22, may not be perfect, but it enjoins the very reverse of 
tit for tat. And much of the Rabbinic teaching is on the same lines, 
and goes further. 

Attention may also be called to certain passages in Apocalyptic 
literature, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Gad, vi. 1-7, iv. 1-7, 
vii. 1-7 ; Secrets of Enoch, 1. 3, 4, li. 3. A commentator has cited 
Numbers xxxv. 19, but this law (which was obsolete in the age of 
Jesus) does not really do more than make the Avenger of Murder 
the administrator of the justice of the state. It should not be 
brought into the discussion one way or the other. 

As regards the attitude of the Jew to the non- Jew, the facts are 
different. Here the enemies of Israel are usually supposed to be the 
enemies of God, and the enemies of God are hate-worthy. ' Do I not 
hate them that hate thee,' says one of the greatest of the Psalmists. 
One can notice in the Pentateuch passages like Deut. xxiii. 6, 
xx. 13-18, xxv. 17-19. And for the rest of the Old Testament one 
can easily find other passages which show a hatred of national foes ; 
cp. Mai. i. 3, Psalm cxxxvii. 7-9. It is on these lines that some 
commentators to-day would explain the words of Matthew. Cp. 
Walker, The Teaching of Jesus and the Jewish Teaching of his Age 
(1923), pp. 237, 238, who quotes many salient passages from the 
Apocrypha and the Apocalyptic literature, but makes some dubious 
statements of his own. Dr. McNeile speaks of the words of Matthew 
as an ' inference which the Rabbis might draw from such passages 
as Deut. xxiii. 3-6. The Law drew a distinction between Israelites 
and non-Israelites, which, however, was far from constituting a 
command to " hate " enemies ; the verb probably has a comparative 
sense (see vi. 24).' (The last idea is too easy a way of getting out 
of the disagreeable difficulty : ' hate ' may indeed have a compara- 
tive sense in vi. 24 ; there is nothing to suggest, and indeed every- 
thing to invalidate the suggestion, that it has a comparative sense 
here. A vivid contrast between love and hate is clearly intended.) 
Prof. Box says : ' The whole clause " Thou shalt love thy neighbour 
and hate thine enemy " clearly has in view some current scribal 
interpretation. This is more particularly represented by the 



V. 43-4 8 ^ THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 79 

additional words " and hate thine enemy" These words certainly 
do not correctly represent the later Rabbinical teaching. They 
probably do, however, reflect the spirit of some contemporary 
Shammaites, who were fanatical and bigoted in their attitudes 
towards opponents, and later took the lead with the Zealots in 
uncompromising and passionate hatred of Rome.' However this 
may be, and whether Prof. Box is right about the Shammaites or 
not, the real difficulty is that in the Sermon and in this passage 
Jesus was thinking and speaking of personal and private enemies, 
not of public and national ones. Fiebig denies this, not very 
successfully. He seeks to argue that the comments of the Mechilta 
on Exodus xxiii. 4, 5 show that the ' enemy ' was regularly regarded 
as both the private enemy and the national enemy. And Jesus 
alludes in verse 47 to the ' gentiles.' ' The greatness of Jesus 
consists in his demanding unlimited love of man as a clearly defined 
principle. Compare also the parable of the Good Samaritan ' (Jesu 
Bergpredigt, 1924, p. 93). So too Marriott. * It is of the man of 
alien race and religion that the words are to be understood ' (p. 192). 
I doubt this. As to the Good Samaritan, that parable has its own 
difficulties, and cannot be properly used here. Seeing that ex 
hypothesi Jewish ' hatred ' of the Gentile was common and severe, 
what could have been easier, if Jesus had ' gentiles ' definitely in 
his mind, than to have added : ' You think that you must only love 
your fellow-Jews, and that the gentiles are your enemies. But I 
say unto you, love the gentiles also.' Or : ' Love your enemies, 
even the gentiles.' Then one could have spoken of ' a clearly defined 
principle.' It is impossible to do so now. But the really painful 
part of the matter is that even as regards personal and private 
enemies there is little trace on the part of Jesus that he practised 
what he preached. Of love towards the Pharisees and Rabbis who 
opposed him there is no trace. Nor did his disciples ever interpret 
the loving of enemies to mean more than private enemies. They 
too, from Paul onwards, found nothing in his teaching which made 
them think that they ought to love the enemies of their faith, such 
as Mahommedans, or heretics within their own borders. Jews and 
Christians live in glass houses alike, and the thickness of the glass 
in each of their houses seems about the same. If Jesus meant that 
Christians were to love non-Christians — his disciples, those who 
refused to admit his claims — it is singular how completely and 
persistently his commands have been disobeyed, and how flagrantly 
many Christians still obey them. 

What is anti-Semitism but an awful exhibition of hatred ? If 
Christianity possesses a higher teaching, what odd and serious flaw 
is there in it that it has so very rarely seemed capable of putting 
this teaching into practice ? 



80 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 43-48 

' It is not too much to say that for the infinite wrongs com- 
mitted on the Jews during the Middle Ages, and for the prejudices 
that are even yet rife in many quarters, the Church is mainly, if 
not wholly, responsible. It is true that occasionally she lifted up 
her voice in mild remonstrance when some massacre occurred 
more atrocious than usual ; but these massacres were the direct 
outcome of the hatred and contempt which she so zealously in- 
culcated, and she never took steps by punishment to prevent their 
repetition ' (Lea, History of the Inquisition in Spain, Vol. i. p. 36). 

True it is that the universalism of Paul was never attained by 
Rabbinic teaching. True it is that the Old Testament is, on the 
whole, particularistic, and identifies the enemies of the Jews with 
the enemies of God. Even the internal enemies of the community 
were thus identified, just as the various sects of Christianity havo 
made similar identifications about each other. It is also truo 
that the outburst of the great Psalm cxxxix. has, upon the whole, 
represented the theoretic attitude of the Jews to the enemies of 
their religion and their race. ' Do I not hate them that hate Thee \ 
I hate them with perfect hatred.' But those who know the history 
of the Jews best, from the age of Jesus on, will admit that their 
practice has often risen superior to their theory. 

It is not only possible, but even probable, that Jesus never 
declared that it had been said that ' thou shalt hate thine enemy.' 
The words may be an interpolation. Jesus may have said, ' The 
Law says, Love your neighbour, and I tell you that this command- 
ment really includes the bidding to love your enemy.' More 
important it is to notice that the whole scheme of the antitheses is 
wanting in Luke. On the basis of a minute analysis of the texts 
of Matthew and Luke Alberz comes to the conclusion that the anti- 
theses are not authentic. (Alberz, Die synoptischen Streitgesprdche, 
1921, pp. 146-150.) In any case, however, whether all the anti- 
theses, or this particular antithesis, or the mere addition of the 
' hate ' clause, be unauthentic, one may feel fairly sure that Jesus 
never said these unfortunate words. 

44. * Love your enemies.' The verb is dyaTrdv. What does 
* love ' mean ? It means * desire their well-being ' ; 'do good to 
them ' ; ' pray for their salvation.' It does not mean : ' Feel for 
them an emotion such as you feel for your wife, your sister, or your 
father.' 'AyaTrav is not tfriXeiv. Wellhausen says that ayaTrav is 
not ' so strong a word as the German or English love.' And this 
observation, if it be accurate, would dispose of a good deal of rather 
foolish modern Jewish criticism about the command. 

' Pray for those who persecute you.' A magnificent and 
sublime utterance, and, perhaps, all the more noticeable and valuable 



V. 43-4 8 l THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 8l 

if it is, as seems probable, later than Jesus. For lie can hardly 
have known anything of Persecution. There is no evidence that 
his followers were subjected to any persecution before his death. 
But if, soon after his death, there was any persecution on the part 
of the Jews, and if the command in 44 is the product of such 
persecution, then one must, indeed, acknowledge that it is a 
most noble application of the Master's injunction. It represents a 
most noble, but, alas, a most transitory, attitude of mind, an atti- 
tude of mind which was entirely changed and abandoned when the 
opportunity arose to put the excellent sentiment into homely and 
utilitarian practice. Certainly the Jews could have forgone a ton 
of theoretic ayaTrav for an ounce of practical ayaQo-rroitlv (Luke vi. 
28). Whether the Christians felt the former no one can tell ; they 
certainly, from the first opportunity forward, never showed the 
latter. Nevertheless, whether the injunction was ever put into 
practical force and translated into action or not, its nobility and 
sublimity remain the same. Surely it is a good thing to possess a 
document which contains such a command, and the disciples of 
Jesus may justly be proud of it. 

There is an old form of 44 which was current at an early date, 
and which perhaps may best reflect the original. * Love your 
enemies and pray for them who hate you.' In that form the words 
could be authentic. Did Jesus himself ever pray for his enemies ? 
His Jewish enemies were the Pharisees and the Rabbis. For them 
he is never recorded to have uttered any prayer. The famous 
passage in Luke (xxiii. 34) is of doubtful authenticity, and probably 
refers to the Roman soldiers. But Stephen (Acts vii. 60) prays 
for those who slay him. 

45. * Sons of God,' in a moral sense ; i.e. like unto Him. This 
idea is quite Rabbinic. The motive or justification of the conduct 
enjoined is very fine. A nobler OTTOJS (in order that) was never 
penned. Not to gain reward are the disciples to act thus, but that, 
through such action, they may become like unto God. * Be ye holy/ 
says the legislator in Lev. xix., not in order to gain reward, but 
1 because I the Lord your God am holy.' The Gospel and the Law 
have both reached the highest levels of idealism. 

For the whole conception of the Imitation of God in Rabbinic 
and Jewish literature see Abrahams' fine essay in Studies, n. 
pp. 138-182. 

' God is good even towards the bad ; therefore be thou good 
even towards thy enemies.' Such is the teaching. Nevertheless, 
God's goodness towards the bad is very temporary, according to 
the Gospel ! Does He not send them, after their life on earth, to 
hell-fire and gnashing of teeth ? So, in the Talmud, we hear a great 

VOL. II a 



82 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 43-48 

deal of God's long-suffering and mercy to the wicked, but, according 
to modern ideas, what we hear is, like the Gospel teaching, quite 
inadequate. In the Talmud, too, the wicked are sent to hell or 
are annihilated. 

The idea of the sun and the rain being of use to both bad and 
good is also found in the Talmud. 

46. God's reward is reserved for those who do not act according 
to the rule of measure for measure. The commentators say that 
the reward intended here * is to become God-like.' This is doubtful. 
The reward is more general : it is the bliss of the Kingdom. The 
present tense (e^erc) is probably wrong. The future is intended. 

47. A greeting in the East is a token of goodwill. * In order 
to grasp the full meaning of this last example it is necessary to 
remember the significance and importance of a greeting among 
Orientals : it is a witness of respect and affection, accompanied by 
blessings and good wishes ' (Loisy, E. S. i. p. 589). The verse is 
wanting in S.S. and may be interpolated. It seems to interrupt 
the connection and to fall into a lower sphere. The supreme test 
and instance of the c perfection ' demanded is to love one's enemies. 
' Brethren ' would seem to mean here * fellow- Jews.' 

48. ' Perfect ' (in Greek reAetos-) is found in the Gospels only 
here and Matt. xix. 21. Luke has ot/crtp/zove?, pitiful, which 
Wellhausen and Marriott think is more genuine. Mr. Allen thinks, 
on the contrary, that * perfect ' is the original adjective ; cp. Deut. 
xviii. 13, Septuagint, ' Ye shall be perfect with the Lord your God.' 
It is not quite easy to say what exact signification the author of 
v. 48 attributed to ' perfection,' whether in the Greek or in the 
Aramaic. Did he mean the utmost of righteousness and love that 
can be conceived by man ? ' Ye shall aim, therefore, at the very 
highest ; and this highest is God.' So we might, I think, paraphrase 
the word. The Hebrew in Deut. xviii. 13, Genesis xvii. i means 
something not merely outward ; it includes moral righteousness ; 
but yet ' perfect,' in all probability, has a deeper meaning, a more 
passionate or far-reaching or ideal meaning, here than the corre- 
sponding terms in Gen. xvii. I and Deut. xviii. 13. Perhaps we may 
better compare ' perfect ' here with ' holy ' in Lev. xix. 2, for 
assuredly the meaning of ' holy ' in Lev. xix. 2 has much more than 
a mere ritual reference. ' Holy ' in Lev. xix. 2, as the noble moral 
commands which follow clearly show, means moral purity and 
moral righteousness as well ; in fact, God is essentially ' holy ' 
because He is loving and good. When Jesus bade his followers be 
perfect even as God is perfect, he did not mean anything essentially 



V. 43-48] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 83 

different from the author of Lev. xix. 2. For that writer too meant 
that the Israelites were to aim at the highest moral perfection 
which he was able to lay before them. The holiness of Lev. xix. 
does, it is true, include ritual and external holiness from which 
Jesus had shaken himself free. But it comprises moral holiness as 
well. Nor must its value be assessed at a low figure. 
It includes : 

(1) The reverence of parents. 

(2) Charity to the poor. 

(3) Truth of word and deed. 

(4) Justice in all business transactions. 

(5) Honour shown to the aged. 

(6) Equal justice before the law to rich and poor. 

(7) No tale-bearing or malice. 

(8) The love of one's neighbour. 

(9) The love of the resident alien. 

It does not seem to me that this moral code need fear com- 
parison in holiness with any other teaching. Has the Christian 
world greatly advanced beyond it in practice as well as in theory ? 

Nevertheless, the note of passion in the teaching of Jesus and 
in the Sermon has always to be remembered. It is this touch of 
passion and enthusiasm, this strain of ' the utmost for the highest,' 
which have sometimes moved the world. 

Let us look back upon the command, * Love your enemies,' and 
upon the assertions and controversies to which it has given rise. 
Was it a completely new command ? (I am not referring here to 
Stoic or Indian parallels ; I am only thinking of Judaism.) Was 
it in line with, and a ' fulfilment ' of, the best Old Testament teach- 
ing ? Again, how does it compare with the teaching of the Rabbis ? 
Is it — if compared with their teaching, and omitting all question 
of dates — good teaching, but not new, or is it new, but not good, 
or is it both good and new ? The right answers would seem to 
lie between what is to be read in the Christian commentaries on 
the one side and the Jewish books on the other. The Talmudic 
teaching is better and finer than any one would gather, for instance, 
from Dr. McNeile's note : ' The teaching of the Talmud, as a 
whole, hardly goes beyond that of verse 43 : it enjoins patience 
under injuries, kind treatment of others in order to receive an 
equivalent, love of proselytes and of those who are well disposed 
towards the Law ; but of love to enemies it says nothing.' Much 
of such a note could be effectively criticized : (a) ' As a whole.' 
That, I suppose, means that one must not take out the best and 
say, ' That is the teaching of the Talmud.' But we may take out 
the best of the Gospels and the New Testament and say, * That is 



84 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 43-48 

the teaching of Jesus and the Gospels.' We may omit the ' vipers ' 
and the * children of hell ' and the ' accursed ' ; and we may omit 
the fact that Jesus never shows any practical love for his enemies ; 
we may, in fact, assess the New Testament one way and the 
Talmud another way. (6) ' Verse 43 ' including, ' Thou shalt hate 
thine enemy.' One can but say that this seems hardly fair and not 
entirely accurate as a whole, (c) ' Kind treatment of others in 
order to receive an equivalent.' Again, hardly accurate. To do 
good lishmah, because God orders you to do good, and because you 
love God, and love to do what He orders, is the familiar Rabbinic 
ideal. The loving practical compassion which is a feature of Rab- 
binic ethics was certainly not a cheap, calculated ' do ut des ' as 
Dr. McNeile seems to imply. 

Taken ' as a whole ', the quotations of S.-B. are much better 
than their summary. It is not the purpose of my commentary to 
quote parallels, but in their own way the Ethics of the Rabbi* 
have little to suffer by comparison. They are not exactly tho 
same as the ethics of the New Testament or the Gospels ; but wo 
are the richer for having both. Each has its own excellence, its 
own charm. 

' Thou shalt love thy neighbour.' Not quite in place is the 
usual statement of the Christian commentator that in Lev. xix. 18 
the word * neighbour ' meant ' fellow- Jew.' Suppose it did. It was 
followed by the still more sublime command to love the resident 
alien. But how about the * foreigner,' says the delighted critic 1 
The main answer is that the Law dealt with the two classes of 
persons with whom the ordinary Israelite came into contact. If 
the command to ' love the resident alien ' were observed to-day, 
the world would be a very different place from what it is. It 
would not matter much that the theoretic foreigner was omitted. 
The next answer is that neighbour (rea) had gradually or largely lost 
its meaning of fellow-Israelite. When a Rabbi taught his pupils 
about the love of neighbour being the chief injunction of the whole 
law, he had not the antithesis of Jew and foreigner in his mind. 
He meant fellow-being, brother-man, in a general sense. No doubt 
when his feelings of antagonism were aroused, he would have 
expressed himself with bitter words against the Romans, but this 
sort of hatred is not inconsistent (such is human frailty and weak- 
ness) with a usage of the word ' neighbour ' as meaning more than 
* fellow- Jew.' On the other hand, Jesus never distinctly teaches 
that ' neighbour ' is to mean ' fellow-man ' and not merely * fellow- 
Israelite,' except in the parable of the good Samaritan. That 
parable is only in Luke, and the Samaritan is probably a later 
insertion, and in any case the single instance is not enough to prove 
' on the whole.' That Jesus was not concerned either to correct a 



V. 43-48] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 85 

common and narrowly false interpretation of ' neighbour ' or to 
teach a new universalism is shown by this very passage. What 
he has to say about Lev. xix. 18 is not that ' neighbour ' must be 
made to equal fellow-man, but that it must be made to include 
'enemy.' But by 'enemy' he meant fellow - Jew - enemy, the 
private enemy, not the national foe. Had he thought about the 
foreigner he would have said, ' But I say unto you, Love the 
foreigner.' Jesus is not the teacher of universalism, and his 
teaching on this subject does not go beyond the teaching of Jonah 
and the Prophets. I venture to differ here not only from the usual 
Christian commentators, but even from Dr. Rashdall, who insists 
that the teaching of Jesus was consciously and deliberately uni- 
versalistic (Conscience and Christ, pp. 108-114, and other passages). 
Dr. Rashdall seems to me to wish this so greatly that he stretches 
a few utterances in the Gospels beyond what they can bear. On 
the other hand, he ignores how much there is to be said for a greater 
measure of implicit universalism in many sayings of Hillel and of 
other Rabbis. The word ' creatures ' cannot by any possibility 
of misapplied ingenuity be regarded as meaning ' fellow- Jew.' It 
can only be interpreted to mean fellow-man. Now Hillel said : 
' Love peace and pursue peace ; love thy fellow-creatures and draw 
them near to the Torah.' This is quite as universalistic a saying 
as anything in the Synoptics. Again, just as the Samaritan is 
used as an example of compassion, putting the Israelite to shame, 
so for an example of the ideal honouring of parents, the Talmud 
uses a certain heathen. Cp. Abrahams, Studies, i. pp. 20, 151 ; n. 
pp. 36-40. Nevertheless, conscious, deliberate universalism, which 
means definitely saying, ' Not merely the Jew, but all men/ is 
not taught till we get to Paul, and even with him, while the 
particularism of race is nobly and grandly broken down, the parti- 
cularism of creed begins to be set up. The most universalist passage 
in the Rabbinical literature is, perhaps, that famous passage in the 
Sifra quoted in Abrahams, Studies, n. p. 35, and often by myself. 

On the other hand, the Jewish writers have to be criticized 
as well. They exalt the Old Testament and the Talmud too much. 
For these documents, like the Gospels, have their moral inade- 
quacies as well as their moral excellences, and these are not to be 
avoided or evaded. Of these inadequacies the hatred of national 
enemies, the ascription of hatred to God of Israel's foes, the hatred 
of the internal heretic and sometimes even of the opposite party, 
are conspicuous. Secondly, the injunction ' Love your enemies/ 
sensibly interpreted, is a noble and inspiring ideal. The usual 
Jewish criticism of the injunction ' Love your enemies ' is that it 
is paradoxical, impracticable, and absurd. One seldom opens a 
Jewish book or pamphlet which deals with Jesus or the New 



86 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 43-48 

Testament without finding this criticism. Thus, in a criticism of 
Harnack's Essence of Christianity by Dr. Eschelbacher we read : 

' The Jewish law enjoined help and aid to be given to our 
enemies when in need. It says : "If thou meet thine enemy's ox 
or ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again." 
Its sages urged : " Say not, I will do to him as he has done to me ; 
I will render to the man according to his work." And again : "If 
thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat ; and if he be thirsty, 
give him water to drink." But Judaism has not ordered us to 
love our enemies. It has regarded such a command as unfulfillable. 
It has considered that the emotion of love towards those who curse, 
hate, revile, and seek to destroy us is impossible. The very demand 
for such a feeling is, perhaps, not even good. For even self-denial 
has its limits ; to fight is sometimes not only a necessity, but also 
a duty. One can only legitimately ask that such a fight should 
be exclusively directed towards wicked, threatening, and powerful 
antagonists ; there must be no attack upon the conquered, the weak, 
and the needy. These, on the contrary, must be rendered every 
helpful support and assistance. Such good deeds may then lead 
on to friendly feelings and reconciliation. And the Christian 
command to " love the enemy " has not led to any higher, nobler 
deeds towards him than these ' (Monatsschrift filr Geschichte und 
Wissenschaft des Judentums, Vol. XLVII. p. 144, 1903). 

It is in fact contended by Jewish critics that the defect in the 
ethical teaching of Jesus is that it is strung so high that it has failed 
to produce solid and practical results just where its admirers vaunt 
that it differs from, and is superior to, the ethical codes of the 
Pentateuch, the Prophets and the Rabbis. The old codes said : 
* Bear no grudge ' ; * do not revenge ' ; * if your enemy is in distress, 
and you can help him, do so.' The Jewish critics contend that 
human nature can go as far as this, and that if you so order and urge 
men, they will not wholly and markedly fail ; whereas if you go 
further, and say, * Love your enemies/ you ask what cannot be 
given. Hence your command is neglected, and the result of this 
unpractical injunction is that things are worse than they were. 
The bow is so bent that it snaps altogether. The history of Chris- 
tianity is, so the Jewish critics say, a proof that their criticism of 
Jesus's teaching is accurate. For how often, they tell us, do we 
hear Lessing's statement repeated, in one form or another, that 
Christianity has been tried for 1900 years, but that the religion of 
Christ remains to be tried ? What does this mean but a confession 
that the teaching of Jesus, in its most novel and striking features, 
has remained virtually untried ; that its injunctions are a dead 
letter ? And the history of Europe confirms, so it is alleged, the 
complaint of Lessing. For the adherents of no religion have hated 



V. 43-48J THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 87 

their enemies more than Christians. The atrocities which they have 
committed in the name of religion, both inside and outside their own 
pale, are almost unexampled in the world's history. Toleration is, 
upon the whole, a product of scepticism, by no means a direct issue 
of Christianity or of the teaching of Christ. Thus we see that the 
injunction, ' love your enemies,' is an injunction which has failed 
to produce a result. It was violated by Jesus himself, who, if he 
had loved his enemies, would not have called them vipers, or pre- 
dicted their arrival in hell ; it has always been violated by his 
disciples. And the very existence of it has caused men to forget 
and ignore, and comfortably to violate, the old useful commands 
which were practicable, and which could be obeyed : ( Bear no 
grudge ; do not revenge ; help your enemy when he needs your 
help and when you are in a position to help him.' Thus upon the 
side of public enemies and the enemies of religion, Christians, with 
their brand-new command, ' love your enemies,' have hated their 
enemies and persecuted and tortured them quite as much as could 
conceivably have happened under the ' dispensation ' of Pentateuch, 
Prophets, and Rabbis, while upon the side of private enemies, 
there is no reason whatever to believe that Jews have not acted up 
to as high an ethical standard as Christians. What, then, are we to 
say of a teaching which has so conspicuously failed in practical 
result ? ' By your fruits ye shall be judged,' said Jesus, and by its 
fruits his new and superfine teaching stands condemned. 

Does this criticism miss the point ? It largely does so, if Well- 
hausen's note on the true meaning of the verb aycnrav in this passage 
be correct. And Jesus can hardly have meant that we were to 
have the same emotional feelings of affection for the ' enemy ' as for 
a bosom friend. He included all that is taught in the passages 
quoted by Dr. Eschelbacher from Exodus and Proverbs. He 
idealizes ; he is filled with enthusiasm. He generalizes, and he 
rivets attention by his brief, fine generalization. He means that 
active and helpful love must know no limits. Above all, it must 
have nothing to do with requital and tit for tat. It must look for 
no reward except from God. We are to wish no man evil, and (so 
far as it lies in our power) to do all men good. This is the meaning 
of the word ' love.' We must never avoid the chance of doing a good 
turn to the man who hates us and has done us an evil turn. We must 
rather even seek out the chance for good, and conquer hatred by 
love. Thus interpreted, his teaching, though it may soar higher, 
and strike a more passionate and fuller note, seems to be in accord- 
ance with those best sayings of the Rabbis which Jewish apologists 
are never weary of quoting again and again. The main difference 
is that the injunctions of Jesus (even as traditionally reported) are 
given in a form which, in every language and translation, arrests 



88 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 43-48 

attention, and stimulates the heart and the mind in the highest 
possible degree. 

J. Weiss urges that the demand of Jesus was intended to be an 
ideal of perfection, an ideal to which men can strain, but which 
they can never attain. Hence he strongly prefers Matthew's 
* perfect ' to Luke's ' pitiful/ contending that the ' love of the 
enemy ' does not fall under the idea of compassion. A test of our 
capacity for such ' love ' is to be found if we can honestly ' pray ' 
for our enemies. I agree that a passionate ideal is urged, something 
more than not to show revengefulness in petty details of ordinary 
life, something more than to do a good turn to a man who has done 
us a casual injury. Jesus, in his enthusiasm and idealism, pushes 
the doctrine of love to the furthest possible extreme. It would need 
a similar religious fervour, a similar passion of idealism, to follow 
out his injunction in the greater crises. As we know, he did not 
follow it himself. He rather reviled the Scribes than prayed for 
them ; he returned their antagonism with antagonism, and his 
denunciations show anything rather than love. Yet the ideal is 
not useless ; though often impracticable, it is nevertheless inspiring. 
The Armenian could hardly be expected to pray for the Kurd who 
had massacred his children. Could the Russian Jew be expected 
to pray for the Christian who had just violated his wife and dashed 
his child's brains against the wall ? There seem to be limits beyond 
which human nature cannot go. 

I have not quoted the Rabbinic passages about not hating and 
about love of neighbour. Many of them are not unfairly collected 
together and translated by Fiebig in his pamphlet on the Bergpredigt. 
The words in Siphra on Lev. xix. 18 are both noble and disagreeable 
in one. 



DI n« -n^n Nn Dipn ^ 

p rmni m i m IDIN Nrpps m TIDD *p-iS nin«i 
: mo frm hhi m DIN rvrtWi IEDD m 



Here certainly it is said that the Jew may be revengeful and 
bear a grudge against ' others,' i.e. non-Jews. And yet the unity of 
the human race appears to be taught by the saying of Ben Azzai. 
(* Rabbi Akiba said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself is 
the greatest and most inclusive rule (y^) in the Law, whereas 
Ben Azzai said, This is the book of the generations of Adam [Genesis 
v. i] is greater even than that other.') 

It would be an interesting, if painful, task to look up articles 
and sermons by Lutheran theologians during the war which deal 
with the Love of Enemies. One would find some curious things. 
I have read one article which justifies a certain kind of hatred as not 
inconsistent with universal love and with the love of enemies, and the 



V. 54-48] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 89 

following quotation from Fiebig (Studien und KritiJcen, March 1918. 
p. 64) might have been used by the author of Psalm cxxxix. or by 
any other of those Old Testament and Talmudic writers on whose 
inferiority to Jesus he so emphatically insists. I leave it in the 
original German. ' Die Gesinnung der Jiinger Jesu ist schrankenlose 
Liebe, Liebe auch zum Feinde, zum Undankbaren und Bosen. 
Diese Gesinnung ist das Ideal, von dem nichts abgebrochen werden 
darf . . . Wie es im einzelnen durchzufuhren ist, ist uns iiberlassen. 
Der Gott der Liebe ist gleichzeitig der Heilige, der Richter. So 
konnen auch wir inmitten von Krieg und Blutvergiessen die Werk- 
zeuge seines Gerichts sein, das Er aus seiner Liebe heraus volzogen 
wissen will. (Wir verstehen, wie sich Hindenburg wiederholt mit 
Recht als Gottes Werkzeug bezeichnet hat.) ' 

Nevertheless, when all reasonable deductions have been made, 
there can be no doubt that an ideal like ' love your enemies/ must 
have often produced many practical results of value. Many an 
insult has been forgiven ; many a possible * tit for tat ' has been 
forgone because of this injunction. It must have had in numerous 
cases excellent effects. A moral ideal should always be above our 
complete accomplishment. Let it ask an ell, and man will produce 
an inch. Let it ask an inch, and man will not even produce the 
inch. That the ideal is impracticable is by no means a true criticism 
against it. Every ideal is, and must be, impracticable in its complete- 
ness. But we can struggle nearer and nearer towards it, and, 
through its constraining power, a great deal can be accomplished. 
The impracticable ideals of the Gospel have probably produced 
a large amount of moral good. It may also be noted that the 
practical love of former enemies, an attempted curing of hatred by 
love, is sometimes put into operation to-day even by collectivities. 
We may even hear of it without realizing, or calling to mind, that 
the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is being obeyed. And 
yet it is. In a letter or telegram to The Times about Spain and 
Morocco (Aug. 12, 1926), I read these simple words; 'The 
abandonment of reprisals has opened a new era for Spain in 
Morocco.' Is not this abandonment of reprisals a practical 
carrying out of the morality enjoined by the Sermon on the 
Mount, and is it not claimed that it is being marked by practical 
success ? 

What the adherents of all religions have found peculiarly difficult 
is to love, or even to forgive, the enemies of their own peculiar tenets. 
Rabbinic Judaism could and did order its adherents to forgive 
private injuries and wrongs. One's own personal enemies one is 
not to hate, but the enemies of the whole people, still more the 
enemies of the faith, one may hate. The following passage from 
the Aboth of Rabbi Nathan is very instructive : * Man must never 



90 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [7.43-48 

say, he loves the teacher and hates the disciples, or that he loves 
the disciples and hates the ignorant. Thou must love all, but the 
heretics, the apostates and the informers — these thou mayest hate. 
As David said, " Do I not hate them, Lord, that hate Thee ? I 
hate them with perfect hatred." For as the Lord bade thee love thy 
neighbour as thyself, thou art only enjoined to love thy neighbour, 
when he walks in the way of thy people, but if he goes astray, then 
thou art not bound to love him/ There is no question that the 
injunction of the Gospel, ' Pray for them that persecute you/ is 
superior to the teaching of the Aboth of Rabbi Nathan. The only 
criticism that one can make upon it is that it would perhaps have 
been better if Jesus had added examples to his broad generality. I 
wish he had added : * For instance, let us pray for, and let us love, 
the Pharisees and Rabbis who are opposing us.' But this he would 
have found it hard to say, because at once religious passions would 
have come in. It was, and always has been, easier to call religious 
enemies hard names than to pray for and to love them. 

The value of unattainable ideals is admitted and even emphasized 
by philosophers who are by no means ordinary Christian believers. 
Thus Prof. Taylor writes : ' The distant ideal is the source of our 
direst mental tortures, and yet without it existence would be un- 
endurable. ... As moral beings we can never exist without some 
still unreached ideal to serve as a spur to our activity — can never, 
like Faust, rest on our oars and say to the present, " Be thou my 
eternity " ; yet even when most irresistibly hurried forward in the 
chase of our distant ideal, we know quite well in our hearts that we 
shall only approach it to see it recede still further away from us. ... 
An end that is to be permanently felt as worth striving for must be 
infinite, and therefore infinitely remote, while any end that is infinite 
is eo ipso out of reach of attainment, and as far from us after a life 
of devotion to it as it was at first. . . . The collective wisdom of 
mankind has long ago discovered that our ideals, whether of sensual 
gratification, or of knowledge, or of beauty, or of moral improvement 
are, one and all of them, unattainable. So that if indifference to 
the demand for a practicable ideal be [as has been urged by an 
assumed antagonist] the mark of a dreamer or a fanatic, content- 
ment with a final and practicable ideal is no less undeniably the mark 
of an esprit borne ' (Problem of Conduct, 1901, p. 401). Jewish 
teaching has to beware of becoming (in its opposition to and side- 
glances at Christianity) the teaching of an esprit borne. The teaching 
of Proverbs (apart from i.-ix.) and of Ecclesiasticus is not adequate 
for man. We need the correction of the Gospel. We need the 
ideal of perfection, the unattainable ideal. Especially when without 
the moral stimulus of persecution, Jews must greatly beware lest 
they tend to become tinctured with Philistinism and (in the 



V. 43-48] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW QI 

bad sense) with bourgeois respectability. You may often hear 
from Jewish pulpits (with the usual side-glance and silent hit at 
Christianity) that the heroes of the Old Testament are useful 
exemplars to ordinary men and women, because they were not 
immaculate plaster saints, but had their temptations, their suc- 
cumbings, and their failures. The argument is of very doubtful 
worth, and one feels quite sure that if the so-called plaster saint 
happened to be included among the Old Testament worthies, he 
would be greedily and delightedly used for homiletic purposes by 
Jewish preachers. The ideal of the saint who is immensely above 
us in moral and religious worth possesses the same kind of attraction 
and stimulating force as the abstract ideal of moral or of religious 
perfection. Would those Jewish preachers not allow that the 
Imitation of God is an ideal that can stir and move the emotions, 
the reason and the will ? If so, the hero of the Gospel narrative, 
even in the ideal form in which he is conceived by Christianity, can 
also stir and move the heart and the conduct of man. In fact we 
know that historically this has been the case, and that the imitation 
of Christ and of his believed perfection has been of immense and 
far-reaching effect in all classes of society and in every age. The 
Jews must be very careful not to lessen the content, the infiniteness 
and the paradox of the ideal. They will otherwise infallibly lessen 
the beauty, the greatness, the originality, the abandon, and the 
grandeur of the moral and religious characters, which only such 
ideals can produce and sustain. 

Dr. Rashdall published in 1916 a deeply interesting volume 
called Conscience and Christ, and he did me the honour of quoting 
therein, sometimes with approval and sometimes with dissent, 
several passages from the first edition of this commentary. I write 
now under the vivid sense of the terrible loss which liberal 
religion has sustained by the death of that great theologian. Where 
he approved, I am pretty sure I must be right ; but where he dis- 
sented, I hesitate. Now, he dissented from things I said and have 
repeated in the preceding paragraphs, and I would like to quote 
what he said in full, as a tiny tribute to his memory. There was 
never a theologian with whom (in spite of differences) I felt in such 
fundamental sympathy as with him. Immensely below him in 
knowledge and capacity, I am yet proud to think that we looked 
at many things in the same sort of way. This is what he says : 
1 Mr. Montefiore, from the standpoint of liberal Judaism, condemns 
severely the attacks by Jesus on the Pharisees both as being un- 
justified in themselves and as inconsistent with His own teaching. 
To use the language of severe denunciation does not appear to me 
ethically unjustified or inconsistent with the spirit of the teaching 
which, in general, Mr. Montefiore approves : and what Jesus 



92 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 43-48 

denounces in the teaching and conduct of the Pharisees certainly 
deserved such condemnation. It does not appear to me at all 
self-evident that Jesus, "if he had loved his enemies, would not 
have called them vipers, or enthusiastically predicted their arrival 
in hell " (Syn. Gospels, n. p. 524). The adverb, of course, is Mr. 
Montefiore's.' [I regret the adverb, and I have withdrawn it from 
this edition.] ' That there was another side to the teaching perhaps 
of those very Pharisees whom Jesus denounced, and certainly of 
other Pharisees, Mr. Montefiore is quite entitled to point out, and 
Christians ought freely to admit the fact. But it is hardly fair to 
speak of such denunciations as merely calling " religious enemies 
hard names " (ib. n. p. 526). It was not the theological doctrine 
of the Pharisees that Jesus denounced, but (i) the immorality of 
their teaching and (2) their hypocrisy — the contrast between their 
exacting teaching and their lives of what seemed to Him easy, self- 
complacent religious exclusiveness. In the very same page on 
which this criticism occurs, Mr. Montefiore has some reflections — 
too well deserved — on the intolerance shown by Christians towards 
Jews which, though expressed in a more modern dialect, mean 
much the same thing as the denunciations of Jesus. That we have 
learned better to understand the psychological causes of such 
aberrations as those of the Pharisees may be admitted by any 
Christian who does not assert that Jesus was omniscient. If some 
of the Pharisees were not justly chargeable with all the bad motives 
which Jesus attributed to them, or if there was more good in them 
than He supposed, that is a question of fact. It may be admitted 
that the historian's judgment about the matter should not be based 
on these sayings alone. But the important thing for us is whether 
He was right in severely condemning certain elements in their 
teaching and the state of mind from which He supposed it to spring. 
I do not see in these denunciations any defect of ethical principle. 
The denunciation of the Friars as a class by men like WyclifEe and 
Luther seems to me a fairly parallel case, and was equally justified, 
though, of course, there were good Friars even in the worst periods 
of mediaeval history. That there has been a further and fuller 
development of that principle of Universal Love which Jesus taught 
should be fully admitted. The principle of religious toleration was 
not actually taught by Jesus, though He taught nothing contrary 
to it. It is a further development of the principle which He did 
lay down, and yet, after all, this question is not much in point in 
this particular connection, for there was no question of persecuting 
the Pharisees. 

' 1 am not competent to discuss the question whether Mr. 
Montefiore does not as much overrate the Pharisees as some 
Christian Theologians (liberal as well as orthodox) have unjustly 



V. 43-4«] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 93 

depreciated them ; I will only say that he himself in his indignant 
protests against the onesidedness of Christian Theologians seems 
occasionally to forget the admissions that he elsewhere makes. 
That there was much in the teaching and conduct of the Pharisees 
which was justly rebuked by our Lord, could be proved out of Mr. 
Montefiore's own writings. Moreover, he is (if I may venture to 
say so) too apt to assume that all that is best in the rabbinic teaching 
of all ages must be supposed to have been equally characteristic of 
these particular Kabbis and Pharisees with whom our Lord had to 
deal. On the face of it, it is probable that the Pharisees in the day 
of their political ascendancy would show the characteristic vices of 
a dominant clergy more frequently than in the days of national 
humiliation and persecution. It would be grossly unjust to the 
French clergy of to-day to say of them what might justly be said 
of their predecessors in the time of Louis XIV. Nor can I discuss 
the question of reflex Christian influence on the later rabbinic 
teaching. It is improbable that the teaching of Christianity 
(however little illustrated by average Christian practice) should 
have produced no influence on their Jewish critics. It would be 
equally absurd to assume that the views about toleration or the 
relative unimportance of ritual now adopted by the best Roman 
Catholics owe nothing to Protestantism.' 

On this passage I would only like to observe that, while willingly 
admitting the soundness of much which the great scholar put 
forward, and while hoping to profit by it, I hardly think I have 
ever gone so far as to say that ' there was much in the teaching 
and conduct of the Pharisees which was justly rebuked' by 
Jesus. The more prevailing Pharisaic teaching about divorce was 
justly rebuked by Jesus ; a not infrequent exaggeration of the 
doctrine of tit for tat was justly rebuked by him. I cannot re- 
member anything else. That some Pharisaic doctrine lent itself 
to ethical and religious perversion I have freely allowed, but that 
is not the same thing as describing the doctrine itself as immoral. 
Again, about Pharisaic conduct as a whole I do not think I have 
ever said anything depreciatory. That there were doubtless 
several bad Pharisees and bad Rabbis in the days of Jesus I have 
always admitted ; what I have denied is that the best and most 
likely way to have converted them was to treat them and to speak 
of them in the way that Jesus spoke of them and treated them. I 
do not think that the teaching of the New Testament produced any 
influence for good on the Rabbinical teaching. It must have been 
very little known. 



CHAPTER VI 

1-4. OF ALMSGIVING 

(Matthew only) 

1 ' Take heed that ye perform not your righteousness before men, 
to be seen by them : otherwise ye have no reward from your 

2 Father who is in heaven. So then, when thou givest alms, do not 
sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the syna- 
gogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men. 

3 Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. But when 
thou givest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand 

4 does : that thine alms may be in secret : and thy Father, who 
looks upon what is secret, will reward thee. 

The Sermon now proceeds to deal with three special acts of the 
religious life — almsgiving, prayer, and fasting — and it shows in what 
ways these must be practised to possess any religious value. It is 
disputed whether any portion of Chapter vi. formed part of the 
original Sermon. Loisy thinks that vii. I followed originally on 
v. 48 ; Chapter vi. is partly made up of passages from Q, and partly 
of additions from the Evangelist himself (7, 8, 14, 15). Weiss, on 
the contrary, supposes that 1-6 and 16-18 are integral portions of 
the original Sermon. 

For various reasons given at great length in his painstaking 
book, Mr. Marriott does not think that any portion of Chapter vi. 
formed part of Q's original Sermon. 

I. This verse may, perhaps, be introductory to the three sections 
on Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting. Each of them is a meritorious 
action : each of them a part of ' righteousness,' but to make them 
of value, to make them really * righteous,' they must not be * done ' 
openly, or they ' deserve ' and will receive no reward. But some 
suppose that the Greek word St/catocrui^ (righteousness) stands here 
for ' almsgiving.' It is, they think, a translation of the Hebrew 

94 



VI. 1-4] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 95 

tzedakah, which, literally meaning righteousness, was used in later 
Hebrew to signify almsgiving. 

There is no novelty for Jewish readers in the excellent remarks 
about almsgiving. They are characteristically Kabbinic. Doubt- 
less there were * hypocrites ' in the age of Jesus, as in every subsequent 
age and among all creeds. Doubtless some of the Pharisees deserved 
a castigation. There would be no possibility of the Jewish critic 
forgetting so extremely probable a fact if the Christian critics 
contented themselves with maintaining it. We, on our part, should 
never be tempted to exaggerate, if Christian criticism were limited 
to the insistence that there must have been many bad Jews — bad 
Pharisees, bad Rabbis, bad Scribes — in the days of Jesus. But 
Christian criticism goes much further. It attacks the Rabbinic 
religion as such ; it attacks Judaism as such. Ib is this constant 
suggestion of moral and religious inferiority in Judaism as such, 
which, be it remembered, is a word that connotes, not a dead religion 
of 1900 years ago, but a living religion of to-day — it is this which no 
doubt makes us sometimes throw stones and exaggerate in our turn. 
' The externality of Jewish " righteousness " is expressed,' says 
Dr. McNeile, * by the verb TTOLCLV ' : he probably makes the remark 
not only with the utmost sincerity, but without a thought that to 
Jewish readers his words cause acute resentment. What would he 
think if he were to read a Buddhist book in which the adjective 
' Christian ' was often used with a stigma of religious inferiority ? 
True Jewish righteousness was, and is, no more external than true 
Christian righteousness. It may be argued that ' Jewish ' is here 
only a shorthand expression for : ' The externality of a certain false 
" righteousness," as displayed by certain bad Pharisees in the age 
of Jesus, is expressed by the word Troieu/.' I admit that what I 
have taken eighteen words to say, Dr. McNeile by his shorthand 
says in five. But sometimes one can only be short at the cost 
of accuracy on the one hand, and of hurting people's feelings upon 
the other. And one can sometimes only be short at the cost of 
prolonging a needless controversy, and of causing other people to 
exaggerate in their turn. And so the bad ball keeps rolling, or being 
tossed, from one side to the other. 

Dr. Biichler (in the Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. x. No. 38, 
Jan. 1909, pp. 266-270) has given a fresh interpretation of Matt. vi. 
1-4, 16 based upon Rabbinical literature. The usual view of verse 2 
is that the word aaATTLcrfls (sound a trumpet) is used purely meta- 
phorically, while the rest of the verse refers to public collections for 
the poor made on Sabbaths in the Synagogues. Dr. Biichler believes 
that the allusion to trumpets and to praying and almsgiving in the 
streets (2 and 5) points to the particular and only occasion when such 
practices prevailed. This was on public fast-days for rain, held 



96 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VI. 1-4 

usually in seasons of drought during October and November. 
Perhaps Matt. vi. 1-4, 16 may have been spoken at this very season. 
Jesus would seem to deprecate the public giving of alms and the 
public fasting which then prevailed. At all events there is no 
other allusion to praying in the streets in the Rabbinical literature. 
Jesus would mean, Do not let the public trumpet herald your alms- 
giving and call it into prominence. ' The Mishnah tells us that on 
these days of public fasting on occasion of a drought, the scene of the 
service was the street or market-place (Taanith, n. § I seq.) ; the 
leaders of the community gathered there round the Ark containing 
the Law ; and after an address by one of the Rabbis, who reminded 
the assemblage of the example of Nineveh and called his hearers to 
genuine repentance, the prayers for rain commenced. Here, then, 
we have the only prayers recorded as being recited in the streets, 
and of the many present it may well be that some joined with no 
true humiliation in their hearts, but to be seen of men in the 
assembly, and some stood at the street corners praying with question- 
able sincerity. The people as a whole are not, it is true, represented 
as praying at these public fasts ; they merely respond Amen. But 
we read how they broke into tears when Rabbi Eliezer addressed 
them and recited the prayer composed by himself (T.B. Taanith, 25 b). 
But it is especially to be noticed that on such occasions the ram's 
horn (shofar) was blown after each of the six additional benedictions 
at the end of the prayers. The overseer (hazari) of the congregation 
gave the direction, " Blow, ye priests, blow (the horn)," and again, 
" Sound, ye sons of Aaron, sound." We have, at all events, the 
precise statement that this was the mode of procedure in Sepphoris 
in the age of Halafta and Hananja ben Teradjon. Now it was well 
understood that on such days, when God's mercy was besought, men 
must themselves exercise mercy practically in the form of alms- 
giving. Thus we read (T.B. Synhedrin 35 a) : " R. Eliezer says, 
whoever postpones over night the distribution of the alms in 
connection with the fast is as though he shed blood." This implies 
that on fast-days alms were promised, but not always given on the 
spot. The same teacher deduces from Is. Iviii. 5 seq. that almsgiving 
is the primary condition of the acceptance of the worshipper's prayer 
on fast-days (T.J. Taanith n. vi. 65 b, line 14 seq.). And a charac- 
teristic story is told (in Genesis Rabba xxxiii. 3 ; Leviticus Rabba 
xxxiv. 14), how that Rabbi Tanhuma once decreed a public fast 
during a calamitous drought. When the rain still failed to descend, 
though the fast was thrice repeated, the Rabbi rose and said, " My 
children, be full of mercy towards one another, then will God have 
mercy on you." The people thereupon distributed alms. This 
practice seems to me to underlie the reproach against the public 
distribution of alms in Matt. vi. 2.' 



VI. 1-4] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 97 



* They have received ' is a right translation. ' ATTC^CO in ' koine ' 
speech — in the ordinary speech of the Greek-speaking world in the 
age of Jesus — was used to mean ' I have received.' It was a form 
of receipt. 'AW^o* rcXos, e I have received tax ' (i.e. the tax due to 
me, a tax-collector) (Deissman, Licht vom Osten, 4th ed., 1923, p. 88). 
The reward which they have already received is what they have 
desired and sought to obtain : it is praise and reputation from men. 
Therefore they cannot expect that God will reward them also. 

Jesus uses simple eudaemonistic motives quite naively and 
comfortably. He had not the least idea that there was anything 
immoral or irreligious in them as such, or that they were the odious 
mark of an odious legalism ! The heavenly Father would certainly 
reward his children with heavenly beatitude. The rain may 
benefit the sinner ; but ' heaven ' is for the good. Disinterested- 
ness, purity, inwardness, etc., are all compatible with the doctrine 
of reward. No Theistic religion can say that goodness shall never 
be rewarded, whether in this world or in another. No Theistic 
religion can regard the permanent combination of virtue and 
misery as always and eternally right, desirable, and true. Neverthe- 
less, the ' legal,' as well as the Pauline, religion can teach people to 
be and to do good for the sake of goodness. The difficulty which 
some theologians find in this combination Jesus happily did not 
find. It is not found, moreover, by any simple religionist, whether 
Christian or Jew. He expects and hopes for a reward ; but he 
does not love God, and he does not act righteously, for the sake of 
a reward. 

4. ' Thy Father who looks upon what is secret.' The Greek 
is usually translated ' who sees in secret,' and is supposed to refer 
to the invisibility, and yet omnipresence, of God. He is unseen, 
but sees. Wellhausen, however, more probably, takes the words 
ev rco KpvTTTto as the object of jSAeWcov. An Aramaic and Hebrew 
idiom has been misunderstood. The meaning then is : ' Thy 
Father, who looks at (or regards) what is secret ' ; i.e. God can and 
does see your secret deeds, and He will reward you. So, too, in 
verse 6. 

The text on which the A.V. was based added ' openly,' of which 
the right explanation is given by Dr. Carpenter. ' Should not the 
world know that love and piety received their reward ? In the 
interests of religion it was desirable that the blessing should be 
visible to all, and accordingly an amended version of the promise 
ran, " Thy Father, who sees in secret, shall recompense thee openly " ' 
(First Three Gospels, p. 24). 

The open reward will be given in the Kingdom, or after death in 
1 heaven,' or at the resurrection of the dead. 

VOL. II H 



9 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VI. 5, 6 

5, 6. OP PRAYER 
(Matthew only) 

5 ' And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites : for 
they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners 
of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Verily I say unto 

6 you, They have received their reward. But thou, when thou 
prayest, enter thy chamber, and when thou hast shut thy door, 
pray to thy Father who is in secret ; and thy Father, who looks 
upon what is secret, will reward thee. 

5. Jesus again preaches sincerity, inwardness, and humility. 

6. He is not thinking here of synagogal worship, and certainly 
not depreciating it. But he is anxious that his disciples should 
practise what he himself cherished and practised : the habit of 
private prayer. The ' chamber ' may be meant literally or figur- 
atively. The words of 6 are partly taken from Isaiah xxvi. 20 
(LXX). Cp. also 2 Kings iv. 33. 

* Thy father who is in secret ' ; who is invisible. The sense w 
improved if with some MSS. and versions we omit ro> : * pray in 
secret to thy Father.' 

For Rabbinic views on prayer, which supplement, but do no 3 
contradict, the teaching of Jesus, see Abrahams, Studies, n. chap, 
xi., ' Some Rabbinic Ideas on Prayer.' 

7-15. THE LORD'S PRAYER 
(Cp. Luke xi. 1-4) 

7 ' And when ye pray, babble not vainly, as the heathen do : 
for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them : for your Father knows what 

9 ye need, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye : 
10 ( Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy 

kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so also upon earth. 

ii, 12 Our daily bread give us to-day. And forgive us our debts, as we too 

13 have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but 

deliver us from evil. 

*4 ' For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father 
15 will also forgive you : but if ye forgive not men, your Father will 

also not forgive you your trespasses. 



VI. 7-15] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 99 

The Lord's Prayer did not we may presume form part of the 
original Sermon. And vi. 6 was originally followed by vi. 16. 
But Matthew uses this opportunity to introduce the Prayer which 
he found in his source (Q). The prologue (7, 8) and the epilogue 
(14, 15) seem both to be the work of the Evangelist. But there is 
no reason why these verses should not have been said, on one 
occasion or another, by Jesus. They seem more likely to be his 
than Matthew's. 

7, 8 thus form the special introduction for the Lord's Prayer, 
which the Evangelist desired to insert in the Sermon. In Luke 
the prayer has a different place and a different introduction, which 
may be older than that of Matthew. 

7. Before, the disciples had been warned not to imitate hypo- 
critical Pharisees. Here they are warned not to imitate the heathen. 

What ficLTTaXoytiv means is not certain. It only occurs here 
in the New Testament, and appears to be only found besides in 
Simplicius's fine commentary on the Enchiridion of Epictetus (end 
of chapter xxx.). ' I must turn,' says Simplicius, ' to the other 
chapters of Epictetus's book, and I must not forget my purpose, 
which was to explain Epictetus, while I now babble about duties.' 
7T€pl KadrjKovrajv fiaTTaXo'y&v vvv. The etymology is unknown. 
Klostermann thinks that it is most probably a hybrid, a verbal 
transliteration of the Aramaic NnSttl "IDN to speak emptiness 
or vanity. It may include idle babbling, magical formulae, weari- 
some repetitions. God cannot be compelled to hearken, by force 
of lengthy supplications and verbal bombardments. He knows our 
needs before we open our mouth. Some of the best Rabbinic 
sayings are in full accordance with this teaching. ' Your Father 
knows what you need before you ask him.' How simple, fine, and 
telling the words are. 

9. The form of the Lord's Prayer in Luke is shorter and perhaps 
more original. The seven petitions in Matthew are characteristic, 
for that holy number is a favourite with him. 

The Prayer has many Rabbinic analogues and parallels. It is 
needless for me to deal with them at length, for they are so easily 
available ; moreover, there is a very full, learned, and interesting 
essay on the Prayer in Abrahams' Studies, n. pp. 94-108, to which 
I would refer every reader. There is nothing in the Prayer which 
seems in the least unfamiliar to Jews ; there is nothing new or 
original about it as there is in Matthew xx. 1-16 or in Mark vii. 

14-23. 

Partly because the Lord's Prayer is not in Mark, Wellhausen 
regards it as later than Jesus. In Mark Jesus urges his disciples 



100 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VI. 7-15 

to pray, and even tells them before, or when, they do so to forgive 
those * against whom they have anything ' (xi. 22-25), but he gives 
them no formulary, for they are not yet a regularly constituted 
community. The prayer probably arose in the same period as the 
Christian worship generally, that is, after the death of Jesus, like 
fasting and baptism. Against this view Harnack energetically 
protests. A short form of the prayer may well be authentic ; was 
it not the regular custom for early Rabbinic teachers to have or 
compose his own favourite prayer ? It is a common prayer, but 
not a prayer of a community. Why should not the disciples have 
been given a common prayer ? But Harnack reduces the short 
prayer to even shorter proportions still. Originally it only con- 
sisted, according to him, of the three petitions, (a) ' give us to-day 
our bread for the morrow, (b) forgive us our debts as we forgive 
our debtors, (c) lead us not into temptation.' 

Harnack's views are put clearly and popularly in his Essay, ' The 
Original Text of the Lord's Prayer ' in his volume entitled , 
Erforschtes und Erlebtes, 1923, pp. 24-35. Streeter shows that for 
1 Thy kingdom come ' the words, ' Thy holy spirit come upon u* 
and cleanse us,' is a very ancient variant, and is probably tho 
original reading of Luke, but that Matthew's version is here more, 
original. On a survey of the whole evidence he concludes that tho 
Lord's prayer in Matthew came from M, in Luke from L. Ir 
neither did it come from Q, which did not include the prayer 
* The rare word emovaLos remains as a remarkable point of contad 
between the two versions. I think it not impossible that its 
presence in Luke is due to an assimilation to Matthew which has 
infected all our authorities ' (p. 277). Burkitt does not think that 
the ' holy spirit ' saying is genuine even in Luke. * For " thy 
kingdom come " represents an idea which is certainly Jewish, 
probably eschatological : a prayer for the cleansing descent of the 
Holy Spirit is definitely Christian, ecclesiastical. Is it to be 
supposed, if Luke had himself penned " Thy Holy Spirit come 
upon us and cleanse us," that so edifying a petition would ever 
have been dropped ? I can understand that " Thy kingdom 
come " might have been inserted into the text of Luke, but not 
that it should be allowed to oust a petition for the Holy Spirit if 
such a petition had been there from the beginning ' (J. T. S. Vol. 
xxvi., April 1925, p. 289). 

In the familiar Matthew form the prayer, though not original in 
its ideas, worthily ranks by the side of the many admirable short 
prayers of the Rabbis, some of which are given by Abrahams in 
the Studies (chaps, xi., xii.), and others by me in my Old Testa- 
ment and After. The choice of ideas, the grouping and phrasing 
are alike felicitous. There is a very interesting essay on the Lord's 



VI. 7 _i 5 ] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 101 

Prayer by the distinguished Jewish scholar G. Klein in Z. N. TF., 
1906. Klein thinks that the prayer in its Matthew form is original, 
and in true accordance with Jewish views of what a prayer of this 
kind should consist of. His arguments are well worth consideration 
and study. 

' Our Father who art in heaven.' A very familiar Rabbinic 
appellation of God, which we often hear in synagogue. Luke has 
simply ' Father,' which apparently was also used by Rabbis of the 
New Testament period. 

* Hallowed be Thy name.' The opening of the Kaddish may 
aptly be compared. The meaning is : May God be universally 
acknowledged and revered on earth. His right worship is His 
sanctification. The name of God is an equivalent for God Himself. 
The prayer is eschatological. It is on the same lines as the prayer : 
* Thy kingdom come.' When the kingdom has arrived, then will 
the name of God be universally sanctified. 

1 Thy kingdom come/ Again, a familiar prayer to us ; citations 
are needless. S.-B. and others provide them. Harnack elaborately 
argues that Luke had here originally, ' May Thy Holy Spirit come 
(upon us) and purify us,' and that the authentic prayer of Jesus 
contained neither the one clause nor the other. 

1 Thy will be done as in heaven, so on earth.' Not in Luke. 
The meaning is much the same as the former petition. In ' heaven ' 
there is no evil or sin ; there God's will is executed completely. 
May such a consummation be also attained upon earth in the 
Messianic age. The words interpret the preceding prayer. May 
that condition of things arrive in which God's will (for justice, 
goodness, etc.) is as perfectly carried out on earth as it already is 
in heaven. There is no exact Rabbinic verbal parallel. 

II. The prayer, having dealt with the future, now deals with 
the present, with the human needs of everyday life. 

The physical side of life is not forgotten. God is asked to give 
us sufficient for our support — that the body may have enough, in 
order that the soul may do His will. The word cmownos 1 is only 
found here and in Luke, and its meaning has been much discussed. 
There is a long and interesting note about it in McNeile. ' If it is 
not a corrupt form, it is probably to be connected with 77 ewiovcra 
r)ij,€pa. In liturgical use " bread for the coming day " could 
denote either " bread for the day then in progress," or " bread for 
the morrow," according as the Prayer was used in the morning or 
in the evening ' (McNeile). 

1 Give us our daily bread ' is an adequate translation for ordinary 
purposes. For if we ask to-day for our bread for to-morrow, we 
practically ask for our bread day by day. It has been urged that 



102 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VI. 7-15 

to ask God to supply us with our necessities for to-morrow is not 
in contradiction with the injunction not to be anxious for the morrow. 
Prayer is the antithesis to care. By asking God to provide for 
to-morrow's wants, by throwing the burden upon God, anxiety is 
dispelled. That the formula ' God will provide ' can be productive 
of improvidence and carelessness lies outside Jesus's point of view. 
Prof. Box says : ' Not improbably the source of the passage is 
Exod. xvi. 4, where in the account of the giving of the manna it 
is said : " The people shall go out and gather a day's portion every 
day" On these words one Rabbi observes : * The man who has 
(sufficient) to eat to-day, and asks, " What shall I eat to-morrow ? " 
belongs to those of little faith, for the Scripture proceeds (with 
the words) " that I may prove them." On the other hand, R. 
Joshua interpreted the words to mean that a man should gather 
from one day to another ( = Luke's " day by day "). A similar 
difference seems to have divided the schools of Hillel and Shammai 
(Beza 16 a). Thus the two evangelists represent two interpreta- 
tions : Matthew (" this day ") agreeing with R. Eleazar and the 
school of Hillel, and Luke (" day by day ") with R. Joshua and the 
school of Shammai. For Matthew's interpretation cp. vi. 34 (" Be 
not mindful for the morrow," etc.), which is not represented in 
Luke, but clearly reflects the mind of Jesus ' (Box). There is no 
exact verbal parallel in Rabbinic prayers. But the substance is 
familiar enough. 

I see no need, with Eisler, Z. N. W., 1925, pp. 190-192, to give 
a Messianic interpretation to the petitions in 11-13. Though the 
first two verses of the Prayer (9, 10) deal with the Messianic future, 
the petitions need not do so likewise. And Eisler's interpretation 
of the vexed word einovaiov seems to me very strained and unlikely. 
Nor is 7T€ipaafj,6s likely to mean the ' testings and trials ' prior to 
the Messianic Era, as if the words meant, ' may we be allowed not 
to have to undergo these trials.' Why is not the old Talmudic 
prayer an adequate parallel and explanation, ' Lead us not into 
the power of sin or of temptation ' ? On the other hand, it would 
seem quite likely that the * evil ' of verse n is the evil yetzer, even 
as the same old Rabbinic prayer goes on to say, ' Let not the evil 
inclination (the Yetzer ha Ra) have sway over us.' See below. 

12. * Forgive us our debts.' * Debts ' means ' sins,' which 
Luke has. It is true that in the Amidah there is no allusion 
to man's forgiveness of his fellow-man. ' Liturgically,' says 
Dr. Abrahams, ' the Synagogue did not make man's repentance a 
precise condition of God's pardon. Still less did it make man's 
forgiveness a condition. The unforgiving man does not deserve 
pardon, but who does ? The unforgiving, we can hear the older 



VI. 7-15] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 103 

Jew saying, is most in need of forgiveness, precisely of his own hard- 
heartedness/ (Studies, n. p. 97). But does the Greek of Matthew 
mean to imply a condition ? Luke has ' for we also forgive.' 
Perhaps the Greek of Matthew means no more than : ' Forgive us, 
even as we, following Thy commands, seek to forgive those who 
have wronged us.' Dr. Abrahams adds : ' On the whole, no Jew 
feels himself out of sympathy with the Prayer, except with regard 
to the condition regarding forgiveness apparently imposed in 
Matthew's form, which has no Jewish liturgical parallel whatever. 
It is not here suggested that, on a valuation of significance, Matthew 
is higher or lower than the Jewish sentiment. But he is not at 
the same standpoint ' (Studies, n. pp. 97, 98). I do not feel quite 
sure. Surely the thought is Jewish and familiar enough. Cp. 
Sirach xxviii. 2 and such Rabbinic sayings as, ' He who has no 
pity on his fellow-men, on him God has no pity ' ; ' Sins against a 
fellow-man are not forgiven by God on the Day of Atonement till 
the sinner has been reconciled to his fellow-man.' ' The thought, 
which is thoroughly Jewish, seems to be, a man can only hope for 
the divine forgiveness (of sin) if he has first bridged the gulf that 
divides himself from his fellow-man by making amends for the 
wrong done to his neighbour ' (Box). Only if we forgive others, 
have we a right to ask God for forgiveness. Would not that be 
quite a Jewish idea ? 

13. ' Lead us not into temptation.' A prayer extremely 
familiar to Jewish readers. Box quotes from the Jewish prayer- 
book the daily morning prayer which it is needless for me to re- 
produce here. ' Temptation ' means severe trials, such as the 
trials of the flesh, or of any special circumstances which are likely 
to lead to sin. A direct special temptation by God is probably 
not alluded to. ' Lead us not,' i.e. ' Bring us not within the 
influence of temptation.' ' Cause us not to come into circumstances 
when temptations will befall us.' Harnack thinks the temptation 
refers specifically to sufferings which might induce apostasy and 
sin. Spare us sufferings which would cause temptation. In Luke 
xxii. 28 ' temptations ' means, probably, ' sufferings.' Cp. ' Zwei 
Worte Jesu ' in Sitzungsberichte der preussischen Akademie der 
Wissenschaften, 1907, 1-6, and also the essay in Erforschtes und 
Erlebtes, p. 25, where temptation is said to be used in the sense of 
* eines Strafleidens oder einer Glaubensanfechtung oder einer Lust.' 

' Deliver us from evil.' Not in Luke. It has been lengthily dis- 
cussed whether one should render ' from evil,' ' from the Evil One,' 
or * from the evil.' Some hold that Rabbinic analogies would make 
it probable that ' from evil ' is an adequate translation, and that 
' evil is not so much calamity as the inward evil, the Yetzer ha Ra ' 



104 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [¥1.7-15 

of the Rabbis, the evil inclination, which is sometimes also half- 
personified, and regarded as a power of evil as much outside man 
as within him. Fiebig, on the contrary, thinks that the familiar 
Rabbinic prayer (Berachoth 60 b, Singer, p. 7) suggests that Evil 
in the Lord's Prayer should be taken quite generally. ' Deliver 
us from evil ' would then be the correct translation (Erzdhlungstil, 

P- 147). 

A liturgical addition, not found in all MSS., follows. ' For 
thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever. Amen.' 
For the words cp. i Chron. xxix. II, Psalm cxlv. n, 12. The 
doxology is wanting in Luke. Harnack learnedly argues that the 
original version of the Lord's prayer in Luke (before its progressive 
assimilation to the text of Matthew) ran thus : 

Father, hallowed be thy name, 

May thy holy spirit come upon us and purify us, 

Give us to-day our bread for the morrow, 

And forgive us our sins, for we too forgive every one who owes us aught, 

And lead us not into temptation. 

But neither Luke's version nor Matthew's version does he regard 
as representing the exact words which Jesus said. On the other 
hand, the following — that which is common to both Luke and 
Matthew — he does believe to be quite authentic — the exact words 
which Jesus used. (But Jesus did not tell his disciples to use 
these words in a stereotyped way. He gave no law for prayer. 
He said : ' In such wise [in this sort of way] do ye pray ' : he did 
not say : * pray these exact words.') [How oddly Lutheran a 
remark !] 

Father, hallowed be thy name, 

Give us to-day our bread for the morrow, 

And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors, 

And lead us not into temptation. 

It would be interesting to quote and criticize the concluding 
words of the great theologian's essay, which are probably intended 
to carry many innuendos, but I have no space for this. That the 
use of ' Father ' for God is ' distinctively Christian ' can hardly be 
allowed. * The Fatherhood of God is a characteristically Jewish 
doctrine.' Lake is probably in such a matter as this a more trust- 
worthy guide than Harnack. Burney thinks that the Aramaic 
original of the Lord's prayer can more or less assuredly be recovered. 
It was a ' little poem or hymn consisting of two four-beat tristichs. 
We see at once what an aid the rhythmical form is in assisting the 
memory. The formula may be said to be 2 (stanzas) x 3 (stichoi) 
x 4 (beats). Was it accidental that our Lord so composed it, or 
did He intentionally employ art in composition as an aid to memory ? 



VI. i6-i8] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 105 

Surely the latter conclusion is correct. Comparing this form of 
the prayer with the mutilated version which we find in the Revisers' 
text of Luke xi. 2-4, we can hardly hesitate as to which is the 
more original ' (p. 113). It may be observed that while Burney's 
arguments may often be sound for obtaining the more original 
text and for distinguishing glosses, et cetera, he seems to prove 
too much when he wants to use his rhythmical theories and argu- 
ments to substantiate the authenticity of all sorts of passages which 
on other grounds are almost assuredly unauthentic, such as, e.g., 
Matt. xi. 25-30 and many others, and when he also uses it to prove 
the substantial authenticity of the speeches in the Fourth Gospel. 
(The ' difference of audience ' is supposed to be a sufficient ex- 
planation for the huge difference in subject-matter. P. 84.) 

14, 15 are an explanation of 12, and found in Matthew only. 
(Cp. Sirach xxviii. 2). They are quite in accordance with Rabbinic 
teaching. They are not in Luke, but may accurately represent 
the usual teaching of Jesus. Cp. Matt, xviii. 21-35. 



16-18. OF FASTING 
(Matthew only) 

1 6 * Moreover when ye fast, look not gloomy like the hypocrites, 
for they make their faces unsightly, that they may appear unto 
men to be fasting. Verily I say unto you, They have received their 

17 reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash 

1 8 thy face ; that thou appear not unto men to be fasting, but unto 
thy Father who is in secret : and thy Father, who looks upon 
what is secret, will reward thee. 

16. Here it is assumed that the disciples fast. Cp., and perhaps 
contrast, Mark ii. 18. The Sermon, after the digression of 7-15, 
returns to the three * works ' of piety, and now deals with the third. 
Though we were told in Mark that his disciples did not fast, it is 
conceivable that Jesus may have laid down a higher rule on the 
subject for those who should wish to observe this rite. Dr. Biichler 
supposes that the fasts alluded to are public fasts, ordained specially 
by the authorities on occasions of drought or of exceptional calamity. 
•There is no reference to the Day of Atonement. But it is not certain 
that private fasts may not be referred to. In a public fast, during 
which every one fasted, there would be nothing exceptional to fast. 
Dr. Biichler thinks that the reference is to the ' exceptional fasts 



106 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VI. 19-21 

during October-November when severe pietists fasted on Mondays and 
Thursdays if the rain failed.' The rule about fasting corresponds 
with the rule about almsgiving. It urges inwardness. There must 
be no ostentation and display. This would be in full accord with 
the best Rabbinic teaching. Dr. Abrahams (Studies, i. chap. xvi. 
' Fasting ') says that the Shulchan Aruch declares that ' he who fasts 
and makes a display of himself to others, to boast of his fasting, 
is punished for this.' The teaching of Jesus would be on such lines, 
and is, as usual, put in a hyperbolic and picturesque form. It is 
conceived on true prophetic lines. (Cp. Isaiah Iviii.) The meaning 
of the injunctions in 17 is that no one is to know that the man is 
fasting. To all outward appearance he might be going to a banquet. 
Not to anoint the head and not to wash were the usual outward 
accompaniments of mourning and fasting. 

d(f>avi£ovcnv : </)ava>aw. The play upon words is untranslatable. 
' They make their faces unsightly, that men may have sight of 
them.' ' They disfigure their faces.' ' By ashes, or by leaving 
face and head unwashed ' (Box). 

18. If one fasts, one fasts to God, and not to man. Therefore 
let God alone know about it. As in verse 4, it gives better sense if 
the TO) before the first tv ra> Kpv</>alco be deleted, and we translate 
thus : * That thou appear not to men to fast, but in secret to thy 
Father ; and thy Father, who looks on what is secret, will reward 
thee.' 



19-21. TREASURES ON EARTH AND IN HEAVEN 
(Cp. Luke xii. 33, 34) 

19 * Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth 

20 and rust destroy, and where thieves break through and steal : but 
lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor 
rust destroys, and where thieves do not break through or steal : 

21 for where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. 

This passage, and the sections to the end of the chapter, do 
not seem to be part of the original Sermon ; they occur in other 
connections in Luke. The editor has inserted them here for reasons 
which one can hardly discover. The heavenly reward mentioned 
in 18 may have suggested that here was a fit occasion for inserting 
19-21. Luke's parallel verses may be the more original. The 
opening of Luke xii. 33 seems to imply : the end is near. 

The right use of terrestrial treasures is to use them as means 



VI. 22, 23] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 107 

for the acquisition of ' heavenly ' treasures. The doctrine is 
Rabbinic. Several close parallels could be given. Jesus fully 
admits the principles of retribution so far as the life to come is con- 
cerned. A direct aim of our earthly life must be to obtain entrance 
into the ' life to come,' and by our actions here (almsgiving, etc.) 
we can secure that entrance. Only, the almsgiving must be of the 
right kind : it must depend upon the heart. If that is pure and set 
Godwards, all else follows. The doctrine of Jesus can be called 
indifferently * justification by faith ' or * justification by works.' 
If one's faith is right, one's heart is right ; if one's heart is right, 
one's works are right ; and if one's works are right, that can only 
be because one's heart and faith are right. This seems simple 
doctrine and true. 

20. * Rust.' But the Greek word pp&cris more probably means 
1 eating,' the devouring of farm produce stored in barns which is 
done by mice or other animals. 



22, 23. THE INTERNAL LIGHT 
(Cp. Luke xi. 34-36) 

22 ' The lamp of the body is the eye : if thine eye be sound, thy 

23 whole body will be light. But if thine eye be bad, thy whole body 
will be dark. If, then, the light that is in thee be darkness, how 
great the darkness ! 

Another detached remark, without close connection. Cp. 
Proverbs xx. 27. The original place of the saying is perhaps better 
kept by Luke xi. 34, where it follows the verse which corresponds 
with Matt. v. 15. 

The eye is to the body what the heart is to the spiritual life. If 
the eye is clear and unobscured, the body, which in itself is dark, 
receives light ; if the source of the light is obscured, the body is 
doubly dark. The metaphor is not very happy. So if the heart 
(' the light in thee ' ) is not light but dark, how great is the darkness. 
For the only guide to light and truth in the spiritual world is the 
heart. Unless your heart is sound, no number of laws and rules 
and rites will help you. Mr. Allen gives a totally different explana- 
tion. He supposes that the * eye ' in the second clause of 22 is 
already the spiritual eye. * The idea is the naive one that the eye 
is the organ through which light has access to the whole body, and 
that there is a spiritual eye through which spiritual light enters and 
illuminates the whole personality. This spiritual eye must be kept 



108 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VI. 24 

sound, or else light cannot enter, and the inner man dwells in 
darkness. But how can it be kept sound ? The contrast drrXovs — 
TTovypos suggests the answer, by liberality and almsgiving. Treasure 
is not to be hoarded, but given away. In Jewish idiom a " good 
eye " is a metaphor for liberality, " an evil eye " for niggardliness. 
We should therefore rather expect here as a contrast to Trovypos 
(wicked), dyados (good), rather than dtrXovs (sound). But (i) the 
phrase a sound eye may have had in the original saying a wider 
meaning than that of liberality, which is here imparted to it by 
the context. There is no such limitation in the passage as it stands 
in Luke. (2) dnXovs may have been chosen because it interprets 
ay ados as = " liberal." According to this interpretation 23 means 
that if you are miserly and grudging, then spiritual light cannot 
penetrate unto you, and such light as you have becomes even 
darker, till it ceases to be light, and becomes darkness.' 



24. GOD AND MAMMON 
(Cp. Luke xvi. 13) 

24 l No man can serve two masters : for either he will hate the one 
and love the other ; or else he will cleave to the one, and despise 
the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 

The verse seems to have been removed from its context, which 
is found in Luke xvi. 1-13. 

Perhaps the verse has been put here in reference to 19-21. You 
cannot have both ' treasures ' on earth and in ' heaven.' Whole- 
hearted service is demanded for God. It is not to be a question of 
more or less, or of preference. The same slave cannot (truly) serve 
two masters, for if he does, one or other must be neglected. Even 
so, a man cannot be the slave of both God and riches, for, if so, the 
one must be neglected when he serves the other. A slave is to be at 
the entire disposal of his master. 

The opposition of hate and love is here comparative ; if a man 
has two wives, the one he prefers is ' loved,' the other is ' hated.' 
(Cp. Deut. xxi. 15 ; Gen. xxix. 31-33 ; Luke xiv. 26). 

Jesus and the writers of the Synoptics are nob afraid of using 
the metaphor of slave and master for the relation of man to God. 
They were unaware that it would be said by the commentators 
that the Jews served God as slaves, in fear and through lust of 
reward, while, for the first time, the disciples of Jesus served Him 
as sons, in love and without desire of reward. These oppositions 
are not only inaccurate ; they are the creation of partisans. 



VI. 25-34] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW log 

Jesus had an acute sense of the moral dangers of wealth and 
of the sins to which wealth or the love of money may give rise. 
As Pfleiderer points out, he agreed with most ancient thinkers in 
supposing riches to be not a means for productive moral action, 
but a mere source of pleasure and enjoyment. With many other 
pious Jews of his age, he saw in the rich, as a social class, the 
oppressors of the poor, the children of ' this world,' the enemies of 
the divine Kingdom (Urchristentum, I. p. 650). What M. Loisy says 
seems entirely accurate : ' The incompatibility between the service 
of God and the pursuit of riches is absolute. It would be arbitrary 
to understand the text in the sense that a man ought not to serve 
God and Mammon at the same time, or that it is permissible to 
seek or keep riches, on condition of not being a slave to them. The 
possibility of such a condition is just what it is desired to exclude. 
In this sentence, as everywhere else, and especially in the discourse 
which follows, Jesus puts himself at the ideal point of view of 
evangelical perfection, as it ought to be found in those who are 
waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of heaven and preparing 
themselves for it. Such persons are not only spiritually separated 
from riches, they ought also to be actually separated from them. 
It is impossible for him whose thoughts are occupied with earthly 
wealth to belong entirely to God ' (E. S. I. p. 614). 

J. Weiss says that Jesus must have thought that he saw in 
riches a sort of demonic power, hostile to God, and the concentrated 
essence of the ' world ' as opposed to the Kingdom. ' No reformer 
of the moral life of the world speaks here, but a prophet, who has 
finished with this world to prepare the way for a higher and different 
order.' (Schriften, i. p. 282, 3rd ed. 'Nicht innere Freiheit im 
Besitz, sondern vollige Loslosung wird gefordert '.) 

' Mammon.' The word does not occur in the Old Testament. 
But it is * found in the Hebrew original of Sirach (xxxi. 8) and it is 
frequent in the Targums as the equivalent of various Hebrew words, 
chiefly $33, gain. ' It is also found frequently in Rabbinical literature, 
both in the Hebrew and in the Aramaic form, where it means pro- 
perty, money. The Hebrew word is ' preserved probably because 
wealth is personified ' (McNeile). 

25-34. WORLDLY ANXIETIES AND OCCUPATIONS 
(Cp. Luke xii. 22-31) 

25 ' Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what 
ye shall eat ; nor for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the 

26 life more than food, and the body than clothing ? Look at the 



HO THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [¥1.25-34 

birds of the air : for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather 
into barns ; and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not 

27 worth much more than they ? Which of you by anxious care can 

28 add one cubit unto his height ? And why are ye anxious about 
clothing ? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow ; they 

29 toil not, neither do they spin : and yet I say unto you that even 

30 Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But 
if God so clothe the herbs of the field, which to-day are, and to- 
morrow are thrown into the oven, shall he not much more clothe 

31 you, ye of little faith ? Be not then anxious, saying, What shall 
we eat ? or, What shall we drink ? or, With what shall we be- 

32 clothed ? For after all these things do the gentiles seek : for your 

33 heavenly Father knows that ye need all these things. But seek 
ye first his kingdom and his righteousness ; and all these things 

34 shall be added unto you. Be not then anxious for the morrow : 
for the morrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for the day is 
its evil. 

The right position of this passage may have been preserved by 
Luke, who makes it follow the parable of the Foolish Rich Man 
(xii. 16-21). The disciples and those who are preparing themselves 
for the coming Kingdom must not only not * serve ' riches, but they 
must not have any care or concern for the ordinary material needs 
of life. Thus 25-34 go beyond 24. They seem to say not merely 
that one is not to be anxious as to the earning of one's bread and 
clothing, but that one is not even to attempt to earn them. * To 
say that we are not freed from the obligation to work, but that we 
must trust to God for the result is to weaken the thought of the text 
in order to adapt it to the actual conditions of fife ' (E. S. i. 
p. 617). 

One has to remember that if Jesus said all these words, he said 
them believing that the great crisis of the world's history was at 
hand. He thought that the world was soon coming to an end. If 
one reads Luke xii. in its entirety, one sees this clearly. If the world 
was coming to an end, why labour to get worldly goods ? God 
would provide for His elect till the great crisis came. We who do 
not live under this belief can observe and value, at most, the spirit 
of the counsel here given. As M. Loisy says : 

' Jesus recommends to those who have devoted themselves to 
the service of the Gospel this absolute trust in Providence. But 
it is impossible to see in this counsel a rule which can be applied, 
without discrimination or qualification, to all men and all times ' 
(ib. p. 619). 



VI. 25-34] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW III 

Many commentators, both ancient and modern, suppose that 
Jesus distinguishes between * providing ' and ' worrying.' ' Labor 
exercendus est, sollicitudo tollenda,' says Jerome. But this is a 
doubtful distinction. Doubtless too, over and above the coming 
crisis, Jesus had a dislike to the passion for acquisition. Man can 
live on little in the East. The disciples could easily obtain all they 
wanted from admirers and sympathisers. 

Without this paragraph, and others like it, should we have had 
St. Francis of Assisi ? But we should, perhaps, on the other hand, 
have also been spared certain evils. 

25. The best MSS. omit R.V.'s ' or what ye shall drink.' ' There- 
fore.' Luke, with another connection, also has this ' therefore.' 
So it must have been in the source, and perhaps referred to some 
sentence such as ' God will look after you.' In Matthew it must 
mean : anxiety about material things would be a service of Mammon. 
Therefore be not anxious. 

' Life.' The argument is that our lives and even our bodies, 
which God has given us, are more valuable than food and clothing ; 
if, then, God has freely given us what is more valuable, He will freely 
add what is less valuable. 

26. The argument seems unsatisfactory. For (a) birds do 
labour for their sustenance and their nests ; and (6) many of them 
are often not provided for, but die of want and hunger. But the 
idea that God provides for animals is found both in the Old Testa- 
ment (e.g. Psalm ciii.) and in the Talmud. Jesus forgot the other 
side of his picture or shut his eyes to it. 

27. The commentators are divided as to the meaning. If 
r)Xu<ta means ' stature,' ' one cubit ' seems a too large addition ; if 
it means ' age,' to add a ' cubit,' instead of an hour or day, seems 
an odd expression. Nevertheless the second seems the better 
meaning. What is the use of all your anxiety ? You cannot add 
an hour to your life by anxiety. All your cares cannot lengthen 
it when your allotted time has passed. Our ' times are in His hand.' 
He knows better than we. Let us not worry. 

Prof. Box and Dr. McNeile prefer the other explanation. ' The 
parallelism of the verses suggests that this verse should correspond 
to 25 6, as verse 26 does to 25 a ; consequently, it must refer to the 
bodily frame, and ' stature ' is the meaning. To add a cubit to the 
stature would be a marvellous thing, impossible to man, but possible 
to God. Therefore (verse 28 should be taken in conjunction with 
verse 27) " Why be anxious about the lesser thing, raiment ? " ' (Box). 



112 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [¥1.25-34 

28-30. These famous and exquisite verses are also more con- 
vincing than the argument from the birds. 

32. It seems plainly indicated here that ' God will provide ' 
without human labour. 

And yet Jesus cannot have supposed that clothing, for instance, 
would be supernaturally produced. There must be a grain of salt 
to be taken with all these maxims. The great point is the anxiet}% 
making material acquisition the object of life's effort, the end, and 
not the means, of life. 

As to the Gentiles, is the idea that the heathen are covetous, or 
that in their prayers they ask only for material things ? 

33. The word * first ' is wanting in Luke. But it may be 
original for all that. It does not mean that in the second place 
they are to search (i.e. labour) for food and clothing, but ' first ' i;* 
here equivalent to ' only.' 

* Righteousness ' is added by Matthew to the ' kingdom,' cp. v. 6 
Avrov (his) must be taken with both the substantives, and is rather 
awkward. ' His Righteousness ' means the righteousness which is 
acceptable to Him, the righteousness which in God's eyes is 
righteousness ; or, more briefly, it is being accounted righteous by 
God at the Judgment. Another form of the saying preserved by 
some Church Fathers is striking. ' Seek (or ask) for the great 
things, and the small things will be added to you ; seek the heavenly 
things, and the earthly things will be added to you.' 

The saying in this verse is one of those striking utterances in 
the Gospels which are capable of much development as regards 
their signification. One hardly knows whether to call them great 
in themselves, or great just because they are capable of this develop- 
ment. Apparently the saying meant originally : ' Seek, above 
all things, to qualify to enter into the Kingdom, to be " saved " at 
the Judgment : if you bend your mind to that, you need not worry 
about food and drink and clothing. They shall be given to you ; 
you will not be unsuccessful in their attainment.' But much more 
than this can be read into the verse ; it can be used for much wider 
meanings. In all things let righteousness come first, expediency 
second. Or, again ; it is not system which will save the world ; 
it is neither individualism nor socialism ; states can only be saved 
by righteousness, or by the will to righteousness, or by the changed 
heart of the men and women who compose them. And so on. 

34. Not in Luke. The verse is clearly an addition, and not 
quite on the same lines as what precedes. ' Though ^ /ze/H/^aere 
forms a link with the preceding verses, the thought is different ; 



VI. 25-34] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 113 

the trust in God, enjoined in w. 25-33, involves a happy confidence 
that no day shall have its evil, because He will provide. The 
present saying, if a genuine utterance of Jesus, must have belonged 
to a different context ' (McNeile). The verse has several Rabbinic 
parallels. It relates not to the satisfaction of material wants, but to 
' the difficulties of every kind which are met with in life, and about 
which one must not preoccupy oneself till they actually occur ' 
(Loisy). If a man does not worry himself about the possible evils 
of the morrow, he will, so it seems implied, be better able to grapple 
with and disperse the evils of to-day. 

The words rj avpiov fj,€pifj,vTJcr€i avrfjs are not without difficulty 
in construction and sense. I have adopted Moffat's rendering, 
which supposes a sort of verbal pun. The next day can be allowed 
to look after itself. But it may be also implied that ' to-morrow 
will be anxious for itself,' i.e. each day will have its own special 
trouble. But if we limit ourselves to to-day's trouble, we shall 
be able to overcome it, and so with each day's trouble as it arises. 
* Evil ' is ' here material evil or calamity ; elsewhere in the New 
Testament it always connotes moral evil ' (Box). 

J. Weiss has a fine paragraph about this section on ' worry ' 



( Into our modern world with its hurry and its striving, with its 
desperate struggle for existence, this song about Freedom from Care 
(Sorglosigkeit) comes ringing like a strain from the lost paradise. 
Probably none of us can heartily accept the sentiment without secret 
objections, and many a man, who lives a life of need and struggle, 
will bitterly reject it as not meant for him. Here again it is made 
clear how impossible it is to apply without modification to later times, 
other circumstances, and other men, a view of lif e which was formed 
under certain definite historical conditions, and was, moreover, an 
extremely individual view. To the Galilaean wanderer, whose slight 
needs were supplied by the hands of friends, and who in a rich and 
fertile country ever found God's table spread for him, lif e was easier 
than to the modern townsman who must put forth all his strength 
to gain a scanty reward. Jesus and his followers had broken the 
bridges behind them in the convinced consciousness of a near new 
world, where everything would be different and everything would 
be perfect ; he was dominated by no care for wife and child, and 
for him there was no dark future to look forward to with anxiety. 
How different is the position of the man to-day ! He cannot take 
the birds of heaven as his model. That is self-evident. But has 
Jesus' s word therefore no message for us ? Once again let us remind 
ourselves that " to be anxious " (sorgen) is not the same as " work 
and pray." The latter is not affected by Jesus's words. " Not to 
be anxious " means to have a free heart, to be courageous and active, 

VOL. n I 



114 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [¥1.25-34 

to accept our life every day fresh from God's hand and to trust in 
Him. But such composure of mind is not only not a hindrance, but 
is even an inexhaustible source of strength for a successful struggle 
for existence. And how shall we attain such freedom from anxiety ? 
Jesus says to us, " Fill your soul with a great purpose, endeavour 
after the Kingdom of God, battle for the victory of good in the world, 
strive after personal perfection, and then what has hitherto oppressed 
you will appear to you petty and insignificant." 

What is remarkable about the sayings of the Gospels is that 
they are often applicable to wholly alien conditions, and true even 
without that belief in the end of the world which underlies so many 
of them — no surer mark of their genius and first-classness. The 
same may be said of much in the Prophets and the Psalms. 

[There is much which is valuable and important as regard** 
Chapters v. and vi. of the Sermon on the Mount in G. Kittel'*; 
pamphlet, Die Probleme des paldstinischen Spdtjudentums und dav 
Urchristentum, 1926, pp. 71-140. How far Kittel's views as to 
the ultimate difference between Judaism and Christianity, and as 
to the real originality in the teaching of Jesus, may be sound, is 
an arguable question, but they are undoubtedly challenging and 
arresting.] 



CHAPTEK VII 

1-5. CONCERNING HASTY JUDGMENTS AND CONDEMNATIONS 
OF OUR NEIGHBOUR 

(Cp. Luke vi. 37-42) 

1,2 ' Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment 
ye judge, ye shall be judged : and with what measure ye mete, it 

3 shall be measured to you. And why lookest thou at the splinter 
that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is 

4 in thine own eye ? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me 
pull out the splinter out of thine eye ; and, behold, a beam is in 

5 thine own eye ? Thou hypocrite, first pull the beam out of thine 
own eye ; and then wilt thou see clearly to pull the splinter out of 
thy brother's eye. 

In Luke's Sermon on the Plain the present passage follows 
immediately the end of Matthew's Chapter v. Such parallels as 
there are in Luke to Matthew's Chapter vi. are in other Lucan 
chapters and connections. Hence it is argued that the Sermon in 
Q went straight on from the end of Matt. v. to Matt. vii. I. 

The section 1-5 does not seem to have anything to do with 
public justice, but only with judging and condemning in private 
life. Here, too, as in forgiveness, our forbearance or harshness 
towards others on earth is to determine, or to go towards deter- 
mining, the judgment passed upon ourselves by God. 

I, 2. There is an awkwardness here unless we translate the 
first two instances of the verb Kpiveiv by ' condemn,' and only 
the second two by ' judge.' For verse I seems to condemn ' judging ' 
altogether, while verse 2 appears to ask for gentle or favourable 
judgments. If we do not condemn others, God may not condemn 
us. The reference in both verses is to God's judgment. Jesus 
does not condemn all kinds of tit for tat, and here is a case in 
which he says that God himself will act upon that principle (cp. 
Mark iv. 24). Marriott thinks that I am wrong. Jesus does not 
mean ' that God will act towards us in the spirit of the lex talionis, 

"5 



Il6 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VIL 6 

as Montefiore thinks, but rather that our attitude towards our 
fellows is an indication of our own state of heart. A harshly 
critical temper in regard to others' faults is inconsistent with true 
self-knowledge, and so with genuine penitence and humility. It 
thus betokens a wrong relation to God, and the absence of those 
fundamental dispositions which are essential, according to the 
teaching of the N.T., to man's appropriation of His mercy and 
forgiveness ' (p. 259). This interpretation seems to me somewhat 
too ingenious. I cannot help thinking that Jesus meant what he 
said, and what all his hearers would have supposed that he did 
mean. It was a regular Kabbinic teaching that God would act 
mercifully to you, if you acted mercifully towards your fellows. 
This teaching may be good or poor, but if Jesus had meant some- 
thing much more elaborate and considerably different, would he 
not have made his meaning more clear and definite ? Would he 
deliberately have used words in exact correspondence with the 
ordinary Jewish teaching of his age ? 

3. Worst of all is it to condemn a man for the fault which 
we also possess. Too many of us refuse to recognize our own 
faults, or to believe that we possess them. There are many close 
Rabbinic parallels for the ideas, and even for the wording, of this 
section, which are given in S.-B. and in the commentaries. It 
may be noted that it is possible that the usual and conventional 
interpretation of the saying may not be the true one. See Fiebig's 
pleasant and useful little brochure, Der Erzdhlungsstil der Evangelien 
(1925), pp. 23-26. 

5. ' Hypocrite.' The zeal for improvement, or the eagerness 
to correct, which does not turn first to the improvement and 
correction of self, is mere pleasure in finding fault. 



6. PEARLS BEFORE SWINE 
(Matthew only) 

6 * Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your 
pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and 
turn again and rend you.' 

An obscure and isolated saying. ' The connexion in thought 
intended by the editor may have been : "I have said, Judge not ; 
but discrimination must be exercised by the disciple, otherwise 
mistakes will be made " ' (Box). Similarly McNeile. 



VII. 6] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 117 

' Holy ' is no proper parallel to ' pearls.' Hence the idea that 
' holy ' is a mistranslation of an original Aramaic word kadasha, 
which means ' ear-ring.' Who are the dogs and the swine ? Are 
they the heathen ? In that case the meaning is, ' Do not preach 
the Good Tidings to the heathen ' (cp. x. 5). Others suppose that 
the verse means that the disciples are not to impart spiritual truths 
to those who cannot appreciate them. Some people are bound to 
misunderstand you. It is idle and useless to speak with them, or 
to attempt to convert them. Leave them alone. So Marriott. 
' Sacred and religious teaching was not to be delivered to persons 
morally and spiritually unable to appreciate it, lest they should 
treat it in an irreverent and profane manner, and also be roused 
to hostility against those who had delivered it to them.' This 
view seems a little doubtful. If the reference is to the heathen, the 
authenticity of the verse has been hotly denied. Thus Dr. Martineau 
says : ' That such an ebullition of scorn and insult should proceed 
from him who extolled in the alien " a faith which he had not 
found, no, not in Israel," and who selected a Samaritan as the 
ideal expounder of the second great commandment, is wholly 
incredible. The language has its parallel, and doubtless the 
indication of its date, in the warnings to the Churches of Asia 
(particularly that of Thyatira) contained in the prologue to the 
Apocalypse (Rev. ii. 18 seq.), guarding them against forms of 
antinomian corruption which had come upon the Church of the 
second century from the growth of Gnostic philosophy and the 
misuse of Pauline theology. The verse, wholly unconnected with 
its context, is doubtless one of the latest interpolations of the most 
mixed of all the Gospels, and expresses the feeling of passionate 
disgust which the encroachment of heathen licence upon the purity 
of the Church awakened in its true pastors and people ' (The Seat 
of Authority in Religion, 5th edition, p. 658). 

Similarly Dr. Rashdall : ( To see in these words a prohibition to 
preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to Gentiles would be to attribute 
to our Lord an attitude unsupported by anything else which He 
ever said or did. It is certain that not even the most Jewish of 
the Evangelists would have inserted it in his Gospel if he had 
understood it in this sense. It is not easy to find a meaning for 
the saying which is in harmony with the general teaching of our 
Lord on the assumption of its genuineness. It is far more probably 
an " ecclesiastical addition." In the Didache it is interpreted to 
mean " Do not admit the unbaptized to the Eucharist." And 
something not quite so definite but in the same spirit may well 
have been the meaning which it bore for the Judseo-Christian 
consciousness ' (Conscience and Christ, pp. 177, 178). This is also 
the view of M. Loisy, who observes: ' The Didache says that 



Il8 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VII. 7-11 

Jesus, in forbidding his disciples to give the holy thing to the 
dogs, meant to interdict the Eucharist to those who were not 
baptized. This idea, which cannot be found in the teaching of 
the Saviour, is nevertheless that which, if it be a little extended, 
is best suited to the text. It is implied that the disciples are the 
possessors of a holy thing, the distribution of which they regulate, 
and which must not be given to everybody ; they have pearls 
which must not be brought out at the wrong time before coarse 
and brutal men. Just as little as this state of things agrees with 
the Gospel teaching given by Jesus, just as closely does it 
correspond to the way in which the Christian community regarded 
the Eucharistic assemblies. Is it not probable that it was in 
these communities that the saying was framed, " the holy thing 
is not for the dogs," perhaps in imitation of the words addressed 
by the Saviour to the Canaanitish woman, and that the Evangelist 
has merely picked up a sentence which was already attributed 
to Christ ? In any case, he has in view some kind of Christian 
mystery, which is not the simple doctrine of the Gospel, and it is 
this mystery of Christian worship the knowledge and still more 
the reality of which he forbids to be given to the heathen. He 
presents as a rule of conduct that which the Didache makes a 
principle of the law of worship ' (E. S. i. p. 626). 



7-11. OF PRAYER 
(Cp. Luke xi. 9-13) 

7 ' Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, 

8 and it shall be opened unto you : for every one that asks, re- 
ceives ; and he that seeks, finds ; and to him that knocks, it 

9 shall be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his 

10 son ask him for bread, will give him a stone ? Or if he ask him 

11 for a fish, will give him a serpent ? If then ye, being evil, know 
how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall 
your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask 
him? 

Further loosely added exhortations, this time touching once 
more upon the subject of prayer. The original place and connection 
may be preserved in Luke. 

Doubtless Jesus assigned to prayer a higher power than we can 
assign it to-day. M. Loisy promptly brushes aside the quibble 
that while Jesus says that every honest prayer (' ask, seek, knock/ 



VII. 12] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 

are all metaphors for prayer) will be heard, he does not imply that 
God will grant the realization of every particular request. In the 
full magnificence and simplicity of his faith, Jesus declares that 
every prayer will be answered. The case of a man asking for 
follies or absurdities or evil is not considered or thought of. Jesus 
therefore, makes no restrictions ; he does not wish one to add : 
' It is understood, of course, that you ask for what is good for 
you.' Such a proviso would upset his whole theory, for whatever 
prayer is unanswered and unfulfilled can be regarded as a prayer 
the fulfilment of which would not have been ' good ' for the man 
who prayed. ' Faith knows nothing of the scruples of theology ' 
(E. S. I. p. 631). Or, rather, the faith of Jesus knew them not. 
One can, let us hope, have faith, and yet not have this wholesale 
belief in the efficacy of unrestricted prayer. 

The passage, says J. Weiss, is another illustration of the optimism 
of Jesus. He judges the world by himself and from his own experi- 
ences. He must have known good people, and have had happy 
experiences of the goodness of his heavenly Father and also of his 
earthly father. For actual experiences of human asking and giving 
are the basis of the picture which supplies the key for the interpreta- 
tion of the general order of the world. 

11. Even good men are wicked as compared with God. 

12. THE GOLDEN RULE 
(Cp. Luke vi. 31) 

' All then that ye would that men should do to you, so do ye 
also unto them : for this is the Law and the Prophets. 

12. This maxim (the so-called Golden Rule) seems in a good 
connection in Luke. Some think that Matthew has put it here 
' for the purpose of forming a general conclusion to the sermon 
proper, what follows being in the nature of an epilogue.' ' This is 
the Law and the Prophets ' is wanting in Luke, and may be an 
addition of Matthew's. It is a parallel to Hillel's words : ' This is 
the whole Law.' In the negative form the Rule is found in Tobit 
iv. 15, and in the famous saying of Hillel. Almost all the Christian 
commentators declare with one accord that the positive form (for 
which there is no exact Jewish or classical parallel, so that it would 
seem original to Jesus) is * of course immeasurably superior to the 
negative form.' The truth is, as Dr. Abrahams has shown in his 
essay on the * Greatest Command,' that no such ' immeasurable 
superiority ' exists ; each form has its value (Studies, i. pp. 21-25). 
I should like to quote the whole of the passage ; it is such a model 



120 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VII. 13, 14 

of impartiality, rebuking alike the Christian with his ' immeasurable 
superiority ' and the Jew who wishes to show that the negative 
form is the same as, or better than, the positive form. I may cite 
a small piece : ' the negative form is the more fundamental of the 
two, though the positive form is the fuller expression of practical 
morality. Hillel was asked to summarize the Torah, and he used 
that form of the Golden Rule from which the Golden Rule itself is 
a deduction. The axiomatic truth on which the moral life of society 
is based is the right of the unimpeded use of the individual's powers, 
the peaceful enjoyment of the fruit of his labours, in short, the 
claim of each to be free from his fellow-man's injury. When we 
remember how great is our power of evil, how relatively small our 
power for good, how in Sir Thomas Browne's words, " we are beholden 
to every man we meet that he doth not kill us/' how " the evil that 
men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones/' 
it is at least a tenable theory that the negative Rule goes deeper 
into the heart of the problem. " Do as you would be done by" is 
less fundamental than Hillel's maxim, just as it is less full than the 
Levitical law of neighbourly love, for love is greater than doing. 
This criticism does not dispute, however, that the Gospel form is a 
splendid working principle which has wrought incalculable good to 
humanity. The persistence, however, of the negative after the 
pronouncement of the positive form, itself argues that the former 
is more basic.' It is rather amusing to compare Heinrici and 
Bultmann about the Golden Rule in its positive form. Says the 
former, in his usual glorifying and hyperbolic manner when a saying 
of Jesus is in question, ' All the noblest and highest teachings which 
lead to the acquisition of a pure heart and to the awakening of 
genuine love for man are contained in it (i.e. in the " maxim " of the 
Golden Rule) ' (p. 88). Says the cold and sceptical Bultmann : 
1 It is, indeed, a self-deception to imagine that the positive formulation 
of the Rule is characteristic of Jesus in contradistinction to the 
negative form pronounced by the Rabbis : the positive form is 
merely accidental, for the saying in either form only embodies the 
morality of a naive egotism ' (p. 62). 



13, 14. THE NARROW GATE 
(Cp. Luke xiii. 23, 24) 

13 ' Enter through the strait gate : for wide [is the gate] and broad 
is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter 

14 in thereby. For narrow [is the gate], and strait the way, which leads 
unto life, and few there are that find it. 






VII. 13. 14} THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 121 

The Sermon, as Matthew arranged it, closes with some reflections 
on the difficulties and tests of goodness and salvation. 

The horrible doctrine that many go to ' destruction ' and few 
to ' life eternal ' was not invented by Jesus, but it seems to have 
been accepted by him. One wonders how any man could hold it, 
and yet believe in a loving God ; but the human mind is capable 
of the oddest inconsistencies. Harnack is anxious to keep this 
paragraph for Jesus with the rest of the Q passages that are 
common to Luke and Matthew. If I were as concerned as he is 
to claim for Jesus a unique position in the sphere of religions, I 
should like to rid him of the responsibility of such painful utterances 
as these. 

Two metaphors seem combined. The first is that of the popular 
' Two Ways/ which was common at that date in Jewish preaching. 
(Cp. for the phrase Jeremiah xxi. 8.) The second metaphor of the 
narrow gate or road is independent. (Cp. 4 Ezra vii. 12, 13.) One 
good MS. and some versions omit the second and third mention of the 
* gate.' (Cp. K.V. M.) And Luke speaks of the 'door' and not of 
a 'gate.' Streeter thinks that Luke's version comes from Q, while 
Matthew has conflated Q's version with one from M, which only spoke 
of the two ways (p. 283). Two thoughts seem combined. The first 
is that the way of life, the way which leads to ' life eternal,' is hard, 
but that man can and ought to try to find it and walk along it. The 
choice of ways is free and his own. This was the older Jewish view. 
Through repentance and righteousness man can enter into life 
eternal. (Cp. Deut. xxx. 19.) The second thought is that the way 
of life is narrow, because few are to find it, because many are pre- 
destined to * eternal death,' a few only to eternal life. This later, 
gloomier, pessimistic, and irreligious view is prominent in the 
apocalyptic Fourth Book of Ezra. The Evangelist, more or less 
consciously, seems in this passage to allude to the second view as 
well as to the first. The metaphor of the narrow gate is assumed to 
be familiar, and it probably was. 

The odious doctrine of the many who will be ' lost ' and of the 
few who will be ' saved ' is neither specifically Jewish nor Christian. 
It is common to both. It appears to have been pretty widely held 
in the first century. How far did the Church teach that Hell was 
more populous than Heaven ? Or how far did the Synagogue teach 
it ? And which gave up the horrid doctrine earlier ? One thing is 
clear : neither can cast stones at the other. But Jesus never seems 
to have said a word of protest against Gehenna, and in spite of all 
the efforts of modern theologians to show that he never taught, and 
did not believe, that any human soul would not eventually be saved, 
it seems very dubious whether he reached the modern position 
which would indeed mark him out beyond all the teachers of his 



122 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VII. 13, 14 

age. A word against Hell would have been worth twenty Golden 
Kules, good as the Golden Rule undoubtedly is. 

We must not, if we are true to the canons of history and criticism, 
deal with this matter in a spirit of partiality. Since (a) everybody 
then believed in hell, and (6) there is much definite teaching about 
hell on the usual lines in the sayings ascribed to Jesus, we cannot 
suppose that he held views about hell unlike the ordinary views, 
unless definite statements to that effect can be produced. But 
such definite statements are lacking. Nor can the trouble be got 
over by arguments as to alcbvios not meaning l everlasting.' There 
is no reason to make us suppose that Jesus, any more than any 
other Rabbi of his age, believed that an unrepentant unbeliever, 
a sinner, having got into hell, ever got out again. At the best we 
may, perhaps, suppose that he believed in annihilation, for some 
other Rabbis did believe in that. Nor can we get over the trouble 
by modern arguments to the effect that the consequences of human 
freedom are inevitable, that if a man chooses on earth to cut him- 
self off from God, if he chooses to make his will wicked and defiant 
unto the end, if he chooses to say, ' Evil, thou art my good/ then 
he is unsaveable and unhelpable and unredeemable. All such 
modern shifts and evasions do not help in the least degree. Jesus 
was not a modernist or a philosopher. God had absolute power 
to redeem and save whether from hell or any other evil. If a 
sinner is left in hell or is annihilated, it is because God chooses, i.e. 
considers that it is just and right, that he should be so left or so 
annihilated. God had much less to do then than He has now. 
The world was ever so much smaller. There were, indeed, only 
the few inhabitants of one single planet who had to be looked after 
(except, perhaps, some rebellious angels and demons). Jesus 
would never have dreamed of supposing that God was only re- 
sponsible for the initial gift of freedom, and that afterwards He 
had nothing to do with what happened to the human soul, that 
it was all man's doing and not His. God was Father : God was 
also Judge. It is He who casts into hell ; it is He who has arranged 
that from hell there is no redemption. It is true that He only says, 
' Depart into the fire,' to the unrepentant unbeliever and sinner, but 
it is not the sinner who keeps himself in hell, it is God who keeps 
him there ; it is God who has arranged that in hell there is no re- 
pentance or no effective result of repentance. Now if any Christian 
friend says to me, ' But if this be the doctrine of Jesus, is it 
not quite as much, or even more, the doctrine of the Talmud 
and of the Rabbis ? ', I reply at once, ' Yes, of course it is. But the 
difference is this, that I am in no wise concerned to prove or allege 
that the teaching of the Talmud or the Rabbis was perfect teaching, 
whereas you are always declaring, and dinning into my ears, that 



VII. 21-23] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 123 

the teaching of Jesus is perfect, immaculate, and incapable of im- 
provement or amendment in any point whatever. And that is 
why I find my position as a liberal Jew so eminently comfortable 
and satisfactory. I am free. I can praise Jesus and the Kabbis 
when they deserve praise. I can criticize them when they deserve 
criticism. I can see both their strength and their weaknesses ; 
where Jesus is a child of his age is no more trouble for me to under- 
stand than it is for you and me to see where the Rabbis are the 
children of theirs.' 



15-20. THE FALSE PROPHETS, AND HOW TO KNOW THEM 
(Cp. Luke vi. 43-45) 

1 5 ' Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, 

16 but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. Ye will know them by 
their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from 

1 7 thistles ? So every good tree brings forth good fruit ; but a 

1 8 rotten tree brings forth bad fruit. A good tree cannot bring 
forth evil fruit, neither can a rotten tree bring forth good fruit. 

19 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is cut down, and cast 

20 into the fire. So then by their fruits ye will know them. 

15. This warning against false prophets is wanting in Luke. 
Such people are predicted in xxiv. II, 24. Here they already 
exist. Probably they are heretical, immoral, or unrecognized 
Christian teachers, and the sentence is later than Jesus. 

16. In Luke the words have a more general signification. 
Here they are applied to the wicked or to heretical teachers. For 
the metaphors, cp. Psalms i. 3, Jeremiah xvii. 8. 

19. This verse is taken from iii. 10. It means here that the 
false prophets are to be cast into hell. What was originally a 
comparison or parable is here by Matthew turned into an allegory. 
In Luke there is no parallel to this verse. 

21-23. THE GOOD LIFE THE ONLY TRUE MARK OF THE 
TRUE DISCIPLE 

(Cp. Luke vi. 46, xiii. 26, 27) 

21 ' Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into 
the kingdom of heaven ; but he that does the will of my Father 



124 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VII. 21-23 

22 who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, 
have we not prophesied through thy name ? and through thy name 
have we not cast out demons ? and through thy name have we not 

23 done many miracles ? And then I will declare unto them, I never 
knew you : depart from me, ye workers of lawlessness. 

The excellent doctrine here preached was, alas, not maintained 
by the Church, for whom correct doctrine became more important 
than good works. The passage is probably later than Jesus, but 
characteristically Jewish and Rabbinic. The superb passage xxv. 
34 seq. is its proper complement. Originally Kvpie (Lord) may 
not have meant more than * master ' (maraud), but in this con- 
nection it has a more theological signification. 

The people referred to here may be (not disciples as in Luke, but) 
the same people as in 15-20. It is noteworthy that it is not denied 
that these men may have expelled demons and wrought miracles. 
But they have not fulfilled the ethical commands of Jesus. Just 
in the same way as Jesus here repudiates the miraculous as a test 
of discipleship, so would the Rabbis have repudiated it as an author- 
ization to violate the Law. No amount of demon-curing could 
have made them accept Jesus as a divinely commissioned teacher, 
if his teaching ran counter to a Law which, according to the first 
dogma of their faith, was, like the God who gave it, perfect, im- 
mutable, and divine. 

21. For the second part of the verse, cp. Mark iii. 35. As 
the first part of the verse occurs also in Luke, the fact emerges 
that Jesus is already called ' Lord ' in the common source, which 
here is probably Q. In Mark he is only so called by the heathen 
woman, vii. 28. Hence Wellhausen would make an inference for 
the relative date of Q. Moreover, while Jesus lived, there were no 
people who had an interest in giving themselves out as his disciples. 
But it may be contended that Kvpios, ' Lord,' as applied to Jesus 
during his ministry, had the same meaning as * Master ' and that 
it is in this sense that it is used by Q. Matthew will have given 
to it a larger meaning. Thus 21 may be old and genuine ; while 
the next two verses may reflect a later age. 

22. 'On that day,' i.e. the Day of Judgment. Here Jesus 
speaks openly as the Messiah and the Judge. 

23. avofiia. The term ' lawlessness ' is characteristic of the 
strain or strand in Matthew which we have already noted in v. 18, 19. 
But it is taken over from the Greek version of Psalm vi. 8 (Heb. 9), 



VII. 24-27] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 125 

from which the words * Depart from me, ye workers of lawless- 
ness,' are quoted. Luke has dSi/a'a, wickedness. The complicated 
question of the relation between Luke and Matthew is well illus- 
trated by these verses. Matt. vii. 21 corresponds with Luke vi. 46. 
Scholars are agreed that here Matthew preserves an older form of 
the same source, whether this be Q or no. Matt. vii. 22, 23 cor- 
responds with Luke xiii. 25-27. Here Luke seems more original 
and older than Matthew, though a common source lies behind both. 



24-27. THE HOUSE ON THE BOOK 
(Cp. Luke vi. 47-49) 

24 * Whoever then hears these words of mine, and does them, 
shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the 

25 rock : and the rain fell, and the streams came, and the winds blew 
and beat against that house ; and it fell not : for it was founded 

26 upon the rock. And every one that hears these words of mine, 
and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built 

27 his house upon the sand : and the rain fell, and the streams came, 
and the winds blew and struck against that house ; and it fell : 
and great was the fall of it.' 

The essential necessity of * works ' is once more and finally 
urged by a sort of half metaphor, half parable. To hear and not 
to do shows that a man has only half heard. He is no true disciple 
whose faith does not issue in works. He has no true faith whose 
faith is not shown in his life. A man who ' hears ' and does not ' do ' 
is as foolish, and will come to as bad an end, as he who builds his 
house upon the sand. He who hears and does shows a character as 
wise and firm as the man whose house is built upon a rock. No 
storm can move him. He survives in the Judgment, and enters 
into the Kingdom of Future Felicity. That is the meaning. The 
practical thought (' not learning, but doing, is the chief thing ') is 
thoroughly Jewish and Rabbinic. 

If we regard the Sermon on the Mount as the charter of the 
' Christianity ' of Jesus, it is immensely striking how completely 
the Christological element is lacking. The new Law contains no 
article of faith concerning the person of its giver. It is silent 
about his Messiahship. There is no word about his divinity. We 
can seek to live in the spirit of the Sermon, and yet, like every Jew 
from Jesus's day to this, refuse to acknowledge any MAN as our 
religious ' Lord.' 



126 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VII. 28, 29 

28, 29. THE IMPRESSION PRODUCED BY THE TEACHING OF 

JESUS 

(Cp. Mark i. 22 ; Luke iv. 32) 

28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these words, the 

29 people were amazed at his teaching : for he taught them as one 
having authority, and not as their scribes. 

28, 29. The oxAot reappear here, though the Sermon is really 
addressed to the disciples only. Cp. v. I. The substance of these 
verses is found in, and is taken from, Mark i. 22. There is no reason 
for thinking that we have not here an authentic record of the im- 
pression which the teaching of Jesus made upon many of those who 
heard it. Though there are many parallels in his teaching with 
that of Hillel and other Rabbis, his teaching is more instinct with 
power and genius than theirs. It is more inspired. It is grander. 
It is more prophetic. Moreover, it seems to claim ' authority,' just 
as the prophets claimed it, because they were convinced that their 
words were from God. Such a consciousness of inspiration Jesus 
also must have possessed. 

Looking back over the whole Sermon, one feels that one may 
not unjustly regard it as a meeting-ground and bond of union 
between Christian and Jew. For if the Sermon on the Mount be 
the charter of Christianity, if it contains the main principles of 
the religion of Jesus, it also contains nothing which is essentially 
antagonistic to Judaism. For most of its utterances there are 
abundant parallels in the Rabbinic literature. With tact and 
genius it picks out and combines and carries forward. The highest 
spirit of the Old Law is in harmony with the purest statement of 
the New. 

How far is the religious and moral teaching of the Sermon on 
the Mount an improvement upon the teaching of the Old Testament ? 
It is very common in books of Christian theology to speak of the 
imperfect or transitional or preparatory morality and religion of the 
Old Testament as compared with the perfect, permanent, or absolute 
morality and religion of the Gospel and the Sermon on the Mount. 
The liberal Jew is at no pains to defend every moral and religious 
statement in the Old Testament. He has not to try to turn black 
into white at all hazards and by every means. He recognizes that 
there are many passages in the Old Testament which teach an 
imperfect morality and an imperfect religion. But, on the other 
hand, these passages are almost invariably corrected by other 
passages which teach a morality and a religion that cannot be 
bettered or surpassed. Again, Judaism has developed on its own 



VII. 28, 29] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 127 

lines. Some of the ' imperfections ' in the Old Testament are 
corrected in Rabbinic, mediaeval, and modern Jewish literature, 
quite independently of the Gospels. 

As regards the moral and religious teaching of the Sermon on 
the Mount, the liberal Jew can by no means subscribe to every 
word of it, or regard it as perfect and permanent. Passages such 
as v. 22 and vii. 14 are objectionable ; they are as ' imperfect and 
transitional ' as many a passage in the Old Testament. Passages 
such as v. 20, 34, 38-42, need qualification and restriction. The 
theology of a passage such as vii. 7 is open to considerable question. 
We must bring our critical judgment to bear upon the Sermon on 
the Mount as we must bring it to bear upon the Pentateuch. In 
some respects we have advanced beyond both. 

To the Christian whose knowledge of Jewish literature and 
tradition ends with the Old Testament, passages such as v. 28, 
vi. 4, or vii. 5 must seem a splendid addition or ' perfection.' They 
seem less so to many Jews, to whom such teachings are already 
familiar. Yet to all men, whether Jew or Christian, the value of 
so much noble teaching, tersely and beautifully put and easily 
accessible, cannot be gainsaid. 

The purely original portions of the Sermon on the Mount — 
i.e. those which do not harmonize with, or are not easily paralleled 
by, Rabbinic teaching and passages — are not very numerous. 
They are mainly : v. 10-12, 32, 38-48, vi. 6, 18, 33. But though 
not very numerous, they are of immense importance and significance, 
and mostly of a high greatness and nobility. And yet it may 
perhaps be urged that the originality and greatness of the Sermon 
do not lie in any particular part of it. They lie in the whole. How 
much of it may go back to Jesus must be always uncertain. That 
the Sermon has grown from smaller groups and separate sayings is 
most probable. But it remains for all time a religious document 
of great nobility, significance, and power. 

[F. Perles, Z. N. W., 1926, p. 163, says that the Aramaic 
original of vii. 6 was misunderstood. The verse should read : 
' Do not hang ear-rings on dogs, or put your pearls on the snouts 
of swine/ Cp. Proverbs xi. 22.] 



CHAPTER VIII 

1-4. HEALING OF A LEPER 
(Cp. Mark i. 40-45 ; Luke v. 12-16) 

1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed 

2 him. And, behold, a leper came up and did him reverence, saying, 

3 ' Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.' And Jesus 
stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, ' I will ; be thou 

4 clean.' And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus 
said unto him, ' See thou tell no man ; but go, show thyself to 
the priest, and offer the sacrifice that Moses commanded, for a 
testimony unto them. 5 

Matthew, having now given a summary of the Master's teaching, 
proceeds to give examples of his wonderful deeds. Ten miracles 
are enumerated, one after the other (viii. i-ix. 34). 

The story is probably taken from Mark, but the more human 
touches are omitted. On the other hand, the leper * worships ' 
Jesus in Matthew, not in Mark. 

The order not to mention the healing seems meaningless in 
Matthew, for the whole affair takes place in public. Matthew omits 
the healing of the demoniac in the Synagogue in Mark i. 23-28. 
He seems, as Mr. Allen says, to have disliked the story. The leper 
story ' becomes the first miracle. The fact that this incident 
illustrates Christ's attitude towards legal ceremonies may have 
co-operated in influencing the editor to place it immediately after 
the Sermon on the Mount ' (Allen). 

5-13. THE CENTURION AT CAPERNAUM 
(Cp. Luke vii. i-io, xiii. 28-30) 

5 And when Jesus entered into Capernaum, there came unto 

6 him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, ' Lord, my boy lies 

128 



VIII. 5-13] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW I2Q 

7 at home paralysed, in grievous torment.' And Jesus said unto 

8 him, ' Am I to come and heal him ? ' The centurion answered and 
said, ' Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my 

9 roof : but only speak the word, and my boy will be healed. For 
I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under me : and 
I say to this man, Go, and he goes ; and to another, Come, and he 
comes ; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it.' 

10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that 
followed, ' Verily I say unto you, Not even in Israel have I found 

11 so great faith. And I say unto you, Many will come from the east 
and west, and will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in 

12 the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom will 
depart into the outer darkness : there will be the weeping and the 

13 gnashing of teeth.' And Jesus said unto the centurion, * Go ; as 
thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.' And his boy was 
healed at that hour. 

This story is not found in Mark. Perhaps Matthew inserted it 
in this place to indicate (immediately after the cure of a Jew) 
how the Gentile world also was within the range of Jesus's care 
and power. The story symbolizes the call of the Gentiles, and this 
is plainly indicated by the insertion of II and 12. It is one of the 
few stories which seem to have been included in Q. 

The soldier is a heathen, not necessarily a Roman, in the 
service of Herod Antipas. Trots (6) may be either servant or son. 
The latter seems more probable. The story would seem to be a 
parallel to, or even a variant of, the story of the Syro-Phoenician 
woman. In each case the parent asks Jesus to help a child ; in 
each his objections are cleverly removed ; in each the child is 
cured in the absence of the healer. We may add that in each case 
the substratum of history is doubtful. That Jesus also helped 
heathen sufferers was illustrated by concrete examples. (Bultmann, 
p. 20.) 

7. The interrogative form makes the better sense, and better 
justifies the reply in 8. It is also more parallel with the hesitation 
of Jesus in Mark vii. 27. 

8. Jesus was under no authority. Yet even the centurion, who 
was under the authority of his superior officers, receives obedience, 
and can issue orders, to those under him : much more will the 
order of Jesus bring obedience : that is, here, success. 

n, 12. A separate Logion, used by Luke in another connection 

VOL. II K 



130 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VIII. 5-13 

(xiii. 28-29). It is inserted by Matthew here because this is the 
first occasion on which a heathen believes in Jesus. The Messianic 
Kingdom under the figure of a meal is common and Rabbinic. The 
words are here inappropriate because Jesus had so far found nothing 
but faith in Israel. The ' conflicts ' were yet to come. The verses 
may, or may not, be authentic. In Matthew's more original form 
it is not said that all the heathen will be converted ; only ' many.' 
This does not go beyond some O.T. predictions. 12 is more 
difficult than II, but perhaps it does not mean that all the Jews 
will be excluded ; it may mean that only the bad Jews (i.e. the 
antagonists of Jesus) will be excluded. Or, if not, the meaning 
must be that the Jews are the sons of the Kingdom in the sense 
that they had been chosen to inherit and possess it, but though the 
meal was originally prepared for them, they are to be excluded, 
and the guests are to be recruited from the big Gentile world. 

These philo-Gentile sayings are wanting in Mark : in Matthew 
they are oddly combined with wholly opposite and contradictory 
utterances. The metaphors, some explain, must not be regarded 
as a dogmatic representation of hell. Perhaps not, but it is surely 
implied that those who are cast out will never be accepted. For 
the origin of the phrase, ' weeping and gnashing of teeth,' see 
Clemen, Religionsgeschichtliche Erkldrung des neuen Testaments, 
p. 153. It is of Mandaean or Persian provenance. 

The deductions to be drawn from the varying passages in Matthew 
— some hostile to heathen and Samaritan, and keen upon the Law and 
its observance, others of just opposite tendency — are disputed. Some 
hold that Matthew represents the point of view of the members 
of the Jerusalem Christian Church. They are the true * Jews ' ; 
they sacrifice and observe the Sabbath ; they limit their missionary 
activity to Jews. Contradictions to this view are either apparent 
or interpolations. Some, on the other hand, regard Matthew's 
' legal ' and ' Judaistic ' utterances as due to his sources ; his 
wider outlook is his own. The ' narrower ' sayings — e.g. v. 17-19 
— he himself would not have interpreted narrowly, any more than 
the Catholic Church after him has so interpreted them. The 
* Law ' is for him the moral law. Matthew is neither ' Pauline ' 
nor anti-Pauline, but he represents a later harmony (cp. Streeter, 
p. 514). How far the ' legal ' and ' narrower ' sentences go back 
to Jesus, and what, if any do, he meant by them, are quite different 
questions. 

13. 'In that hour.' Precisely the same miraculous ' Wirkung 
aus der Feme ' is attributed to R. Chanina b. Dosa. Cp. the story 
in Berachoth 34 b (text with translation is given in Fiebig, 
Erzdhlungstil, pp. 105, 106). 



. i8- 22 ] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 13* 



14-17. PETER'S MOTHER-IN-LAW 
(Cp. Mark i. 29-34 ; Luke iv. 38-41) 

14 And Jesus came into the house of Peter, and he saw his wife's 

15 mother lying in bed with a fever. And he touched her hand, and 
the fever left her : and she arose, and waited on him. 

1 6 And when evening had come, they brought unto him many 
that were possessed with demons : and he cast out the spirits with 

17 a word, and healed all that were sick : that what was spoken by 
Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ' Himself he took our 
sicknesses, and bore our diseases.' 

Matthew now inserts the cure of Peter's mother-in-law as the 
second miracle wrought at Capernaum. He has to make sundry 
changes in the narrative on account of the change of place and 
time. So, too, as regards the healings after sunset. The point of 
the story in Mark i. 32-34 is spoiled in Matthew. In Mark, the 
cause of the crowd in the evening is that it was Saturday. When 
the sun set, the sick people were brought. Note that the healing 
by a mere ' word ' is again emphasized. Moreover, whereas Mark 
says they brought all and Jesus healed many, Matthew says they 
brought many and he healed all. 

The use of Isaiah liii. 4 is interesting. The ' pains ' are the 
maladies which Jesus took away (i.e. removed), and by * bearing 
our diseases ' the Evangelist may possibly think of the trouble and 
labour which the healing of so many persons at so late an hour 
caused him. It is likely enough that Jesus's cures may have 
exhausted him physically. For they demanded concentration of 
faith and will. But the entire quotation from Isaiah may, however, 
mean no more than that Jesus took away and removed men's 
diseases. The Greek translation of the Hebrew of Isaiah liii. 4 is 
not taken from the Septuagint. It seems to be an independent 
translation of the Hebrew. 



18-22. CONDITIONS OF DISCIPLESHIP 
(Cp. Luke ix. 57-62) 

J 8 Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave com- 

*9 mandment to cross over to the other side. And a scribe came up, 

and said unto him, ' Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou 

20 goest.' And Jesus said unto him, * The foxes have holes, and the 



132 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VIII. 18-22 

birds of the air have nests ; but the Son of man has not where 
to lay his head.' 

21 And another of the disciples said unto him, ' Lord, allow me 

22 first to go and bury my father.' But Jesus said unto him, 
' Follow me ; and let the dead bury their dead.' 

18. This verse corresponds with Mark iv. 35. Matthew again 
departs from the order of Mark's narrative. He wants to collect 
together a series of ten miracles, and so proceeds to tell the story 
of the storm. But first he inserts a short passage on the conditions 
of discipleship taken from Q, and put in a different and better 
place by Luke. 

19. ' Whithersoever.' So K.V. But the meaning, according 
to McNeile, is not that the scribe will accompany Jesus wheresoever 
his wanderings may take him, but only this : * whithersoever you 
are at this moment departing.' 

' A scribe.' Luke has merely * some one.' The man, whether 
scribe or no, is merely introduced for the sake of the answer. No 
interest is taken as to whether the man ' followed ' or no, became 
a disciple or was choked off by the reply. 

20. The reply is famous. Yet it is only possibly authentic if 
it was said late on in the ministry, in the course, let us say, of 
the last journey to Jerusalem, where Luke puts it. Even then 
there are difficulties about it, for Jesus never seems to have been 
at a loss for friends or lodgings. ( Son of man ' must stand for 
the personal pronoun, and this suggests a further difficulty. Was 
the saying originally coined to point to the contrast between the 
life of the animals and of man to the disadvantage of man ? Was 
it then transferred to Jesus ? (Son of man being really * Man.') 
(Cp. Bultmann, pp. 14, 58.) Klausner assigns the saying to the 
period of the Northern journey (Mark vii. 24 and 31). At that 
time Jesus was ' escaping from his enemies,' he was ' persecuted 
by both the civil and religious authorities,' and ' no saying could 
be more pathetically apt or more human ' (pp. 295, 296). 

21. 'Of the disciples ' is only found in Matthew. The passage 
makes better sense without these words. Is a disciple merely 
asking for * leave of absence ' ? And in that case what meaning 
has ' first ' ? ' Before I follow you across the lake ' is inadequate. 
Luke's wording would allow one to suppose that the man was not 
yet a disciple. This is more natural. And it is also more natural, 
and more in accordance with the words 'follow me,' that the 



VIII. 18-22] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 133 

summons should be first spoken by Jesus, and then only that the 
man should ask permission to bury his father. 

22. The saying, * Let the dead bury their dead/ has become 
very famous. Its severity may perhaps be explained, by supposing 
that Jesus fears that the relations of the petitioner will turn him 
from his purpose, or that Jesus believes that the real motive of 
the man's request is his fear of the long journey, or that the waverer 
may have needed a vivid sting and stimulus. * Let the dead bury 
their dead ' may mean : ' let the spiritually dead bury the physically 
dead.' The * spiritually dead ' would be * those who had not felt 
the call to follow Christ, and were dead so far as he was concerned.' 
But it is possible that the words are ' a proverbial saying, meaning, 
cut yourself adrift from the past when matters of present interest 
call for your whole attention ' (Allen). 

More probably the order must be compared with such verses as 
Matt. x. 37 ; Luke xiv. 26, etc. The special needs of the hour 
explain, and perhaps justify, it. It would be unjust and un- 
reasonable to exalt it into a principle for all times and seasons. 
A man would have to leave his father unburied to join his regiment 
in war. To proclaim the Kingdom of God (Luke ix. 60) was a still 
greater need. A great denouement, a tremendous Tre/nTTe'reta, was 
at hand. Ordinary rules no longer apply. 

The story is doubtless modelled upon I Kings xix. 20. The 
records of Elijah and Elisha surely exercised a greater influence 
upon the doings of Jesus as described in the Synoptics than many 
would allow. Though the famous words are susceptible of an 
explanation which justifies them, there is no doubt that they, and 
such a phrase as * hating one's parents ' (Luke xiv. 26) (which has 
also a justifiable meaning), are, on the face of them, and as read 
by hostile critics, ready and anxious to pick holes and faults in 
Jesus's teaching, very offensive to a deep Jewish sentiment. The 
honouring of parents is so deeply rooted in the Jewish consciousness 
that these sayings of Jesus, though explicable and even justifiable, 
have a not wholly Jewish ring. We must, however, remember 
Deut. xxxiii. 9, which doubtless forms a sort of basis and starting- 
point and source for them. The verse was, however, practically 
ignored by Jewish tradition and feeling. 

Moreover, it must be allowed that these somewhat un-Jewish 
sayings of Jesus produced un-Jewish results. ' The ethical precept 
of filial piety was changed by Christ. His Church was a militant 
church. He had come not to send peace but a sword. . . . Accord- 
ing to Gregory the Great, we ought to ignore our parents, hating 
them and flying from them, when they are an obstacle to us in the 
way of the Lord ; and this became the accepted theory of the Church. 



134 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VIII. 23-27 

Nay, it was not only in similar cases of conflict that Christianity 
exercised a weakening influence on family ties which had previously 
been regarded with religious veneration. In all circumstances the 
relationship between child and parent was put in the shade by the 
relationship between man and God. . . . There are numerous legends 
and lives of saints in which the desertion of the nearest relations is 
recorded as one of the leading features of their sanctity, and as 
one of their chief titles to honour. Some Catholic writers were of 
opinion that a man might lawfully abandon his parents, even 
though they could not be supported without him, and enter religion, 
committing them to the care of God. But Thomas Aquinas says 
that this would be tempting God, adding, however, that he who 
has already professed religion ought not, on any plea of supporting 
his parents, to quit the cloister in which he is buried with Christ, 
and entangle himself again in worldly business J (Westermarck, 
Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, Vol. i. pp. 537, 616). 

F. Perles has shown that the phrase ('let the dead bury the 
dead ') is probably due to a mistranslation or misunderstanding and 
misreading of an Aramaic original. The phrase should really read : 
' Leave the dead to their grave-diggers ' (Z. N. W., 1919, p. 96). 
Dr. RashdalTs view that the words ' Let me first go and bury my 
father ' mean ' let me wait till the old man dies ' would, if correct, 
hardly mend matters from the Jewish standpoint, for then the son 
wants to tend and look after his father in the weakness of old 
age, than which, to the Rabbis, there could not be a duty more 
urgent or more holy. 



23-27. STORM AT SEA 
(Cp. Mark iv. 36-41 ; Luke viii. 22-25) 

23 And when he had entered the boat, his disciples followed him. 

24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, so that the 

25 ship was covered by the waves: but he was asleep. And they 

26 came and awoke him, saying, * Lord, help, we perish.' And he 
said unto them, * Why are ye fearful, ye of little faith ? ' Then 
he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea ; and there was a 

27 great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, ' What sort of man is 
this, that even the winds and the sea obey him ! ' 

The story is told with greater freshness and point by Mark 
than by Matthew. Matthew's curtailments are not improvements. 



VIII. 28-34] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 135 

28-34. THE GADARENE DEMONIACS 
(Cp. Mark v. 1-20 ; Luke viii. 26-39) 

28 And when he had come to the other side, to the country of the 
Gergesenes, two men possessed with demons met him, coming out 
from the tombs, who were so violent that no man could pass by 

29 that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, * What have we to 
do with thee, thou Son of God ? art thou come hither to torment 

30 us before the time ? ' And a good way off from them there was an 

31 herd of many swine, feeding. So the demons besought him, 

32 saying, ' If thou cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.' And 
he said unto them, ' Go.' So they came out, and went into the 
herd of swine : and, behold, the whole herd of swine rushed down 

33 the cliff into the lake, and perished in the waters. And the swine- 
herds fled, and went into the city, and reported everything, and 
also what had happened to those who were possessed by the demons. 

34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus : and when 
they saw him, they besought him to depart out of their territory. 

Matthew lets his next story follow the order of Mark. He 
shortens considerably. The one demoniac is turned into two, 
either because Mark i. 23-26 is omitted in Matthew, who here, as 
it were, joins the two cases together, or in order to lessen the 
contrast between the one human being and the legion of demons. 
Peculiar to Matthew is the expression in 29, * before the time,' 
i.e. before the Last Judgment and their final and permanent 
damnation. 



CHAPTER IX 

1-8. HEALING OF A PARALYTIC 
(Cp. Mark ii. 1-12 ; Luke v. 17-26) 

1 And lie entered into a boat, and crossed over, and came to his 

2 own city. And, behold, they brought to him a paralysed man, 
lying on a bed : and Jesus, seeing their faith, said unto the paralysed 

3 man : ' Son, be of good cheer ; thy sins are forgiven thee.' And, 
behold, certain of the scribes said among themselves, ' This man 

4 blasphemes.' And Jesus perceiving their thoughts said, ' Wherefore 

5 think ye evil in your hearts ? For which is easier : to say, Thy 

6 sins are forgiven thee ; or to say, Arise, and walk ? But that ye 
may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive 
sins/ — then said he to the paralysed man, ' Arise, take up thy bed, 

7, 8 and go home.' And he arose, and went home. But when the crowd 
saw it, they were afraid, and glorified God, who had given such 
power unto men. 

Matthew now harks back to Mark ii. 1-22 and inserts the matter 
contained therein between his version of the Gerasene pigs and that 
of Jairus's daughter. The story of the Paralytic is considerably 
shortened. The reference to * faith ' becomes less cogent owing to 
the omission of the crowd and of the incident of the roof. 

8. ' Who had given such power unto men.' The wording is 
very important, and has been used to throw light, not only upon 
the parallel passage in Mark, but upon the whole interpretation of 
the Son of man. For here verse 8 seems to contradict verse 6. In 
verse 6 Jesus speaks as if the power of forgiveness were limited to, 
or had been only conferred upon, himself. Here the power has been 
given generally to men. We must, as it would seem, interpret 6 by 8 
and not 8 by 6 : see the notes on Mark. In Matthew, as Prof. Box 
says, ' the point of the narrative seems to be that Jesus effects the 
cure in order to demonstrate that a new way of forgiveness has been 

136 



IX. 14-17] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 137 

opened to men. Men have now the power to readmit the sinner, 
who has been estranged by his sins, into the fellowship of the divine 
society — man upon earth can represent God in heaven. The power 
is not inherent but delegated.' But it may perhaps be pointed out 
that the feeling of the crowd need not specifically refer to the 
forgiveness ; it may rather refer to the more spectacular miracle. 
The crowd marvel that God has given the power to any man to work 
so amazing a miracle. (Cp. Meyer, p. 104, n. 3.) ' The " power " 
refers to the miraculous healing, not to the forgiveness of sins.' 



9-13. THE CALL OF MATTHEW : JESUS EATS WITH 
SINNERS AND TAX-COLLECTORS 

(Cp. Mark ii. 13-17 ; Luke v. 27-32) 

9 And as Jesus passed by from there, he saw a man, named 

Matthew, sitting at the tax-house : and he said unto him, ' Follow 

me.' And he arose, and followed him. 
10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at table in the house, behold, 

many tax-collectors and sinners came and sat down with him and 
" his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his 

disciples, ' Why does your Master eat with tax - collectors and 
12 sinners ? ' But when Jesus heard it, he said, ' The strong have no 
J 3 need of the physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn 

what it means : I desire mercy, and not sacrifice : for I came not 

to call the righteous, but sinners.' 

9. The tax-collector is called Levi in Mark. As to the reason 
why apparently the same man is here called Matthew, the reader 
must be referred to the commentaries. ' The custom-house officers 
would sit by the landing-stage to collect custom dues on exports 
carried across the lake to territory outside Herod's rule ' (McNeile). 

13. The words 'Go ... sacrifice ' are not found in Mark, and 
interrupt the connection. The quotation from Hosea recurs in xii. 7. 
Nevertheless, the motive of pity here given for Jesus's exceptional 
conduct is quite in keeping with his character. 

14-17. FASTING 
(Cp. Mark ii. 18-22 ; Luke v. 33-39) 

14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ' Why do we 

15 and the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not ? ' And Jesus 



138 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [IX. 18-26 

said unto them, ' Can the wedding guests mourn, as long as the 
bridegroom is with them ? But the days will come, when the 

1 6 bridegroom will be taken from them, and then they will fast. No 
man puts, a piece of undressed cloth on to an old garment, for, 
if he do, the patch drags away from the garment, and the rent 

17 is made worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wine skins : 
for, if they do, the skins burst, and the wine runs out, and the 
skins perish : but they pour new wine into new skins, and both are 
preserved.' 

The questioners in Mark are disciples of John and some 
' Pharisees ' ; in Matthew the former only. Originally, it may be, 
the questioners were not specially named. * Some came and asked.' 

In 14 the text I follow is indicated in R.V. M. 

17. The words ' they pour new wine into new skins and both 
are preserved ' are not in Mark. The necessity of new skins (i.e. 
new forms) is specially emphasized. New doctrine needs new forms. 
But ' both are preserved ' is very curious. As Klostermann says : 
the words can hardly express the mind of Jesus, ' der gewiss nicht 
Judentum und Christentum in reinlicher Scheidung nebeneinander 
conservieren wollte ' (' who certainly did not want to maintain both 
Judaism and Christianity as two distinct religions, sharply marked 
off from each other, yet continuing to exist side by side '). 

18-26. THE DAUGHTER OF JAIRUS AND THE WOMAN WITH 

AN ISSUE 

(Cp. Mark v. 21-43 ; Luke viii. 40-56) 

1 8 While he was speaking these words unto them, behold, a ruler 
came up, and fell down before him, saying, ' My daughter has just 
died : but come, and lay thy hand upon her, and she will live.' 

19 And Jesus arose, and followed him, with his disciples. 

20 And, behold, a woman, who had had an issue of blood for twelve 
years, came behind him, and touched the tassel of his garment : 

21 for she said to herself, ' If I only touch his garment, I shall be 

22 healed.' But Jesus turned round, and saw her, and said, ' Daughter, 
be of good cheer ; thy faith has healed thee.' And the woman 
was healed from that hour. 

23 And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the flute 

24 players and the people making an uproar, he said unto them, ' Depart: 



IX. 27-34] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 139 

for the maiden is not dead, but sleeps.' And they laughed him to 

25 scorn. But when the people were driven out, he went in, and took 

26 her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of it went out 
into all that land. 

Matthew now returns to Mark's fifth chapter, which he had 
already used in viii. 28-34. Mark's narrative is considerably 
abbreviated. The reason why Matthew has inserted these miracles 
and the following two (27-34) may be found in xi. 5. There Jesus 
says that he has healed the blind and deaf, and raised the dead. 
Hence examples of such wonders had to be given. Hence, too, the 
child is said by the ' ruler ' to have just died. In Mark, Jairus only 
says that she is dangerously ill. Matthew desired to emphasize and 
heighten the miracle. He wants to make it appear without doubt 
that here was a clear case of restoring the dead to life, and that 
Jesus was the match of, and superior to, Elijah and Elisha. His 
methods show a great liberty in the manipulation of the traditional 
records and stories. 

18. * Note how the president of the synagogue (Mark) becomes 
simply the president, apx^v, in Matthew. For the latter the 
synagogues had won an evil reputation (x. 17) ' (Moffat, An Intro- 
duction to the Literature of the New Testament, 3rd ed. p. 247, n. i). 
Mr. Rawlinson (Mark, p. 69) aptly remarks : * It is noticeable that 
Matthew so modifies the story (of the woman with an issue) as to 
suggest that the healing followed upon the words of Christ. He 
seems to have been shocked by this miracle of which Jesus was not 
the author. But this does not mean that his account is more 
primitive than that of Mark ; on the contrary, the changes which 
he introduces are the result of later reflection.' 



27-34. Two BLIND MEN AND A DUMB MAN ARE HEALED 
(Matthew only) 

27 And when Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed 

28 him, crying, and saying, ' Pity us, son of David.' And when he 
had come into the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus 
said unto them, ' Have ye faith that I am able to do this 1 ' They 

29 said unto him, * Yes, Lord.' Then he touched their eyes, saying, 

30 ' According to your faith be it done unto you.' And their eyes 
were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, saying, ' See that 

31 no man know it.' But they departed and spread abroad his fame 
in all that country. 



140 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [IX. 3 5-X. 4 

32 As they went out, behold, there was brought to him a dumb 

33 man possessed with a demon. And when the demon was expelled, 
the dumb man spoke : and the crowd marvelled, saying, ' Never 

34 yet was such a thing seen in Israel.' [But the Pharisees said, 
' Through the prince of the demons he expels the demons.'] 

These stories, also intended to prove the statement in xi. 5, 
are made up by anticipating, or, as it were, doubling miracles 
which are given elsewhere — i.e. in xx. 29-34 and xii. 22-24. 
Compare the parallels in Mark (vii. 31-37, viii. 22-26, x. 46-52). 
The severe and disobeyed order in 30 recalls Mark i. 43-45, viii. 26. 
Thus we have here editorial miracles, drawn up to complete the 
number ten and to prepare for xi. 5. 

34. This verse is wanting in some MSS. and versions. It has 
probably been inserted here to prepare for x. 25. Its proper place 
is xii. 24 where we meet it again. It is a ' textual assimilation ' to 
Luke xiv. 15 (cp. for 34 and for the whole section, Streeter, p. 170). 



35-x. 4. THE SENDING OF THE DISCIPLES 
(Cp. Mark vi. 6, 7, 34, iii. 14-19 ; Luke ix. I, x. i, 2, vi. 12-16) 

35 And Jesus went about in all the cities and villages, teaching 
in their synagogues, and proclaiming the Good Tidings of the 

36 kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease. But when 
he saw the people, he was moved with compassion for them, because 
they were harassed and prostrate, as sheep having no shepherd. 

37 Then said he unto his disciples, ' The harvest is large, but the 

38 labourers are few ; beseech, therefore, the lord of the harvest, that 
he send out labourers into his harvest.' 

X. i And he called unto him his twelve disciples, and gave them 
power to cast out unclean spirits, and to heal every sickness and 

2 every disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these : 
first, Simon, who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother ; James 

3 the son of Zebedee, and John his brother ; Philip, and Bartholomew ; 
Thomas, and Matthew the tax-collector ; James the son of Alphaeus, 

4 and Lebbseus ; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also 
betrayed him. 

The ten miracles having been related, Matthew now introduces 
us to a fresh discourse. He starts his introduction to it with a verse 



IX. 35-X- 4] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 141 

similar to one lie had used just before the Sermon on the Mount 
(iv. 23). The discourse itself is suggested by what he found in 
Mark. For, reserving the failure in Nazareth for a later occasion, 
Matthew came next to the mission of the disciples (Mark vi. 7-13). 
He had not already told of their election, but he now assumes it, 
only pausing to give their names (Mark iii. 14—19). Then, after a 
short introduction, he proceeds to give the discourse which Jesus 
made to them when he despatched them upon their mission. 

35. Cp. iv. 23. The opening of the verse depends on Mark 
vi. 6 : the rest of the verse and 36-38 are not in Mark. But 36 
reflects Mark vi. 34. 

36. * He was moved with pity.' In this pity, this profound 
and yearning compassion, there lies probably a true and fundamental 
characteristic of the historic Jesus. For cruelty, pride, hypocrisy, 
and self-righteousness, he had few reservations of language or 
condemnation ; but for those who were more sinned against than 
sinning, for the degraded, the outcast, and the shunned, for the 
flotsam and jetsam of humanity, for those outside the pale of 
respectability and law, he could make excuses and find compassion. 
He longed to redeem them ; to bring them near again to their 
Father and his Father, from whom they seemed so distant, of whom 
they seemed so rejected, to show them that peace and happiness 
and redemption from the bondage of sin could freely be theirs. 
Through human love he revealed to them God's love. Through 
human sympathy he made them understand the sympathy of God. 
The redemptive work of Christianity, the labours of faithful women 
among the outcast and the fallen, are the greatest tribute to the 
religious power of the Master, the best witness to the beauty of his 
life and the nobility of his teaching. So far as we can tell, this pity 
for the sinner was a new note in religious history. Its immense 
importance and fruitfulness need not be enlarged upon here. 

eV/cuA/zeVoi /cat epi/zjiieVoi. Moffatt renders : * harassed and 
dejected.' cr/cuAAco is literally to ' flay ' ; it is here used in a 
metaphysical sense, cp. Mark v. 35, Luke vii. 6, viii. 49, * worried,' 
' harassed.' epc/i/Wvot, ' prostrate.' Cp. Jer. xiv. 16, ' prostrate 
in the streets of Jerusalem.' For the whole question raised by 
verse 36 see the special note on the 'Am Jia-Arec by Dr. Abrahams. 
One remark strikes me. It seems fairly clear that the 'Am ha-Arec 
of the Talmud cannot have been a very large class. The Talmud 
is puzzled about them and gives varying definitions of them. It 
is noteworthy how many of the sayings which speak of the enmity 
between the 'Am ha-'Arec and the Rabbis are taken from a single 
page in Pesachim. If that hatred of which Akiba speaks had lain 



142 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [IX. 3 5-X. 4 

between the unlearned multitude and the Rabbis, how can we 
explain the influence of the Rabbis with that same multitude ? 
The notion which one meets with in some Christian books of a small 
class of Rabbis and learned men, and a big multitude of despised and 
unlearned peasants, et cetera, must, I think, be false. The conception 
suggested by such a verse as John vii. 49 must be, I think, erroneous. 
Too much stress is laid upon the saying of Hillel which, because it 
occurs in Aboth, is so extremely familiar. Hillel's B6r must have 
been not merely illiterate, but what we should call a boor, a coarse 
person. Such a one we too might say could not be a sin-fearing 
man. As to what he means by saying that the ' 'Am ha-Arec cannot 
be Hasid (pious), that is just the question in dispute. Any state- 
ment to the effect that the merely unlearned person cannot be 
pious sounds somehow unlike what we otherwise know of Hillel. 
Moreover, though the Rabbis undoubtedly magnify their craft, yet 
that they actually identified mere ignorance with unrighteousness 
sounds doubtful. I doubt whether such identification is in accord- 
ance with general Rabbinic teaching or with prevailing Rabbinic 
spirit. The famous story in Taanith about the men whom 
Elijah points out as destined to enjoy the beatitudes of the life 
to come is no doubt not a story the like of which you meet on 
every Talmud ic page. Yet somehow it does not strike me as quite 
off the Rabbinic line. And certainly Elijah's nominees, jesters, 
prison warders, and such like, were anything but learned men. 

37, 38. Of doubtful authenticity. The opening phrase, * The 
harvest is large ; the labourers are few,' is clearly an older Jewish 
saying (with which R. Tarphon's adage in ' Aboth ' may be 
compared), now given a Christian application. The harvest is not 
here the end of the world or the judgment, as so frequently. The 
harvest is the populace, who are to be gathered in, so far as possible, 
by preaching to them the doctrine of Repentance and the Good 
Tidings, into the Kingdom. It is a little odd that immediately 
after this somewhat sad and passive saying Jesus sends out his own 
labourers (Klostermann). 

x. I. Mark vi. 7. In Mark, Jesus only gives the apostles 
1 authority over the unclean spirits.' But it is possible that diseases 
were regarded as due to demons, and that the healing of diseases 
was in Mark implied in the expulsion of demons. More probably 
in the special source of Matthew and Luke (Q) (which, in a shortened 
form. Mark perhaps knew also), Jesus gave authority to the disciples 
to cure diseases, or even both to cure diseases and to expel demons. 
According to this supposition Matthew has combined both the 
accounts of Q and of Mark. Another explanation is suggested by 



IX. 35-X. 4] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 143 

Bickermann in Z. N. W., 1923, ' Das Messiasgeheimnis und die 
Komposition des Markusevangeliums,' pp. 132, 139. In Mark, the 
selection of the Twelve is separated by a suitable interval from their 
despatch upon independent missionary work. See Mark iii. 13 and 
vi. 7. In Matthew the call of the apostles is omitted. Jesus in 
this place merely calls them to him. They have already been 
selected. But Matthew takes the opportunity to give their names. 

[17. The note as regards ' both are preserved ' (i.e. both wine 
and skins) seems wrong. All that is said is that the new doctrine 
needs new forms : nothing is said as to the continuance of the old 
forms or of the old doctrine. 

ix 36. In Hillel's statement the meaning may be that piety — 
that is, righteousness and religiousness combined and harmonized 
together — cannot be obtained by a 'Am ha-'Arec. He cannot reach 
the highest, which is just that peculiar combination and harmony 
which constitute ' piety.'] 



CHAPTER X 
5~xi. i. THE DISCOURSE TO THE APOSTLES 

(Cp. Mark vi. 8-u ; Luke vi. 40, ix. 2-5, x. 3-12, 16, xii. 2-12, 
51-53, xiv. 26, 27, xvii. 33) 

5 These twelve Jesus despatched, and commanded them, saying, 
' Take not your way to the heathen, and enter into no city of the 

6 Samaritans : but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 

7 And as ye go, proclaim, saying, The kingdom of heaven has drawn 

8 near. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out 

9 demons : ye received gratis ; give gratis. Provide yourselves with 

10 no gold, or silver, or brass in your girdles ; with no wallet for the 
journey, or two coats, or shoes, or staff : for the labourer is worthy 

11 of his food. And into whatever city or village ye enter, enquire 

12 who in it is worthy ; and there abide till ye go thence. And when 

13 ye come into the house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let 
your peace come upon it : but if it be not worthy, let your peace 

14 return to you. And whoever shall not receive you, or hear your 
words, depart out of that house or city, and shake off the dust 

15 from your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable 
for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha on the Day of Judgment than 
for that city. 

1 6 ' Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves : be 

1 7 ye therefore clever as serpents, and innocent as doves. Take heed 
of men : for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will 

1 8 scourge you in their synagogues ; and ye will be brought before 
governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness to them and to 

19 the heathen. But when they deliver you up, be not anxious how 
or what ye shall speak : for it shall be given you in that hour what 

20 ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your 

21 Father which speaks in you. And brother shall deliver up brother 
unto death, and the father the child : and children shall rise up 

144 



X. 5-XI. i] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 145 

22 against parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall 
be hated of all men for my name's sake : but he that endures to 

23 the end, he shall be saved. But when they persecute you in one 
city, flee ye into another : for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not 
finish the cities of Israel before the Son of man has come. 

24 ' A disciple is not above his master, nor a servant above his lord. 

25 It suffices for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant 
as his lord. If they called the master of the house Beelzebul, how 

26 much more them of his household ? So fear them not. For there 
is nothing hidden that shall not be disclosed ; and concealed, that 

27 shall not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, that speak 
in the light : and what ye hear in your ear, that proclaim upon the 

28 housetops. And fear not them who kill the body, but are not able 
to kill the soul : but rather fear him who is able to destroy both 

29 soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? 

30 and not one of them falls to the ground without your Father. But 

31 of you even the hairs of your head are all numbered. So fear 

32 ye not ; ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whoever, then, 
shall acknowledge me before men, him will I too acknowledge before 

33 my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, 
him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven. 

34 ' Think not that I came to bring peace on earth : I came not to 

35 bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance 
against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the 

36 daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes will 

37 be they of his own household. He that loves father or mother 
more than me is not worthy of me : and he that loves son or 

38 daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that takes 

39 not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me. He that 
has found his life shall lose it : and he that has lost his life for my 
sake shall find it. 

4° ' He that receives you receives me, and he that receives me 

41 receives him that sent me. He that receives a prophet in the 
name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward ; and he that 
receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall 

42 receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever shall give one of 
these little ones but a cup of cold water to drink in the name 
of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his 
reward.' 

VOL. II L 



146 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [X. 5-XI. i 

XI. i And when Jesus had finished his injunctions to his twelve 
disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. 

The speech (made up mainly from Q and Mark) can be divided 
into two main sections, of which the first ends, as some think, at 
15, as others think, at 16. For 5-15 the parallel in Mark is vi. 8-u. 

5. Verses 5, 6 are peculiar to Matthew. They form one of his 
anti-Gentile remarks. He includes, in the strangest way, some 
very philo-Gentile and anti-Jewish statements, and some which 
point precisely in the reverse direction. 

Here the mission is practically limited to Galilee, as between 
Galilee and Judsea comes Samaria. The ' lost sheep ' are, therefore, 
presumably to be specially found in Galilee. Els oSov IQv&v. The 
words are not quite clear. They may mean : ' Go not out of 
Jewish territory into Hellenistic regions or cities/ or, * go not along 
a road in heathen territory.' Anyway, they were not to enter 
heathen cities. Their mission, like that of Jesus, was exclusively 
to Jews. 

The simplest explanation of these verses is that they are taken 
from Q. It did not matter to Matthew that Jesus should have 
limited this first mission to Israel. For by this time the question 
was settled. The Church included both Jews and Gentiles. Luke 
omitted the verses, because they did not suit with the mission of the 
Seventy. Moreover, they would jar upon Luke more than upon 
Matthew, to whom Israel, apart from the Scribes and Pharisees, 
was of greater interest and value than it was to Luke, the Gentile 
(so Goguel). The prohibition of preaching the Gospel to heathen 
or Samaritans is in conformity with the historical situation, and 
with what actually may have occurred. Hence it may even belong 
to Jesus himself. 

It would not be inconsistent with these verses that chosen 
Gentiles should take the place of excluded Jews. viii. II, 12 can 
(with a little pressure) be harmonized with x. 5, 6. Streeter has a 
divergent view about x. 5, 6 which depends upon his general ' four 
document hypothesis.' He holds that Matthew * made use of a 
cycle of tradition of a distinctly Judaistic bias which to some 
extent ran parallel to the cycles preserved in Mark, in Q, and 
in L ' (p. 260). ' Matt. x. 5-8, 23, with the possible additions of 
24, 25, 41, represent a short Judaistic charge, which Matthew has 
conflated with the versions given by Mark and Q ' (p. 255). As to 
5, 6 there is ' a close connection of thought between this opening 
and the words which conclude the first half of the discourse, " Ye 
shall not have gone through the cities of Israel, till the Son of man 
be come " (23). This verse appears to be intended to give a reason 



X. 5-XI. i] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 147 

for the previous prohibition to preach to Gentiles or Samaritans. 
It is not that Gentiles cannot or ought not to be saved, but the 
time will not be long enough to preach to all, and Israel has the 
first right to hear.' So the two passages ' must originally have 
stood much closer together. They look like the beginning and end 
of a Judaistic version of the charge to the Twelve, the wording of 
which has taken the precise form it now bears under the influence 
of the controversy about the Gentile mission which almost split the 
early Church ' (p. 255). Apparently therefore Streeter holds that 
Jesus did not say 5, 6, just as he did not say v. 17-20 or xxiii. 2, 3 
(pp. 256, 257). It is M who is responsible for these Judaistic 
remarks. Cp. also Lake, Beginnings. The ' extreme sayings ' on 
either side are doubtfully authentic. If Jesus had said x. 5, 6 
* would Peter have gone to Samaria and Joppa, even if Philip had 
done so ? ' (i. p. 317). But Burkitt seems to believe in the genuineness 
of the words. ' They are instructions for the first apostles in the 
early days in Galilee, when Jesus appears to have been expecting 
the End at once. Matt. x. 23 is a strange saying, but if it was the 
invention of Jewish Christians about the time of the Conference at 
Jerusalem it is stranger still. It seems to me to testify to their 
unimaginative memory rather than to their powers of invention ' 
(Beginnings, p. 138). Burney remarks : ' The opening of the 
charge in Matt. x. 5-7, with its specific limitation of the mission to 
the lost sheep of the house of Israel, does not accord with the rhythm 
of the rest, and finds no parallel in Mark and Luke. It may perhaps 
be editorial, and not drawn from an earlier source ' (p. 121, n. i). 

6. The lost sheep. Not strayed, but spiritually perished. 
Cp. ix. 36. 

7, 8. Cp. Luke ix. 2, x. 9. The disciples are to proclaim the 
imminence of the Kingdom. In Mark vi. 12 they preach repent- 
ance. The connection of the two is indicated in Mark i. 15. They 
are also, as regards the sick and the afflicted, to have similar powers, 
and to work similar cures, to those of their Master. Verse 8 has no 
equivalent in Luke except as regards ' healing the sick,' which we 
find both in Luke ix. 2 and x. 9. 

9, 10. Cp. Mark vi. 8, 9 ; Luke ix. 3, x. 4. No money is to be 
received by them for their preaching : the mission is to bring no 
pecuniary profit. Thus the injunction contained in the last words 
of 8 is continued in the opening of 9. They are not to acquire 
money by being paid for their teaching. If this be the meaning 
of fir) KTTJvTjcrde, we see that Matthew has modified the words of 
the source which he followed, but that he has not modified them 



148 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [X. 5-XI. i 

enough. It makes sense to say, ' do not acquire gold,' but not, 
' do not acquire coats and shoes.' But some think that the words 
fjir) KTTJcrrjcrOe can be rendered by, ' do not provide yourselves with,' 
4 do not acquire (for the journey),' in which case the clause is a mere 
close parallel to Mark vi. 8, 9, and only differs in forbidding the use 
of stick and sandals which Mark permits. Cp. Luke ix. 3, x. 4. 

It is supposed by Burney and others that the difference from 
Mark * is probably due to misreading of the Aramaic 'elld, " but," 
as wela, " and not," i.e. " not even," which is not unnatural in view 
of the repeated " not," in the list of forbidden articles which follows ' 
(p. 121, n. i). But though Wellhausen suggested this in ed. I of 
his Mark, he withdraws the suggestion in his ed. 2. Schulthess is 
also against it (' Die Sprache der Evangelien,' Z. N. W., 1922, p. 234). 
Mark would seem more original, and Matthew's version seems to 
have attempted to make the severe injunctions still more (and 
perhaps impossibly) severe. Cp. also Klostermann, ed. 2. 

' The labourer is worthy of his food.' The meaning is that the 
disciples will be fed and housed by those to whom they come and 
tell the welcome news : thus provision and payment are unnecessary. 

The order not to take payment for spiritual work is quite in 
accordance with Rabbinic custom and precept. It indicates a 
later period than Mark, who only said that the disciples were not 
to take money with them. Here they are not to make money. The 
change may reflect the later experiences and warnings indicated in 
i Tim. vi. 5 ; i Peter v. 2. The Gospel is not to be a source of gain. 
The prohibition is only in Matthew ; it is not in Luke, and we may 
infer that it was not in Q, but was added by Matthew. 

11-14. Op- Mark vi. 10, II ; Luke ix. 4, 5, x. 5-11. The TOTTOS 
in Mark may be equivalent to the house in Matthew. The city 
seems to indicate a later period of tradition. Originally it was a 
question of the disciple's reception in a house, where, taken in as 
a mere guest, he reveals himself as a missionary. The case of the 
disciples not even being received into a town seems to point to a 
time when it was already well known for what purpose they came. 
Harnack brings weighty arguments for denying this. He thinks 
that preaching in houses and in cities went together. Both are 
alluded to in Q. Nor does he think that it is right to identify 
Mark's TOTTOS with a house. It is rather the city. 

11. ' Enquire who in it is worthy.' Matthew only. A pre- 
caution suggested, it has been remarked, by some painful experi- 
ences of the early Christian missionaries and preachers. 

12. The commentators call attention to the importance and 
efficacy of salutations in the East. For 14, cp. Acts xiii. 51. 



X. 5-XI. i] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 149 

15. Cp. Luke x. 12. 

16. This verse occurs (in part) in Luke x. 3. It is doubtful 
whether it should be regarded as ending the section 5-15 or as 
beginning the section 17-22. In the former case it would allude 
to the perils the apostles might encounter in the cities of Galilee 
and Judaea. 

But what were these grave perils ? How unlikely either that 
Jesus could have anticipated them or that the apostles (if their 
journey is historic) encountered them at all. 

The desired combination of prudence and simplicity is interesting. 
The need of the first in the face of enemies seems clear, and may 
be illustrated by Jesus himself when he cleverly extricates himself, 
by evasive replies, from entrapping and tricky questions. The 
second apparently refers to the hope of obtaining converts : for 
that, simplicity and sincerity are requisite. 

17-22. Cp. Luke xii. n, 12. This section, at all events, is 
clearly of late date. If the dispatch of the apostles is historic, 
and if any speech to them was made by Jesus of which we have 
remnants, these verses could have formed no part of it. They 
describe later conditions and later persecutions. In Mark parallel 
descriptions are found in the apocalyptic oration, xiii. 9-13 (cp. 
Matt. xxiv. 9-14 ; Luke xxi. 12-19). 

17. The ' synagogues ' are here synonymous with c synedria,' 
or ' courts of Justice.' The continued existence of Jewish juris- 
diction is assumed. Thus the date would seem to be, at any rate, 
earlier than A.D. 70. 

18. This verse seems to speak of heathen persecution as well 
as Jewish. Elsewhere the horizon seems limited to Judaea. 

20. ' The Spirit of your Father/ as against the Holy Spirit 
in Mark xiii. n. ' Such a reference to God as the Father of men is 
a predominantly and almost exclusively Matthaean habitude — 
Matthew 20 times, Mark i, Luke 3' (Hawkins, in Oxford Studies in 
the Synoptic Problem, 1911, p. 37). 

23. An interesting verse peculiar to Matthew. It may have 
been adapted for its present place, but its second half seems to 
show a distinct and separate signification. It seems to mean : you 
will not have got through your missionary labours in the cities of 
Israel before the Son of man com.es : not, you will not exhaust 
the cities, in your flight from one to the other, before the Son of 



150 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [X. 5-XI. i 

man comes, which would be a very odd remark. Yet 236 may be 
older than 23«, and the editor who supplied 23^ may have taken 
236 to mean that the advent of the Son of man will take place 
before the Christians have passed through all the cities of Israel 
in their flight from one to the other. Dr. Box writes : ' The con- 
nection and sense are greatly improved if we adopt the Western 
reading (D) which has the support of S.S. and Origen and 
Ephraim : " But if they persecute you in this city, flee unto another ; 
and if they persecute you in the other, flee unto another : for verily 
I say unto you," etc. The clause italicized might easily have 
been omitted accidentally by homoioteleuton. In the context 
the saying is an encouragement to persevere in missionary work in 
Israel in spite of persecution : the reward to the faithful will be 
that the Parousia will soon be experienced. The passage seems to 
reflect the condition of things that existed in Palestine when the 
first Gospel was compiled. Just as Christians under other circum- 
stances were nerved to go on by the hope of the Parousia, so the 
Jewish-Christians of Palestine are encouraged to endure to the end.' 
Whether even 236 is authentic is disputed. Some think that the 
earliest Christians sought thus to comfort each other. * It is the 
Judaizing Christians who may have believed that Jesus would 
return before the preaching of the apostles had reached all the 
towns of Palestine.' ' The promise of Jesus has no meaning in 
connection with the first mission of the apostles, but it corresponds 
to the period when the Twelve looked upon themselves as charged 
to preach the Gospel to the Jews alone ; it assumes also the im- 
minence of the Parousia.' * The prophecy is as clear as it was 
unverified. But it reflects at least as much the ardent faith of the 
early community as the formal teaching of Jesus ' (Loisy). 

It is apparently indicated in 16-23 tnat tne Christian mission- 
aries will be persecuted by the Jews. If the verses are later than 
Jesus and reflect apostolic times, are the vaticinations reflections 
of actual occurrences ? I had assumed so in my first edition. I 
said : ' The Jews of that time were not tolerant, and we have no 
reason to suppose that they did not persecute those who sought 
to win fresh adherents to the dead prophet of Nazareth.' But it 
is possible that I was wrong. In this connection it is necessary 
to read Abrahams, Studies, n. chap. x. ' The Persecutions.' Dr. 
Abrahams gives reasons for thinking that there were no persecu- 
tions of Christians by the Jews. He adds : * It is a critical mistake 
to take too literally apocalyptic references to persecution. All 
apocalypses, whether Jewish or Christian, have this feature in 
common. It is a recurrent element in the world-drama .as un- 
rolled in the visions of the end ; the heroic saints suffer, and the 
poet is not over-anxious to discriminate as to the personality of 



X. 5-XI. i] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 151 

those who cause the suffering.' Streeter (p. 255, n. i) thinks that 
236 ' clearly reflects a situation which did not come into existence 
till the missionary journeys of Paul.' And it is interesting to note 
that Burney remarks that 236 ' is evidently unrhythmical, and 
in this respect stands out of relation to its context — a striking 
fact when taken in connection with the fact that the introduction, 
verses 5-7 (also peculiar to Matthew), which likewise limits the 
mission to Israel, is similarly unrhythmical ' (p. 122). 

24, 25. The date of these sentences is also clearly after the 
death of Jesus, xii. 24 is anticipated. The disciple cannot expect 
a better lot than the Master : i.e. defamation and martyrdom. 
Matthew has used an older saying (cp. Luke vi. 40) and given it a 
new meaning. The two verses come, Streeter thinks, from M 
(p. 263). 

26. For the section 26-33, cp. Luke xii. 2-9. If the whole 
passage is taken from Q, then it follows that the ' edition ' of Q 
which Matthew and Luke employed attributed many sayings to 
Jesus which were only written and composed after his death. Verse 
26 is perhaps based upon Mark iv. 22, where, however, the adage has 
a different meaning and application. Here this verse and 27 
assume that Jesus during his lifetime was little known, and that 
his wider influence only began after his death. His disciples are 
not to shrink from proclaiming before the world what Jesus said 
and did within a small circle. 

28. The allusion is to the danger of martyrdom. He who 
can destroy both soul and body in hell is (not the devil, but) God. 
(The God of the Gospel and the New Testament is by no means 
only to be loved. He is much to be feared also.) But the phrase- 
ology of Luke in xii. 4-6 may be more original, and it leaves the 
question open whether the ' soul and body ' having been cast into 
Gehenna can ever hope to escape from it. The S.S. reads ' throw ' 
for * destroy ' in Matthew too. The distinction between body 
and soul in this verse seems rather Greek than Hebrew. McNeile 
points out that foxy is used in three senses in the Synoptics, (i) 
The life, which animals have as well as men. (2) The seat of 
thoughts and feelings, parallel with heart and mind and spirit. 
(3) The higher life in contrast to the lower life : the true, real self. 
In verse 39 (i) and (3) are combined. As to Hell in verse 28 it is 
rather amusing to hear Knopf's defence. ' He wanted to move 
the hard-hearted people whom he saw about him. At certain 
times and among certain people, the " idea of hell," moreover, 
possesses a large educative value.' (But it did not seem to influence 



152 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [X. 5-XI. i 

for good the wicked Rabbis and Pharisees.) (Einfuhrung, 2nd ed., 
1923, p. 268.) 

29, 30. Here the doctrine of Providence is pushed to a terrible 
extreme. Can any man to-day really say that he believes it ? But 
if we believe that ' God knows and rules,' where are we to stop ? 

31. It is possible that what was originally meant was : * Ye 
are much more valuable than sparrows.' 

32, 33. Cp. Mark viii. 38. For * I ' Luke (xii. 8) has c the Son 
of man.' Some commentators think the personal pronoun the older 
form of the saying, some the Son of man. Once more emerges the 
question : Did Jesus here and elsewhere mean by the Son of man 
himself or no ? If in Luke's version he meant that ' I ' and the 
Son of man were two different persons, Luke's version may well be 
older than Matthew's. Jesus is here, in any case, not judge, but 
witness. Nevertheless, the authenticity of the passage is doubtful. 

34-36. Cp. Luke xii. 51-53 ; Micah vii. 6. Unlikely to be 
authentic. See Bultmann, p. 94. His arguments seem to me very 
strong. Harnack, long before, pleaded for authenticity. That 
strife in families (this is the ' sword ' Jesus means) should be 
regarded as the very purpose of his mission, that he deliberately 
desired such strife and division, could not have been put into his 
mouth. (' " Ich bin gekommen," die ausdriicklichen Selbstzeugnisse 
Jesu iiber den Zweck seiner Sendung und seines Kommens,' in the 
Zeitschrift fur Theologie und Kirche, 1912, pp. 4-6.) 

35. Feud between members of a family is also mentioned in 
the Talmud as a sign of the coming of the Messianic age. And 
' social strife is a common feature of the apocalyptic description of 
the last days ' (Allen). 

37» 39- Cp- Luke xiv. 25-27, Mark x. 29, viii. 34, 35. For 37 
cp. Luke xiv. 26. Which version is more primary ? Bultmann 
argues with much force for Luke (p. 97). Luke's form might well 
have been softened into Matthew's ; Matthew's form would not 
have been changed into Luke's. ' Cannot be my disciple ' is more 
primary than ' is not worthy of me ' ; the latter words show a 
more specifically Christian terminology. 

For the sentiment cp. viii. 22. In the last resort it is true that 
the Truth, the Good, the Law of God, God Himself, or however we 
name the Ultimate End, or Summum Bonum, must be fought for 
and clung to at all costs and every hazard. Its claim is final and 



X. 5-XI. i] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 153 

absolute. But the situation is rare in which the service of the 
Highest takes an opposing form to an obedience to the letter or the 
spirit of the fifth Commandment. No doubt many a missionary, 
whose choice of life was opposed by his parents, has appealed to 
the authority of this verse for his adequate justification. How far 
he was right or wrong must, I suppose, be separately decided in 
each separate case. It would depend upon a number of different 
and delicate considerations. 

The passages cited by Walker from 2 and 4 Mace, are interesting, 
but hardly parallel to any great purpose. In the first (2 Mace. xv. 
18) just before a battle, we are told that the * fear ' which the 
Jewish soldiers had for wives and children was of less account than 
their ' fear ' for the holy sanctuary. In the second (4 Mace. ii. 
10-12), it is said that ' the Law ranks above affection for parents,' 
but the explanation of this very strong statement immediately 
follows. Even for the parents' sake a man must not do wrong, 
' so that a man may not for their sakes surrender his virtue.' 
6 vofjios KOLL rfjs TT/OOS* yovels cvvolas Kparel, jj,r) KaraTTpoSiSovs TTJV 
aperrjv St* avrovs. (Walker, The Teaching of Jesus and the Jewish 
Teaching of his Age, 1923, p. 153.) 

To ' father and mother, son and daughter ' of verse 37 Luke 
adds ' wife.' It is interesting to note the curious and almost pathetic 
expedients to which a commentator like J. Weiss has recourse to 
mitigate the harshness of such passages as Matt. x. 37, Luke xiv. 26. 
He rightly holds that Luke's severer version is more likely to be 
original, and he adds, ' It is obvious that Jesus did not mean that 
every disciple was to hate his parents ; he only demands a breach 
with the family in those cases where the disciples' duties towards 
parents and towards the Kingdom are in conflict. Even this seems 
harsh to our minds, and we must assume that Jesus must have 
undergone painful experiences, either in his own case or in that of 
others, if he can regard this breach as something frequent or even 
natural, or have spoken of it with such harshness '.(p. 301, 3rd ed.). 



38. ' Take,' Xa^avet,. In Luke (xiv. 27), ' carry,' / 
Is the saying authentic ? Cp. Mark viii. 34. Dr. Box says : * Not 
only family ties must be sacrificed for Jesus' sake, but a man must 
be ready even to sacrifice his life, and endure a violent death. In 
this context this is the climax of the long passage on persecution. 
In its original context this saying can hardly have reference to the 
mode of Jesus' own death. It is probably to be understood 
metaphorically of terrible suffering and sacrifice. The present 
saying is derived from Q ; the similar saying in Mark viii. 34, 
(=Matt. xvi. 24, Luke ix. 23) is probably a doublet. It was 
customary for criminals to bear their own cross to the place of 



154 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [X. 5-XI. i 

execution ; cf. John xix. 17.' It is interesting to find the sceptical 
Bultmann arguing for the possible authenticity of 37, 38. ' If the 
cross had already become the regular Christian symbol of martyrdom 
when Luke wrote, should we not expect " the cross " only, not 
" his cross " ? Might not the cross have been a traditional metaphor 
for suffering and pain ? ' Allen says : If Jesus looked forward to 
death, then it is historically probable that he should anticipate it 
as one of crucifixion. Moreover, crucifixion had become typical of 
violent death. Quotations to this effect are given from classical 
and Rabbinical literature. I am bound to add that the quotations 
are no real parallels to the usage of the word * cross ' in Matt. x. 38. 

39. The word ' find ' gives point to the paradox. The soul is 
used in a double sense. On the one hand, it stands for the lower 
sensuous life, on the other, for the higher spiritual life which, at 
the resurrection, is the result of earthly martyrdom. aTroAeWt in 
the first clause means ' lose/ in the second ' destroy/ or * sacrifice.' 
The ' rinding ' in the first clause is for the moment ; the ' finding ' 
in the second is for eternity. This saying and the next occur in 
all the four Gospels. Matthew and Luke have it twice. Once 
(Matt. xvi. 25 and Luke ix. 24) from Mark, while Matt. x. 39, 
Luke xvii. 33 come from Q. Cp. also John xii. 25. Matthew, 
but not Luke, has ' for my sake ' in 39. 

40. The last verses of the speech return more strictly to the 
mission with which the first verses started. Verse 40 occurs twice 
in Matthew and twice in Luke. In Matt, xviii. 5, Luke ix. 48 
(drawn from Mark ix. 37) the object received is a child. Here and 
Luke x. 16 the objects are the disciples. Cp. John xiii. 20. The 
1 receiving ' here is not meant in any mystical sense. It means 
merely hospitably receive into the house, and entertain and 
acknowledge. But the mystical meaning is prepared for at the end. 
For the ' reception ' of the disciple implies the reception of God. 
Probably Q meant by the reception of God no more than obedient 
hearkening to God. He did not mean the inward ' reception ' of 
the divine Spirit within the human soul. 

41. 'In the name of a prophet.' This seems to mean ' in 
his capacity of prophet,' ' because he is a prophet,' ' for his 
own sake,' * for the sake of the cause.' This verse occurs only in 
Matthew. (From M, says Streeter, p. 263.) The word Si'/ccuo? is 
characteristic of him. For him righteousness (SiKaioavvrj) is 
still the supreme virtue. ' The righteous ' may mean either the 
whole body of Christians (for the Christians, and not the Pharisees 
are, to Matthew, the true fulfill ers of the Law), or they may refer 



X. 5-XI. i] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 155 

to some specially righteous and pious persons. To receive prophets 
' in the name of prophets ' would mean to receive them in the 
conviction and with the knowledge that they are specially gifted 
persons, and to show them the honour which is their due. 

42. Cp. Mark ix. 41. Here those are meant who stand on a 
lower level in the community than prophets and apostles. But 
help rendered, in the true spirit of discipleship, to the humblest 
Christian will not be forgotten at the day of reckoning. 

' In the name of a disciple ' : i.e. in his capacity as such, because 
he is a disciple. How far authentic words of Jesus may have been 
worked up in these last verses, and used as a basis, it is impossible 
to say. For Jews to-day most of the chapter is of little value, 
though we can still interpret the tremendous sayings of 37-39 to 
mean, (a) ' All for the Highest,' (6) Sacrifice may be gain.' Let 
me add a remark from Knopf : ' The orders in Matthew x. portray 
a way of life such as Jesus only demanded from the helpers in his 
calling and ministry ' (p. 262). 



CHAPTER XI 

2-6. JOHN THE BAPTIST'S INQUIRIES 
(Cp. Luke vii. 18-23) 

2 Now when John heard in the prison the works of the Christ, 

3 he sent a message through his disciples, and said unto him, * Art 

4 thou he who is to come, or are we to wait for another ? ' Jesus 
answered and said unto them, ' Go and report to John what ye 

5 hear and see : the blind see again, and the lame walk ; the lepers 
are cleansed, and the deaf hear ; the dead are raised up, and the 

6 poor receive the Good Tidings. And happy is he, who finds no 
stumbling-block in me.' 

In Mark the mission of the apostles is followed by a section 
about John the Baptist. The same is the case in Matthew, only 
the matter is different. Mark's story does not come in Matthew 
till xiv. In this place Matthew introduces passages about John 
taken from Q. The miracles which have already been narrated 
were perhaps arranged to suit the reply which Jesus gives to the 
inquiry. 

2. This section and the one which succeeds it are of great 
interest to Christian readers, and are indeed of considerable interest 
to general students of the Gospel story. But from my particular 
point of view neither section has any great value, and the com- 
plicated questions and the elaborate hypotheses which the two 
sections have produced can be passed over as rapidly as possible. 
As to 2-6 the critics discuss (a) whether the passage is, or is not, 
authentic ; (6) whether John's inquiry means that doubt had 
supervened on faith, or whether he had doubted all along ; (c) 
whether iii. 14, 15, being accepted as authentic, throw light on this 
section, or whether, being regarded as unauthentic, they do not ; 
(d) whether the statements in 5 were meant by Jesus or by Matthew, 
or by both, or by one and not the other, literally or metaphorically. 
But all these problems are for our purposes of very small interest. 

156 



XL 2-6] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 157 

John, so some commentators assume, had believed that Jesus 
was the Messiah, but had now begun to doubt, because Jesus did 
not do the things, or make the claims, which John, on the ordinary 
old Jewish lines, expected from the Messiah. Others, however, 
urge that this view mainly depends upon Matt. iii. 14, 15 being 
regarded as historical, which it surely is not. So they prefer to 
think that John had not once fully believed and then doubted, but 
that he had all along hesitated, half believed and half disbelieved, 
and remained uncertain. 

Or, perhaps, the whole story is the creation of the Christian 
community, who became eager to depress John and exalt Jesus, 
to bring the two into connection, to make the one a conscious 
forerunner of the second. Meyer rather neatly points out how 
Q's views about John in his relation to Jesus represent a later 
stage than those of Mark. In Mark, John is the forerunner, but 
he does not, as here, more or less recognize Jesus to be the Messiah, 
nor does Jesus allow or confess his Messiahship (i. p. 226). I think 
Klausner is right in maintaining that * John had no personal 
acquaintance with Jesus and did not recognize his messiahship," 
that the story of John's inquiry is legendary, but that we may 
accept as historical not only the baptism of Jesus by John, but also 
that Jesus, ' speaking to his disciples after the death of John the 
Baptist, said of him that he was a prophet and greater even than 
a prophet, that he was Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, and 
therefore the precursor of the Messiah, since contemporary Judaism 
could not conceive of the Messiah without Elijah the Forerunner ' 
(p. 249). 

' The works of the Christ (or Messiah).' The strange wording 
may be intentional here, as the question is whether Jesus is the 
Messiah or no. But the MS. D reads, * the works of Jesus.' 



3. o epxofjLcvos. ' He who is to come,' i.e. obviously, the 
Messiah. Cp. Psalm cviii. 26, Daniel vii. 13. 

5. Matthew and Luke clearly both held that Jesus made appeal 
to real miracles. Some commentators think they are right. ' John's 
messengers had not seen and heard Jesus healing the spiritually 
blind and the morally leprous. What need, moreover, to add " the 
poor have Good Tidings preached to them," if all which precedes 
refers to the preaching of the Good Tidings ? It is unnatural to 
express the same fact first by a series of metaphors, and then 
literally ' (Plummer). 

I think this is the correct view. Others suppose that the blind 
who have been made to see, the dead who have been made to live 
again, are metaphors for the spiritual activity and wonders which 



158 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 7-19 

Jesus displayed and wrought. What John's messengers heard and 
saw was not a series of miracles, but how Jesus taught and the 
effects of his teaching. In any case the reference to such passages 
as Isaiah Ixi. i, xxxv. 5, xlii. 7 is perfectly clear and obvious. 

Trrcoxol €vayyeAi£ovTat, ' The poor receive the Good Tidings/ 
or * the poor have the Good Tidings preached to them.' The verb 
in Matthew is only found here. It is not found in Mark. Cp. the 
LXX of Isaiah Ixi. I, expwev p* cvayycXfoaadai. The origin of 
the words is clear. 

The question presents itself whether Jesus interpreted Isaiah 
Ixi. I and similar passages as prophecies, and really believed that 
they referred to him and that he fulfilled them, or whether it was 
his disciples who, after his death, first made this identification. 
If 2-6 are in substance authentic, it is possible that Jesus meant 
to indicate to the messengers that in his opinion the New Age and 
the Divine Kingdom were imminent, but that he did not mean to 
declare that he himself was the Messiah. And he may have given 
this general, and in a sense evasive, reply either because he did not 
believe that he was the Messiah, or because, believing that he was, 
he did not desire yet to announce it, or because it was in his manner 
to give suggestions towards the full answer to a question, but to 
make the questioner use his own intelligence. The hypotheses 
are endless and rather fatiguing. 

6. This verse is more definite as regards Jesus himself than 
the others. ' Happy is he who recognizes the divine character of 
my mission.' If you do not recognize the new light, but deny its 
truth and validity, you are already twice as much in the dark as 
you were before the light arose. Hence every new truth is salva- 
tion to those who can receive it ; to those who misunderstand or 
refuse to believe, it is a snare and a danger. Their latter state is 
worse than their first. 

It is possible that 5 and 6 were originally an independent saying 
of Jesus in reference to his teaching, which was afterwards brought 
into connection with, and used for, a story about the Baptist. So 
Bultmann, pp. n, 77, 78. In that case the allusions to the blind 
seeing, etc., were meant metaphorically. Behold yet another 
hypothesis ! 



7-19. THE BAPTIST AND THE SON OF MAN 
(Cp. Luke vii. 24-28, 31-35, xvi. 16) 

7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the people 
concerning John : * Why went ye out into the wilderness ? To see 



XI. 7-19] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 159 

8 a reed shaken with the wind ? Or why went ye out ? To see a 
man clothed in soft raiment ? behold, they that wear soft clothing 

9 are in the houses of kings. Or why went ye out ? To see a prophet ? 

10 yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of 
whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, 

11 who shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, 
Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater 
than John the Baptist : yet he that is least in the kingdom of heaven 
is greater than he. 

12 ' But from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom 

13 of heaven is being stormed, and the stormers seize it by force. For 

14 all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if ye are 

15 willing to receive it : this is Elijah who was to come. He that has 
ears, let him hear. 

1 6 ' But to whom shall I liken this generation ? It is like unto 
children sitting in the market-places who call to their companions, 

17 and say, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced ; we 

1 8 have made lamentation, and ye have not beaten the breast. For 
John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a 

19 demon. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, 
Behold a glutton and a wine-bibber, a friend of tax-collectors and 
sinners. But wisdom was justified by her works.' 

The section is artificially connected with the preceding passage, 
but it is really independent. If authentic, 7-10 may be earlier 
(as some hold) than 2-6, while 11-14 may be later than either. 
On the other hand, the whole section may be unauthentic. It 
consists of three separate subdivisions, 7-10, or 7-11, or 7-100, 
12-15, 16-19. 

It is supposed that there was an early rivalry between the followers 
of Jesus and the followers of John, and that this rivalry is reflected 
in the section before us. It was important from one point of 
view to make John the ally of Jesus, but if he was an ally, then an 
ally must be recognized and (up to a point) praised. From another 
point of view, it was important to show how inferior John was to 
Jesus, and how purely preparatory. Both points of view are 
visible in 7-11. Some regard n as belonging to 7-10 ; others as 
belonging to 12-15. A third view is to hold that the first section 
originally consisted of 7-110, and that 116 is a later addition, 
giving the other point of view. (' Yet he that is,' etc.) Volter, in 
the article quoted on iii. n, is interesting on this passage and on 
the parallels in Luke vii. 19-35 and xvi. 16. The original words of 



l6o THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 7-19 

Jesus about John contained in xi. 7-14 belong to a very early period 
in his career : lie does not yet think himself to be the Messiah : he 
is the disciple of John. John is not to be disbelieved in or dis- 
paraged because he is in prison. The Malachi quotation has been 
altered. Jesus quoted it correctly. John prepares the way for 
God's judgment and theophany. None greater among men than 
he. 116 is a ' Christian ' addition. Prophets and Law lasted 
till John : for now soon will come the Judgment and the New Age, 
when Law and Prophets are needless. Their work is then over. 
John is Elijah who immediately precedes the Day of the Lord. 
There may be some truth in all this conjecture. Volter's interpreta- 
tion of the crux in 12 seems very doubtful. 

7. The translation of 7 and 8 and 9 is uncertain, but it is 
unnecessary for me to mention the rival renderings, or to discuss 
their relative probabilities. The last words of 9 may be taken to 
mean, ' Yea, I say unto you even more than a prophet did ye see.' 

9. He is more than a prophet because he is the forerunner and 
proclaimer of the Messiah, na may end this line of thought ; 
then 116 may give the later Christian qualification and corrective. 
(Dibelius, Bultmann, and Bousset.) 

Jesus, therefore, according to 7-na, eulogizes John. John was 
no reed shaken with the wind, but a man of resolution, firmness, 
and will. The people had not flocked to see a weakling, and it was 
not a weakling whom they found. Jesus maintains that their 
original enthusiasm was justified. They had seen in him a prophet, 
and a prophet he undoubtedly was. Or perhaps the meaning is : 
1 You did not go out to the desert to see an everyday person or 
event (such as are reeds waving in the wind), nor did you go to see 
something which you could not possibly find in the desert, such as 
would be a man in court dress, but you went out to see a prophet, 
and it was truly a prophet whom you saw.' 

10. This verse may be an insertion, breaking the connection 
between 9 and II. The quotation is from Malachi iii. I, where, 
however, the words are, * Behold I send my messenger, and he shall 
prepare the way before me' ' The Church seized on the relation 
between the messenger and the Lord, and fitted it on to John and 
Jesus. The next step was to incorporate it into the Master's 
teachings ; and in the process the words assumed a new shape ' 
(Carpenter). 

11. The meaning is not entirely clear. The usual interpretation 
assuming the unity of the verse) is that John was the greatest 



XL 7-19] THE GOSPEL ACCOKDING TO MATTHEW l6l 

man of the old order and the old era. But with the coming of Jesus 
the new order and the new era had virtually begun. And the 
smallest and least Christian believer, as a member of that new order, 
is greater than John, who was still in the old order. (If the original 
praise of John ended with na, it was given without qualification. 
If Jesus said na, one can quite imagine an editor adding 116.) 

According to II as it stands, the new era had already begun. 
The kingdom was virtually present. It is present, though in its 
full reality and manifestation it is still future. And lib implies 
that John never fully accepted and acknowledged Jesus. He was 
never a full disciple, a full believer ; therefore the meanest Christian 
is greater than he. For the pre-eminence of the new order and era 
over the old is so tremendous that the least in the new is greater 
than the greatest of the old. Another view is that ' anyone, however 
humble and obscure, who shall [hereafter] be admitted into the 
[yet future] kingdom, will be greater than John is now ' (McNeile). 
This makes a much less simple antithesis. It has also to assume that 
€anv is timeless and would not be represented in Aramaic. Lake 
and Foakes Jackson have a very important remark in connection 
with Matt. xi. II which perhaps ought to have been quoted in my 
Introduction in one of the paragraphs about Q. ' In no Jewish 
sense of the word could John be regarded as outside the Kingdom, 
which is meaningless here except in the sense of the Christian Church. 
It is strange to find this passage, like the more famous one in Matt. xi. 
about the Father and the Son, in all reconstructions of Q. But 
these reconstructions are in the main merely mechanical compilations 
of material common to Matthew and Luke, which may have used 
in common late as well as early sources. It is noticeable that in 
both cases the verbal agreement is very close, so that the source 
used was Greek. Paradoxical though it seems, the parts of Q which 
have the best claim to authority are those where the agreement 
between Matthew and Luke is not verbal, for in these there is 
probably Aramaic tradition behind the Greek ' (Beginnings, Vol. I. 
p. 331. Cp. p. 396). It comes to the same thing whether parts of 
what is usually reckoned as Q are late accretions in, or additions to, 
Q, or whether the passages in question were really taken from some 
other source. On the other hand, it must be admitted that an 
assumption of some later common source other than Q violates 
Streeter's canon that as ' Matthew and Luke appear to have 
written in churches in every way far removed from one another, 
that hypothesis is the most plausible which postulates the smallest 
number of sources used by them in common ' (p. 229). 

Does Jesus for us mark the beginning of a new era ? 

We know that his exegesis was necessarily imperfect, that his 
expectations of a new world and of a speedy and final Judgment 

VOL. II M 



162 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 7-19 

were both mistaken. We shall not believe in him the more, in 
any specifically * Christian ' sense, because he so believed in himself, 
but, on the other hand, we shall not, even if he did so believe, refuse 
to recognize the sublime and original elements of his teaching, and 
its value in the history of religion for Judaism and for ourselves. 
In one important sense Jesus was the founder of a new era, though 
not as he meant or anticipated. Christianity does mark a new era 
in religious history and in human civilization. What the world 
owes to Jesus and to Paul is immense ; things can never be, and 
men can never think, the same as things were, and as men thought, 
before those two great men lived. The future will do justice both 
to the protest of the Jew and to the new outlook upon religion and 
life which Jesus introduced into the world. For, on the one hand, 
thought and criticism are alike tending to the recognition of the 
fundamental Jewish doctrine, which Jesus, like every other Jew, 
believed in and taught. God is One, and no man is God. What 
the Jews have died in thousands to protest against was not the 
teaching of Jesus, but the teaching of the Church — the incarnation, 
the Trinity, the worship of the Man-God, the mediation of the 
Messiah, the worship of the virgin, the doctrine of transubstantiation, 
and so on. And when some liberal Protestant German theologians 
of to-day, who are practically Unitarians, though they do not call 
themselves by that name, write about E-abbinism and Judaism 
with disdain and disapproval, they forget that what they directly 
depreciate and contemn, they indirectly justify and exalt. They 
abandon, as not originally or specifically Christian, all those doctrines 
against which, from the very birth of Christianity, the Jews rebelled 
and protested. They have come round to us ; for surely, as regards 
their conception of God and His relation to the world, the orthodox 
Christian of every age would dub them Judaizers and heretics. If 
their conceptions of Christianity conquer and prevail, great is the 
victory of Judaism. The name matters nothing : the reality, 
the doctrine, is all. Mr. Rawlinson predicts, indeed, that such a 
victory can and will never take place. He says : * No form of 
Christianity which denies the affirmation made in A.D. 325 at 
Nicaea, viz., that the historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, is in His 
essential being eternally one with the Eternal Father, has any 
future before it ' (p. xxii). Well, prophecies are perilous things ! 
When Dr. Carpenter and Mr. Rawlinson have been long in heaven 
together, I wonder which will crow over the other ? 

Nevertheless, Jesus marks an era. It is true that much is 
associated with his name which need not be associated with it. To 
us, when we open the New Testament and read the parable of the 
prodigal son, there is no novelty in it. To us, too, God is the 
loving Father who yearns to forgive the penitent. If any one can 



XI. 7-iQ] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 163 

read the Rabbinic teachings on repentance and deny that this is 
so, he must be case-hardened in prejudice. Moreover, we all know 
what we ourselves were taught. We were taught this doctrine, 
and we were not taught it from the New Testament or in connection 
with the name of Jesus. But, for all that, Jesus marks an era. I 
cannot conceive that a time will come when the figure of Jesus will 
no longer be a star of the first magnitude in the spiritual heavens, 
when he will no longer be regarded as one of the greatest religious 
heroes and teachers whom the world has seen. I cannot conceive 
that a time will come when ' the Bible ' in the eyes of Europe will 
no longer be composed of the Old Testament and the New, but of 
the Old Testament only, or when the Gospels will be less prized 
than the Pentateuch, or the Books of Chronicles preferred to the 
Epistles of Paul. The religion of the future will be, as I believe, 
a developed and purified Judaism, but from that developed and 
purified Judaism the records which tell, however imperfectly, of 
perhaps its greatest, as certainly of its most potent and influential 
teacher, will not be excluded. The roll-call of its heroes will not 
omit the name of Jesus. Christianity and Judaism must gradually 
approach each other. The one must shed the teachings which 
Jesus did not teach, the other must acknowledge, more fully, more 
frankly, than has yet been done, what he did and was for religion 
and for the world. 

12. An exceedingly obscure verse of which the meaning can 
hardly be ascertained. Cp. Luke xvi. 16. As it stands, pretty 
well all the commentators agree that it must be later than Jesus, 
for the days of John are already past and gone, whereas Jesus did 
not much outlive John. But some think that it is based upon 
an authentic saying of Jesus, and that the opening words, ' But 
from the days of John the Baptist till now ' are editorial. 

Are the very strange words used in a good or a bad sense ? 

The more obvious view would be that ' taking by force ' and * is 
stormed by violence ' are used in a bad sense. Jesus would then 
mean that since John's day rash movements have begun, rash 
attempts have been made, to hasten the coming of the Kingdom, 
to force God's hand. He may refer to the zealots and fanatics. 
Jesus is opposed to all force, to all political revolution. The 
Kingdom will come when God wills (and that is soon), but by His 
divine agency only. The difficulty is that the verbs ^ta£ercu and 
apTTOL^ovcnv must be taken de conatu. They would mean, attempts 
have been made to force the coming of the Kingdom, or to acquire 
it by force. Of course, these attempts were unsuccessful. But can 
all that be included in the simple present ? 

There are many other interpretations of the verse in the bad 



164 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 7-19 

sense to which I need not refer. In a good sense it has been taken 
to mean that the Kingdom * is being stormed by enthusiastic, but 
unorthodox people like tax collectors and harlots, whom orthodoxy 
would exclude and ban ' (Allen, Box). Harnack interprets it 
differently : it refers to the enthusiastic, hurried, eager, passionate 
way in which the Kingdom (it is here ; it is present) is being popu- 
lated and entered. In II the Kingdom is future ; in 12 it is present. 
* Until now ' : i.e. the present time, which began with John and 
continued till the appearance and preaching of Jesus. From 
John till now is the season of the Kingdom. The verse is thoroughly 
authentic. Jesus announces himself as the Messiah who has 
already begun his work. All this and more can be read in his 
learned and interesting essay ' Zwei Worte Jesu, Matt. vi. 13 und xi. 
12, 13,' in Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissen- 
schaften, 1907, pp. 6-16. But his conclusions seem to me very 
dubious. Cp. also Bultmann, pp. 100, 101. * The meaning Jesus 
ascribed to the words remains quite uncertain.' So, perhaps most 
wisely, Klostermann. 

13. Connection and meaning are again very uncertain. Does it 
mean that the Prophets and the Law point forward to the period 
which began with John (i.e. the Messianic age) ? Cp. Deut. xviii. 
15, 19. Or are the Law and the Prophets to be regarded as a whole ? 
The period of the * Old Testament ' was one of preparation and fore- 
telling. It has now come to its predestined and predicted close. 
The words in Luke xvi. 16 seem more clear, but they are not 
necessarily therefore more original. Luke has : ' The Law and the 
Prophets were until John : from that time the Gospel of the 
Kingdom of God is preached, and every man enters violently 
into it ' (R.V.). The two Q verses may have been as obscure to 
Luke as to us. 

14. ' If ye are willing.' The meaning may be : ' It may be 
hard for you to believe that John was Elijah (especially if John was 
then in prison), but it is true nevertheless.' 

16-19. Again a separate little piece, the date and origin of 
which remain uncertain. The source is still Q. 

16. There are two possible interpretations, (i) The * genera- 
tion ' is not like the children. It is like their ' fellows,' like them 
who would neither dance nor mourn. This generation, Jesus's 
contemporaries, understands the meaning neither of John's solemn 
warnings nor of Jesus's joyous tidings. 

Or (2) the generation is like the children. When John came 



XI. 7-iQ] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 165 

with his asceticism, they complained that he would not be merry 
(' he had a demon ') ; when Jesus came with his cheerfulness, they 
said he was a wine-bibber. 

Probably the children and the companions are not to be separated 
in the application of the parable. They jointly represent the Jews 
who are satisfied neither with the asceticism of John nor with the 
less austere life of Jesus. 

Some regard the passage as authentic ; some do not. ' The 
pungency of 19 reveals its genuineness/ ' The tenses in 18 and 19 
are the same. John and Jesus both belong to the past.' Did 
Jesus up till the very end of his career have to complain of popular 
dislike and neglect ? There is little or no trace of it. John, again, 
was, so far as we know, much honoured by the populace. We do 
not hear that he was supposed to be possessed. (So Oort : ' If we 
may depend at all on the narratives in the Gospels, John was greatly 
revered by the populace, and, as regards Jesus, we are constantly 
told how crowds of people collected together to hear him ; from 
far and near they brought sick to be cured by him, or they thronged 
around him to listen to his preaching ; and they praised God who 
had caused such a prophet to arise among them. Even if there be 
a good deal of exaggeration in all this — as is surely the case — yet 
Jesus was emphatically a popular man, beloved by the lower classes 
(de man juist der kleine lieden.) ' (* Mattheiis xi. en de Johannes- 
Gemeenten ' in Theologisch Tijdschrift, 1908, p. 321.) The parable 
of the children is supposed to refer to a game which the children 
are playing. Dibelius thinks that the parable may be genuine, but 
that its interpretation or application in 19 is due to later reflection 
(Formgeschichte, p. 76). In verse 12, accepting the ' bad ' sense of 
* storming,' he supposes the ' stormers ' to refer to the unseen 
rulers to whom the world is subjected, the dpxovres rov atwvos 
rovrov of I Cor. ii. 6-8, the evil spiritual powers (die Geistermachte) 
(Die urchristliche Uberlieferung von Johannes dem Tdufer, p. 21 ). 

19. The words of this verse are very remarkable and interesting. 
It would seem that the unascetic habits of Jesus, his readiness (like 
Socrates) to consort freely and cheerfully with all sorts and conditions 
of men, must have made a deep impression upon his contemporaries. 
But it does not follow that this proves that 19 must be authentic. 
Harnack, indeed, thinks that it does. He insists upon the sub- 
stantial authenticity of 2-n, 16-19. Whatever is from Q, that is 
authentic. Such might be said to be Harnack's constant thesis. 
I fear that Q cannot be relied on in this manner. 

The extra note on John and Jesus in the second edition of 
Wellhausen's Introduction is very interesting. He allows that 
there may be some authentic sayings of Jesus in the section 1-19. 



l66 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 7-19 

But they cannot be allowed to outweigh and make up for the general 
impression and tendency of the whole section. That seems to me 
to be true. As regards the historic relation of Jesus to John, 
Wellhausen writes ably as usual and cogently. He says : * Accord- 
ing to those portions of the Gospels which may be regarded as 
historical, Jesus was influenced by John, though he did not find in 
him his master, whom he wished to imitate. Jesus did not baptize. 
That is already significant. He did not live in the desert, but, like 
Socrates, he lived among the people. He spoke, quite freely and 
without constraint, just at every suitable occasion of daily life. 
He did not announce himself as a prophet ; he assumed no peculiar 
or solemn airs or manner : although he cut himself adrift from his 
family, he lived as ordinary people lived, and joined in their joys 
and sympathized with their sorrows. One must not, however, be- 
cause of this, speak of him, in contrast to John the ascetic, as happy 
in and contented with the world (weltfreudig) as some theologians 
nowadays like to do. He was at one with John in holding that the 
world, both Jewish and non-Jewish, was ripe for destruction, and 
would shortly come to an end : this fundamental point of view or 
disposition was the common ground from which the teaching of 
both took its departure ' (p. 137). 

' Wisdom is justified of her works.' Luke reads ' children ' or 
' sons ' for ' works,' and this, the reading of some MSS. and of the 
SS., may be the correct reading here too. If we read ' works,' the 
meaning must be that wisdom, incarnate in, or represented by, 
Jesus, has, in contrast to the doubts of the many, been justified by 
the result, by the works of the Messiah. If we read ' sons,' then 
the meaning may be, (i) wisdom, i.e. the divine wisdom, is justified 
by her children, that is, by those who have accepted John and 
Jesus and believe in them. (So, e.g. McNeile). Or (2) wisdom 
is justified over against the Jews. They are called, as in viii. 12, 
children of the Kingdom ; that is their claim ; it is in a sense their 
birthright, but they have forfeited their right, and their sonship 
has been taken from them. The divine wisdom, represented both 
by John and Jesus, is justified before or over against the Jews, 
for their arguments against Jesus and John are nullified by their 
self-contradiction. 

Meyer thinks that the reply to John's inquiry in 4 and 5 bears 
the stamp of early Christianity, not that of Jesus. It is quite 
unthinkable that Jesus would have expressed himself thus. As to 
the section 7-19 Meyer is in full agreement with Wellhausen, and 
considers it later than Jesus. ' Till now ' in 12 shows that a con- 
siderable interval had elapsed from John till * now.' Jesus is made 
to reflect about both John and himself as heroes of the past. Again, 
John thinks that Jesus may perhaps be the Messiah. But if Jesus 



XI. 20-24] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 167 

did not publicly proclaim his Messiahship till the last stage of his 
life, and if^nothing was said of it even to the disciples till Caesarea 
Philippi, how and why should John have thought of it at all ? (i. 
pp. 86, 87). 



20-24. THE GALILEAN CITIES ARE CONDEMNED 
(Cp. Luke x. 13-16) 

20 Then began he to reproach the cities wherein most of his 
mighty works had been done, because they had not repented. 

21 ' Woe unto thee, Chorazin ! woe unto thee, Bethsaida ! for if the 
mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre 
and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and 

22 ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more endurable for Tyre 

23 and Sidon at the Day of Judgment than for you. And thou, 
Capernaum, beware, lest, exalted before unto heaven, thou shalt be 
thrust down into Hades : for if the mighty works, which have been 
done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained 

24 until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more endurable 
for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment, than for thee.' 

This section has no connection with the preceding one. In 

Luke the verses form part of the discourse to the Seventy. If 

spoken at the end of Jesus' s career, they may conceivably be 
authentic ; but their authenticity is very dubious. 

2O. ' Kepented,' that is, of the unbelief shown towards Jesus 
by these cities. If Jesus attached a great or growing importance 
to a belief in himself, it is quite conceivable and psychologically 
explicable that he confused a disbelief in himself with moral dead- 
ness or sinfulness. Yet a Jew was justified in disbelieving Jesus 
if he claimed to be the Messiah. There was (at least till his death) 
nothing to identify Jesus with the Suffering Servant of Isaiah liii. 
And even if Jesus claimed to be the Servant (which is doubtful), and 
even if the Suffering Servant of Israel xlii. and liii. was interpreted 
by some to mean the Messiah, the prevailing view of the Messiah was 
nearer to that of Isaiah xi. Hence to most Jews a belief in Jesus's 
personal claims was impossible ; for if the general argument of the 
prophets was true, Jesus was not the Messiah, and the Messianic age 
had not begun. On the other hand, Jesus did not say that the 
prevailing passages in the prophets were wrong, or deceptive, or 
merely preparatory, or only true up to a point, or outward, or 



168 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 25-30 

symbolical, or typical ; and if lie had said so, nobody would have 
believed him. 

21. The miracles are regarded as the reason why Jesus should 
have found faith. Yet elsewhere the Jews are rebuked for asking 
for a sign. Whether they refused to believe in his miracles, or 
asked for a special miracle, his opponents were always in the wrong. 
That is only human nature. 

23. Text and translation of the first half of the verse are un- 
certain. In the rendering followed by me the former exaltation 
of Capernaum to the skies was due to its having been the scene of 
the mighty works wrought by Jesus. Here again it may be asked : 
is there evidence that the Galilaean cities showed Jesus so little 
faith ? The violent exclamation is not in keeping with the boasted 
gentleness of verse 29. But the exaggerated tone is pardonable 
in a Christian of later years who, astonished at the scepticism 
shown by Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum towards the Gospel, 
calls out angrily : How is this scepticism possible in cities in which 
Jesus performed his miracles, and above all in the very city where 
he lived ? To hell with such hardened souls ! 

Klostermann, who seldom goes further than a doubt thrown out 
by way of caution, asks : ' Does not this saying, when put into the 
mouth of Jesus, seem too self-conscious and too much of a reflection 
upon the past ? Perhaps it should be relegated to apostolic times, 
when, possibly, Christianity had lost ground in Capernaum ? ' 



25-30. JESUS AND HIS MISSION 

(a) THE FATHER AND THE SON (25-27) 

(Cp. Luke x. 21, 22) 

2 5 At that time Jesus answered and said, ' I praise thee, Father, 
Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from 
the wise and the clever, and hast revealed them unto the simple. 
26, 27 Even so, Father ; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All was 
delivered unto me by my Father : and no man knows the Son 
except the Father ; neither knows any man the Father except 
the Son, and he to whom the Son would reveal him. 

A very important and very interesting section, both as regards 
meaning and origin. Its authenticity is more than doubtful, though 
the most tremendous efforts have been made to save the whole 



XL 25-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 169 

of it, or some part of it, for Jesus. For clearly if 26 and 27 were 
said by Jesus (and, as they occur in Q, they are, at any rate, tolerably 
old), then the historic Jesus attributed to himself a unique — a 
metaphysically unique — relation to God. He spoke of himself as 
' the Son ' in a special way, not merely as primus inter pares, but 
in a way in which no other men were, or could be, Sons. Again 
28-30 are of great importance for many Christians, especially in 
connection with 26, 27, for here we have the other side of the picture, 
the other side of the double conception. On the one hand, Jesus 
is the Son of God, the only and special Son ; ' all ' has been delivered 
unto him ; he alone knows the Father, and he is the only door 
to the knowledge of the Father ; on the other hand, this same 
Jesus, who makes these tremendous assertions of his special position, 
his knowledge, and his power, also declares that he is meek and 
lowly in heart, and that his yoke is easy and his burden light. If 
these verses also could be proved to have been spoken by the his- 
toric Jesus, dogmatic Christianity would receive a great encourage- 
ment and justification. Not that Jews would be any the more 
inclined to become Christians. For if Jesus said 26 and 27, we do 
not think the better of him, but the worse. From our point of 
view, who are anxious to make of Jesus a great Jewish teacher, we 
should be, perhaps, almost as desirous to prove the spuriousness of 
26, 27 as many Christians are to prove the authenticity. 

In view, therefore, of the interesting and important character 
of verses 25-30, it is not unjustifiable to treat them at exceptional 
length, and perhaps the best plan will be for me to repeat the larger 
part of what I said about them in my first edition, and to supple- 
ment it by quotations from, or allusions to, the writings of a few 
distinguished scholars who have written about these six verses 
since my first edition was published. 

The section consists of two subdivisions, 25-27, 28-30. But 
the connection of 27 with 25, 26 is not clear, and it may be that 
27 has a different origin from 25, 26. 28-30 is not in Luke, and 
it is disputed whether 28-30 was originally in Q, and originally 
connected with 25-27 or not. 

The connection of 20-24 w ^ n 7~ I 9 i s artificial. In 20-24 J^ sus 
speaks to himself rather than to any one around him. In 25-30 
this is the case, still more. (Who heard him, we may ask, making 
these remarks ? Who took them down as they fell from his lips ? 
Were they heard by anybody ? Did anybody remember them for 
years, and write them down long after ? Soliloquies are less likely 
to be authentic than sayings in the middle of events, or preachings 
directly addressed to certain particular persons.) But the section 
25-30 must have already in Q followed the condemnation of the 
Galilsean cities, for in Luke also the one follows (with the short 



170 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 25-30 

interruption of x. 16-20), upon the other. It is possible that Q 
indicated the occasion on which the words were said, namely, the 
return of the Twelve (cp. Luke x. 17). Matthew says nothing 
about their departure or their return. In giving the verses 20-24 
and 25-30 without their occasion or connection, he may have 
wanted to enlarge the perspective. l Following, as now they do, 
a sharp condemnation upon the attitude of the Jews towards the 
Saviour (xi. 19), these passages symbolize, much more definitely 
than they did in Q, the reprobation of unbelieving Judaism and 
the happy election of the Christian community ' (Loisy). 



25. Cp. the opening words of Sirach li. I. e 
Usually the word means ' confess ' : here it seems to mean ' praise ' 
or * thank.' But in that case for what precisely does Jesus thank 
God ? Is he not only glad that God has revealed the truth about 
himself to the simple, but that he has not revealed it to the wise 
and the clever ? Woe to the unbelieving Scribes, and yet thank 
God for their unbelief ! But this would be to go too far. One has 
to remember the lack of dependent clauses in Hebrew and Aramaic 
and the comparative small use of them in the simple Greek of the 
Gospels. The emphasis may be upon the positive, and not upon 
the negative, clause. Jesus may thank God that the ' revelation ' 
has been revealed to, and accepted by, the ' simple,' because they 
are many, and the learned are few (Klostermann). I now think 
that the late Dean of Carlisle, Dr. Rashdall, was in the right 
when he said : ' Mr. Montefiore, in his resentment at Christ's 
language towards the Scribes, seems to me a little too prosaic and 
literal. If Jesus had been educated as a Jewish scribe or a western 
philosopher, and had carefully weighed His words before giving 
utterance to this sudden access of emotion, He would perhaps have 
said " I thank Thee that Thou hast revealed to the simple what 
those who pride themselves on their knowledge and their insight 
have failed, with all their education and their wisdom, to under- 
stand." If He did think of this " withholding " as a sort of penalty 
for the pride of learning, would such a point of view be wholly 
unjustified ? There is such a thing as the " pride of knowledge," 
though it seldom equals the pride of half-educated ignorance. I 
don't think Mr. Montefiore would have quarrelled much with this 
saying if he had found it in the Old Testament or the Talmud. 
That not all the Eabbis of our Lord's time or any other deserved 
such a censure, I have fully acknowledged ' (Conscience and Christy 

P . 182). 

It is exceedingly curious that even for the sentiment of verse 25 
there is a rather close parallel in Sirach iii. 18-21. ' Humble 
thyself . . . and thou wilt find mercy in the sight of God. Many 



XL 25-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 171 

are the mercies of God, and to the humble he reveals his secret.' 
(So the Hebrew ; the Greek has, ' by the humble he is glorified '). 
And the igth verse reads : ' Many are exalted and esteemed ; but 
the mysteries of God are revealed to the lowly.' For the combina- 
tion of the 0o</>oi (wise) and the cruv€roL cp. Isaiah xxix. 16 (LXX). 
In the Psalms the ' simple ' (i^ma) are often referred to as being 
illuminated by the wisdom of God and of his Law, e.g. xix. 7, 
cxvi. 16, cxix. 130. It is from the mouths of the VTJTTICL and of the 
sucklings that God has established his praise (alvov), viii. 2. 

ravra. What is ' this ' or ' these things ? ' It must be the 
Gospel generally ; the teaching of Jesus about the Kingdom, its 
conditions and its near commencement. Or, perhaps the truth 
about Jesus himself, his Messiahship and all that it implies. In 
view of what follows this is not unlikely. The official teachers 
of Judaism, the wise Rabbis and learned Pharisees, have rejected 
the Gospel and closed their ears ; but the simple, the childlike, 
the uneducated, have welcomed the truth and understood. To 
them, not to the learned, it has been revealed ; the eyes of their 
hearts were open, and they felt and saw. But in any case the word 
ravra has no clear and distinct reference. One has the impression 
that the verse must originally have had some better connection, 
which made the ravra (' these things ' or * this ') much more clear. 
Nevertheless, it can hardly refer to anything else than to some part 
of the message of Jesus or to his message as a whole, or again, if 
we connect it with 26, 27, to his own special position and function 
in the Kingdom, to his own special mission from God and to his 
own special relation to God. If it refers to his message rather than 
to himself, it is not impossible that 25 may be authentic, or may be 
based upon some authentic saying. Norden's explanation of 
ravra depends upon his whole view of the entire passage 25-30, 
and will be found upon pp. 302, 303 of his book (Agnostos Theos), 
but I shall not be able to refer to it again or to explain what it is. 

26. The simplest translation seems to be : ' Yes, Father [I 
praise thee] that such was thy pleasure.' Jesus rejoices over the 
result of his teaching. He is glad that just the poor and simple 
have understood him, and that it is their hearts which have been 
turned towards God. 

27. The ' big ' verse of the whole section. There is an abrupt 
transition to another theme. It is verbally connected with 25 by 
the word * reveal,' but breathes a different atmosphere. * The 
style has changed completely ; if before we were dealing with a 
sincere prayer of thanksgiving, we are now confronted with a 
dogmatic confession (Bekenntnis). Instead of the " I " and 



172 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 25-30 

" Thou," which is still recalled, though only as a transition, in 
the " me," we have this statement about the Father and the Son 
in the third person which directly reminds us of the Fourth Gospel. 
There is only a superficial connection with 25 ' (Bousset, Kurios 
Christos, 2nd ed., 1921, p. 46). So too with fresh reasons, which I 
will not quote, Bultmann, p. 97. M. Loisy says : ' What follows 
on 26 is in another tone and refers to another object. It is anything 
but a prayer. It seems rather to be an indirect defence of the 
faith which the simple have shown in the preaching of the Gospel, 
a recommendation of the Christ himself who defines himself before 
his disciples in order to enhance his authority, a theory of the 
Christian revelation, which is also a Christology. Without any 
transition, the Christ who was speaking to his Father, now speaks 
of himself. The seeming unity of the discourse is the result of the 
fact that it is meant as a doxology throughout, and the rhythm of 
this verse is that of the preceding passage, but the connection of 
the personal doxology with the divine doxology is more intelligible 
from the point of view of the Evangelists than from the point of 
view of Jesus. It is implied that if the humble believers are 
learned in divine things, it is because Jesus has taught them those 
things, and Jesus has been able to teach them with certainty 
because he obtains his knowledge from the heavenly Father ' 
(E. S. i. p. 908). Yet Loisy with many, if not most, commentators, 
both old and new, considers that 25-27 were always joined together, 
and were composed by one and the same person at one and the same 
time. So too Norden, for other reasons than Loisy's, considers that 
not only 25-27, but 25-30, form an inseparable whole. His reasons, 
profoundly interesting as they are, cannot be referred to here. 

The very first word in the verse raises a difficulty. Trdvra, 
' all.' What is this ' all? ' Most commentators take * all ' to 
mean the teaching, and to refer back to the ravra of 25. Even if, 
with McNeile, Trdvra is not to be regarded as identical with TOLVTOL, 
yet it may include ravra, as the greater includes the less. Then 
the Trdvra would be all true religion, all the true knowledge and 
teaching about the Kingdom and the conditions of entering it, and 
how the new era had begun, and the Judgment was at hand. It 
could also include all the teaching about the Father and about 
Jesus himself, and his Messiahship. (If 27 be authentic, there 
would have to be some restrictions as to this inclusiveness.) 
Wellhausen, Harnack, and Norden, though they differ in many 
points, agree as to the meaning of ' all.' It is the teaching, and, 
as Harnack maintains, it is especially the teaching about the 
Father, ' the complete revelation of the knowledge of God. This 
knowledge has been " delivered " to Jesus by the Father, and to him 
first : he has learnt now to know the Father ; before him no one 



XL 25-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 173 

knew the Father.' That rravra means the teaching, the knowledge 
of God, true religion, etc., is also supported, many believe, by the 
word irapeSodr), ' delivered.' Jesus contrasts his TrapdSoms with the 
TrapdSoms of the Scribes. Their tradition, their ' handing down,' 
is from man to man : the ' handing down ' of Jesus was from God. 
God especially revealed or delivered to him the knowledge of 
Himself and of True Religion. 

Bousset, on the other hand, urges that every attempt to connect 
TrapeSodr) with the ' handing down of teaching ' has failed. -navra, 
1 all,' must be understood in the sense of Matthew xxviii. 18. ' All 
authority has been given unto me in heaven and earth ' (Kurios 
Christos, pp. 47, 50). (If Trdvra means that, it would be impossible 
to maintain the authenticity.) I am somewhat disposed to think 
that it is, perhaps, more natural to suppose that it has this meaning 
(cp. Norden, p. in, and p. 293, n. I ; the rrdvra is a knowledge 
which springs from, or implies, power), and that the whole verse 
had originally nothing to do with 25, 26 (so Bultmann, 96, 97). 

If Trdvra, ' all,' refers to the teaching and the knowledge of 
God, then we have to suppose that Jesus, or the author of the 
passage, meant that all this knowledge has been entrusted, or 
delivered, by God to Jesus, and to Jesus only. Thus no one knows 
the true purposes of God except Jesus, and those to whom Jesus 
may explain them. * The Father ' and ' the Son ' are only used in 
this special sense in a late chapter of Mark (xiii. 32), and then in 
the Fourth Gospel. Wellhausen holds that the words ' and no man 
knows the Son except the Father ' are an old interpolation. They 
certainly do not seem here, except as a corollary, particularly in 
place. But M. Loisy says : ' The two propositions concerning the 
Father and the Son are verbally interlaced (font jeu de mots), and 
one cannot explain either without the other. They express the 
reciprocity of perfect knowledge and nothing more. If one 
suppresses the former, one destroys the balance of the strophe ' 
E. S. i. p. 908, n. 4). 

It seems hard to believe that Jesus uttered these words. There 
is no sure parallel for his speaking of himself as l the Son ' in a 
special sense. The exclusiveness of the saying that ' no one knows 
the Father except the Son ' is painful ; one can only hope that 
Jesus never uttered it. The verses in question are lucidly dealt with 
by Loisy in his famous book Ufivangile et Vfiglise. If Wellhausen's 
view that the passage did not originally include the words ' and no 
man knows the Son except the Father ' be not accepted, then there 
is extra force in Loisy's argument that the words must refer to 
the transcendental relations existing between Father and Son. 
The Son is not the Son merely because he knows the Father, or 
knows God as Father, in a special, new, and intimate sense (this is 



174 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 25-30 

Harnack's view), for the words ' no man knows the Son except the 
Father } are then left unexplained. ' Father and Son are here 
already metaphysical concepts. There is only one Father and only 
one Son, who are, in some sort, constituted by the knowledge they 
have of one another. The intention of the passage is not so much 
to explain how Jesus is the Son of God as to exalt the person of 
the Christ in identifying him with the Eternal Wisdom, which God 
alone knows fully (although it reveals itself to men), and which 
alone possesses and represents the complete knowledge of God, 
though it reveals that knowledge to man ' (L'fivangile et I'figlise, 
pp. 78, 79, 3rd ed.). 

Originally Jesus was the Son of God because he was the Messiah. 
But in this passage the relation is metaphysical, and hence its 
necessarily later date. It may, however, be argued that the passage 
does not say that before Jesus no one knew God as Father. M. Loisy, 
quite fairly, insists upon this most strenuously. ' The editor of the 
gospel does not by any means intend to say that God was not 
known as Father before the arrival of Jesus ; what he wishes to 
say, and he says it very clearly, is that the Christ, the Son, is the 
only one who knows God, the Father, perfectly, and this because 
he is the Son ; just as the Father is the only one who knows perfectly 
the Christ, his Son, and this because he is the Father, because he 
is God ' (ib. p. 81). There was no need for the auditors of Jesus 
to be told that God was the Father of each one of them, and not 
merely of Israel as a whole. Even the Evangelist, with all his 
prejudices, did not perhaps think anything so inaccurate as that. 

In his commentary on the Synoptics M. Loisy elaborates his 
views still further : ' The reciprocity of knowledge between the 
Father and the Son, though it did not yet imply all the meta- 
physics of the trinitarian dogma, does not the less imply a relation 
between God and the Christ which is unique in its nature and may 
be called transcendent. But the text is only thinking of knowledge, 
not of power or nature, and if account is taken of the context, it 
will be even readily admitted that the object of this knowledge is, 
as regards the Christ, God as Providence ordering the conditions of 
the salvation of men, and as regards the Father, Jesus as Messiah 
and as the principal agent of the schemes of Providence. In the 
whole passage, there is no question of anything but knowledge, 
knowledge acquired by the humble believers and refused to the 
wise of this world, knowledge which the Father has of the Son, 
whom He had sent to make this revelation to the simple, knowledge 
which the Son has of the Father, whose thoughts of mercy he makes 
manifest. It may be said that no one knows the Son perfectly, and 
the devotion which binds him to the redemption of humanity, 
except the Father who sends him, and no one knows the Father, 



XL 25-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 175 

and the indulgent kindness which He shows to His creatures, except 
the Son and those who are taught by him. 

' For all that, it is none the less true that these statements 
carry with them a more absolute meaning. Although Father and 
Son are not solely metaphysical terms, and although they here 
stand for God and the Christ, the use of the word Son, without 
any complement, is extraordinary in the mouth of Jesus ; it 
belongs to the language of tradition, not to that of the Saviour ; 
it marks the immortal Christ, it may even be said, the eternal 
Christ. The mutual knowledge of the Father and the Son is no 
longer presented as a relation born in time and attaining its 
realization at a particular moment ; it has the metaphysical 
character of the similar assertions which are found in the Fourth 
Gospel ; it does not express pre-existence, but it assumes it. This 
declaration is a version of the faith of the Christian community ; 
it is drawn up as a little doctrinal creed intended to declare the 
excellence of the revelation of the Gospel. 

' The formula " All things have been delivered unto me by my 
Father " is the link by which this creed had been attached to 
Jesus' s prayer, and it may very well have here the same meaning 
as in the concluding passage of the Gospel (xxviii. 18). Was the 
creed the utterance of a Christian prophet, taken over by the 
author of the prayer ? It is more probable that the prayer, the 
creed and the exhortation which follow it proceed from a single 
inspiration, as they are all marked by the same rhythm. They 
form a song of Christian wisdom, the fruit of the Spirit.' * In any 
case the words are more like a profession of Christian faith than 
a teaching of the Saviour. There may be some rashness in trying 
to prove by this passage that the consciousness of the divine 
Sonship historically preceded, or logically conditioned in Jesus, that 
of his Messianic vocation ' (E. S. i. pp. 908, 911). 

' No man knows the Son except the Father ; neither knows any 
man the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son would 
reveal him.' As we have seen, Wellhausen, and, as we shall see, 
Harnack, hold that the original text ran, ' No one knows (or knew) 
the Father except the Son, etc.' In any case, these words have an 
Hellenistic, and not a Jewish, ring. For what is the knowledge of 
the Father ? It is obtained by revelation, directly or indirectly. 
But the Jewish ' knowledge ' of God, the ' knowledge ' of God, as 
' knowledge of God ' is understood in the Old Testament, is 
hardly so obtained. That knowledge of God is obtained by 
right -doing. In fact, right -doing and knowledge of God are 
reciprocal terms, and imply each other. (Cp. Jer. xxii. 16, iv. i.) 
But the ' knowledge ' of our verse is more theoretical and probably 
more mystical too. It is Hellenistic ' knowledge,' not Hebraic. It 



176 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 25-30 

is yvcDcris, or something near it, not ' da' at Elohim. 1 What 
all this means can be read in Bousset, pp. 48-50, and in 
Norden. The latter scholar argues strongly for the inclusion and 
retention of the words which Wellhausen and Harnack would 
reject, because he holds that the Son's ' knowledge ' of the Father 
depends upon the Father's ' knowledge ' of the Son. So in Paul, 
Galatians iv. 8 and I Cor. xiii. 12, and in the Fourth Gospel x. 15. 
(' The Father knows me and I know the Father.') God has to know, 
i.e. to single out, and recognize, and to make himself known to, the 
worshipper or the man, before the man can get to know and be 
united to God. The idea is common to the syncretistic mysticism 
of west and east. ' The knowledge of God by man therefore pre- 
supposes that man has previously been " known " by God. This 
profound point of view, however, is not by any means confined to 
Christianity : it is a common conception of oriental-hellenistic 
mysticism ' (Norden, p. 287). 



(6) THE YOKE OF JESUS (28-30) 
(Matthew only) 

28 * Come unto me, all ye that are weary and are heavy laden, 

29 and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of 
me ; for I am meek and lowly in heart : and ye shall find rest 

30 unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.' 

These famous verses are found in Matthew only. If they stood 
in Q, and in Q followed 25-27 as now, why did Luke omit them ? 
Dibelius says : ' The situation into which he introduces the logion, 
and the return home of the seventy disciples, made the suppression 
of the third strophe imperative.' This is dubious, but the omission 
of Luke may have some other and better reason, and 28-30 may 
have been in Q, even in the Q which was used by Luke. (A still 
more unlikely reason than that of Dibelius may be found in Norden, 
p. 396.) The exquisite grace and tenderness of the words cannot 
be gainsaid. Yet the words are largely made up of quotations. 
The last bit of 29 comes from Jer. vi. 16, and the rest is an adapted 
echo of Sirach li. 23 seq. Moreover, the Hebrew original of Sirach 
makes the resemblance still closer, li. 26 in the Hebrew runs : 
' Put your neck under her yoke, and let your soul accept her 
burden* As M. Loisy says : ' The author of 28-30 therefore read 
not only Jeremiah but also Ecclesiasticus in Hebrew, or in some 
other translation than the Septuagint. In any case the presence 
of the word " burden " in the Hebrew Ecclesiasticus (although the 



XI. 25-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 177 



Syriac conforms to the Greek and also implies IDIO, instead of 
NEC) confirms the theory of the dependence of Matthew. And 
does it not seem as if he identifies Jesus with the Wisdom, of which 
Ben-Sira speaks in this passage ? The fact is that we shall see him 
put into the mouth of the Saviour (xxiii. 34-36) words which, in 
Luke (xi. 49, 50), are attributed to Wisdom. It has been noted 
above that Ben-Sira gives God the name of " Father " in Ecclus. li. 
I and 10, so that his influence may be also admitted for Matt. 27. 
The Evangelist has interpreted the prayer of Jesus Ben-Sira in a 
prayer of Jesus the Son of God. The identification of Jesus with 
Wisdom might explain the tone of Matt. v. 21, 22, 27, 28, 31, 32, 
33 > 34> 38, 39) 43 > 44 5 but especially it would account for xi. 27, 
the mutual knowledge of the Father and the Son being the relation 
of God with Wisdom ' (E. S. i. p. 913, n. 3). 

The ' heavy burdens,' which make those who seek to carry 
them * weary,' are the Rabbinic laws. Jesus contrasts his demands 
and his religion with the religion and the demands of the Rabbis. 
Their demands are many and wearisome ; a multiplicity of enact- 
ments which it is hard for simple folk to fulfil. Those who do 
not fulfil them are looked down upon and despised. The demands 
of Jesus are few and easy ; he asks only for faith and loyalty and 
love, and he comes to the simple folk with no pride or haughtiness, 
not despising but loving them, and seeking to save. 

The metaphor of the ' yoke ' is common in Rabbinic literature. 
' Yoke of the commandments,' ' yoke of the Law,' ' yoke of the 
Kingdom of heaven,' are frequent phrases. With 28 and 29 must 
be closely compared and connected xxiii. 4. With the heavy 
* burden ' of the Rabbis is contrasted the light ' burden ' of Jesus. 
Jesus is the true guide, the true teacher ; they are false guides, the 
false teachers. Cp. Paul in Romans ii. 17-20. 

The A.V. and R.V., ' for I am meek and lowly in heart,' hardly 
represents the exact meaning of the original -rrpavs ei/u KOL 
Ta.7Tewos rfj fcapSta. Perhaps we had better (Moffatt) render 
the first adjective by * gentle ' ; the second by ' kindly,' — ' con- 
descending ' in a good sense. The meaning is that Jesus is gentle 
and loving, not hard like the Rabbis, that he is tender and kind- 
hearted to the little and lowly people. For the actual words cp. 
also Sirach iii. 17-20, where, however, the meaning is not quite the 
same. xp-ri<rr6s, not ' hard,' or ' oppressive,' therefore ' easy,' 
' soft.' 

While the beauty of the passage is unquestionable, some might 
feel that it would be more beautiful if spoken of Jesus than if 
spoken by him. ' It is pleasanter to hear some one's praise out of 
another's mouth than out of his own ' (Oort, loc. cit. p. 327). The 
historical accuracy of the passage is very dubious. To gauge it 

VOL. II N 



178 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 25-30 

raises, however, the whole question of the relation of Rabbis and 
Rabbinism to the people at large. In the principle of a legal religion 
there is nothing in itself which makes necessarily for pride and 
exclusiveness. Whatever may have been the case in the age of 
Jesus and in Galilee, there is no doubt that, before long, the Rabbinic 
law penetrated all strata of the population, and was felt as a 
privilege rather than as a burden. The later Rabbinic literature 
shows few traces of the Jewish community being composed of two 
classes, one a small class of Scribes, Rabbis, and learned, the other 
a large class of the ignorant, simple, and unhappy. There are few 
traces that, on the one hand, there were a small number of bad, 
proud people obeying the ritual law and neglecting the moral law ; 
on the other hand, a mass of people, half trying to obey the ritual 
law and failing, half wilfully violating it, and all neglected, unhappy, 
and ill at ease. And yet this is what ought to have been the case 
if some modern comments upon the Gospel narrative were accurate 
and unexaggerated. The distant God of judgment, the impossible 
fulfilment of ' thousands of laws,' the hard and haughty teachers, 
who were never satisfied, the whip of the Law — all this, on which 
some modern commentators lay such eloquent and reiterated stress, 
is certainly inaccurate for the later Rabbinic period, and very 
doubtful for the age of Jesus. It has been invented by the assump- 
tion that the Epistles of Paul can be used to construct a picture of 
Rabbinism. You might, I think, almost better go to a Jew for an 
accurate delineation of Christianity than to many modern Christian 
commentators for an accurate picture of Rabbinic Judaism. The 
dazzling light they see in the Gospel is only obtained by means of 
unhistoric shadows to set it off and throw it up. 

Nevertheless, a limited justification of the passage, in the age of 
Jesus and in Galilee may, up to a certain point, be not inaccurate. 
It was only gradually that the Rabbinic law entered into the very 
heart and marrow of the entire people. Nor did it take this pos- 
session of all men's hearts without showing some sympathy with 
human nature, and some comprehension of ordinary human limits 
and powers. 

Of the authenticity of 25-27 and of 28-30 a full defence has been 
made by the great German theologian Harnack, in his book Spruche 
und Reden Jesu (pp. 188-216), published in 1907. 

Upon the basis of an exhaustive examination of the entire 
manuscript and patristic evidence he seeks to show that the original 
reading of Luke x. 22 (Matt. xi. 27), and therefore of the passage 
in Q, ran : rravra fjLOL TrapeSoOrj VTTO TTOV Trarpos, «al ouSeis* eyvcu 
rov Trarepa [or rts ecrrtv 6 Trarrjp] et jjirj 6 vlos /cat cS av 6 vlos 
a7roKaXvi/jr), i.e. ' All has been delivered to me by the Father, and 
no one has known (the aorist, and not the present yiva)0K€i) the 



XI. 25-30] THE GOSPEL ACCOKDING TO MATTHEW 179 

Father except the Son, and to whomever the Son has revealed 
him.' 

The difference between this version and the present text of 
Luke and Matthew is considerable. 

(1) Instead of ' all has been delivered to me by my Father ' 
the original reading, so Harnack thinks, was : * all has been de- 
livered to me by the Father.' 

(2) Instead of the present yivaj<jK€i, or emyivdjcr/cei the original 
reading had the aorist Zyva). 

(3) The clause ' and no man knows the Son except the Father ' 
was wanting. 

The change from the aorist to the present was made in order 
to turn a historic fact or act into a timeless and eternal and 
metaphysical relation. The addition of ' no man knows the Son 
except the Father ' is really out of place in a passage which has 
to do with the knowledge of God acquired and revealed by Jesus. 
It is this new knowledge which has been revealed to the simple 
through Jesus and for which Jesus thanks God. Moreover the 
final words, ' and he to whom the Son would reveal (him),' do not 
fit in with the addition * no man knows the Son except the Father.' 
The Son is God's interpreter, not his own. That the balance and 
rhythm of the passage are destroyed by the omission of these words 
Harnack does not admit. 

Let us then assume that the original reading of the passage 
was what Harnack supposes, and now let us see what Harnack 
thinks that the passage, in its original form, actually meant, and 
why he holds that it was spoken by Jesus. 

(1) He presses ravra, ' these things,' in 25. The saying must 
have been said on some definite connection and occasion. It has 
been torn from its context. If it were a ' Christian poem,' and inde- 
pendently created, this allusive ravra, referring to something which 
had already happened or gone before, would have been avoided. 

(2) Jesus praises God for the teaching which God has given 
him. The distinction between ' simple ' and * wise ' (for the former 
cp. Psalms xix. 7, cxvi. 6, cxix. 130) is quite in accordance with 
other sayings of Jesus. The bitterness (' Herbheit ') which praises 
God not only because the true knowledge has been revealed to the 
simple, but also because it has been hidden from the wise, is found 
in other sayings, and is an indication of originality. 

(3) Note the aorists. Not what God always does or keeps 
doing, but what he had done just then by some successful result of 
the activity of Jesus, is the subject of the thanksgiving. Some 
public success which has not been recorded for us must have pre- 
ceded and brought about the thanksgiving. 

(4) The Travra, as we have already seen, refers to the teaching, 



l8o THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 25-30 

and especially to the knowledge of the Father, who was never rightly 
known before till Jesus learnt to know him and revealed this know- 
ledge to others. 

(5) Nothing is said of a constant, still less of a timeless relation 
of the Son to the Father. Jesus praises God that he has entrusted 
to him this full knowledge, that he, the Son, has been the first to 
learn to know the Father, that God has revealed this knowledge 
through him to the simple, and that this knowledge will also in the 
future only be revealed through him. ' Es handelt sich durchweg 
um einen geschichtlich gewordenen Tatbestand.' 

So far, perhaps, the sailing has been fairly plain. But how 
does Harnack deal with the Sonship and the Son's claim to be 
the first man to have received the knowledge of the Father ? He 
admits that the only clear synoptic parallel for this abstract usage 
and correlation of the Father and the Son is Mark xiii. 32. Yet 
this very parallel is, he thinks, significant and important. For in 
it Jesus's foreknowledge of the future is denied, and hence this 
verse must certainly belong to the oldest tradition. As to none 
knowing the Father before Jesus, Harnack says that ' no one ' must 
not be too much pressed. No reflection is intended upon the 
Hebrew prophets. The statement does not go further than Luke x. 
24, ' Many prophets and kings desired to see the things which ye see, 
and saw them not,' or than the verse about John the Baptist, 
Matt. xi. II, * He that is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater 
than he.' Harnack boldly admits that if the passage is authentic, 
Jesus must have called himself (in the latest part of his activity) 
* the Son.' ' If the saying belongs to the best and most ancient tradi- 
tion, it can have been spoken by Jesus only during the later period 
of his ministry, and it further presupposes that during this period 
Jesus upon other occasions called himself ' ' the Son. ' ' This conclusion 
will necessarily be disputed by those who suppose themselves bound 
not to allow Jesus any other self-designation than that of a Teacher, 
of a Prophet, and — at the close of his ministry — of the future Messiah. 
But the transition from the designations of Teacher and Prophet 
to that of the future Messiah demands, both in the self-consciousness 
of Jesus and also in outward expression, some middle term, and it 
is difficult to see why tradition must be supposed to be in error when 
it presents us here with the designation " the Son." If this could 
mean absolutely nothing else than " I am the present Messiah," 
then it would be unintelMgible ; but the concrete situation in which 
Jesus found himself limited the sphere of significance of the expres- 
sion both for himself and for his hearers. At present he is the Chosen 
One, the Beloved One, thus the Son, and therefore in the future — 
that is, soon — he will come in the clouds of heaven and will receive 
the office of Messiah, whose function is essentially active. If 



XL 25-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW l8l 

criticism can produce no valid objections against the tradition that 
Jesus towards the end of his ministry called himself the Son of man 
(in the sense of Daniel), so, in my opinion, there is still less ground 
for hesitation in accepting the genuineness of the tradition that he 
called himself " the Son," because it is absolutely impossible to 
imagine how he could have arrived at the conviction that he was the 
future Messiah without first knowing himself as standing in an 
unique relationship to God. What Jesus in this passage says of 
himself as the Son, goes beyond what is expressed in other sayings, 
not in the thought itself, but only in its pregnant form.' 

This argument of the great theologian seems, however, to contain 
some doubtful inferences. Is it reasonable to suppose that Jesus 
ever called himself ' the Son ' in this absolute and abstract sense, 
and that Mark (except in one suspicious passage) should say nothing 
about it ? In what sense was he the Son ? Harnack would say in 
the sense that he knew God as Father, and that he believed that no 
one had known God so before. But what evidence is there that 
Jesus had any such idea as to the ignorance of his contemporaries 
and of all previous generations of the divine fatherhood ? Where 
does he ever hint that his conception of God as the Father of every 
Jew or every man is something new ? Doubtless if he came to 
believe that he was the Messiah, he stood in a special relation to 
God inasmuch as God had invested him with special office and duties, 
but why should this office make him, except in the old Messianic 
sense, think himself God's Son ? Yet if he felt himself God's Son, 
it was because he felt himself to be the Messiah, and not, as Harnack 
would have us think, vice versa. His office, his Messiahship, made 
him God's Son, not his realization that God was his Father. 

The close parallelism of the next passage with expressions in 
Sirach li. makes the verbal parallelism of the opening words of 25 
with Sirach li. I suspicious. Harnack says that all the parallels 
are too general to have any weight. But this seems hardly fair. 
Doubtless most of the great authorities take Trdvra in 27 to refer 
to the teaching. But it can hardly be denied that the phrase is 
odd. True that the verb Trape&odrj is used of * handing down ' or 
' delivering ' teaching or tradition, but it seems more suitable of 
a teaching ' handed down ' by man to man than of a teaching given 
by God to man. (On the other hand it must be admitted that we 
have the saying ' Moses received (Sip) the Law from Sinai.') 
And even if we take TTOLVTOL (all) to mean just what Harnack and 
others wish, even so the relation of Jesus to God would remain some- 
thing unique and exclusive. Such a relation for the superhuman 
nature of the Christ of the Church is quite obvious, but for the 
historic Jesus it is scarcely conceivable. The historic Jesus called 
God * his ' Father only in the same sense as he called Him * our ' 



182 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 25-30 

Father. All who did God's will were his brothers and sisters, ' sons ' 
like himself of the same God. Moreover, a suspicion remains that 
TTOLVTCL (all) is used with a wider connotation than merely of teaching. 
See above. 

So much as regards 25-27. But Harnack also defends 28-30. 
He sees a certain connection between the two passages both in form 
and matter : ' As there praise is first given for the revelation itself, 
and then this revelation is described as being brought about by the 
Son, so here there is first a general proclamation of the " rest," and 
then it is said that this rest is attained through the acceptance of 
his yoke.' In the last half of the second passage ' Jesus assigns to 
his personality a significance both in relation to the character of his 
commandments and also indirectly in relation to their appropriation ; 
in this point, therefore, there exists a distinct connection in thought 
with the former saying.' Nevertheless it is unlikely that the two 
sayings were originally united together. The situation is different. 
The first passage deals with the knowledge of God and its revelation ; 
the second with the laws for practical life. The first passage is a 
* Lobgebet,' the second a ' Missionsruf.' Luke x. 23, 24 seem the 
more probable sequel of Luke x. 22. It is, moreover, uncertain 
whether 28-30 stood in Q at all, as it is wanting in Luke. 

I would venture to add : is it conceivable that Jesus ever said of 
himself that he was gentle and lowly ? That a man should have 
said this of himself seems to rob his meekness of beauty and reality. 
Where in the Synoptics have we a parallel for Jesus thus praising 
himself as apart from the powers which God had given him ? ' Call 
me not good,' said Jesus ; yet here he calls himself very good 
indeed. Nevertheless Harnack with learning and courage essays 
the defence. He admits that this ' Selbstbezeichnung/ is unique, 
but ' an Selbstbezeichnungen fehlt es in der guten Uberlieferung 
auch sonst nicht.' This self -description is probably Messianic, and 
depends upon Isaiah xlii. 2 and similar passages. It is confirmed by 
2 Cor. x. i where Paul speaks of the ' meekness and gentleness of 
Christ * (TTpavTYjs /cat ernei/ccta rov Xptcrrov) as of something 
well known and almost as a technical term. Hence Paul probably 
knew Matt. xi. 28-30. Again there is no reference to the cross or to 
the death. These would scarcely have been wanting in a later 
made-up poem. The apparent contradiction to sayings in which 
it says that only through tribulation and hard sacrifice can one 
enter the Kingdom, or to those in which the Law is maintained and 
emphasized, is an indication of genuineness rather than the reverse. 
Harnack's last words, covering both passages, 25-27 and 28-30, are 
as follows : ' In neither case is the verbal accuracy of the tradition 
of course guaranteed ; but it is decisive for the recognition of the 
relative genuineness of the sayings that in the first saying the whole 



XI. 25-30] THE GOSPEL ACCOKDING TO MATTHEW 183 

emphasis is laid upon the knowledge of God and its revelation, 
in the second upon the yoke of Jesus in the sense of commandments ; 
that, further, in the first saying the primary condition of the know- 
ledge of God is simplicity, while in the second saying the primary 
condition of the " avdnavcn^ " is meekness and lowliness ; that, 
moreover, in both sayings the (Pharisaic) " perfect ones " form the 
contrast, and everything is strictly confined within the Jewish 
horizon ; and, finally, that in the first saying Jesus is represented 
as the revealer of the knowledge of God, while in the second he is 
represented as the instructor and pattern of quietistic virtues 
without a single reference to the Cross and Passion. If by the word 
" Gospel " one understands what Paul and Mark understood by this 
word, then these sayings are not " Gospel sayings " and have nothing 
in common with the specific conceptions of Paulinism. We have 
only the choice between assigning them to the creation of a later 
prophet of the primitive Jewish - Christian community who — 
strangely enough — omits all reference to the Crucifixion, or assigning 
them to Jesus himself. Given the two alternatives, there seems to 
me no doubt about which to choose/ 

Since Harnack wrote, the Patristic and MS. evidence has been 
investigated afresh, and it would seem that his conclusions in 
respect of them are by no means certain. The aorist eyvoj (' knew ') 
is not so assuredly, as Harnack thought, the original reading, and 
even if it were, it might be a ' timeless ' aorist, and equivalent to 
emyu/cucr/cet (' knows '). See McNeile. It is not certain, though 
it is possible, that the clause about none knowing the Son except 
the Father is a later insertion. 

The reasons for regarding the whole passage as later than 
Jesus and unauthentic are numerous. Some of them have been 
already referred to. 25 may, indeed, be authentic or contain some 
authentic reminiscence, for 25 is the verse which has least about it 
that separates it widely from the general tone and line of the general 
teaching of Jesus. Bultmann says : ' It does not fit into the frame 
of the regular teaching of Jesus (aus dem Rahmen der Jesus Worte 
fallt es heraus), but, on the other hand, there is no compelling reason 
to regard the passage as an interpolation.' That is about as far as 
one can safely go. 

There are some reasons for thinking that the true reference of 
ravra (' this ' or ' these things ') is not now knowable, and that 
25, 26 have been removed from their original context. Again, 
there are reasons for thinking that 27 has a different origin from 
25, 26, and 28-30 from either. But there are also difficulties in 
this view. The Sirach reminiscences in 25 are continued in 28-30, 
and the ' Father ' of 25 and 26 seems, perhaps, more than acci- 
dentally related to the Father of 27. 



184 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 25-30 

However this may be, the Hellenistic, Johannine sound and 
tone of 27 are indubitable, and recognized as such by Bousset, 
Loisy, Norden, and Dibelius and others. The theory of Norden as 
to the entire passage seems to me (as to many others) unlikely and 
unacceptable, but his parallels in detail for 27 seem to show very 
clearly to what sphere of thought the verse must be assigned. It 
is not Hebraic. ' But 27 was in Q.' Well, yes, but as Bousset 
observes, Q, as Matthew and Luke used it, was a Greek book, 
and even if it was, for the most part, translation, ' yet we may be 
allowed to conclude that a revision was combined with the transla- 
tion. The possibility remains that a dogmatic saying which 
started in the tradition of the hellenistic community has here been 
accepted as a logion of Jesus ' (p. 50). This argument is pursued 
and enlarged by J. Weiss in his essay on Matthew xi. 25-30 in 
the Neutestamentliche Studien presented to Heinrici on his 7Oth 
birthday (1914) (p. 128). J. Weiss admitted that the sort of 
' Selbstzeugnis ' in 27 was unique in the Synoptics. 

Again, even if the ' all ' in 27 refers only to ' teaching,' and 
if Bousset is here wrong (which I rather doubt), yet in that case 
the ' teaching ' is a full revelation which is itself a ' power,' an 
1 authority.' The Son has been given by the Father a yvcoo-tj, a 
knowledge, which is mysterious, and invests those who receive 
it with a special position, a special relation to God. The * knowledge 
of God ' here referred to is not the Old Testament * knowledge of 
God.' It is mystical knowledge : it is a knowledge of God which 
depends upon being known by God. Those who are thus ' known ' 
by God and thus ' know ' God, form an elect class ; the knowledge 
lifts them up into a higher sphere ; they are the chosen. (Cp. 
J. Weiss, as above, p. 124.) But all this, while it can be fitted on 
to, is yet distinct from, genuine Hebraic lines of thought. The 
absolute use of the Son and the Father is only paralleled in the Syn- 
optics by Mark xiii. 32. Harnack uses this single Mark passage to 
buttress up the authenticity of 27. But one cannot legitimately 
use this single parallel in such a manner. For one can argue that 
the words * not the angels or even the Son ' are an added gloss 
(so Loisy, Dalman, J. Weiss, and many others. Cp. Holtzmann, 
Neutestamentliche Theologie, Vol. i. p. 345, n. i, 2nd ed., 1911), or 
that the author of Mark xiii. 32 knew and imitated the Logion in 
Matthew (so Wendling, Die Entstehung des Marcus Evangeliums, 
1908, p. 164). Whether we omit the bit about the Father knowing 
the Son or not, in either case, though, doubtless, more with the 
fuller than with the shorter form, the wording is almost inconceivable 
on the lips of the historic Jesus. 

As to 28-30, whether they belonged originally to 25-27 or not, 
their authenticity is more than doubtful. M. Loisy said : ' These 



XL 25-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 185 

touching words which in Matthew follow the eulogy of the Christian 
revelation are intended to complete it. They are not the logical 
development of it, and they are linked to it only by a certain 
similarity in the point of view. It may be readily admitted that the 
Evangelist found them in the collection of Logia. Nevertheless, 
it is true that in them as in the preceding passage there are dis- 
cernible certain features of the discourse attributed to the risen 
Jesus, which seems to belong to the last redaction of Matthew. 
We find in them a universalist spirit, a general invitation to become 
the disciple of Jesus. They have a rhythm which is similar to that 
of the preceding sentence, though less regular. They are composed 
almost entirely of borrowings from Jeremiah and Ecclesiasticus, 
and they are more suitable to the glorified Christ, living in the 
Church, than to the historic Christ. It may be doubted whether 
Jesus ever spoke of his yoke, even by way of comparison, while for 
the Evangelist, the yoke of Jesus is the Christian law, so easy and 
light as compared with the Mosaic Law interpreted by the Pharisees.' 
One or two further arguments may be added. Jesus, says 
Bousset, never made the claim to teach a new, yet unrevealed, and 
unheard message about God. He tells his hearers about the God 
of their fathers. Where, says Norden, is there another passage 
in the Synoptics, in which Jesus so distinguished himself from, and 
raised himself above, his fellow-men as in 27 ? Jesus, says J. Weiss, 
never elsewhere in the Synoptics, ' speaks the language of a theo- 
logian or a philosopher.' The whole passage, says Dibelius, from 
25 to 30 is a sermon, praising and proclaiming the revealer and his 
revelation. (' Der ganze Text dient der Selbstempfehlung des 
Kedenden und der von ihm gebrachten Offenbarung.') 25, 26 are in 
the form of a thanksgiving, but are really a proclamation as to 
who are the true recipients of the revelation. Even in 28-30 the 
essential meaning lies in the concentration upon the speaker who, 
himself gentle and condescending, imposes a gentle yoke. More- 
over, Dibelius argues that the beauty of 28-30 has made people 
overlook that the imposer of the gentle yoke is hardly the same man 
as the Teacher who spoke of the narrow gate, or with his severe 
demands for complete self-sacrifice frightened many a one away 
rather than attracted them (Die Formgeschichte des Evangeliums, 
pp. 88, 91, 1919). Prof. Box seeks to dispose of this argument thus : 
* No real contradiction with such passages as v. 20, x. 38, xvi. 24 is 
involved. The burden of the Jewish Law was due to its external 
character as something imposed from without ; the yoke of Christ 
s " gentle " because it ceases to be something external and becomes 
an inward experience. Even the yoke of the Jewish Law could be 
transformed by a similar inward experience in the case of its 
mystics.' But is not the ' imposition from without ' and ' the 



186 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XI. 25-30 

inward experience ' a modern contrast, unknown to the first century 
in Palestine ? If you believe that a Law has been ordered by a 
perfectly good, gracious, compassionate and wise God, it is not, in 
OUT modern sense, felt as imposed from without. Finally, we have 
to consider the odd parallels from Sirach li. I, 23-27, iii. 17-20, 
vi. 28. Klostermann says : * Jesus may have known Sirach.' That 
is quite true, but are the parallels the sort of reminiscences which, in 
a moment of holy rapture and joy (* rejoicing in the Holy Spirit,' 
Luke x. 21 ), one can imagine a man using or recalling, or are they 
not rather the parallels which would be employed by a writer and 
theologian ? On the whole, then, the weight of argument against 
authenticity, especially of 27, seems greater than the weight of 
argument for it. Meyer has some good remarks upon the section 
in i. pp. 280-291. Like Norden, whom he largely follows, he is 
insistent upon the retention of the clause, * None knows the Son 
except the Father.' The Father has revealed himself to the Son, and 
has thus given the Son the power to hand on this knowledge of the 
Father to others. The Father alone knows the true nature of the 
Son, i.e. his Messiahship [I think that more is implied] and thus it 
was only the Father who revealed the truth to Peter (xvi. 17). 
ravra is by no means to be explained as Harnack would explain it. 
It is used proleptically in respect of what follows. The simple 
apprehend the relation of the Son to the Father and of the Father 
to the Son, for to the simple it has been revealed. Here, says 
Meyer, we can find the true essence of Christianity as opposed to 
philosophy and to more rationalistic Judaism. Here we find the 
yearning for redemption and for an immediate connection and union 
with the Divine. This yearning finds its satisfaction and appease- 
ment * in the ahnenden Erfassung of the Godhead which brings 
about the mystic, intuitive knowledge, the yvouo-t?.' Nevertheless, 
Meyer regards the passage as a translation from the Semitic. ' It 
was drawn up in a Semitic language — Hebrew or Aramaic ; 
that it has been translated word for word from this language is 
perfectly clear in many cases ' (e.g. vfynioi = o^ns the simple, as 
in LXX ; rats foxa-is VJJLWV = for you). The phrase ' you will find 
rest for your souls ' is taken from the Hebrew text of Jeremiah vi. 16, 
not from the LXX. Verses 28-30 are intimately connected with 
25-27 and form an integral part of the whole. The adaptations of 
Sirach go through each portion, and the intended contrast. But no 
part of the passage is authentic. Both by its content and by the 
fact that the passage is the product of ' literarische Arbeit ' it could 
not have been said by Jesus. Thus Meyer, and I think rightly. 
I should imagine that the voices who plead for authenticity will 
become feebler and feebler, and those who still utter them of less 
and less importance. 



XI. 25-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 187 

I may add here that Burney would, of course, champion the 
authenticity. In a retranslation into Aramaic of 25-27 he shows 
that the three verses ' form a rhythmical poem which rhymes 
regularly couplet by couplet, if we may assume that the words 
supplied in angular brackets, parallel to and resumptive of " I give 
thanks to Thee " in stichos I, may have fallen out in transmission. 
The omission of /cat avvzr&v, as a doublet of ao<f>u)v is suggested on 
rhythmical grounds ' (p. 171). The added words in 27 certainly 
improve the sense : ' Yea, Father, [I give glory to Thee] because 
thus it was pleasing before thee.' 

[xi. 25. 'Jesus answered and said,' anoKpidds tl-nzv. For the 
Hebraism ' answered and said ' cp. Mark ix. 5 and Dalman, W orte 
Jesu, i. p. 19.] 



CHAPTER XII 

1-8. THE SABBATH 
(Cp. Mark ii. 23-28 ; Luke vi. 1-5) 

1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the 
cornfields ; and his disciples were hungry, and began to pluck 

2 the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they 
said unto him, * Behold, thy disciples do that which it is not lawful 

3 to do upon the sabbath day.' But he said unto them, * Have ye 

4 not read what David did, when he was hungry, and they that were 
with him ; how he entered into the house of God, and how they 
ate the shewbread, which it was not lawful either for him to eat, 

5 or for them who were with him, but only for the priests ? Or have 
ye not read in the Law, how that on the sabbath days the priests 

6 in the temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless ? But I say 

7 unto you that what is greater than the temple is here. But if ye 
knew what it means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would 

8 not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord of 
the sabbath.' 

After the discourse given in x. and xi., Matthew now presents 
a further series of conflicts of Jesus with the Pharisees and of 
miraculous deeds of power. He starts with a narrative which is 
drawn from the second chapter of Mark. 

5-7 are peculiar to Matthew. Are they also his composition ? 
1 The greater than the Temple ' is, of course, Jesus himself, the 
Messiah. If the passage be the work of the Evangelist, the * greater 
than the Temple ' argument and phrase would be imitated from 
xii. 41, 42. In the presence of the Messiah the Sabbath law may be 
suspended. But the comparison is harsh, for the disciples did not 
break the law for the benefit, or in the service, of Jesus, but for 
themselves. Yet Prof. Box thinks the argument is sound if it is 
realized ' that Jesus himself partook of the corn which had been 

188 



XII. 9-I4J THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 189 

plucked by the disciples. This is implied by the whole tenor of the 
narrative (e.g. the analogy of David's action). It has been doubted 
whether this saying really belongs here ; but in any case it coheres 
with the context when rightly interpreted.' Work in the temple 
according to verse 5 is enjoined on Sabbath in the Law. * Jesus 
uses this as a precedent applicable to ordinary life — a conclusion 
expressly disallowed by the Rabbinic law. Here there was a real 
conflict of principles, Jesus asserting that the Sabbath-law could be 
abrogated to meet ordinary human needs. The word rendered 
" profane " = to make common that which is sacred — a startling 
term to apply to the work of the priests in the sanctuary ' (Box). 

7, 8. The quotation from Hosea had already been used, ix. 13. 
The argument seems twofold. The disciples should not have 
been condemned, but pitied for their hunger ; secondly, they were 
guiltless, because they were covered and justified by the presence of 
the Messiah. The * Son of man ' is here used in its final Messianic 
sense. The Messiah is the Lord of the Sabbath and can exonerate 
his disciples from its infraction. To this argument Mark ii. 27 
is unnecessary, and so it is omitted. Note the yap in 8. * It is 
noteworthy that Matthew felt the inappropriateness (from his 
point of view) of Mark's cucrre and corrected it to yap, thus treating 
as the premiss of the argument what was originally (and is so even 
in Mark) a conclusion from it.' Lake, Beginnings, Vol. i. p. 379. 



9-14. HEALING ON THE SABBATH 
(Cp. Mark iii. 1-6 ; Luke vi. 6-n) 

3, 10 And he departed thence, and entered their synagogue. And, 
behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they 
asked him, saying, ' Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day ? ' 

1 1 so that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, ' What 
man would there be among you, who, if he had one sheep, and if 
it fell on the sabbath day into a pit, would not take hold of it, and 

12 lift it out ? Now how much more precious is a man than a sheep. 

13 Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the sabbath day.' Then said 
he to the man, ' Stretch out thine hand.' And he stretched it 
out ; and it was restored sound like the other one. 

14 Then the Pharisees went out, and formed a resolution against 
him to destroy him. 

The order of Mark is maintained. 



THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XII. 15-21 

10. Matthew makes the hostile critics ask Jesus at once 
whether healing on the Sabbath is permitted. In Mark they 
silently watch to see what he will do. Matthew's changes may 
be due to his desire to bring in the argument and illustration of the 
next two verses. See the note on xv. 26. ' In the story Mt. xii. 
9-13 — told, not for the sake of the healing miracle, but to illustrate 
our Lord's attitude to the Sabbath — Matthew adds to Mark the 
detail " a sheep in a pit." If we compare with this the addition 
" ox in a pit " in the similar story in Luke (xiv. 1-6), we shall be 
inclined to attribute it to conflation with another version rather 
than to editorial expansion ' (Streeter, p. 260). 

n, 12. The illustration, drawn from another source (cp. Luke 
xiv. 1-6 and xiii. 15, 16), has the same logical fault as the argument 
in Mark. To save life is one thing ; to do good is another. If 
I can do a certain good deed just as well on Sunday as on Saturday, 
it is reasonable to argue that, if my doing it involve a breaking of 
the Sabbath law, I had better postpone it till Sunday. In the 
illustration, the sheep, if left for a day, would suffer great misery 
or even die. From a larger point of view it is, however, not un- 
reasonable to say that the Pharisees are supposed to look on healing 
as a labour, while Jesus looked upon it as a service, a benefit, a 
deed of mercy. Regarded in this light, it becomes a positive 
duty, and the notion that it could be technically brought under the 
rubric of ' work ' becomes an absurd abstraction which Jesus 
brushes impatiently away. For the Rabbinic law and position see 
Abrahams, Studies, i. chap. xvii. 



15-21. MANY HEALINGS 
(Cp. Mark iii. 7-12 ; Luke vi. 17-19) 

15 But when Jesus became aware of this, he withdrew himself 

1 6 thence. And many followed him, and he healed them all. And he 
strictly enjoined them that they should not make him known : — 

1 7 that what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, 

1 8 who said, * Behold my servant, whom I chose ; my beloved, in 
whom my soul is well pleased : I will put my spirit upon him, 

19 and he shall proclaim judgment to the nations. He shall not 
strive, nor cry ; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. 

20 A crushed reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not 

21 quench, till he has brought forth judgment unto victory. And 
in his name shall the nations trust.' 



XII. 22-37] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 

The order in Mark is still followed, though Mark iii. 7, 8, 10, II 
had been also used in iv. 24, 25. Hence the passage is here curtailed. 
The quotation from Isaiah is peculiar to Matthew, who loves to 
make the various incidents of Jesus's life a fulfilment of prophecy. 

15. Peculiar to Matthew is yvovs, ' perceiving it.' Matthew 
makes the departure of Jesus from Capernaum the consequence of 
his having heard of the desire of the Pharisees to kill him. The 
addition is of no value historically. Where Jesus goes to is not 
stated. 

16. It should be noted that Jesus bids those he heals to keep 
his part in the matter dark, while in Mark the order is only given 
to the unclean spirits. 

18. The quotation from Isaiah xlii. 1-4 does not quite follow 
either the LXX or the Hebrew. Matthew found many things in 
these verses which Jesus fulfilled. Jesus was the beloved child 
or servant of God ; he was endowed with the spirit ; he pro- 
claimed judgment to the nations ; he showed pitying patience with 
those who had in them a glimmer of good ; the hope of the nations 
was in him, and the hope would not be unfulfilled. But, the par- 
ticular use which Matthew made of the passage was in respect of 
the words, ' he shall not strive or cry,' and ' his voice shall not 
be heard in the streets.' These words, Matthew thought, were 
fulfilled in Jesus ' withdrawing himself ' from the Pharisees, and 
in the order of silence (Klostermann). 



22-37. SATAN AND BEELZEBUL 
(Cp. Mark iii. 20-30 ; Luke xi. 14-23, xii. 10) 

22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a demon, who 
was blind and dumb : and he healed him, so that the dumb man 

23 spake and saw. And all the people were utterly amazed, and 

24 said, ' Is this man, perhaps, the son of David ? ' But when the 
Pharisees heard it, they said, ' This man only drives out the demons 

25 through Beelzebul, the prince of the demons.' And Jesus knew 
their thoughts, and said unto them, ' Every kingdom divided 
against itself is ruined ; and every city or house divided against 

26 itself cannot endure. And if Satan drive out Satan, he is divided 

27 against himself ; how then can his kingdom endure ? And if I by 
Beelzebul drive out demons, by whom do your children drive them 



THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XII. 22-37 

28 out ? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I drive out the 
demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has already 

29 come unto you. Or how can a man enter into a strong man's 
house, and plunder his goods, unless he first bind the strong man ? 

3° and then he can plunder his house. He that is not with me is 

31 against me ; and he that gathers not with me scatters. There- 
fore I say unto you, Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven 
unto men : but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be for- 

32 given unto men. And whoever speaks a word against the Son 
of man, it shall be forgiven him : but whoever speaks against 
the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world 
nor in the world to come. 

33 * Either hold that the tree is good, and then that its fruit is 
good ; or hold that the tree is rotten, and then that its fruit is 

34 rotten : for the tree is known by its fruit. offspring of vipers, 
how can ye, being evil, speak what is good ? for out of that with 

35 which the heart overflows the mouth speaks. A good man 
out of his good store brings forth good : and an evil man out 

36 of his evil store brings forth evil. But I say unto you, That 
of every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account 

37 in the Day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, 
and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.' 

Passing over Mark iii. 13-19 which has been already given, 
Matthew now comes to Mark iii. 20-30. 

The introduction to the Beelzebul disputation differs from 
that of Mark. Matthew is here partly dependent upon Q, though 
as he had already (in ix. 34) used the miracle with which Q intro- 
duces the Beelzebul speech, he makes certain alterations. The 
blind and dumb man seems to be due to, and made up from, the 
blind men of ix. 27-31 and the dumb man of 32-34. The original 
story in Q seems best given in Luke xi. 14, 15. If Matthew says, 
' the dumb man spoke and saw,' this awkward phrase is due to the 
fact that in Q's narrative the man was dumb and not also blind. 

23. The language is varied from ix. 34 and Luke xi. 14. It 
reproduces ix. 27 which itself anticipates xx. 30 (Mark x. 47). The 
guess which the crowd makes is here premature. If we are to 
believe Mark viii. 28, the people had not yet surmised that Jesus 
might be the Messiah. 

24. In Luke the complainants are * some of the crowd,' which 



XII. 22-37] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 193 

may be the oldest tradition (Q). Mark has * Scribes from Jeru- 
salem,' and Matthew the Pharisees as a body. 

25, 26. For these opening verses of the speech, containing 
Jesus's defence against the charge, cp. Mark iii. 23-25. 

27, 28. These verses are peculiar to Matthew and Luke. 

Very interesting is the admission on Jesus's part that the 
Jewish exorcists also succeed in healing the possessed. If the 
Jewish exorcists do not succeed through diabolic agency, why 
should that agency be regarded as the source of his successes ? 
Thus they, as it were, shall unconsciously judge and condemn the 
charge of his opponents. 

But the concession is out of place here. For if Jesus and the 
Jews do the same thing, how can the inference in 28 be otherwise 
than unsound ? Why do not the Jewish exorcisms also imply the 
advent of the Kingdom ? 27 impairs the force of 28. It is, how- 
ever, quite possible that the two verses had originally nothing to 
do with each other. It has been argued that 27 was interpolated 
first, while 28 makes a fresh connection. Both verses reflect the 
' preoccupation of Judaeo-Christian controversy rather than the 
thought of Jesus ' (Loisy). Another view is that, while 27 is later 
than Jesus, 28 is authentic. The sceptical Bultmann declares 
that 28 * can claim the highest degree of authenticity which we are 
in the position to assign to any of Jesus's words ; es ist erfiillt von 
dem eschatologischen Kraftgef uhl, dass das Auf treten Jesu getragen 
haben muss ' (p. 98). A different view is given by Meyer, p. 228. 
In any case, however, 29 is the original continuation of 26. 

Thus even from our existing sources we can distinguish primary 
and secondary elements in Q. For the interpolations had already 
been made in Q, when Matthew and Luke read and used this 
document. 

28. The Kingdom of God has already begun with the appear- 
ance of Jesus the Messiah. This is one of the few verses in which 
we find in Matthew ' Kingdom of God,' instead of * Kingdom of 
heaven.' 

In the new era the machinations and evil influences of Satan and 
Beelzebul would find no place. 

29= Mark iii. 27. 

30. Cp. Mark ix. 40 ; Luke xi. 23. In Mark (and in Luke ix. 50) 
we have the converse saying used in a tolerant sense ; here, and in 
Luke xi. 23, the saying of Mark is inverted and used in an exclusive 

VOL. n o 



IQ4 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XII. 22-37 

sense. They are not necessarily inconsistent, nor is it quite im- 
possible that, on different occasions, Jesus might have said both the 
one and the other. Here, a test is given by which a man is to test 
himself. If he is not for Jesus, he is against him. Before, a test 
was given by which the disciples are to try others : if they are not 
against Jesus, they are to be considered as for him. Some think 
that only the * tolerant ' saying is authentic ; others that only the 
exclusive one is so. Though the saying in verse 30 may have stood 
in Q, ' the logical connexion with what precedes is not clear. It 
means : " neutrality as regards me and my work is impossible " — 
which could hardly have been addressed to implacable opponents 
like the Pharisees here mentioned. Possibly Matthew thought of 
them as addressed to the multitudes who were in doubt as to the 
Messianic office of Jesus (verse 23).' ' The basis of the metaphor of 
" gathering " and " scattering " is not clear. The saying is probably 
a proverbial one which was applied differently on different occasions. 
Here it is apparently applied to " gathering in " (" scattering ") 
disciples like sheep ' (Box). Two articles in Z. N. W., 1912, are 
worth reading about this verse — one by W. Nestle, pp. 84-^87, one 
by A. Friedrichsen, pp. 273-280. The latter's view is that the verse 
must be interpreted to be a sort of sad interjection of Satan or 
Beelzebul, who is made to quote a current proverb. Jesus is 
certainly an antagonist of Satan, for he that is not Satan's ally is 
against him. This seems doubtful. Jesus is supposed to have 
turned the exclusive proverb to noble use by twisting it round, even 
as Caesar did, of whom Cicero said in his speech and appeal for the 
banished Pompeian Ligarius : ' Valeat tua vox ilia quae vicit. Te 
enim dicere audiebamus nos omnes adversarios putare, nisi qui 
nobiscum essent ; te omnes qui contra te non essent, tuos.' A 
fine testimony for Caesar's magnanimity. 

31, 32. The parallel in Mark iii. 28, 29 says that all blasphemies 
shall be forgiven the sons of men except the blasphemy against the 
Holy Spirit. This agrees with Matt. xii. 31. But in 32 another 
version is given, corresponding with Luke xii. 10, in which it is said 
that words against the Son of man shall be forgiven, but not words 
against the Holy Spirit. 

It has been argued (i) that the version of the saying in Mark is 
more original than the version (from Q) in 32. But the version in 
Mark is itself an alteration from the earliest form of the saying. 
The earliest form, instead of the plural ' sons of men J had the 
singular ' son of man,' but meant by it, not Jesus or the Messiah, 
but ' man.' If now ( son of man ' is interpreted to mean Jesus, 
what could the verse signify ? One attempted signification was 
what we now find in Luke xii. 10 (Q). Another way out of the diffi- 



XII. 22-37] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 

culty (namely, that it looked as if the Messiah's or Jesus's sins 
were to be forgiven) was found by changing Son of man to ' sons of 
men,' an unusual phrase. Matthew used both Mark and Q, and 
thus we have 31 and 32. The blasphemy against the Spirit consists 
in speaking against Jesus ( =the Son of man), and thus the opposition 
or distinction between what is and what is not an unpardonable 
sin falls to the ground. Hence 32 cannot be authentic and original. 
Hence, too, perhaps, the reason why Luke removes his version 
(xii. 10) from the context of his Beelzebul story, which nevertheless 
is needed to explain it. Another (2) view is to suppose that the 
original meaning of 31 was : * every sin and blasphemy or slander 
against man shall be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit 
shall not be forgiven.' This does not seem so likely, and 32 has to 
be explained as meaning, * Any insult to me (Jesus) personally will 
be forgiven, but if you revile the Holy Spirit which works in me, 
that will not be forgiven,' a too subtle distinction. Another view 
(3) is that 32 (Q) is prior to 31 (Mark). Jesus quite simply declares 
that he, Jesus, may be reviled and the reviler may be forgiven ; 
but the Holy Spirit cannot be blasphemed with impunity. That 
is a sin which can never be forgiven. Only Jesus himself could 
have said that a ' word spoken against ' himself would be forgiven. 
But here again the difficulty is that the blasphemy against the Holy 
Spirit seems inextricably mixed up with blasphemy against Jesus, 
and you have once more the subtle distinction. For how was the 
Holy Spirit reviled except by its being said that Jesus cast out devils 
by means of Beelzebul ? 

' In Jewish phraseology serious sin was often spoken of as 
unpardonable. See Num. xv. 30/1, He that sinneth deliberately 
blasphemeth Yahweh, and shall be cut off from his people " with 
his iniquity upon him," i.e. unforgiven. I Sam. iii. 14, " The 
iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering 
for ever." Is. xxii. 14, " This your iniquity shall not be atoned for 
till ye die " (i.e. never). Rabbinic parallels, " there is no forgiveness 
for him," " there is no forgiveness for him for ever " are given by 
Dalman, Words, p. 147. And cp. Philo, De profugis on Ex. xxi. 17 
(Mangey, i. 558) : " [The lawgiver] wellnigh shouts and cries aloud 
that no forgiveness is to be given to those who blaspheme the Divine 
Being. For if those who have spoken evil of mortal parents are 
carried away on the road to death, of what punishment ought they 
to be deemed worthy who continue to blaspheme the Father and 
Maker of all ? And what evil-speaking could be more shameful 
than to say, not concerning us but concerning God, that He is the 
source of evil ? " ' (McNeile). The learned theologian continues : 
If Jesus * spoke as a Jew to Jews, and used a type of expression 
current in His day, and derived from the O.T., He meant, and would 



196 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XII. 22-37 

be understood to mean, no more than that blasphemy against the 
Holy Spirit, by whose power He worked, was a terrible sin, — more 
terrible than blasphemy against man.' ' The warning by Jesus 
about the heinous character of the sin against the Holy Spirit is as 
solemn and emphatic as it could possibly be ; but the actual 
phraseology must not be unduly pressed — it is in the nature of 
Oriental hyperbole. In Jewish phraseology serious sin was often 
spoken of as unpardonable (see illustrations from Rabbinic in Dalman, 
Words, p. 147). What Jesus meant was probably that blasphemy 
against the Holy Spirit was a terrible sin — more terrible far than 
blasphemy against man ' (Box). What both commentators are 
driving at is clear. They want, as modern Teachers, to free Jesus 
from teaching that any sin was literally unforgivable. One thing 
is certain. If Jesus did not mean what he said, then Rabbis and 
Philo did not mean what they said. I am more inclined to believe 
that all three meant what they said. This view seems to me more 
natural, more critical, more historical. One must not measure the 
men of old by modern standards. Rabbis, Philo, and Jesus could 
all believe in unpardonable sins and yet believe in a loving God, 
just as Rabbis could practise a heap of ritual enactments, and find 
in the performance of them freedom and joy. 

33-35 - The saying in 33 and the whole section 33-35 are not 
here in their original connection. They are closely similar to a 
paragraph in the Sermon on the Mount, vii. 16-20. Verse 33 can 
only be brought into relation with the preceding section in a very 
artificial way. * You must allow my acts in casting out devils to 
be good. As the fruit is good, declare then that the tree (the source 
of the fruit) is good also. If not, both fruit and tree must be bad.' 
Originally the words meant rather, or meant in their original form, 
Your words are evil, therefore your heart is evil. The words are 
the fruit, the tree is the heart. The rather obscure use of the 
imperative Troi^o-are in the sense of ' assume ' may be due to the 
original having the simple indicative. ' A good tree makes good 
fruit.' Verse 34 would justify this explanation of 33. Their words 
cannot help being bad, for they have bad hearts, and the words of 
the mouth are the expression of that of which the heart is full. 

34. That which fills the heart flows out of it. If the heart is 
brimming over with wickedness, the wickedness flows over into 
wicked words. The fierce words at the beginning of the verse : 
* offspring of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak what is good,' 
occur only in Matthew. The words ' offspring of vipers ' are 
also put into the mouth of John the Baptist (iii. 7). Perhaps, then, 
we may relieve Jesus from the responsibility of having spoken them. 



XII. 22-3?] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW IQ7 

35. The * store ' is the heart. As the heart is evil, the words 
and deeds must be evil too. And, contrariwise, the evil words 
betoken an evil heart, so that for evil words condemnation may 
rightly follow. 

36, 37. Matthew only. Perhaps proverbial sayings, older even 
than Jesus. The two verses may have originally belonged to 
another connection or been spoken by Jesus on another occasion. 
In 36 the word dpyos probably reproduces an Aramaic original, 
meaning ' vain ' — i.e. wicked. It does not mean * idle ' in our 
modern sense. There is no implication that ' acts ' will be excluded 
from the Judgment. In their present connection the words mean : 
every bad word will be brought before the Judgment, how much 
more a blasphemy. Some think that apyos means ' ineffective,' 
' frivolous.' 37 may (note the sudden change of person) be intended 
as a quotation. 

How far was the vehement expression ' offspring of vipers ' 
justified ? Whether said by Jesus or no, was it true ? That Jesus 
did attack the Rabbis, or some of them, pretty stiffly is probably 
accurate. That by such attacks he went the wrong way to convert 
them, and that the attacks were inconsistent with some of his own 
teaching, seems to me clear. But were the attacks justified on the 
facts ? It is not easy to say. Prof. Burkitt has devised a new 
theory in order to save the accuracy of Jesus (The Gospel History 
and its Transmission, pp. 169-174). The Professor is without the 
faintest tinge or trace of anti- Jewish prejudice ; he is also quite 
open-eyed. Yet he is a sincere and whole-hearted disciple of Jesus, 
whom in his lectures he habitually calls ' Our Lord.' He wants to do 
two things. First, as I have said, to maintain the accuracy and 
propriety of the language of Jesus in his violent attacks upon the 
Scribes and Pharisees of his day. Secondly, to admit that 
Rabbinical Judaism can be, and for many centuries, prevailingly 
was, a spiritual religion. 

He achieves his ends by drawing a sharp distinction between 
Rabbinic Judaism and its teachers before and after the destruction 
of the Temple. Roughly he would have us believe that the Scribes 
and Pharisees of the first century were bad, while the Rabbis and 
Jews after Hadrian and Bar Cochba gradually became spiritual and 
good. Humility and grace, and even mysticism, can be predicated 
of the later, but not of the earlier, Judaism. 

It is desirable to quote Professor Burkitt's words in full. 
' Between the Judaism of the time of Christ and the Judaism of the 
early Middle Ages intervened two catastrophes, or rather one 
catastrophe in two great shocks, such as hardly ever befel any 
nation that has survived. The two great Jewish rebellions in the 



198 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XII. 22-37 

times of Vespasian (A.D. 70) and of Hadrian (A.D. 135) ended in 
utter collapse, and most of the leading features of the older Judaism 
perished in them for ever. In A.D. 70 perished the Jewish State, 
the Temple, the annual pilgrimages to the Feasts, the Priestly 
aristocracy, all the worldly political hopes of the Jews. Every- 
thing which the Gospels connect with the Sadducees or with the 
Herods disappeared for ever. The Revolt of Bar-Cochba against 
Hadrian was equal to the Great Revolt in fierceness ; it also con- 
tained a Pharisaic element. Bar-Cochba was supported by Rabbi 
Aqiba, himself in some ways to be regarded as the founder of 
modern Judaism. Aqiba died a martyr, and with him died the 
last effort of militant Pharisaism. What was left to the Jews ? 
We may answer with St. Paul " much every way," for they were left 
with the Oracles of God ; but they were left with little else. In 
these awful catastrophes had perished a great part of what Jesus 
had most opposed. Thousands of Jews had been killed outright : 
we cannot doubt that many of the survivors lost their nationality 
and became merged into the Gentiles. Very likely many became 
Christians : it is difficult, for instance, to explain certain features 
in the rise of Christianity in Edessa, except on the supposition that 
the original congregation was largely composed of converted Jews. 
The ttemnant who were left, who still remained Jews, were attached 
to their religion from motives which were in many ways akin to 
the motives that made men Christians. They had learnt that the 
Kingdom of God was not of this world ; there was now no induce- 
ment to serve the God of Israel left for those who did not still love 
Him and trust His promises. Can we wonder that Judaism tended 
to become a more spiritual religion, narrow indeed in its outer aspect, 
but animated within by humility and grace, even by mysticism ? 
But in so far as the Rabbinical religion is all this, it has been meta- 
morphosed from the prevailing Judaism of the first century. I do 
not think we need deny the real spirituality of the Rabbinical 
religion because we believe what the Gospels say about the Scribes, 
or that we need disbelieve what the Gospels say about the Scribes 
in the first century because we recognize the real spirituality of the 
Rabbinical religion. We have a right to believe that the spiritual 
descendants of the Scribes whom Jesus denounced perished in the 
two Revolts during the century after the Crucifixion, while the 
spiritual ancestor both of the Jews who became Christians and the 
Jews who developed and maintained the Rabbinical religion is 
represented by the Scribe who was not far from the Kingdom of 
God ' (pp. 171-173). 

Now it is at once evident that this view is an immense advance. 
Prof. Burkitt says : ' Let us be fair to the Jews,' and he is far 
' fairer ' than many ' liberal ' Protestant German theologians. 



XII. 22-371 THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 199 

His new theory seems to me to throw over Paul in order to save 
Jesus. For the German theologians say that the Rabbinical 
religion is bad, and its teachers are bad, because it is a legal religion. 
Legalism is the enemy. Now undoubtedly legalism was still more 
emphatically and predominantly the religion of all Jewish teachers 
after Hadrian than before him. So if Judaism became spiritual 
and its teachers good, legalism can produce all that is required. 
Letter and spirit can go well together. In fact, all that those of us, 
who have sought to defend the Rabbinic religion from the prejudiced, 
and often ignorant, assertions of the German theologians, have 
claimed for it is now conceded. One can be good and pure and 
loving and humble and hopeful and truthful and happy not merely 
through the Gospel, but also through the Law. One can win one's 
way to the Father without Jesus and without Paul as well as 
with them. That is all for which we contend. Many pathways 
to God. Many means to the one result. 

Thus the interest — the religious and theological interest — of the 
question largely falls. If the Rabbis and the Jews of the age of 
Jesus happened to be bad, that is a historic fact of importance, 
but its religious significance is comparatively small. At any 
rate it is independent of the really interesting question : Can 
legalism produce pure and high religion ? This is conceded by 
Prof. Burkitt. I for my part would not mind — so great is his 
concession — conceding him, in return, all the bad Jews and bad 
Rabbis that he requires for the first century in order to save the 
accuracy of his Master. 

Whether history can allow his theory is a different matter. 
There is indeed some evidence that there were a good many bad 
Jews at the time when the Temple was destroyed. The Talmudic 
tradition would seem to show this. The famous passage about 
the bad Pharisees, which Prof. Burkitt might have quoted, 
may specially apply for the pre-Hadrianic period. Again, Prof. 
Burkitt admits that when Jesus attacked some Scribes, the reporters 
and Evangelists may have twisted his words into an accusation 
against all Scribes. It is not, perhaps, strange that the Professor 
should hesitate to go a step further. Why may Jesus, like Jeremiah, 
and every other prophet, not also have exaggerated ? 

If we assume three things : (a) that for some reason or other 
there were a fair number of bad Jews and bad Rabbis existing 
about A.D. 30, (6) that the reporters sometimes exaggerated Jesus, 
and (c) that Jesus himself sometimes exaggerated, we shall perhaps 
be somewhere near the truth. Neither side need excite itself over 
this result ; the whole battle might be described as drawn ; and the 
quarrel could be regarded as settled. 

But whether Judaism as a religion was really so very different 



200 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XII. 22-37 

in 30 from what it was in 300 is rather more doubtful. Is there 
any good evidence outside the Gospels that ' the Rabbinical religion 
is not the immediate descendant of the main current of the Judaism 
of the first century A.D.' ? We may put the Sadducean element on 
one side. Moreover, the Pharisees, even before the fall of the 
Temple, were not identical with the Zealots. It is true that the 
revolt of Bar Cochba against Hadrian * contained a Pharisaic 
element/ but the deductions made from this fact by Prof. Burkitt 
seem somewhat dubious. He says that ' Bar Cochba was supported 
by Rabbi Akiba, himself in some ways to be regarded as the founder 
of modern Judaism. Akiba died a martyr, and with him died the 
last effort of militant Judaism.' What is implied by this ? I sup- 
pose that * militant Pharisaism ' was bad and unspiritual. But the 
prevailing Pharisaism of the Rabbis of Jesus's age was not militant, 
and on the other hand Akiba and many other heroes show that 
you could be militant and yet not unspiritual. Is not the story of 
the death of Akiba (if historical) one of the most exquisite of all 
the martyrologies in the world ? The shortest and perhaps oldest 
version of it runs something like this. ' When Akiba was being 
tortured, the hour for saying the Shema arrived. He said it and 
smiled. The Roman officer called out, " Old man, art thou a sorcerer, 
or dost thou mock at thy sufferings, that thou smilest in the midst 
thy pains ? " * * Neither, ' ' replied Akiba, * ' but all my life, when I said 
the words, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart 
and might and soul, I was saddened, for I thought, when shall 
I be able to fulfil the command ? I have loved God with all my 
heart and with all my possessions ; but how to love Him with all 
my soul (i.e. life) was not assured to me. Now that I am giving 
my life, and that the hour for saying the Shema has come, and my 
resolution remains firm, should I not laugh ? " And as he spoke his 
soul departed.' Why people could not love their country, their 
Temple, and even desire their political independence, and yet love 
God, I do not understand. Even after Akiba the hope of restoration 
of Temple and state still continued. It was passionately prayed 
for and believed in. Prof. Burkitt hardly appreciates Judaism with 
complete adequacy when he says that the Jews after Hadrian had 
learnt that the Kingdom of God was not of this world. Judaism 
taught and teaches that this world is to become the Kingdom of 
God. In fact there is no real proof that the Rabbinical religion has 
been ' metamorphosed from the prevailing Judaism of the first 
century.' Prof. Burkitt says that * we have a right to believe ' that 
' the spiritual descendants of the Scribes whom Jesus denounced 
perished in the two revolts.' This view, if not flattering to the 
Judaism before Hadrian, is at least flattering to the Judaism after 
Hadrian. I fancy the truth is rather that the leading Scribes of 



XII. 38-42] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 201 

Jesus's day were not so bad as Jesus thought and as Prof. Burkitt 
thinks, and that the Scribes and the Jews who ' developed and main- 
tained the Rabbinical religion ' after Hadrian were less unlike their 
progenitors than the Professor is inclined to suppose. Both before 
and after Akiba, Judaism, like Christianity, had its good qualities 
and its defects. Cp. note on xv. 20. 



38-42. A SIGN is ASKED AND REFUSED 
(Cp. Mark viii. 11-13 I Matt. xvi. 1-4 ; Luke xi. 29-32) 

38 Then some of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered him, 

39 saying, * Master, we desire to see a sign from thee.' But he 
answered and said unto them, ' An evil and adulterous generation 
seeks after a sign ; and no sign shall be given to it, but the sign 

40 of Jonah, the prophet. For as Jonah was three days and three 
nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days 

41 and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh 
shall stand up in the Judgment with this generation, and shall 
condemn it : because they repented at the preaching of Jonah ; 

42 and, behold, more than Jonah is here. The queen of the south 
shall rise up in the Judgment with this generation, and shall 
condemn it : for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the 
wisdom of Solomon ; and, behold, more than Solomon is here. 

Between his reproduction of Mark iii. 20-30 and 31-35 Matthew 
has a paragraph which is parallel with Mark viii. 11-13. The 
refusal to work a sign was narrated in Q as well as in Mark, and 
Matthew gives the story twice over, first from Q, and then (xvi. 1-4) 
from Mark. 

38. The particular setting of the story in this verse may be 
due rather to Matthew than to Q. The wording in Luke xi. 29 is 
more general. In any case we may take it that in Q the speech 
about signs followed closely upon the speech about Beelzebul and 
the incredulity of the Jews. 

39, 40. The sign is refused. But an important addition is 
made to what was said in Mark. For the words are added : ' Except 
the sign of Jonah.' What is this ' sign ' ? 

There are many different views. It is generally agreed that 
verse 40 is a late addition. But some think that the whole statement 
about the ' sign of Jonah ' both in Matthew and in Luke has been 



202 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XII. 38-42 

inserted in Q, and is, at all events, later than Jesus. For how can 
the sign of Jonah be his mere preaching to the Ninevites ? There- 
fore it is argued that even Luke xi. 30 also refers to what Matthew 
refers to in 40, or, at least, to Jonah's deliverance from the whale. 
(One has to assume that the Ninevites had been told of it.) As 
Jonah was delivered from the whale, so Jesus shall be delivered 
from the grave. Others suppose that Luke's sign refers * to the 
Messiah's advent. The Son of man will come, as it were from a 
foreign land, with a message of doom to this generation as Jonah 
did to the Ninevites. Luke's saying may well be a genuine utter- 
ance " (McNeile). So 40 is a gloss, and the sign is the Judgment 
which is to come. If the Ninevites had not repented, the destruction 
of Nineveh would have shown them that Jonah was a true prophet 
of God. If Jesus's contemporaries do not repent and believe, the 
Judgment will be the sign for them that Jesus spoke truly. 

The ' heart of the earth ' in 40 refers to Jesus's supposed descent 
into Hades. The interval between Jesus's death and the resurrection 
is here three days and three nights. Usually the resurrection is 
supposed to have taken place ' on the third day,' i.e. not seventy- 
two hours, but only some thirty to forty hours after the death, and 
even ' after three days ' in Mark viii. 31, ix. 31, x. 34, Matt, xxvii. 63, 
1 does not include a third night ' (McNeile). 

41, 42. Matthew may possibly have meant us to understand 
by these words what is put in the translation ; originally, perhaps, 
what was meant (in the Aramaic) was * the men of Nineveh will 
accuse this generation and cause their condemnation ' (not by 
words, but by the very fact that Nineveh repented, whereas the 
contemporaries of Jesus did not). 

41. ' More than Jonah is here.' The ' more ' is neuter in the 
Greek, and the reference may be (or may originally have been) not 
to Jesus, but to the incipient or approaching Kingdom of God. 

Some modern theologians are delighted that Jesus refuses to 
work a miracle : they would prefer that his biographies did not 
contain so many miracles as they do. They like to think that 
the wicked Jews and Pharisees had a lust for wonders and signs. 
I Cor. i. 22 is enough for them to prove conclusively that the charge 
of Jesus is true. I am by no means sure that it is. These theo- 
logians cannot, at any rate, have it both ways. If the Jews were 
so very hard-hearted and bad because they did not believe in Jesus, 
even though he worked miracles and wonders, they cannot also be 
charged with a lust for ' signs.' On the other hand, as both the 
Rabbis and Jesus performed, by Jesus's own admissions, exorcisms 
of the same kind, it was not so irrational to ask for a sign from 



XII. 43-451 THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 203 

heaven of a different sort, which the Rabbis would presumably 
have been unable to achieve. Dr. Plummer says fairly enough : 
' Some have interpreted " a sign shall not be given " as meaning 
either that Jesus wrought no miracles, or that he refused to use 
them as credentials of his divine mission. It is sufficient to point 
to Luke xi. 20 (Matt. xii. 28), where Jesus appeals to his healing 
of a dumb and blind demoniac as proof that he is bringing the 
Kingdom of God to them. The demand for a sign and the refusal 
to give it are no evidence as to Christ's working miracles and em- 
ploying them as credentials. What was demanded was something 
quite different from wonders such as prophets and (as the Jews 
believed) magicians had wrought. These Scribes and Pharisees 
wanted direct testimony from God himself respecting Jesus and 
his mission, such as a voice from heaven or a pillar of fire. His 
miracles left them still able to doubt, and they ask to be miraculously 
convinced. This he refuses/ 



43-45. THE RELAPSE 
(Cp. Luke xi. 24-26) 

43 * But when the unclean spirit has departed out of a man, 
it passes through desert places, seeking rest, and finds none. 

44 Then it says, I will return into my house whence I departed ; 
and when it has entered, it finds it empty, swept, and garnished. 

45 Then it goes, and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked 
than itself, and they enter in and dwell there : and the last state 
of that man becomes worse than the first. Even so shall it be also 
unto this wicked generation.' 

In this passage we have, if we can, to distinguish four things, 
(i) What the passage meant originally, (2) what it meant to the 
first compiler — the compiler of Q, (3) what it meant to Luke, (4) what 
it meant to Matthew. As regards the fourth, the key is found in 
the last words of verse 45, words which must have been added by 
Matthew who is also responsible for the position of the whole 
paragraph, which in Luke comes before the demand for a sign 
and immediately after the conquered warrior (Matt. xii. 29). 
Matthew means that this generation, which at first showed some 
welcome and appreciation of Jesus, is now relapsing. Its later 
condition, like that of the man possessed by the wicked spirits, will 
be worse than its previous condition. The temporary acceptance 
and belief given and shown by many Jews to Jesus in his early 
career is ending as badly as when a man possessed with a demon, 



204 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XII. 46-50 

and then cleansed of it, suffers a relapse. To Luke, and perhaps to 
Q, the passage may have meant that unless a man wholly attaches 
himself to Jesus, he becomes his enemy. If he is not fully with him, 
he becomes against him. Partial acceptance is of no avail. It will 
end as badly as the case of a man to whom the expelled demon returns 
with his companions. Or the passage may refer to the admission 
that Jewish exorcists can also heal. Such healings are often not real 
and complete, for the demon comes back with many a colleague, 
and the last state of the unfortunate demon-possessed man is 
worse than the first. The original meaning of the passage is very 
hard to see. It may, perhaps, mean that of those persons who have 
had their demons expelled from them by Jesus, only those are 
guaranteed against the return of the demons in an even strengthened 
form who wifl receive the Word and attach themselves to him who 
is stronger than Satan. 

There is no real connection of 43-45 with what precedes it. 

43. The demon has no body of its own, but lodges in a strange 
body. Driven from this, it Wanders in the wilderness, but soon 
seeks another resting-place, and if it finds none, it returns to the old 
home from which it had been expelled. Demons were commonly 
supposed to dwell in deserts. 

44. * Free from litter or lumber, swept from dirt and cobwebs, 
and put in order ' (McNeile). The unclean spirit makes its dwelling 
also unclean. 

The passage is written in a sort of half -jocular, half -ironical 
vein, which is very peculiar. At the same time there is no reason 
to doubt that Jesus shared these popular superstitions. The 
impartial historian who * stands above ' his material is not con- 
cerned to find in Jesus every moral and religious perfection, just 
as on the other hand, he is not anxious to whittle down his originality. 
In this position of impartiality and detachment the liberal Jew 
should find himself placed. Thus he, if any one, ought ultimately 
to be able to judge and assess the moral and religious worth of Jesus 
with some approach to accuracy. 

The original meaning of the passage is hardly ascertainable. 
See Bultmann, p. TOO. 



46-50. JESUS AND HIS FAMILY 
(Cp. Mark iii. 31-35 ; Luke viii. 19-21) 

46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his 
48 brothers stood without, desiring to speak with him. But he 






XII. 46-50] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 205 



answered and said unto him that told him, ' Who is my mother ? 

49 and who are my brothers ? ' And he stretched out his hand toward 
his disciples, and said, ' Behold my mother and my brothers. 

50 For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my 
brother, and sister, and mother/ 

Matthew now returns to Mark's third chapter, and continues 
where he had broken off (Mark iii. 29 = Matt. xii. 32). 

46. Matthew had not said that Jesus was in a house. 

47. Should be omitted. It is wanting in the best MSS. 

48. Matthew omits Mark iii. 31 ; hence the harshness of 
Jesus's reply is unexplained and unmotived. Note, too, that 
though he had been speaking to the ' multitudes,' he limits the 
reference to the disciples when he says, ' Behold my mother and 
my brothers.' We can hardly doubt that the ideal pictured to us 
in these verses was at least suggested by Deut. xxxiii. 9. 

Nevertheless, it seems somewhat off the Jewish line. Whether 
for good or evil, Deut. xxxiii. 9 has not been regarded as an ideal in 
the general run of Jewish teaching, but the words of Jesus (religious 
ideals may transcend, and render secondary, all earthly and family 
ties) have become a lodestar to many Christians. 



CHAPTER XIII 

1-23. THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER 
(Cp. Mark iv. 1-20 ; Luke viii. 4-15) 

1 The same day Jesus went out of the house, and sat down by 

2 the side of the lake. And crowds of people were gathered unto him, 
so that he went into a boat, and sat down ; and the whole crowd 

3 stood on the shore. And he spoke many things unto them in 

4 parables, saying, ' Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he 
sowed, some seed fell by the way side, and the birds came and ate 

5 it up. Some fell upon stony ground, where it had not much 
earth : and it sprang up quickly, because it had no depth of earth. 

6 And when the sun rose up, it was scorched ; and because it had 

7 no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns ; and the 

8 thorns sprang up, and choked it. But some seed fell upon good 
ground, and bore a crop, part an hundredfold, part sixtyfold, part 

9 thirtyfold. Who has ears, let him hear/ 

10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, ' Why speakest 

11 thou unto them in parables ? ' He answered and said unto them, 
' Because to you it has been given to know the mysteries of the 

12 kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For 
whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance : 
but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that 

13 which he has. Therefore speak I to them in parables : because 
seeing, they see not, and, hearing, they hear not, neither do they 

14 understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, 
which says, Ye shall indeed hear, but ye shall not understand ; 

15 and ye shall indeed see, but ye shall not perceive : for this people's 
heart is waxed fat, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and they 
have closed their eyes ; lest haply they should see with their eyes, 
and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, 
and should turn again, and I might heal them. 

206 



XIII. i-23l THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 207 

1 6 ' But happy are your eyes, that they see : and your ears, that 

17 they hear. For verily I say unto you, Many prophets and righteous 
men have desired to see what ye see, and have not seen ; and to 
hear what ye hear, and have not heard. 

19 ' Do ye, then, hear the parable of the sower. When any one 
hears the Word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then 
comes the Wicked One, and snatches away that which was 
sown in his heart. This is he who was sown by the way side. 

20 But he that was, as it were, sown on stony ground, is he that 
hears the Word, and immediately receives it with gladness. 

21 Yet has he not root in himself, and so endures but for a time : 
for when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word, 

22 immediately he falls away. He that was sown among thorns 
is he that hears the Word ; and the care of the world, and the 
deceitfulness of riches, chokes the Word, and it remains un- 

23 fruitful. But he that was sown on good ground is he that hears 
the Word, and understands it ; he accordingly bears a crop, and 
brings forth, now an hundredfold, now sixtyfold, now thirtyfold.' 

Still following Mark's order Matthew now comes to Mark's 
fourth chapter and the parables. Matthew gives us a larger 
number of them than Mark. 

I. Matthew gives an appearance of preciseness and accuracy 
by adding the words * on that day.' He had not himself men- 
tioned a house before, but it is mentioned in the previous narrative 
of Mark (iii. 20). It is another awkwardness of Matthew that he 
makes Jesus sit down by the shore of the lake and then immediately 
get into a boat and sit down again. 

10. Matthew avoids the awkwardness of Mark's ' when they 
were alone,' but he falls into another, for the disciples now ask the 
question and receive the answer in the presence of the ' people.' 
The disciples ask generally : ' Why does Jesus speak in parables ? ' 
Later on Jesus explains the parable of the sower without an extra 
special request. 

11-13. Matthew somewhat softens the full acerbity of Mark. 
Jesus does not speak in parables in order to darken the Jews, and 
in order not to be understood by them : he speaks in parables 
that, while the Jews may not understand, the disciples may appre- 
hend the true meaning. It is a rather awkward compromise : why 



208 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIII. 1-23 

should not Jesus have left the people to themselves, and told the 
disciples the truth direct without figure or parable ? Matthew in 
his softening is as unhistoric as Mark. 

12. This verse is equivalent to Mark iv. 25. Cp. also Matthew 
xxv. 29 ; Luke xix. 26. The disciples had accepted Jesus and his 
teaching, or, as the Evangelist would mean, they had accepted 
Jesus as the Messiah. The Jews had not. Therefore the truth 
the disciples possess shall be added to. From the Jews, even the 
light which they had before Jesus came shall be taken away. 

13. Jesus speaks in parables because the Jews do not under- 
stand. This comes to much the same thing as if it were said that 
the object of his speaking in parable is that they may not understand. 
The meaning is not : because the Jews refuse to see, therefore the 
secrets of the Kingdom are withheld from them. It is, perhaps, the 
result of previous sin that they have now no capacity to understand, 
but, in any case, it is part of the divine scheme. The doctrine of 
Calvinistic predestination is here in the making, but it is not the 
doctrine of Jesus. 

16, 17 are not in Mark. They occur in Luke x. 23, 24. They 
seem more original in Luke, who felicitates the disciples on what 
they see and hear, i.e. on what they experience, namely, the coming 
of the Messianic age. In Matthew, ' see ' in 16 has to be taken as 
' perceive/ understand,' which conflicts with the obvious meaning 
of ' see ' in 17 (Bultmann, pp. 65, 66). 

18. In Mark the disciples ask for the meaning of the parable, 
and are (iv. 13) rather scolded that they do not understand it. In 
Matthew (verse 10) they only ask why Jesus speaks in parables, 
and they are accounted happy for their higher privileges and 
intelligence. 

18, 19. ' Matthew omits " The sower sows the word " (Mark 
iv. 14). This is no error, but intention. He is no longer thinking 
of the sowing and the seed, but only of the sown field, and this 
field is for him (like the vineyard) the Kingdom of God ; and by 
the Kingdom he understands, as usual, the Christian community, 
or, as one may say, the Church, xiii. 24 seq. shows that, but 
19-23 shows it also, and not merely in the omission of Mark iv. 
14, but also in slight changes which are made in Mark's text. 
The hearers, to Matthew, are no longer the soil on which the seed 
falls, but the plants (cp. xiii. 38, xv. 13) which grow from the seed ' 
(Wellhausen). (There is, however, a temperate, but not conclusive, 



XIII. 24-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 2OQ 

defence of the authenticity of the explanation of the parable in 
McNeile, largely repeated in Box.) 



24-30. THE WHEAT AND THE TARES 
(Matthew only) 

24 Another parable he laid before them, saying, ' The kingdom of 
heaven is likened unto a man who sowed good seed in his field : 

25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the 

26 wheat, and went his way. But when the blade had sprung up, 

27 and brought forth fruit, then appeared the weeds also. So the 
servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst 
not thou sow good seed in thy field ? whence then has it weeds ? 

28 He said unto them, An enemy has done this. The servants said 

29 unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up ? But 
he said, No ; lest while ye gather up the weeds, ye root up also 

30 the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest : 
and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather 
together the weeds, and bind them in bundles to burn them : but 
bring the wheat into my barn/ 

The parable appears based upon Mark iv. 26-29. The Kingdom 
would appear to be present, not future. It is the Christian com- 
munity which already exists. The Last Judgment is to come some 
long time after the community has appeared and developed. This 
would seem to show that the parable is later than Jesus. 

24. * Likened.' ' A regular form of expression employed in 
introducing a parable. A similar expression is regularly used in 
the Rabbinic parables. Strictly speaking the man is but the symbol 
of his experiences, which, however, centre in him * (Box). 

29. The good and bad plants are to be allowed to grow up 
together ; to tear up the bad would only endanger the good. At 
the harvest (i.e. the Last Judgment) God will Himself see to the 
reward and the punishment. 

It may be asked why would the destruction of the bad plants 
endanger the good ? What was in the writer's mind ? Did he 
mean that God alone could know and distinguish the good from 
the bad ? If so, that is a new and noble idea. Anyway, the 
parable preaches tolerance. Would that the Church had taken its 
lesson to heart. 

VOL. II P 



210 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIII. 31-35 

31-35. THE MUSTARD SEED AND THE LEAVEN 
(Cp. Mark iv. 30-34 ; Luke xiii. 18-21) 

31 Another parable he laid before them, saying, * The kingdom of 
heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and 

32 sowed in his field. Now it is the least of all the seeds : but when 
it is grown, it is the greatest among plants, and becomes a tree, 
so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.' 

33 Another parable spoke he unto them : * The kingdom of heaven 
is like unto yeast, which a woman took, and buried in three 
measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.' 

34 All these things spoke Jesus unto the people in parables ; and 

35 without a parable spoke he not unto them : that that might be 
fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, ' I will open my 
mouth in parables ; I will utter things which have been kept 
secret from the foundation of the world.' 

31, 32 correspond with Mark iv. 30-32. The parable must have 
stood in Q as well as in Mark. Matthew's version is a conflation 
of the two. See this worked out in Streeter, p. 247. It is difficult 
to keep up the purely future and eschatological interpretation in 
this parable, as it is also difficult in the preceding parable and in 
the succeeding parables to do so. Those who would like to read 
an able exposition and defence of the Kingdom as future in all 
these parables should undoubtedly read Mr. Allen's commentary. 
But it seems, however, very doubtful whether this eschatological 
and future sense of the Kingdom can be so thoroughly carried 
through. In the drag-net, for instance, the good and bad persons 
are surely in the Kingdom already. The Christian community 
exists in them, and the community is already the Kingdom. Not 
indeed the completed or perfected Kingdom, but still the Kingdom 
as begun, though not as purified and perfected at the end of the 
Age. 

31. The ' subject is the development of the Kingdom of God, 
or rather the propagation of the doctrine of the Kingdom, which 
will be out of all proportion to its beginnings ' (Box). But that is 
just the point. The subject is undoubtedly the development of the 
Kingdom, but is it ' rather ' the development of the propagation 
of the doctrine of the Kingdom ? Hardly. And could the Kingdom 
in its old eschatological sense ' grow ' ? The mustard plant of the 
parable is not our familiar small mustard, but another sort of 



XIII. 36-43] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 211 

mustard which, while it has a very tiny seed, grows into a big 
tree-like shrub. It attains in Palestine to a height of over twelve 
feet. 

33. Not in Mark. Leaven is elsewhere a principle of evil ; 
here it is the driving, penetrating ferment of good. The Christian 
community is the leaven, as elsewhere it is called the salt, of the 
world. The leaven will ultimately transform the face of the whole 
world. In order to keep to his single, eschatological interpretation 
of the Kingdom of heaven, Mr. Allen has to say that this parable, 
like that of the mustard seed, describes the propagation of the 
doctrine of the Kingdom. Like leaven, this will spread rapidly, 
until it has accomplished the purpose for which it was taught. This 
seems somewhat strained. 

35. Matthew, as usual, likes to show the fulfilment of a 
Biblical passage. Here, oddly enough, it is no prediction of a 
prophet, but the statement of a psalmist of which he sees a fulfil- 
ment (Psalm Ixxviii. 2). The psalmist is called a prophet. In 
some MSS. he is said to be Isaiah. The point of the quotation is 
partly or predominantly contained in the last words : * things 
which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world ' are 
now revealed by Jesus. The Kingdom of God upon earth, which 
Jesus has now started and ushered in, was hidden with God from 
the beginning. It was predestined, fore-ordained. 

As 34 j 35 must be meant, like Mark iv. 33, 34, to be a con- 
clusion to the parables, it is noticeable that more parables are 
added. 36-52 is thus probably a later appendix, bringing up the 
number of parables to the favoured seven. But some think that 
this deduction is false, and that the parables of the treasure, pearl 
and net, like the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven, come 
from Q and are authentic. 



36-43. INTERPRETATION OF THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT 
AND THE TARES 

(Matthew only) 

36 Then Jesus sent the people away, and went into the house. 
And his disciples came unto him, saying, ' Explain unto us the 

37 parable of the weeds in the field.' He answered and said unto 

38 them, ' He that sows the good seed is the Son of man ; the field 
is the world ; the good seed are the children of the kingdom ; but 

39 the weeds are the children of the Wicked One ; the enemy that 



212 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIII. 36-43 

sowed them is the devil ; the harvest is the end of the Age ; and 

40 the reapers are the angels. As the weeds are gathered together 

41 and burned in the fire ; so shall it be at the end of the Age. The 
Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather 
together out of his kingdom all those who have caused men to go 

42 astray, and doers of lawlessness ; and they shall cast them into 
the furnace of fire : there shall be the wailing and the gnashing 

43 of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the 
kingdom of their Father. Who has ears, let him hear. 

Here we have allegory full blown. The position of Jesus is 
already tolerably developed. The Kingdom is his kingdom ; he is 
the Judge ; angels are at his disposal. 

Burkitt makes a sharp distinction between the Parable and its 
Interpretation. As to the latter he says : * I can well believe that 
the Explanation is altogether the handiwork of the Evangelist or 
of his contemporaries, but the original picture of the good and the 
bad, growing together unhindered until the harvest is ripe, seems 
to me to come from another and a more creative mind. And I know 
of no one else to whom to ascribe this picture save our Lord, who 
taught His disciples to imitate their Father in Heaven whose sun 
shines alike on bad and good, and whose rain falls on the just and 
the unjust ' (p. 196). I am not converted by this argument. 

38. In 37 the seed which is sown is the teaching ; in 38 the 
good seed are men, ' children of the Kingdom/ These are the true, 
good Christians in the Christian community or Church. 

39. The phrase o-wre'Aeia rov aiwvos is apocalyptic (Authorized 
and Revised Versions, ' end of the world ' ; Revised Version 
Margin, ' consummation of the age ' ; cp. Daniel ix. 27, xii. 4, 13). 
It occurs elsewhere in the New Testament in Matt. xiii. 40, 49, 
xxiv. 3, xxviii. 20 ; Heb. ix. 26. It means the end of the present 
order and the period of the final Judgment. 

41. aKavSaXa is a hard word to translate. ' They that cause 
stumbling ' is hardly strong enough. Here the ' scandala ' are 
persons. They are false or bad Christians, who must be allowed 
to remain within the flock till the End, when final judgment and 
punishment await them ; cp. vii. 23. 

Are the ' doers of lawlessness ' (cp. vii. 23) the antinomians and 
false prophets (cp. xxiv. n) who later on caused the Church much 
trouble ? The question how far such heretics and evildoers were 
to be tolerated or eradicated may be also alluded to in xviii. 17. 



XIII. 44-46] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 213 

The writer believes that they are not to be destroyed till the end of 
the world and the final Judgment. It may be also noted that 
the Kingdom of the Son of man appears to be already existent in the 
Church. The Kingdom of the Father will only come at the end 
of the world. 

42. The conception of hell or Gehenna is just the popular one. 
For 43, cp. Dan. xii. 2. 

' Their Father ' : the only instance in the New Testament in 
which Father, meaning God, has the prefixed pronoun ' their.' 



44-46. THE TREASURE AND THE PEARL 
(Matthew only) 

44 * Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a 
field ; which a man found and concealed, and in his joy he went 
and sold all that he had, and bought that field. 

45 ' Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant, seeking 

46 goodly pearls : who, when he had found one pearl of great price, 
went and sold all that he had, and bought it. 

Here we have a very simple illustration of a true parable. The 
details are not to be pressed or allegorized. We must not enquire : 
Was the man justified in concealing his find ? The whole point 
of the parable is the joy with which the man finds the treasure, and 
his abandonment of everything else in order to secure it. So must 
each individual sacrifice everything else in order to obtain the 
highest good, the Kingdom of God. 

In these two parables the Kingdom need not be identified with 
the Christian community, and though the two beautiful little 
parables occur in the ' appendix,' there seems no reason why they 
should not be authentic. The point is the same as in Mark viii. 36. 
To gain eternal life, for the sake of the Highest Good, no effort or no 
sacrifice is too great. The Kingdom is rather future than present, 
something for which a man yearns and struggles rather than some- 
thing into which or amid which he is born. 

And in these short parables we recognize too that fine novel 
note of Jesus's teaching — its passion, its enthusiasm, its glow. 
There is to be no compromise ; no half measures will serve our 
turn. The great end demands and deserves our complete self- 
surrender. To gain the great prize we must give our all. But 
the all is infinitely less than the prize. It is this urgency and 
abandon ; this intensity and absoluteness, which constitute in large 



214 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIII. 47-50 

measure the newness and originality, as also the appealingness and 
driving force, in the teaching of Jesus. 



47-50. THE PARABLE OF THE NET 
(Matthew only) 

47 ' Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast 

4 8 into the sea, and collected fish of every kind. And when it was full, 
they drew it to shore, and sat down, and collected the good into 

49 vessels, but the bad they cast away. So shall it be at the end of 
the Age : the angels shall go forth, and sever the wicked from the 

50 righteous, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire : there shall 
be the wailing and the gnashing of teeth. 

The parable has much the same meaning as the wheat and 
the tares. But it is less cogent, because the sifting of the bad from 
the good follows too closely upon their appearance. 

Here the Kingdom would again seem to have to be identified 
with the Christian community. Some would separate 47, 48 from 
49, 50, and would claim 47, 48 as authentic. The preaching of Jesus 
is the work which prepares the way for the grand drama to be 
inaugurated by the Judgment. It is the means to an end, and 
only the end will give perfection to the means. 



51, 52. THE HOUSEHOLDER AND HIS STOREHOUSE 
(Matthew only) 

51 ' Have ye understood all these things ? ' They said unto him, 

5 2 ' Yes.' Then said he unto them, ' Therefore every scribe who has 
become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like unto a house- 
holder, who brings forth out of his storehouse both new things 
and old.' 

51. The question comes rather suddenly, without ' And he 



The question comes rather sud 
ie disciples,' as one would expect. 



*j 

asked the 

52. The connection is artificial. Every scribe is not like a 
householder, etc., because the disciples have understood the parables. 
He would be no less like the householder if they had not. The 
saying had originally nothing to do with the parables. It may have 
been a current saying adopted by Matthew for its present place. 



XIII. 53-581 THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 215 

But even in its present place its intended meaning is obscure. Some 
think that Matthew meant that the Old things are the facts of nature 
and of human life employed as parables, while the New things are 
the spiritual meanings which can be drawn from those facts. Or 
the ' new ' may be the ' mysteries ' embodied and contained in the 
parables, the ' old ' may be the prophecies of the Old Testament 
which corroborate the new. Or the old is that part of the teaching 
of Moses and the prophets which is still serviceable and true ; the 
new is the teaching of Jesus about the Kingdom and the methods 
of its attainment. The religion of Jesus is a combination of old 
and new. Or the saying may be later than Jesus. There the 
Scribe is the Christian ' scribe ' or preacher who is * schooled ' 
or taught in regard to, or in the truths of, the Kingdom. As a 
steward gives out his stores, so he gives out or teaches both what is 
old and what is new. 

So in itself, and out of connection with the context, the saying 
may express the view that the religion of Jesus is a combination 
of old truths and new truths, while, and in a still earlier stage, the 
saying may be pre-Christian. Another explanation can be read in 
McNeile. ' The saying may have been spoken when Jesus was 
maintaining (as in v. 17) the true relation of His teaching to the 
Jewish law : the former does not annul the latter. Therefore any 
scribe, learned in the law, who accepts instruction as a disciple in the 
truths taught by Jesus, is enriched ; he can teach " new truths 
as well as old." ypafjLfj,ar€vs thus has its ordinary meaning, and 
Sta TOVTO has full force. The words, in this case, though Matthew 
adapted them to the Christian disciple, balance the stern 
denunciations against the Scribes, of which Matthew preserves 
so many. The Lord could sometimes speak hopefully of them (cp. 
Mark xii. 34), and perhaps did so more often than our scanty 
records represent ' (pp. 205, 206). 



53-58. THE KEJECTION IN NAZARETH 
(Cp. Mark vi. 1-6 ; Luke iv. 16-30) 

53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 

54 And he came into his own native city, and he taught them in their 
synagogue, insomuch that they were amazed, and said, ' Whence 

55 come to this man this wisdom, and the miracles ? Is not this the 
carpenter's son ? is not his mother called Mary ? and his brothers, 

56 James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas ? And are not also hia 
sisters all with us ? Whence then come to this man all these things ? ' 



2l6 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIII. 53-58 

57 And he was a stumbling-block unto them. But Jesus said unto 
them, * A prophet is not without honour, save in his native city, 

58 and in his own home.' And he did not perform many miracles 
there because of their unbelief. 

Matthew has already used and given Mark iv. 35-41 and v. 1-44. 
So now he passes on to Mark vi. 1-6. 

55. In Mark, Jesus is himself called the carpenter ; here he is 
said to be * the son of the carpenter.' S.S. has : ' the son of Joseph/ 
which is perhaps the original reading. 

58. Matthew significantly modifies Mark here. ' Because of 
their unbelief ' Jesus does not perform many miracles : i.e. not 
because he cannot (as in Mark), but as a punishment. 



CHAPTER XIV 

1-12. HEROD, JESUS, AND JOHN THE BAPTIST 
(Cp. Mark vi. 14-29 ; Luke iii. 19, 20, ix. 7-9) 

1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, and 

2 he said unto his servants, ' This is John the Baptist ; he is risen 
from the dead ; and therefore miraculous powers are active in him.' 

3 For Herod had seized John, and bound him, and put him in 

4 prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For 

5 John had said unto him, ' It is not lawful for thee to have her.' 
And he would have liked to have put him to death, but he feared 

6 the people, because they counted him as a prophet. But upon 
Herod's birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, 

7 and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give 

8 her whatsoever she should ask. And she, being instigated by her 

9 mother, said, ' Give me here on a dish the head of John the Baptist.' 
And the king was sorry : nevertheless for the oath's sake, and for 
the sake of them who sat with him at table, he commanded it to be 

11 given her. So he sent, and had John beheaded in the prison. And 
his head was brought on a dish, and given to the girl : and she brought 

12 it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took away the corpse, 
and buried it, and went and told Jesus. 

Mark vi. 7-13 has been already used. So Matthew now passes 
to Mark vi. 14-29, which he considerably abbreviates. Goguel 
notices that from iii. to xxv. the three chapters xiv., xv., xvi. are 
the only three which contain nothing from Q. 

5. Note that in Mark it is Herodias who wants to kill John ; 
here it is Antipas himself. And yet in 9 he is * grieved.' 

8. TTpopLpacrdeiaa, ' induced.' One must assume that she 
anticipated great results from her daughter's dancing. 

In Matthew, though not in Mark, the disciples of John tell Jesus 

217 



2l8 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIV. 13-21 

of John's death, and thereby cause him to flee (verse 13). But the 
execution of John had happened some while before, and is here 
merely reported as a belated parenthesis. Thus 13 cannot really 
be the consequence of 3-12. But Matthew's changes are very 
worthy of notice, when taken by themselves and apart from their 
connection. For in Matthew traces still glimmer through of the 
old tradition which was altered by a later redaction in Mark. The 
fact that the return of the apostles is not mentioned in Matthew is 
significant. The story of their despatch in Mark is an isolated and 
interpolated section, the combination of which with what follows 
led to a very artificial connection. A further glimmer of the old 
tradition is that in Matthew Jesus flees from Herod. The original 
cause of his flight was not because Herod had killed John ; for that 
had happened some time before. The real reason was that Herod 
sought to kill him (Jesus). Now xiv. 5, applied to John, contradicts 
the point of 6-10. Hence we may infer that this verse has been 
brought here from some other place or connection, where the man 
whom Herod wanted, but feared, to kill was not John, but Jesus. 
It is a parallel verse to Luke xiii. 31. Matthew may have known the 
old tradition as well as Luke. He perverted it by attempting to 
combine it with the interpolated and secondary narrative of Mark. 

There are the arguments and deductions of Wellhausen. There 
are other theories and other explanations of Mark's and Matthew's 
narratives into which, for my purposes, it is needless to enter. 



13-21. FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND 
(Cp. Mark vi. 31-44 ; Luke ix. 10-17) 

13 Now when Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by boat to a 
lonely place, by himself. But when the people heard of it, they 

14 followed him on foot from the cities. So when Jesus disembarked, 
he saw a great crowd, and he was moved with compassion toward 

15 them, and he healed their sick. And when it was evening, the 
disciples came to him, saying, ' This is a lonely place, and the hour 
is already late ; send the people away, that they may go into the 

1 6 villages, and buy themselves food.' But Jesus said unto them, 

17 ' They need not depart ; do ye give them to eat.' But they said 

1 8 unto him, ' We have here only five loaves and two fishes.' He 

19 said, l Bring them hither to me.' And he bade the people sit down 
on the grass, and he took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and 
looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, and he broke the loaves, 
and gave them to his disciples, and the disciples gave them to the 



22-33] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 2IQ 

20 people. And they did all eat, and were satisfied ; and they took up 

21 of the fragments that were over twelve baskets full. And they that 
ate were about five thousand men, beside women and children. 

Matthew has to give another motive for Jesus's departure with 
his disciples to a solitary and desolate spot. For as he had described 
the despatch of the disciples upon their mission some while ago, 
he assumes that they have already returned. They are present in 
chapters xii. and xiii. So he replaces their arrival by the arrival of 
disciples of John who report to Jesus the death of their master. The 
device provides a means of getting Jesus away to the solitary spot. 

14. In Mark, Jesus pities the spiritual desolation of the people, 
and teaches them. In Matthew he, less appositely (for how could 
they have come all this way ?), pities and heals the sick. Cp. for 
the wording ix. 36. 

21. The miracle is magnified by the women and children being 
added to the 5000 men. 



22-33. JESUS WALKS ON THE LAKE 

(Cp. Mark vi. 45-52) 

22 And straightway Jesus made his disciples get into the boat, and 
cross over before him to the other side, while he sent the people 

23 away. And when he had sent the people away, he went up on to 
the mountain, by himself, to pray. And when the evening was come, 

24 he was there alone. But the boat was then already in the middle 
of the lake, harassed by the waves : for the wind was against them. 

25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came unto them, walking 

26 on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, 
they were troubled, saying, ' It is a ghost ' ; and they cried out for 

27 fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, * Be of 

28 good cheer ; it is I ; be not afraid.' And Peter answered him and 
said, ' Lord, if it be thou, bid me come to thee upon the water.' 

29 And he said, ' Come.' So Peter stepped down from the boat, and 

30 walked upon the water, and went towards Jesus. But when he 
saw the wind, he was afraid ; and he began to sink, and he cried out, 

31 saying, ' Lord, save me.' And immediately Jesus stretched out 
his hand, and took hold of him, and said unto him, ' man of little 

32 faith, why didst thou doubt ? ' And when they got up into the 



220 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS fXIV. 22-33 

33 boat, the wind dropped. Then they that were in the boat did him 
reverence, and said, * Verily thou art the Son of God.' 

25. Jesus apparently intends to enter the boat. In Mark his 
intention was merely to pass by and exhibit his miraculous powers. 

26. For the Greek (fxivracrfjia S.S. has * demon/ which Merx 
regards as the original. The alteration was due to feelings of 
politeness. 

28-31. Matthew only. 

A fine, if impossible, illustration of the power of faith and the 
result of doubt. For the striking and exact parallel in Buddhist 
literature see Carpenter, First Three Gospels, pp. 179-182. 

As to the origin of the legend opinions differ. It may be 
modelled upon the * denial ' of Peter. He had love for the Master, 
but not adequate courage ; it may be a product of the resurrection 
stories ; it may have some symbolic intention. There are classical 
parallels. Dr. Carpenter has some excellent remarks in the passage 
I have referred to as to how the legend might have grown up from 
a metaphor, an image, an expression of trust. Klostermann quotes 
a nice bit from Goethe (Gesprdche mil Eckermann) : ' This is one of the 
most beautiful legends, and I love it above all others. The lofty 
teaching is contained in it that man will conquer the most difficult 
tasks by faith and courage, but will succumb should the smallest 
doubt assail him.' Bultmann points out how one miracle leads on to 
another (pp. 133, 134, 140, 145). Box apparently would like to 
believe in the historical character of the first miracle, but not of the 
second. Thus he says : * This episode is peculiar to Matthew, and is 
apparently derived from a special source embodying Palestinian 
traditions. It is to be noticed how faithfully the story reflects the 
apostle's character, yet it is obvious that the story has not the strong 
historical attestation of the narrative in which it is embedded. It 
may easily have grown out of the latter as a sort of Christian 
Midrash — an " acted parable " of the apostle's character, illustrating 
his proud impulsiveness, his full repentance, and restoration. From 
this point of view it may be regarded as an early product of the 
apostolic age. It is obviously not a late ecclesiastical legend.' If 
I could believe in the first miracle, I should not boggle at the 
second. 

33. In Matthew the disciples are allowed to recognize that the 
miraculous powers of Jesus imply his Messiahship. (Son of God 
equals Messiah.) This recognition deprives the scene at Caesarea 
Philippi (xvi. 16) of its special importance. 



XIV. 34-36] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 221 

34-36. THE ARRIVAL AT GENNESARET 
(Cp. Mark vi. 53-56) 

34 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Genne- 

35 saret. And the men of that place recognized him, and they sent 
out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all 

36 that were sick. And they besought him that they might only 
touch the border of his garment : and as many as touched it were 
healed. 

34. Gennesaret is still in Galilee. The motive which had led 
Jesus to ' withdraw ' (verse 13) is forgotten or ignored. 



CHAPTER XV 

1-20. WASHING OF HANDS : INWARD AND OUTWARD PURITY 
(Cp. Mark vii. 1-23) 

1 Then came to Jesus from Jerusalem some scribes and Pharisees, 

2 saying, ' Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the 

3 elders ? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.' But 
he answered and said unto them, ' Why do ye also transgress the 

4 commandment of God because of your tradition ? For God com- 
manded, saying, Honour thy father and thy mother : and, He that 

5 reviles father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, 
Whosoever says to his father or his mother, That by which thou 
mightest have been benefited from me is Corban ' (that is, an 

6 offering) — ' he shall not honour his father or his mother. Thus 
have ye made the commandment of God void because of your 

7 tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 

8 This people honours me with their lips ; but their heart is far 

9 from me. And vainly do they worship me, teaching as their 
doctrines the commandments of men.' 

i° And he called the people unto him, and said unto them, ' Hear 

11 and understand : not that which goes into the mouth makes a 
man unclean ; but that which comes out of the mouth, this makes 
a man unclean.' 

12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, ' Knowest thou 
that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying ? ' 

13 But he answered and said, ' Every plant, which my heavenly Father 

14 has not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone : they are 
blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both 

15 will fall into the ditch.' Then answered Peter and said unto him, 

1 6 ' Explain the parable to us.' And Jesus said, ' Are ye too still 

17 without understanding 1 Do ye not understand, that whatever 
enters into the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into 

222 



XV. i-2o] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 223 

1 8 the privy ? But those things which issue from the mouth come 

19 forth from the heart ; and these make a man unclean. For out 
of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, unchastity, 

20 thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which 
make a man unclean : but to eat with unwashed hands does not 
make a man unclean.' 

Matthew shortens and systematises. He combines Mark vii. 
6-8 with 9-13, and avoids the repetition in 8 and 9. The divine- 
ness of the Pentateuchal Law (not merely of the Decalogue, for 
Exodus xxi. 17 is cited as well as xx. 12) is still more sharply 
emphasized by the substitution of ' God ' for ' Moses ' in 4. 

3. Merx calls attention to the fact that S.S. has a ' command ' 
where the Greek has TrapaSocrt?. This he thinks is original. For 
the order to wash the hands before meals was not a tradition ; it 
was comparatively modern. It was only instituted by Hillel and 
Shammai, and could not have been called a ' tradition.' The point 
of the argument is : ' Your Rabbinic laws annul God's laws : why 
then should I observe your laws ? You have no right to make laws 
which bring about a conflict with God's laws.' 

5. 'He shall not honour his father ' : i.e. he need not do so ; 
he is relieved of the obligation of honouring his father (by helping 
him). The text I have followed is indicated in R.V.'M. 

II. Matthew makes the implicit and wider statement of Mark 
explicit and narrower by the addition of ' into ' and * out of the 
mouth.' But substantially he hits the meaning. 

' Jesus could rebuke the Scribes for annulling the Mosaic law, and 
yet, on this fundamental point, annulled it Himself. He felt free 
to commit Himself to this formal inconsistency, because the kernel 
of His teaching was that the spirit transcends the letter. The 
scribal tradition had the effect of exalting the external. His 
ethics subordinated it to the spiritual ; and He made no exception 
in the case of Mosaic commands ' (McNeile). There is an interesting 
passage in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs quoted by 
Walker, The Teaching of Jesus and the Jewish Teaching of His Age, 
p. 292. ' As the sun is not defiled by shining on dung and mire, 
but dries up both and drives away the evil smell ; so also the pure 
mind, though encompassed by the defilements of earth, rather 
cleanses them and is not itself defiled ' (T. Benjamin viii. 3). 

12-14. Matthew only. 



224 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XV. 1-20 



Though the verses are editorial, yet it is doubtless true 
the Pharisees were ' offended.' As I have explained in the 



true that 
notes 

on Mark vii., the principle of Jesus is inconsistent with the teaching 
of the Law. If the Law is perfect and divine, then the principle 
could not be one or the other. 



13. The * plants ' are the Pharisees. S.S. has ' the Father who 
is in heaven,' not ' my Father.' Jesus is made to announce the 
ruin of the Pharisees and, so we may also suppose, of Pharisaic 
Judaism. 

It is possible that the meaning of 13 is that while the Pharisaic 
and Kabbinic ordinances will be rooted up, the Law, a divine plant, 
will be maintained (Holtzmann, N.T. Theologie, i. p. 498, 2nd ed.). 

14. Both the leaders and the followers who believe in them 
are blind, and in their blindness will suffer a common doom. The 
second part of the verse is also found substantially in Luke xii. 39, 
and was doubtless a metaphor used by Jesus, and taken by Matthew 
from Q, or some other source. 

17-20. ' Probably not a genuine utterance of Jesus, but a 
popular exposition ' (McNeile). 

18. This verse puts the point clearly. But the opposition 
between ' into the mouth ' and ' from the mouth ' carries the 
redactor somewhat too far. For what comes ' from the man ' (so 
Mark) is wider than what comes ' from the mouth.' Yet though 
Matthew throughout presses * from the mouth ' instead of the 
more general ' from the man,' he includes in his catalogue of sins 
many which do not literally proceed from the mouth, though they 
do proceed from the man. 

To eat with unwashed hands is no ' sin of the heart,' and there- 
fore cannot defile. 

20. The second half of the verse, added by Matthew, has the 
effect of representing the criticism of Jesus in 10-20 as aimed, not 
against the Mosaic law, but against the scribal tradition (McNeile). 

The long discussion of the ' Corban ' passage in the notes on 
Mark in my first edition has been somewhat severely criticized 
by Prof. Box. He says, ' M. has fallen into the mistake which 
vitiates a good deal of his discussions of the Gospels. He argues 
that what the Mishnah enjoins was necessarily true of Pharisaic 
practice in the time of Jesus. The very discussions in the Mishnah 
itself ought to have put him on his guard. They show that the 
decisions arrived at were only reached, in many cases, after acute 



XV. i-2o] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 225 

controversy. There is every probability that in the earlier period 
a different position was taken up by the uncompromising school of 
Shammai. The Hillelites, who were in the ascendant after AD. 70, 
were addicted to compromise. They were later and more human. 
The Gospel evidence — which is the only strictly contemporary, or 
nearly contemporary, evidence we possess — cannot be waved aside 
in the airy fashion M. adopts. Probably the stricter view about the 
binding character of vows and oaths was maintained by the school 
of Pharisees who were in the ascendant in the time of Jesus. To 
imagine that the whole thing has been invented is as uncritical as 
it is uncalled for.' Now I do not think that I stated that * the 
whole thing has been invented.' I only pointed out the difficulties 
in the way, and finally I suggested that the only way out of the 
difficulties would be to assume that Jesus came in Contact with 
some Kabbis who held that, even when the Law directly affected 
the parents, it must nevertheless be upheld, and that even here it 
could not be annulled. See notes on Mark. Surely this is a some- 
what different conclusion from that of declaring the Gospel evidence 
to have been ' invented/ I do not think that it will be often found 
that I contrast the Mishnah as such with the evidence of the Gospel. 
There would, I think, be few cases found in which I use the decisions 
of the Mishnah to controvert sayings in the Gospel. It is true that 
I do use Rabbinic evidence, though with caution, in criticizing 
Gospel sayings. Not, I hope, that I wave Gospel evidence aside, 
in ' an airy fashion.' If I have done so, I sincerely regret it. I have 
said, and I repeat, that Jesus put his finger upon the dangers of 
Rabbinic religion and of * legalism.' There were doubtless some 
1 formalists ' in the Rabbis of his time, some Rabbis who cleansed 
the outside of the cup and left the inside dirty, some Rabbis who 
neglected * mercy,' but were, nevertheless, sanctimonious and self- 
righteous. But none the less must we always use — and for no 
more than this have I contended — the Gospel evidence as regards 
Pharisaism with great caution, because it is the product of 
antagonists. Jesus was an antagonist of the Pharisees and of the 
Rabbis, and still more so were the editors and compilers of the 
Gospels. My quarrel with many Christian commentators is that 
they — I venture to think uncritically — assume that because Jesus 
said so and so about the Pharisees and about the Rabbis, therefore 
it must be true. What he said must undoubtedly be most carefully 
weighed. But it may, or may not, be true. The words of an 
antagonist reported by still fiercer antagonists must not be taken 
as evidence of the people and the system that are attacked without 
the most careful scrutiny. I should have thought that this was 
one of the most elementary rules in history, but in many com- 
mentaries it seems to me to be neglected. And theories are 

VOL. II Q 



226 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS LXV. 1-20 

devised to show why nothing that is said in criticism of any 
Gospel utterance, so long as that utterance is supposed to be 
authentic, need be regarded as of any great weight. But why 
should inerrancy in his judgment of others be claimed for Jesus ? 
Is it not uncritical to do so ? Even if he was more usually in the 
right than his antagonists, or than most teachers, why need he have 
been in the right always ? I have elsewhere referred to the 
theory, of which the most brilliant exponent is Prof. Burkitt, 
that Kabbinic Judaism changed immensely for the better, even 
though it became much more ' legal,' after the Hadrianic 
Revolt. Therefore, as most Rabbinic material is later than 
Hadrian, it does not count. All that Jesus said in A.D. 30 
may be true, and all that you can fish out of the Talmud 
may be true, even though the two are in contradiction with 
each other. For the state of affairs in 30 was so very different 
from, and religiously and morally so very inferior to, the state of 
affairs after Hadrian. This theory, Dr. Abrahams thinks, has 
little to go upon, and rests, in his opinion, upon shaky foundations. 
It is, in his judgment, just as uncritical to assume that, in the days 
of Jesus, Pharisaic opinions about religion and morality, and 
Rabbinic practice in matters of religion and morality, were markedly 
different from what they afterwards became as it would be to 
' use the evidence of the Mishnah,' untested and offhand, as rebuttal 
of any Gospel criticism or attack. Nor must it be forgotten that 
we have a certain amount of first-century Rabbinic evidence about 
Rabbinic religious opinions and practice. We know, at all events, 
a certain amount about men like Hillel, Jochanan b. Zakkai, Akiba, 
and others who lived and died before the supposed great change 
and improvement after Hadrian had time to make itself felt. We 
do not find any great moral and religious difference between them and 
their successors. I wonder what R. Tarphon would have said had he 
read Matt. xv. 3-6. Still more do I wonder what R. Tarphon's mother 
would have said. And, by the by, was not R. Tarphon an adherent of 
the school of Shammai ? But he certainly seems to have honoured 
his mother, if the story be true that one Sabbath day her sandals 
split and broke, and as she could not mend them, she had to walk 
across the courtyard barefoot. So Tarphon kept stretching his 
hands under her feet so that she might walk on them all the way. 
When we reflect on a story like that about a first-century Rabbi, 
when we remember the general line of Jewish morality and its 
extreme, and almost exaggerated, insistence upon, and adoration 
of, the fifth commandment, when we further remember that all 
Rabbinic evidence is ' in undress ' — not intended to be used as 
evidence — written, it is true, by Rabbis about Rabbis, but written 
artlessly, and not for the special purpose of exalting or of laudation, 



XV. 21-28] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 227 

on the one hand, and of masking or denying faults upon the other — 
I am inclined to think that it can have been true of very few Rabbis 
that in this respect ' they made void the word of God by their 
tradition.' And that is the sort of way in which, I think, we may, 
temperately and carefully, use ' late ' Rabbinic evidence even to 
correct an early Gospel utterance. 



21-28. THE CANAANITE WOMAN 
(Cp. Mark vii. 24-30) 

21 Then Jesus departed thence, and withdrew to the district of 

22 Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a Canaanite woman from that 
region came forth, and cried out, saying, ' Pity me, Lord, son of 

2 3 David ; my daughter is grievously possessed with a demon.' But 
he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought 
him, saying, ' Send her away ; for she keeps crying out behind us.' 

24 But he answered and said, ' I am not sent except to the lost sheep 

25 of the house of Israel.' Then came she and did him reverence, 

26 saying, * Lord, help me.' But he answered and said, ' It is not 
lawful to take the children's bread, and to throw it to the dogs.' 

27 And she said, * Yes, Lord : for also the dogs eat of the morsels 

28 which fall from their masters' table.' Then Jesus answered and 
said unto her, ' woman, great is thy faith : be it unto thee even 
as thou desirest.' And her daughter was healed from that hour. 

In this story Matthew does not, as so often, curtail Mark, but 
expands him. 23 and 24 are his own contribution to the story. 
The additions may be his own (editorial), or it may be that Matthew 
is following another source than Mark (perhaps Q), which Mark may, 
or may not, have known. 

22. The woman recognizes and realizes that Jesus is the 
Messiah, and so proclaims and addresses him. An addendum, 
the historical character of which is very doubtful. * It can hardly 
be unintentional that Matthew omits the statement that Jesus 
entered into a house in this heathen territory, and represents the 
woman as coming out of those boundaries (opiwv) to Jesus ' (Allen). 
Matthew could not let Jesus perform a miracle on heathen soil, 
after having forbidden the disciples (x. 5) to enter it. 

23. ' Send her away ' : grant her request, and so get rid of her. 



228 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XV. 21-28 

The interpolated verses seek to show that Jesus only yielded after 
hesitation and an inward struggle. Verse 24 explains 26 more 
clearly. The artistic effect of 23 is excellent. 

24. The verse may have been a separate and independent 
saying, which Matthew has used. It is parallel to, or the product 
of, x. 5, 6. Matthew would give us to understand that the mission 
of Jesus was limited to Israel, as was also the mission of the dis- 
ciples before the resurrection. The verse explains the undoubted, 
but perplexing, fact that Jesus, the universal Saviour and Mediator, 
did actually confine himself to the Jews. The explanation is 
that God had ordered this limitation. Only after his resurrection 
he will send his disciples to all the world (Matt, xxviii. 19). 
Harnack considers that 24 is authentic. It must have been incon- 
veniently particularistic even for Matthew, and was not invented. 
From the mission of Jesus were excluded the Samaritans and the 
heathen (x. 5, 6). ' Das hat Jesus unzweifelhaft gesagt.' ' Jesus 
felt himself to be the exclusive Saviour of his people, and he gave 
to this feeling strong expression in the words of 24.' * Jesus hat 
sich ausschliesslich als den Heiland seines Volks empfunden, und 
er hat dieser Empfindung einen starken Ausdruck gegeben : meine 
Sendung gilt den Verlorenen aus dem Hause Israels.' (' Ich bin 
gekommen,' p. 21). These words of the great theologian are not 
lightly to be passed over. 

26. In this reply Matthew may have reproduced the source 
more accurately than Mark. He does not say that the children 
are to be fed first, thereby allowing that the dogs (i.e. the Gentiles) 
are, at all events, to be fed second. Jesus does not look to the 
future. He says unconditionally that his help is for the Jews alone. 

Streeter thinks that we have here a passage in which Matthew 
used the Judaistic source M. He considers that M had parallel 
versions, of the same incidents which are recorded in Mark, and that 
sometimes Matthew used M as well as Mark in his version of these 
incidents. This ' overlapping ' between M and Mark, i.e. the 
occurrence, and the use thereof by Matthew, ' of parallel versions of 
the same incident in Mark and M would explain three cases where 
Matthew's account appears to be in some ways more original than 
Mark's.' Matt. xii. 9-13 was, as was noted above, one of these 
cases, xix. 3-12 is a second, and here is the third. ' The account 
of the Syrophenician woman, as given by Matthew, is made, by an 
addition of the two and a half verses (Matt. xv. 226-24) (which 
suggest very great reluctance on the part of our Lord to heal a 
Gentile), very much more Judaistic than the version given by 
Mark (vii. 24-30). But Divorce, the Sabbath, and the position 



XV. 2Q-3i] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 22Q 

of Gentiles were all burning questions, especially among Jewish 
Ckristians. Hence we should expect that sayings or stories which 
could be quoted as denning Christ's attitude towards them would 
be current at a very early time in nearly every Church — and most 
certainly in the Church of Jerusalem. It seems likely, then, that 
in these three instances Matthew had before him a parallel version 
in M. But in each case he tells the story in the context in which 
it occurs in Mark. Probably, then, he takes Mark's version as his 
basis, adding only a few notable details from that of M. Thus 
only fragments of the M version are likely to have been preserved, 
and its original form may have differed considerably from Mark. 
Hence, here as so often, we cannot reconstruct the M version J 
(p. 260). 

28. The emphasis upon the woman's faith and Jesus's com- 
mendation of it are added and noteworthy features of Matthew. 



29-31. FEESH HEALINGS 
(Cp. Mark vii. 31-37) 

29 And Jesus departed thence, and came to the lake of Galilee. 

30 And he went up on to the mountain, and sat down there. And 
great crowds came unto him, having with them those that were 
lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and they cast them 

31 down at Jesus's feet ; and he healed them : so that the crowd 
marvelled to see how the dumb spoke, the maimed became sound, 
the lame walked, and the blind saw : and they glorified the God 
of Israel. 

Instead of the one miracle in Mark vii. 31-37 we have here a 
sort of general survey. ' The magical healing of the deaf and 
dumb man is passed over like the magical healing of the blind man, 
Mark viii. 22-26. Yet these two tales have cast their shadow 
before in Matt. ix. 27-33. That Jesus here ascends the mountain, 
whither the sick follow him, is odd. The mountain here precedes 
the desert place (33), whereas in the parallel passage the mountain 
(xiv. 23) follows on the desert ' (Wellhausen). 

30. ' At his feet.' S.S. and the MS. ' D,' ' Under his feet/ 
which is probably more original. It was apparently an old method 
of healing, still to be observed in the East, for the healer to put 
his foot upon the diseased body. The words in 31 appear to be 



230 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XV. 32-39 

suggested by the omitted section in Mark. For Mark vii. 37 seems 
to suggest Matt. xv. 31 (Streeter, p. 170). 



32-39. FEEDING OF THE FOUR THOUSAND 
(Cp. Mark viii. i-io) 

32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, ' I feel pity 
for the people, because they have tarried with me now three days, 
and have nothing to eat : and I do not wish to send them away 

33 fasting, lest they faint by the way.' And his disciples said unto 
him, ' Whence could we get so much bread in the wilderness, so as 

34 to satisfy so great a crowd ? ' And Jesus said unto them, ' How 
many loaves have ye ? ' And they said, ' Seven, and a few small 

35, 36 fishes.' And he bade the people sit down on the ground. And he 
took the seven loaves and the fishes, and spoke the blessing, and 
broke them, and gave them to his disciples, and the disciples gave 

37 them to the people. And they all ate, and were satisfied : and 
they took up of the broken bits that were left seven baskets full. 

38 And they that ate were four thousand men, beside women and 

39 children. Then he sent the people away, and went into the boat, 
and came into the district of Magdala. 

Matthew keeps pretty close to the version in Mark. As in the 
feeding of the five thousand he heightens the marvel by adding 
some children and women, and he makes Jesus arrive at the district 
of Magadan instead of Dalmanutha, a locality equally unknown 
to us. 



CHAPTER XVI 

1-4. A SIGN is REFUSED 

(Cp. Mark viii. 11-13 5 ^uke xii. 54-56, xi. 29) 

1 Then the Pharisees and the Sadducees came, and demanded 

2 him to show them a sign from heaven in order to tempt him. But 
he answered and said unto them, * [In the evening, ye say, It will 

3 be fair weather : for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will 
be stormy weather to-day : for the sky is red and overcast. Ye 
can discern the face of the sky ; but can ye not discern the signs 

4 of the times ?] A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after 
a sign ; and no sign shall be given unto it, except the sign of Jonah.' 
And he left them, and departed. 

The Sadducees are added by Matthew. Cp. iii. 7. They com- 
plete the circle of Jesus's enemies. 

2 and 3 are an awkward adaptation of Luke xii. 54-56, and 
are wanting in several good MSS. The signs of the times are not 
the miracles of Jesus, as the inserter of these verses would seem to 
mean, but important events, indications of the coming denoue- 
ment, the final Judgment and the end of the existing order of things. 
To the interpolator they seem to mean the miracles which Jesus 
had already wrought, and which had left the Jews irresponsive 
and unbelieving. 

4. The sign of Jonah is added from xii. 38, which chapter con- 
tains an independent variant of the whole story from Q. 

5-12. BREAD AND LEAVEN 
(Cp. Mark viii. 14-21 ; Luke xii. i) 

5 And the disciples came across to the other side, and forgot to 

6 take with them bread. Then Jesus said unto them, ' Take heed and 

231 



232 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XVI. 5-12 

7 beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.' And 
they argued in themselves, saying, ' It is because we have taken no 

8 bread/ But Jesus knew their thoughts, and he said unto them, 
1 ye of little faith, why argue ye in yourselves, It is because we 

9 have brought no bread ? Do ye not yet understand, and do ye not 
remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many 

i° baskets ye took up ? or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and 

11 how many baskets ye took up ? How is it that ye do not under- 
stand that I spoke not to you concerning bread ? But beware of 

12 the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.' Then they 
understood how that he bade them beware, not of the leaven of 
bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 

6. For Herod, Matthew substitutes the Sadducees. For 
Matthew understands the leaven to be false teaching, hence the 
* leaven of Herod ' becomes an impossible phrase. 

7. Mark has SieAoy^oyro npos dAA^Aou?, which appears to 
mean that the disciples discussed out loud with each other the 
meaning of Jesus's warning, and interpreted it to refer to their 
forgetfulness to take enough bread with them. In any case they 
discuss out loud. Matthew has SteAoyi'^oi/ro eV lavrois, which 
apparently means a silent pondering or arguing within their own 
hearts. That Jesus reads their inward thoughts heightens the 
solemnity of the story. 

Another rendering of the verse is : ' They were anxiously dis- 
cussing among themselves, saying, We did not bring any bread.' 
7 would be the immediate continuation of 5. This view supposes 
that the lack of bread * being due to the hurried departure from the 
hostility of the authorities, and the warning about leaven referring 
to the same, they were wrongly combined in the Marcan tradition, 
so that the disciples are represented as thinking, with extra- 
ordinary obtuseness, that Jesus meant "leaven " literally ' (McNeile). 

II. Matthew now deviates from Mark. He makes Jesus 
definitely say that he was not speaking of material bread when 
he warned the disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees and 
Sadducees. This broad hint is enough for the disciples, and we 
are informed in the next verse that they understand what he had 
meant. But Matthew also appears to interpret 8-10 to mean 
that Jesus wished the disciples to understand that they need have 
no care about material bread. He with his miraculous powers 
would always see that they had enough to eat. 



XVI. 13-28] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 233 

Perhaps n should be translated : ' How is it that ye did not 
perceive that it was not in respect of (material) bread that I said to 
you, Beware, etc.' 



13-28. THE DECLARATION OF MESSIAHSHIP — THE CONDITIONS 
OF DISCIPLESHIP 

(Cp. Mark viii. 27~ix. I ; Luke ix. 18-27) 

13 Then Jesus came into the district of Csesarea Philippi. And 
he asked his disciples, saying, ' Whom do men say that the Son of 

14 man is ? ' And they said, ' Some say John the Baptist : some 

15 Elijah ; and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.' He said 

16 unto them, ' But ye — whom say ye that I am ? J And Simon Peter 
answered and said, ' Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living 
God.' 

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, ' Happy art thou, 
Simon Bar-jonah : for flesh and blood revealed it not unto thee, 

1 8 but my Father who is in heaven. So I say also unto thee : Thou 
art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church ; and the gates 

19 of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the 
keys of the kingdom of heaven : and whatever thou bindest on earth 
shall be bound in heaven : and whatever thou loosest on earth 
shall be loosed in heaven.' 

20 Then he enjoined his disciples that they should tell no one 
that he was the Messiah. 

21 From that time began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how 
that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer much from the elders 
and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day 

22 be raised. Then Peter took him aside, and began to rebuke him, 

23 saying, ' God forbid, Lord ; this shall never befall thee.' But he 
turned, and said unto Peter, ' Get thee behind me, Satan : thou 
art a stumbling-block unto me : for thou thinkest not the thoughts 
of God, but of men.' 

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, ' If any man would come 
after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow 

2 5 me. For whoever would save his life shall lose it : and whoever 

26 would lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what shall it 
profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and forfeit his life ? or 



234 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XVI. 13-28 

27 what shall a man give as the price of his life ? For the Son of man 
is about to come in the glory of his Father with his angels ; and 
then will he render to every man according to his works. Verily 

28 I say unto you, There are some of those standing here, who shall 
not taste death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom/ 

Matthew omits Mark viii. 22-26. He probably objected to 
the manner in which the miracle is conducted. It has already 
been pointed out how both Mark viii. 22-26 and vii. 31-37 have 
' cast their shadows before ' in Matt. ix. 27-33. 

13-16 correspond with Mark viii. 27-29. 

13. Note that ' the Son of man ' is put instead of Mark's ' I ' ; 
in some MSS. it is added to ' I ' in apposition. As the ' Son of man ' 
is in Matthew equivalent to the Messiah, the change from the simple 
1 1 ' is very awkward, for the question anticipates the reply. 

14. Jeremiah is added. Was there also some legend that he 
too like Elijah had not died ? The wording points in the direction 
of Luke ix. 19 : * a prophet ' being interpreted to mean, * one of 
the old prophets resurrected.' 

16. ' The Son of the living God ' is added. The Messiah is 
the Son of God, but this is scarcely to be understood yet in a 
Johannine or full Christian sense. 

17-19. Matthew only. This is the famous passage about the 
primacy of Peter and his position in the Church. To make up for 
the rebuke in 23, Peter here receives a magnificent praise and 
promise. 

17. No man has told him, including Jesus himself. Only 
inward divine revelation could have enabled Peter to make the 
right guess. (But after all that in Matthew has happened, this is 
extremely odd . It contradicts xiv. 33 . ) Human sight and j udgment 
could not discern in Jesus, as he walked on earth, the divine Sonship. 

18. * So I,' i.e. in addition to what God has told you, I now 
announce, etc. Or, ' since God has also thus honoured thee, I now 
announce, etc.' ' Thou art Peter.' It is assumed here that Simon 
Bar- jonah already possesses the additional name of Peter, i.e. Rock, 
in Aramaic Kepha. Peter then is to be the basis, the corner-stone, 
of the Church. Elsewhere (not in the Gospels) Christ himself is 
so described. The passage points to an Aramaic original. * The 



XVI. 13-28] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 235 

Greek equivalent to the Aramaic word, which is feminine, is petra 
(fern.) =" rock " ; but for the proper name of a man this feminine 
form was unsuitable ; hence the choice of Petros ( = " stone "), no 
difference of meaning being intended ' (Box). In order to avoid 
the obvious meaning that Peter himself is the rock, the old Protestant 
commentators devised the interpretation that the rock is the faith 
of Peter, and not Peter himself. It is the Messiahship and divine 
Sonship — a most artificial interpretation. 

The word c/cicA^o-ta is in the Gospels only found here, and in 
Matt, xviii. 17. It corresponds to the Hebrew and Aramaic word 
keneset, and means ' congregation ' or ' community.' 

' The gates of Hades ' (or ' Hell '). What does this mean ? 
(i) The gates may be a metaphor for the greatest dangers, as in 
the Psalms. The community will not succumb to persecutions. 
Or (2) the ' gates ' stand for the powers of darkness which may 
issue from it. The conceptions of * Hades ' as the dwelling-place of 
the dead, and of ' hell ' as the abode of the devil and his myrmidons, 
are mingled together. Death and its powers shall not prevail 
against the Church, which shall be eternal. 

19. Peter is given here a double office. He is the Rabbi who 
' binds and looses,' and he is the steward or majordomo. It is as 
the steward that he bears the keys. The keys of the Kingdom 
are the signs of office. The basis of this part of the verse is Isaiah 
xxii. 15-25. (In the Apocalypse iii. 7 Jesus himself holds the keys.) 
Thus Peter, as majordomo or steward, is to occupy the same position 
towards the ' Kingdom ' as Eliakim occupied towards the house of 
David in Isaiah. He is to be the first minister, the chief officer, 
with full powers. 

The ordinary interpretation according to which Peter is the 
gatekeeper of heaven is false. It is not ' heaven,' but ' the Kingdom 
of heaven ' of which he has the ' keys,' and that is a very different 
thing. The keys symbolize the office. They need not be used. 
Or, as a chief duty of the majordomo is to grant or refuse access to 
the royal presence, the keys may symbolize the power of receiving 
into the Church those who wish to enter, of keeping out those 
who would cause trouble, and generally, every exercise of ecclesi- 
astical authority towards men. The use of the keys implied in Rev. 
iii. 7 suggests that this interpretation is, perhaps, more probably 
correct. 

' Heaven ' in the second part of the verse is different from 
' the Kingdom of heaven ' in the first part. The ' Kingdom of 
heaven ' is here practically the same thing as the Christian com- 
munity. ' Heaven ' by itself is the dwelling - place of God, as 
opposed to earth. 



236 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XVI. 13-28 

1 Whatever thou bindest.' Here the second office allotted to 
Peter is alluded to. He is not only the steward, but the Rabbi, 
and therefore the judge. We can illustrate the passage by a refer- 
ence to Matt. xiii. 52. There the scribe is compared with the 
steward ; here the two are combined. 

Binding and loosing mean in Jewish jurisprudence forbidding 
and allowing. What Peter on earth declares right and wrong, 
allowed and forbidden, is to be ratified in heaven. 

A very different interpretation of the two verses 18, 19 is given 
by Dell in Z. N. W., 1914, pp. 1-49. He argues that the Aramaic 
Cepha, or Kaypha, means stone, not rock. For some unknown 
reason Jesus gave to Simon this name Kaypha or stone, of which 
the Greek is Petros. The words in 18 are just a pun, a popular 
word-play or etymology. ' Petros ' suggested ' petra ' ; the stone 
suggested the rock. The verse is not a translation from the Aramaic. 
The keys are real keys, not a mere symbol of office. The conception 
of gates in heaven and of a door-keeper or key-keeper is shown to be 
very ancient, and to run through many mythologies. Similarly with 
the gates of Hades or the Underworld ; that too is a very old concep- 
tion. In our verse the reference is to the story of Jesus's descent 
into Hades, whereby he opened the gates, so that the members of 
the Ecclesia are not kept back by them, and can live again in the 
resurrection world. Cp. Matt, xxvii. 52, 53. And Peter lets them 
into the Kingdom of heaven. Nor does Dell accept the ordinary 
view of binding and loosing. The power which Peter enjoys is the 
power to loose men from the spell of demons, to free them from 
' possession,' or the power to bind them with spells so that they die 
(cp. Acts v. i-n). This explanation also has its difficulties ; not 
least is the necessary interpretation of the * kingdom of heaven ' to 
mean, not the Christian community, as is usual in Matthew, but 
heaven itself, or, at any rate, the eschatological Kingdom. 

Whether the passage 17-19 was composed by Matthew, or is a 
very early, or a very late, insertion need not be discussed here. 
The prominence given to Peter is characteristic of Matthew. But 
whether early or late, the passage can hardly be ' authentic ' in the 
sense that it was said by Jesus himself. In any case, too, ' Peter ' 
must, it would seem, be meant to include Peter's representatives 
and successors. Some would like to keep 17 and 18 for Jesus, and 
to exclude 19, or at least the first half about the keys. ' The 
conception of the " Kingdom of Heaven " is utterly different from 
that expressed elsewhere in the Lord's teaching. It is here the 
Christian Church in which the apostle is given the chief authority. 
And if Jesus really gave him this authority in the hearing of the 
disciples, the subsequent dispute (xviii. i) as to which of them was 
the greatest is inexplicable, and scarcely less so the question asked 



XVI. 13-28] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 237 

by the apostle himself in xix. 27 ' (McNeile). ' In the Jewish 
idiom, " I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven " 
means " I appoint thee my Grand Vizier " ; and " to loose " and 
" to bind " are technical terms for declaring permissible or the 
reverse particular lines of conduct in the light of the obligations of 
the Law. The passage, in the form in which we have it, is an 
emphatic declaration that Peter is the Apostle who on these points 
could speak with the authority of Christ. What our Lord really 
said to Peter, and what at the time of speaking He meant by it, is 
an entirely different question ; and it is not one to which we are 
likely to find an answer with which everybody will be convinced. 
But whatever the words meant as originally spoken, it is hard not 
to suspect that they have since been modified by some controversy 
between the followers of different leaders in the early Church. But 
to my mind it is less likely to have been the controversy between 
the party who said " I am of Peter " and the admirers of Paul, than 
that between the extreme Judaisers who exalted James to the 
supreme position and the intermediate party who followed Peter. 
In that case " Thou art Peter " will have been derived, not from 
M, but from the local traditions of Antioch — the headquarters of 
this intermediate party. But we shall refer to M the doublet of 
this saying, Matt, xviii. 17, which confers the power " to bind and 
loose " upon the Ecclesia, that is, on the righteous remnant of the 
People of God, of which the Jerusalem Church was the natural 
headquarters and shepherd ' (Streeter, pp. 258, 259. Cp. p. 515). 

Harnack, with his usual wealth of learning (Sitzungsbericht der 
Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1918, pp. 637-654), has 
sought to show that the words, ' And upon this rock will I build 
my church ' are a late interpolation into Matthew's text, which 
brought with it the change of aov into avrfjs in the next clause. 
(The original reading was therefore, ' The gates of Hades shall not 
have power over thee.') The ' gates of Hell/ or ' gates of Hades,' 
do not mean powers of Hades, or the devil, but simply death. 
" Wem verheissen wird, dass der Tod nicht die Oberhand iiber ihn 
gewinnen wird, dem wird damit verheissen, dass er nicht sterben 
wird — dies und nichts anderes. Also gilt die Verheissung Petrus 
und nicht der Kirche." The word e/c/cA^cn'a in the Gospels only 
occurs here and Matt, xviii. 17, but there it means the single 
community. There is no parallel to the idea that Jesus is going to 
build a separate community over and above, or by the side of, the 
house of Israel. The interpolation was intended to get rid of the 
difficulty that Peter did die before the Messianic age and kingdom 
appeared, to glorify him all the same, and to glorify the Church. 
It was probably inserted about the age of Hadrian (117-138 A.D.) 
in Rome. The passage without the interpolation belongs to the 



238 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XVI. 13-28 

oldest tradition. The Aramaic original is everywhere apparent. 
McLKaptos, flesh and blood, Father in heaven, gates of Hades, etc., 
are all Semitic terms. Harnack clearly regards the passage as 
authentic. In 18 YLerpos is probably not original. The word 
should be K^a? as in John i. 43. ' Because of your faith and 
testimony I now herewith give you the name of Rock.' In a very 
interesting article in the Nieuw Theologisch Tijdschrift of 1921 
(pp. 174-205) Volter argues that Harnack is wrong. There has been 
no interpolation in Matthew's text. The passage as a whole is 
unauthentic ; Matthew found 15, 16 in his source, and for the rest 
only a statement that Simon should henceforth be called Peter 
(cp. John i. 42). The subject is of immense historic interest, but 
outside the proper province of my book, and I cannot discuss it 
further. 

20 corresponds with Mark viii. 30. 
21-23. Cp. Mark viii. 31-33. 

21. The corresponding verse of Mark (31) is emphasized, and 
the journey to Jerusalem is specially mentioned. Matthew indicates 
here, from his use of the same words as in iv. 17, ' from that time 
began Jesus,' that here begins the second great division in the life 
of Jesus. The preaching in Galilee is ended. Now come the journey 
to the capital, the Passion and the death. 

It is to be noted that for the last words of Mark viii. 31 (/cat 
jLterd rpeZs rjp,€pas avacrrfjvai) both Matthew and Luke have KOL rfj 
rpirr) rjfJi€pa €y€p0fjv<u. How is this identity to be explained I 
Not in all probability in the use of Matthew by Luke or of Luke 
by Matthew. But though the compiler of Matthew did not know 
Luke, and vice versa, the text of the one may have been occasionally 
altered in accordance with the other. Again, some MSS. and the 
S.S. read in both Matthew and Luke here * after three days,' which 
may be the primitive reading. And lastly it is by no means certain, 
and is indeed unlikely, that c after three days ' meant originally 
' in a short time,' or that it is older than * on the third day,' or even 
that l after three days ' and * on the third day ' may not be used 
indifferently with the same meaning. The common use of eyepBfjvtu 
may be due to chance, or to conflation. 

22. The words of Peter are only found in Matthew. The first 
three mean literally, ' [God be] gracious to thee, Lord.' 

23. * Thou art a stumbling-block unto me ' is added by 
Matthew. Peter is a stumbling-block or temptation to Jesus, 



XVI. is-28] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 239 

because he implies that Jesus ought not to go up to Jerusalem to 
suffer and die, but to triumph and conquer as the * Jewish ' and 
' political ' Messiah. ' The words (" Get thee behind me," etc.) 
have been explained metaphorically as a command to the Satan 
that spoke in the apostle to move behind Jesus, instead of standing 
in His way to the Cross. But " me " is possibly an early mistake 
for " thee," which would make the words mean merely, " Depart." 
Jesus treats Peter as possessed, and addresses him and Satan in 
the same sentence [or him as Satan] ' (McNeile). Cp. iv. 10. 

24-28. Mark viii. 34~ix. i. In Matthew, Jesus, more properly, 
speaks to the disciples only. In Mark he summons and addresses 
the ' crowd.' 

27 corresponds with Mark viii. 38, but is shortened, because 
part of Mark viii. 38 had been practically quoted already in Matt. x. 
33 (Q). The words ' and then he will render every man according 
to his works ' are in Matthew only. Matthew is not afraid to let 
Jesus announce a judgment according to works. Prov. xxiv. 12 is 
not antiquated for him. 

28. The position of Jesus after the resurrection and at the 
judgment has become still grander than in Mark ix. I. There we 
had * the kingdom of God comes with prayer ' ; here we have * the 
Son of man coming in his kingdom.' The Son of man brings his 
Kingdom with him at the Parousia. He ushers it in and represents 
it. In the older conception the Kingdom is God's. Here it is the 
Messiah's (cp. xiii. 41). 

The Greek ' in ' may perhaps be translated * with,' for it is 
itself a translation of an Aramaic particle that meant either ' with ' 
or ' in.' * In ' makes much less good and simple sense. Jesus is 
now the Judge. Cp. Bousset on the gradual growth of the tran- 
scendental and heavenly position of the risen Jesus in Kurios 
Christos, 2nd ed. p. 18. 



CHAPTER XVII 

1-13. THE TRANSFIGURATION 
(Cp. Mark ix. 2-13 ; Luke ix. 28-36) 

1 And after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his 
brother, and brought them up on to an high mountain by them- 

2 selves. And he was transfigured before them : and his face shone as 

3 the sun, and his raiment became white as the light. And, behold, 
there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him. 

4 Then Peter answered and said unto Jesus, ' Lord, it is good for us 
to be here : if thou wilt, I will make here three tents ; one for 

5 thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' While he yet spoke, 
behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them : and behold, a voice 
out of the cloud, saying, ' This is my beloved Son, in whom I am 

6 well pleased ; hear ye him.' And when the disciples heard it, 

7 they fell upon their faces, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came 

8 and touched them, and said, * Arise, and be not afraid.' And when 
they had lifted up their eyes, they saw nobody except Jesus only. 

9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus enjoined 
them, saying, ' Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man has 
risen again from the dead.' 

10 And the disciples asked him, saying, ' Why then say the scribes 

11 that Elijah must first come ? ' And Jesus answered and said unto 

12 them, ' Elijah comes and puts all things in order. But I say 
unto you, Elijah has come already, and they did not recognize 

13 him, but they did unto him whatever they pleased. So also is the 
Son of man about to suffer from them.' Then the disciples under- 
stood that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist. 

1-8 correspond pretty closely with Mark ix. 2-8. 7 (which is 
a human and characteristic touch) is, however, wanting in Mark 
and in Luke as well as 6. 

240 



XVII. 14-21] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 241 

2. The shining of the face is added by Matthew. Cp. Exodus 
xxxiv. 29. Dan. xii. 3. 

5. The cloud which ' overshadows ' is ' bright.' Thus ' over- 
shadow ' has lost its original literal meaning, and merely represents 
the presence or coming down of God. 

10 corresponds with Mark ix. II. But the question of the 
disciples as here put may possibly mean, Why do the Scribes say 
that Elijah must come before the advent of the Messiah ? He has 
only now appeared (i.e. after the coming of Messiah, just now at the 
transfiguration) . 

Of the two replies of Jesus in Mark ix. 12, 13, Matthew preserves 
the second only. And further : John (= Elijah) was a type of the 
Messiah, who is also about to be rejected, to suffer and to die. 

13. The disciples are allowed to understand the meaning of 
what Jesus says. In Mark it is implied, if not stated, that they 
remain obtuse. 



14-21. AN EPILEPTIC CHILD 
(Cp. Mark ix. 14-29 ; Luke ix. 37-43, xvii. 5, 6) 

14 And when they returned to the people, a man came up and 

15 knelt down before him saying, ' Lord have pity on my son : for 
he is moonstruck and suffers sorely : for often he falls into the 

1 6 fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, 

17 and they could not cure him.' Then Jesus answered and said, 
* faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you ? 

1 8 how long shall I bear with you ? bring him hither to me.' And 
Jesus rebuked the demon ; and it departed out of him : and the 
child was cured from that hour. 

19 Then came the disciples to Jesus privately, and said, ' Why 

20 could not we cast it out ? ' And Jesus said unto them, ' Because 
of your little faith : for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as 
a grain of mustard seed, ye could say unto this mountain, Move 
from this place to that, and it would move ; and nothing would be 
impossible unto you.' 

The narrative in Mark is considerably shortened. It may even 
be that Matthew and Luke here depend on another source as well 
as on Mark. Streeter holds that Luke * gives the saying as it stood 

VOL. II R 



242 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XVII. 22, 23 

in Q, while Matthew, as usual where Mark and Q overlap, conflates 
the two ' (p. 284). Matthew avoids, so far as he can, the ' demoniac 
possession ' features of the story. The child's malady appears to 
have been epilepsy. 

15. ' Moon-struck.' Matthew only. Cp. iv. 24. Here is the 
source of the famous words, ' Kyrie eleison,' ' Lord have pity.' 

20. Instead of Mark ix. 29, Matthew substitutes Mark xi. 
22, 23. The disciples' lack of success is attributed to their lack of 
faith. The illustration may be regarded as an illustration only, 
and yet the speaker must be supposed to believe that physical 
miracles are possible for man to achieve, if only he fully believes 
and trusts that he can through faith achieve them. Cp. xxi. 21, 
where the thought and illustration are repeated. S.S. has ' unfaith,' 
amorta, for ' little faith,' which is probably original. ' No faith ' 
seemed too strong to be attributed to the apostles, so ' little faith ' 
was substituted. Again, S.S. has : ' If there were in you faith ' 
(which ye have not), ' then,' etc. This would be in Greek el et^ere, 
* If ye had faith ' (which you have not). The present reading, ei 
*Xn r€ > ' If 7 e ' (which may be the case) * have faith,' is again perhaps 
a softening down. 

21 (Mark ix. 29) is wanting in the best MSS., and may be re- 
garded as ' not genuine.' Nevertheless, it shows the value attri- 
buted to fasting at an early period of the Christian Church. More- 
over the addition of ' and fasting ' in Mark ix. 29 has good authority 
(S.S. etc.), and is accepted by Wellhausen in the second edition 
of his commentary on Mark. On the relation between Mark and 
Matthew (Q) in this passage cp. Meyer i. p. 229. 



22, 23. SECOND PREDICTION OP THE PASSION 
AND RESURRECTION 

(Cp. Mark ix. 30-32 ; Luke ix. 43-45) 

22 And while they were journeying in Galilee, Jesus said unto 
them, * The Son of man is about to be delivered up into the hands 

23 of men : and they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.' 
And they were exceedingly grieved. 

The disciples understand what Jesus meant, and, indeed, his 
words are clear. Matthew does not maintain, like Mark, an absurd 
degree of obtuseness in the disciples. The sufferer is the Son of 



XVII. 24-27] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 243 

man ; and here Matthew does not, as in xvi. 21, substitute the 
personal pronoun. The Son of man is intended to signify Jesus ; 
but the question remains why Jesus spoke of himself, if so he did, 
under this title, and especially on these occasions. 

22. irapaSiSovai ' need not be an exact prediction of the action 
of Judas, as though the Lord added a fresh detail to his former pre- 
diction. TTapaS&ovcu is used quite generally of ' handing over ' 
some one to the authorities (iv. 12, v. 25, x. 17, 19, 21. xx. 19. 
xxiv. 9) ' (McNeile). 



24-27. ON TEMPLE TRIBUTE 
(Matthew only) 

24 And when they came to Capernaum, they who collected the 
temple tax came to Peter, and said, * Does not your master pay 

25 the tax ? ' He said, ' Yes.' And when he had come into the 
house Jesus anticipated him, saying, * What thinkest thou, 
Simon ? from whom do the kings of the earth collect toll or tax ? 

26 From their own children, or from strangers ? ' Peter said unto 
him, * From strangers.' Jesus said unto him, ' Then are the 

27 children free. Yet, so that we give them no offence, go thou to 
the lake, and throw out thy line, and take up the fish that first 
comes up ; open its mouth, and thou wilt find therein a coin ; that 
take, and give it unto them for me and thee.' 

The passage only occurs in Matthew. The tax referred to is 
the Jewish tax of two drachmai ( = half a shekel), paid by every 
Jew while the temple was in existence towards its upkeep. It 
was collected about March in every year. The story again gives 
prominence to Peter, as in xiv. 28-31 and xvi. 17-19. 

25. T€\7j, ' toll ' ; Kfjvaos, ' tax.' Both, according to Oriental 
conception, are to be levied on, and exacted from, the foreigner 
and the tributary only. But, if so, and if the ' king ' in this case 
is God as the Lord of the Temple, no Jew ought to pay the tax. 
The argument is really too wide. All the citizens of the theocracy 
should be exempt from toll or tax. But perhaps Jesus took the line 
that those who would not believe in him are no longer ' sons ' and 
* free.' Thus Jesus is not thinking of the Jews, but of himself and 
his disciples. He and they are sons of the Kingdom, and therefore 
should be free of taxes. 



244 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XVII. 24-27 

But the tax depended upon a Pentateuchal law (Ex. xxx. 11-16). 
Would Jesus have wished to disobey it, or suggested that it had 
been wrongly imposed ? He never definitely says that the Law was 
only to continue till his own appearance, or that he did not believe 
that God had ordered every enactment in it, or that God had told 
him, the Messiah, that he might violate it. It is not certain that he 
was definitely hostile to the sacrificial system. He wanted the 
Temple to be respected. Perhaps the bearing of his words upon the 
law in the Pentateuch was not present to his mind. We must 
remember the extreme fragmentariness of the Gospel narratives. 
Are we to suppose that Jesus had secret views about the Law which 
he did not dare to mention to the disciples or to the people '• 
Certainly the people loved the Law too well, and were too ready to 
die for it, to have tolerated any open disparagement of its excellence, 
validity, or divineness. It is also possible that what Jesus actually 
said upon this occasion has not been accurately preserved. 

Perhaps * sons ' means the actual sons of the kings, the princes. 
Jesus and his disciples would then be the ' princes,' — ' kings of the 
earth ' as contrasted with God, the King of heaven. Conceivably 
the story is not authentic. It may reflect the debates in the old 
Palestinian Christian community about their right attitude to the 
Temple Tax before A.D. 70. Jesus, it was held, obeyed the law, 
though he need not have done so. The parallel passage in Succah 
30 a is interesting. The half -shekel tax, after the destruction of the 
Temple, was added to the taxes which had to be paid to the Romans, 
and Suetonius says that under Domitian, in whose reign Matthew's 
Gospel may have been written, the Jewish taxes were very strictly 
exacted. It has, therefore, been supposed by some that the payment 
to the Romans is the real subject of the story. The Christians, as 
' sons of God,' ought not really to have to pay this tax, which was 
originally a tax paid to God ; still they had better pay it, in order 
to give no offence (not to the Jews, but) to the heathen. The 
question whether the Christians should pay the tax is answered by 
a story as to whether Jesus had paid the Temple tax of his own day. 
Though he was ' free,' he paid it. His concession to the Law is to 
be typical for the Christian as regards the tax to the Romans. Thus 
the story, though the fact that Jesus paid the tax may be true, 
perhaps grew up only after his death. 

It is also possible that an old Logion, the purpose of which is now 
irrecoverable, is contained in 25 and 26, and was used in this story 
(Bultmann, p. 17). 

26. The verse ' reflects so strong an anti-Jewish feeling that 
its genuineness must be considered extremely doubtful ' (McNeile). 
The * representation of the Jews as " strangers " who pay taxes to 



XVII. 24-27] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 245 

the " Great King " (v. 25), while the Son of God and his followers 
are exempt, is a striking antithesis. But is it any stronger than 
Christ's denunciation of his contemporaries generally — especially 
the orthodox religious leaders who were most zealous in the matter 
of the Temple services — as " an evil and adulterous generation " ? ' 
(Box). 

27. ' In its present form the narrative cannot be rationalized. 
It relates a miracle of foreknowledge. It is unnatural to make the 
words mean " as soon as you have opened its mouth, i.e. extracted 
the hook, you will be able to [sell the fish and thereby] obtain a 
stater " ' (McNeile). Nor can it mean : earn the tax (' stater = 
shekel = four drachmai) by fishing. It is true that the story is not 
completed ; the order is given by Jesus, but we are not told that 
Peter carried it out. Nevertheless, there are too many parallels 
in the legends and tales of many nations to make the argument 
probable that some simple explanation such as one of those suggested 
above lies at the bottom of the story. The miracle is only in process 
of formation, as the denouement is omitted. The narrator in 
Matthew clearly intended to indicate a providential arrangement 
which Jesus foresaw. Cp. the Ring of Polykrates and the Talmudic 
pearl story in Sabbath 119 a. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

1-9. THE QUESTION OF SUPERIORITY — OF STUMBLING-BLOCKS 
(Cp. Mark ix. 33-37, 42-48 ; Luke ix. 46-48, xvii. I, 2) 

1 At that time the disciples came unto Jesus, saying, * Who i« 

2 the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ? ' And Jesus called & 

3 little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them. And he- 
said, ' Verily I say unto you, Except ye turn, and become as little, 

4 children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Who- 
ever then shall humble himself as this little child, he is greatest 

5 in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such little 

6 child in my name receives me. But whoever causes one of these 
little ones who believe in me to stumble, it were better for him 
that a millstone were hung about his neck, and that he were 
drowned in the depth of the sea. 

7 * Woe unto the world because of the stumbling-blocks ! for 
the stumbling-blocks must needs come ; but woe to the man by 

8 whom the stumbling-block comes ! But if thy hand or thy foot 
cause thee to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from thee : it 
is better for thee to enter into Life maimed or lame, rather than 
having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 

9 And if thine eye cause thee to stumble, pluck it out, and throw 
it away from thee : it is better for thee to enter into Life with one 
eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. 

Matthew still follows the order of Mark, and uses Mark as his 
main authority. 

I. Cp. Mark ix. 33-35. Matthew is perhaps right in making the 
disciples ask Jesus the question * who is greatest/ instead of Mark's 
supernatural manner of starting the subject. But he does not 
indicate that what the disciples wanted to know was which of them- 
selves would be the greatest. Perhaps we may assume that Jesus 

246 



XVIJI. 1-9] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 247 

overheard them disputing with one another. Matthew omits many 
questions put by Jesus in Mark, just as he also omits phrases which 
seem to ascribe any inability to Jesus. He also likes to omit disputes 
among the disciples. Rebukes addressed to them are softened. 
Statements that they did not understand or know what to say are 
passed over. It is expressly stated that they did understand, 
xvi. 12, xvii. 13. 

The addition ' in the Kingdom of heaven ' is not found in Mark. 
But the meaning is probably the same. The present tense must be 
supposed to refer to the future. The Kingdom is future. 

2. The child is differently treated here from Mark ix. 36. The 
application made of it is like Mark x. 15. Only the pure in heart, 
the trustful, the humble, and the unassuming, shall enter the 
Kingdom. In Matthew, Jesus at once uses the illustration of the 
child. Mark ix. 35 is omitted. It is used in xxiii. II. The parti- 
ciple Tr/DOCT/caAecra/xei/os- replaces Mark's eVay/caAto-a/ievos 1 , for Jesus, 
in Matthew, is not allowed to embrace the children, and it also 
usefully indicates that the child had to be summoned. The argu- 
ment seems to be : ' You talk about who is to be first and greatest 
in the Kingdom. But unless you are humble, like a child, you will 
not enter the Kingdom at all. He who does so humble himself 
shall not only enter the Kingdom, but be the greatest in it.' 

3. 4. Cp. Mark x. 15. ' Return ' is used in the Biblical and 
Rabbinical sense of 'repent.' Jesus demands a kind of moral 
and religious regeneration. Such regeneration involves a child's 
simplicity and Anspriichslosigkeit. 

4. Contains the answer to the question in I. He who is most 
humble and lowly, and thinks least of himself, shall in the Kingdom 
be thought the greatest. Cp. Matt. xx. 26, 27 and xxiii. n, 12. 

5. Mark ix. 37. The child seems here intended to be symbolical 
of lowly, humble, and insignificant believers or would-be believers. 

6-9. The section on stumbling-blocks, which corresponds with 
Mark ix. 42-48. Verses 8, 9 have already appeared in the Sermon 
on the Mount, v. 29, 30. 

6. Mark ix. 42. The ' believers ' are here specially qualified 
as ' believers in me,' the Christ, a phrase which only occurs here 
in the Synoptics and in some MSS. in Mark ix. 42. 

7. Not in Mark. (Cp. Luke xvii. i). The source may be Q. 
The sentence is remarkable. Does it allude to incidents in the 



248 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XVIII. 10-14 

Christian community which happened after the death of Jesus ? 
Dr. Carpenter says that the verse may well go back to Jesus himself. 
For he must have had plenty of experience of back-sliding even 
after a few months of his ministry. Because apostasies are certain 
to occur, blame none the less attaches to those through whose 
conduct (whether it be uncharitableness, contempt, or indifference) 
such apostasies arise. 

8, 9 correspond with Mark ix. 43-48. They are also found 
in Matt. v. 29, 30. Here they interrupt the connection. The 
stumbling-blocks spoken of are a totally different kind from those 
in 6 and 7. There the reference is to the seduction or lapse of 
others ; here to personal fall and personal temptations. 



10-14. THE SAVING OF THE LOST : THE VALUE 
OF THE SMALL 

(Cp. Luke xv. 3-7) 

10 ' Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones ; for I 
say unto you, that their angels in heaven always behold the face of 

12 my Father who is in heaven. What think ye ? if a man have an 
hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the 
ninety and nine upon the mountains, and go and seek the one which 

13 has gone astray ? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto 
you, he rejoices more over that one sheep than over the ninety 

14 and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your 
Father who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. 

Matthew apparently thought it desirable to introduce in this 
connection the parable of the lost sheep, in order to indicate the 
great value which God sets upon the humble believer and upon his 
salvation. He connects the parable with 6-9 by means of 10. 

10. The injunction not to despise one of these little ones must 
surely refer not to children, but to the humble believers. Yet the 
second half of the verse about the angels probably related originally 
to real children, ' little ones ' in age and stature. 

The statement in the second half of the verse rests upon the 
idea that individuals (as well as nations) have their guardian angels. 
Was the original meaning that the angels of children stand nearer 
to God, inasmuch as children are more precious to Him ? In its 
present connection the verse asserts that those who are lowly and 



XVIII. 10-14] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 249 

insignificant in the eyes of men are specially precious in the eyes of 
God. ' To see God's face continually ' is a metaphor taken from 
Oriental court ceremony. Those most intimate with, and honoured 
by, the king have constant, unimpeded access to his presence 
(cp. Luke i. 19 ; 2 Kings xxv. 19). 

II is a gloss, wanting in many good MSS. It has been inserted 
to make the connection better between 10 and 12. It comes from 
Luke xix. 10. 

12-14. The parable is perhaps found in a better connection and 
with a more original meaning in Luke. For there the words have to 
do with the repentance of sinners, the desire which God has that 
none of His human children, however erring or despised, should go 
permanently astray ; here they are used with a special reference to 
the humble believers of verse 6. They are gentler and more for- 
giving in tone than xviii. 17, which contemplates the ' loss ' of a 
recalcitrant and obstinate sinner with some equanimity. The 
* little ones ' of 14 are the same as the ' little ones ' of 10 and 6. 
Verse 14 seems mainly the work of the Evangelist to make the 
end of the parable fit in with its application and with the wording 
of 6 and IOGL The source of the parable may be Q. 

According to Streeter — and his arguments are strong — Matthew's 
version of the parable comes from M, while Luke's version comes 
from Q (pp. 244, 245). 

The honour paid to repentance, the desire shown by God that 
man should repent, God's willingness to receive the penitent, are 
all characteristic features of the Rabbinical religion. What is new 
and striking in the teaching of Jesus is that this process of repentance 
takes an active turn. Man is bidden, not merely to receive the 
penitent gladly, but to seek out the sinner, to try to redeem him, 
and make him penitent. 

It is curious that Streeter should say, as regards the saying in 
13, that ' no saying attributed to Jesus can have struck those who 
heard it as so utterly daring as this ' (p. 244). To those who know 
the sayings about repentance in the Rabbinical literature, this verse 
is only a vivid and paradoxical way of putting a thought which 
would have struck those familiar with the teaching of the Rabbis 
as beautiful and impressive if you please, but not as ' daring.' 
One Rabbi said that where the penitent stand the righteous 
' who go not astray ' stand not, and I am sure that he was not 
regarded as specially ' daring ' in saying so. And I think it is 
almost indifferent that the date of this Rabbinic saying is far later 
than Jesus. It needs tact and impartiality and a certain flair to 
recognize what sayings of Jesus are within the ambit of Rabbinism 



250 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XVIII. 15-20 

and which are truly original. But I believe it can be done, and that 
dates have not very much to do with the matter. 



15-20. DUTIES AND RIGHTS OP THE COMMUNITY 
(Matthew only ; but cp. Luke xvii. 3) 

15 ' But if thy brother have sinned, go and reprove him between 
thee and him alone : if he hearken to thee, thou hast gained thy 

1 6 brother. But if he hearken not, take with thee one or two more, 
that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be 

J 7 established. And if he refuse to hearken unto them, tell it unto 
the church : but if he refuse to hearken even unto the church, let 

1 8 him be unto thee as an heathen and a tax-collector. Verily I say 
unto you, Whatever ye bind on earth shall be bound in heaven : and 

19 whatever ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Further- 
more I say unto you, If two of you on earth shall agree about any 
thing that they ask, it shall be given them from my Father who is 

20 in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my 
name, I am in the midst of them.' 

15-20 is not found in Mark. But as Matt, xviii. 6, 7 has its 
parallel in Luke xvii. I, 2, so xviii. 15 in Luke xvii. 3. A com- 
parison with Luke shows that a short sentence in Q about the 
erring brother (Luke xvii. 3) was probably expanded by Matthew 
into 15-20. That sentence was followed by the saying about 
forgiveness (Luke xvii. 4) out of which Matthew has made a little 
scene with Peter, and has appended to it the parable of the un- 
grateful servant. ' It is probable that behind the section lie some 
genuine sayings ; but in its present form it belongs to a date when 
the Church was already an organized body. It is the most dis- 
tinctly ecclesiastical passage in Matthew's Gospel ' (McNeile). 

15. In verse 6 the duty of preventing any humble believer 
from falling away or from sinning had been dwelt upon. The 
humblest believer (or would-be believer ?) is not to be neglected 
or despised. For it is not God's will or wish that any should perish. 
Now Matthew passes on to describe the right conduct of disciples 
of Christ to those who have stumbled on their way, to those who 
have erred. Great patience is to be shown with the erring. (What 
sorts of errors are alluded to ? Probably those which are connected 
with specifically Christian conduct or Christian faith.) The usual 



XVIII. i5-2o] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 251 

text lias ' sin against thee,' but the parallel in Luke xvii. 3, as well 
as general reasons, lead one to think that some MSS. are right in 
omitting ' against thee.' It is not a question of forgiveness of 
personal injury. 

An attempt is first to be made to bring back the erring brother 
to the right path by reprimanding him privately. One person only 
is to be sent to reprove him. Cp. Lev. xix. 17. If that fails, a 
fresh attempt is to be made in the presence of two witnesses, 
according to the rule of Deut. xix. 15. If that fails, the congrega- 
tion must be informed, and if the sinner is still recalcitrant, he is 
to be abandoned to his fate. Does this mean excommunication ? 
At any rate it means exclusion from the community. 

We have, in 15 seq., a piece of ancient Christian law or usage put 
into the mouth of Jesus. 17 is scarcely consistent with 22, and 
Jesus would hardly have spoken so harshly of the ' tax-collector.' 
' The " Church," whose authority may be invoked, is very different 
from the Master's " Kingdom of God " ; and the rejection of the 
unrepentant evildoer on to the level of the heathen and the publican 
hardly savours of the tireless love which came to seek and to save 
the lost. . . . The practice of the later community seeks shelter 
under the Founder's sanction ' (Carpenter). Yet : ' The obliga- 
tion upon the individuals no longer to regard him as a brother whom 
the community refuses any longer to count as one of its members 
is dictated by the interests of social morality in an already organized 
community : the Christian is not thereby dispensed from forgiving 
anybody who has committed a personal injury against him. In 
the Gospel as Jesus preached it, sin was looked at as an individual 
act, which only wrongs individuals ; as God pardons sins, so man, 
so far as the sin has hurt him personally, must forgive it also ; in 
the community which the Evangelist is thinking of, sin is not only 
a wrong against God, and capable of causing injury to individual 
men, but it is also a malefaction (un attentat) against the society 
of the saints, and it must be got rid of, whether by the repentance 
of the evildoer or by his elimination and removal ' (Loisy). 

# 18. Cp. xvi. 17-20. The right or power there assigned to 
Peter is here given to the congregation or community as a whole. 
This version is perhaps the older. But M. Loisy thinks that the 
people intended by * you ' in this verse are the apostles, or rather 
those who, when the Evangelist wrote, had replaced them. He 
says : ' Protestant exegesis makes great efforts to attribute this 
power to the community, and not to the apostles as such. But, 
apart from the fact that the parallelism of this sentence with the 
words that Jesus addressed to Peter contradicts this hypothesis, 
the nature of the case does not countenance it, as a group of persons 



252 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XVIII. 15-20 

without a head cannot be supposed to be invested with judicial 
power ; and the Evangelist, who had no thought of formulating a 
theory on the seat of authority in the Church, had in view the 
organization of communities as it existed in his time, in which the 
paternal authority of bishops and presbyters had been substituted 
for that of the apostles ' (E. S. n. p. 91). 

* Binding and loosing ' must be understood here precisely as hi 
xvi. 19. Its meaning is equally large. It includes a full judiciary 
and disciplinal power, conferred on and exercised by the chiefs of 
the community. 

It is usually said that ' church ' (in verse 17) means here each 
individual congregation ; while in xvi. 18 it means the Christian 
community as a whole. 

Perhaps, however, in both cases the mother congregation of 
Jerusalem is intended (Wellhausen). Streeter says : * The section 
(Matt, xviii. 15-22) " If thy brother sin against thee . . . till seventy 
times seven " differs in wording from Luke xvii. 3-4 so much that 
it is not likely that both passages were taken from Q ; especially 
as we know of another version of this particular saying — in some 
ways intermediate between those of Matthew and Luke — preserved 
in the Gospel according to the Hebrews. It must therefore be 
assigned to M. Now an important little point, affording con- 
firmatory evidence that the sayings of a Judaistic type are con- 
nected with M rather than with Q, is the fact that on examination 
it appears that this saying, as it occurred in M, was set in a 
Judaistic context. Only here, and in the passage " Thou art 
Peter " does the word " Church " occur in the Gospels ; and the 
word " Church " in this context clearly means the little community 
of Jewish Christians. In a Gentile community tradition would 
surely have modified the form of the injunction "If he refuse to 
hear the Church, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the 
publican " ' (p. 257). * In Luke the saying about Forgiveness 
(xvii. 1-4) follows immediately after one about Offences, a version 
of which seems to have stood in both Q and Mark. In Matt, 
xviii. 15 ff. also the saying about Forgiveness follows that about 
Offences in the same discourse — only with half a dozen verses 
(from Mark and M) intervening. Seeing there is no very obvious " 
connection of thought between the two topics, the connection 
(Offences — Forgiveness) must have been made in the common 
source Q. How, then, are we to explain the fact that, while the 
Offences saying is virtually identical in Matthew and Luke, that 
on Forgiveness appears in versions exceptionally diverse ? I 
suggest that M also contained a version of the latter saying, which 
Matthew on the whole prefers ; and this is not pure conjecture, 
for in the fragments of the Gospel according to the Hebrews we 



XVIII. i5-2o] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 253 

have evidence that this saying was in circulation in more than one 
version ' (p. 281). 

19 is scarcely connected with 18 by more than the verbal 
coincidences of * on earth ' and ' in heaven.' 

20. The continued presence of Jesus in his community is the 
guarantee that their requests will be granted by God. 

The assertion in this verse could only have been made by some 
one who believed that he was a divine, though not necessarily the 
divine, Being. For such a continued and mystical presence could 
hardly be claimed by, or asserted of, any man. If, therefore, 
Jesus said this verse, he must have believed himself to be such a 
being. Most probably, however, he did not say it. Assemblies of 
persons praying together in the name of Jesus did not exist while 
he was alive. 

The idea of the continued and mystic presence of Jesus in his 
community is adapted and borrowed from the Jewish idea of the 
presence of God in Israel. Cp. Joel ii. 27, and other passages. 
Also the maxim in the Sayings of the Fathers, ' If two sit together 
and exchange words of Torah, the divine presence abides between 
them ; and even when a single individual occupies himself with 
the Torah, the Shechinah is said to rest upon him ' (iii. 3, 7). 

The remarks upon this interesting passage in J. Weiss's com- 
mentary are a curious illustration of the inability of the German 
Protestant theologian to avoid pitfalls in dealing with the Rabbinic 
religion. Weiss holds, rightly enough, that the verse could not 
have been spoken by Jesus. It is based upon the faith of the 
Christian community in Christ's invisible presence through the 
prayers of those who believe in him. It is probably not merely 
a parallel to, but a Christian version of, the Jewish saying already 
quoted. Then Weiss must needs go on to show how much nobler 
and better and greater it is than the Jewish original. For instead 
of * the abstract Law ' you have a ' living personality ' ; instead 
of casuistic legal discussions you have the cultivation of pious 
memory and reverent obedience ; instead of the * incomprehensible 
phantasm of the " Glory " which is separated off from God and 
hovers as a sort of spirit over men/ you have the ' concrete ' 
conception of the presence of the ' heavenly Lord himself with his 
spirit and his gifts.' How much more personal, intimate, and 
joyous the new religion is than the old ! But must we always 
glorify our own possessions by running down our neighbours ? 
Moreover, a mere tiro in Rabbinics knows that the * Law ' in this 
passage is by no means limited to ' casuistic legal discussions ' ; 
there might be nothing casuistic or even legal about it. A 



254 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XVIII. 21-35 

conversation about holiness, nay, even a joint prayer, would con- 
stitute in Rabbinic terminology ' words of Torah.' But suppose 
the discussion were about a legal matter, must it necessarily be 

* casuistic ' ? And why is not the spiritual presence of God as pure 
and noble a thing as the spiritual presence of Christ ? For the 
' Shechinah ' does not mean what J. Weiss says it means ; it means 
just simply the mystic, yet real, presence of God. Might one not 
argue that the belief in this presence is just as joyous, as intimate, 
as ' personal,' as the belief in the presence of a being who, to the 
writer of our passage, was not quite God, although divine ? To some 
persons the conception of the presence of God may even seem the 
grander, purer, and nobler idea. The joyousness, the * Innigkeit ' 
of the Rabbinic religion cannot be known to an outsider who only 
conceives of it as a dark foil and lurid contrast to his own creed. 
But so too the joyousness and * Innigkeit ' of Christianity cannot 
be more than dimly imagined by the Jewish outsider. Why may 
we not be satisfied with our own joyousness, our own ' Innigkeit/ 
without seeking to cheapen and disparage the joyousness and 

* Innigkeit ' of our neighbour ? 



21-35. THE DUTY OF FORGIVENESS AND THE PARABLE 
OF THE UNGRATEFUL SERVANT 

(Matthew only ; but cp. Luke xvii. 4) 

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, * Lord, how often shall my 
brother sin against me, and I forgive him ? till seven times ? ' 

22 Jesus said unto him, * I say not unto thee, Until seven times : but, 
Until seventy times seven. 

23 ' Therefore the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a king, who 

24 desired to settle accounts with his servants. And when he began 
the settlement, one was brought to him, who owed him ten thousand 

25 talents. And as he was unable to pay, the lord commanded him 
to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, so that 

26 payment should be made. Then the servant fell down, and did 
him reverence, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay 

27 thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with com- 

28 passion, and he released him, and forgave him the debt. But the 
same servant, when, he went out, found one of his fellow-servants 
who owed him an hundred shillings, and he seized him, and took 

29 him by the throat, saying, Pay me what thou owest. And his 
fellow-servant fell down, and besought him, saying, Have patience 



XVIII. 21-35] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 255 

30 with me, and I will pay thee. Yet he would not : but he went 

31 away and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt So when 
his fellow-servants saw what was happening, they were very grieved, 
and they came and related unto their lord all that had happened. 

32 Then his lord called him unto him and said to him, thou wicked 
servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou besoughtest me : 

33 shouldest not thou also have had pity on thy fellow-servant, even as 

34 I had pity on thee ? And his lord in his wrath delivered him up to 

35 the torturers, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So also 
will my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive 
not every one his brother.' 

21, 22. It is disputed by the authorities whether the original 
form of Jes-us's saying is better preserved by Matthew or by Luke 
(xvii. 4). 

For Rabbinic teaching on forgiveness, see Abrahams, Studies I., 
chaps, xix., xx. 

22. * Seventy times seven.' If the Greek is a cardinal number, 
it does not answer the question, How often ? For eVra the MS. 
' D ' reads eVra/as, i.e. seventy times seven times. Jesus means 
that there should be no limit to human, any more than there is to 
divine forgiveness. There may be a conscious reference to, and 
contrast with, Gen. iv. 24. ' A definite allusion to the Genesis story 
is highly probable. Jesus pointedly sets against the natural man's 
craving for seventy sevenfold revenge, the spiritual man's ambition 
to exercise the privilege of seventy sevenfold forgiveness ' (Moulton). 
It is disputed whether ' brother ' has the same meaning here as in 15. 
If Jesus is the author of the saying, it is possible that ' brother ' is 
generally equivalent to neighbour. Jesus was not definitely thinking 
of his own disciples only ; he was laying down a general rule. On 
the other hand, it would not be fair to press the inclusiveness of 
the word ' brother.' It does not mean — though the motive for giving 
it as wide an implication as possible is very obvious — 'your 
brother, whether a Christian or no.' Jesus was not thinking of 
these subtleties. He just means your neighbour. He did not 
consciously mean to imply : ' The unrepentant Jew as well as the 
believing Christian.' Matthew omits what Luke retains, namely, 
the repentance of the neighbour, which may, however, be implied. 

25. With the money that the man and his family brought in, 
the king was to be paid. 

27. ' Released,' that is, from slavery. 



256 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XVIII. 21-35 

34. Torture was introduced by Herod into Judaea. In Rabbinic 
law it is forbidden. Thus the story would not be possible under 
the merciful rulings of the Jewish law, but that law was doubtless 
not always enforced. The punishment of Gehenna or Hell is 
alluded to. * Till,' but this means ' perpetually, for the debt 
could never be paid ' (McNeile). 

35. Cp. Mark xi. 26. The king is dropped after the first verse 
of the parable, and we seem then to have only to do with a wealthy 
master or merchant and his slave. We may, however, suppose 
that the ungrateful servant is the chief prefect or viceroy of the 
king. He has farmed the taxes of the whole kingdom, and owes 
the king the huge sum of 10,000 talents ( = £2,062,500). The 
viceroy tries to get in the moneys due to him from the under- 
prefects or satraps. Torture was commonly applied in the east 
when governors of provinces failed to hand in the taxes and tribute 
to the treasury, or were detected in cheating. 

The parable is one of the simplest, though not the deepest, in 
the Gospel. There is no reason why it should not be authentic. 
The moral is clear, and wholly in accordance with Rabbinic teaching. 
The king is God who has to forgive man far more than man has 
to forgive his neighbour. But unless man forgives his neighbour, 
God will not forgive him. Cp. Sirach xxviii. 1-7 ; Matt. vi. 14, 15. 

The opening words, ' Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is 
likened unto/ would mean that in the Kingdom such a forgiving 
disposition is expected of all its members. The aorist wpoiwOr] is 
said by some to indicate that the Kingdom is thought of as already 
begun. How far such an intention existed in the Aramaic original 
is very doubtful. 

[35. It is noticeable that Jesus has no hesitation in ascribing 
to the ' merciful ' Father in heaven conduct which we should now 
regard as exceedingly unmerciful. Jesus has no modern qualms 
about the punishments of Hell.] 



CHAPTER XIX 

1-12. DIVORCE AND ADULTERY 

(Cp. Mark x. 1-12) 

1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, 
he departed from Galilee, and came into the district of Judaea 

2 beyond the Jordan ; and great crowds followed him ; and he healed 
them there. 

3 And some Pharisees came unto him, to test him, saying unto 
him, * Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for every cause ? ' 

4 And he answered and said unto them, ' Have ye not read, that 

5 the Creator made them from the beginning male and female, and 
said, For this reason shall a man leave his father and mother, and 

6 shall cleave to his wife : and they twain shall be one flesh ? Where- 
fore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What then God has 
joined together, let not man separate.' 

7 They said unto him, ' Why then did Moses command to give 

8 a bill of divorce, and to send her away ? ' He said unto them, 
* Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses permitted you to 

9 divorce your wives : but from the beginning it was not so. And 
I say unto you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, 
and marries another, commits adultery.' 

10 His disciples said unto him, * If such is the position of a man 

11 to his wife, it is not desirable to marry.' But he said unto them, 
' All men cannot receive this saying, but only they to whom it 

12 is given. For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their 
mother's womb : and there are eunuchs, who were made eunuchs 
by men : and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves 
eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He that is able 
to receive it, let him receive it.' 

Mark's order is still followed, as it has been since xiv. Chapter 
xviii. had ended the section which began with xiii. Now begins 
the penultimate section reaching to xxv. inclusive. 

VOL. ii 257 s 



258 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIX. 1-12 

2. He teaches the multitude in Mark ; he heals them in 
Matthew. 

3. The form of the discussion here has already been spoken 
about in the notes on Mark x. Jesus gives his own view at once, 
and it is the Pharisees who raise the difficulty about the Mosaic 
law. 

In the notes on Mark the question whether Matthew or Mark 
more truly represents the real intention and teaching of Jesus has 
been briefly discussed. It will be useful here to give a quota- 
tion from the excellent English scholar (Allen) who upholds the 
priority of Mark. He takes the line that Jesus prohibited divorce 
altogether. He supposes that ' for every cause ' and ' except for 
unchastity ' are insertions by the editor of Matthew into the 
narrative. ' The motive of these insertions can only be conjectured. 
But in view of other features of the Gospel it is probable that the 
editor was a Jewish Christian who has here judaized, or rather 
rabbinized, Christ's sayings. Just as he has so arranged v. 16-20 as 
to represent Christ's attitude to the Law to be that of the Rab- 
binical Jews, who regarded every letter of the Law as permanently 
valid, so here he has so shaped Christ's teaching about divorce as 
to make it consonant with the permanent validity of the Penta- 
teuchal Law and harmonious with the stricter school of Jewish 
theologians. It is probably to the same strain in the editor's 
character, the same Jewish Christian jealousy for the honour of 
the Law and for the privileges of the Jewish people, that the pro- 
minence given to Peter (xvi. 19) and the preservation of such 
sayings as x. 5, 6, 23 is due. And to the same source may probably 
be attributed the judaizing of Christ's language, in such expressions 
as "the Kingdom of the heavens," "the Father who is in the 
heavens." 

Mr. Allen allows that ' at first sight Matthew seems more likely 
to be original than Mark. The Jews did not question the legality of 
divorce. That was legalized by Deut. xxiv. 1,2. But they debated 
about the scope and limits of reasons for divorce. Cp. Gittin 
90a, where the views of the schools of Hillel and of Shammai are 
given. The former allowed divorce for trivial offences, the latter 
only for some unchaste act. But it is clear that Matthew is editing 
Mark, and that in Kara irdcrav air Lav and (et) pr) erri Tropveid, 
he has inserted into Mark's narrative matter which is really incon- 
sistent with it. In Mark the Pharisees first put their leading 
question, Is it lawful to divorce a wife ? They themselves would 
have no doubt of the legality of this, but they "test" Christ, knowing 
probably from previous utterances of His that He would reply 
in words which would seem directly to challenge the Mosaic law. 



XIX. i-i 2 ] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 259 

Cp. His criticism of the distinction between clean and unclean meats, 
Mark vii. 14-23. Christ answers with the expected reference to 
the law, What did Moses command ? They state the Old Testa- 
ment law. Moses sanctioned divorce. Christ at once makes His 
position clear. The law upon this point was an accommodation 
to a rude state of society. But a prior and higher law is to be found 
in the Creation narrative, " Male and female He created them," 
Gen. i. 27 LXX, i.e., God created the two sexes that they might be 
united in the marriage bond, which is, therefore, ideally indissoluble.' 
In Matthew the ' Pharisees are represented as inquiring, Is it 
lawful to put away a wife in any pretext ? Christ answers as in 
Mark, that marriage from an ideal standpoint is indissoluble. The 
Pharisees appeal to the law against this judgment. In reply we 
should expect the Lord, as in Mark, to state the accommodating 
and secondary character of the legal sanction of divorce, and to 
reaffirm the sanctity of marriage. But instead, He is represented 
as affirming that Tropveta constitutes an exception. Thus He 
tacitly takes sides with the severer school of Jewish interpretation 
of Deut. xxiv., and acknowledges the permanent validity of that 
law thus interpreted in a strict sense, which immediately before 
He had criticized as an accommodation to a rude state of social 
life. This inconsistency shows that Mark is here original, and that 
/caret TTCLOTCLV alriav and (et) /XT) em Tropvcia are insertions by the 
editor of Matthew into Mark's narrative ' (pp. 201, 202). 

5. As in Genesis it is not God who says the quoted words, 
the subject of * said ' is perhaps Jesus. ' The idea seems to be that 
God created a single pair, who were therefore destined for one 
another. It was also written that a man should forsake his parents 
and cleave to his wife, and that he and his wife should be one flesh. 
In other words, married couples were in respect of unity, as the 
first pair created by God, destined for one another. Divorce there- 
fore should be out of the question ' (Allen). 

8. Matthew adds, ' from the beginning it was not so.' The 
higher law, now resumed at the advent of the Kingdom, was for a 
time modified owing to the hardness of the Israelite heart. Of 
course, the implication which Jesus finds in the words of Genesis 
is not really to be found there. 

Merx is interesting, if not convincing, on this section about 
divorce. His conclusions are perhaps vitiated by his theory that 
Matthew is earlier than Mark. 

In 4 he reads with the S.S. : ' Have ye not read that he who 
made the male made also the female ? ' This he thinks means 
that the woman is as much a creature of God as the man ; the two 



260 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIX. 1-12 

sexes are equal and co-ordinate; Woman is not the dependent of 
man. Just because of this equality (so the S.S. in 5, * because of 
this ') does man become one flesh with his wife. This conception 
of marriage as the union of two persons with equal rights (' zweie 
gleichberechtigte Personen ') was wholly new, for in Jewish law the 
woman was subordinate. Hence the unity effected by marriage 
is insoluble by man. Man and woman were once for all united 
together by God at the creation. Merx thinks that there is also a 
further implication in Jesus's words. Not only can no third party 
(e.g. a court) dissolve that which has become a perfect unity by 
divine decree, but because the two parties are equal and co-ordinate, 
one of them cannot of his own will dissolve the unity. Then 
Merx adds : ' This is valid for the ideal marriage, as the sentences 
of the Sermon on the Mount are valid for the ideal society. Society 
which is still under the dominion of sin needs the safety-valve 
of divorce to obviate greater evils. Churches which forbid it con- 
fuse the actual condition of the world with the ideal condition 
of the kingdom of God, with which such Churches falsely identify 
themselves ' (Das Evangdium Matihaus, p. 272). Thus no divorce 
is an ideal to which at present we cannot conform. Jesus in fact 
announces an ideal to which we cannot as yet attain. 

The specific addition of Matthew in verse 3, /card Trdaav 
CUT iav , ' for every cause/ is warmly defended by Merx as original. 
The Jews could not have asked any other question. They could 
not have asked whether divorce be allowable, for the Law says 
it is. The only question in dispute was whether it was allowable 
(as Hillel taught) * for every cause.' Or was it only allowable 
(as Shammai taught) for some shameful cause, i.e. for some unchaste 
action upon the part of the woman ? The Pharisees ask Jesus which 
side he takes in the controversy. He, as is his wont, does not reply 
directly to the question asked, but lifts the whole subject on to a 
higher plane. Merx adds : ' Mark has omitted the principal 
element in the question of the Pharisees, the /caret Trticrav alriav, 
i.e. for every cause, whereby the narrative is placed very accurately 
in its historical setting. This omission makes the question no longer 
Jewish but universal : namely, as to the permissibility of divorce. 
This is a palpable remodelling of the original form into a purely 
ecclesiastical discussion. Mark writes in circumstances in which 
the Jewish question discussed in the Jewish schools had lost its 
interest. He is later than Matthew ' (Das Evangelium Matthdus, 
p. 274). Merx urges that the further argument is much more 
logical in Matthew. The Pharisees, amazed by the boldness of 
Jesus's reply, say (according to the slightly different version of the 
S.S.), ' How can you say that divorce is wrong seeing that we have 
an order from Moses that if a man wishes to divorce his wife, he shall 



XIX. i-i 2 ] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 261 

give her a bill of divorce ? ' Then Jesus replies that a concession 
was made by Moses — not willed by God — on account of the hardness 
of their hearts. D. H. Miiller (Die Bergpredigt im Lichte der Strophen- 
theorie, p. 19) takes the same line as Merx, and apparently without 
any knowledge of what Merx has written. The question can, 
he thinks, have only been put to Jesus in the form in which we 
find it in Matt. xix. For the current question in dispute was 
whether divorce must be limited to those cases where a man has 
found in his wife -m rvns (R.V. ' some unseemly thing '), 
or whether it might be extended wherever the woman no longer 
' found favour in the eyes ' of her husband. But there was a 
further dispute as to the exact meaning of -Q-J nvis, words which 
are by no means easy to understand. It might mean a physical 
blemish ; cp. the use of the same words in Deut. xxiii. 15 (E.V. 14) 
where R.V. renders ' no unclean thing.' Jesus cut the knot by 
proclaiming the indissolubility of marriage upon the basis of Gen. 
ii. 24. He might have quoted Malachi ii. 16, ' For I, the Lord, hate 
divorce.' Miiller also, like Merx, calls attention to the obviously 
intended correction of the Pharisees' everet'Aaro by Jesus's eVerpej/re^. 
Moses ' allowed ' divorce ; he did not ' command ' it. Thus the 
new teaching of Jesus does not annul the Law ; it fulfils it. Cp. 
Luke xvi. 17, 18. 

Streeter thinks that we have here the third case where Matthew's 
account of an incident seems to be in some ways more original than 
Mark's, and where this is to be accounted for by Matthew having 
used a parallel version in M. ' Matthew's section on Divorce (Mt. 
xix. 3-12) is both more naturally told and more closely related to 
Jewish usage than the parallel in Mark (Mk. x. 2-12). The words 
" for every cause " in the question put by the Pharisees look more 
original, since they imply that the point submitted to the reputed 
Prophet in regard to the grounds of divorce was one actually de- 
bated at the time between the schools of Hillel and Shammai. So 
does our Lord's reply, referring them for an answer to the funda- 
mental principle stated in Genesis, " They two shall be one flesh." 
The reference to the law of divorce in Deuteronomy comes more 
appropriately, as in Matthew, in their reply to Him than as in Mark, 
as our Lord's original answer. And, finally, Matthew's arrange- 
ment makes His final rejoinder, that this was merely permissive, 
more effective ' (p. 259). These arguments of Streeter are most 
vigorously maintained by Dr. Charles. On the other hand, Kloster- 
mann essays to show that Matthew has deliberately altered Mark. 
He, the 'Jewish-Christian' evangelist, was anxious to make the 
story relate to the question in actual dispute among the Jews of 
his day. The apparent smoothness and suitability of the dis- 
cussion, and the apparent propriety of the language and the sequence 



262 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIX. 1-12 

of ideas in 3-8, are fallacious and artificial. The repetition of the 
words ' from the beginning ' (air* apxys 4 and 8) is * the strongest 
proof for the priority of Mark.' 

9. The text in this verse varies. The best reading after the 
word TTopveia appears to be /cat ya/i/^oTy aAA^v, /zot^arat. I have 
translated according to this text (which is also adopted by R.V.). 
But another reading has Trotet avrrjv fjioixevOfjvai,, i.e., he who 
divorces his wife except for unchastity makes her (if she marries 
again) an adulteress (or rather, causes her, if she marry again, to 
make this new * husband ' commit adultery). This reading is 
given in R.V. M. Some MSS. add to the first reading the words, /cat 
d aTToXeXv^evTjv yafjLrjaas /xot^arat, i.e., he that marries the divorced 
woman commits adultery. This addition is found in R.V., but I 
have rejected it. 

Once more the question presents itself. Is * except for un- 
chastity ' (or, as the S.S. has it, ' except for adultery ') an addition 
of Matthew's which expresses or misrepresents the real meaning of 
Jesus ? As an illustration of the views of those who suppose that 
Jesus taught what is now the familiar doctrine of High Churchmen, 
I may quote the following : * The saving clause is added in Matthew 
only. It cannot be supposed that Matthew wished to represent 
Jesus as siding with the school of Shammai (see on v. 3) ; the 
close connection of v. 9 with v. 8 shows that he understood Him 
to be further emphasizing the ideal of creation, and any reference 
to Rabbinic disputes is beside the mark. The addition of the 
saving clause is, in fact, opposed to the spirit of the whole context, 
and must have been made at a time when the practice of divorce 
for adultery had already grown up. Whether the writer of the 
gloss thought that the divorcer was free in such a case to marry 
again is not clear, though it seems to be implied. But that either 
Jesus thought so, in spite of his clear teaching on the first man and 
woman, or Matthew, who coupled v. 9 with v. 8, is inconceivable ' 
(McNeile). 

10-12. An appendix peculiar to Matthew. The saying or 
Logion in 12 may be authentic, and verses 10 and II may be the 
editorial means of linking it with 1-9. 

10. * If the case of the man is so with his wife ' (A.V. and 
R.V.). * If that is a man's position with his wife ' (Moffatt). 
atrta does not apparently refer back to the curia in 3. Here it 
means ' relation to.' (It is, scholars tell us, a Latinism, ' causa ' 
being similarly used.) If, the disciples say, the relation of a man 
to his wife is such that marriage is either indissoluble or only 



XIX. i-i 2 ] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 263 

dissoluble for adultery, it were better not to marry at all. ' If the 
cause or reason of divorce between man and wife be so, i.e. if it is 
to be limited to unchaste acts, it is better not to marry, because 
marriage with a woman of bad temper, or malicious tongue, e.g., 
is in that case an intolerable burden which cannot be thrown 
off ' (Allen). 

11. As ii and 12 now read, the reply of Jesus is very 
remarkable, and not, it must be allowed, in good consistency 
with 1-9. For the object of that section is to sanctify and exalt 
marriage, not to discredit it. * In its present connection, the 
teaching of II, 12, which seems to exalt celibacy at the expense of 
marriage, is inconsistent with the previous section in which Jesus 
enforces the sanctity of the marriage-tie ' (Box). 

What is * this saying ' ? (i) Is it the foolish remark of the 
disciples, that it were better not to marry, which Jesus then turns 
into a serious principle or maxim in verse 12, or (2) does it refer 
to the saying in 12, even though this, as the text now stands, is 
not an independent saying, but is only the justification of ii ? 
Only those to whom God grants the necessary insight can receive 
or comprehend the true meaning of the saying. Let those who 
have this insight receive it. 

Another view is indicated by McNeile and accepted by Dr. 
Charles. The former scholar says : * If ovrws in 10 refers to the 
indissolubility of marriage, the Lord's reply is difficult. He cannot 
be supposed to agree with the disciples that " it is not advantageous 
to marry," after His solemn statement that marriage was a cfivine 
ordinance ; and it is awkward to make T. Xoyov [TOVTOV] refer to 
the quotation in v. 4 f. : "all cannot make room in their lives for 
the divine ordinance of indissoluble marriage, because some for 
physical reasons cannot marry, and some for spiritual reasons will 
not." It is probable that w. 10-12 originally stood in another 
context, following some utterance on self-denial for the sake of the 
Kingdom of Heaven, which might include the renunciation of 
marriage (cp. Luke xiv. 26, xviii. 29) ; and both OVTOJS e. 97 air La. 
and T. \6yov [TOVTOV] refer to this.' 

12. A strange and startling saying, indeed, is now given, 
whether it be the saying referred to in rov \6yov [TOVTOV] (' the 
saying ' or ' this saying ') or not. For the sake of the Highest, 
for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, in order to labour for it 
exclusively, without any obstacle or tie, there are those who have 
voluntarily refrained from marriage. The first two classes of 
eunuchs are so actually and physically. The third class is described 
metaphorically. Such metaphorical eunuchs are men who, for the 



264 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIX. 1-12 

sake of the Kingdom of Heaven — for the sake, as we may interpret 
the phrase, of the highest life and of some absorbing duty and goal 
— have deliberately renounced the joy of marriage and have 
accepted a life of self-sacrifice. ' If the words are genuine/ the 
aorist of the verb evvovx^crav may show that Jesus is ' referring to 
the fact that some of the disciples had given up thoughts of marriage 
in order to follow him ' (McNeile. The same scholar thinks that 
in the case of Jesus himself, his devotion to his mission ' may possibly 
have involved a conscious act of abnegation.') I had always thought 
that there are certain difficulties in supposing that the third class 
of eunuchs is to be taken metaphorically, and I am interested to 
find that Meyer interprets the third class literally no less than the 
first and second. But I see difficulties in supposing with him 
that the passage is due to the specifically Judaeo-Christian source 
of Matthew — Streeter's M (pp. 215, 241). These are some of his 
words : " Somit [after the evidence adduced] ist evident, dass das 
Matthausevangelium aus den judenchristlichen Kreisen Palastinas 
stammt. Von der Entwickelung, die das Christentum gleichzeitig 
in der iibrigen Welt durchmacht, ist er, im Gegensatz zu Lukas, 
kaum beriihrt; daher steht er denn auch den urspriinglichen 
Anschauungen meist wesentlich naher als dieser, wenn er sie auch 
nicht so rein bewahrt, wie Marcus. Wohl aber tritt in der 
schroffen Ablehnung der Ehe, in der er an die Essaer erinnert, 
liber die es aber mit der unverhiillten Empfehlung der Selbst- 
entmannung noch weit hinausgeht, ein sektarischer Zug hervor, 
wie es sich in isolierten, der grossen Weltbewegung ferns tehenden 
Gemeinden in der Regel entwickelt." 

We have to consider 12 not only in itself, but also in its setting. 
And in its setting it places celibacy above marriage, and virginity 
above wedded life. Here there is a feature in the teaching of the 
Gospel which is distinctly anti-Jewish. 

Doubtless the saying in 12 has its partial justification. ' Re- 
nunciation of the marriage tie, like other forms of renunciation, 
may, under certain circumstances, be a desirable form of self- 
denial ' (Box). The celibacy of the Roman Catholic priest has un- 
doubtedly its noble and its useful side. That could easily be illus- 
trated in half a dozen ways. And if Jesus believed that the ordinary 
life of man was soon to come to a sudden and dramatic close, if 
the regular propagation of mankind was soon to cease, and the 
flow of generations to end, it was perhaps tolerably justifiable to 
say that, in the short interval left, the best thing was to prepare 
for it, and not to think of ordinary earthly ties, duties, and pleasures, 
which were all soon to pass away. But, without this background 
and expectation, the saying, even read by itself, and without 10 
and n, seems off the Jewish line. For, even read by itself, it does 



XIX. i-i 2 ] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 265 

give a certain impulse, a certain encouragement, a certain sanction, 
to celibacy, which most Jews would consider somewhat dangerous 
and objectionable. It needs, at best, much qualification. 

Again, taken as it stands, the passage 10 to 12 seems also to 
imply a doctrine of a sort of double morality, one for the ordinary 
man, another for him who would be perfect. (For those ' in the 
world ' and for the * religious ' as Roman Catholics would say.) In 
spite of the noble lives to which this double morality has led, 
Judaism has never seen its way to adopting it. Judaism has con- 
sistently deprecated and depreciated celibacy ; it has required its 
saints to show their sanctity in the world and amid the ties and 
obligations of family life. Asceticism has its justifications, but, on 
the whole, when its practice involves a separation from the world 
and from the ordinary ties of man, it is rather an evil than a good. 
At certain epochs in the world's history the celibate ascetic may 
have been necessary and desirable, but husband and wife surely 
constitute a more permanent and nobler excellence. 

It is true that for some people, e.g. for a man who has a tendency 
to consumption or to insanity, not to marry may be the higher duty. 
A fine, temperate, and eloquent exposition and defence of Roman 
Catholic teaching upon marriage and virginity may be read in 
Baron v. Hiigel's great book, The Mystical Element in Religion, n. 
pp. 126-129 (ist edition). 

A dear friend of mine, far abler than I, with whose opinions 
I yet often venture to disagree, has finely said : * There are some, 
specially gifted by God, whose mission it is to stand apart from 
ordinary life, to overlook the actual world about them and dwell 
with God. The world cannot do without them, but neither can it 
do with many of them, for the temporal world is also real, and 
cannot be saved by those who forget it, or condemn it, or leave it 
alone. It cannot be saved even by those alone who love humanity 
with a great love, yet for their very love of what it may become 
refuse to involve themselves in what it is, lest their witness suffer. 
Those " souls apart " reveal the full perfection of the religious life 
on earth, yet untrammelled by earth, so that men may ever have 
the vision splendid before their eyes, and come both to desire and 
strive to bring their share of earth as near to the vision in spirit 
and in fact as may be, hoping some day that the two may be brought 
into full accord. It is not an accident that Jesus, like many other 
prophets and teachers, was alone and kept himself alone. He 
deliberately cut himself off from human relationships. He was 
a man without family, without home, without country. He knew 
in advance what some other teachers discovered to their cost as they 
went along, that there is a kind of life and a kind of purpose, the 
pursuit of which makes you what is rightly called " an impossible 



266 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIX. 13-15 

person " : that is to say, it leaves no room for the ordinary relation- 
ships ; it is too absorbing, too urgent, and the mission involved 
is of such a nature that it can only be fulfilled from outside society 
by one completely independent of society. I suppose the fact 
that there are men thus set apart by God to be " impossible " persons 
is the one sound argument for a celibate priesthood, if one could 
only make sure that the two groups [i.e. the " impossible persons " 
and the celibate priests] would ever be reasonably coextensive.' 



13-15. «JESUS AND THE CHILDREN 

(Cp. Mark x. 13-16 ; Luke xviii. 15-17) 

13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should 
put his hands on them, and pray : and the disciples rebuked them. 

14 But Jesus said, ' Permit the little children, and forbid them not, 

15 to come unto me : for of such is the kingdom of heaven.' And 
he laid his hands on them, and departed thence. 

The more active human touches are lost in Matthew's version. 
Jesus is not allowed to be * displeased ' with the disciples ; he may 
not take the children in his arms. Mark x. 15 is wanting here. 
Matthew has already used it in xviii. 3. Matthew adds, ' he laid 
his hands on them ' ; the outward accompaniment of blessing. 
Mark's words, ' they brought young children to him for him to 
touch them,' mean the same thing. 



16-30. THE DANGER OF WEALTH 
(Cp. Mark x. 17-31 ; Luke xviii. 18-30, xxii. 28-30) 

1 6 And, behold, one came up to him and said, ' Master, what good 

17 shall I do, that I may obtain eternal life ? ' And he said unto him, 
* Why askest thou me about the good ? One is the good : but if 

1 8 thou desirest to enter into life, keep the commandments.' He said 
unto him, ' Which ? ' Jesus said, ' Thou shalt do no murder, Thou 
shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not 

19 bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother : and, Thou 

20 shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' The young man said unto him, 

21 * All these things have I observed : what lack I yet ? ' Jesus said 
unto him, ' If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell thy goods, and give them 
to the poor, and thou shalt obtain treasure in heaven : and come, 






XIX. i6- 3 o] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 267 



22 follow me.' But when the young man heard that saying, he went 
away sorrowful : for he had great possessions. 

23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, ' Verily I say unto you, A 

24 rich man shall with difficulty enter the kingdom of heaven. And 
again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye 
of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' 

25 But when the disciples heard that, they were greatly appalled, 

26 saying, ' Who then can be saved ? ' But Jesus looked at them, and 
said, ' With men this is impossible ; but with God all things are 
possible.' 

27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, ' Lo, we have abandoned 

28 all, and followed thee ; what then will be ours ? ' And Jesus said 
unto them, ' Verily I say unto you, At the New Birth, when the 
Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye who have followed 
me shall also sit yourselves upon twelve thrones, ruling the twelve 

29 tribes of Israel. And every one that has abandoned house, or 
brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for 
my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit 

30 everlasting life. But many that are now first shall be last ; and the 
last first.' 

17. It is important and interesting to note the changes which 
Matthew has made to avoid the declaration of Jesus in Mark that 
only God is good, and that he, Jesus, is not to be so called. 

In Mark we have, ' Good master, what shall I do ? ' etc. 

In Matthew it is, ' Master, what good shall I do ? ' 

In Mark Jesus says : ' Why callest thou me good ? No one is 
good except God alone.' 

In Matthew Jesus says : ' Why askest thou me about the good ? 
One is the good.' 

Matthew very awkwardly writes ei? 6 dyados, which is based 
on Mark's ouSet? dya66s €i pr) e?? o 0eos", although the words have 
really no meaning without the repudiation of ' goodness ' as applied 
to Jesus. 

Klostermann says very honestly : ' However great or varied 
the effort' (and many commentaries can give examples of such 
efforts), ' the els cariv 6 dyaOos, when put beside the neuter dyadov 
and 7T€pl TOV dyadov no longer makes sense.' 

It may be questioned whether Prof. Bacon does not press the 
difference between Mark and Matthew too far. For ' thou knowest 
the commandments ' Matthew has the imperative, ' keep the 
commandments.' ' Could anything,' says Bacon, ' more flatly 



268 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIX. 16-30 

contradict both spirit and letter of the original ? Mark has the 
definite, distinct declaration that the keeping of these commandments 
leaves lacking the essential thing, which is — the doctrine of the cross, 
life through death, the world to come by surrender of this world. 
And Matthew, by the alteration of a phrase or two, states the con- 
trary. Eternal life is the reward of keeping the commandments ' 
(Gospel Story, p. 132). Nor can I see that the ' one thing thou 
lackest ' is equivalent to ' self -surrender by faith ' as opposed to 

* works of the law.' Prof. Bacon would perhaps hold that a 
morality and religion which honestly preach salvation by means of 
works of the law are a poor morality and a poor religion ; and yet 
no religion and no morality have produced a higher percentage of 
saintly lives and martyrs than these. * On that essential issue the 
Gospel of Mark here shows itself no less squarely Pauline than on 
the practical one of the Mosaic distinctions.' I gather, however, 
that though in both these cases ' squarely Pauline/ it is also 
authentic. Can we have it both ways ? 

18. Matthew makes the man ask which commandments he 
should keep in order to attain the result which he desires. In the 
reply of Jesus, * Thou shalt not defraud ' is omitted, and instead 
of the Tenth Commandment the famous ' Thou shalt love thy 
neighbour as thyself ' (Lev. xix. 18) is inserted. Cp. xxii. 39. 

20. Matthew specially dubs the questioner a young man, and 
hence he is compelled to omit * from my youth up.' Matthew 
makes the man ask what the commandments are, and turns Jesus's 
words, * One thing thou lackest ' into a question of the man, 

* What yet do I lack ? ' Is this change due to a wish to ascribe 
a certain ignorance or self-satisfaction to the man, or a * pathetic 
despair ' ? 

BonhotTer compares the dialogue with the remarkable con- 
versation in Epictetus, Dissertations, ii. 14, and especially with the 
passage, ' You have come to me now, etc.' Matheson's translation, 
p. 189, vol. i. (Epiktet und das Neue Testament, p. 311). 

21. Matthew omits, as usual, the human touches about Jesus. 
He does not * look at ' or * feel love for ' the man. 

* If thou wilt be perfect ' is peculiar to Matthew. He seems to 
distinguish between a morality which is realized in keeping the 
commandments and is adequate for salvation, and a higher ' per- 
fection ' which is conditional on absolute self-devotion, abnegation, 
and poverty. Later writers elaborated this theory. It is the 
Church compromise between the capacities of the ordinary man, 
the needs of society, the propagation of the race, on the one hand, 



XIX. i6-3o] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 269 

and the unrestricted ascetic rigorism of some of the Master's utter- 
ances, upon the other. It is the theory of a double morality, and 
of the higher perfection of an ascetic life of poverty and celibacy. 
Some think that this interpretation goes too far. Matthew is 
merely contrasting Christian perfection with the insufficiency of 
* legal works.' But the fundamental meaning is no more and no 
less than what is found in Mark. * What is wanting ' refers to the 
attainment of eternal life, and Jesus means to imply that he who 
is intensely keen on the Kingdom, and wants to be sure of a place 
in it, must quit all and follow the Master. For an example of the 
way in which thoughts may be read into the words of Matthew I 
may cite Mr. Allen : * What could be said to a man of this sort, 
one who conceived of eternal life as something to be acquired by 
merit, as a day labourer earns a wage ; one who regarded " good- 
ness " as a definite and ascertainable quantity which could be 
worked off ; one who so misunderstood the Commandments, and 
so deceived himself as to suppose that he had kept them ; one who 
could ask the question, " What do I yet lack ? " " If thou wilt 
be perfect," says the Lord. The words are of course a descent to 
the level of the questioner. He thought of perfection as attainable 
by works, and the Lord took him at his own estimation, and pro- 
posed to him a task which would not lead him to perfection, but 
which would do one of two things. If he obeyed, he might learn 
in the service of Christ something of the spirit of the Gospel, which 
sets before men the ideal of the divine perfection, v. 48, and which 
never can conceive of perfection as a goal reached ; cp. Luke xvii. 10. 
If he found the task too hard for him, he would have learned to 
be less confident of his own capacity to do the one thing needful 
for inheritance of eternal life.' But surely the words of Jesus are 
' of course ' not meant to be * a descent to the level of the questioner.' 
They are meant quite simply and seriously. There is no question 
here of works versus faith, or grace versus merit, or goodness as 
quantity versus an unattainable ideal of the divine perfection. All 
this is read into the text and is not in it. To point out how works 
are yet compatible with spirit, or how there can be Pharisaic and 
legal saints just as well as there can be Pauline and Gospel saints 
is beyond the limits of a note. But it would be a good thing if 
Pauline Christians could be made to see Rabbinic holiness from 
the inside, alive and at work, and if Jewish legalists could be brought 
into close contact with Pauline holiness in a similarly experimental 
way. 

And does not Mr. Allen himself in another place and mood 
speak of those ' who spend their lives in endeavours to fulfil the 
requirements of the Law, and to obtain the " righteousness " which 
God_ demands ' ? And does he not say of them that ( such 



270 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XIX. 16-30 

whole-hearted search will not fail ' ? That is a very fair definition 
of the true Pharisee or disciple of the Rabbis, and of them it may 
be truly said : ' such whole-hearted search will not fail.' 

22. In the * Gospel of the Hebrews ' the words * give to the 
poor ' are expanded thus : ' Another rich man said unto him, 
" Master, by doing what good thing shall I live ? " He said unto 
him, " Man, do the law(s) and the prophets." He answered him, 
" I have done them." He said unto him, " Go, sell all that thou 
possessest and distribute to the poor, and come, follow me." But 
the rich man began to scratch his head, and it pleased him not. 
And the Lord said unto him, " How sayest thou, I have done the 
law and the prophets ? Whereas it is written in the law, Thou 
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself ; and lo, many of thy brethren, 
sons of Abraham, are clothed in filth, dying from hunger, and thy 
house is full of many good things, and nothing at all goes forth 
from it to them." And he turned and said to Simon his disciple 
sitting by him, " Simon, son of John, it is easier for a camel to go 
through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the 
Kingdom of Heaven " ' (McNeile). 

26. Matthew omits any general assertion that it is hard for 
anybody to enter the Kingdom. He speaks only of the rich. But 
the amazement of the disciples, and their question, ' Who then 
can be saved ? ' seem now unmotived. It is, however, possible 
that ' Who ' means * What rich man ? ' 

27. Peter, by the addition of the words, ' What then will be 
ours ? ' expresses his meaning rather more definitely in Matthew 
than in Mark. He says : ' What will be our fate ? ' Surely, he 
would imply, we, at any rate, shall win eternal life. 

28. This verse is not in Mark. It is paralleled in Luke 
xxii. 28-30. The twelve apostles are here given a special place 
and prerogative. TraAtyyevecria is a word only found here and in 
one other passage (Titus iii. 5) in the New Testament. It is used 
by Josephus for the new birth of the Jewish nation after the return 
from Babylonian exile, and by Philo of the new birth of the earth 
after the flood and after its destruction by fire. The new birth 
here denotes the world or Israel at the time of the second advent — 
at the Parousia. The Son of man is Jesus, who sits upon his 
Messianic throne. Around him sit the twelve apostles as princes, 
judging, or ruling, the tribes of Israel. Does this verse, or do the 
ideas expressed in it, go back to Jesus ? Some think they do. 
The ' Kingdom,' as Jesus taught, has to be realized on earth, just 



XIX. 16-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 271 

like the Messianic Kingdom of the Jews. Others hold that the 
verse and its ideas probably do not go back to Jesus, partly because 
the conception of the future Kingdom is so naively particularist 
(there is no thought of a rejection of the Jews or an inclusion of the 
heathen : contrast viii. n), and partly because Jesus was rather 
inclined to damp than to encourage the ambitious hopes and wishes 
of his disciples. Cp. xviii. I, xx. 20. 

We may, perhaps, assume that 28 (corresponding as, to some 
extent, it does with Luke xxii. 28-30, is based upon Q. And perhaps 
29 also depends upon the same source. Note the correspondence 
of TToXXcLTrXaaiova in 29 and in Luke xviii. 30 as against Mark's 
€KarovTa7T\aoriova. It is also to be observed that Mark's long 
enumeration, which wears a late and secondary character, of the 
details of the reward in this life are omitted by both Matthew and 
Luke. 

Streeter points out that, apart from the sitting on thrones and 
judging the tribes, ' there are no points of contact between these 
parallels. No doubt the words found in both are the most striking, 
but to assume that these alone stood in Q, and that all the rest in 
both Matthew and Luke is " editorial " is a reductio ad absurdum of 
the theory of a written source, only possible under the distorting 
influence of an a priori Two Document Hypothesis. Rather, this 
is a good example of the currency of widely different versions of the 
same saying ; and since neither in Matthew nor Luke is it found in 
a Q context, we naturally assign the two versions to M and to L ' 

( P . 288). 

30. The saying in this place is explained by some as ' the 
continuation of the promise in v. 29 : " the great ones of the world 
(e.g. the rich man above) and My humble followers who have forsaken 
all for Me will find their positions reversed, receiving condemnation 
and bliss respectively." But it is more probably a rebuke to Peter, 
and refers to ranks in the Kingdom ' (McNeile). 

[See note at end of Chapter XX.] 



CHAPTER XX 

1-16. THE PARABLE OF THE LABOURERS IN THE VINEYARD 
(Matthew only) 

1 ' For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a householder, who 
went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. 

2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a shilling a day, he 

3 sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, 

4 and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said unto 
them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will 

5 give you. So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and 

6 ninth hour, and did the same as before. And about the eleventh 
hour he went out, and found others standing about, and said unto 

7 them, Why stand ye here all the day idle ? They said unto him, 
Because no man has hired us. He said unto them, Go ye also into 

8 the vineyard. But when the evening had come, the lord of the 
vineyard said unto his steward, Call the labourers, and pay them 

9 their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they 
came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every 

10 man a shilling. But when the first came, they supposed that they 
would receive more ; yet they likewise received every man a shilling. 

1 1 So when they received it, they murmured against the master of the 

12 house, saying, These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast 
made them equal unto us, who have borne the burden and heat of 

13 the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee 

14 no wrong : didst not thou agree with me for a shilling ? Take what 
is thine, and go thy way : I like to give unto this last, even as unto 

15 thee. Have I not the right to do what I like with mine own ? Is 

1 6 thine eye evil, because I am good ? [So the last shall be first, and 
the first last.] s 

This parable, one of the greatest of all, occurs only in Matthew. 
It would seem that it was not originally intended to illustrate the 

272 



XX. i-i6] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 273 

proverb about the first being last and the last first. That proverb, 
as used in Mark x. 31 and Matt. xix. 30, meant that many of those 
who were then first (in wealth and position) should in the new era 
be last : i.e. excluded from the Messianic glory or the ' future life ' 
altogether. Those who had renounced all, and were now ' last/ 
will then be first. Or, again, it meant that many who thought 
themselves most virtuous and most worthy of the Kingdom should 
see the repentant tax-collectors and sinners enter in before them. 

But the parable was originally intended to teach something quite 
different. It was intended to teach that the ' eternal life ' is the 
result of grace rather than of work ; or, at any rate, that the laws 
which govern admission to it are quite different from those which 
govern business transactions upon earth. A little in the eyes of 
God may be equivalent to a great deal in the eyes of man ; from 
unequal opportunities God will not demand equal results, but to 
unequal results God may give equal ' rewards.' Even if, at the 
last hour, a man chooses the better part, and does his best, his 
reward after death may be the same as that given to another who 
had laboured for goodness much longer. God gives of His own, 
and He gives His grace in full measure. He does not bargain and 
chaffer. It is not implied that there are no grades in the eternal 
life, but only that God, in His grace, will grant this one great, price- 
less, and always undeserved, boon to a number of persons who, 
looked at from human, business lines, on rigid tit-for-tat principles, 
should be rewarded most unequally. Tit for tat may do for earth ; 
it is not good enough for heaven. Though there may be grades in 
eternal life, the mere possession of it puts all who possess it on an 
equality of * reward ' and an equality of grace and demerit. Though 
the unbeliever and bad man may not gain it, it is only by God's 
grace that the good man gets it. It narrows the parable too much 
to say that its purpose is only to show that in the Kingdom all are 
on an equal footing, for all receive the same reward. 

It is not implied that the actual sinner obtains the Kingdom, or 
that there are no ' tests ' in order to be admitted to it. M. Loisy 
says, rightly enough, ' one must have merited it in some sort, but 
the divine goodness supplies what is wanting to the " merit " of 
many/ Eternal life is not a reward ' proportioned to the time a 
man has passed in the practice of religious rites or to the quantity 
of works of piety he has performed.' ' God gives as a grace to 
repentant sinners what He gives to the just as a remuneration.' It 
is not meant that ' absolute equality is the law of the Kingdom, for 
other discourses show that there is a relation between sacrifice and 
recompense, and that there is a distinction of places in the eternal 
city ' (E. S. ii. p. 228). 

The parable, in fact, supplies a close parallel to the frequent 

VOL. ii T 



274 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XX. 1-16 

Talmudic phrase (used most aptly at the end of the amazing story 
in Abodah Zarah 17 a, Wuensche, Der bahylonische Talmud, n. 3, 
P- 334)5 * Some obtain and enter the Kingdom in an hour, while 
others hardly reach it after a lifetime.' 

In this general sense the parable may well go back to Jesus and 
be perfectly authentic. To Matthew, it may, however, have implied 
that those who joined Jesus and his community early, and those 
who joined it late, may expect the same reward. At the Parousia 
all believers will be treated alike. To Matthew the vineyard (which 
goes back ultimately to Isaiah v.) is the Christian community. The 
workmen, whether they began to work in it early or late, are all 
Christians, and will all enter into the perfected Kingdom. 

1. ' The Kingdom is not like the man, but his actions illustrate 
an aspect of it ' (McNeile). 

2. Some commentators lay stress upon the first set of labourers 
working for a fixed hire, upon an agreement. But this does not 
seem an incident to be pressed. It only gives a point, and supplies 
an occasion, for the denouement and the moral. 

3. The labourers are not blamed for being idle. Nor are 
differences intended between those in 3, 5, or 6. All are alike. 
The ' third hour,' that is, about 9 A.M. 

9. Only the last and the first are mentioned, on account of 
the proverb ; but the end of 8 implies that all the labourers received 
the same sum. 

13. As the first labourers got the amount for which they had 
agreed to work, they had nothing to complain of. We are not, 
I imagine, to translate the argument into the moral. It is not 
intended to imply that the eternal life will be for any the mere 
reward of a pact, a retribution for service agreed upon and rendered. 
Only this is meant : that just as the first labourers had no reason 
to complain, for they got their due, so have none reason to complain 
if the same life eternal is given alike to those who ' deserve ' it more 
and to those who ' deserve ' it less. From one point of view none 
deserve it ; from another, if those who most deserve it obtain it, 
how can they complain if, by God's goodness, those also obtain it 
who deserve it less ? Perhaps, too, it may even be hinted that in 
the perfected Kingdom, if grades there be, none have a right to 
claim special place on the ground of special service. The services 
which precede (but are not the purchase-money of) eternal life are 
not considered to possess so many varying degrees of worth. The 



XX. i-i6] THE GOSPEL ACCOKDING TO MATTHEW 275 

services are on an equality. God treats them in His goodness alike, 
for it is only through God's goodness (which all men need) that 
eternal life can be attained. 

Is the teaching of this parable a contrast to the teaching of the 
Rabbis ? It is usually said to be so in the highest degree ; for the 
Rabbinic teaching is said to ask men to be good for the sake of 
reward, and to declare that the entire action of God is governed, 
both here and hereafter, by the strictest application of measure 
for measure and tit for tat. Such criticism is exaggerated. But 
it cannot be denied that both in the Old Testament and in the 
Rabbinical literature the principle of measured retribution and 
reward is very prominent. That the Rabbis had a peculiar * lust 
for reward ' is false. They were no more and no less anxious for 
the joys of the Hereafter than their Christian contemporaries. 
But the doctrine of the superb parable does supply a corrective to 
a frequent element of their teaching. It emphasizes that, in addition 
to the principle of retribution (which Jesus by no means denies), 
there is also the principle of grace. It teaches the doctrine of 
In Memoriam, that 

merit lives from man to man, 
And not from man, Lord, to Thee. 

It is reasonable enough that Julicher and others should laugh at 
the Rabbinic parallel to this parable which is quoted by Wuensche ; 
for that parallel has precisely the opposite moral. It says that 
God can justly reward two hours' work as he rewards ten, because 
one man in two hours may do (i.e. deserve) as much as another in 
ten. The parable in Matthew says the reverse. The workmen 
have not done the same : there is inequality of service ; and yet 
the reward is the same. That is the higher justice of grace and love 
upon which God acts. 

But there are not wanting even in the Rabbinic literature 
examples of this view. Nevertheless the worth of the parable for 
us, and its originality, are not impaired by these parallels. More- 
over, most Jews know intimately no sacred literature beyond the 
Old Testament. The loss of such a grand parable is grave. 

14. ' I like to give.' Better, perhaps : ' I choose to give,' and 
so in 15 ' choose ' for ' like ' would be more in accordance with our 
English idiom. 

16. It is probable that the adage is superadded and does not 
belong to the original parable. It can only be kept by giving it a 
strained sense. Those who are admitted after one ' hour ' seem 
more favoured than those who are admitted after many * hours.' 



276 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XX. 17-19 

But this is surely very awkward. Matthew, however, looks at the 
parable in a different way. He interprets it either to mean that 
the last comers may have even a higher place in the Kingdom than 
the earliest disciples, or of believers and unbelievers. In that case 
' last ' means, not * last ' in the Kingdom, but excluded from it 
altogether. And in that case too the words, found in some MSS., 
1 many are called, but few chosen ' (xxii. 14), may have been added 
at the same time. The many who are called are the Jews as a 
nation, the few chosen are the Christian believers. 



17-19. THIRD PREDICTION OF SUFFERING AND DEATH 
(Cp. Mark x. 32-34 ; Luke xviii. 31-34) 

17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve 

18 aside privately, and said unto them, ' Behold, we go up to Jeru- 
salem ; and the Son of man will be delivered up to the chief priests 

19 and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death. And they 
will deliver him up to the heathen to mock, and to scourge, and 
to crucify him : and on the third day he will rise/ 

19. The crucifixion is added in Matthew to what had been 
said in Mark. The S.S. has here, as it has in Mark x. 33, * to the 
people ' (i.e. the Jewish people) in the singular, and not like the 
Greek, ' to the nations ' (i.e. the heathen). This reading is one 
more of the tendencies by which the guilt is thrown upon the 
Jews, and the Romans are exonerated. Cp. xxvii. 27-30. Both 
Matthew and Luke have ' upon the third day ' instead of Mark's 
1 after three days.' 

20-28. THE SONS OF ZEBEDEE 
(Cp. Mark x. 35-45 ; Luke xxii. 24-27) 

20 Then came to him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her 

21 sons, doing him reverence, and petitioning him. And he said 
unto her, ' What dost thou want ? ' She said unto him, * Say that 
these my two sons shall sit, the one on thy right hand, and the 

22 other on the left, in thy kingdom.' But Jesus answered and said, 
' Ye know not what ye ask. Can ye drink of the cup that I am 

23 about to drink of ? ' They said unto him, * We can.' And he said 
unto them, ' Ye shall drink indeed of my cup : but to sit on my 



XX. 29-34! THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 277 

right hand and on my left, this is not mine to give, but it shall be 
for them for whom it is prepared by my Father/ 

24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant against the 

25 two brothers. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, * Ye 
know that they who rule over the nations lord it over them, and 

26 their great ones play the tyrant over them. But it shall not be 

27 so among you : but whoever wishes to become great among you, 
let him be your servant ; and whoever would be first among you, 

28 let him be your slave. Even as the Son of man came not to be 
served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.' 

20. In Mark the two apostles themselves make the request ; 
here their mother makes it instead ; but Jesus's reply in 22 is 
addressed to them. * Two eminent apostles are thus, in part, at 
any rate, relieved of the charge of ambition.' 

21. * In thy Kingdom ' instead of Mark's, ' at thy glory.' The 
meaning is the same. 

22. The second clause in Mark x. 38 about the ' baptism ' is 
omitted by Matthew. 

23. Note the addition, * by my Father.' Jesus does not so 
speak of God in Mark. In Matthew he is already the special Son 
of God. 

28. Cp. the words of Eleazar in iv. Mace. vi. 29, ' Let my blood 
be a purification for them, and take my life to ransom their lives.' 
(avrLi/jv^ov avTo>v Aa/?e TJ]V €^T]V ifivxrjv) an( ^ xvii. 22. ' Our 
country was purified, they having, as it were, become a ransom 
(avrtyvxov) for our nation's sin, and through the blood of these 
righteous men and the propitiation (rov thaarrjpiov) of their death, 
the divine Providence delivered Israel.' So it has been held that the 
words of 28 * addressed by Jewish lips to Jewish ears would not be 
startling or obscure' (McNeile). In the Rabbinic literature the 
death of the righteous is often stated to be an atonement for the 
sins of the wicked. 



29-34. HEALING OF Two BLIND MEN 
(Cp. Mark x. 46-52 ; Luke xviii. 35-43) 

29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great crowd followed 

30 him. And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when 



278 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XX. 29-34 

they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, ' Have 

31 pity on us, son of David.' And the crowd rebuked them, that 
they should hold their peace : but they cried the more loudly, 

3 2 saying, * Have pity on us, son of David/ And Jesus stood still, 
and called them, and said, ' What do ye wish that I should do 

33 unto you ? ' They said unto him, ' Lord, that our eyes may be 

34 opened/ Then Jesus was moved with compassion, and touched 
their eyes : and immediately they received their sight again, and 
they followed him. 

Matthew turns the one blind man (Bartimaeus) of Mark x. 46 
into two blind men, perhaps to compensate for the blind man 
mentioned in Mark viii. 22-26. It is at any rate curious that/ 
the wording in 34 (Jesus touches their eyes) recalls part of the 
procedure of Mark viii. 22-26. In the healing of Bartimseus Jesus 
does not touch him. Cp. also Matt. ix. 27-31. 

[xx. A dear Christian friend writes to me that he does not 
think that Matt. xx. 10-12 necessarily implies a * double morality.' 
He adds that there are many persons who are really ' called ' and 
enjoined not to marry : e.g. the mentally or physically defective, 
or the diseased, and some also ' who are called to abstain as an act 
of reparation.' Again, he says, if there be truth in the idea of 
vicarious suffering, may there not also be truth in the idea of 
vicarious virginity ? The esteem in which many religions hold 
such virginity (even though marriage be the higher estate) points 
to a value in it. Lastly, the children in 13, put immediately after 
the sayings in 10-12, have a significance for the passage as a 
whole. Family life is clearly exalted and not despised.] 



CHAPTER XXI 

i-n. THE ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM 
(Cp. Mark xi. i-n ; Luke xix. 23-38) 

1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and had come to 
Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then Jesus sent forth two 

2 disciples, saying unto them, ' Go into the village before you, and 
straightway ye will find an ass tied, and a colt with her : loose 

3 them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto 
you, ye shall say, The Lord has need of them ; and straightway 
he will send them.' 

4 All this happened, that that might be fulfilled which was spoken 

5 by the prophet, saying, * Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold, 
thy King comes unto thee, gentle and sitting upon an ass, and 
upon a colt the foal of a beast of burden/ 

6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus had commanded them. 

7 And they brought the ass and the colt, and put garments upon 

8 them, and he sat on them. And most of the crowd spread their 
garments on the way, while others cut down branches from the 

9 trees, and spread them on the way. And the crowds, both they 
that went before him, and they that followed him, kept crying out, 
' Hosanna to the son of David : blessed in the name of the Lord is 
he that comes. Hosanna in the heights.' 

10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was excited, 

1 1 saying, ' Who is this ? ' And the crowds said, ' This is the prophet 
Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.' 

By an odd and almost comical misinterpretation of Zech. ix. 9, 
Matthew makes Jesus send for two animals, a she-ass and an ass's 
colt, whereas Zechariah speaks in poetical imagery of one animal 
under two names. In 7 he makes matters worse by representing 
Jesus as mounted upon both the she-ass and the foal ! The genesis 
and purport of the whole story are given by Matthew in his express 
quotation of the passage from Zechariah in verse 4. 

279 



280 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXI. 12-17 

8. The leaves or shrubs of Mark are turned here into branches. 

9. Matthew supposes ' Hosanna ' to mean hail or welcome, a 
cry of acclamation or greeting. Hence his dative : ' Hail to the 
Son of David.' 

10. II. The second half of verse 10 and verse II are peculiar 
to Matthew. Unlike in Mark, Jesus is accompanied by the cheering 
crowd right into Jerusalem. The city folk are excited, and ask for 
an explanation of the tumult. It is noticeable that the ' crowds ' 
do not reply * It is the Messiah/ but, * It is the [well-known] prophet 
from Galilee.' Some lay great stress on this. It is supposed to be 
authentic and highly significant. There is no Messianic entry : 
Jesus has not claimed to be, and is not described as, the Messiah. 
He is only the great prophet. 

But as II is only in Matthew, and is probably the composition of 
the Evangelist, it is difficult to draw inferences of this kind. More 
probably the Evangelist chose the wording which appeared to him 
most in conformity with probability and with the Galilaean ante- 
cedents of the preaching of the Gospel ; he did not mean that the 
crowd which had just acclaimed Jesus as Son of David did not 
regard him as the promised Christ (Loisy). 



12-17. THE PURIFICATION OF THE TEMPLE 
(Cp. Mark xi. 15-19 ; Luke xix. 45-48) 

12 And Jesus went into the temple, and drove out all them that 
sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the 

13 moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves. And he 
said unto them, ( It is written, My house shall be called a house of 
prayer ; but ye make it a den of thieves.' 

14 And blind and lame folk came to him in the temple ; and he 

15 healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the 
wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the 
temple, and saying, * Hosanna to the son of David,' they were 
indignant. And they said unto him, * Hearest thou what these 

1 6 say ? ' And Jesus said unto them, ' Yes ; have ye never read, Out 
of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast prepared praise ? ' 

17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany ; and 
he passed the night there. 

12. Matthew omits here the first part of Mark's story of the 
barren fig tree, and passes on at once to the purification of the 



XXI. 18-22] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 281 

Temple, which in his narrative follows immediately after the entry. 
It is just possible that this order is historical, and answers to the 
oldest record. The text I follow is indicated in K.V. M. 

14-16. Matthew only. It would scarcely appear as if these 
verses were taken from a good source. They may indeed be the 
creation of the Evangelist ; he is fond of healings. In Mark there 
are no healings in Jerusalem. Perhaps Matthew thought Mark xi. 
18 premature, and replaced it by another incident more suitable 
to the occasion. 

15. The chief priests and scribes do not seem to complain of 
the purification, but of the healings and of the acclamations of the 
children. They only speak of the purification incident on the 
morrow. This is awkward and unlikely. 

16. Does Jesus, by his answer, indirectly admit his Messiahship? 
If the joyous cries of infants are a praise of God, there is nothing 
improper in the homage rendered by the children in the Temple to 
God's messenger. 

* It is extremely improbable that children shouted in the temple 
courts ; if they had done so, it would be instantly stopped by the 
temple police. A band of them collected there is itself an improb- 
ability. The shouts are an echo of the shouts on the Mount of Olives. 
Luke xix. 39 f . contains a more probable account, that some Pharisees 
on the road with the crowd (perhaps overtaken on their way to the 
city) said to Jesus " Teacher, rebuke Thy disciples " ; and He 
replied, " I say unto you that if these are silent, the stones will 
shout." Does an Aramaic original lie behind both narratives, 
" stones " (Luke) and " children " (Matt.) representing N^IIN an d 
Nm ? (cp. iii. 9). If so, the tradition which reached Matthew, and 
helped to give rise to his narrative, may have contained the words 
" the children will shout ! " ' (McNeile). 



18-22. THE FIG TREE 
(Cp. Mark xi. 12-14, 20-26) 

1 8 Now in the morning, as he returned into the city, he was hungry. 

19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went up to it, but found 
nothing on it except leaves. And he said unto it, ' No more shall 
fruit come from thee for ever.' And immediately the fig tree withered 

20 away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying 



282 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXI. 23-27 

21 ' How instantly the fig tree withered away ! ' Jesus answered and 
said unto them, * Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt 
not, ye shall not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but also, 
if ye should say unto this mountain, Lift thyself up, and hurl thyself 

22 into the sea, it would come to pass. And all things whatever that 
ye ask for in prayer, if ye have faith, ye shall receive.' 

19. Matthew joins together the two separated parts of the 
story in Mark. The marvel is made more marvellous by happening 
at once. The symbolic meaning or moral of the incident is then 
explained. The adage on faith occurs also in xvii. 20. 



23-27. THE AUTHORITY OP JOHN 
(Cp. Mark xi. 27-33 ; Luke xx. i-S) 

23 And when he had come into the temple, the chief priests and 
the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and 
said, ' By what authority doest thou these things ? and who gave 

24 thee this authority ? ' And Jesus answered and said unto them, 
' I also will ask you one question, which if ye tell me, I too will 

25 tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of 
John, whence was it ? from heaven, or from men ? ' And they 
argued with themselves, saying, ' If we say, From heaven, he will 

26 say unto us, Why then did ye not believe him ? But if we say, 
From men, we fear the people ; for they all hold John to be a 

27 prophet.' So they answered Jesus, and said, ' We do not know. J 
And he said unto them, ' Neither do I tell you by what authority 
I do these things. 

23. To what does ' these things ' refer ? Most probably 
(i) to the purification of the temple. But some think (2) to his 
teaching, and some (3) to the miraculous healings (14). 



28-32. THE PARABLE OF THE Two SONS 
(Matthew only) 

28 * But what think ye ? A man had two sons ; and he came to 

29 the first, and said, Son, go and work to-day in the vineyard. He 
answered and said, I will not : but afterwards he repented, and 



XXI. 28-32] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 283 

30 went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he 

31 answered and said, I go, sir ; but he went not. Which of the 
two did the will of his father ? ' They said unto him, ' The first.' 
Jesus said unto them, ' Verily I say unto you, The tax-collectors 

32 and the harlots go before you into the kingdom of God. For John 
brought unto you the way of righteousness, and ye believed him 
not : but the tax-collectors and the harlots believed him : and ye, 
though ye saw it, repented not afterwards, so as to believe him. 

We have now three parables, all teaching the rejection of the 
official teachers. The opposition to, and the attack upon, the 
Rabbis are now at their height, and as might be expected, the 
language is severe rather than historical, dramatic rather than 
deserved. If we had had the attacks of the Rabbis upon Jesus 
preserved to us, the same judgment would doubtless have been 
true. Two antagonists in the heat of conflict, each totally incapable 
of seeing the other's point of view, cannot be expected to speak of 
one another in measured terms. But we stand to-day above the 
facts and above the parties to the dispute, and we can give to each 
the justice which is their due. 

28. The parable was once probably not connected with the 
preceding paragraph. Though only the last verse has its parallel 
in Luke (vii. 29, 30), the parable may be taken from Q and belong 
to the section about the status of John, following on xi. 12-15. 

Wellhausen makes the important remark that the religious 
relation between man and God usually appears in Matthew as 
service, not as sonship. The king or the householder stands usually 
on the one side ; his servants upon the other. Here, instead of 
king or master, we have father and sons. But the sons must also 
serve, if willingly. The remark is important, because it helps to 
show that the contrast which some German Protestant theologians 
delight to expand — that to the Jews God is a King, to the Christians 
a Father — is a made-up contrast, which caricatures and misinterprets 
the facts. 

31. There is considerable variety in the MSS. Some turn the 
position of the sons round, and make the son who says * Yes ' 
answer first. The usual reading is by far the more probable. Only 
if the first son had said ' No ' would the father have asked the 
second. 

Moreover, some MSS. make the ' elders and chief priests ' 
say that the son who did the will of his father was the one who 
promised and did not perform ! This apparently absurd answer is, 



284 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXI. 28-32 

however, defended by some scholars. We can best explain it by 
supposing, not that even the Evangelist meant to represent the 
chief priests as so ethically obtuse as to believe that a promise 
unfulfilled was better than refusal and performance ; but that, 
knowing the obvious reply which Jesus expected, they deliberately 
answered wrong. Whatever the moral which Jesus intended to 
draw, whatever the application he intended to make, from the 
parable, they would spoil his argument by making an absurd reply. 
Jesus, all the same, says what he had all along meant to say ; he 
can, however, only say it, not as an explanation of the parable, 
but as an indignant assertion. But the ordinary reading, remains 
the more probable. 

' Kingdom of God ' is unusual in Matthew. Cp. xii. 28, xix. 24, 
xxi. 43. (xix. 24 is, however, taken over from Mark.) The reason 
for its use here as against ' Kingdom of heaven ' ' cannot be ascer- 
tained ; it may be an oversight, or, more probably an early verbal 
slip ' (McNeile). It is not really meant that ' the chief priests and 
elders ' will enter the Kingdom, though after the tax-collectors. 
On the contrary. The author of the parable probably thought that 
they never would. 

32. Cp. Luke vii. 29, 30. This verse is made to give the 
explanation of the parable in its present setting. But it fits very 
awkwardly. For the ' tax-collectors and harlots,' so far as we 
know, did not at first refuse to believe in John, and then afterwards 
believe in him and amend their lives ; nor did the priests first 
believe in him and then reject him. And it would be strained to 
say that the Priests are compared with the good son by contraries. 
He said No, but went ; they were not even moved by the example 
of the tax-collectors and the harlots. This strained interpretation 
is, however, to all appearance, the explanation of the parable 
suggested by verse 32. 'Ye seeing [what the tax-collectors, etc., 
did] did not even then change your minds so as to believe in him.' 
Perhaps verse 316 drew to it verse 32, and then the whole paragraph, 
thus constituted, was given a place after xxi. 25-27. The mention 
of John in xxi. 25 seemed to justify putting 28-32 after 27. But 32 
must have existed originally independently of the parable. 

Hence we may also infer that the parable itself had originally a 
much more general meaning. It is very strained to suppose that 
the Scribes, who pretended to be ever ready to do God's will, and 
refused to obey the first demand of that will (i.e. John's baptism), 
are represented by the elder son. The parable has more aptly been 
called a popular sermon on the text of Matt. vii. 21. The bad son 
who promises but does not perform represents the priests and elders 
and Scribes who make professions (and observe outward rites), 



XXI. 33-46] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 285 

but are inwardly bad, and live immoral lives. The good son, who 
first refuses and then performs, represents the ' multitude,' the 
outcasts, etc., who, through the agency of John and Jesus, have 
changed their lives or are better than their appearance. The 
historical value of the charge need not be again examined here. 
That Jesus underestimated the ethical and religious worth of his 
opponents and exaggerated their faults was natural and human. 
The only odd thing is that serious historians should not take his 
charges with many grains of salt, and allow for the invariable 
exaggerations and perversions of controversy and antagonism. 

With truth Havet points out that the words in this Terse go 
much beyond what is said about sinners in Mark (ii. 17). ' This 
is nothing but a bitter insult addressed to Judaism at a time, no 
doubt, when Judaism was detested ' (Le Christianisme et ses 
origines, iv. p. 58). 

It is doubtful whether any of these three parables are the work 
of Jesus. 



33-46. THE PARABLE OF THE VINEYARD 
(Cp. Mark xii. 1-12 ; Luke xx. 9-19) 

33 ' Hear another parable : There was a householder, who planted 
a vineyard, and set an hedge around it, and dug out a winepress in 
it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went 

34 abroad. And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his 

35 servants to the husbandmen to receive the fruits of it. And the 
husbandmen seized his servants, and beat one, and killed another, 

36 and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants, more in 
number than the first : and they treated them in the same way. 

37 But later still he sent unto them his son, saying, They will have 

38 respect for my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they 
said among themselves, This is the heir ; come, let us kill him, and 

39 seize his inheritance. And they laid hold of him, and cast him out 

40 of the vineyard, and slew him. When then the lord of the vineyard 

41 comes, what will he do unto those husbandmen ? ' They said unto 
him, ' He will put those wicked men to an evil death, and the 
vineyard he will let out unto other husbandmen, who will pay 

42 him the fruits in their seasons.' Jesus said unto them, ' Have ye 
never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected 
is become the corner-stone : this is the Lord's doing, and it is 

43 marvellous in our eyes ? Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom 



286 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXI. 33-46 

of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing 
forth its fruits.' 

45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees heard his parables, 

4 6 they realized that he spoke of them. And they sought to take 
him prisoner, but they feared the people, because they regarded 
him as a prophet. 

39. In Matthew they kill the heir outside the vineyard, which 
may be an allusion to the crucifixion of Jesus outside Jerusalem. 

41. The priests and elders are made to pronounce the sentence 
upon themselves and Israel from their own mouths. 

43. Matthew only. The Kingdom is taken away from the 
Jews, and given to the Christians, who are the nation bringing forth 
the Kingdom's fruits, i.e. leading good lives and believing in Jesus. 
Kingdom of God is perhaps used just because the Kingdom is used 
in a special sense. * It means the Jewish theocracy with the 
privileges conferred by its possession on the chosen people ' (Box). 

45. The verse is retained from Mark, but in view of 43 is now 
meaningless and absurd. 44 is probably a gloss, and should be 
omitted. 

It seems somewhat strange that Professor Box should say : 
* There is no difficulty in ascribing this parable to Jesus who realized 
the significance of His coming death.' At the very least it can hardly 
be fairly said that there is no difficulty. For we cannot be sure that 
Jesus thought he was going to be killed, or that he felt that his death 
was more than a possibility. Nor even if he did, at this stage, believe 
that he was certainly going to be put to death, do we know for sure 
what he thought the result of his death would be as regards the Jews 
collectively. As to any opposition between them and the world 
without, or between them and the * Christians,' that is still more 
uncertain. He was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel ; and the 
main inhabitants even of the Kingdom he probably thought would 
still be Jews — though doubtless only the Jews who believed in him. 
But his whole conception of the future and the results of his appear- 
ance at Jerusalem are doubtful. 

46. They regarded him as a prophet. Once more this aspect of 
Jesus is emphasized. Cp. verse II. 



CHAPTER XXII 

1-14. THE PARABLE OF THE MESSIANIC BANQUET 
(Cp. Luke xiv. 16-24) 

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again in parables, 

2 saying, ' The kingdom of heaven is like unto a king, who made 

3 a marriage-feast for his son. And he sent forth his servants to 
call those who had been invited to the marriage-feast : and they 

4 would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, 
Tell them who have been invited, Behold, I have prepared my 
dinner : my oxen and my f atlings are killed, and all is ready : 

5 come unto the marriage-feast. But they gave no heed, and went 

6 away, one to his field, another to his business. And the rest seized 

7 his servants, and ill-treated them, and slew them. But the king 
was wroth : and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those 

8 murderers, and burned their city. Then said he to his servants, 
The marriage-feast is ready, but they who were invited were not 

9 worthy. Go ye, then, to the cross-roads, and whomever ye find, 
10 invite to the marriage-feast. So those servants went out into the 

highways, and collected all whom they found, both bad and good ; 

n and the marriage hall was filled with guests. And when the king 

came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who was not clad 

12 with a wedding garment : and he said unto him, Friend, how 
earnest thou in hither without a wedding garment ? But he was 

13 speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand 
and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness ; there shall the 

14 weeping be and the gnashing of teeth. For many are invited, but 
few are chosen.' 

The more original form of the parable may be that which we 
find in Luke. There are Rabbinic parallels. The meaning of 
i-io would appear to be that the Jews are rejected ; others are 
called in their place. But even of those others there is a sifting. 

287 



288 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXII. 1-14 

Not all the Christians will pass the scrutiny of the Judgment. 
This is the meaning of the addition in 11-14. O r > perhaps, and, 
especially, if we want to keep i-io as * authentic,' the Kingdom is 
to be taken away from the leading Jews, the * Priests and the 
Rabbis and the Elders,' and given to the humble and despised 
multitude and to the repentant sinners, tax-collectors, and outcasts. 

1. Matthew's setting for the parable is awkward. Jesus 
continues to speak to * them ' in parables, but ' they ' to whom the 
Evangelist would have us understand that the parable was spoken 
have really left the stage. Yet we may notice that in his repro- 
duction of Mark xii. 12, Matthew does, at all events (xxi. 45, 46). 
omit definitely to say that the priests and Pharisees ' left him and 
went away.' 

2. The banquet of the original parable is turned by Matthew 
into a wedding feast prepared by a king. Moreover, it is given for 
his son. 

The Messianic Kingdom and beatitude were often represented 
under the figure of a banquet. In Matthew's wedding feast the 
Messiah is the bridegroom ; the Christian community should be 
the bride. But this part of the figure is dropped : the guests take 
the place of the bride. 

3-5. The many servants sent out to call the guests may be 
the prophets. And the fresh servants of 4 may be John and Jesus, 
even although Jesus is the son. Or the fresh servants may be the 
apostles. A general reference of the main incidents of the parable 
to historic circumstances is all that must be looked for. And a 
certain amount of confusion was inevitable in the gradual formation 
of the parable as we now possess it. The words in 4 are modelled 
on Prov. ix. 2-3, 5. 

6, 7. Later verses. The reference is to the rebellious Jews who 
reject the message of Jesus and John and kill them. Their city 
is Jerusalem, which is burnt. The date of these verses is clearly 
after 70. The insertion is very incongruous. After the city is 
burnt, the king continues the wedding feast as if nothing had 
happened. Did he not live in his own city ? And where did the 
new guests come from if the city is destroyed ? 

8 connects with 5, when 6 and 7, the later insertions, are 
omitted. 

11-13. An addition, which would seem to be borrowed from 



XXII. 1-14] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 289 

another current parable. The addition is hardly suitable here. 
For if the guests were to be brought in, almost pell-mell, from the 
streets and roads, how could they be expected to have wedding 
dresses on ? Matthew wants to imply that in the Christian com- 
munity itself there will be a sifting at the Judgment Day. Only 
those whose works are good will be admitted into the perfected 
Kingdom. Faith is not enough. There must also be Works. This 
again is a Church compromise. The outer darkness and the gnashing 
of teeth refer to hell. Matthew agrees with the original parable in 
so far as the excluded Scribes and Pharisees are concerned. But 
those who remain in the Kingdom finally are not especially the 
sinners and the tax-collectors, the humble and the afflicted, but 
those who are righteous in deed as well as in name — true disciples 
of the great Master. For many listened gladly to his teaching and 
became disciples in name, but only a small selection of these are 
disciples in very deed and will enter into ' the joy of their Lord.' 

Streeter holds that though the Parable of the Banquet, like the 
Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Talents, occur both in Luke and 
Matthew, ' yet they do so in such very different forms that the 
supposition that they were derived from Q postulates too large an 
amount of editorial manipulation of that source.' Hence he 
supposes that Matthew's version comes from M, Luke's version 
from L. Then, as to 11-14, he thinks it is really a separate parable, 
not a mere addition. ' Verse 2, or words to that effect, has evidently 
been omitted before verse II. Repeat verse 2 here, and verses 11-14 
are seen to form the second half of one of those pairs of " twin 
parables " enforcing a different aspect of the same general moral, 
so characteristic of our Lord's teaching. Without such emendation 
the second half is pointless. How could the man, just swept in 
from the highways, be expected to have on a wedding-garment ? ' 
(p. 243, n. 2). 



14. This verse only suits 11-13, no ^ the main portion of the 
parable. The mournful and unloving doctrine prepared the way 
for the particularism of dogmatic Christianity. But here it has 
one saving characteristic : the test of admission is action and not 
belief. Some think that Jesus became more pessimistic towards 
the close of his ministry. Though the saying is an addition to 
the parable, it may nevertheless be in itself authentic. ' Many 
are invited, few are chosen.' The word ' called ' is the participle 
of the verb used for * invite ' in the body of the parable. By 
* called ' or ' invited ' Matthew does not merely mean ' have heard 
the summons,' but ' through the preaching of the Gospel have 
become members of the Church.' Of these members only a small 
minority shall partake of the full salvation of the perfected Kingdom 

VOL. II U 



2QO THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXII. 15-22 

of Heaven. * How great must the corruption of the Church have 
been in Matthew's eyes, how luxuriant the growth of the tares, if 
he ventured to assert that the just and the chosen should be so few.' 
If Jesus used the adage, he could only have meant by it : * Many 
hear the summons to repentance and salvation, but only few are 
predestined by God to respond to it. Thus perhaps his ill success 
was explained by him.' It was necessary, within the purposes of 
God. His business was to find out the chosen few. (J.Weiss.) The 
adage itself is paralleled by, and perhaps goes back to, the mournful 
and irreligious saying in 4 Ezra (2 Esdras) : ' Many are created, but 
few shall be saved ' (viii. 3). 

Some think that the saying was really used by Jesus, and did not 
refer to heaven and hell. It meant that all the Jews had received 
the call — that is, they were all the peculiar people of God — but few 
had responded to this call, and so few were chosen. The rest, by 
their evil lives (or by their lack of faith in Jesus), had forfeited their 
claim to be regarded any more as the people of God. 



15-22. GIVE UNTO 
(Cp. Mark xii. 13-17 ; Luke xx. 20-26) 

15 Then went the Pharisees, and formed a resolution that they 

1 6 would entrap him in his talk. And they sent unto him their 
disciples with the Herodians, saying, * Master, we know that thou 
art truthful, and teachest the way of God in truth, and that thou 
hast regard for no man : for thou respectest not the person of men. 

17 So tell us : What thinkest thou ? Is it lawful to give tribute unto 

1 8 the Emperor, or not ? ' But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and 

19 said, ' Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites ? Show me the tribute 

20 money.' And they brought unto him a silver coin. And he said 

21 unto them, ' Whose is this image and superscription ? ' They said 
unto him, * The Emperor's.' Then said he unto them, ' Pay, then, 
to the Emperor what is the Emperor's, and unto God what is God's.' 

22 When they had heard this, they marvelled, and left him, and went 
their way. 

15, 16. Mark had left the subject of ' they sent ' uncertain. 
Matthew makes the Pharisees the subject. So, as they cannot send 
themselves, they have to send * disciples.' 

19. The tribute had to be paid in Roman money. Hence 
Jesus asks for the ' tribute money.' 



XXII. 34-4°] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 2QI 

2 3~33- THE RESURRECTION-LIFE 
(Cp. Mark xii. 18-27 J ^uke xx. 27-38) 

23 The same day there came to him some Sadducees, who say that 

24 there is no resurrection, and they asked him, saying, ' Master, 
Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother must 

25 marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there 
were among us seven brothers : and the first married and died, 

26 and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother : so too the 

27 second and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman 

28 died. In the resurrection, then, whose wife shall she be of the 

29 seven ? for they all had her.' Jesus answered and said unto them, 

30 ' Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God. For 
in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, 

31 but are as angels of God in heaven. But as regards the resurrection 
of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by 

32 God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and 
the God of Jacob ? He is not the God of the dead, but of the 

33 living.' And when the people heard this, they were astounded at 
his teaching. 

24. The quotation is taken from Gen. xxxviii. 8 rather than 
from Deut. xxiv. 5. 

25. In Mark, the questioners imply that the case is made up 
for the occasion ; in Matthew, by the addition of the words Trap' 

, ' with us/ it is implied that it actually occurred. 



34-40. THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT 
(Cp. Mark xii. 28-34 ; Luke x. 25-28) 

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had put the Sadducees 

35 to silence, they gathered together. Then one of them, a teacher 

36 of the Law, tempting him, asked him : ' Master, which is the great 

37 commandment in the Law ? ' Jesus said unto him, ' Thou shalt 
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, 

38 and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. 

39 And a second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as 



2Q2 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXII. 41-46 

40 thyself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law and 
the Prophets.' 

Matthew's version of the story is prejudiced. The Pharisees 
had left the stage (xxii. 22), but here they return. The Rabbi is 
put up by them to question Jesus and * tempt ' him. For here the 
' testing ' is meant to be a temptation. In what the ' temptation ' 
consisted Matthew might have found it hard to say. But to his 
mind no question could be put by any Scribe or Pharisee honestly 
or without a bad motive. Matthew omits the whole second half 
of the story in which Jesus and the Rabbi express their mutual 
satisfaction with each other. As Wellhausen says : ' gleich als ob 
er einen unparteiischen und verstandigen Rabbi sich nicht vorstellen 
konnte.' (' As if he could not imagine that an impartial and 
sensible Rabbi could possibly exist '.) It is to be noted that both 
Matthew and Luke show an odd correspondence : both use the 
word SiSacr/caAe, both use the word vo^t/cos-, both speak of the 
questioner as ' trying ' or ' testing ' Jesus. Hence both seem to 
have also used another redaction of the story over and above Mark. 
This version was perhaps Q. The question then is, did Q present 
the question as asked with an unkindly intent. In spite of the 
introduction or setting given by Matthew, some think that we can 
explain 7reipa£ajj>, as used by Q, in a non-hostile sense. The Scribe 
is curious to know how Jesus will treat a difficult problem, he only 
wants to test his knowledge. Q therefore uses Treipd^wv in a 
friendly sense, Matthew in a hostile sense. We see the original 
meaning of ' trying ' in the version of Luke. The words at the end 
of verse 34, ' they gathered together ' (literally, ' assembled at 
the same place '), are taken from Psalm ii. 3, and are quoted in the 
Acts (iv. 26) as a Messianic prophecy. Matthew intensifies the 
hostility of the Pharisees to prepare the reader for the long diatribe 
against them shortly to follow. 

Streeter shows that the ' correspondences ' between Matthew 
and Luke largely melt away on an examination of the MSS. evidence. 
Nevertheless, he holds that Luke's version of the story may be 
derived from another source which may be Q (p. 320, and Hawkins 
in Oxford Studies, pp. 44, 45). 



41-46. WHOSE SON is THE MESSIAH ? 
(Cp. Mark xii. 35-37 ; Luke xx. 40-44) 

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 

42 saying, * What think ye about the Messiah ? whose son is he ? ' 



XXII. 41-46] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 2Q3 

43 They said unto him, ' David's.' He said unto them, ' How then 

44 does David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my 
Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy 

45 footstool ? If, then, David calls him Lord, how is he his son ? ' 

4 6 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither did anyone 
from that day venture to question him again. 

41. The Pharisees appear again : thus the last words of Mark 
xii. 34 are transferred to xxii. 46, although in this section Jesus is 
not asked, but asks. Matthew also, more dramatically, makes the 
Pharisees themselves state, in answer to Jesus's question, that the 
Messiah is the son of David. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

1-36. ATTACK UPON THE RABBIS AND THE PHARISEES 
(Cp. Mark xii. 38-40 ; Luke xx. 45-47, xi. 39-42, 44, 46-52) 

1,2 Then spoke Jesus to the people, and to his disciples, saying, 

3 ' The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat : all, then, that 
they say to you, that do and observe ; but do not do according to 

4 their works : for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy 
burdens, and lay them on men's shoulders ; but they themselves 

5 will not move them with one of their fingers. They do all their 
works to be seen of men : for they make broad their phylacteries, 

6 and enlarge the tassels. And they love the first places at banquets, 

7 and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the market- 

8 places, and to be called by men, Rabbi. But be not ye called 

9 Rabbi : for one is your Master, and ye are all brothers. And call 
no man your father upon earth : for one is your Father, who is in 

10 heaven. [Neither be ye called leaders : for one is your Leader, 

11 even the Christ.] But he that is greatest among you shall be 

12 your servant. And whoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled ; 
and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. 

13 ' But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye 
shut the kingdom of heaven against men : for ye neither go in 
yourselves, nor allow them that would enter to go in. 

15 ' Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye pass 
over sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes 
one, ye make him a child of hell twice as much as yourselves. 

1 6 ' Woe unto you, blind guides, who say, Whoever swears by the 
temple, it is nothing ; but whoever swears by the gold of the 

17 temple, he is bound by his oath. Fools and blind ! for which is 

1 8 greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold ? And 
(ye say) Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing ; but whoever 
swears by the sacrifice that is upon it, he is bound by his oath. 

294 



XXIII. i- 3 6] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 295 

19 Fools and blind ! for which is greater, the sacrifice, or the altar 

20 that sanctifies the sacrifice ? Who therefore swears by the 

21 altar, swears by it, and by all that is on it. And who swears 

22 by the temple, swears by it, and by Him that dwells in it. And 
he that swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by 
Him that sits upon it. 

23 ' Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye pay 
tithe from mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the 
weightiest things of the Law, justice, mercy, and faith : these 

24 ought ye to do, though not to leave the others undone. Blind 
guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel. 

25 * Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye clean 
the outside of the cup and of the plate, but within they are full of 

26 extortion and incontinence. Blind Pharisee, clean first that which 
is within the cup, that the outside of it may become clean also. 

27 ' Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye are 
like unto whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear beautiful, 
but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 

28 Even so ye too outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within 
ye are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 

29 ' Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! because ye 
build the tombs of the prophets, and adorn the sepulchres of the 

30 righteous. And ye say, If we had lived in the days of our fathers, 
we should not have been partners with them in the blood of the 

31 prophets. So that ye witness unto yourselves, that ye are the 

32 children of them who killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the 

33 measure of your fathers. Serpents, offspring of vipers, how can 
ye escape from being condemned unto hell ? 

34 * Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, 
and scribes : some of them ye will kill and crucify ; and some of 
them ye will scourge in your synagogues, and pursue them from 

35 city to city : so that upon you may come all the righteous blood 
which has been shed upon the land from the blood of Abel the 
righteous unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye 

36 slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, 
All these things shall come upon this generation. 

The parallel in Mark for this long and virulent attack is xii. 
38-40 — three verses in all. Luke is longer — xi. 37-52. But the 
speech comes perhaps from Q, and some of it is perhaps authentic. 



296 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXIII. 1-36 

Tradition had added to the authentic words of Jesus even before 
they were recorded in Q, and Q itself was not, all its short life, a 
fixed quantity. Judicious remarks on the subject are to be read 
in Bultmann, pp. 68, 77. How much or how little goes back to 
Jesus of xxiii. 1-36 can never be ascertained. I hope little. The 
attack is so fierce, and when all allowances have been made for 
the measure of truth in Professor Burkitt's theory, so doubt- 
fully historic. It confuses the few very bad with the many 
who were probably, like most people, neither very bad nor very 
good, and with the few who were very good. It tars the whole 
class of Rabbis and Pharisees with the same bitter and undifferen- 
tiating brush. * Righteous anger ' is one thing ; undiscriminating 
abuse of an entire class is another. Matthew xxiii. seems to be the 
most ' unchristian ' chapter in the Gospels. * I came to call sinners 
to repentance.' Was this the right way to set about it ? Was this 
the most likely way to produce the hoped-for result ? Or did Jesus 
desire that one sort of sinners should be healed, but that the other, 
and worse sort, should go to perdition ? 

Streeter on Chapter xxiii. is well worth quoting. He observes 
that the chapter is, ' next to the Sermon on the Mount, the longest 
connected discourse of which both the Matthean and the Lucan 
versions (Matt, xxiii. 1-36 = Luke xi. 37-52) cannot be referred to 
a single written source without raising great difficulties. Matthew's 
is much the longer version, and it reads like an early Jewish 
Christian polemical pamphlet against their oppressors the Pharisees. 
No doubt it is largely based upon a tradition of genuine sayings of 
Christ, but we cannot but suspect that it considerably accentuates 
the manner, if not also the matter, of His criticism of them. Indeed 
it is the one discourse of our Lord which, from its complete ignoring 
of the better elements in a movement like Pharisaism, it is not 
easy to defend from the accusation made by students of Jewish 
religion of being unsympathetic and unfair. Now it is quite com- 
monly assumed as almost self-evident that Matthew's version 
stood in Q and that Luke's is an abbreviated reproduction of the 
same source. But there are three considerations which give us 
pause, (i) The divergence between the parallels is well above the 
average in wording and it is accompanied by a great variety in 
the order — a signpost for conflation. (2) There is a fundamental 
difference in structure between the two discourses. The core of the 
discourse in Matthew is the seven times repeated " Woe unto you, 
Scribes and Pharisees." But in Luke what we have is three Woes 
against Pharisees followed by three against Lawyers.' * The 
fact that Luke's version of the discourse, xi. 37-52, comes in 
the middle of a section of which the rest is certainly derived from 
Q, makes it probable that his version stood in that document, and 






XXIII. i- 3 6] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 2Q7 

that Matthew has again conflated a discourse of Q with one on the 
same topic which came to him in M. But here, again, the very 
fact that Matthew's version is a conflation of Q and M means 
that Matt, xxiii. as it now stands bears a much closer resemblance 
to Luke xi. 37-52 than did the original discourse that stood in M. 
Yet again, Matthew, besides placing the discourse in a Marcan 
context, adds to it a few words from Mark, e.g. Tr/xoTo/cAio-iW, /crA., 
Matt, xxiii. 6 = Mark. xii. 39. Finally, we must notice that Matthew 
has completed his structure by appending xxiii. 37-39, the Q 
saying, " Jerusalem, Jerusalem," which occurs in what to me looks 
a far more original context in Luke xiii. 34-35 ' (pp. 253, 254). 

Perhaps it is only fair that I should here make some allusion 
to Dr. Lightley's somewhat long-winded, but painstaking, work on 
Jewish Sects and Parties in the Time of Jesus (1925). Dr. Lightley 
makes a valiant effort to be fair. He has read everything he could 
lay his hands on on the ' Jewish ' side, though from the rather 
sparse references and from some rather odd quotations (' Cholim ' 
and ' Cholin ' for ' Chullin,' e.g.) I have my suspicions whether he 
is as familiar with Rabbinic texts as a man who writes about the 
first century A.D. ought to be. Moreover, his wide reading is not 
quite as critical as it might be. For example, he quotes a silly 
remark from somebody that the Rabbis counted 248 classes (sic) of 
things to be done and 365 of things forbidden, just as if every 
orthodox Jew in his ordinary life had 248 positive and 365 negative 
laws to fulfil ! In spite of his own caution as regards the proportion 
of Pharisees and Rabbis to whom Jesus's strictures applied, he still 
too often makes the usual sweeping assertions as to ' the Pharisees,' 
and repeats the old, old charges. He still leaves unexplained the 
' contempt ' which the ' Pharisees ' and Rabbis apparently felt for 
the ' masses,' on the one hand, and their great influence with the 
said ' masses,' the admiration felt for them by the ' masses,' et cetera, 
on the other. The immensely difficult question of the * Am ha-Arec 
is not realized or alluded to. The real truth of the matter is that a 
writer like Dr. Lightley is in difficulties. He makes, I repeat, a 
splendid effort to be just and fair, and when his book is taken as 
a whole, and all the cautions and provisos are weighed and con- 
sidered, there is little which any reasonable person can object to, 
and much which all must admire. The general and sweeping 
statements are much less original than the reserves and the cautions. 
Why he is in difficulties, and why he must retain a goodly number 
of the general and sweeping statements, is simply his loyalty to the 
Gospel texts. Jesus says so ; therefore it must be so. Unlike 
every other reformer, unlike every other fighter who has ever lived, 
Jesus alone was always fair, always unprejudiced, always accurate. 
What are you to do, if you start with such a conviction, if your 



298 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXI1L 1-36 

devotion to the divine Master compels you to this strange belief ? 
Unless you choose to say : ' Such and such sayings are unauthentic? 
you are tied from the start. The wonderful thing is not that Dr. 
Lightley makes the general statements : the wonderful thing is 
that he shows such evident desire to be fair and just, and that he 
has so frequently succeeded. 

2, 3. ' The Scribes and the Pharisees ' may be a sort of loose 
expression for the Pharisaic Scribes. The Pharisees were a big 
party, and the larger portion of the population was their followers. 
The Scribes and Rabbis were the religious leaders of the Pharisees : 
only they could be said to sit in Moses' seat. 

The statement in 2, 3 is striking. * It is so Jewish that it could 
hardly have originated in later tradition even in Jewish-Christian 
circles ' (McNeile). Yet, if authentic, in view of passages like 
xv. 3-14, it is still more puzzling. Some think the verses are 
redactional, of the same spirit as v. 17-19. Others think they 
make a distinction between the Mosaic written law and the Rabbinic 
enlargements. It is only the former which are to be obeyed. This 
limitation is, however, not quite easy. It is true that Jesus as a 
general rule did not attack, and was not conscious of attacking, the 
Pentateuchal or Mosaic Law. But the Rabbinic developments of 
the Pentateuch were also taught by the Rabbis as Mosaic. They 
were either supposed to have been orally handed down from the 
age of Moses, or regarded as the necessary complements of the 
written code. It is more probable that if xxiii. 3 goes back to Jesus, 
the contradictions between it and other passages (such as those 
about divorce, etc.) are due to different moods and sentiments 
having been prominent in Jesus at different times. And nothing 
can be better, I think, than the following sentences in which 
Pfleiderer sums up his results : * Thus scarcely any other conclusion 
remains than to admit that in the attitude of Jesus towards the 
Mosaic Law different expressions which cannot be reconciled stand 
side by side, the most natural explanation of which may be found 
in a change of mood, similar to that which is known to have been 
the case with other epoch-making heroes, such for example as 
Luther. In the exalted moments of prophetic inspiration, enthusi- 
astic hope for a new world and passionate battling with the realities 
of everyday life, Jesus now and again felt himself inwardly taken 
beyond the legal barriers of his people, so that he could feel forward 
(ahnen) to the time when the validity of the Law should end. But 
from that to a conscious breach with the Law there was still a long 
step, which Jesus himself never took ; it was reserved for his 
apostle Paul to take it ' (Urchristentum, I. p. 659). 

As to the charge of saying and not doing, it is doubtfully historic. 



XXIII. i- 3 6] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 299 

A subtle way out of the difficulty has been devised ; too subtle, 
I think, to be probable. ' The words literally would mean that 
they did not observe the rules which they professed. But this is 
contrary to fact, and is not borne out by v. 4 f . The clause need 
not be due to Matthew's anti- Pharisaic feeling. It expresses 
paradoxically the fact that they did not (in God's sight) do what 
they appeared to do. Though they scrupulously observed their own 
rules, their motive and manner deprived their actions of all value ' 
(McNeile). Streeter holds that the two verses are a vivid illustra- 
tion or proof of the Judaistic character of the source M. For in 
them ' we have attributed to our Lord an emphatic commandment 
to obey, not only the Law, but the scribal interpretation of it. 
That is to say, He is represented as inculcating scrupulous obedience 
to that very " tradition of the elders " which He specifically 
denounces in Mark vii. 13. But here again we have already, on 
other grounds, seen reason to suppose that Matthew's version of 
this discourse was largely derived from M ' (p. 257). 

4. Cp. Luke xi. 46. Apparently this means that they do not 
seek to ease the burdens which their rules imposed. (If they had 
done so, they would probably have been attacked by the author of 
these sweeping charges as casuistical !) It is interesting to observe 
that McNeile, who adopts this interpretation, remarks : ' The 
school of Hillel, indeed, tended to laxity, but in the time of Jesus 
they were probably in a minority.' What is the evidence outside 
the Gospels ? It is a fine sign of better things, and of a nascent 
impartiality which does him high honour, that Oskar Holtzmann 
says of this and other attacks upon the Pharisees : * These are 
" fighting " speeches, and they are just as hyperbolical as that 
other saying of Jesus : The Pharisees strain at a gnat and swallow 

a camel If the leaders of the Pharisees really did not touch 

with their little fingers the burdens which they wanted others to 
bear, they could hardly have gained the honour and influence which, 
as a point of fact, they did acquire ' (Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte, 
p. 209). 

5. Matthew only. They are hypocritical and self-righteous ; 
vain and proud. Some of the Scribes probably were ; certainly not 
the Scribes as a class. But opponents never discriminate : each 
side tars the other with the same big black brush. 

The phylacteries are the TephilSn ; the tassels are the Zizith, 
Numbers xv. 38. 

6. Cp. Mark xii. 38, 39 ; Luke xx. 46, xi. 43. 

8-12. Later insertions, or torn from another context. Jesus 



300 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXIII. 1-36 

alone is to be called Rabbi. The disciples may be teachers and 
preachers, but they are not to call themselves Rabbi, for all followers 
of Jesus are to be on an equality. All are brothers. Probably 8 
and 10 (a variant of 8) are later than Jesus. (So Loisy and McNeile.) 

9. Nor are the disciples to call any one Father, for only God 
is their Father ; perhaps, however, according to the right reading, 
they are not to allow others to call them Father. 

II, 12. Cp. Mark ix. 35, x. 44 ; Matt. xx. 26. True humility 
shall bring its (heavenly) reward. 

13-31. The Seven * Woes.' Seven is a favourite and holy 
number. 

13. (i) Cp. Luke xi. 52. This probably means that the Rabbis, 
by their ritualistic, outward, casuistic, perverse interpretation of 
the Law had made it impossible for those who followed, or sought 
to follow, their teaching to * enter the Kingdom,' i.e. to be ' saved.' 
Another view is that the Rabbis prevented Jews from becoming 
Christians. In this case the ' Kingdom ' is the Christian community. 
A third view is that the Rabbis did all they could to hinder the 
preaching of Jesus : they refused to listen themselves, and they 
tried to prevent others from listening. 

14 is interpolated from Mark xii. 40, and is wanting in many 
good MSS. 

15. (2) Matthew only. A famous verse. The charge is probably 
exaggerated and inaccurate. The Palestinian Rabbis were, on the 
whole, not particularly favourable to proselytes. The idea is that 
the convert out-Herods Herod. He is more ' outward,' more intent 
on ceremonies and more lax in morals, than the Rabbis themselves. 

16-22. (3) Matthew only. About oaths. Doubtless there were 
evils resulting from the Rabbinic, as from every other, system of 
* casuistry.' But the essential and fundamental Rabbinic teaching 
about oaths was as good as you could wish. * Let your yea be yea.' 
A false oath was as abhorrent to them as to the Prophets, and idle 
swearing was greatly condemned. ' If the casuistries in these verses 
find no exact parallels in later Hebrew writings, it does not follow 
that they were unknown in the time of Jesus ; possibly, however, 
they are rhetorical instances, caricaturing to some extent other 
well-known hair-splittings ' (McNeile). 



XXIII. 1-36] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 3OI 

17. Jesus calls his opponents ' fools,' in spite of the teaching 
in the Sermon on the Mount (v. 22). Can the inconsistency be got 
over by the ingenious remark, * It shews that not the word but the 
spirit in which it is uttered is what matters ' (McNeile). If K. Akiba 
had said what we find in v. 22, and if he had called his Christian 
contemporaries ' fools/ I wonder if a similar excuse for him would 
have been suggested by the same commentator ! 

22. The conception of the ' heaven ' as God's throne goes back 
to Is. Ixvi. I. It is perhaps only meant symbolically. 

23. (4) Cp. Luke xi. 42. They observe ritual minutiae, and 
neglect ethical fundamentals. The word ' heavier,' papvrcpa, is 
used in a different sense from ' heavy,' /fape'a, in verse 4. Here 
it means the more important, not the more burdensome, portions 
of the Law. 

The last words of 23 would seem to show that the writer is 
anxious not to make it appear that in attacking the Rabbis, Jesus 
is attacking the Law. On the other hand, Harnack points out that 
the last words of the verse are wanting in Luke xi. 42 in the MS. 
D. In other MSS. they have been interpolated from Matthew. 
They did not exist in Q, but are an addition of Matthew's own. 
They imply a ' Judseo-Christian evaluation of the injunctions of the 
ceremonial law.' So too Loisy. 

There were doubtless in all the ages, from 100 B.C. till now, some 
orthodox Jews and Rabbis who observed * tithing ' or the like and 
neglected love, but that the utmost scrupulosity in outward legalism, 
and the most sublime spirituality and moral goodness cannot go 
together, and have not often gone together from 100 B.C. till now, 
is quite untrue. Cp. Abrahams, Studies, n. chap. vi. 

24. ' Strain out.' The meaning is that they take care to 
remove the gnat by filtering the liquid (e.g. the wine) which may 
contain it. They * strain it out ' through some substance which 
catches the smallest animal. Perhaps this was actually done to 
avoid the chance of swallowing an unclean animal. In swallowing 
a camel, the metaphor is rather confused. The meaning, however, 
is clear enough. They are meticulous about outward ceremonial 
purifications and observances : they neglect the gravest injunctions 
of the moral law. 

The A.V. has ' strain at a gnat,' and the phrase has become 
proverbial. Probably many people suppose it to mean ' strain ' in 
the sense of ' making a fuss about,' ' struggling ' or ' fighting against,' 
but the * at ' is, in all probability, a mere misprint, never corrected, 
for ' out.' SiivU'^eiy means ' filter,' ' strain through a cloth or other 



302 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXIII. 1-36 

substance.' Professor Goodspeed speaks of this ' at ' for ' out ' as 
* probably the most famous misprint in literature ' (The Making of 
the English New Testament, 1925, p. 43). 

2 5- (5) @P- Luke xi. 39-41. Inward and outward. The words 
may mean that they clean dish and cup outwardly, but fill them 
unrighteously through rapine and avarice. The word a/cpaata 
would signify insatiable appetite, the object of which is here the 
goods or property of others. Or the cup and platter may be a 
mere metaphor for men. They are outwardly clean, i.e. ritually 
punctilious, but inwardly, in their hearts, they are full of vice. 
Or, thirdly, the original meaning of 25 may have been, * you clean 
what is outward,' namely such things as cups and platters, * but 
within ye are full of extortion.' This would be a sort of com- 
bination of part of the first and second meanings. If the cups had 
been meant as a metaphor for men, the dishes would not have been 
added ; and 26, which actually does so interpret the cups, omits 
the dishes. But 26 probably implies an old misunderstanding of 25. 

26. If the inside is clean, the outside will be counted clean as 
well. The best MSS. do not have RV.'s addition * and of the platter.' 
Platter (napo^ls), by the bye, means a dish, not a plate. 



27, 28. (6) Cp. Luke xi. 44. A charge similar to the fore- 
going. The tombs around Jerusalem used to be whitewashed before 
Passover so that no ritual impurity might be contracted by stepping 
upon one unawares. There was no objection to a layman becoming 
unclean, except when he wanted to enter the Temple and this he 
would wish to do at the Festival. 

The comparison is dealt with by Abrahams, Studies, n. pp. 
29, 30. 

29. (7) Cp. Luke xi. 47, 48. Though this is the seventh Woe, 
it seems unconnected with the previous sections. The word 
' sepulchres,' forms a verbal link. It is the Jews generally who are 
here addressed, rather than the Scribes or the Pharisees. 

30. The argument is peculiar : the irony is strained. You 
build fine erections over the graves of the prophets whom your 
fathers killed. But in dissociating yourselves from your fathers' 
guilt, you admit that you are your fathers' sons. And as sons, you 
inherit the murderous instincts of your fathers. The laboured 
violence of the attack is not very attractive, and there can be little 
doubt that we have here the bitterness of a Christian writer who 
conceived that the Jews, and especially the Rabbis, were responsible 



XXIII. i- 3 6] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 303 

for the death of Jesus. And so we can readily excuse and forgive 
this exhibition of hatred. 

32. The imperative TrXypwaare of some MSS. is regarded as 
the true reading by many scholars. ' Imitate your fathers fully ' : 
murder as they did (i.e. crucify Jesus). Some scholars defend the 
future TrA^pcoorere of other MSS. ' Ye will sin as much as your 
fathers.' In either reading they are urged ironically to fill up the 
measure of their wickedness that their doom may come the sooner 
(cp. l The wickedness of the Amorites is not yet full.' Genesis 
xv. 16). 

34-36 is probably a later addition, or, shall we rather say, 
probably belongs to those portions of the chapter which are latest 
in date. Cp. Luke xi. 49-51. Jesus is made to predict persecu- 
tions of Christian teachers instigated and perpetrated by Jews. 
Cp. x. 17. In Luke most of this passage is given as a quotation 
from ' the wisdom of God.' Jesus is made to quote some lost 
apocalyptic writing. It would seem more probable that Luke's 
version is more original than Matthew's. Matthew does not like 
to make Jesus quote an apocryphal book. Note that Matthew or 
his source does not scruple to call the Christian teachers ' scribes ' 
as well as prophets and sages. The Jews, who by the ruin of their 
State and Temple have suffered the ultimate punishment, have 
suffered justly. They not only bear the punishment for all former 
generations of prophet-slayers, but they are prophet-slayers them- 
selves. They suffer for the past, but also for their own deeds. 

Not unjustly does Ha vet say of these and similar passages in 
the Gospels : * The truth is that the Gospels, of which men commonly 
speak as if one found in them nothing but love and charity, are 
sometimes full of hatred. . . . What has become of the precept of 
Deuteronomy : the fathers shall not be put to death for the children, 
neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers ? Is it 
not here the old Law which might proudly turn the tables and say 
in its turn : You pretend that my children shall expiate the blood 
of the righteous ; but I say unto you, Where are the suavities of 
the Sermon on the Mount ? Where are the beatitudes ? Where the 
order to bless those who curse you ? ' (Le Christianisme et ses origines, 
iv. pp. 244, 273). 

35. Who is this Zechariah, the son of Barachias ? He has 
been identified with the priest Zechariah mentioned in 2 Chron. 
xxiv. 20, who was killed in the court of the Temple by the order 
of King Joash about 850 B.C. But (a) this man was the son of 
Jehoiada ; (6) he is only mentioned in Chronicles ; (c) he was not 



304 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXIII. 37-39 

killed between the sanctuary and the altar, but in the court of the 
Temple ; and (d) he was by no means the last righteous man slain 
in Jewish history. Hence some commentators think that the 
reference is to Zechariah, son of Bariscseus (an odd form, perhaps 
corrupted from Baruch, which would be the same as Barachias). 
This man was murdered by the zealots just before the war with 
Rome (67 or 68 A.D.) : see Josephus, Wars, iv. 5. 4. His blood was 
shed within the sanctuary, and could be justly regarded as the last 
righteous blood shed before the destruction of the Jewish State. 
In that case a reference is put into the mouth of Jesus to an event 
which happened thirty years after his death. On the other hand, 
some argue that Zechariah of Chronicles became an important figure 
in Jewish legend, showing that he was a good deal talked about. 
Moreover, he is the last martyr mentioned in Chronicles, and there- 
fore, as Chronicles is the last book, in the Bible. Hence he may be 
the man to whom Matthew alludes. Some think that Matthew 
may have thought of the later Zechariah, while the source (Q) 
meant the earlier one of Chronicles. Luke has not got the addition 
' son of Barachias,' which is due, some think, to a confusion between 
the intended Zechariah of 2 Chron. xxiv. and the canonical prophet. 
Cp. Zech. i. I and Is. viii. 2 (Septuagint). The most brilliant 
advocate of the view that the Zechariah of A.D. 67 is intended is 
Wellhausen, not only in his commentary on Matthew, but in the 
second edition of his Einleitung, pp. 118-123 (1911). A good 
defence of the view that the son of Jehoiada is meant is given by 
McNeile, pp. 340, 341. Meyer (i. p. 235) is weighty on the side of 
Wellhausen. Certainly the arguments of the Introduction are 
hard to get over. Moffatt (p. 204) wants to date Q early — even Q 
as we now possess it. Hence he is a champion of the Zechariah of 
Chronicles, and rebukes Wellhausen for calling this Zechariah ' a 
quite obscure man.' But if Moffatt had read p. 121 of the second 
edition of the Einleitung more carefully, he would, I think, see that 
Wellhausen spoke with reason. Anybody who was totally indifferent 
as to the date of Q, would, I fancy, on the evidence, vote for the 
later Zechariah. So too Goguel i. p. 271. 

36. ' All these things,' i.e. all these acts of bloodshed will be 
visited upon this generation — a pretty obvious vaticinium ex eventu. 



37-39. LAMENT OVER JERUSALEM 
(Cp. Luke xiii. 34, 35) 

37 ' Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest 
them who are sent unto thee, how often have I desired to gather 



XXIII. 37-39] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 305 

thy children together, even as a hen gathers her brood under 

38 her wings, and ye would not ! Behold, your house is left unto you 

39 desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till 
ye shall say, Blessed in the name of the Lord be he that comes/ 

37. This passage stands in Luke in quite a different connection. 
In spite of this fact, some hold that 37, 38 are still part of the 
quotation from the apocryphal book. Wisdom is the speaker. It 
is Wisdom who has sent prophets, wise men, and scribes, and has 
thus sought to protect and save the city. Jesus could not have 
said, ' how often have I wished to gather together,' etc., nor could he 
have lamented over the prophets, wise men, and scribes whom the 
Jews had murdered. * The simile of the bird (it is by no means 
certain that it is a hen) which gathers her young ones under her 
wing, fits God, not Jesus. The children of Jerusalem are not so 
much the inhabitants of the town as all the Jews whose spiritual 
fatherland is Jerusalem. The attempts which had been made to 
unite them, to bring them back to the law of their calling, are not 
the visits of Christ, but the sending in succession of the prophets 
who had been massacred. For the apostrophe to Jerusalem has 
the closest connection with the preceding passage. In reality 
" the prophets, the wise men, the scribes " had been already sent ; 
they had been killed and stoned ; it is this series of murders, known 
by legend more than by Scripture, which was about to be punished ; 
it constitutes the crime of Jerusalem, because it is the crime of the 
Jewish people. The unbelief of the chosen people was about to be 
its destruction, because God, angered by such long ingratitude, was 
about to leave his abode, the city of which he was king, and abandon 
it to his enemies ' (Loisy). This is plausible. Some think that the 
quotation from ' Wisdom ' continues to the very end of the chapter. 
Wisdom is feminine, and can use the metaphor of the hen much 
better than Jesus, a man. ep^/zo? is wanting in S.S., and the 
meaning of 38 is * your house (the Temple) is abandoned, left, of me, 
Wisdom, and Jerusalem shall not see me again till the advent of 
Messiah.' ' The entire passage (34-39) is a quotation from some 
lost visions in which the divine Wisdom was the speaker. . . . 
Matthew rightly joins what Luke divides ; or rather Luke wrongly 
separates what Matthew offers as continuous. Each throws light 
upon the other ; Matthew shows us that the passages belong 
together : Luke supplies the important fact that they form a 
quotation from a vanished book' (Carpenter). If it is attempted 
to keep the passage, or part of it, for Jesus, one must interpret with 
McNeile : ' " How often (when I was away in Galilee) did I long 
to come to Jerusalem and gather you all into My discipleship and 
protect you in the coming Judgment ; and now that I have come, 

VOL. II X 



306 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXIII. 37-39 

you have refused to be gathered." This gets over the difficulty 
that, according to the Synoptics, the ministry of Jesus included 
only one visit to Jerusalem. A clever argument that all 37-39 is 
no continuation of the quotation, but an authentic saying of Jesus, 
can be read in Streeter's essay in Oxford Studies in the Synoptic 
Gospels (1911), p. 163. 

38. ' Your house ' is probably Jerusalem, and not the Temple. 
The plain meaning of the words seems to be ' Jerusalem shall be left; 
desolate a long time.' The city is already in ruins. So Wellhausen 
who makes the pungent remark : ' Die neueren Exegeten machen 
die Augen zu und denken an dies und das.' But Harnack argued 
(for as 37-39 is in Q, it must be early) that ' your house ' means 
the Temple, and that ' is left desolate ' (d^tVrat eprjpos) is used as 
a prophetic future, a reproduction of Jer. xxii. 5, ' This house will be 
a desolation ' (etV ep^/zcocriv eorai). Luke omitted ep^o? to 
improve the Greek. For the reproduction of Jeremiah, as Matthew 
has it, did not sound quite logical, since the idea of destruction 
has to be supplied, and this is not good Greek. Thus, while Matthew 
said : ' Your Temple will be left, to your discomfiture, in a condition 
of desolation/ Luke corrected this to, ' Your Temple will be delivered 
up (abandoned).' The passive a<f>i€a9cu is used as in xxiv. 40 where 
it stands in contrast to TrapaXa^dveaOaL. 

Others think that ep^o? is an addition, perhaps due to Jer. 
xxii. 5, and ' expresses a different thought.' Without ep^/io? the 
words mean God has deserted, or will desert, your city. The addition 
of eprjfjios (desolate) alludes * to the destruction of the city of the 
Romans ' (McNeile). 

39. The verse is obscure, and the connection with, and relation 
to, 38 doubtful. Luke omits the difficult ' for,' which it is strained 
to interpret as, * God is about to desert you, because I am about to 
depart by death.' Perhaps 39 does not really belong to 37, 38, and 
has been hooked on to these verses by the compiler of Q. The 
words in themselves seem to imply that the Parousia is near, 
whereas in their present position they would rather imply that the 
Parousia is not very imminent : the punishment must come first. 
If the words are to be regarded by themselves, apart from their 
environment, and as authentic, we must suppose that Jesus meant 
that his active ministry was over. He had spoken all he had to say. 
And he expects that the denouement will soon take place. He will 
make no further appearances in public before he is revealed as 
Messiah. Or shall we even add : what is now to come Jesus does 
not precisely know ? It may be, death. But of one thing he is 
sure. The Messiah in his glory, that is himself as Messiah in glory. 



XXIII. 37-39] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 307 

will soon be revealed. More probably the words are not authentic. 
Jerusalem had fallen : Jesus had not come. Therefore the men of 
a later generation felt that he must have predicted that an interval 
would lie between the fall of the city and his second coming, during 
which time it would remain in ruins. Hence the present verse, 
probably written some years after his death. Another view is 
that 39 belongs in part to the old quotation, but that it has been 
edited and enlarged by the first nine Greek words, ' For I say unto 
you, ye shall not see me from henceforth.' Thus 38 would originally 
have run, ' Your house shall be left unto you desolate until ye shall 
say, Blessed ' etc. (i.e. till the Messiah shall come). (So Bultmann, 
p. 69.) 

As one looks back over the whole chapter, it seems wonderful that 
J. Weiss could speak of it as a ' historic document of the first rank ' 
on the ground that it paints for us ' most plastically and with an 
incomparable and compelling expressiveness the mentality and 
nature of the Pharisees,' and that it * throws a strong light upon 
the personality of Jesus.' For even if some of the chapter (which is 
doubtful) goes back to Jesus, it has surely been largely edited by 
Christians, by men who thought that the Pharisees had killed * their 
Saviour,' and who also had, perhaps, personally suffered at their 
hands. And yet these sweeping charges were accepted by Weiss as 
simple, unadulterated truth ! Excellent remarks upon the chapter 
are to be found in The Pharisees, by Travers Herford (1924), pp. 209- 
211. The learned author is serenely impartial, and seeks to do 
justice both to Jesus and his opponents. Some have thought that 
in my first edition I did less than justice to Jesus or to the author 
of the * Woes ' ; it may be so, yet I am glad to find that Herford, 
a Christian, albeit a Unitarian, who sees in Jesus ' a personality 
marked by spiritual force and intensity to a degree unknown 
before or since,' agrees, upon the whole, rather with me than with 
my critics. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

1-44. THE END AND ITS SIGNS 

(Cp. Mark xiii. ; Luke xxi. 5-33, xvii. 23-37) 

1 And Jesus left the temple, and went on his way, and his disciples 
came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. And he 

2 answered and said unto them, * See ye not all these things ? verily 
I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, 
which shall not be thrown down.' 

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto 
him privately, saying, ' Tell us, when will these things be ? and 
what will be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the Age ? ' 

4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, ' Take heed that no one 

5 lead you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, I am 

6 the Messiah ; and they will lead many astray. And ye will hear 
of wars and rumours of wars : see that ye be not alarmed : for 

7 these things must happen, but the End is not yet. For nation will 
rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom : and there will 

8 be famines and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the 
beginning of the Pangs. 

9 * Then will they deliver you up to affliction ; and they will kill 

10 you : and ye will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And 
then many will stumble, and betray one another, and hate one 

11 another. And many false prophets will rise, and lead many astray. 

12 And because lawlessness will increase, the love of many will grow 

13 cold. But he that endures unto the End, he shall be saved. 

14 And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world 
for a witness unto all nations ; and then will the End come. 

15 * When then ye see the Abomination of Desolation, spoken of 
by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that 

1 6 reads give heed :) then let them who be in Judaea flee to the 

17 mountains : let him who is on the roof not go down to take any 

308 



XXIV. 1-44] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 309 

1 8 thing out of his house : neither let him who is in the field return to 

19 fetch his cloak. And woe unto them that are with child, and to 

20 them that give suck in those days ! But pray ye that your flight 

21 be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath : for then will be great 
affliction such as has not been from the beginning of the world 

22 until now, and will not be again. And if those days were not 
shortened, no flesh would be saved : but for the elect's sake those 
days will be shortened. 

23 ' Then if any man say unto you, Lo, here is the Messiah, or 

24 there ; believe him not. For there will arise false Messiahs, and 
false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders ; so 

25 that, if it were possible, even the elect would be led astray. Behold, 
I have foretold you. 

26 ' If, then, they say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert, go not 
forth : or, behold, he is in the inner chambers, believe it not. 

27 For as the lightning comes forth from the east, and flashes unto 

28 the west ; so shall the coming of the Son of man be. For wherever 
the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. 

29 * But immediately after the affliction of those days the sun will 
be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, and the stars 
will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken : 

30 and then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven : and 
then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the 
Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great 

31 glory. And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet, and 
they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one 
end of heaven to the other. 

32 ' Now learn a parable from the fig tree : When its branch 
becomes soft, and puts forth leaves, ye know that summer is 

33 near : so too ye, when ye see all these things, know that he is near, 
even at the door. 

34 * Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away 

35 till all these things shall have taken place. Heaven and earth 

36 shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that 
day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, and 
not even the Son, but only the Father. 

37 ' But as the days of Noah so shall the coming of the Son of 

38 man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they kept 
on eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until 



310 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXIV. 1-44 

39 the day that Noah entered into the ark, and perceived nothing 

until the flood came, and swept them all away ; so also shall the 

4° coming of the Son of man be. Then there will be two men in a 

41 field ; the one will be taken, and the other left. Two women will 
be grinding at the mill ; the one will be taken, and the other left. 

4 2 ' Watch therefore : for ye know not on what day your Lord 

43 may come. But know this, that if the master of the house had 
known at what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, 

44 and would not have permitted his house to be broken into. There- 
fore be ye also ready : for at an hour when ye do not expect it, the 
Son of man will come.' 

The twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew (an uninteresting and 
valueless chapter for us), corresponds in a great part of it with the 
thirteenth chapter of Mark. It contains, that is, Matthew's version 
of the apocalyptic discourse. But Matthew has enlarged the 
discourse here and there, and has appended to it parables taken 
from Q or from other sources, and certain additions of his own. 
These extend to the end of the twenty-fifth chapter. 

I. The chapter opens with Mark xiii. i. The wording is 
slightly varied. The disciples point out to Jesus the Temple 
buildings. This looks as if it was believed that they had visited 
the Temple before, but that Jesus had not, or at any rate as if he 
were far less familiar with it than they. 

3. Instead of the four special intimates, Matthew makes Jesus 
address the discourse to the disciples generally. 

* The sign of thy coming, and of the end of the Age.' The 
word ' Parousia ' is not found in Mark or Luke. It is a translation 
of Jewish expressions, but as applied to Jesus it does not strictly 
fit. For of him a recoming should be spoken of, not a coming. 
But though Jesus was in one sense to come again, he would come 
again as the Messiah in power. His recoming was the Messiah's 
coming. As the Messiah de facto and in his full reality, he would 
come then for the first time — once and once only. That is the 
older view. Hence the word Parousia could legitimately be 
used. The phrase owreActa rov ai&vos is only found in Matthew 
xiii. 39, 40, xxiv. 3 ; Hebrews ix. 26. ravra ' these things.' 'Cp. 
Mark xiii. 4. Matthew closely connects the destruction of the 
Temple with the End of the Age and the Parousia. And yet, when 
he wrote, the Temple had fallen, but there was no sign of the 
Parousia. He must, nevertheless, have believed that the Conning 
would happen soon. 



XXIV. 1-44] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 311 

4-8 = Mark xiii. 5-8. 

9. Matthew had used Mark xiii. 9, 11-13 already in x. 17-22, 
so he contracts here. Note that whereas Mark and Matthew x. 22 
have ' hated by all/ Matthew has here * hated by all nations.' This 
is later. The Evangelist was, perhaps, thinking of the persecutions 
of Nero. The original * all ' may only have referred to Jews. As 
regards persecutions by Jews, cp. Abrahams, Studies, n., ' The 
Persecutions/ pp. 51-71 and especially p. 62. 

10-12. Matthew only. Here we come to treason and apostasy 
among the Christians themselves. They hate and betray one 
another. 

ii. The false prophets are probably Christian heretics, cp. vii. 
15-22. They cause Christian charity (ayaTrrj) to grow cold. The 
substantive dyaTrT? is found only here in Matthew. It is not found 
in Mark. In Luke it occurs once, xi. 42. 

Great wickedness is a stock sign of the End among the Apocalyptic 
writers. 

13. This verse takes up Mark xiii. 136. It has already been 
used in x. 22. Matthew x. 22. 

14. This verse repeats with emphasis Mark xiii. 10. 
15-22. Cp. Mark xiii. 14-20. 

15. * The Abomination of Desolation ' is specially noted to be 
a quotation from Daniel. It is peculiar that this prediction is still 
retained, though, when Matthew compiled his Gospel, the Temple 
and Jerusalem were in ruins. But the site was still sacred. And so 
the mysterious, unnamed, undefined horror is still to appear before 
the End, when the heavenly Jerusalem shall descend, with the Son 
of man, upon the site of the old Temple. 

Streeter is very interesting about this verse and the whole 
chapter. ' When Mark wrote (about 65) it seemed possible that the 
prophecies of the appearance of the Anti-Christ and the return of 
Christ within the lifetime of the first generation might be fulfilled/ 
The non-fulfilment of the prophecies became a grievous difficulty 
to the early Church. Matthew solves the problem by disconnecting 
the Anti-Christ ' from any local connection with the Temple/ For 
Streeter believes that the true text of Matt. xxiv. 15 is according 
to S.S. which omits ' in the holy place/ (To Matthew as to Mark 
the Abomination of Desolation is, Streeter thinks, the Anti-Christ.) 
Thus the Anti-Christ expectation is detached from any local 



312 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXIV. 1-44 

connection with Jerusalem, and Matthew probably interpreted the 
' Abomination ' prediction by the light of the Nero-redivivus myth, 
belief in which was strong at Antioch where, Streeter thinks, Matthew 
was written (pp. 518-523). 

For Bacon's views cp. the notes on Mark. I may add the 
following. Matthew knows that Daniel's Abomination ' was a 
material object, and the place of its appearance the temple. The 
temple being no longer in existence when he wrote, he could not 
well change Mark's " where he ought not " to " in the holy place " 
or " in the temple." The nearest approximation possible (and it i« 
characteristic of the method of Matthew to effect his changes ol : 
meaning by the most microscopic alterations) was to write " a >: 
holy place.' Moreover, Bacon interestingly points out that a desecra- 
tion of the kind had actually occurred. For ' even under Agrippa 
I. the Syrian rabble actually set up the statue of Claudius in the 
synagogue at Dor (a rival Jewish port seven miles north of Caesarea), 
thus renewing the pogrom of Alexandria, doubtless expecting the 
outrage to receive from Claudius the same favourable treatment 
shown by Caligula. Petronius, the proconsul at Antioch, who on 
the former occasion had risked his life to save the temple from 
sacrilege, intervened again at the request of Agrippa, this time with 
the emperor's full support. The centurion Proculus Vitellius was 
sent to execute condign punishment on the perpetrators of the 
outrage, and Petronius issued a proclamation against further 
" lawlessness " of the kind.' So Matthew ' substitutes " a " holy 
place for "the" holy place, being aware that when the great rebellion 
actually broke out it had been in very truth because of the profanation 
of a synagogue in Ccesarea in just this manner. Matthew, then, 
looks back on the profanation and its sequel, the " great tribulation," 
but forward to the Coming " immediately " after.' * Matthew would 
repress premature enthusiasm, with ultimate encouragement ' 
(pp. 64, 98, 105, 103). 

20. * Not on the Sabbath.' An addition, which is supposed to 
be one of the ' judaizing ' or ' judseo-Christian ' passages in Matthew. 
The Christians, therefore, still observe the Sabbath. 

23-25. Not in Mark. An addition to the original discourse ; 
Luke xvii. 23-25, 37. There may be a reference to the idea of the 
hidden Messiah, kept concealed till the hour of his revelation and 
coming. 

27. No need to search for the Messiah. His advent will be 
manifest to all. His chosen ones will be at once united to him. 
The coming of the Messiah is sure and swift. 



XXIV. 1-44] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 313 

28. A proverbial expression. The Advent of the Messiah will 
be as little unnoticed by men as carcases are unnoticed by eagles. 
Cp. Job xxxix. 30. Or : As the eagles rush to the carcases, so will 
false Messiahs appear before the End. Or : As the eagles swoop 
down upon the carcases, so when the world has become steeped in 
wickedness, will the Son of man come down on to it. 

29-31. Cp. Mark xiii. 24-27 ; Luke xxi. 25-28. 

29. Notice the * immediately,' which is only found in Matthew. 
The author of Matthew cannot have added this word, for it had 
been contradicted by history when he wrote. The destruction of 
the Jewish State had not been followed by the Judgment, the 
Parousia, the End. He merely copied the words which he found 
in his old apocalyptic source (of, say, about A.D. 60). There is, 
however, another and perhaps more probable explanation of the 
' immediately.' The * affliction of those days ' which culminates 
in the establishment of the ' Abomination of Desolation ' is not the 
destruction of Jerusalem, but something much worse, which is still 
to come. And ' immediately ' after it does come — but this is still 
in the future — the Son of man will make his appearance. 

30. The first part of the verse is only found in Matthew. ' The 
sign of the Son of man,' i.e. the sign of the End, is the appearance 
of the Messiah. The sign consists in the Son of man's appearance. 
Another explanation is that it is a sign which the Son of man shall 
display — some mysterious token which was familiar to apocalyptic 
conceptions of the tune. It is remarkable that S.S. has ' ye shall 
see.' Was ' ye ' changed to ' they ' to allow for the death of the 
disciples who had not so seen ? The words, * and all the tribes of the 
earth shall mourn ' (Zech. xii. 10), are wanting in S.S. They may 
be an interpolation from Rev. i. 8, or both Matthew and the author 
of Revelation may have drawn from a common source. 

32-36. Cp. Mark xiii. 28-32 ; Luke xxi. 29-33. 

34. Matthew keeps : ' this generation shall not pass away/ 
etc., from Mark. ' Either some of the old generation were still 
alive when Matthew wrote, or he reckons the generations differently ; 
perhaps he means his own generation, so that the terminus ad quern 
is postponed ' (J. Weiss). 

36. The words * not even the Son ' are wanting in some MSS. 
and authorities. Perhaps Matthew added ' only,' in place of them, 
to ' the Father.' 



314 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXIV. 45-51 

37-41. Not in Mark. Another addition from another source. 
Cp. Luke xvii. 26, 27, 34, 35. Here the idea is again expressed that 
the Messiah will appear suddenly and unexpectedly. Cp. 26, 27. 

40. * Taken and left ' : i.e. either : taken, accepted [by the 
angels] for life ; left, abandoned to destruction. Or : Taken, seized 
for destruction ; left, spared, left unharmed. 

42-44. Cp. Mark xiii. 33-37 ; Luke xii. 37-40. From the 
suddenness and unexpectedness of the Messiah's coming is drawn 
the lesson of watchfulness. Be prepared ! The metaphor of the 
thief is finely daring. Mixed up with it is the conception of the 
absent master, the hour of whose return to his own house is uncertain. 
We have now come out of the apocalypse, and Matthew is drawing 
on material which was probably used by Mark also and was certainly 
used by Luke. The general and original idea is always the same. 
The Kingdom of God will come soon. Be prepared for its coming. 



45-51. THE FAITHFUL AND THE FAITHLESS SERVANT 
(Cp. Luke xii. 41-46) 

45 * Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom his lord 
has set over his household, to give them their food in due season ? 

4 6 Happy is that servant, whom his lord, when he comes, shall find 

47 so doing. Verily I say unto you that he will set him over all his 

48 possessions. But if the evil servant say in his heart, My lord 

49 tarries long, and if he begin to beat his fellow-servants, and to 

50 eat and drink with drunkards, the lord of that servant will come 
on a day when he looks not for him, and at an hour which he does 

51 not know. And he will cut him asunder, and appoint his portion 
with the hypocrites : there shall the weeping be and the gnashing 
of teeth.' 

The servants may refer to all Christians, or to the leaders of 
the Community. 

Some think that the parable in a more original form may be 
authentic. The source is Q. It merely would mean : Use your 
time well before the advent of the Kingdom and the Judgment. 
In its present form, the reference may be to teachers and officers 
within the Christian community. One looks after his flock ; the 
the other neglects and maltreats them and seeks his own advantage. 
Originally (in Q) the reference may have been intended to be wider 



XXIV. 45-5i] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 315 

and more general. All Christians must do their various duties 
properly in the community. The Messiah, when he comes, should 
find each believer fulfilling faithfully his trust. The last part of 51 
falls outside the parable. The place where the hypocrites (or 
unbelievers) are, and where there is gnashing of teeth, is hell. There 
may have been a number of parables, some of which go back to 
Jesus, and some of which are later, dealing with the coming of the 
Kingdom and how the interval of time up till its arrival should be 
spent. 

Quite possibly ' the last part of 51 ' does not ' fall outside the 
parable/ but is a case of a false translation from the Aramaic 
original. Torrey shows that the original Aramaic of 51 probably 
ran simply thus : * And will divide him his portion with the unfaith- 
ful.' (' Divide him his portion ' means assign him the same portion 
or lot as the unfaithful have had assigned to them.) In the Greek 
both of Matthew and Luke ' two things strike the reader at once : 
first, this is a singularly disproportionate punishment for a kind of 
mismanagement to which servants left to themselves have always 
and everywhere been specially prone, and for which dismissal in 
disgrace is generally regarded as an adequate penalty ; second, 
after the man had been " split in two," it could make no difference 
to him with whom his portion was appointed ' (' Translation from 
Aramaic Gospels/ p. 314, in Studies in the History of Religions, 
presented to C. H. Toy, 1912). 



CHAPTER XXV 

1-13. THE WISE AND FOOLISH VIRGINS 
(Matthew only) 

1 ' Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, 

2 who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. And 

3 five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For the foolish took 

4 their lamps, but took no oil with them : but the wise took oil in 

5 vessels with their lamps. Now as the bridegroom tarried, they all 

6 grew drowsy and went to sleep. And at midnight a cry arose 

7 Behold, the bridegroom ! Go out to meet him. Then all those 

8 virgins got up, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said 
unto the wise, Give us some of your oil ; for our lamps are gone 

9 out. But the wise answered, saying, There may not be enough 
for us and for you : go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for 

10 yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom arrived : 
and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage-feast : 

11 and the door was shut. Afterwards the other virgins came up 

12 also, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, 
Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 

13 ' Watch therefore, for ye know not the day or the hour. 

The parable seems to verge on allegory. The bridegroom is 
Christ ; the virgins are half bridesmaids, half bride. For brides- 
maids have not usually anything to do with the bridegroom after 
midnight, just as shops are not usually open at that hour. The 
whole parable is somewhat muddled. The marriage takes place 
in the house of the bride ; the bridesmaids go out to meet the 
bridegroom at some appointed place with lighted lamps. As he 
delays to come, all go to sleep, a feature which has nothing to do 
with the moral. For the distinction between the wise and the foolish 
is that the former bring a supply of spare oil, while the latter do 
not. The former are ' prepared ' ; the latter are careless. The 

316 



XXV. 14-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 317 

moral is merely a repetition of the previous section : ' Be prepared 
for the coming of the Christ ' ; in other words, ' Live a good life, 
so that if Messiah come suddenly, you may be accounted worthy 
to inherit eternal life, to enter into the Kingdom.' No repentance 
or ' return ' is possible after the coming of Messiah, just as no 
repentance is possible, according both to the old Jewish and old 
Christian doctrine, after death. 

11. Some think 11-13 an addition to the original parable. 

12. Here Jesus is the judge rather than the bridegroom. The 
severity of the sentence is like xxiv. 51. 

13. The moral. ' Watch ' must be taken in rather a general 
sense. It means : ' be prepared/ not, ' keep awake ' ; ' live rightly '; 
not ' do not go to sleep.' All the virgins go to sleep, the wise as well 
as the foolish. 

Some commentators want to claim the parable of the virgins, 
in its original form, for Jesus. As in the case of other parables of 
the same tendency in Matthew and Luke, they do not seem to me 
successful. Jesus, it is admitted, thought that the Kingdom was 
very near. It was always on the point of appearing. And in 
Jerusalem he expected it to the very last. What room or occa- 
sion was there to urge that the interval between Now and Then 
should be well spent ? Immediate repentance was the only possible 
counsel under the circumstances. As he began, so he could end : 
' Repent, for the Kingdom is at hand.' But was there any need or 
room to say to disciples or outsiders, ' Lead a good and useful life 
between now and the Parousia ' ? For if, in the story as told 
by Jesus, the delay of the bridegroom had no special application or 
meaning, if the bridegroom was not Jesus, and the virgins were not 
the Church, then the need for the parable is not apparent. If the 
parable, on the other hand, grew up to explain the delay in the 
coming of the Kingdom and to point out how the intervening time — 
of uncertain duration — should be spent, all is clear and cogent. 
Luke's parallels to the parable are xiii. 25, xii. 35, 36. As regards 
the latter passage, there are some excellent remarks in Bultmann, 
p. 71. 

14-30. THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS 
(Cp. Luke xix. 11-27) 

4 ' For it is like a man going abroad, who called his servants, and 

5 delivered unto them his property. And unto one he gave five 



3*8 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXV. 14-30 

talents, to another two, and to another one ; to every man accord- 

16 ing to his capacity. Then he departed. Then he that had received 
the five talents straightway went and traded with them, and made 

17 five talents more. And likewise he that had received two, he also 

1 8 gained two more. But he that had received one went and dug in 
the earth, and hid his lord's money. 

19 * After a long time the lord of those servants came back, and 

20 settled accounts with them. Then he that had received the five 
talents came and brought the other five talents, saying, Lord, thou 
didst deliver unto me five talents : behold, I have gained beside 

21 them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thoi 
good and 'faithful servant: thou hast been faithful in respect of 
little, I will set thee over much : enter thou into the joy of thy 

22 lord. He that had received two talents came also and said, Lord, 
thou didst deliver unto me two talents : behold, I have gained two 

23 other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, 
good and faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful in respect of 
little, I will set thee over much : enter thou into the joy of thy 

24 lord. Then he who had received the one talent came and said. 
Lord, I knew that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hasl 

25 not sown, and gathering where thou hast not winnowed. And I 
was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth ; lo, here thou 

26 hast what is thine. Then his lord answered and said unto him, Thou 
wicked and slothful servant ; didst thou know that I reap where I 

27 have not sown, and gather where I have not winnowed ? Then 
oughtest thou to have put my money with the bankers, and then 

28 at my return I should have received mine own with interest. Take 
therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him who has the 

29 ten talents. For unto every one that has shall be given, and he 
shall have abundance : but from him that has not shall be taken 

30 away even that which he has. And cast ye the useless servant 
into the outer darkness : there shall the weeping be and the gnashing 
of teeth.' 

It is disputed whether in this parable, perhaps taken from Q, 
the allusions to the Advent were added later or not. Some com- 
mentators would like to preserve the parable for Jesus — to regard 
it as spoken by him — and to suppose that originally it had nothing 
to do with the Parousia. So, for instance, Loisy. The parable 
originally, he holds, had nothing to do either with the Parousia or 



XXV. 14-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 319 

with the last Judgment. * It was intended to show that the reward 
of the just in the Kingdom of Heaven will be proportioned, or rather, 
brought into relation to, their merits, and that those whose merits 
are non-existent will have no share at all in the Everlasting Bliss ' 
(E. S. ii. p. 464). In that case, the ' lord ' is not Christ, but God. 
M. Loisy does not mind using the word ' merit.' It does not cause 
him qualms, as it does to a Lutheran like J. Weiss. The simple 
lesson of the parable can be simply recorded by him. But even as 
edited by the Evangelist, the parable preaches the duty of fidelity 
and of active work for the community. The gifts and favours which 
God has given are to be used in his service ; they are, as it were, 
to be given back to him with increase. They who so act will also 
themselves reap their reward. For what helps the community 
makes him also who helps a better and a richer man. If verse 29 
belongs to, and is an essential part of, the whole, the parable means 
no less than this. If not, we must limit it to the moral that man's 
powers and gifts are to be used and increased ; they are not to be 
neglected and allowed to rust. Inaction spells loss. He who does 
not go forward goes back. In its present connection the parable is 
not unlike its predecessor. The Advent or Judgment will come, 
though it is delayed ; but because it is sure to come, Christians are 
not to while away the intervening period. They must use it for the 
service of the community. ' The use of the word, talent, to mean 
intellectual endowment is based upon this parable ; when we speak 
of a talent therefore, we regard the gift as a property entrusted to 
us which is, above everything, to be employed and made useful in 
the service of God ' (J. Weiss). 

14. It would seem not unlikely that originally the man gave 
his servants, not talents, but minae, as in Luke. A Jewish mina was 
then worth about 725. ; the old Jewish mina about 1 125. The man 
entrusts his whole fortune to his servants, but it is not necessarily 
implied that they were only three, or that his whole fortune was 
eight talents, though that is a considerable sum (£1750). The 
money is given, not as a deposit, but as capital to trade with. He 
divides it in accordance with the business capacity of each. 

19. He is away a long time. This means to Matthew that the 
Parousia has been long delayed, and is still not to be expected 
immediately. But it need not have had such a meaning in the 
original parable. 

21. In spite of 28, it would seem that we are not to suppose 
that any of the money is given to the servant. The reward is rather 
indicated by the word Karaarijaa) : i.e. a reward of office or position. 



320 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXV. 14-30 

em dAtyot, * faithful in respect of little.' Hardly little, if the master 
lent him five talents. An argument for the originality of minjB. 
Assuming that the parable is old and authentic, the little and 
much belong to the same category. The editor, the Evangelist, 
thinks, however, of something very different : he has in his mind 
the disproportion of human merits and well-doing as compared 
with the glory of the Kingdom. To him the real reward is tte 
reward of the Kingdom : the joy of the Messianic era. ' Joy of tte 
Lord ' : editorial. It is the joy which the Lord gives and shares : 
the bliss of the Kingdom, the heavenly beatitude. x a P^ ma y ey en 
refer to the Messianic meal ; it stands for feast in Esther ix. 17. 

23. It must be noticed that he who has done well with his 
two talents apparently receives the same reward as he who has 
done well with the five. It is not a question of much and little, 
but, as the Rabbis would say, of intention and desire. If a man 
does honestly his best, that is all which God asks. 

24. ' Reaping : ' you enrich yourself at the cost of others. 
* Winnowed ' ; Stecr/co/amora?. Perhaps for * winnowed ' we should 
render ' distributed,' ' allotted,' * portioned out.' Cp. Psalm cxii. 9 
(LXX). Has the excuse of the third servant any special meaning ? 
Apparently not. It does not seem workable to make it signify any 
current, but mistaken, conception of Jesus or of God. (Though truly, 
according to the mournful and terrible doctrine that many go to 
1 destruction ' and few to ' life,' God is a hard taskmaster indeed !) 
Nor does the reaping where he did not sow, and the gathering 
where he did not scatter, seem capable of application. It is part 
of the dramatic environment of the parable, which must not be 
pressed in its moral. 

' As in other parables — e.g. the unjust steward — the characters 
of the parable are not painted as ideal. It would heighten the 
point of the parable if the master were egoistic and keen on money. 
For then the fidelity of the good servants in making money for 
him is all the greater ; all the worse the laziness of the bad servant ' 
(J. Weiss). 

26. Even if the servant had this conception of his master's 
character, he ought to have acted differently. For his laziness 
there is no excuse. It is a mere pretext if he says he was afraid. 
Or rather, he ought not to have been afraid. Even if his master 
was hard and avaricious, he would have done better for that very 
reason to have taken the trouble to increase the money allotted to 
him. The contrast between the way in which the first two servants 
used the money, and the way in which it is suggested that the third 



XXV. 14-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 321 

servant might have used it, must not be pressed. No application 
is to be made of the bank, and one must not ask what the master 
would have said if the first two servants, instead of accomplishing 
a successful * deal ' with the money, had lost the whole of it. 

27. * True fidelity makes the servant joyous and free, because 
he identifies himself with his master.' (Wellhausen). The true 
explanation and defence of the Rabbinic religion, so far as it is a 
* service,' are contained in these words. 

29. More probably an added Logion than an integral part of 
the original parable. Cp. xiii. 12 and Mark iv. 25. It may be 
authentic, and * can be spiritually applied in many ways. But it 
cannot be applied to the five talents given to the first servant and 
the five which he gained ; they are a trust, while e^etv describes a 
real possession, a real condition of heart and life. The true ^x €LV 
in the present case is the character shown in faithful diligence, and 
the increase which could be " given " would be the higher degrees 
of faithful diligence to which he could advance. But this would be 
as true of the second servant as of the first ' (McNeile). 

30. A further addition. Jesus, as judge, speaks here, and 
assigns to the defaulting servant the punishment of hell. In the 
parable there is no need for an extra punishment, whereas in the 
added verse the environment and scene of the parable are quite 
forgotten. Nor does the verse suit the application of the parable, 
which is rather that as the negligent servant has the money taken 
away from him, so the man who does not use God's gifts to profit 
will see them taken away from him and given to others. God 
deals severely with those who neglect their duties and opportunities. 
The Kingdom of God is to be entered only by those who by their 
earthly iSe have deserved it. For the passage as a whole cp. Bult- 
mann, p. 109. Streeter observes : * A glance at a Synopsis shows 
that in the latter part of this parable the verbal agreements between 
the two versions are such as to favour, though not actually to 
compel, the assumption of a common written source. But the 
divergences between the versions in the first half are so great as to 
make this assumption highly improbable. Here again the Gospel 
according to the Hebrews may help us. Eusebius tells us that the 
Parable of the Talents stood in this Gospel, but " told of three 
servants, one who devoured his Lord's substance with harlots and 
flute girls, one who gained profit manifold, and one who hid his 
talent ; and then how one was accepted, one merely blamed, and 
one shut up in prison." Is it not possible that M had a version 
something like this, and that Matthew has conflated Q and M, 

VOL. II Y 



322 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXV. 31-46 

following M more closely at the beginning and Q at the end ? 
Luke, then, preserves approximately the Q form ' (p. 282). 



31-46. THE DAY OP JUDGMENT 
(Matthew only) 

31 ' When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the 
holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his 

32 glory : and before him will be gathered all nations : and he will 
separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the 

33 sheep from the goats : and he will set the sheep on his right hand , 

34 but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on 
his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom 

35 prepared for you from the foundation of the world : for I was 
hungry, and ye gave me to eat : I was thirsty, and ye gave mo 

36 drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me in : naked, and ye clothed 
me : I was sick, and ye visited me : I was in prison, and ye camo 

37 to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, Lord, wher 
saw we thee hungry, and fed thee ? or thirsty, and gave thee drink \ 

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in ? or naked, and 

39 clothed thee ? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came 

4 to thee ? And the King will answer and say unto them, Verily 
I say unto you, whatever ye have done unto one of these my 

41 humblest brethren, ye have done unto me. Then shall he say also 
unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye accursed, into 

42 the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels : for I was 
hungry, and ye gave me not to eat : I was thirsty, and ye gave me 

43 no drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me not in : naked, and 
ye clothed me not : sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 

44 Then will they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee 
hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, 

45 and did not minister unto thee ? Then will he answer them, saying, 
Verily I say unto you, whatever ye did not to one of these humblest, 

4 6 ye did not to me. And these shall depart to everlasting punishment : 
but the righteous to everlasting life.' 

This section forms the conclusion of the long oration begun in 
chapter xxiv. 4. It is not a parable, but a homHetic description of 
the Day of Judgment, and though it may depend on Jewish 



XXV. 31-46] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 323 

tradition, and be an adaptation throughout of a Jewish original 
(when the place of the Son of man would have been taken by God), 
it is in its present form a product of Christian thought, and cannot 
be regarded as ' authentic ' (i.e. spoken by Jesus). It has been 
suggested that its author may be the author of xiii. 36-43, or that 
both this section and that may be due to the Evangelist, who 
composed what he justly regarded as a fitting close to the parables 
and discourses which he had put together in xxiv. and xxv. 1-30. 
It develops from the point of view of the last Judgment the saying 
of Jesus : ' Whoso receives you, receives me ' (Matt. x. 40, xviii. 5 ; 
Mark ix. 37). Though based upon this saying, the development 
is highly striking and original. It contains one of the noblest 
passages in the entire Gospel. It only shows how inspired an 
editor could sometimes be, and how dangerous it is to use the 
argument : ' Such and such a thought is so fine, it must have been 
said by Jesus.' How many deeds of charity and love, how many 
acts of sacrifice and devotion, must have been accomplished in the 
last eighteen hundred years by the remembrance of the words : 
1 Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these my brothers, ye did it 
unto me.' And another reflection is strongly brought before us by 
this section. How close lie good and evil within the thought of 
one and the same man ! For the same editorial hand which penned 
the glorious verse 40, penned the horrible words that follow. The 
eternal fire is as firmly believed in as the beauty of charity. So 
careful must we be to realize that the intolerance of Rabbinic Jew 
or early Christian towards those without the pale of race or creed 
may yet consort with a life of devoted sacrifice and lowly duty 
towards those who are within. In the present case, it is, however, 
some satisfaction that the criterion for heaven and hell is purely 
moral. Creed does not enter in. Yet even here our satisfaction 
is mixed and sad. We cannot help wondering that the same man 
whose religion was high enough to rise to the level of verse 40 
could also have believed, without the smallest compunction or 
regret, that the good God would send any of his creatures to ever- 
lasting fire. We could almost wish that so horrible a belief should 
be limited to those who believed that the test of God's judgment 
was a matter of genealogy or a matter of dogmatic creed. 

Burkitt regards 31-46 ' as a genuine utterance of Jesus ' 
(Beginnings, p. 37). Then he would be responsible for the horrible 
end as well as for the noble beginning. 

31. The Son of man, here undoubtedly the risen Jesus, is the 
Judge. 

32. Though the passage begins with the familiar mise en scene 



324 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXV. 31-46 

of the Judgment — all nations collected before the Judge's throne— 
the Judgment is restricted to the people in whom the writer is 
specially interested — i.e. the Christian community. The nations 
are forgotten. They form the mere scenic background. Both the 
good and the bad, both sheep and goats, are Christians. Or did 
the writer suppose that all the nations were converted before the 
Judgment ? 

33. The sheep are the good, gentle, and kindly people ; the 
goats are the proud, sinful, and violent people (cp. Ezek. xxxiv. 
17, etc.). 

Both heaven and hell, the Kingdom and the fire, have been 
* prepared ' from ' everlasting.' Now they are to receive their 
predestined inhabitants. The fire receives not only the bad men, 
but the devil and his ' angels.' 

It is indeed fair to note, with Loisy, that the fire was not 
originally prepared for men, but for the devil and his auxiliaries. 
It has become the lot of the men through their own fault. It is 
not quite certain whether the word ' prepared ' in 34 and 41 means 
predestined, or only that the Kingdom and the fire were already 
in existence. Loisy says : ' One may say that Matthew's thought 
wavers between predestination and pre-existence ; it would bo 
hasty to affirm that it envisages the former to the exclusion of tho 
latter. Is it probable that the fire destined for Satan does not yer, 
exist ? In the apocalypses the fire already exists ' (E. S. n. p. 485 
n.2). 

34. ' The change from Son of man (31) to King is very abrupt 
and unexpected. It looks as though a parable in which the King 
was the central figure had been adapted to refer to the coming of 
the Son of man ' (Allen). It must be confessed that there seems 
something in this argument. The Messiah or Son of man is not 
elsewhere called King, though his Kingdom is spoken about. 

36. The thought is based on such passages as x. 42, Mark ix. 
41, etc. The parallel words in Secrets of Enoch ix. I, x. 5, 6 b are 
well worth noting (Walker, p. 318). It was written before Matthew. 
To stimulate the practice of fraternal charity among Christians 
Matthew makes the last Judgment turn upon it solely, as if the goats 
were accursed for mere sins of omission. The charity rendered, the 
loving service paid, to the lowliest Christian, is regarded by Christ 
as if rendered to himself. ' As the Gospel is summed up in the 
precept of charity, it is upon this law that the Judgment will be 
conducted ' (Loisy). There need not even be the conscious thought 
that it is done for Christ or in his name. This is splendid doctrine, 



XXV. 31-46] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 325 

and goes beyond (just because it implies that even * in my name ' 
is not required) the teaching of xvii). 5 and Mark ix. 37. The loving 
deed is enough. No purer account, no more exquisite delineation, 
of Christian philanthropy was ever penned. It is broad, liberal, and 
truly religious. 

It would be amusing, if it were not sad, that J. Weiss calls 
the disagreeable part of the picture of the Judgment very ' Jewish ' 
— as if it were not Christianity which had made the more, or, at 
least, an extremely abundant use of hell and its flames — while : ' the 
glorious idea 35-40 strikes us, on the contrary, as totally un- Jewish.' 
Whereas in truth 35-40 is no less, and probably more, Jewish 
than all the rest. The instances are characteristically Jewish 
instances of ' Gemiluth Chesadim,' the doing of loving-kindnesses 
(cp. also Isaiah Iviii. 7). Note the visiting of prisoners. It points 
to the era of persecutions. 

39. Burney holds that when in this parable ' the emotion 
reaches the highest point, the rhythm at once becomes that of the 
Kina.' In 39 we must read : 

When saw we thee sick, (and visited thee) ; 
or in prison, and came unto thee ? 

The words in brackets must be supplied from 36, ' as parallelism and 
rhythm demand ' (pp. 142, 143). 

40. A more sublime reply can hardly be conceived. The worth 
which Christianity assigned to every human soul brought a new 
feature into the Koman and heathen world. Even the poorest and 
most wretched creature — a gladiator, a prostitute, a slave — had 
separate, distinct value in the eyes of God. The doctrine had 
doubtless immense effects upon civilization and morality in various 
directions. Nor must we overlook the personal motive introduced. 
In the allocution the deeds of mercy are supposed to have been done 
without any conscious thought of the King. But in Christian life 
it has just been this conscious thought — for his sake — which has 
prompted and sustained the deeds. Judaism also has taught and 
still teaches the worth of every human soul. But the particular 
motive — for his sake — is necessarily wanting to its adherents. 
They have to say for God's sake instead of for Jesus's sake, and 
doubtless the peculiar combination in Jesus — as simple Christian 
believers hold — of the man and the God has given an immense 
power to this special motive, ' for his sake.' It would be foolish 
not to recognize the force and grandeur of the ethical motive in a 
religion, because, as the religion is not one's own, one cannot 
share, or be stimulated by, that motive. 



326 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXV. 31-46 

41. The terrible doctrine of eternal punishment, ' perhaps 
the most frightful idea that has ever corroded human character ' 
(Morley, Miscellanies, n. p. 237), is here emphatically asserted, and 
solemnly put into the mouth of Jesus. So too in 46. 

A mournful ending to a noble section. The words are based upon 
Dan. xii. 2. £a)r]i> aiaiviov is found there, though not KoXaaiv. It 
can hardly be contended that alwviov does not here mean ' ever- 
lasting.' Or is the * eternal life ' of the righteous not to be ever- 
lasting ? What applies to the one must apply to the other. 

Such passages as Matt. xxv. 41 should make theologians ex- 
cessively careful of drawing beloved contrasts between Old Testament 
and New. We find even the liberal theologian Dr. Fosdick saying : 
* From Sinai to Calvary — was ever a record of progressive revelatioD 
more plain or more convincing ? The development begins with 
Jehovah disclosed in a thunderstorm on a desert mountain, and it 
ends with Christ saying : " God is a Spirit : and they that worship 
Him must worship in spirit and truth " ; it begins with a war-god 
leading his partisans to victory, and it ends with men saying, " God 
is love ; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth 
in him " ; it begins with a provincial deity loving his tribe and hating 
its enemies, and it ends with the God of the whole earth worshipped 
by " a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every 
nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues " ; it begins with a 
God who commands the slaying of the Amalekites, " both man and 
woman, infant and suckling," and it ends with a Father whose will 
it is that not " one of these little ones should perish " ; it begins with 
God's people standing afar off from his lightnings and praying that 
he might not speak to them lest they die, and it ends with men going 
into their inner chambers and, having shut the door, praying to their 
Father who is in secret ' (Christianity and Progress, 1922, p. 209). 
Very good. No doubt such a series can be arranged. Let me now 
arrange a similar series. ' From Old Testament to New Testament 
—was ever a record of retrogression more plain or more convincing ? 
It begins with, " Have I any pleasure at all in the death of him that 
dieth ? " ; it ends with, " Begone from me, ye doers of wickedness." 
It begins with, " The Lord is slow to anger and plenteous in mercy " ; 
it ends with, " Fear him who is able to destroy both body and soul 
in gehenna." It begins with, " I dwell with him that is of a contrite 
spirit to revive it " ; it ends with, " Narrow is the way which leads 
to life, and few there be who find it." It begins with, " I will not 
contend for ever ; I will not be always wrath " ; it ends with, 
" Depart, ye cursed, into the everlasting fire." It begins with, 
" Should not I have pity upon Nineveh, that great city ? " ; it ends 
with, " It will be more endurable for Sodom on the day of Judgment 
than for that town." It begins with, " The Lord is good to all. and 



XXV. 31-46] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 327 

near to all who call upon him " ; it ends with, " Whoever speaks 
against the Holy Spirit, there is no forgiveness for him whether in 
this world or in the next." It begins with, " The Lord will wipe 
away tears from off all faces ; he will destroy death for ever " ; it 
ends with, " They will throw them into the furnace of fire : there is 
the weeping and the gnashing of teeth." And the one series would 
be as misleading as the other. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

1-5. THE DECISION OF THE PRIESTS AND SCRIBES 
(Cp. Mark xiv. i, 2 ; Luke xxii. I, 2) 

1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these words, 

2 he said unto his disciples, c Ye know that after two days is the pass- 
over, and the Son of man is to be delivered up to be crucified.' 

3 Then the chief priests, and the elders of the people, assembled 
together at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 

4 and they determined to seize Jesus by craft, and to kill him. But 

5 they said, * Not during the festival, lest there be an uproar among 
the people.' 

For the story of the Passion and of the resurrection Matthew 
seems to have relied mainly upon Mark. Oral tradition may have 
given him some other material. 

2. The date given by the narrator in Mark xiv. i is here put 
into the mouth of Jesus. The prediction is made exceedingly 
precise. * After two days ' : Jesus is therefore speaking on Wednes- 
day, if the crucifixion was on a Friday. 

3. Matthew turns the informal determination of the authorities, 
as given in Mark xiv. I, into a formal sitting and decision of the 
Sanhedrin. It meets, not in the regular place of assembly, but 
(for greater secrecy) in the court of the high priest's palace. The 
day of the meeting to Matthew would probably be Wednesday. 
Matthew names the high priest Caiaphas. That is correct (cp. 
Luke iii. 2). Does Matthew suppose that this session of the 
Sanhedrin continues till verse 57 ? He has ' elders of the people,' 
instead of Mark's ' scribes.' 

6-13. THE ANOINTING IN BETHANY 
(Cp. Mark xiv. 3-9 ; Luke vii. 36-50) 

6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the 

7 leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster cruse of 

328 



XXVI. 17-19] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 329 

very precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he sat at 

8 table. But when his disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, 

9 ' Wherefore this waste 1 For this ointment might have been sold 

10 for a large sum, and given to the poor.' But when Jesus perceived 
it, he said unto them, ' Why vex ye the woman ? for she has 

11 wrought a good deed towards me. For ye have the poor always 

12 with you ; but me ye have not always. For when she poured this 

13 ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto 
you, Wherever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, 
that which she has done shall also be spoken of in her memory.' 

8. Here the indefinite ' some ' of Mark is changed into * his 
disciples.' 

10. yvovs. Jesus does not hear what they say, but reads 
their thoughts. 

14-16. JUDAS'S TREACHERY 
(Cp. Mark xiv. 10, n ; Luke xxii. 3-6) 

14 Then one of the Twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the 

15 chief priests, and said unto them, * What are ye willing to give me, 
if I betray him unto you ? ' And they weighed out to him thirty 

1 6 pieces of silver. And from that time he sought a good opportunity 
to betray him. 

15. The treachery of Judas received further details as time 
went on. Matthew makes his motive greed. As in verse 5, the 
statement in Mark is turned into a remark by the actor. 

The sum ' thirty pieces of silver ' is due to Zech. xi. 12 ; cp. 
notes on xxvii. 3-9. Here we have one of the clearest examples 
of history made up from bits of Old Testament prophecy. 

They ' weighed ' out to him the money, although money was then 
no longer weighed. The sum is very small (about £4 : 16 : o says 
Bartlet). The further improbability that they gave the money for 
his offer, and not for performance, can hardly be overcome (seeing 
that * weighed ' is taken from the verse in Zechariah) by translating 
l they promised.' 



17-19. PREPARATION FOR THE PASSOVER 
(Cp. Mark xiv. 12-16 ; Luke xxii. 7-13) 

17 And on the first day of the unleavened bread the disciples 
came to Jesus, saying unto him, ' Where wouldst thou that we 



330 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVI. 20-25 

1 8 prepare for thee to eat the passover ? ' And he said, ' Go into the 
city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master says, My time 
is nigh ; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.' 

19 And the disciples did as Jesus had bidden them ; and they prepared 
the passover. 

17. Mark's narrative is considerably shortened, be it to avoid 
the semi-magical element or for other reasons. 

18. * Such a one.' The commentators (e.g. McNeile) who are 
keen for the accuracy of the narratives suppose that ' such a one ' 
was a friend and disciple. Jesus had ' friends in the city and had 
laid his plans.' (Cp. Streeter, p. 422.) * My time is nigh ' : i.e. tho 
end of my earthly career. The owner of the house must have been 
a disciple to understand this allusion. 



2O-25. JESUS PREDICTS THE BETRAYAL 

(Cp. Mark xiv. 17-21 ; Luke xxii. 20-23) 

20 So when the evening had come, he sat at table with the Twelve. 

21 And as they ate he said, ' Verily I say unto you, that one of you 

22 will betray me.' And they were deeply grieved, and began one 

23 after the other to say unto him, ' Lord, surely not I ? ' And he 
answered and said, ' He that dipped his hand with me in the dish, 

24 he will betray me. The Son of man departs as it is written of 
him : but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed ! 

25 Better were it for that man if he had not been born.' Then Judas, 
who betrayed him, answered and said, ' Master, surely not I ? ' He 
said unto him, ' Thou hast said.' 

20. The text I follow is indicated in R.V. M. 



23. For Mark's present participle e^arrrofjievos, Matthew 
has the aorist participle c/Aj&z^a?, ' he who has just dipped his 
hand into the dish.' Matthew apparently wishes us to assume 
that Judas had just dipped his hand into the dish when Jesus 
spoke. Others think that no particular disciple is meant by 
Matthew to be specified even by the aorist participle, for all alike 
had ' dipped ' into the bowl. The words mean only : ' one who has 
shared the meal with me.' TpvfiXiov is said to be ' bowl,' not * dish.' 



XXVI. 26-29] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 331 

25. Matthew only. ' Thou hast said.' Qui s'excuse s'accuse. 
(Cp. for the phrase and for its usage in the more important passages, 
xxvi. 64, xxvii. II ; Mark xv. 2.) Thus Jesus pretty clearly implies 
by his strange reply that Judas is the betrayer. Nevertheless, the 
story continues as if nothing definite had been said. Historically 
we may rather believe, that if Judas betrayed Jesus, as there is 
small reason to doubt, Jesus was to the end quite ignorant of his 
intentions. We have to assume that Judas after 25 leaves the room. 



26-29. THE LAST SUPPER 
(Cp. Mark xiv. 22-25 5 Luke xxii. 15-20) 

26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and said the blessing, 
and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, * Take, eat ; 

27 this is my body.' And he took a cup, and spake the blessing, and 

28 gave it to them, saying, ' Drink ye all from it ; for this is my 
blood of the covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness 

29 of sins. I say unto you, I shall surely not drink from now of this 
fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in 
the kingdom of my Father.' 

In his narrative of the Last Supper Matthew follows Mark very 
closely. The only important addition is the words ' for the forgive- 
ness of sins ' at the end of 28. The object of his death is the 
forgiveness of the sins of many. His death is a sin offering. The 
covenant is ratified by the shed blood. Cp. Exodus xxiv. 8. ' Moses 
took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the 
blood of the covenant which Yahweh has made with you.' Blood, 
according to ancient ideas, had in itself an atoning efficacy. Cp. 
Lev. xvii. ' The life of the flesh is in the blood : I have given it to 
you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls ; for it is 
the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life.' It is odd 
that round Jesus, who was so ' prophetic ' a teacher, so superior 
to * priestly ' superstitions, these old superstitions should quickly 
have clustered. The ' atoning efficacy of the blood of Jesus ' has 
been believed in by millions for centuries. ' Without shedding of 
blood,' says the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, ' there is no 
remission.' One feels that Jesus would have repudiated such a 
doctrine with scorn, and that he never said anything about his 
death which contained, or was meant to contain, any reference 
to, or belief in, such a doctrine. Judaism after the fall of the 
temple had no need or use for any doctrine about atonement 



332 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVI. 30-35 

or forgiveness being secured by blood. Judaism got rid of such 
priestly conceptions much sooner than Christianity. Matthew 
seems to have held that it was the blood of Jesus, his actual death, 
which made God forgive the sins of those who believed in his 
mission, Messiahship and Sonship. A strange doctrine. How much 
purer is the doctrine of Jesus and of Rabbinic Judaism. All God 
needs is repentance and amendment. Those who show repentance 
and amendment will be forgiven ; modern Jews would add, whether 
they ' believe in ' Jesus or do not believe in Jesus. That is pure 
prophetic teaching : nothing less, and above all, nothing more. 
It has been pointed out that whereas Mark had ascribed to John's 
preaching of repentance the purpose, and hence the power, of 
effecting a forgiveness of sins, Matthew omits the passage. Matthew';* 
addition, ' for the forgiveness of sins,' is not to be ascribed to Jesus. 
The conception of his death as a sin-offering only arose after he was 
dead. 

The addition of an* aprt (' from now ') in 29 proves all the 
more convincingly that Jesus had just drunk of the cup with his 
disciples. It would be very awkward to refer the words to the 
drinking of the Passover wine cups, and not to the cup which he 
had just bidden his disciples partake of. ' With you ' is a further 
addition of Matthew, which does not, however, change the sense. 



30-35. JESUS PREDICTS PETER'S DENIAL 
(Cp. Mark xiv. 26-31 ; Luke xxii. 31-34) 

30 And after they had sung the Halkl, they went out to the 

31 mount of Olives. Then said Jesus unto them, ' Ye will all stumble 
because of me this night : for it is written, I will smite the shep- 

32 herd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. But after 

33 I have risen, I will go before you to Galilee.' Peter answered and 
said unto him, ' Though all shall stumble because of thee, yet 

34 will I never stumble.' Jesus said unto him, ' Verily I say unto 
thee, This night, before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice.' 

35 Peter said unto him, ' Even if I must die with thee, I will not 
deny thee.' So also said all the disciples. 

Mark is very closely followed in this section. In 34 only one 
cock-crowing is mentioned. 



XXVI. 47-56J THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 333 

36-46. GETHSEMANE 
(Cp. Mark xiv. 32-42 ; Luke xxii. 39-46) 

36 Then Jesus came with them unto a place called Gethsemane, 
and he said unto the disciples, ' Sit ye here, while I go yonder 

37 and pray.' And he took with him Peter and the two sons of 

38 Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then said he 
unto them, ' My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death : 

39 tarry ye here, and watch with me.' And he went a little farther, 
and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, * My Father, if it be 
possible, let this cup pass from me : nevertheless, not as I will, 

40 but as thou wilt.' And he came unto the disciples, and found 
them sleeping, and he said unto Peter, ' So ye could not watch 

41 with me one hour ? Watch and pray, that ye come not into 

42 temptation : the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.' And 
again he went away, and prayed, saying, ' My Father, if this 

43 cannot pass away unless I drink it, thy will be done.' And he 
came and found them asleep again : for their eyes were heavy. 

44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third 

45 time, saying the same words. Then he came to his disciples, and 
said unto them, ' Sleep ye still and take your rest ? Behold, the 
hour has drawn nigh, and the Son of man is betrayed into the 

46 hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go : lo, he that betrays me is at 
hand.' 

Mark's narrative is again closely followed. In 42 the words, 
when Jesus prays for the second time, are given. They repeat even 
more positively the acceptance of the divine will. That Jesus 
prayed three times is also stated more distinctly (44). 



47-56. THE ARREST 
(Cp. Mark xiv. 43-52 : Luke xxii. 47-53) 

47 And while he yet spoke, lo, Judas, one of the Twelve, came, 
and with him a great band with swords and bludgeons from the 

48 chief priests and elders of the people. Now his betrayer had 
given them a sign, saying, * Whomever I kiss, that is he : seize him.' 

49 And forthwith he went up to Jesus, and said, ' Hail, master ' ; and 



334 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVI. 47-56 

50 kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, ' Friend, that for which thou 
art here, do.' Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and seized 

5 1 him. And, behold, one of them who were with Jesus stretched out 
his hand, and drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high 

52 priest, and cut off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, ' Put back 
thy sword into its place : for all they that take the sword shall 

53 perish by the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now beseech 
my Father, and he would straightway give me more than twelve 

54 legions of angels ? But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, 

55 that so it must be ? ' In that same hour said Jesus to the band, 
' Have ye come out to capture me with swords and bludgeons, as if 
against a thief ? I sat daily teaching in the temple, and ye seized 

56 me not. But all this has happened that the writings of the 
prophets might be fulfilled.' Then all the disciples forsook him 
and fled. 

50. In Matthew, unlike Mark, Jesus addresses Judas. The 
meaning is (i) ' (Dost thou kiss me) for the purpose for which, as is 
obvious, thou art come ? ' (So W. ' Dost thou kiss me ' is understood, 
because enacted.) Or (2) ' For what thou art here (that do).' (So 
Moffatt, ' Do your errand.') Or (3) ' For what art thou come ? ' But 
this last interpretation is the least likely, and does violence to the 
Greek If o irdpct,. 

52-54. Here, too, the words of Jesus are only in Matthew ; 
but the variant, Luke xxii. 51, must be compared. 

That, in Mark, Jesus was not reported to have opposed or 
rebuked the action of the * bystander,' or disciple, seemed an 
omission. Here it is supplied quite in his spirit. (Cp. for 526 
the same adage in Revelation xiii. 10.) Or : Why did not the disciples 
continue to defend themselves 1 It was important to emphasize 
that Jesus's passive attitude of non-resistance was purely voluntary, 
and that the disciples acted under his orders. Finally, a second and 
more theological motive is given. To resist would have been not 
only against the Master's teaching and command, but would have 
tended to prevent the fulfilment of the divine oracles. For 53, 
cp. Psalm xci. II. 

The early Christian communities may have often supported 
themselves under persecution by this word and example. Would 
that the lesson had not been so rapidly forgotten. The saying 
was also a reply to those who judged only by the outward result, 
and saw in the earthly failure and death of Jesus an argument 
against the truth and value of his teaching and his cause. 



XXVI. 57-68] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 335 

55. 'In that same hour.' A resumptive phrase after the 
intercalation of 52-54. For the expression cp. viii. 13. It means 
' at the same time.' 



57-68. THE TRIAL BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN 
(Cp. Mark xiv. 53-65 ; Luke xxii. 54, 55, 63-71) 

57 And they that had seized Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the 

58 high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But 
Peter followed from a distance unto the high priest's palace, and he 
went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. 

59 Now the chief priests, and all the high court, sought false witness 

60 against Jesus, that they might put him to death. But they found 
none, though many false witnesses came forward. But at last two 

61 men came forward, and said, ' This man said, I am able to destroy 

62 the temple of God, and to build it after three days.' And the high 
priest arose, and said unto him, ' Answerest thou nothing to that 

63 which these bear witness against thee ? ' But Jesus held his peace. 
And the high priest answered and said unto him, ' I adjure thee by 
the living God, that thou tell us whether thou art the Messiah, the 

64 Son of God.' Jesus said unto him, ' Thou hast said : nevertheless 
I say unto you, Soon shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right 

65 hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.' Then 
the high priest rent his clothes, saying, ' He has blasphemed ; what 
further need have we of witnesses ? behold, now ye have heard the 

66 blasphemy. What think ye ? ' They answered and said, ' He is 
guilty of death.' 

67 Then they spat on his face, and struck him with their fists, and 

68 others smote him with sticks, saying, ' Prophesy unto us, Messiah, 
who is it that struck thee ? ' 

57. Cp. note on verse 3. The verb crvvr)x6r)aav (' were collected 
together ') is repeated from that verse. It would seem as if Matthew 
meant that the authorities had been in continuous session since 
verse 3. 

58. 'To see the end ' is substituted by Matthew for the some- 
what too human touch, perhaps, of Mark, ' warming himself at the 
fire. 1 

59. Matthew says that the court searched, not merely for 



336 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVI. 57-68 

' witness,' or ' evidence, 5 but for ' false witness.' But the S.S. has 
merely : ' they searched for witnesses.' 

61. Cp. Mark xiv. 58. The wording of Matthew makes it not 
wholly certain whether he meant the statement about the Temple to 
be regarded as a false bit of evidence or not. The contrast men- 
tioned in Mark between the material and spiritual temple — * made 
with hands ' and * not made with hands ' — is not here given by 
Matthew. Some think that Matthew's version is more authentic 
and older, either because Mark's version has been interpolated, or 
because Matthew knew the source of Mark as well as Mark. Another 
hypothesis is that Matthew left out the words ' made with hands ' 
and ' not made with hands ' to render the words of Jesus more 
in accordance with what he probably said. Moreover, Matthew 
would not have wished to make Jesus express hostility to the 
Temple. The witnesses declare that Jesus said that he could 
destroy the Temple : he is not even by them reported to have said 
that he meant or desired to do so. 

63. Matthew makes the high priest ' adjure ' Jesus, that is, 
he demands that Jesus should swear, one way or the other, whether 
he be, or be not, the Messiah, the Son of God. 

64. The commentators differ as to whether Jesus accepts or 
refuses to accept this oath. J. Weiss says that, as the reply is not 
* Amen,' or the like, but ' Thou hast said,' this answer is, with high 
probability, to be interpreted to mean that he refuses to take the 
oath. He follows his own command not to swear. Others, e.g. 
Holtzmann and B. Weiss, argue that the reply means an acceptance 
of the oath laid upon him. The decision partly depends upon the 
right interpretation of ' Thou hast said,' which is usually regarded 
as meant by Jesus, and understood by his judges, to be equivalent 
to the simple ' I am ' of Mark. Thus Schanz : ' with the simple 
av €?7ras Jesus makes a solemn and outspoken confession.' So too, 
most strongly, Loisy (E. S. u. p. 604, n. i). 

On the whole it would seem that ' thou hast said ' must be taken 
to mean that Jesus, without directly affirming that he is the Son of 
God, still less denies it. He does not deny that the speaker is 
correct ; the words would be taken to mean by those who heard 
him : * I am not able to contradict you,' which again would be 
equivalent to, f I cannot say that you are wrong,' i.e. you are right. 
When in xxv. 25 Jesus says to Judas, ' Thou hast said,' though he 
does not directly declare that Judas is the betrayer, he yet means to 
imply that he is. If then Jesus says here * Thou hast said ' (in 
reply to the high priest), he would appear to indicate that he believed 
that he was the Messiah, and that he could not deny the charge. It 



XXVI. 57-68] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 337 

is possible that Mark turned a semi-evasive reply into a direct 
affirmative, seeing that to Mark (as to the other Evangelists) 
Jesus was the Messiah, and was condemned and executed as such. 
Several reasons of varying validity may be given for Jesus refusing 
to give a plain and direct affirmative reply, whether to the Sanhedrin 
or to Pilate : 

(1) It is in accordance with his prevailing line of conduct in 
dealing with his opponents. 

(2) His conception of the Messiah was so different from theirs 
that the same term meant different things to him and to them. 

(3) He refused to recognize the competency or right of their 
tribunals to try his case. 

(4) The manifestation and Verwirklichung of his Messiahship 
lay in the future, even though that future was near. Hence it would 
have been presumptuous to say, ' / am the Messianic King.' He 
could only have said, ' I am convinced that God will fulfil His 
promise to me and through me.' 

The clause which follows ' Thou hast said ' is the same as in 
Mark xiv. 62, except that it is prefaced by the not quite easy words 
TrXrjv Ae'yco Vfuv air* apri. 

TrXriv can apparently be translated, ' nevertheless,' * however,' 
or ' moreover.' If * Thou hast said ' means ' Yes, I am,' then TrXrjv 
must mean ' moreover.' If * Thou hast said ' is a refusal to reply, 
then TrXrjv probably means ' nevertheless.' 

apn is a favourite expression of Matthew. (See xxiii. 39, 
xxvi. 29, where we have an a/m as here, apri by itself occurs 
ix. 18, xi. 12.) What is here meant is not very clear. The literal 
meaning is ' henceforth,' * from now.' It is usually said that this 
' from now ' means from Jesus's death, which is imminent. ' Soon 
after my death you will see the Son of man as the world judge.' 
If this interpretation is correct, OLTT* a/m is used loosely to mean 
1 soon.' Jesus would perhaps mean, ' I am the Messiah, but 
Messiah of the future, not Messiah in the present ; you will under- 
stand my meaning when you see (me as) the Son of man coming 
upon the clouds of heaven.' Or the words an* apn may be a con- 
densed expression for ' from henceforth — you have nothing more 
to expect than that you will see.' Or perhaps the words are a 
combination or fusion of Mark's simple ' ye will see,' and Luke's 
' from now (aTto rov vvv) the Son of man will sit.' In Mark Jesus 
is merely referring to the coming Parousia ; in Luke the firm con- 
viction is expressed that Daniel's prediction will forthwith be 
fulfilled in Jesus. The wording of the verse does not at any rate 
clearly distinguish between the heavenly glory into which Jesus 
will enter immediately after his resurrection, and his subsequent, 
later, manifestation upon the clouds. The two clauses * sitting 

VOL. II Z 



33$ THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVI. 57-68 

upon the right hand of the Power/ and ' coming upon the clouds ' 
are co-ordinated as they are in Mark. The agreements of Luke 
and Matthew in this passage (Matt. xxvi. 64, Luke xxii. 69, 70) are 
discussed by Streeter, pp. 321, 322. In spite of the parallelism 
between OLTTO rov vvv and our* apn (Luke never uses the second 
phrase or Matthew the first), Streeter thinks that the words are 
' independent editorial insertions by Matthew and Luke.' In 
Mark xiv. 25 the same additions are found in Mark and Luke. 
This last fact makes the view of Goguel (Introduction au Nouveau 
Testament, i. p. 209) improbable. For he thinks that the reading 'of 
Mark in xiv. 62 is less original than that of Matthew and Luke. It 
is l no doubt an attenuation of what in the long run might have 
been looked upon as a prophecy relating to an immediate future.' 
But this hypothesis would entirely fail to account for the similar 
omission in Mark in xiv. 25. 

As to (TV efrra? and u/iet? Ae'yere, Streeter thinks that the MSS. 
of Mark which actually have en; e^Tra? are correct. Here it is not a 
case of assimilation, but omission. (Burkitt disagrees, J. T. S. xxvi . 
April 1925, p. 293.) But if the usual reading in Mark is correct, 
then Luke's and Matthew's additions are independent adaptations 
of Mark, assimilating the reply of Jesus to the High Priest to hi* 
reply to Pilate. 

It is not easy to say what is actually meant by the whole passage. 
Was a real, physical seeing intended ? Or is the sitting on the righi, 
hand of God merely intended to be a quotation from Psalm ex., anc 
a metaphorical expression for * invested with divine power ' ? If 
when Mark wrote, the members of the Sanhedrin were mostly dead r 
does this point to the authenticity of the words attributed to Jesus 1 
For certainly they had not seen any such thing. The Son of man 
had not come, still less had he come * soon.' Perhaps neither Mark 
nor Matthew could have given a precise reply as to what he believed 
that the words meant. They were mysterious expressions, signify- 
ing that, somehow or other, and at some time or other, the old order 
would end, and the new era begin, with the advent of the Son of 
man, who, to the Evangelists, was one with the risen Jesus, the 
Messiah, the Son of God. 

It may also be noted that Matthew tends to emphasize the 
imminence of the Parousia and the Kingdom (Streeter, pp. 521, 
517, 425). 

67. Matthew makes the ill-treatment inflicted by the members 
of the court only. The pamcr/zara are given by them, not by the 
servants. This is the most improbable version of all. 

68. Matthew adds to ' prophesy ' the words ' who is it that 






XXVI. 69-75] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 339 

struck thee ? ' but omits the then necessary ' they covered his face.' 
Either both must be omitted, or (as Luke) both included. Cp. 
Streeter, pp. 325-327, for an excellent discussion of the whole 
question. The MS. evidence leads him to the conclusion that 
Luke's version is peculiar to his source, and that there has been a 
partial assimilation of his text (the veiling) in many MSS. of Mark, 
and a partial assimilation (' who is it who struck thee ? ') in all the 
MSS. of Matthew. ' In Mark the mockers spit on His face and slap 
Him and cry, " Play the prophet now ! " In Luke they veil His 
eyes, and then, striking Him, say " Use your prophetic gift of second 
sight to tell the striker's name." Each version paints a consistent 
picture ; but if one half of Luke's picture is pieced on to Mark and 
the other half to Matthew, both are blurred, with the result that in 
the accepted text Matthew's version dulls the edge of the taunt in 
Mark, but does not succeed in substituting the quite differently 
pointed taunt in Luke ' (p. 327). 



69-75. THE DENIAL OF PETER 
(Cp. Mark xiv. 66-72 ; Luke xxii. 56-62) 

69 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard ; and a maid came up 

70 to him, saying, ' Thou too wast with Jesus of Galilee.' But he 
denied it before them all, saying, ' I know not what thou sayest.' 

71 And as he went out to the gate, another maid saw him, and said 
unto them that were there, ' This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.' 

72 And again he denied it with an oath, saying, ' I do not know the 

73 man.' And after a little while the bystanders came up, and said 
to Peter, ' Surely thou too art one of them ; for thy speech betrays 

74 thee.' Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, ' I know 

75 not the man.' And immediately the cock crew. And Peter 
remembered the word which Jesus had said unto him, ' Before the 
cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice.' And he went out, and wept 
bitterly. 

70. ' Before them all ' seems premature. The ' bystanders ' 
have not yet come up. 

71. Here, instead of Mark's outer court ' (TO TrpoauAtov), 
Matthew has ' the gate ' or ' porch ' (rov TrvX&va). Matthew, 
moreover, has two girls instead of Mark's one. 



34° THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVI. 69-75 

72. Matthew adds, ' with an oath.' 

73. * Thy speech betrays you.' Instead of Mark's, * Thou art 
a Galilsean.' 

75. He went out. Not now in fear, but in an agony of shame. 
For the * bitter ' weeping, cp. Is. xxii. 4, xxxiii. 7. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

I, 2. JESUS IS BROUGHT BEFORE PlLATE 

(Cp. Mark xv. i ; Luke xxiii. i) 

1 Now in the early morning all the chief priests and elders of 
the people formed their decision against Jesus to put him to death. 

2 And having bound him, they led him away, and delivered him up 
to Pilate the governor. 

I. Matthew had avoided the use of Mark's (xiv. 64) formal 
KOLTeKpivav in xxvi. 66. The phrase he now uses, like the cor- 
responding words in Mark, is also a little vague, and is variously 
translated. It need not be more than ' took counsel,' as in xii. 14, 
xxii. 15 ; or * determined.' They determine to lay such a charge 
against him before Pilate, so that Pilate, upon the evidence sub- 
mitted to him, must condemn him to death. 

3-10. THE DEATH OF JUDAS 
(Matthew only) 

3 Then Judas, who had betrayed him, when he saw that he was 
condemned, repented, and brought the thirty pieces of silver back 

4 to the chief priests and elders, saying, ' I have sinned by betraying 
innocent blood.' And they said, ' What is that to us ? see to that 

5 thyself.' And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple, and 

6 departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests 
took the silver pieces, and said, ' It is not lawful to put them into 

7 the treasury, because they are the price of blood.' So they formed 
a resolution, and bought with them the potter's field, for the burial 

8 of strangers. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, 

9 unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by 
Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ' And they took the thirty pieces of 
silver, the price of the prized one on whom they set a price, from 

341 



34 2 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS tXXVII. 3-10 

10 the children of Israel, and I gave them for the potter's field, as 
the Lord commanded me.' 

The story here told is unknown to Mark and Luke. It is, in 
all probability, completely legendary ; and we can almost see how 
and from what material it was put together. There is a variant 
in Acts i. 18, 19. The basis of the story is a mistranslated passage 
in Zech. xi. 12, 13, wrongly attributed by the Evangelist to 
Jeremiah. 

3. The tale takes up the ' thirty pieces of silver J (Zech. xi. 13) 
of which we had heard in xxvi. 15. 

Judas repents : the high priests and elders do not. The object 
of the legend is to intensify their guilt. 

4. av 6ifa. Literally ' Thou wilt see.' That is your business. 
You must see to what you now have or want to do. 

5. Does he act openly or secretly ? Whither did he throw the 
money ? What does vaos here mean ? The temple generally or 
the temple treasury ? The story seems evidence that the Hebrew 
consonantal text of Zech. xi. 13 read ozar (' treasury '), instead of 
yozer (' potter '). This reading is also witnessed to by the Syriac 
and the Targum. The hanging seems due to Ahithophel in 2 Sam. 
xvii. 23. 

6. If Judas threw the money into the treasury, then the 
priests remove it thence. They have a scruple to bring blood money 
into a holy place. There is no actual law upon the subject. Deut. 
xxiii. 18 is analogous, but does not deal with this exact case. 

7. The same words are used as in verse I to express their 
determination : ' they resolved.' 

* The potter's field.' Here, oddly enough, the present reading 
and punctuated text of Zech. xi. 13 come in. Hence the potter's 
field. But Jer. xxxii. 6-15 and xviii. 2 were also vaguely in the 
mind of those who made up the legend, and hence the passage from 
Zechariah is attributed to Jeremiah. 

The verse in Zechariah xi. 13 is really fulfilled twice : once by 
Judas and once again by the chief priests. It is worth noticing 
that in his very interesting book, Jerusalem zur Zeit Jesu, 1923, 
Part II. pp. 55-57, Joachim Jeremias has sought to show that the 
purchase of the field and the action of Judas may conceivably be 
historical, but the arguments are more ingenious than convincing. 



XXVII. 11-14] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 343 

8. There was, doubtless, at Jerusalem a cemetery for strangers, 
or perhaps for criminals, called the * field of blood,' and hence we 
get a legendary explanation of a name, the true meaning or origin 
of which was unknown or forgotten. Much time must have elapsed 
between the crucifixion and the compilation of this narrative. 
Loisy points out that the field of blood was more probably the 
place where the bodies of criminals were deposited. Would it not 
be there that the body of Jesus, according to the Jewish tradition, 
was thrown ? The Christian tradition, long after the event, and 
far from Jerusalem, linked the field of blood with Judas (E. S. n. p. 
627, n. 4). 

There may also have been a tradition that the ground had 
aforetime been called the potter's field. 

9, 10. The Zechariah passage, as here quoted, is in a peculiar 
form, unlike the Septuagint or the Hebrew. It is odd that the 
Hebrew text, as we have seen, was nevertheless used, and is 
responsible, for the incident of verse 5. The story has probably 
influenced the text, just as the original text influenced and 
modelled the story. 

There seems a sort of intended play upon words in the Greek. 
We may render : * I took the thirty shekels, the price of the one 
who was priced, on whom some of the Israelites had set a price ' 
(Weymouth, last ed.). Or, * They took the thirty pieces of silver, 
the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of 
Israel did value ' (Moffatt). eXaftov may be either, ' they took ' or 
' I took.' R.V. has * they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price 
of him that was priced, whom certain of the children of Israel did 
price.' The margin of the E-.V. has : ' the price of him that was 
priced, whom they priced on the part of the sons of Israel.' In the 
last clause ' I gave ' is the more probably correct reading. 

' As the Lord commanded me ' corresponds with the opening of 
the Hebrew in Zech. xi. 13, ' And the Lord said unto me.' 

The priests carry out unconsciously the word of God. 



11-14. JESUS BEFORE PlLATE 

(Cp. Mark xv. 2-5 ; Luke xxiii. 2-5) 

11 And Jesus stood before the governor : and the governor asked 
him, saying, ' Art thou the King of the Jews ? ' And Jesus said 

12 unto him, ' Thou sayest.' And when he was accused by the chief 

13 priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto 
him, ' Hearest thou not how many things they bear witness against 



344 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVII. 15-26 

14 thee ? ' But lie did not answer even one of his words, so that the 
governor marvelled greatly. 

14. The narrative follows Mark somewhat closely, npos oi)8e 
ev pfjfjia. E-.V. rightly : l Jesus gave him no answer, not even to 
one word ' (i.e. to no word of Pilate, who repeated the charges, did 
Jesus reply). 

15-26. JESUS, PILATE, AND BARABBAS 
(Cp. Mark xv. 6-15 ; Luke xxiii. 17-25) 

J 5 Now at the festival the governor was wont to release unto the 
1 6 people any one prisoner, whom they wished. And there was then 
17 a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. So when they were gathered 

together, Pilate said unto them, * Whom do ye wish me to release 
1 8 to you ? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Messiah ? ' For he 

realized that they had delivered him up out of envy. 

19 And while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent 
unto him, saying, * Have thou nothing to do with that righteous 
man : for I have suffered much to-day in a dream because of him.' 

20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the people that they 

21 should ask for Barabbas, and let Jesus perish. So the governor 
answered and said unto them, ' Which of the two do ye wish me 

22 to release to you ? ' They said, ' Barabbas.' Pilate said unto 
them, * What shall I do then with Jesus who is called Messiah ? ' 

23 They all said unto him, * Let him be crucified.' And the governor 
said, * Why, what evil has he done ? ' But they cried out the more 
vehemently, saying, * Let him be crucified.' 

24 When Pilate saw that he was doing no good, but that the 
uproar was becoming greater, he took water, and washed his hands 
before the crowd, saying, * I am innocent of this blood : see to it 
yourselves.' 

25 Then answered all the people, and said, ' His blood be on us, and 

26 on our children.' Then he released Barabbas unto them : but 
Jesus he had scourged, and delivered him up to be crucified. 



16. Matthew calls Barabbas em'o-^/xos, ' well known.' It is 
not stated or implied in what way or how he was well known. 
Perhaps the word merely sums up what was said of him in Mark 
xv. 7. In the S.S. and some lesser MSS. he is called Jesus Barabbas, 
and this strange reading was known to Origen. Professor Burkitt, 



XXVII. 15-26] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 345 

in his edition of the Syriac (Vol. n. p. 278), argues cogently that 
this was the original reading. It was apparently not known to 
Mark. ' If Matthew,' says Professor Burkitt, * got the name 
" Jesus Barabbas " from an independent source, it may very well 
have been the source which furnished him with the story of the 
dream of Pilate's wife/ Doubtless, as the Professor says, to read 
* Jesus Barabbas ' * gives point ' to 17. ' Which Jesus shall I 
release to you ? ' ' Jesus bar Abba is,' adds Professor Burkitt, 
' a perfectly appropriate name for a Jew living in the first century 
A.D. Several persons mentioned in the Talmud have the name 
Joshua or Jesus, and several are called Bar Abba after the name of 
their father.' So, too, Streeter : ' In the S.S. Pilate says to the Jews, 
" Whom will ye that I release unto you ? Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus 
whom they call Christ ? " Thus phrased the alternative offer made 
by Pilate has an extraordinarily original look. The omission of the 
name " Jesus " before Barabbas might easily be accidental. Once 
omitted, motives of reverence would come into play ; and the 
dislike of the idea that a brigand bore the sacred name, would lead 
to the preference of the shorter text. This is not mere conjecture ; 
Origen found it in the text of Csesarea, but tries to reject it on the 
ground that the name Jesus could not have belonged to one who 
was a sinner. And the weight of his name would lead to its whole- 
sale excision in other texts ' (p. 136). Cp. also pp. 95 and 101. A 
curious article by P. L. Couchoud and R. Stahl on Jesus Barabbas 
in the Hibbert Journal for October 1926, is worth reading. 

17, 18. Pilate takes the initiative. He anticipates the usual 
demand of the people. Jesus, even if some called him the Anointed 
One, or King, was no antagonist to the Romans. The Jewish 
authorities and teachers were envious of his popularity. Pilate is 
made to see through them. Matthew seems to think that ' Jesus 
who is surnamed Messiah ' would be the sort of phrase which 
Pilate would have used. In reality, Jesus was not ' surnamed ' 
Christ (i.e. Messiah) by any one before his death. 

* Matthew, with anti-Jewish feeling, ascribes the envy to the 
whole people, Mark to the high priests ; the latter must be right, 
since the people had had no hand in the arrest or condemnation ' 
(McNeile). Indeed the whole Barabbas scene suffers from the 
great difficulty that Jesus was very popular with the ' crowd.' 
We remember how the authorities had said, ' Not on the festival, 
lest there be a tumult among the people.' 

19. The legendary dream of Pilate's wife is only mentioned in 
Matthew. It intensifies the guilt of the Jews. The heathen 
woman seeks to save the righteous Jew. 



34 6 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVII. 27-31 

TToAAa €7ra6ov. She had had frightening dreams, but these 
dreams are heaven-sent. We may compare the dream which 
Calpurnia, Caesar's wife, is said to have had the night before the 
murder. 

20-23 correspond with Mark 11-14. The source is slightly 
expanded. The Jews are made definitely to ask for the release of 
Barabbas. 

24, 25. The whitewashing of Pilate and the guilt of the Jews 
are intensified. Pilate, in Jewish fashion, washes his hands as 
a sign of his own innocency. The legendary character of this 
incident is of course obvious. (Cp. Deut. xxi. 6, 7 ; Psalm xxvi. 6, 
Ixxiii. 13.) Pilate's words are modelled on David's in 2 Sam. iii. 28. 
For ' see to it yourselves,' see xxvii. 4. The Evangelist does not 
perceive that if Pilate had acted as he is here supposed to have 
done, he would have played, as Loisy says, a ridiculous and 
odious comedy. Matthew cannot in truth hide the facts. Pilate 
condemned Jesus to death, without reluctance, on the ground 
that he claimed to be King of the Jews. Pilate was not scrupu- 
lous in blood shedding. The condemnation of Jesus did not 
trouble his conscience or his wife's sleep. 

25. A terrible verse ; a horrible invention. Note the bitter 
hatred which makes the Evangelist put iras o Adds*. The whole 
people is supposed to be present. Hence all the atrocities which 
Christian rulers and peoples, sometimes, it must be freely acknow- 
ledged, with the disapproval of the Church, have wrought upon the 
Jews were accepted, and invoked upon their own heads, by the 
Jews themselves. This is one of those phrases which have been 
responsible for oceans of human blood, and a ceaseless stream of 
misery and desolation. 



27-31. JESUS IS MOCKED BY THE SOLDIERS 

(Cp. Mark xv. 16-20) 

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Prsetorium, 

28 and collected about him the whole cohort. And they stripped him, 

29 and put on him a scarlet cloak. And they wove a crown of thorns, 
and put it upon his head, and a cane in his right hand : and they 
bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, ' Hail, King 

30 of the Jews ! ' And they spat on him, and took the cane and beat 

31 him on the head. And when they had mocked him thus, they 



XXVII. 32-44] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 347 

took off the cloak from him, and put his own clothes on him, and 
led him away to crucify him. 

27. The Prsetorium, or palace, was the official residence of the 
Governor. The whole cohort ' would number from 500 to 600 men ; 
but here the term is probably used loosely for a smaller number ' 
(Bartlet). 

28. ' A soldier's scarlet cloak, in imitation of the imperial 
purple ' (Bartlet). 

29. The cane is put in his hand to represent a mock sceptre. 



32-44. THE CRUCIFIXION 
(Cp. Mark xv. 21-32 ; Luke xxiii. 26-43) 

3 2 And as they came out, they found a man from Gyrene, Simon 

33 by name : him they compelled to carry his cross. And when they 
came to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, The place of a skull, 

34 they gave him wine to drink mixed with gall : and when he had 

35 tasted it, he would not drink it. And they crucified him, and 

36 they divided his garments by casting lots. And sitting down they 

37 watched him there. And they set up over his head the charge 
against him in writing, namely, ' This is Jesus the King of the Jews.' 

38 Then two thieves were crucified with him, one on the right hand, 

39 and one on the left. And the passers-by reviled him, wagging their 
4° heads, and saying, ' Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest 

it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come 

41 down from the cross.' Likewise the chief priests, mocking him with 

42 the scribes and elders, said, ' He saved others ; himself he cannot 
save. If he be the King of Israel, let him come down now from the 

43 cross, and we will believe in him. He trusted in God ; let Him 
deliver him now, if He delights in him : for he said, I am the Son of 

44 God.' The thieves also, who were crucified with him, reviled him 
in the same way. 

34. The narrative follows Mark somewhat closely. 

The ' wine mingled with myrrh,' of which we hear in Mark, is 
here changed to wine mixed with gall. The change seems due to 
Psalm Ixix. 22 (Septuagint). In Mark the object of the offered 
drink is to remove consciousness ; it was a narcotic and was 



34$ THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVII. 45-54 

regularly given to Jewish criminals by the Jews. In Matthew this 
humane custom is turned into a mockery. In Mark, Jesus knows 
the object of the drink, and refuses it in order to die with full 
consciousness ; in Matthew he tries it, but refuses to drink it 
because of the odious taste. 

36. This notice about the guard is not in Mark. But it 
embodies the usual custom, and is implied in Mark (xv. 39). 

40. Matthew adds the words : ' If thou be the Son of God.' 

43. Matthew only. Matthew repeats and emphasizes the 
divine Sonship. The wording is taken from Psalm xxii. 8, and 
Wisdom of Solomon ii. 18. Psalm xxii. 7 had already been quoted 
in 39 (Mark xv. 29). 



45-54. THE DEATH OF JESUS 
(Cp. Mark xv. 33-41 ; Luke xxiii. 44-49) 

45 Now from the sixth hour darkness came over all the land unto 

4 6 the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a 
loud voice, saying, ' Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani ? ' that is, ' My God, 

47 my God, why hast thou forsaken me ? * And some of the bystanders 

48 when they heard that, said ' This man calls Elijah.' And straight- 
way one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, 

49 and put it on a cane, and gave him to drink. But the others said, 

50 ' Let be, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.' But Jesus 
cried again with a loud voice and expired. 

51 And, behold, the curtain of the temple was rent in twain from 
the top to the bottom ; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were 

52 cleft in sunder ; and the graves opened ; and many bodies of the 

53 saints who slept arose, and came out of their graves after his resur- 
rection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 

54 But when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching 
Jesus, saw the earthquake, and the occurrences, they were exceed- 
ingly afraid, saying, ' Truly this man was a Son of God.' 

49. J. Weiss thinks that the parallel 34-36 in Mark was probably 
a later insertion, borrowed and altered (for the worse) from Matthew. 
He thinks that the original version in Mark ran, ' And in the ninth 
hour Jesus uttered a loud cry and expired.' What was this loud 



XXVII. 45-54^ THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 349 

cry ? There were different traditions ; one was that the cry con- 
sisted of the words in Psalm xxii., the Messianic Psalm par excellence, 
though those who invented this interpretation of the cry certainly 
did not regard it as an exclamation of despair, but only just as a 
quotation. In the sponge story Mark's version assumes that the 
man who offered the sponge was about to be kept back. He says 
d6er€, ' Let me be.' But only Matthew says clearly that it was 
' the others ' who wanted to restrain him. It also makes the 
situation clearer that in Matthew the words ' Let be,' etc., are put 
into the mouth of the ' others.' They say, * Let us give him no 
succour or relief ; let us see if Elijah will save him.' In Mark one 
has to make the rather strained interpretation that the giver of 
the drink suggests that the object of giving it is that Jesus's life 
may be prolonged, and that thereby further time may be provided 
for the chance of the intervention of Elijah. 

The giver of the sponge is by Matthew implied to be not one of 
the soldiers, but a bystander. 

51-53. The miracles which accompany Jesus's death are 
greatly extended and magnified in Matthew's narrative. Thus we 
have an earthquake and a cleaving of rocks, leading up to the 
graves bursting open and the dead coming forth. Was this final 
marvel suggested by Ezek. xxxvii. 12 ? 

53. There is an extraordinary insertion in this verse. The 
original marvel meant to say that the bodies of the holy men came 
out of their graves, and were seen in Jerusalem at or immediately 
after Jesus's death. But this miracle became incompatible with 
a dogma which Paul and his circle put into circulation. For 
according to that dogma Jesus was the first to rise from the dead — 
' the firstfruits of them that are asleep ' (i Cor. xv. 20). How, 
then, could these others have risen before Jesus ? Hence a harmonist 
added the words ' after his resurrection.' The holy men did not rise, 
or, at any rate, were not seen in the capital, till after Jesus's own 
resurrection. But the correction spoils the whole miracle, the 
point of which is that it happened simultaneously with Jesus's 
death. 

Who are these aytot, holy men, or saints ? We are not informed. 
They rise in a semi-material form, visible to the eye, though not to 
every eye. Jerusalem is still the ' holy ' city to the Christian 
writer as well as to the Jews. 

54. Not only the centurion (as in Mark), but his company, 
observe and are impressed by the marvels. Matthew rejects the 
interpretation that it was the ' loud cry ' which caused the exclama- 
tion : ' Truly this man was a son of God.' 



35° THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVII. 55, 56 

The miracle of the dead rising from their graves at critical 
moments has a number of parallels. 



55, 56. THE WOMEN WHO SAW 
(Cp. Mark xv. 40, 41 ; Luke xxiii. 49) 

55 And many women were there looking on from a distance, who 

5 6 had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him : among 
whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and 
Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. 

For the ' Salome ' of Mark, Matthew has ' the mother of the 
sons of Zebedee.' In all probability the same woman is meant. 

57-61. THE BURIAL OF JESUS 
(Cp. Mark xv. 42-47 ; Luke xxiii. 50-56) 

57 Now when it was evening, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, 
named Joseph, who had also himself become a disciple of Jesus. 

58 He went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate 

59 ordered that the body should be given up. And Joseph took the 

60 body, and he wrapped it in clean linen, and laid it in his own new 
sepulchre, which he had hewn out in the rock : and he rolled a 

61 great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And Mary 
Magdalene and the other Mary were there sitting opposite the tomb. 

57. Matthew does not call Joseph a ' councillor/ His omission 
of the word is either to avoid letting a ' councillor ' be a disciple, 
or to prevent him becoming responsible for the condemnation of 
Jesus. (This difficulty is avoided by Luke in another way.) He 
now becomes merely a rich man. The adjective may be evolved 
out of his deed, and is not necessarily due to Isaiah liii. 9. Matthew 
makes him a regular disciple of Jesus. 

58. Mark's narrative is contracted. 

60. Note the clean linen ; also the new, unused grave which 
Matthew makes the definite property of Joseph. 

61. The women sit ' opposite ' the grave, and watch the 
interment. 



XXVII. 62-66] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 351 

62-66. ROMAN SOLDIERS WATCH THE GRAVE 
(Matthew only) 

62 Now the next day, that is the day after the Preparation, the 

63 chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, 
' Lord, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet 

64 alive, After three days I rise. Command therefore that the sepulchre 
be securely guarded until the third day, lest his disciples come and 
steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead : 
so the last deception shall be worse than the first.' Pilate said unto 

65 them, ' Ye can have a guard : go and make it as secure as ye know 

66 how.' So they went, and made the sepulchre secure, by sealing the 
stone and setting a guard. 

This curious addition of Matthew's has an obvious origin. 
When the story of Jesus's resurrection was discussed, the believing 
Christians asserted that the grave was found empty. The dis- 
believing Jews retorted that the explanation of this was, not that 
the body had miraculously risen and got out, but that the disciples 
had stolen the body away. Hence this story of the watchers was 
invented to show that the retort of the Jews was impossible 
(cp. xxviii. 11-15). The passage referred to in verse 63 is perhaps 
Matt. xii. 40, itself probably a late redactional addition to the 
tradition. The Jewish argument is not alluded to by Paul or in the 
Acts. It must be tolerably late on this account, and also because 
it is the complement of the late story of the empty tomb. 

62. Matthew also implies that the crucifixion had taken place 
on a Friday. But the expression ' the day after the Preparation ' 
to mean the Sabbath is very odd. It is an ill-used reminiscence 
of Mark xv. 42. 

63. The invention shows itself rather crudely and awkwardly 
by the absurd remarks of the Jews, by their remarkable foresight, 
and by the no less remarkable concurrence of Pilate. 

64. The first deception would be the Messianic claim of Jesus : 
the second his alleged resurrection ' after three days.' Lake has 
some interesting passages about the origin of ' on the third day ' or 
1 after three days.' He shows that the ' celebration of the death 
and resurrection of the god on the third day played a part in the 
theology connected with Attis, Adonis, Osiris, and probably other 
deities.' These ideas may have filtered into, and had an influence 



352 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVII. 62-66 



upon, Jewish popular thought, and may have helped to create (besides, 
and over and above, the O.T. passages in Hosea, etc.) the Christian 
tradition as to the resurrection date (Lake, pp. 253-265). (Is it not 
also possible that if Jesus was really crucified on a Friday, and this 
date was well fixed in the popular mind, the day of the resurrection 
almost suggested itself ? Jesus would rest on the Sabbath ; as soon 
as the Sabbath was over, or when the dawn came, he would come 
out. At any rate the women could not have gone to anoint the body 
before Sunday. Cp. Clemen, Religionsgeschichtliche Erkldrung des 
neuen Testaments, p. 152.) 

66. The idea of the seal is, doubtless, borrowed from Daniel 
vi. 17 (Septuagint). Pilate, the soldiers, and the Jews act in 
excellent concert with each other ! 

J. Weiss tries to make the best of the legend. He argues with 
some plausibility that it is not necessarily a deliberate invention, 
though, of course, quite unhistorical. Its origin may, perhaps, be 
explained thus : ' Perhaps people said : "If the Sanhedrin was so 
ready to suggest the slander that the body was stolen, it probably 
thought of this possibility from the first : did it not then take 
measures of precaution in advance f " From such reflections the 
story may have grown up. The judicious historian will not here 
speak of a deliberate invention, but rather of that uncontrollable 
process which leads from imagination to conjecture, from conjecture 
to rumour, and lastly to a firmly accepted tale.' Lake, more sug- 
gestively, concludes that the whole incident * is nothing more than 
a fragment of controversy, in which each side imputed unworthy 
motives to the other, and stated suggestions as established facts. 
Any controversy in any age will supply parallels ' (p. 180). 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

i-io. THE EMPTY GRAVE 
(Cp. Mark xvi. 1-8 ; Luke xxiv. 1-12) 

But late on the sabbath, as it began to get light toward the 
first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came 

2 to look at the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earth- 
quake : for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came 

3 and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was 

4 like lightning, and his raiment white as snow : and for fear of him 

5 the keepers shook, and became as dead men. And the angel 
answered and said unto the women, ' Fear ye not : for I know 

6 that ye seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here : for he is 

7 risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. And go 
quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead ; and, 
behold, he goes before you to Galilee ; there shall ye see him : 

8 lo, I have told you.' And they departed quickly from the sepulchre 
with fear and great joy ; and they ran to bring his disciples word. 

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, 
saying, ' Hail.' And they came and seized his feet, and did him 

10 reverence. Then said Jesus unto them, ' Fear not ; go tell my 
brethren that they go to Galilee, and there shall they see me.' 

i. Cp. Mark xvi. i, 2. There are many peculiarities in 
Matthew's version. Because of xxvii. 62-66 he has to give up 
the feature of the women making the purchases late on Saturday 
afternoon and wanting to anoint the body. Yet though he seems 
to mean that the women went out very early on Sunday morning 
to visit the grave, he uses the odd phrase oi/je aappdrcw which 
apparently would seem to signify ' late on Saturday afternoon,' or 
' later, after the Sabbath,' and to reflect Mark's words Siayevo/zeVov 
rov cra$8aTot>, * when the Sabbath was past.' Some think that we 
have in Matthew not a day, but a night scene. The words rfj 
VOL. ii 353 2 A 



354 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVIII. i-io 



€7n<f>a>crKovar) els [Jilav aa^dra)v must be construed (cp. Luke 
xxiii. 54) to mean : ' at the beginning of Sunday,' i.e. at nightfall 
on Saturday (and not ' at the dawn of Sunday '). Verse 3 suits a 
night scene best. 

Another explanation of the difficult rfj €7n(f>a>(jKovcrr) els piav 
aapfidrcov has been suggested by the Rev. P. Gardner Smith in 
J. T. S. for Jan. 1926, pp. 179-181. He supposes that Matthew 
was copying Mark (xvi. i). For Siayevo/xeVov rov aa/3/3drov he 
substituted oi/re aa$8aTa>j>, but then decided that the statement as 
to the bringing of the spices would not fit in with the story of the 
guarded tomb. So he erased verse one, and went on to verse two, 
paraphrasing \iav rrpojl rfj /xta rtov aa/Spdrwv quite correctly by 
rfj €7Ti</)a)crKov<jf) els fjiiav aaflpdrcw. He forgot, however, to erase 
d^re Se aappdrajv, and the impossible combination is the result. 
Luke xxiii. 54 Mr. Gardner Smith supposes to be an interpolation 
of an early copyist, who thought that the Sabbath ought to be 
brought in somehow, to explain the need for rapid action. And 
this interpolator used the term eW<£oja/cei>, because he lived at a 
time when Matt, xxviii. I had influenced the use of the word, for in 
Christian circles it was commonly used as meaning * draw on/ 
though Matthew had not intended to use it so. 

Mark mentions three women ; Matthew only two. ' To see the 
grave ' is a little odd after xxvii. 61. 

2-4 is Matthew's substitute for Mark's xvi. 3-5. The legend is 
more elaborate than in Mark ; but there is still a certain restraint. 
Is one to assume that the earthquake and the action of the angel 
had happened before the women arrive ? In that case it is implied 
that the angel had removed the stone, and that Jesus had already 
come out. If the angel is supposed to descend in the very presence 
of the women, we must assume either that Jesus comes forth unseen 
by the women, or that he had already come forth in spite of the 
stone. It is a fine instinct that the actual coming forth, the 
actual rising, is witnessed by none, and is not described by any 
of the Gospels. The later apocryphal Gospels were not so tactfully 
reticent. The guards faint ; so the women can draw near to the 
grave. 

There is some reason to believe that the primary, original, and 
1 historic ' belief of the disciples was that Jesus ascended to God 
at once after his death. Peter * saw ' a glorified Jesus, a heavenly 
body. To this belief which Paul shared, and to which he witnesses, 
the belief in a Jesus risen from the grave was superadded. A belief 
in a resurrection in the bodily sense — a Jesus who can eat and 
drink and be felt — is later than a belief in the glorified Jesus : the 
earlier belief brought about the later belief, not vice versa. The 



XXVIII. i-io] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 355 

whole subject is well dealt with by J. Weiss in his Urchristentum, 
pp. 60-75 . The third day, he thinks, can, on the whole, be accounted 
for by the Hosea passage, vi. 1-3. 

5-7. Here Matthew adopts the version of Mark, with slight 
variations. 

8. To Matthew, or rather to later tradition, the statement of 
Mark (xvi. 8) that the women through fear said nothing to the 
disciples, and thus disobeyed the order given them, is a psychological 
impossibility ; hence he adds ' joy ' to ' fear,' and tells us that the 
women hurried off to fulfil the command of the angel. 

9. At this point the original narrative of Mark breaks off. It 
is disputed whether 9, 10, 16-20 depend upon Mark or not, i.e. 
whether there was a continuation to Mark xvi. 8, and whether this 
now lost continuation is the basis of 9-10, 16-20. The risen Jesus 
is quite materially conceived. The women can grasp his feet. 
Jesus merely repeats what the angel had already said. Some argue 
that the object of the story is to explain and justify the flight of 
the disciples to Galilee. We may also see in it the beginning of the 
desire to make the proof of the resurrection happen as soon as 
possible after the entombment. The words put into the mouth of 
Jesus are parallel with those put into the young man's or angel's 
mouth in Mark and already used by Matthew in 5-7. Some suppose 
that 9, 10 is a mere doublet to 5-7, and a later addition to the text, 
not depending upon the lost conclusion of Mark. Streeter holds that 
the end of Mark was already missing in the copies of that Gospel 
used by Matthew and Luke. ' The message of the Angel, " Go tell 
his disciples and Peter he goes before you into Galilee : there shall 
ye see him as he said unto you " (Mark xvi. 7), is clearly intended to 
refer back to the previously recorded prophecy of Christ " Howbeit 
after I am raised up I will go before you into Galilee " (Mark xiv. 28). 
Thus we are bound to infer that the lost conclusion of Mark con- 
tained an account of an Appearance to the Apostles in Galilee. 
Further, this must either have come after an Appearance to Peter 
separately, or it must have been an Appearance in which Peter was 
in some way especially singled out for notice, as he is in John xxi. 
Now Matthew follows the text of Mark all through the Passion story 
with great fidelity ; if, then, the copy of Mark used by him had 
contained a conclusion of this sort, we should expect to find it 
reproduced by Matthew. But Matthew, though he records an 
Appearance to the Eleven in Galilee, does not especially mention 
the name of Peter in connection with it. Again, the most striking 
thing about the Gospel of Mark is the author's gift for telling a 



35 6 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVIII. 11-15 

story in a vivid, picturesque, and realistic way. Elsewhere, 
wherever Matthew is following Mark, he abbreviates slightly and 
occasionally omits a picturesque detail ; nevertheless, the account 
he gives is always a vividly realised and well-told story — full of 
detail, though not quite so full as the Marcan original. But 
Matthew's account of the Resurrection Appearances — to the two 
Maries (Matt, xxviii. 9-10) and subsequently to the Eleven (xxviii. 
16-20) — is extremely meagre and is conspicuously lacking in these 
usual characteristics. Both, then, because Matthew does not 
mention Peter, and because his narrative becomes exceptionally 
vague at the exact point where the authentic text of Mark now 
ends, we infer that his copy of Mark ended at that point ' (p. 343). 

Whereas if we are to trust the oldest document we have, the 
first vision of the risen Christ was experienced by Peter, here in 
Matthew's narrative it is the women who see him first. Harnack 
describes what we find here as ' eine augenscheinlich frei erfundene 
Vision ' (Sitzungsberichty etc., 1922, p. 69). 



11-15. THE GUILE OF THE JEWISH AUTHORITIES 
(Matthew only) 

11 Now as they were going, behold, some of the guard came into 
the city, and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 

12 And they assembled together with the elders, and resolved, and 

13 gave much money unto the soldiers, saying, ' Say ye, His disciples 

14 came by night, and stole him while we slept. And if this come to 
the governor's ears, we will satisfy him, and make you free of 

15 trouble.' So they took the money, and did as they were taught : 
and this story was spread abroad among the Jews until this day. 

This story, the unhistorical character of which is obvious, is 
the sequitur of xxvii. 62-66. When the Christians said not only 
that Jesus was risen, but that his tomb was empty, the Jews retorted 
that, if the tomb were empty, this was due to the body having been 
stolen by the disciples. The Christian rejoinder is contained in 
Matthew's story. Both attack and defence are late ; they arose 
when the situation of the tomb was already forgotten, or when no 
examination on the spot could be made. 

15. * Until this day.' But ' this day ' was many years after 
the death of Jesus. 



XXVIII. 16-20] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 357 

16-20. THE APPEARANCE OF THE RISEN MESSIAH IN GALILEE 
(Matthew only) 

1 6 But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain 

17 where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they 

1 8 did him reverence ; but some doubted. And Jesus came and 
spoke unto them, saying, ' All power has been given unto me in 

19 heaven and on earth. Go ye then, and make disciples of all the 
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son 

20 and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have 
commanded you : and, lo, I am with you always, unto the end of 
the Age.' 

16. The disciples carry out the order given in 10. They leave 
Jerusalem and go to Galilee. Historically they went to Galilee, 
not to see the risen Master in obedience to his words, but to return 
home in grief and perplexity. 

In 10, nothing had been said about a mountain. Another 
tradition seems to be brought in and followed here. Is this the 
mountain of the Sermon on the Mount or of the transfiguration ? 
It is, says Loisy, both at once ; it is the * lieu ideal ' where the 
glorified Jesus founds his Church (E. S. n. p. 745). 

17. The narrative is very condensed or very general. Some 
think that the words ' some doubted ' is an interpolation to make 
a kind of harmony with Luke xxiv. 37 ; John xx. 25. But they 
may be genuine and reflect the tradition that not all the disciples 
or apostles believed at once in the reality of the visions or in the 
fact of the resurrection. 

18. The words are based upon Daniel vii. 14 (but cp. also 
Matt. xi. 27). The historic Jesus would have been greatly amazed 
had he been told that such a comprehensive claim was to be put 
into his mouth. In fact the words spoken are a resume of the 
Christian faith and of the Church's mission, as the resurrection 
made them. It is the glorified Christ who instructs future 
generations. 

19. The date must be somewhat late. The old apostles knew 
nothing of a command to make all the nations Christian. Jesus 
devoted himself, and probably desired them to devote themselves, 
exclusively to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But now the 
Jews have rejected and killed their would-be Saviour. And so, 



358 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [XXVIII. 16-20 

the salvation they spurned is to be given broadcast to the world 
at large. Such would be the meaning of Matthew. 

Still more surprising is the order to baptize, and the Trinitarian 
formula. This is the only mention of the Trinity in the authentic 
text of the New Testament. But it has been shown by Mr. 
Conybeare (Z. N. W. n. pp. 275-288) that the present reading is 
probably a late interpolation. Originally the verse ran : * Go and 
make disciples (/xa^revWre) of all nations in my name, teaching 
them to observe,' etc. Jesus had never made baptism a condition 
of discipleship. After his own baptism by John we hear of the rite 
no more. The history and origin of the conception of the Trinity 
lie outside the story and the age of Jesus. As Mr. Bamford says, 
Jesus was an ardent and convinced Unitarian. 

[j,a67)T€vcraT€ means here ' convert them to Christianity.' 

Streeter points out that Matthew contains both narrow and 
broad sayings as regards the Gentiles. There were two parties in 
the young church, one anxious to convert and accept the nations 
without any ' Jewish ' observance ; the other more conservative. 
' By the time that Matthew wrote, a new exegesis which could 
reconcile the parties had been evolved. It was admitted on the 
one hand that the Master had said, " I was not sent but unto the 
lost sheep of the house of Israel " ; that He regarded the healing of 
a Syro-Phcenician as an exception, and that He had not Himself (as 
Mark's story would imply), even on that occasion stepped outside 
the sacred soil of Palestine — for the woman had come across the 
border to Him (Matt. xv. 22). It was conceded also by the liberal 
party that in His first Mission Charge He had forbidden the Twelve 
to go into any way of the Gentiles or any city of the Samaritans 
(Matt. x. 6) ; in return, the other side admitted that this limitation 
was only intended for the time during which He walked the earth ; 
after His Kesurrection He had on the contrary bade them " go and 
make disciples of all the nations " (xxviii. 19). Again, as the 
context (Matt. viii. n) in which the prophecy is placed makes clear 
(quite a different one from that which, from its position in Luke 
(xiii. 28), we may conclude was original in Q), it was now agreed 
that Christ was referring to Gentiles, not Jews of the Dispersion, 
when He said, " Many shall come from the east and the west, and 
shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of 
heaven : but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast forth into outer 
darkness." Finally, the fear — a very practical one — of anti- 
nomianism is met by a presentation of Christ's teaching as the 
New Law : the Sermon on the Mount is a counterpart to Sinai, and 
the five Great Discourses (v.-vii., x., xiii., xviii., xxiv.-xxv.) are, 
as it were, " the five books " of His " Law of liberty " ' (p. 514). 

€69 TO ovofjia. The old reading had ev rw ovo/zart fiov ( ( in 



XXVIII. 16-20] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW 359 

my name '), which would mean both invoking the name of Jesus 
(and using his authority) and also investing the new adherents with 
the title of Christians. ' Into (els) the name ' seems to mean that 
the new-comers are received into a certain relationship with Jesus, 
or with those whose name is invoked upon them. They belong by 
this invocation to his community. 

pa-n-rl Jovres", StSacr/covre? are probably co-ordinate. ' Baptizing 
and teaching.' 

20. The new religion is still, in a certain sense, a legal religion, 
and the law-giver is Jesus. As W. says, * the Gospel, the content 
of which was the crucified and risen Christ, is not mentioned ; in 
its place we have the commands of Jesus. The hope of the second 
coming recedes before the constant and immediate presence of 
Jesus among his disciples/ If Jesus was spiritually present, there 
was less need to crave for his visible reappearance. The constant 
presence of Jesus among his disciples corresponds with the constant 
presence of the Shechinah among the Jews. Loisy may not im- 
properly say that the conclusion of Matthew is a ' digne finale,' 
and the most beautiful of the four. The Christ of Matthew need 
take no leave of his disciples, for he is and will be always with them. 
The end of the world has been postponed : first must come the 
organization of the Christian society, the Christianization of all the 
earth, a long life of the Christ, present though invisible, in the 
Church, which is his earthly kingdom. And we recognize the 
general spirit of the book in the authority of the Church thus finding 
its sanction in the declared will of the immortal Christ : his per- 
manent presence in the society of the faithful is conceived as the 
guarantee of that society and of its work and its duration. The 
Christ, omnipotent and immortal, ever dwelling amid his Church, 
can rightly and efficaciously say to those who represent and replace 
Peter and the apostles : ' What things soever ye shall bind on earth 
shall be bound in heaven, and what things soever ye shall loose on 
earth shall be loosed in heaven.' The end of Matthew and xvi. 
17-19, xviii. 16-20 proceed from the same circle of ideas, and even 
in the form there are analogies between them (E. S. n. p. 754). 



LUKE 

CHAPTER I 

1-4. THE PROLOGUE 
(Luke only) 

1 Forasmuch as many have undertaken to draw up a narrative 

2 of those things which have been accomplished among us, even as 
they who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of 

3 the Word delivered them unto us, it seemed good to me also, after 
I had accurately gone through all the facts from their origin, to 
write them down for thee in their order, most noble Theophilus, 

4 that thou mayest realize the sure certainty of the teachings wherein 
thou hast been instructed. 

Luke, unlike Mark and Matthew, starts with a preface, written 
in rather elaborate Greek. The author clearly announces himself 
to be a compiler. He is not an eye-witness ; he draws upon oral 
tradition and written narratives. Yet he ' claims for his narrative 
certain special merits. He has prepared himself by careful study 
to make it complete in its scope, exact in its details, and faithful in 
its arrangement ' (Carpenter, First Three Gospels, p. 233). We 
may, perhaps, infer that there already existed when he wrote a 
number of written Gospels. But from the great use he has made of 
it, Luke must have considered that Mark was, on the whole, the 
most trustworthy of these records. 

1. ' Accomplished,' or ' fulfilled.' The meaning, however, is 
probably not more than ' brought to completion.' (So Cadbury.) 

' Among us,' i.e. us Christians. 

2. ' Eye-witnesses.' The tradition started from the contem- 

360 



I. 1-4] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 361 

poraries of Jesus. Through how many intervening stages it had 
passed we are not told. ' From the beginning,' an* apxrjs- This 
apparently means from the baptism. 

1 Ministers (or, servants) of the Word/ i.e. of the spoken Gospel. 
The genitive only goes with ' ministers/ not with ' eye-witnesses/ 
Thus we see that Luke's sources are not regarded by him as the 
products of eye-witnesses. They, like himself, gathered, whether 
directly or indirectly, what the contemporaries of Jesus had said. 
It is not likely that Luke can have known many, if any, persons 
who had seen much of Jesus himself. His sources include Mark, 
and other writings (e.g. Q) now lost. It is disputed whether Luke 
knew Matthew, or any earlier redaction of Matthew. If he did, he 
did not regard it as the work of the apostle. But it is most 
probable that he did not know it. * Luke had no motive for 
dwelling on his relations with the immediate disciples of Jesus, — 
relations which were but transient ; for Barnabas, whom he may 
have known for a longer period at Antioch, was a hellenistic 
Jew converted after the Crucifixion; Luke only passed through 
Jerusalem with Paul on his last journey, and there is nothing to 
prove that he met Peter at Rome. That is why he says " we," 
having no difficulty in identifying himself with Christians of his 
generation, the majority of whom had never known any actual 
disciple of Christ, and he represents himself simply as one of those 
believers who, after the end of the apostolic period, busied them- 
selves by providing their fellows with the rudiments of Gospel 
history for which the need was felt. For the generation to which 
the apostles belonged seems to have entirely disappeared, although 
those who had known it are still numerous. The prologue, therefore, 
could not have been written before the year 70 nor long after the 
year 80 ' (Loisy, IMC, p. 74). 

3. * After I had accurately gone through all the facts from their 
origin/ or * having traced the course of all things accurately from the 
first.' His work will be full (this is implied in ' all '). It will also 
be accurate. It will also relate the facts * from their origin ' or 
1 from the first ' (dvcoOcv), that is, not from the baptism, but from 
the birth, or even before. This interpretation supposes that the 
author of the main portion of the Gospel was also the author or 
compiler or editor of chapters i. and ii. It is, however, possible 
that these chapters were added later, and that avcudev means no 
more than air* apxns ' from the beginning ' i.e. from the baptism. 

Another rendering is, ' as one who had from the beginning ' (i.e. 
from my conversion to Christianity) ' followed closely all the facts ' 
(i.e. collected the stories, given heed to them, etc.). (Dibelius, 
Z. N. W., 1911, p. 338.) Loisy renders dvajdev ' depuis longtemps/ 



THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [I. 1-4 

1 for a long time.' Cp. Acts xxvi. 5 (Lac, p. 75), ' Seeing that I 
have for long observed everything most carefully,' i.e. both the 
facts and the records of the facts. aKpifitis should, perhaps, be 
rendered ' carefully.' ' There seems to be no warrant for assigning 
to the word TraprjKoXovOrjKon the sense of deliberate investigation, 
although Luke's apologists love thus to modernize it. The writer's 
information had (notice the perfect tense) come to him as the events 
took place ; it was not the result of special reading and study. 
His acquaintance with the subject, whatever its degree of intimacy, 
was something already in his possession' (Cadbury in Beginnings 
of Christianity, Vol. n. p. 502). 

' To write [them] down for thee in [their] order.' His arrange- 
ment is also to be excellent. As a matter of fact he mainly follows 
Mark, and when he deviates from Mark, he seems to go wrong. 
But right order to the Evangelist may have meant a right logical 
order, or one in which each event or saying is given its suitable 
place. ' Order ' does not * mean chronological order so much as 
literary form, or, as we should say, " construction." The resultant 
scheme is a threefold division of the Gospel into a Galilaean, a 
Samaritan, and a Judaean section ' (Streeter, p. 423). ' The word 
KaOegfjs here and in Acts xi. 4, xviii. 23 is perhaps best represented 
in English by " successively " or " continuously." It need not 
therefore imply accordance with some fixed order, either chrono- 
logical, geographical or literary. The question of order in the 
Gospel narratives is no more raised by this word than by avara^aadai. 
The early Christians, in spite of their interest, from Papias down, in 
the divergencies in order of events in the Gospels, do not appeal in 
connection with this subject to either of these words in the preface ' 
(Cadbury, p. 505). 

4. ' That thou mayest realize (or, know) the sure certainty 
(or, ground) of the teachings wherein thou hast been instructed.' 
The Gospel traditions form the substance of regular oral teaching. 
The ' sure ground ' means the historic basis of that teaching. But 
perhaps we should translate, * that thou mayest be convinced of 
the trustworthiness of the stories of which thou hast been informed,' 
for KaryxTJOys mav aot here have its later meaning of instruction 
preparatory to baptism, and the Adyoi may mean ' stories ' and not 
' teachings ' (So Klostermann). The Adyoi are the details of the 
Ao'yos-. Perhaps most simply ( that thou mayest know the truth 
of what thou hast been taught.' Who Theophilus was is unknown. 
The adjective Kpariaros implies that he was in a high station. 
1 The relation of Theophilus to Christianity is not easy to settle : 
the dedication as a whole leads one to suppose that he was not a 
Christian, but that his attitude towards Christianity was one of 



1.5-25] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 363 

interested and benevolent curiosity ; it has rightly been asserted 
that the title (Kpdrurre) would not have been bestowed upon a 
brother in the faith ' (Loisy, Lac, p. 76). 



5-25. THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE BIRTH OF JOHN 
THE BAPTIST 

(Luke only) 

5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain 
priest named Zacharias, of the class of Abijah : and his wife was 

6 of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And 
they were both righteous before God, walking in all the command- 

7 ments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless. And they had no 
child, because Elisabeth was barren, and they both were far 
advanced in years. 

8 And it came to pass, that while he was discharging his office 
of priest before God in the order of his class, the lot fell upon 

9 him, according to the custom of the priestly service, to go into 
ro the temple of the Lord and to burn the incense. And the whole 

multitude of the people were praying without at the hour of the 
n incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord 

12 standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when 
Zacharias saw him, he was greatly agitated, and fear fell upon 

13 him. But the angel said unto him, ' Fear not, Zacharias : for thy 
prayer has been heard ; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a 

14 son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy 

15 and gladness ; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall 
be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor 
strong drink ; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even 

1 6 from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall 

17 he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in 
the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to 
the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous : 

1 8 to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.' And Zacharias 
said unto the angel, ' Whereby shall I know this ? for I am an old 

19 man, and my wife well advanced in years.' And the angel answered 
and said unto him, * I am Gabriel, that stand before God ; and 1 
have been sent to speak unto thee, and to tell thee these good 

20 tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, 



364 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [1.5-25 

until the day that these things shall happen, because thou didst 
not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season/ 

21 And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and wondered that 

22 he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could 
not speak unto them : and they realized that he had seen a vision 
in the temple : and he himself kept making signs unto them, and 

23 he remained dumb. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the 
days of his service were completed, he departed to his own home. 

24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself 

25 five months, saying, * Thus has the Lord done unto me in the 
days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among 



For the stories, or rather legends, in chapters i. and ii. Luke 
probably used a special Jewish-Christian source. The narrative is 
not only coloured by endless Old Testament reminiscences, and 
built up out of Old Testament material, but it reflects Jewish 
sentiment, feeling, and ideals. The source was probably written in 
Aramaic or Hebrew. (See Torrey, in Studies in the History of 
Religions, p. 290. Streeter, pp. 266, 267.) Very large space is 
given to the birth of John. It seems disproportionate. Hence 
there is something to be said for the idea that the story of John the 
Baptist's birth existed independently and was of Jewish origin. It 
was then taken over and edited by the compiler of chapters i. and ii. 
The great bulk of it is very Jewish in character and form, and it is 
built up upon Old Testament models and reminiscences. The 
question whether any traces of history are concealed or contained 
in Luke i. and ii. I need not discuss. Such traces are exceedingly 
doubtful. The reader may be referred to the judicious remarks of 
Klostermann on p. 365 of his commentary. ' When the section is 
viewed as Luke's translation -Greek, and as embodying some 
primitive document, not as a piece of free composition, i. 5 — ii. 52 
with iii. 23-38 represent an early Palestinian source which Luke has 
worked over, perhaps inserting, e.g., the references to the decree 
(ii. i) and the virgin-birth (i. 34, 35), with the a)s evo/xt^cro of iii. 23. 
He probably translated the source himself from Aramaic. In spite 
of Dalman's scepticism there is no reason why Luke should not have 
known Aramaic ; and here as elsewhere there are fairly evident 
traces of a Semitic original ' (Moffatt, Introduction, p. 267). 

5. Herod died 4 B.C. 

The * class ' or ' course ' of Abijah. See I Chr. xxiv. 10. There 
were twenty-four divisions of the Priesthood, who took it in turn to 



I. 5-25] THE GOSPEL ACCOKDING TO LUKE 365 

perform the sacrificial duties in the Temple. Each division acted 
for a week. 

Elisabeth was the name of the wife of Aaron, Exodus vi. 23. 
Some think that the name means : ' God is [my] oath.' One cannot 
say whether the name is historical, i.e. whether John's mother was 
really called Elisabeth. 

6. A Jewish description of piety and goodness. 

7. Abraham and Sarah are models for the story (Genesis 
xviii. n) as well as Hannah and Elkanah. 

9. The special duties which had to be performed in the Temple, 
and among them the office of burning incense, were allocated to the 
priests of each division by lot. Apparently no priest went into the 
sanctuary alone to perform this duty. Others went with him. But 
a story such as that before us need not be concerned with a detail of 
that kind. 

II. Biblical reminiscences abound. Cp. Judges xiii. 

13. Cp. Judges vi. 23. Daniel x. 12, 19. ' Prayer ' may mean 
here his old longing for a child, which the narrator assumes. It 
need not mean an actually uttered prayer at the moment, which 
would conflict with 18. John (Jochanan) means : ' God is gracious.' 

15. It is doubtful whether John was a Nazarite. Though the 
wording of the verse is influenced by Numbers vi. 3, Judges xiii. 4, 
7, 14, i Sam. i. II, the intention may only be to mark and heighten 
the contrast between physical and spiritual exaltation. Cp. 
Ephesians v. 18 (Klostermann). 

17. The words are based upon Malachi. In all that is said by 
the angel there is nothing definitely Christian ; that is to say, it is 
quite conceivable that the legend grew up among the disciples of 
John, and was then adopted by a Christian writer. 

' Go before Him,' i.e. before God. KOL ciTretflefe, ' and the dis- 
obedient to (walk in) the wisdom of the righteous.' The ' rebellious ' 
and the ' sons ' are identified ; the ' fathers ' and the * just.' That is 
to say, John will bring the present rebellious generation into 
religious harmony with the righteous of olden time. He will do 
this by making the ' sons ' penitent. Thus he forms a people ready 
for the kingdom of God. The quotation seems to be taken from 
the Hebrew direct and not from the Septuagint. 

Or the meaning may be, John is to produce harmony among the 



366 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [I. 26-38 

people, and to make the disobedient become righteous and obedient. 
1 Prepared ' may mean ' just/ * righteous ' (Klostermann). 

18. Cp. the Old Testament models, Genesis xv. 8, xvii. 17, 
xviii. 12. 

20. For the dumbness cp. Daniel x. 15-17. 

24. Elisabeth conceals herself through a certain feeling of 
shame that she, the elderly woman, has become pregnant ; never- 
theless she recognizes that the fact takes away a deeper shame, 
namely, that of childlessness, according to Oriental and Jewish 
conceptions. Cp. Genesis xxx. 23. Perhaps, however, her conceal- 
ment and silence are due rather to the needs of the story. None 
must know that the word of the angel has been realized ; only Mary 
is to hear of it through the angel Gabriel. 



26-38. PREDICTION OF THE BIRTH OF JESUS 
(Luke only) 

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God 

27 unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to 
a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David ; and the 

28 virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and 

29 said, ' Hail, thou favoured one, the Lord be with thee.' But she 
was agitated at his word, and pondered as to what this greeting 

30 might denote. And the angel said unto her, ' Fear not, Mary : 

31 for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt 
conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his 

32 name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of 
the Most High : and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne 

33 of his father David : and he shall reign over the house of Jacob 

34 for ever ; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.' Then said 
Mary unto the angel, ' How shall this be, seeing I know no man ? ' 

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, ' The Holy Spirit will 
come upon thee, and the power of the Most High will overshadow 
thee : therefore also that which is begotten is holy and shall be 

36 called Son of God. And, behold, thy kinswoman Elisabeth, she 
has also conceived a son in her old age : and this is the sixth 

37 month with her who was called barren. For nothing is impossible 

38 with God.' And Mary said, ' Behold I am the handmaid of the 



1.26-38] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 367 

Lord ; be it unto me according to thy word.' And the angel 
departed from her. 

26. Why ' in the sixth month ' ? The date is also emphasized 
in verse 36. The true explanation is perhaps given by Norden in 
Die Geburt des Kindes, pp. 102-105, and is exceedingly interesting. 
The story of the birth of Jesus in Luke is very different from the 
story in Matthew, and indeed often contradicts it. 

Nazareth is Mary's dwelling-place or home. According to 
Matthew she must have lived in Bethlehem. 

27. Joseph, not Mary, is of the royal Davidic house. Cp. Matt. 
i. 20. The descent of Jesus from David was traced through his 
father. In Luke's birth story (unlike that of Matthew) it is probable 
that the idea of the virgin birth was interpolated by the insertion of 
34 and 35. 

If Jesus had no human father, it is of no value that Joseph was 
a descendant of David. Was the interpolation made by Luke into 
his source, or by a later ' editor ' of Luke ? Loisy thinks the former, 
Harnack the latter. The inconsistency which one has to assume if 
the interpolation was made by Luke is, Loisy thinks, not greater 
than is found elsewhere in the book. 

Some suppose that there lies behind the story a Jewish legend of 
the birth of the Messiah — taken from an old Egyptian legend — and 
then used by Christians. The virgin birth may have been a part of 
the story from the time in which it was first adopted by them and 
adapted. It is implied in verse 27. 

31. The words are clearly modelled upon Isaiah vii. 14. 

32. In this verse Jesus may be only called Son of God in the 
Messianic sense. There is no need to interpret the phrase physio- 
logically or metaphysically. 

33. The description of the Messiah is cast in a very Jewish form. 
Through Joseph (was he the father in the first form of the story ?) 
Jesus is the heir of the Davidic Kingdom. 

34. The reply of Mary is a strong argument that 34, 35, or 
34-37, are interpolated. For if Mary was already betrothed, her 
astonishment that she should shortly bear a son is very unlikely 
and inappropriate. Otherwise one has to suppose that by * thou 
shalt conceive ' is meant an immediate conception, a matter already, 
or in the act of being, accomplished. Cp. the fair and moderate 
remarks of Streeter, pp. 267, 268. 



368 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [1.26-38 

35. Another translation is that of R.V. M., * the holy thing 
which is to be born.' Here the Son of God seems to be used in a 
physiological sense, differently from 32. ' What we read in this 
verse, namely, the physical interpretation of the term, comes from 
Greek ways of thought : to the heathen-Christian community it was 
only natural to interpret the Son of God as descended from God ' 
(J. Weiss). 

Merx supposes that the interpolation is much smaller, and that it 
is limited to the words ' seeing I know no man.' ' How shall this be ' 
means merely * how shall such an honour befall me.' Then in the 
reply of the angel, the words * come upon thee ' and ' overshadow 
thee,' refer simply to the protection of the Holy Spirit, not to physical 
begetting. ' Spirit ' is feminine in Hebrew and this would make 
the usual interpretation very inapt. But if the interpolation 
comes from a Gentile-Christian hand, the objection raised by Merx 
hardly applies. And as Loisy says, the signification of ' will over- 
shadow thee ' (emcr/aacrei) is probably local, not moral. Both the 
terminology of the idea and the idea itself are foreign to Hebrew 
thought, as Loisy very properly states. ' As for the basis of the 
idea, it agrees no better with Jewish theology. For the originality 
of the latter expressed itself in the notion of divine transcendency, 
which barely allows us to conceive of God as the direct generating 
physical source of an individual human life. In Greek and for the 
heUenic mind, these difficulties did not exist. Justin the apologist 
thought it quite natural to compare the birth of Jesus with that of 
the heroes or of the demigods who were born of a god and a mortal 
woman ' (E. S. i. p. 292). As to the conception through the Holy 
Spirit and the word eVia/aacrei and its history, the curious reader 
will find an interesting discussion in Norden's delightful book, 
Die Geburt des Kindes, Geschichte einer religiosen Idee (1924), pp. 77- 
97, or in Leisegang, Pneuma Hagion, Der Ursprung des Geistes- 
begriff der synoptischen Evangelien in der griechischen Mystik 
(1922), pp. 25-28. It is, however, possible that the virgin birth, 
or rather that the conception from the Holy Spirit, is not of Gentile- 
Christian, but of Jewish-Christian origin, and that a combination 
of the virgin birth with the story of the divine generation of the 
Messiah lies behind the whole tale. In that case one cannot merely 
regard 34, 35 as an interpolation. The explanation would be deeper 
and older. See Gressmann, WeihnachtsevangeUum, pp. 38-46. The 
source of the story is Egyptian ; the motives and the legend came 
from there to Judaea, and were adopted as a story about the 
Messiah King. ' The narrative, with its strong mythological 
colouring, can only have existed in the lowest, least educated 
classes of Judaism.' The idea of the virgin birth and the physical 
divine fatherhood must be of non-Jewish origin, ' since in its crude 



1. 39-56] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 369 

mythology it is at total variance with Jewish monotheism ' (pp. 45, 
41). But the spiritualization of the conception of a physical 
generation from a god or from the Divine Spirit can be seen in 
Philo, and, on the other hand, his very words show how the spiritual 
idea had a mythical and physical origin. See Leisegang, pp. 43-45 
for a translation of the most salient Philo passage, and Norden, 
pp. 78-82 for a further discussion of it. 

37. Cp. Genesis xviii. 14. pfjfjia here, like the Hebrew dabar, 
must be taken to mean ' thing.' Or we can translate : ' No word 
from God shall be without effect.' The gigantic miracle of the virgin 
birth and of the conception through the Holy Spirit is, as Loisy 
says, not logically or even artistically made reasonable or credible 
by the minor miracle of Elisabeth's conception in her old age. But 
if, originally, the angel merely told Mary that she would bear a son 
in the ordinary way, and that this son would be the Messiah, then 
the mention of the Elisabeth miracle becomes suitable enough. 
The object of making Mary and Elisabeth relatives was originally 
to give Jesus extra cfignity in his ancestry : descended from David 
on the one hand, he is descended from Aaron on the other. He is 
legitimately both King and High Priest. (Luc, p. 91.) 

38. If Mary had not spoken already, her obedient questionless 
acceptance of the angel's message is in fine contrast to Zacharias's 
doubts. If 34 is not interpolated, Mary at first seems to have 
shown the same scepticism as he. Clemen, pp. 114-121, can also be 
read with advantage. He thinks that 34-37 is the Evangelist's 
addition to the material supplied him by tradition and that the 
virgin birth has its origin in Greek mythology. 



39-56. THE VISIT OF MARY TO ELISABETH 
(Luke only) 

39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country 

40 with haste, into a city of Judah ; and entered the house of Zacharias, 

41 and greeted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth 

42 heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb. And 
Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she lifted up her voice 
and cried aloud, and said, ' Blessed be thou among women, and 

43 blessed be the fruit of thy womb. And wherefore have I this 

44 honour that the mother of my Lord should come to me ? For, lo, 

VOL. II 2 B 



37° THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [1-39-56 

as soon as the voice of thy greeting reached mine ears, the babe 
45 leaped in my womb for joy. And happy is she who believed that 

what was told her from the Lord shall be fulfilled.' 
46, 47 And Mary said, ' My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit 

48 rejoices in God my Saviour. For he has regarded the low 
estate of his handmaiden : for, behold, from henceforth all genera- 

49 tions shall account me happy. For he that is mighty has done 

50 to me great things ; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from 

51 generation to generation upon them that fear him. He has 
shown strength with his arm ; he has scattered them that are 

52 proud in the thought of their hearts. He has cast down the mighty 

53 from their thrones, and exalted them of low degree. He has filled 
the hungry with good things ; and the rich he has sent empty 

54 away. He has helped his servant Israel, that he might remember 

55 his mercy to Abraham and to his seed for ever, even as he spoke 

56 unto our fathers.' And Mary remained with her about three months, 
and then she returned to her own home. 

The two annunciation stories of John and Jesus are now brought 
together. There has probably been some editing in the process. 
One object is to show the inferiority of John to Jesus — of the 
' forerunner ' to the Messiah and Son of God. 

The intimacy and relationship between the two families do not 
correspond with what we may gather of the dealings between Jesus 
and John as depicted in the more historical portions of the Gospels. 
And what Mary and Elisabeth have heard from the angels about 
Mary's future son is in obvious contradiction with Mark iii. 21, 
31-35. This section is entirely legendary like its predecessor. 

39. The object of Mary's visit was to verify the sign after 
having experienced the truth of the promise. The ' source ' doubt- 
less told how Mary conceived, just as it told (in 24) how Elisabeth 
had done so. She goes c in haste ' or with eagerness because her 
faith will be increased by finding that what had been told her about 
Elisabeth had actually occurred. 

' A city of Judah.' Torrey shows that ' city ' is a mistranslation 
of the Hebrew original which was * the province of Judah ' (Studies 
in the History of Religions, 1912, p. 291). 

41. Cp. Genesis xxv. 22. The unborn child, in accordance 
with the prediction of 15, and in virtue of its already being filled 
with the Holy Spirit, recognizes the mother of the Messiah. 



1. 39-56] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 371 

43. Even the mother of John knows that Mary's son is to be 
the Messiah. In Matt. iii. 14 John recognizes Jesus to be the 
Messiah at the baptism. The historic reality was more in accordance 
with Matt. xi. 3. 

45. The ' she who believed ' is Mary. 

46. ' And Mary said.' It has been argued that the word 
' Mary ' is a later insertion. Originally the so-called ' Magnificat ' 
was said by Elisabeth. It belongs to the story of John's birth, 
and not to that of Jesus. It is, therefore, probably pre-Christian, 
or rather non-Christian, and was only taken over by the compiler 
of chapters i. and ii. and then ascribed to Mary. It is composed 
altogether on Old Testament lines and of Old Testament reminis- 
cences, and has no reference to the coming of the Messiah. It 
resembles the prayer of Hannah, I Samuel ii. i-io. 



48. The language is more appropriate to Elisabeth. 
1 low estate,' does not naturally here mean ' humble social con- 
dition,' but ' humiliation,' i.e. the humiliation of childlessness. 
Cp. I Sam. i. ii, where the Septuagint has the very word. The 
words : ' Henceforth all generations shall account me happy ' (or 
1 blessed ') are based upon Gen. xxx. 13 (see especially the 
Septuagint). 

49-55. The remainder of the hymn is full of Old Testament 
reminiscences, and in the generalities of its language seems in- 
appropriate to the situation and the speaker. 

51. We may also, with equal and greater probability, translate 
these Greek aorists by the present tense, ' He shows strength with 
his arm,' etc. It is disputed to what these assertions about the 
divine action refer. Had the Christian adapter or compiler certain 
definite incidents in his mind or not ? Are the ' hungry ' of 53 
those whom Jesus spiritually ' filled ' ? In 54 is the reference to 
the true Israel, which the * Jewish Christians ' identified with them- 
selves ? The Messianic salvation seems alluded to. 

56. ' To her own home or house.' Was this Joseph's house, 
or that of her parents ? To the Evangelist, probably Joseph's ; 
to the original narrator, that of her parents. (Loisy, Lite, p. 98.) 



372 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [1.57-80 

57-80. BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST 
(Luke only) 

57 Now Elisabeth's time was completed that she should be 

58 delivered ; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours 
and her kinsfolk heard how the Lord had magnified his pity upon 

59 her ; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on 
the eighth day they came to circumcise the child ; and they in- 

60 tended to call him Zacharias, after the name of his father. But 
his mother answered and said, ' No ; but he shall be called John.' 

6r And they said unto her, ' There is none of thy kindred that is 

62 called by this name.' And they made signs to his father, how he 

63 would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and 

64 wrote, saying, ' His name is John.' And they marvelled all. And 
immediately his mouth was opened, and his tongue, and he spoke, 

65 and praised God. And fear came on all their neighbours : and all 
these stories were talked about through all the hill country of 

66 Judaea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, 
saying, ' What then will this child be ? ' For the hand of the Lord 
was with him. 

67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and 

68 prophesied, saying, ' Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel ; for he 

69 has visited and redeemed his people, and has raised up an horn 

70 of salvation for us in the house of his servant David ; — as he 
spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been from of 

71 old ; — salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that 

72 hate us ; to show pity to our fathers, and to remember his holy 

73 covenant ; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham to 

74 grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our 

75 enemies, should serve him without fear, in holiness and right- 

76 eousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, 
shalt be called the prophet of the Most High : for thou shalt go 

77 before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways ; to give know- 
ledge of salvation unto his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 

78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the day spring 

79 from on high will visit us, to give light to them that sit in dark- 
ness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of 

80 peace.' And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was 
in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation unto Israel. 



1. 57-80] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 373 

59. In the O.T. the giving of the name is not deferred till the 
eighth day, nor is it a matter for the relatives, but for the parents. 
The unusual arrangement is devised to set off Elisabeth's protest. 
For she, like Mary, is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and knows the 
name which is to be given by divine appointment to her son. The 
holy Spirit makes her interrupt, and declare what the name is to 
be. For another explanation see Norden, p. 103, n. I (after 
Volter). 

62. We are to suppose that Zacharias had become deaf as well 
as dumb. But how could any signs or dumb show indicate to him 
that they wanted to know how he wished the child called ? 

66. * For the hand of the Lord was indeed with him/ The 
meaning apparently is : people were justified in wondering what 
great future was in store for the child, for. in addition to the marvels 
of his naming, God's hand was with him as he grew up. (Cp. So.) 

The words are (if the ordinary reading be followed) a sort of 
side remark of the narrator. 

68. The hymn of praise spoken by Zacharias may also be due, 
at least in part, to the independent story of John. It may have 
been rendered more suitable to its present environment by the 
additions of 69 and 70 and 78 and 790. Others suppose by 76 
and 77 only. The first part of the hymn is couched in regular Old 
Testament language and is quite Jewish in tone. Yet there is some 
difficulty in interpreting the aorists as prophetic perfects. As it 
stands, the hymn may be the work of a Jewish-Christian for whom 
the Messiah has already come. 

69. The ' horn ' is the Messiah. Grammatically and in sense 
71 fits on well to 68. As the text now stands, ' salvation ' is in 
apposition to the ' horn.' 

76. Up to this point the hymn has spoken of the coming 
deliverance, and of the re-establishment of the theocracy and of 
the Davidic monarchy, in quite ordinary Old Testament phrases. 
It now turns to the destiny of the child John. His office is described 
in phrases taken from Isaiah xl. 3 and Malachi iii. i. 

77. The present meaning of the verse — whether originally it 
meant this or not — must be that John announced beforehand the 
coming of this spiritual salvation (unlike the political ' salvation ' 
of 71) which consisted in the forgiveness of sins, and was effected 
by Jesus the Messiah. 



374 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [1.57-80 

78. Construction and rendering of the second half of the verse 
are alike disputed and difficult. Moreover, the MSS. vary, some 
(with the S.S.) reading emcr/ce^erai (the future, * will visit ') and 
some €7T€crK€i/faro (the aorist, ' has visited '). The future has been 
adopted in the translation. The ' dayspring from on high ' is 
literally the dawn of the Messianic glory, but the figure must here 
stand for the Messiah himself. Or one can suppose that God is 
still the subject : ' He will visit us, as a light from on high,' through, 
or in the person of, the Messiah. The phrase is based upon such 
O.T. passages as Mai. iv. 2, Isaiah ix. 2, Iviii. 8, Ix. i, Numbers 
xxiv. 17. Reading the aorist, one can render, ' because of the 
tender mercy of our God, wherewith he visited us — a shining of 
light from on high, to give light, etc.' The merciful visitation of 
God is described as the rising or appearance of a heavenly light. 

79. Cp. Isaiah ix. 2, xlii. 7. 

80. Here the story returns to verse 66. What lies between 
may be a later insertion. For 80 compare Judges xiii. 24, 25 ; 
I Sam. ii. II, iii. 19-21. The wording at the end is awkward, as if 
John from his childhood had lived ' in the wilderness.' The object 
is to make a link with iii. 2. 



CHAPTER II 

1-20. THE BIRTH OF JESUS 
(Luke only) 

1 And it came to pass in those days, that a decree was issued 
from the Emperor Augustus, that there should be a census of the 

2 whole world. (This was the first census, and it took place while 

3 Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be enrolled, each 

4 man to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out 
of the city of Nazareth, to Judaea, unto the city of David, which is 
called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and family of 

5 David) to be enrolled together with Mary who was betrothed to 

6 him and was with child. And it happened that, while they were 
there, the days were completed for her delivery. And she brought 

7 forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and 
laid him in a manger ; because there was no room for them in the inn. 

8 And there were in the same region shepherds in the fields, 

9 keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the 
Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about 

10 them : and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 
' Fear not : for, behold, I proclaim to you the good tidings of great 

11 joy, which shall be to all the people. For unto you has been 
born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Messiah, Lord. 

12 And this is a sign for you ; ye shall find a babe wrapped in 

13 swaddling clothes, in a manger.' And suddenly there was with 
the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and 

M saying, ' Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among 
men of his favour.' 

15 And it came to pass, when the angels were gone away from 
them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, ' Let us now 
go unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, 

1 6 which the Lord has made known unto us.' And they came with 

375 



37 6 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [II. 1-20 

haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in the 

17 manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad 
the word which had been spoken to them concerning this child. 

1 8 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were 

19 told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things in 

20 mind, and pondered over them in her heart. And the shepherds 
returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they 
had heard and seen, as it had been told unto them. 

1-4. It is unnecessary for my purpose to enter into the details 
of the enormous discussions and interminable arguments which the 
statements made in these verses have called forth. Suffice it to 
say that Luke in all probability has sought to use for his own 
special purpose an enrolment, or rather census for taxation, which 
was conducted by Quirinius, Governor of Syria, in A.D. 6 or 7. 
This census caused a great deal of commotion and indignation, as 
we learn from Josephus. Luke refers again to this enrolment or 
census in the Acts, and to the rising of Judas the Galilsean (Acts v. 
37). But Jesus was certainly not born as late as A.D. 6 or 7. Most 
probably Luke is right in fixing the date of his birth before the 
death of Herod, 4 B.C., at which time such a census did not take 
place, and could not have taken place. Luke uses the census in order 
to make Jesus born at Bethlehem. The necessity for the birth at 
Bethlehem arose as a consequence of Jesus's Messiahship. For a 
well-known passage in Micah (v. 2) deliberately asserts that the 
Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem. Therefore Jesus must have 
been born there. He was, however, known to have been a Galilsean, 
an inhabitant of Nazareth. Luke's story, therefore, suggests a way 
out, and its improbabilities or impossibilities were in those times 
of no difficulty or trouble. Cp. Loisy : ' It was because he was 
Messiah, son of David, that Jesus had to be born at Bethlehem. 
So some reason was necessary which compelled Joseph, son of 
David, and with him Mary, and with Mary Jesus, to go to Bethlehem. 
What reason could present itself more naturally to the Christian 
imagination than that of an enrolment of Davidic descendants at 
the traditional birthplace of their race ? But the family of David 
could not be enrolled unless others were enrolled too ; hence the 
necessity for the enrolment of every family. Now there was an 
enrolment which had remained in everybody's memory, the first 
enrolment, that of Quirinius ; so it was the enrolment of Quirinius 
which had made Joseph and Mary come to Bethlehem, and it was 
thus that Jesus was born there. What this enrolment had actually 
been there was no precise recollection, but people always spoke of 
the enrolment and of Judas the Galilsean ' (E. S. i. p. 345). 



II. 1-20] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 377 

1. An enrolment of all the world, or even of all the empire, 
under Augustus did not take place. But there were censuses of 
all Roman citizens in 26 and 6 B.C. and in A.D. 14. But such 
censuses would not fit with the story's needs, not even that of 
6 B.C., for it did not extend to the countries which were still semi- 
independent, such as Judaea remained till A.D. 6. And even then, 
Galilee, as part of the territory of the tetrarch Herod Antipas 
would have been exempt from such a census. 

2. ' This, the first enrolment (in Judaea), took place when 
Cyrenius (or Quirinius) was governor of Syria.' This is the probable 
meaning, not, * This was the first enrolment made when Quirinius 
was governor of Syria,' though either rendering is possible, and the 
second is adopted by many scholars. 

3. No Roman census was conducted in this strange way. 
Joseph would have been enrolled in Nazareth, not in a city where 
his ancestors had dwelt hundreds of years before. Few Jews would 
have had this familiar knowledge of their own far-off ancestry. 
And in any case why should Mary have gone with him that long 
journey, being not yet his wife and in her pregnant condition ? As 
Holtzmann says, the machinery used to get Mary to Bethlehem 
works very clumsily. Schiirer has pointed out that women, though 
they paid a poll tax, had not personally to appear at the census, as 
is here implied. Spitta and other scholars have attempted to show 
that Luke's narrative may after all be historical. Spitta, for 
instance, thinks that the author did not intend to make Mary 
already with child when she visited Elisabeth. The babe in the 
womb of i. 41 salutes not the unborn Messiah, but his mother. The 
fruit of the womb which is declared blessed in i. 42 is still to come. 
* In those days ' in ii. I refers to John's youth, not to his birth. 
John was older than Jesus. Thus ii. I relates to a later time than 
i. 5 or i. 31. The census or enrolment took place in an earlier 
governorship of Quirinius, soon after Herod's death. The word 
olKov^€V7j in ii. I is a mistranslation of the Aramaic original. It 
should be ' land,' not ' earth,' and points to a period after Herod's 
death, but before the partition of his monarchy among Archelaus, 
Antipas, and Philip. It is conceivable that Joseph had some land 
in Bethlehem, the more so, if he was really descended from David. 
Verse 3 generalizes in the manner of a popular story. (' Die 
chronologischen Notizen und die Hymnen in Lc. i. und ii.' in 
Zeitschrift filr die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, vn. 1906, pp. 
280-303.) There is some evidence that Quirinius was governor of 
Syria about 3 B.C. as well as A.D. 6. But the total number of un- 
likely suppositions which have to be made before Luke's story of 



37 8 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [II. 1-20 

Jesus's birth, can be regarded as historical, is very large. The 
hypothesis that the story is legendary still remains much the 
simplest and most probable. See also Loisy, Luc, pp. no, in. 

There is an interesting Egyptian edict preserved from the year 
A.D. 104 relative to a census in that country which says : ' As the 
census is about to take place, everybody, who for any reason is 
outside his own district, must return to his own hearth, for the 
purposes of enrolment.' But Joseph acts against such an edict, if 
a similar sort of thing happened in Palestine. He leaves his own 
city to go elsewhere. (Cp. Deissman, Licht vom Osten, 4th ed., 
pp. 231, 232. Gressmann, Das Weihnachtsevangelium, p. 9 ; Meyer, 
Ur sprung i. p. 51.) 

4. It will be remembered that it was pointed out that i. 34, 35 
were perhaps a later insertion, and that Luke's birth story, unlike, 
that of Matthew, did not originally include a virgin birth. In this; 
verse there is some evidence that the original reading was ' with 
Mary his wife.' This is the reading of S.S. See Usener, Vortrdge 
und Aufsdtze (1907), Geburt und Kindheit Christi, p. 181. Also 
Streeter, pp. 116, 267. 

7. Jesus is the firstborn, but for Luke, as well as for Mark, he 
is not Mary's only child. The stall or manger in the stable is a 
pretty feature of the legend to indicate the contrast between the 
earthly environment of the Messiah's birth with his destiny and 
person. Jesus is a spiritual shepherd. Was the real reason why 
Jesus has to be born in a stable to establish a connection between 
the shepherd David and himself ? Or, as Loisy now thinks possible, 
is the legend a sort of fulfilment of Psalm Ixxviii. 70, 71 ? 

8. The story of the shepherds has Old Testament parallels. 
We may also compare the birth stories of Cyrus and Romulus. 
Apparently to this writer and for this legend Jesus was not born 
in winter. The flocks in Palestine are not out at night in December. 

For a full explanation of the shepherd incident and its original 
meaning, and of the manger ' motive,' cp. Gressmann, loc. cit. pp. 
13-28. 



14. The reading is not quite certain. If the genitive 
is read, the translation is, 'And, on earth, peace among men of 
(his) favour,' i.e. either among the Jews, who are the people of his 
choice, or among those men who, by their acceptance and acknow- 
ledgment of the Messiah, receive the divine favour. To unbelievers 
there will be no peace. A less good reading has the nominative, 
* On earth peace, and favour among men.' Another explanation is 



II. 21-24] THE GOSPEL ACCOKDING TO LUKE 379 

that the translation of the original Aramaic text is faulty, or that 
the text which the translator used contained an error of one letter. 
The right rendering or right text would be, ' Glory in the highest to 
God, and peace and favour on earth to men.' So Klostermann. 
See his Commentary. But this ingenious and simple emendation 
depends upon an original Aramaic. Klostermann indeed says : 
* As an original Hebrew text is out of the question, an Aramaic 
text is the only possible one.' But Torrey, as we have seen — no 
mean authority — believes in a Hebrew original. Three verses before 
(n) a very odd Greek phrase os eanv xp iar °s Kvpios is capable 
of a very simple explanation if the original was Hebrew. * The 
Hebrew had mm TTBJD, Yahweh's Anointed, and the rendering 
in Greek should have been ^/HOTO? Kvpiov or o ^/HOTO? TOV Kvpiov 
(pp. 292, 293). The word ' Saviour ' is not applied by Mark and 
Matthew to Jesus, and by Luke only here and Acts v. 31, xiii. 23. 
Cp. further Streeter, p. 115. 

19. The story in Mark about the family of Jesus and their 
behaviour (iii. 21, 31) seems to show that the historic mother of 
Jesus was quite unaware that she had given birth to the Messiah. 



21-24. CIRCUMCISION AND REDEMPTION OF JESUS 
(Luke only) 

21 And when the eight days for the circumcision of the child were 
completed, his name was called Jesus, according as he had been 

22 named by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And 
when the days of their purification, according to the Law of Moses, 
were completed, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him 

23 to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, * Every 
male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord ') ; 

24 and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the Law 
of the Lord, * A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.' 

22. ' Their purification ' is odd, as the Law (Lev. xii.) says 
nothing of the father. It is still more odd if the mother was a 
virgin, just as under such circumstances the law of purification 
itself seems hardly in keeping. The original reading may have been 
' her J for ' their,' which the S.S. still has. The alteration may be 
due to a shy attempt, carried further by some MSS., which have 
' his,' to obscure the fact that the immaculate virgin was regarded 
as levitically unclean after child-birth. The end of the verse, ' to 



380 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [II. 25-35 

present him to the Lord/ refers to the redemption of the first-born 
(Exodus xiii. 2, 13). But it is also influenced by I Sam. i. 24. 
This story — itself a legend — seems to know nothing of the Virgin 
birth. For the purposes of the ' redemption of the first-born ' the 
child had not to be ' presented * in the Temple. The parents are 
here regarded as poor ; they cannot afford a lamb, but bring 
pigeons and doves as a substitute, according to the ordinance in 
Lev. xii. 8. 

25-35. SIMEON 
(Luke only) 

25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was 
Simeon ; and this man was just and devout, waiting for the con- 

26 solation of Israel : and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And ir, 
was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit that he should not sec 

27 death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. And he came 
by the Spirit into the temple : and when the parents brought in 
the child Jesus, to do concerning him after the custom of the Law, 

28 he took him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said : 

29 ' Now releasest thou thy servant, Lord, in peace, according 
30, 31 to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou 

32 hast prepared before the face of all the peoples, a light of revelation 
to the nations, and of glory to thy people Israel.' 

33 And his father and his mother marvelled at what was spoken 

34 of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, 
' Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising again of 

35 many in Israel ; and for a sign to be opposed (yea, a sword shall 
pierce through thy own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts 
may be revealed.' 



25. Trapa/cA^ort?, ' comfort ' or ' consolation.' Cp. the famous 
opening words of Isaiah xl. 

27. Note * the parents ' in the plural. The story-teller knows 
nothing apparently of the virgin birth. Cp. verses 33, 41, 43, 48. 

29. He could now die in peace. The promise of God — his own 
heart's desire as it was the desire of every pious Israelite — had 
been fulfilled. Cp. Genesis xlvi. 30. 

30, 31. The wording is closely modelled upon Psalm xcviii. 2. 
Cp. also Isaiah lii. 10. 



II. 36-39] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 381 

32. The salvation is to be a light which is to bring revelation 
to the nations (Isaiah xlii. 6, xlix. 6), and glory to Israel (Isaiah 
xlvi. 13). 

33. The story seems to have been originally independent of the 
legend of the annunciation and of the birth and the shepherds, for, 
otherwise, why should Mary be astonished ? 

34. Simeon's second speech may be more directly due to the 
Evangelist. 

/cetrat, ' is set for,' ' is marked out for,' * is destined for.' 
Jesus is a stumbling-block (Isaiah viii. 14) to those who dis- 
believe in him. Cp. Matt. xxi. 44. He is also a sign, a signal, 
which is (not only accepted and hailed, but also) opposed and con- 
tradicted. For the ' sign ' cp. Isaiah xi. 12, xiii. 2, where the Greek 
has the same word as here, ar^^lov. Some think that the words : 
* and rising again ' (ava.ara.aw) have been added. It refers to 
' rising ' through repentance and forgiveness of sins. But originally 
the verse referred only to those who would reject Jesus. 

35. The martyrdom of Jesus shall be metaphorically a martyr- 
dom to his mother. The first clause of the verse seems an inter- 
polation, and the second clause really depends upon 34. The object 
of the rejection of the Messiah is that the innermost thoughts, the 
true characters, of all may be laid bare. 



36-39. ANNA 
(Luke only) 

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of 
the tribe of Asher : she was of a great age, having lived with an 

37 husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow even for 
eighty-four years. She departed not from the temple, worshipping 

38 with fastings and prayers night and day. And she came up at the 
same time, and gave thanks unto God, and spoke of the child to all 
that were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. 

39 And when they had accomplished all things according to the 
Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, unto their own city 
Nazareth. 

36. Man and woman, prophet and prophetess, must testify to 
the Messiah. The cumbrous words seem to mean that Anna was 



THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [II. 40-52 

only once married, that she lived with her husband seven years, 
and after his death had remained a widow for eighty-four years. 
She must have therefore been, if she married say at fifteen, one 
hundred and six years old. That she did not marry again is looked 
upon as to her credit. Cp. I Tim. v. 9. 

38. €7TLcrrdcra. She stood by, or came up near to, Simeon. 
eAaAei irepi avrov, literally, ' she spoke of him,' i.e. about the 
child. The ' redemption ' of Jerusalem is the advent of the Messiah. 

39. Thus forty days or so after Jesus's birth the parents return 
to Nazareth. The contradiction with Matt. ii. 20 is apparent. 
The reading of the S.S is very interesting. ' Joseph and Mary after 
they had performed in the Temple everything to the firstborn which 
the Law ordains, returned,' i.e. as Merx says, we have to understand 
that Mary and Joseph were a newly married couple, and that Jesuit 
was their first child. 



40-52. A STORY FROM THE BOYHOOD OF JESUS 
(Luke only) 

40 And the child grew, and waxed strong, being filled with wisdom : 
and the grace of God was upon him. 

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of 

4 2 the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up 

43 to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had 
fulfilled the days and were returning, the child Jesus tarried behind 

44 in Jerusalem ; and his parents knew it not. But, supposing that 
he was in the caravan, they went a day's journey ; and they sought 

45 for him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they 

4 6 found him not, they returned to Jerusalem in search of him. And 
it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, 
sitting in the midst of the Teachers, listening to them, and asking 

47 them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his 

48 understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were 
amazed : and his mother said unto him, ' Son, why hast thou thus 
dealt with us ? behold, thy father and I have been seeking thee, 

49 sorrowing.' And he said unto them, ' Why did ye seek me ? did ye 

50 not know that I must be in my Father's house ? ' And they under- 

51 stood not the word which he spoke unto them. So he went down 
with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them. 



11.40-52] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 383 

5 2 And his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus 
increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and 
with men. 

40 is a parallel to i. 80, where much the same thing is said of 
John. 

41. It is not stated that Joseph and Mary only went once a 
year to Jerusalem, though it may be implied. It is not improbable 
that the law to visit the sanctuary at each of the three great festivals 
was often neglected. The story seems to be legendary. A curious 
Egyptian parallel is referred to in Klostermann, together with other 
fairly close analogies. 

44. Kinsmen and friends and townsfolk made up caravans 
and parties for the festival. They went to, and returned from, 
Jerusalem more or less together. 

46. The child is not teaching, but learning. He listens and 
questions. 

48. The language is hardly compatible with a knowledge of 
his Messiahship, still less with that of the virgin birth. Still more 
curious is 50. It is odd how these various legends do not seek or 
require to be consistent in detail or tone with each other. 

49. ' My Father's house.' The wording does not necessarily 
imply that God was his father in a physiological sense. For verse 
50 shows clearly that Mary and Joseph have no knowledge of the 
supernatural birth, otherwise the * word ' would have been intel- 
ligible enough. It is possible that this story serves for Luke as an 
equivalent for that part of Mark iii. 21, 31-35 which he did not 
incorporate in his viii. 19-21. The rebuke which Jesus in Mark iii. 
33 gives to his mother is reproduced in this story, but in a milder 
form. The filial obedience of Jesus is indicated in 51 as a corrective 
to any false or exaggerated inferences which might be drawn from 49. 
For 52 cp. I Samuel ii. 26. But though we need not assume that 
the Jesus of the story knew about the virgin birth, yet there may be 
an intentional and marked opposition in the words ' my Father ' 
of Jesus's answer to the words of Mary, ' Thy father and I.' (Perhaps 
in the original story, the words ran, * And they said to him, We have 
been looking for you,' etc. For Jesus replies to them.) Not indeed 
that God was his Father and not Joseph, but that God was specially 
his Father, because he was the Messiah. Hence his parents do not 
understand his reply, though Luke, to soften this answer, adds 516, 



384 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [II. 40-52 

which repeats 196. Cp. for the two passages, Loisy, Luc, pp. 131 
and 118. 

52. ' By " grace " (X<Z/HTI) one might understand acquired 
" favour," but the construction of the phrase invites us rather to see 
in it the personal quality of religious excellence (notwithstanding the 
literary relationship with I Sam. ii. 26) ' (Loisy, Luc, p. 131). In 
that case the translation would be ' increased in wisdom, and in 
stature and in grace, in the sight of God and of men.' 

[ii. 4. For Nazareth and Nazarene, cp. August von Gall's 
interesting book on the Kingdom of God (/tacrtAet'a rov Oeov) 
(1926), p. 432, n. 4]. 






CHAPTER III 
1-20. JOHN THE BAPTIST 

(Cp. Mark i. 1-8 ; Matt. iii. 1-12 ; and Mark vi. 17-29 ; 
Matt. xiv. 3-12) 



1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, 
Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch 
of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the 

2 region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas 
and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto 

3 John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into 
all the country around the Jordan, proclaiming the baptism of 

4 repentance for the forgiveness of sins ; as it is written in the book 
of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, * The voice of one crying 
in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths 

5 straight. Every valley shall be filled up, and every mountain and 
hill shall be brought low ; and the crooked shall be made straight, 

6 and the rough ways shall be made smooth ; and all flesh shall see 
the salvation of God.' 

7 Then said he to the crowds that came out to be baptized of 
him, ' offspring of vipers, who has suggested to you to flee from 

8 the wrath to come ? Bring forth, then, fruits befitting repentance, 
and begin not to say to yourselves, We have Abraham for father : 
for I say unto you that God is able to raise up children unto Abraham 

9 from these stones. Already is the axe laid unto the root of the trees : 
every tree, then, which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, 
and cast into the fire.' 

10 And the crowds asked him, saying, * What, then, shall we do ? ' 

11 He answered and said unto them, ' He that has two coats, let him 
give a share to him that has none ; and he that has food, let him 
do likewise.' 

12 Then came also tax-collectors to be baptized, and they said 

VOL. ii 385 2 c 



386 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [III. 1-20 

13 unto him, ' Master, what shall we do ? ' And he said unto them, 
' Exact no more than that which is ordered you.' 

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, ' And what 
shall we do ? ' And he said unto them, * Practise extortion to none, 
neither accuse any falsely ; and be content with your pay.' 

15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men were ponder- 
ing in their hearts about John, whether he might not be the Messiah, 

1 6 John answered, saying unto them all, ' I baptize you with water ; 
but one mightier than I comes, the latchet of whose shoes I am 
not worthy to unloose ; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit 

17 and with fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to purify his 
threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his garner ; but tha 

1 8 chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.' And with many 
other exhortations he proclaimed the good tidings unto the people. 

19 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him about Herodiat* 
his brother Philip's wife, and about all the other wickednesses 

20 which he had done, added yet this unto all, that he shut up Johr 
in prison. 

After the introductory two chapters Luke gives the story of the 
ministry in Galilee from iii. to ix. 50. Here he mainly follows the 
order and the framework of Mark. And what in this section is not 
from Mark is largely from Q. 

But if Streeter be right, this statement would be incorrect. For 
Streeter holds that Luke iii. i-iv. 30 contain nothing from Mark. 
All is taken from Q and L, which constitute the source called Proto- 
Luke (pp. 205-208). 

1. Luke, in the guise of a careful and learned historian, starts 
his narrative with an elaborate indication of date. One may 
compare Thucydides ii. 2. The fifteenth year of Tiberius is 28- 
29 A.D. Hence if the ministry of Jesus lasted about a year, the 
crucifixion, according to Luke, must have taken place in 29 or 30, 
probably the latter. 

2. A blunder. There were not two acting high priests. The 
real high priest was Caiaphas. Annas is said in the Fourth Gospel 
to have been his father-in-law. He had been high priest from A.D. 
6 to 15, and was doubtless still an influential personality in Jerusalem. 

4. There is an apparent agreement of Luke with Mark in this 
verse against Matthew. Streeter says : ' The number of verses in 



III. 1-20] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 387 

this section of Luke (iii. i-iv. 30) which contain anything at all 
closely resembling Mark are very few (Luke iii. 3-4 ; iii. 16, 21-22 ; 
iv. 1-2). The first is the most striking ; for Luke agrees with 
Mark against Matthew (who therefore probably here represents Q) 
in reading " the baptism for repentance for the remission of sins " 
(Luke iii. 3) instead of " repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at 
hand " (Matt. iii. 2). Mark's phrase (which occurs also in Acts ii. 38) 
may well in this case have seemed to Luke an improvement on that of 
Q. On the other hand, the application to John the Baptist (Luke 
iii. 4) of the prophecy in Isaiah, " The voice of one crying in the 
wilderness," was probably a piece of primitive Christian apologetic 
antecedent to all written documents, and therefore probably stood 
in Q as well as in Mark. The probability is slightly enhanced by 
the fact that Matthew and Luke concur in giving this quotation 
alone, without that from Malachi which Mark prefixes ' (p. 205). 

6. * All flesh.' ' It was obviously for the sake of this declara- 
tion that Luke continued the quotation thus far. That the salvation 
of God is to be made known to the whole human race is the main 
theme of his Gospel ' (Plummer). 

7. In Matthew this speech is addressed, not to the * crowd,' 
but to the Pharisees and Sadducees. 

10-14. An interesting insertion, whether taken from a special 
and distinct source or composed by Luke himself. The point of 
view seems different from, and milder than, 7-9. The demands 
made are not very high. This is perhaps intentional, by way of 
contrast to the demands of Jesus. (The tax-collectors and soldiers 
are probably both Jews.) Some find the passage interesting as 
giving us an insight into John's teaching. The simple duties of 
man to man, justice and compassion — these are to him the fruits of 
repentance which God demands. In all this he is a true successor of 
the old prophets. Nevertheless, it can be argued that the passage 
is Luke's own creation, though dramatically not incorrect. 

Cp. Burkitt, Christian Beginnings. ' The fullest account of what 
John used to say is given by Luke and is chiefly remarkable for 
rough practical ethics : be kind to those worse off than yourselves, 
don't cheat, don't bully. That the End is near is assumed as 
common ground between the Hermit and those who have come out 
to him, but it is not the subject of his talk ' (p. 15). ' The message 
of John was comprised in the single word, Repent ' (p. 16). Lake 
and Jackson say : ' It is possible that Luke is here using an extract 
from some special source to which he had access ; it is, however, 
equally possible that it is a piece of expansion due to himself, and 



3^8 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [III. 21, 22 

based merely on his own impression of the advice which John 
probably gave.' * Whatever the origin of the passage peculiar to 
Luke may have been, it illustrates his tendency either to minimise 
the eschatological elements in Mark, or to counteract them. It is 
not so much in disagreement with the other passages in the Gospels 
as on a different plane, and it is in sharp contrast to the renunciatory 
ethics of Jesus, as illustrated by " Follow thou me ! " and " Sell all 
that thou hast." It is, however, worthy of note that this version of 
John's words had a practical effect in making the Church a support 
for organised society, thereby neutralising the literal teaching of the, 
Sermon on the Mount ' (Beginnings, I. p. 104). 

15. Luke only. We do not elsewhere in the Synoptics hear 
that John was regarded by any as the Messiah. Is this verse the 
creation of Luke to serve as an introduction to 16, 17 ? Cp. John 
i. 19-25. Acts xiii. 25. 

1 6. Streeter says that as regards this section of Luke : ' The 
saying " he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire " is 
the only one where it is likely that he is influenced by Mark. In 
this case it is possible that the contrast, as the saying stood in Q, 
was between baptism by water and by fire. In Mark it is between 
baptism by water and by the Spirit. If so, it would appear that 
neither Matthew nor Luke liked to dispense with either expression, 
and conflated the two versions. The conflation is such an obvious 
one that it would be quite likely they should both make it inde- 
pendently ' (p. 206). The * fire ' is therefore here quite different 
from the fire of 17 : it is the fire of Acts ii. 3. 

18. Luke only. 

19-20. Luke here anticipates and briefly sums up later stories 
in Mark and Matthew. He does not mention the death of John. 
But he too accepts the historic order, namely, that Jesus did 
not begin to preach till John's work was interrupted by his 
incarceration. 

21, 22. THE BAPTISM OF JESUS 
(Cp. Mark i. 9-11 ; Matt. iii. 13-17) 

21 Now it came to pass, when all the people had been baptized, 
and Jesus had also been baptized, and was praying, that the 

22 heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily 
shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which 
said, ' Thou art my beloved Son ; in thee I am well pleased.' 



III. 21, 22] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 389 

21. The miracle is somewhat pressed. A mention of the 
' bodily form ' is peculiar to Luke. That Jesus prays after his 
baptism is also said by Luke. ' We might suppose we were being 
told about (and in fact we really are) a baptism in the primitive 
Christian community.' For after immersion the custom was to 
pray to obtain the Spirit. Jesus's baptism is a prototype of 
Christian baptism (E. S. i. p. 411). 

22. The reading of D is : ' Thou art my Son : I have begotten 
thee this day,' a quotation from Psalm ii. If this, as some think, 
is the true original reading, it would show that Luke, in its original 
form, knew nothing of the miraculous birth. To the divine Son the 
baptism could bring no new, special relation to God. Conybeare 
(upholding the reading of D) observes : * The idea conveyed is that 
Jesus was spiritually reborn or regenerated on this occasion, a new 
soul, as it were, being engendered in him by the spirit which now 
entered into him and thenceforth inspired his words and actions ' 
(Myth, Magic, and Morals, p. 172). For a further cogent defence of 
the D reading, see Streeter, p. 143. 

Professor Burkitt doubts whether the ' D ' reading, with its 
quotation from Psalm ii., is the original reading in Luke, still more 
whether it represents an older form of the story. It is (he says) 
assumed that the ' D ' reading implies ' a more glaringly " Adop- 
tionist " view of the baptism of Jesus than the ordinary text,' but 
he considers that it is hardly possible to conceive a more ' Adop- 
tionist ' way of telling the story ' than that actually taken by Mark. 
Possibly the story in Mark is capable of a conventionally orthodox 
interpretation, but the most obvious meaning is Adoptionist, so 
that when retold in Matthew words are inserted (iii. 14, 15) to 
safeguard the dignity of Jesus even before Baptism. I do not see 
that the Psalm-passage, simply because it has the word " to-day," 
more favours the heresy that Jesus only became Son of God at His 
Baptism than the text of Mark does. In fact, I think the " Western " 
reading in Luke iii. 22 would seem less " dangerous," because it is the 
very words of Old Testament Scripture and therefore likely to 
contain non-obvious mysteries.' It would, he adds, * be quite in the 
manner of Luke to substitute a Psalm-passage for a Saying that 
appeared difficult or shocking, as he substituted " Into thy hands I 
commend my spirit " (Ps. xxxi. 5) for " Why hast Thou forsaken 
me ? " Professor Burkitt even doubts whether Q contained any 
account of the Baptism of Jesus at all, but I cannot give his reasons 
here. (J. T. S. xxvi., April 1925, pp. 290, 291.) 



39° THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [III. 23-38 

23-38. THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS 
(Cp. Matt. i. 1-17) 

23 And Jesus himself, at the beginning, was about thirty years 
of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, 

24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son 

2 5 of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, 

26 the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of 

27 Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, 
the son of Joda, the son of Joanna, the son of Ehesa, the son of 

28 Zerubbabel, the son of Shealthiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, 
the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of 

29 Er, the son of Jesus, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of 
3° Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judas, the 

3 1 son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son 
of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of 

32 Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the 

33 son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of 
Aminadab, the son of Ami, the son of Admin, the son of Hezron, 

34 the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of 
Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the 

35 son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the 

36 son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of 

37 Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, 
the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of 

38 Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son 
of God. 

23. It is interesting that the genealogy is put here, and not in 
chapters i., ii. Its source must have been different from any sources 
used by Luke in i. and ii. If Jesus was thirty years old at the 
beginning of his ministry, and if this lasted about a year, he would 
have been born about I B.C. or A.D. i. According to i. 5, however, 
he was born before the death of Herod, i.e. 4 B.C. And if ii. 2 is 
accurate, he was born A.D. 6. In that case the crucifixion occurred 
in A.D. 35, which Holtzmann considers a possible date. But, as 
we have seen, there is every reason to suppose that ii. 2 is not 
accurate. Though Jesus may have been born in 4 B.C. and yet 
have died as late as A.D. 35, it is more probable that his death 
occurred in 29 or 30. The word apx^vos used thus absolutely 



III. 23-38] THE GOSPEL ACCOKDING TO LUKE 391 

is odd and provokes suspicion. Conybeare thinks the text has 
been ' much disturbed.' ' When he began ' is usually made to 
refer to the commencement of his public ministry, but Spitta 
(Zeitschrift fur die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, vn. p. 66) points 
out that the public ministry only opens in iv. 15. The time 
reference is to the baptism, the account of which has just been 
given. Hence Spitta supposes that dpxo^vo^ refers to Jesus 
beginning to be the Son of God, and Conybeare thinks that words 
to this effect must originally have followed on dp^o/xevos-, but that 
they were omitted so as not to conflict with the later view that 
Jesus was divine from his birth (op. tit. p. 177). 

The genealogy is inconsistent with chapter i. 35. Whoever 
drew it up clearly did not believe that Jesus had no human father, 
for, if so, the genealogy has no point. The final redactor of Luke 
thinks well to append and include the genealogy, but adds that 
it is inaccurate. Jesus was thought to be the son of Joseph, but 
in reality he was not. The list of names differs somewhat from 
that of Matthew ; Jesus it may be noticed, is not descended from 
Solomon, but from another of David's sons. Moreover, in contrast 
to Matthew, the genealogical tree is pushed up to Adam, for Jesus 
is the ' Second Adam.' (Cp. Romans v. 14 ; I Cor. xv. 22, 45-49.) 
Adam is ' Son of God,' as well as Jesus. The sonship was not yet 
a fixed dogmatic idea ; Jesus was not the only son. ' That Luke 
should take the genealogy beyond David and Abraham to the 
father of the whole human race is entirely in harmony with the 
Pauline universality of his Gospel ' (Plummer). 

Perhaps Luke himself arranged the last part of the genealogy. 

[iii. 7. v. Gall (p. 313, n. i) says, perhaps justly : ' Lukas 
bietet entschieden hier den urspriinglicheren Text.'] 



CHAPTER IV 

1-13. THE TEMPTATION 
(Cp. Mark i. 12, 13 ; Matt. iv. i-n) 

1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit returned from Jordan, 

2 and was driven about by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, 
tempted by the Devil. And during those days he ate nothing : 

3 and when they were ended, he hungered. And the Devil said 
unto him, ' If thou be the Son of God, say to this stone that it 

4 become bread.' And Jesus answered him, saying, ' It is written, 

5 Man shall not live by bread alone.' And the Devil, taking him 
up, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment 

6 of time. And the Devil said unto him, ' All this power will I give 
thee, and the glory of them : for it is delivered unto me ; and to 

7 whomsoever I will, I give it. If, then, thou wilt do reverence 

8 before me, all shall be thine.' And Jesus answered and said unto 
him, * It is written, Thou shalt do reverence to the Lord thy God, 

9 and him only shalt thou serve.' And he brought him to Jerusalem, 
and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, 
* If thou be the Son of God, throw thyself down from here ; for it 

10 is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, to keep 
n thee : and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time 

12 thou dash thy foot against a stone.' And Jesus answered and 
said unto him, ' It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.' 

1 3 And when the Devil had finished every temptation, he departed 
from him for a season. 

Luke appears to use both Mark and the source of Matthew's 
version, but he makes considerable changes. Streeter holds that 
Luke did not use Mark in this section. It comes from Proto-Luke 
who formed it from L and Q (pp. 205, 206). 

I. Is the Spirit which drives him into the wilderness different 

392 



IV. 14-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 393 

from the Holy Spirit with which he is filled ? In Matthew and 
Mark the Spirit appears to be a power external to Jesus. The 
temptations, as in Mark, appear to continue through the forty 
days, but as in Matthew the special temptations described occur 
after the forty days. 

3. ' Son of God.' Ultimately the conception of ' Son of God ' 
in this special sense is not Jewish, but Hellenistic. It is not due 
to a development of such Jewish passages as Psalm ii. but starts 
from an infiltration of Hellenistic ideas, which are then backed up 
and supported by these Biblical quotations. The whole question 
of the ' Son of God ' idea, its non-Jewish origin, and its combination 
with the Jewish Messiah idea, are illuminatingly set forth by 
Wetter (Gilles) in his important book, Der Sohn Gottes (1916). 



The order of the temptations is changed. Cp. Matt. iv. 
8-10. 

6. ' This power ' : the power of the kingdoms. Klostermann 
renders : * Machtbereich.' ' For it is delivered unto me, and to 
whomsoever I will, I give it ' ; Luke only. 

9-12. Matt. iv. 5, 7. The inversion of the two temptations 
produces a more dramatic climax. No temptation should follow 
the final reply. 

13. ' For a season.' The allusion is perhaps to the devil's 
action in xxii. 3. For a quite fresh suggestion as to the origin of 
the Temptation stories, see Petersen in Theologische Liter aturzeitung, 
1924, p. 399. 

14-30. JESUS IN NAZARETH 
(Cp. Mark i. 14, 15, vi. 1-6 ; Matt. iv. 12-17, xiii. 53-58) 

14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee : 
and the report of him spread through all the region round about. 

15 And he taught in their synagogues, and was praised by all. 

1 6 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up : and, 
as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, 

17 and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book 
of the prophet Isaiah. And when he unrolled the book, he found 

1 8 a place where was written : ' The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 
because he has anointed me ; to preach good tidings to the poor 



394 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [IV. 14-30 

has lie sent me, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and 
recovery of sight to the blind, to send away the crushed in liberty, 
19,20 to proclaim an acceptable year of the Lord.' And he folded the 
book, and he gave it again to the attendant, and sat down. And 
the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on 
him. 

21 And he began to say unto them, ' To-day this scripture which 

22 your ears have heard has been fulfilled.' And all approved of him, 
and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his 

23 mouth. And they said, * Is not this Joseph's son ? ' And he said 
unto them, ' Nevertheless, ye will say unto me this proverb, 
Physician, heal thyself : all that we have heard was done in 

24 Capernaum, do also here in thine own country.' And he said, 
' Verily I say unto you, No prophet is acceptable in his own 

25 country. I tell you of a truth, there were many widows in Israel 
in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years 
and six months, and a great famine was throughout all the land ; 

26 and unto none of them was Elijah sent, but only to Sarepta in the 

27 land of Sidon, unto a widow. And there were many lepers in 
Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet ; and none of them was 

28 cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.' And all they in the 
synagogue, when they heard these words, were filled with wrath. 

29 And they rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him 
unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they 

30 might cast him down headlong. But he passed through the midst 
'of them and went his way. 

14, 15 correspond with Mark i. 14, 15, but the content of Jesus's 
teaching, as summed up in Mark, is omitted, for another and very 
different opening is given in iv. 21. ' Jesus opens his preaching by 
making himself its object. " I am the anointed of the Lord, filled 
with his spirit." He does not predict the near advent of the King- 
dom ; he says that the year of grace has begun with his ministry. 
He does not call to repentance : he brings to the poor salvation and 
redemption ' (Wellhausen). Streeter thinks that 14, 15 is from Q. 
' It is remarkable that, whereas Mark i. 14 says that Jesus after the 
Temptation went into Galilee, Matthew and Luke agree in men- 
tioning that He went first of all to Nazareth (Matt. iv. 13, Luke iv. 16). 
Still more remarkable, they both agree in using the form Nazara — 
which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It would look 
as if Q, which clearly had a word or two of narrative introduction 



IV. 14-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 395 

to John's Preaching and the Temptation, had a brief notice of the 
change of scene in which the name Nazara occurred. This would 
also explain why in the Lucan version the story of the Rejection 
at Nazareth is inserted in this context — or rather it would justify 
the insertion, placing as the opening incident of the ministry a story 
which the author evidently regards as symbolizing in tittle the 
whole course of Israel's rejection of Christ and His religion. We 
infer, then, that Luke iv. 14-15, which has hardly any points of 
verbal agreement with Mark, except in the unavoidable proper 
names Jesus and Galilee, was derived from Q, not Mark ' (pp. 206, 
207). The whole section comes from Proto-Luke. But if this be 
so, how much unhistoric matter Proto-Luke contained ; how little 
reliance can be placed in any statements which are due to L or to 
Proto-Luke where such statements deviate from Mark, or even 
where they are additional to those of Mark. Can we really always 
recognize in Proto-Luke, apart from his use of Q, an authority 
' comparable to Mark ' (p. 232) ? It seems very doubtful. 

14. The ' report ' or ' fame ' of him. But this is really to 
anticipate. Jesus had not yet begun to teach or cure. 

16-21. Luke only. 

16. Luke now makes a great change from the order of Mark. 
His aim is to symbolize the rejection of the gospel and the Christ 
by the Jews, and their acceptance by the Gentiles. The miracles 
which Jesus is said to work outside Nazareth represent the 
diffusion of the gospel beyond Israel. The widow of Sarepta and 
Naaman are types of Christians who were once heathen. ' Under- 
stood in this way, the scene at Nazareth illumines the remainder 
of the Gospel, and gives us a glimpse of the future of the divine 
message, the unbelief of the Jews and their reprobation, the desire 
they had to kill Jesus, who lives for ever, and their wish to stamp 
out the Gospel, which has spread throughout the whole world. All 
that Luke has to tell in his two books is condensed in this one 
picture ' (E. S. I. p. 839). Rightly then does it prelude the long 
story of the Gospel and the Acts. Moreover, Luke wants to make 
the story of Jesus's teaching begin in Nazareth, his true birthplace. 
Hence he has to place the ' rejection ' narrated in Mark vi. at the 
very opening of the ministry. The reason why Luke desired to 
make Jesus begin his ministry at Nazareth was not that he 
thought it only natural that this should have been the case, but 
that the rejection in his own city typifies and prefigures his 
rejection by his own country. Nazareth anticipates Jerusalem. 

Awkward changes are necessitated by putting the story thus 
early. 



39 6 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [IV. 14-30 

17. The reading from the prophets occurs in Luke only. There 
is not yet a fixed Haphtarah, a fixed prophetic section to be read 
each week. There was more freedom and variety in the liturgy in 
those ' good old days.' 

' His custom ' is to attend synagogue, not to ' read ' there in 
public. Or the reference is to the preliminary words in 15. He 
went to the synagogue to teach them, as was now his wont. The 
S.S. seems to have a better order. There Jesus is given the book, 
and he stands up to read. He does not propose himself. 

Commentators are divided as to whether we are to understand 
that Jesus opened the roll by divine control at this passage, or 
whether he deliberately and intentionally chose it. Here Jesus 
proclaims his mission. He is not (according to Luke) the * political ' 
Messiah ; he is no warrior king and deliverer. He is the servant 
of God whose mission it is to bring to the poor and the afflicted 
spiritual enlightenment and salvation. The quotation is from 
Isaiah Ixi. I, 2, with a clause added from Iviii. 6. Luke chose the 
passage from Isaiah because he saw in it the best representation 
of Jesus's Messianic mission. The year of grace may be intended 
to refer to the year (in duration) of Jesus's own ministry. Mark had 
used the word " Euaggelion," or Good Tidings, in his summary o : 
the content of the early preaching of Jesus. Nevertheless, in spite 
of that word, it is permissible to believe that the burden of that 
preaching was at least as much contained in ' repent ' as in a 
description of the delightful nature of the Kingdom for the good 
or the poor. There is therefore a good deal to be said for Loisy's 
remark, though there may be also some exaggeration in it : ' It will 
be noticed that the quotation, as it stands, and in the sense in 
which the Evangelist means the words, contains an outline of 
Jesus's work which differs appreciably from that given at the 
beginning of Mark (i. 15). In place of the approaching Kingdom 
of God, which calls for repentance, is substituted the gospel of 
salvation for the poor, truth for the ignorant, redemption for 
sinners. Here is inaugurated the Christian system of redemption ' 
(Luc, p. 157). 

18. The quotation should probably be punctuated as in the 
text above. 

20. The custom apparently was to read standing up, but to 
preach, or comment upon the passage read, sitting down. 

21. Luke gives what is for him the essence of what he supposed 
Jesus might have said. 

22. Here Luke's narrative seems to begin to draw near to 



IV. 14-30] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 397 

Mark's story in Mark vi. 2, 3. The audience is not only said to be 
astonished as in Mark, but even delighted. They admire the 
beauty of his words. Luke wants the men of Nazareth to acknow- 
ledge Jesus's eloquence and charm, and yet to reject him all the 
same. He does this rather awkwardly. The question at the end 
of 22 is apparently not meant unkindly. The change of tone and 
feeling comes only in 28, and is produced by Jesus himself : his 
words are provocative. ' They all approved of him ' ; literally, 
' bore him witness ' : i.e. they bore witness in his favour : they 
openly recognized and admitted his excellence. Or they approved 
and applauded him ; i.e. they felt that his words confirmed the 
expectation with which they had intently listened to him. Another 
view would be that the men of Nazareth are compelled to recognize 
the power and beauty of the teaching and personality, but no 
sooner do they feel this than they react and rebel against the 
feeling. They attempt to get rid of the new comer and his new 
teaching by a reference to his ancestry. The carpenter's son, the 
son of Joseph, our neighbour, whom we all know, can after all have 
nothing fresh or true to tell us. 

* Is not this Joseph's son ? ' The words are curious. Cp. 
Mark vi. 3 where we find, ' Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, 
the brother of James and Joses and Juda and Simon ? and are not 
his sisters here with us ? ' and Matt. xiii. 55 where we read, ' Is not 
this the carpenter's son ? Is not his mother called Mary, and his 
brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas ? And are not 
also his sisters all with us ? ' The omission of any reference to 
Jesus's mother and brothers and sisters in Luke may be due to a 
desire to avoid mentioning them in a connection where it would 
have to be inferred that they were people whose relative one would 
not expect to speak with such convincing grace and power. 

Are we to consider that the words * carpenter's son' and 'Joseph's 
son ' in Matthew and Luke show less revision and change than 
Mark's, ' Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary ? ' 

23. This verse has to be put in by Luke on account of his 
the story of the rejection at the opening of the ministry. 
Jesus, as it were, predicts that the rejection will happen, although 
it is happening now. The story is predicted and yet anticipated, 
a most curious combination. It also has to be implied that Jesus 
had already performed many miracles in Capernaum, an implication 
which verses 14 and 15 had hardly indicated. 

' Heal thyself.' What does this mean here ? (i) Show us, your 
fellow citizens, miracles, before we can credit those you have done 
elsewhere, or (2) make us, who know you and are incredulous, 
believe in you first, before you try to become, and to be acknow- 



39$ THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [IV. 14-30 

ledged as, the healer of all Israel and the servant of God. Instead 
of saying that Jesus could do no miracles at Nazareth because of 
the unbelief of his fellow citizens, Luke makes them demand miracles 
beforehand. At least this is what Jesus assumes that they are 
going to say. The symbolism of the narrative explains the peculi- 
arity of its construction. The men of Nazareth represent the Jews 
who want signs and miracles, but are not worthy to have them. 
The Gentiles, typified by the widow and by Naaman, receive and 
believe in Jesus ; the Jews, typified by the men of Nazareth, reject 
him. The proverb, as here used, reveals, according to Harnack, 
Luke the physician. 

24. Luke now again appears to quote Mark, indicating, perhaps, 
his return to his source by a fresh ' And he said/ Yet it must bo 
confessed that the saying is here out of place, and what follows 
illustrates the previous verse rather than this one. 

Some think that 24 is an interpolation from Mark in the narrative 
of Luke which is taken from another source than Mark. If one has 
to make a connection as the verse now stands, one has to suppose 
the meaning to be : It is likely enough that you should reject me 
and my teaching, for how should a prophet find recognition in his 
own country (or in his own city) ? Probably what we have to 
think of throughout is not so much the reception afforded to Jesus 
at Nazareth as the attitude of the Jews towards Christ and Chris- 
tianity. In this verse Trdrpis is really rather Judaea than Nazareth. 

25-30. Luke only. The connection of 25 seq. with 23 is this. 
That you, my fellow townsmen, will reject me is illustrated by two 
important stories in the Scripture where a Prophet, instead of 
helping or honouring his own people, helped or signalled out persons 
belonging to a foreign nation. But the real point of 25-27 is 
that in them Jesus makes his rejection by Nazareth typify his 
rejection by the Jews. As in old days it was Jews who were 
rejected, and Gentiles who were chosen, so shall it be again. 

25. ' Three years and a half.' The Book of Kings has three 
years only. Loisy suggests that the reason is that half seven 
years is given in Daniel as the time of affliction preceding the 
coming of the Kingdom. It had become a more conventional space 
of time for a solemn period than three. Cp. Revelation, xii. 14. 

26. The text has here at the end of the verse xnP av -> ' a widow.' 
But the sense is immensely improved if, with W., we read ' Aramaean' 
for * widow.' * Aramaean ' would in Aramaic differ from ' widow ' 
by one letter only. Hence the Greek misrendering. ' Aramaean ' 



IV. 31-37] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 399 

would not have here a national, but a religious, signification. It 
equals 'heathen,' as in 27 also. But the words in the text are 
really a quotation from I Kings xvii. 9, so perhaps the brilliant 
emendation is false. 

The examples given do not effectually illustrate either 23 or 24. 
Elijah was not specially honoured in Sarepta, or Elisha specially 
despised in Israel. The examples are merely chosen for the 
symbolism. As these prophets went outside Israel, so will Jesus 
go, so will the gospel. The words in Jesus's mouth at this juncture 
are impossible. Cp. Matt. x. 5, 6. 

28-30. This exaggerated wrath and the attempt to murder are 
clearly unhistorical. But, in the form which it is made to wear, 
the rejection at Nazareth provides a suitable introductory story 
for the whole life and mission. The rejection of the Jews, their 
hatred and hostility, the call of the heathen, are all indicated and 
anticipated. 

In spite of the desire of the Jews to murder him, Jesus walks 
without harm away from them. ' It is the divine power, and not 
the majesty of Jesus, which restrains the people of Nazareth ' 
(E. S. i. 849, n. 2). The story ends with a manifestation of the 
divine power, which is much more extraordinary than the healings. 
According to Streeter this section is from Proto-Luke. Now Proto- 
Luke is composed of Q and L. But 166-30 is not from Q. 
Therefore presumably it is pure L. Now L is supposed to be very 
early in date, A.D. 60 like Mark. But, if so, L, early though he be, 
must have editorially changed, and modified, and used for symbolic 
purposes, and made unhistorical, a traditional (? written) narrative 
of the rejection which was similar to that of Mark. Is not all this 
unlikely in itself, or if he did act thus, what value can we else- 
where give to L if there are any internal reasons for suspecting the 
historicity of his narratives ? 



31-37. THE UNCLEAN SPIRIT IN THE SYNAGOGUE AT 
CAPERNAUM 

(Cp. Mark i. 21-28) 

31 And he came to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them 

32 on the sabbath day. And they were amazed at his teaching, for 
his speech was with authority. 

33 And in the synagogue there was a man, who had a spirit of an 

34 unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying, ' Ha ! 



400 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [IV. 38-39 

what have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth ? art thou come 
to destroy us ? I know thee who thou art ; the Holy One of God.' 

35 And Jesus rebuked it, saying, ' Hold thy peace, and come out of 
him.' And the demon threw him down in the midst of them, and 

36 came out of him, without hurting him. And wonder fell upon 
them all, and they spoke among themselves, saying, ' What is this 
word ? for with authority and power he commands the unclean 

37 spirits, and they come out.' And the report of him went out into 
every place of the country round about. 

Luke now returns to Mark's first chapter, but he passes over 
Mark i. 16-20, which he does not give till v. He wants to bring 
Jesus now at once to Capernaum, and so postpones the call of the 
first disciples. 

By his making the ' rejection at Nazareth ' precede this present 
section, verses 32 and 36 are in pretty obvious contradiction with 
verse 23. 

33. 'A spirit of an unclean demon.' The spirit consisted of a 
demon. But this reading may be a conflation of ' a demon ' and 
' an unclean spirit.' 

35. Luke adds : ' without hurting him/ The marvel is 
heightened. 

38, 39. PETER'S MOTHER-IN-LAW 
(Cp. Mark i. 29-31 ; Matt. viii. 14, 15) 

38 And he arose and went out of the synagogue, and entered into 
the house of Simon. And Simon's wife's mother was suffering 

39 with a great fever ; and they besought him concerning her. And 
he stood over her, and rebuked the fever ; and it left her : and 
immediately she arose and waited on them. 

38. Simon is introduced quite suddenly, as a known character. 
The reason is that Luke really follows Mark i. 29, though he trans- 
poses the ' call ' of Simon to the next chapter. 

39. The miracle is heightened. Jesus does not touch the 
woman's hand. He ' rebukes ' the fever as if it were a demon. 



IV. 40-44] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 401 

40-44. MANY HEALINGS — JESUS LEAVES THE CITY 
(Cp. Mark i. 32-39 ; Matt. viii. 16-17, iv. 23-25) 

40 Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with 
divers diseases brought them unto him ; and he laid his hands on 

41 each of them, and healed them. And demons also came out of 
many, crying out, and saying, ' Thou art the Son of God.' And 
he rebuked them, and permitted them not to speak : for they 
knew that he was the Messiah. 

42 And when it was day, he left the house and went to a lonely 
place : and the crowds sought him, and came unto him, and tried 

43 to keep him so that he should not leave them. But he said unto 
them, ' I must preach the good tidings of the kingdom of God to 

44 other cities also : because for this I was sent.' And he went about 
preaching in the synagogues of Judaea. 

40. The ' laying on of hands ' is added. Luke seems rather to 
believe in its special magical power. Cp. Acts viii. 17. Anything 
connected with healing interests him specially. To him Jesus is 
pre-eminently the Healer. Moreover ' Doctor ' Luke is careful, as 
here, to distinguish between natural illnesses and demoniac 
possessions. Cp. vi. 18, vii. 21, xiii. 32. 

41. Cp. Mark iii. 10-12. ' That he was the Messiah ' (the 
Christ, rov xpioroV) is added to Mark i. 34. To Luke, ' Son of 
God ' = Messiah and vice versa. 

42. Slight variation from the story in Mark. The special 
disciples are not yet chosen. 

43. Note the phrase, ' I must preach the good tidings of the 
kingdom of God.' evayytXlaaadal fjt,€ Set rrjv ftaaiXelav rov deov. 
The content of the Gospel is the kingdom. It is imminent and at 
hand. Luke's ' I was sent ' (i.e. from God) is a doubtfully accurate 
interpretation of Mark's * I came forth ' (which probably means 
1 from the city.' The noun zvayylXiov is not found in Luke. 
Why the noun is avoided both in Luke and in John is doubtful. 
The noun occurs in Acts xv. 7, xx. 24. See Harnack, Constitution 
and Law of the Church, pp. 286-292, E. T.). 

44. ' He went about preaching in the synagogues of Judaea.' 
It is usually said that ' Judaea ' (which is the better attested 
reading here) includes Galilee. Or, again, it is held that Judaea 
means Palestine. 

VOL. II 2 D 



CHAPTER V 

i-n. THE CALL OF PETER 
(Cp. Mark i. 16-20 ; Matt. iv. 18-22) 

1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him, 
hearkening to the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 

2 and he saw two boats lying by the lake : but the fishermen had 

3 gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he went on 
to one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out 
a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people 

4 from the boat. Now when he ceased speaking, he said unto Simon, 
' Put out into the deep water, and let down your nets for a catch.' 

5 And Simon answered and said unto him, ' Master, we have toiled 
all the night, and have caught nothing : nevertheless, at thy word 

6 I will let down the nets.' And when they had done this, they 
inclosed a large number of fish : and their nets began to break. 

7 And they beckoned unto their companions who were in the other 
boat to come and help them. And they came, and filled both the 

8 boats, so that they began to sink. When 5imon Peter saw it, he 
fell down at Jesus's knees, saying, ' Depart from me ; for I am a 

9 sinful man, Lord.' For amazement seized him and all that were 
with him at the catch of fish which they had taken : and so too 

10 it was with James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners 
with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, ' Fear not ; from hence- 

n forth thou shalt catch men.' And when they had brought their 
boats to land, they abandoned everything, and followed him. 

This passage is Luke's substitution for the simpler story in Mark. 
The fishing has already become half allegorical. The fish in the deep 
sea are probably the heathen, who are to be caught in masses by the 
teaching of Jesus and his disciples. 

The Mark story has here become a legend ; a miracle that 
symbolizes it precedes the saying about the fishing for men. John 

402 



V. i-n] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 403 

xxi. 2-14 is a still later development. Or, perhaps, Luke's story 
was taken from one connected with an apparition of the risen Jesus 
by the lake. (The breaking of the net must not be allegorically 
pressed, but Peter's remark as to the failure of his previous attempts 
perhaps alludes to the lack of success of the apostolic preaching 
among the Jews, and to his own hesitation, at the first, to the 
diffusion of the gospel among the Gentiles.) As Luke has no 
Galilsean apparitions of the risen Christ, he could only use such a 
story by changing its character and its date. 

Streeter regards v. i-n as taken from Proto-Luke ; if so, it only 
shows how rapidly legends and miracles encrusted and darkened the 
actual and historic life of Jesus (pp. 215, 222). Taylor seems to 
think that we can believe in both stories. He says : ' In the mind 
of the two writers, i.e. Mark and Proto-Luke, the two stories are 
separately conceived. This does not mean that we have to choose 
one to the exclusion of the other. It is the miraculous element 
in the Lukari story which tempts us to do this, but a miracle is not 
necessarily involved, though this is the suggestion of the narrative, 
nor have we any need to postulate a long interval for the growth of 
legendary accretion. We cannot dismiss the Lukan narrative as a 
legendary version of what is told in Mark i. 16-20.' It is then 
argued that the story ' really explains why Simon and the rest left 
all and followed ' Jesus. The story is ' psychologically convincing ' 
(P- 2 33) • Most persons will hardly be able to agree with the learned 
writer here. The symbolism of the story — its almost obvious 
allusion to the conversion of the Gentiles — must be taken into 
account as well as its legendary accretions. And this symbolism 
is somewhat hard to reconcile with a date as early as A.D. 60 or 65. 

I. * The word of God.' Cp. viii. n, 21 ; xi. 28. The preaching 
of Jesus is already the word of God no less than the O.T. Cp. 
Harnack, Constitution, p. 334. Luke omits to notice that Jesus 
must have returned to Capernaum from Judaea (iv. 44). 

3. Jesus teaches the people from the boat. This is taken from 
Mark iv. I, and is passed over therefore in viii. 4. 

5. ' Master.' emo-Tara. Used six times in Luke by speakers 
addressing Jesus. He does not use pap/Set. 

7. ' Began to sink,' or, rather, * seemed about to sink,' as the 
nets seemed as if they would break. ' Threatened to sink.' 

8. Peter as a sinful man is afraid of the near presence of the 
' man of God ' and his miracles. This is quite in accordance with 



404 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 12-16 

Old Testament precedents and ideas. Cp. Judges vi. 22 ; Isaiah vi. 5 ; 
and also I Kings xvii. 18. 

10. The words of Jesus, in Mark, addressed to Simon and 
Andrew, are in Luke addressed to Simon only. He represents the 
apostles as a whole. 



12-16. HEALING OP A LEPER 
(Cp. Mark i. 40-45 ; Matt. viii. 1-4) 

12 And it came to pass, when he was in one of the cities, behold 
a man full of leprosy : who, seeing Jesus, fell on his face, and 
besought him, saying, ' Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me 

13 clean/ And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, 
1 1 will : be thou cleansed.' And immediately the leprosy departed 

14 from him. And he bade him tell no man : ' but go, and show 
thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as 

15 Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.' But the report of 
him spread the more : and great crowds came together to hear 

1 6 him, and to be healed of their sicknesses. But he withdrew 
himself into lonely places, and prayed. 

Mark's narrative is on the whole closely followed. 

What is the reason for the special localization of the story * in 
one of the cities ' ? Does Luke refer back to iv. 43, 44 ? Is 
' praying ' in 16 a substitute for its omission in iv. 42 (Mark i. 35) ? 
Perhaps we should render 16, ' He lived in retirement in lonely 
places, praying.' Goguel notices that in spite of the omission in 
iv. 42, Luke mentions prayer more often than Mark or Matthew. 
Cp. iii. 32, vi. 12, ix. 18, 29, xi. i (p. 521). 

Mr. Ragg contrasts the action of Jesus with the laws in Leviticus 
about leprosy (though the Pentateuchal skin maladies are not what 
we know as leprosy to-day), and especially with the cruel injunctions 
in Lev. xiii. 45, 46. Jesus was ' fearless of ceremonial defilement 
where mercy and compassion swayed Him. Even so, deliberately 
following their Lord's footsteps, St. Francis in the thirteenth 
century, and Father Damien in later days, have not shrunk from 
closer contact with the more deadly disease of elephantiasis which 
has been (probably erroneously) identified with the leprosy of the 
Bible ' (p. 69). No one would wish to cavil at the laurels which 
rightly deck St. Francis's and Father Damien's brows, but it is 
very doubtful whether the theoretical laws of Leviticus were 






V. 17-26] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 405 

actually carried out. According to the story in Luke, the leper 
no less than Jesus was in the city, and the Talmudic rules about 
leprosy appear considerably to modify the Pentateuchal precepts. 
One wonders how far the 'leper' of the first century was really 
an ' outcast.' 

17-26. HEALING OF A PARALYSED MAN 
(Cp. Mark ii. 1-12 ; Matt. ix. 



17 And it came to pass, one day, as he was teaching, that there 
were Pharisees and teachers of the Law sitting by, and people had 
come out of every village of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem : 

1 8 and the power of the Lord was upon him to heal. And, behold, 
men brought on a bed a man who was paralysed ; and they tried 

19 to bring him in, and to place him before him. And when, on 
account of the crowd, they could find no way by which they could 
bring him in, they went up on to the roof, and let him down 

20 through the tiles with his bed into the midst before Jesus. And 
when he saw their faith, he said unto him, ' Man, thy sins are 

21 forgiven thee.' And the scribes and the Pharisees began to argue, 
saying, ' Who is this man who speaks blasphemies ? Who can 

22 forgive sins, but God alone ? ' But when Jesus perceived their 
thoughts, he answered and said unto them, ' What do ye argue in 

23 your hearts ? Which is easier : to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee ; 

24 or to say, Rise up and walk ? But that ye may know that the 
Son of man has power upon earth to forgive sins ' (he said unto 
the paralysed man) * I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed 

25 and go home.' And immediately he rose up before them, and 
took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his home, glorifying 

26 God. And utter amazement seized them all, and they glorified 
God, and were filled with fear, saying, ' We have seen marvellous 
things to-day.' 

17. Luke brings in the Pharisees and legal ' doctors ' from the 
first. The reading adopted is that of the S.S. ' Judaea and Jeru- 
salem ' may be an added, unsuitable exaggeration. ' The power of 
the Lord,' or as the O.T. would say, the ' hand,' or ' spirit,' of the 
Lord, came upon him, and drove him to the accomplishment of 
miraculous deeds. 

25. The coincidence or agreement in wording between Matthew 



THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [V. 27-32 

and Luke against Mark is luminously explained in Streeter, pp. 299, 
300. Luke adds another ' glorifying God ' to its use in Mark ii. 12 
(Luke v. 26). He is fond of mentioning the glorification and praise 
of God. Cp. i. 64, ii. 13, 20, 28, vii. 16, xiii. 13, xvii. 15, xviii. 43, 
xix. 37, xxiv. 53 (Goguel, p. 522). 

26. If ' they ' are specially intended to refer to the Scribes and 
Pharisees, the shorter reading of * D ' is more appropriate : ' they 
were filled with fear.' 



27-32. CALL OF LEVI 
(Cp. Mark ii. 13-17 ; Matt. ix. 9-13) 

27 And after this he went forth, and saw a tax-collector, named 
Levi, sitting at the tax-house ; and he said unto him, ' Follow me.' 

28 And he left all, rose up, and followed him. 

29 And Levi made him a great banquet in his house : and there 
was a great company of tax-collectors and of others that sat down 

30 with them to table. But the Pharisees and their scribes murmured 
against his disciples, saying, * Why do ye eat and drink with tax- 
Si collectors and sinners ? ' And Jesus answered and said unto them, 

1 The healthy have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. 
32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.' 

28. 'He left all.' This can hardly mean he abandoned his 
whole property, for then how about 29 ? Perhaps it only means 
that he abandoned his calling. 

32. Luke adds ' to repentance,' perhaps in order to distinguish 
this sort of ' call ' from the call of 27. Or is the object to show to 
what he called sinners, that object being ' repentance, a condition 
of salvation, and not salvation itself ? ' (Loisy, Luc, p. 184). 



33-39- FASTING 
(Cp. Mark ii. 18-22 ; Matt. ix. 14-17) 

33 And they said unto him, ' The disciples of John fast often, and 
offer prayers [and so too the disciples of the Pharisees] ; but thine 

34 eat and drink.' And he said unto them, ' Can ye make the wedding 

35 guests fast, while the bridegroom is with them ? But the days 



V. 33-391 THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 407 

will come, when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and 
then they will fast in those days.' 

36 And he spoke also a parable unto them : * No man tears a 
piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old one ; for, 
if he do, he both will tear the new, and the patch from the new 

37 will not match with the old. And no man pours new wine 
into old wineskins ; for, if he do, the new wine will burst the 

38 skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will perish. But new 

39 wine must be poured into new skins. And no man having drunk 
old wine desires new : for he says, The old is good.' 

33. ' They ' : i.e. the Pharisees and Scribes of 30. The words 
' and so too the disciples of the Pharisees ' are a clumsy interpolation 
and must be excised. In Luke attention is also called to the fact 
that the disciples of John have and use [special] prayers. But in 
the rest of the passage no further allusion is made to prayers. Cp., 
however, xi. I, where the matter is taken up again. 

36. The wording of this important and difficult saying is 
different in Luke. The ' piece of (new) undressed cloth ' becomes 
1 a piece from a new garment.' Either the change is due to the odd 
custom alluded to in Mark being unintelligible to Luke, though 
his own amendment suggests an act of extraordinary folly, or the 
* new garment ' implies the already independent and separately 
constituted Christian community. 

The sceptical Loisy considers that, even in Mark, the general 
meaning of the incompatibility of the old and the new in matters 
of religion is inconceivable in the mouth of Jesus. The sayings are 
applications of popular proverbs, but these applications could not 
have been framed except ' in the tradition of an already constituted 
Christianity.' I wonder whether, fifty years hence, Gospel criticism 
will have rejected both the very conservative conclusions of such 
men as Turner, Streeter, and Burkitt, and the ultra-sceptical con- 
clusions of such men as Loisy and Bultmann. 

39. Luke only. The meaning is obscure. It may suggest 
that the disciples of John may justifiably continue in their ancient 
practices, while the disciples of Jesus must not imitate them. The 
old cannot be patched up by a few new trimmings : the new is only 
distorted and spoiled by adoptions and borrowings from the old. 
There are numerous other explanations. The saying, which would 
apparently even justify the Jews in their hostility to the new 
religion (a meaning certainly not intended by the evangelist), is 
very puzzling. 



CHAPTER VI 

i-u. Two SABBATH STORIES 

(Cp. Mark ii. 23-28, iii. 1-6 ; Matt. xii. 1-14) 

1 And it came to pass on a sabbath day that lie went through 
some corn fields ; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and 

2 ate them, rubbing them in their hands. And some of the Pharisees 
said, ' Why do ye what is not permitted on the sabbath day ? ' 

3 And Jesus answered and said unto them, ' Have ye not read even 
that which David did, when he and they who were with him were 

4 hungry ? How he went into the house of God, and took and ate 
the shewbread, and gave it also to them that were with him ; which 

5 is not permitted for any to eat except the priests alone ? ' And he 
said unto them, l The Son of man is lord also of the sabbath/ 

6 And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered 
into the synagogue and taught : and a man was there whose right 

7 hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees kept watching 
him to see whether he would heal on the sabbath day ; that they 

8 might find an accusation against him. But he knew their thoughts, 
and said to the man who had the withered hand, * Rise up, and 

9 stand forward.' And he arose and stood forward. Then said Jesus 
unto them, * I ask you : Is it permitted to do good on the sabbath 
day rather than to do evil ? to save life rather than to destroy it ? ' 

10 And looking round on them all, he said unto the man, ' Stretch out 
thy hand.' And he did so : and his hand was restored. And they 

1 1 were filled with frenzy ; and they discussed with one another what 
they should do to Jesus. 

3. * Have ye not read even that ' is an awkward and unlikely 
phrase. Better to follow D, which adopts Mark's * never.' 

5. This verse corresponds with Mark ii. 28, but the explanatory 
verse 27 is wanting in Luke. Without it the words, ' the Son of 

408 



VI. 12-19] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 409 

man is lord even (or, also) of the Sabbath,' occur very abruptly ; 
the /cat (' even ' or * also '), omitted by some MSS., becomes also 
rather more difficult. The omission by Luke of Mark ii. 27 can be 
used in support of the theory that ' Son of man ' in Jesus's mouth 
meant ' man ' generically, and did not mean ' The Man,' the Messiah. 
For to Luke the term meant undoubtedly the Messiah ; hence Mark 
ii. 27 could not be for him the proof of his verse 5. For Mark ii. 27 
(it can be argued) only supports 28 if in that verse Son of man means 
' man.' Therefore Luke omits it. 

The MS. D puts 5 after 10 : after 4 it possesses a remarkable 
addition of its own, as follows : ' On the same day he saw a man 
working on the Sabbath, and he said to him : Man, if thou knowest 
what thou art doing, thou art blessed (/xa/captos-) ; but if thou 
knowest not, thou art accursed and a transgressor of the law.' The 
saying is in all probability not authentic. It is, for one thing, too 
subtle and Pauline (cp. Romans xiv. 14, 20-23), and, secondly, it is 
highly doubtful whether Jesus would have gone so far in open 
approval of a direct violation of one of the most fundamental 
injunctions of the Law and of one of the Ten Commandments. 

Though the saying is not authentic, it is exceedingly suggestive 
and interesting. It embodies the very principle of Liberal Judaism 
in its changes and reforms. Mere ignorant deviation from, or 
abandonment of, tradition and orthodoxy is valueless or even bad. 
(* The ignorant man is not pious.') Still worse is violation of 
orthodox practice from mere indifference, apathy, or convenience. 
The only right deviation or violation is deliberate, intentional, with 
full connaissance de cause. Only he who knows (in this sense, bien 
entendu) is, or can be, really pious, though the outward act of 
violation is the same. He only is makarios, blessed, happy, free. 

8. Luke adds the touch that Jesus knew their thoughts 
beforehand. 



12-19. ELECTION OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES — MANY 
HEALINGS 

(Cp. Mark iii. 13-19, 7-12 ; Matt. x. 2-4, xii. 15-21) 

12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out on to the 
mountain to pray, and he passed the whole night in prayer to God. 

13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples : and from 

14 them he chose out twelve, whom he also called apostles ; Simon 

15 (whom he also named Peter), and Andrew his brother, James and 
John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the 



410 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VI. 12-19 

1 6 son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot, and Judas the son of 
James, and Judas Iscariot, who became the betrayer. 

17 And he came down with them, and stood on a level place, 
together with a large crowd of his disciples, and a great multitude 
of people from all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of 
Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him, and to be healed of their 

1 8 diseases ; and they that were troubled with unclean spirits were 

19 cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him : for a power went 
out from him, and healed them all. 

Two paragraphs in Mark are now given in inverse order. Luko 
desires to give greater prominence to the call of the Twelve. Jesus 
selects them from his disciples, and thus distinguishes between the 
chosen Twelve and the general body of disciples. Jesus passes, 
the whole night in prayer before he makes his choice. This adds 
solemnity to the choosing and the choice. For Streeter 14-16 come 
from Proto-Luke (pp. 215, 222). 

13. Jesus gives to the Twelve the name of Apostles. Loisy 
rightly, I think, says : ' The name " apostle " is an anachronism in 
this place. . . . Originally the apostles, itinerant missionaries of 
early Christianity, were quite distinct from the " Twelve," who 
were the leaders of the first community ; the Twelve became the 
" apostles " par excellence ' (Luc, p. 193). 

15. Luke gives the right translation of the name. * Canaanaean.' 
Simon belonged to the ' Zealot ' party. 

16. ' Judas [the son] of James ' stands in the place of Mark's 
Thaddseus and Matthew's Lebbeeus. 

17. D omits * and Jerusalem,' probably rightly. This verse 
and 18, 19 correspond with Mark iii. 7-11, but the locale is different. 
It is nob by the lake, but at the foot of the mountain. The wording 
makes it look as if the ' multitude ' also came down with Jesus 
from the mountain as well as the disciples. Luke really means 
that they were at the foot of the mountain. The confusion is due 
to Luke at this point quoting again from Mark where the ' crowd ' 
is present before Jesus ascends the mountain (Loisy, Luc, p. 195)- 
Jesus stands to speak the sermon (13) as a more suitable posture in 
which to be heard ; but he really addresses the disciples only (Luc, 
p. 197). For the * power which went forth from him ' cp. v. 17, 
and Mark v. 30. 



VI. 20-49] THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE 411 



20-49. THE SERMON ON THE LEVEL PLACE 

We have now a long non-Marcan section extending to viii. 3, 
taken, Streeter thinks, from Proto-Luke (p. 203 seq. p. 222). First 
comes a long discourse addressed to the disciples (though the 
' crowd ' is also conceived as being present), which corresponds with 
Matthew's Sermon on the Mount. It is, however, spoken em TOTTOV 
7reSu>ou, ' on a level place.' Some deny that Luke meant that Jesus 
had fully descended from the mountain : he stopped on a level place 
a little way down. But the great crowds could hardly be supposed 
to be anywhere except at the foot or base of the mountain, and the 
odd difference of locale for the sermon in the two Gospels can hardly 
be got over. 

Matthew's Sermon on the Mount is far longer than Luke's 
Sermon on the Level Place : parallels to some passages in Matthew 
occur in Luke elsewhere. Only three or four verses in Luke do 
not find a parallel in Matthew. Luke seems to have known and 
used an earlier version of the common material than was used 
by Matthew. But bits of Luke's Sermon no less than bits of 
Matthew's seem to posit a date later than Jesus, when the Christian 
community was already in existence, and when trouble and 
persecution had begun. 

It is often suggested that Luke omits the passages dealing with 
supposed Rabbinic teaching and with the relation of Jesus to the 
Law as of no interest to his Gentile readers. It does not follow, 
because Luke may have used an earlier version of the common 
material, that therefore he always preserves the better or earlier 
readings. On the contrary, Matthew often seems to have the 
better and earlier readings. 

The parallels between Luke and Matthew may be summarized 
thus : 

Luke vi. 20-23 = Matthew v. i, 3, 5, 6, 10-12. 
„ 24-26 not in Matthew. 
„ 27, 28 = Matthew v. 44. 

29,30= „ v. 39, 40, 42. 

31= „ vii. 12. 
32,33= » v. 46, 47. 
34, 35 not in Matthew. 

36 = Matthew v. 48. 
37»38 = „ vii. 1-2. 

39, 40 not in Matthew, but cp. Matthew xv. 14, x. 24. 
41, 42 = Matthew vii. 3-5. 
43, 44= „ vii. 18-20. 



4*2 THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS [VI. 20-26 

Luke vi. 45 not in Matthew, but cp. Matthew xii. 34, 35. 
„ 46 not in Matthew (cp. vii. 21). 

„ 47-49 = Matthew vii. 24-27. 



20-26. THE BEATITUDES AND THE WOES 
(Cp. Matt. v. 1-12) 

20 And he lifted up his eyes upon his disciples, and said, ' Happy 

21 are ye poor : for yours is the kingdom of God. Happy are ye 
that hunger now : for ye shall be satisfied. Happy are ye that 

22 weep now : for ye shall laugh. Happy are ye, when men shall 
hate you, and expel you, and revile you, and reject your nam«3 

23 as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice in that day, and leap 
for joy : for, behold, your reward is great in heaven : for in the 
same manner acted their fathers unto the prophets. 

24 ' But woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your 

25 consolation. Woe unto you that are now satisfied, for ye shall 
hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now, for ye shall mourn and 

26 weep. Woe unto you, when all men speak well of you, for so did 
their fathers unto the false prophets. 

20-23. The long notes in the commentary on Matthew allow 
me to be briefer here. To Streeter Luke's sermon is all from Q 
(via Proto-Luke), whereas Matt, used both Q and M. The beatitudes 
in Luke are shorter and fewer than those in Matthew. The first 
two might well have been uttered by Jesus with his special sympathy 
for the poor and the afflicted. The point of view is precisely the 
same as that of the Psalmist. The rich and bad have their own 
way in this world : the poor and righteous shall have their own way 
in the next. The identification of the poor with the righteous, of 
the wicked with the rich, is too simple and sweeping for our more 
developed and impartial judgment. Even Matthew felt the diffi- 
culty, and sought to turn the original poverty in this world's goods 
and advantages into a sort of spiritual humility. 

If any of the Beatitudes go back to Jesus and are authentic, the 
third person of Matthew is much more likely to be the original form 
than the second person of Luke, especially in Luke's form of the 
Beatitudes in which, not the moral qualities of the true disciples 
of Jesus are describe