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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

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Commentary on Matthew

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26, 1–28, 20 :

The five books with alternating narrative and discourse ( 3, 1–25, 46 ) that give this gospel its distinctive structure lead up to the climactic events that are the center of Christian belief and the origin of the Christian church, the passion and resurrection of Jesus. In his passion narrative (chs 26–27 ) Matthew follows his Marcan source closely but with omissions (e.g., Mk 14, 51–52 ) and additions (e.g., 27, 3–10.19 ). Some of the additions indicate that he utilized traditions that he had received from elsewhere; others are due to his own theological insight (e.g., 26, 28 , “… for the forgiveness of sins”; 27, 52 ). In his editing Matthew also altered Mk in some minor details. But there is no need to suppose that he knew any passion narrative other than Mark's.

26, 1–2 :

When Jesus finished all these words: see the note on 7, 28–29 . “You know … crucified”: Matthew turns Mk's statement of the time ( 14, 1 ) into Jesus' final prediction of his passion. Passover: see the note on Mk 14, 1 .

26, 3 :

Caiaphas was high priest from A.D. 18 to 36.

26, 5 :

Not during the festival: the plan to delay Jesus' arrest and execution until after the festival was not carried out, for according to the synoptics he was arrested on the night of Nisan 14 and put to death the following day. No reason is given why the plan was changed.

26, 6–13 :

See the notes on Mk 14, 3–9 and Jn 12, 1–8 .

26, 12 :

To prepare me for burial: cf Mk 14, 8 . In accordance with the interpretation of this act as Jesus' burial anointing, Matthew, more consistent than Mark, changes the purpose of the visit of the women to Jesus' tomb; they do not go to anoint him (Mk 16, 1 ) but “to see the tomb” ( 28, 1 ).

26, 14 :

Iscariot: see the note on Lk 6, 16 .

26, 15 :

The motive of avarice is introduced by Judas's question about the price for betrayal, which is absent in the Marcan source ( 14, 10–11 ). Hand him over: the same Greek verb is used to express the saving purpose of God by which Jesus is handed over to death (cf 17, 22; 20, 18; 26, 2 ) and the human malice that hands him over. Thirty pieces of silver: the price of the betrayal is found only in Mt. It is derived from Zec 11, 12 where it is the wages paid to the rejected shepherd, a cheap price (Zec 11, 13 ). That amount is also the compensation paid to one whose slave has been gored by an ox (Ex 21, 32 ).

26, 17 :

The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread: see the note on Mk 14, 1 . Matthew omits Mk's “when they sacrificed the Passover lamb.”

26, 18 :

By omitting much of Mk 14, 13–15 , adding My appointed time draws near, and turning the question into a statement, in your house I shall celebrate the Passover, Matthew has given this passage a solemnity and majesty greater than that of his source.

26, 21 :

Given Matthew's interest in the fulfillment of the Old Testament, it is curious that he omits the Marcan designation of Jesus' betrayer as “one who is eating with me” ( 14, 18 ), since that is probably an allusion to Ps 41, 10 . However, the shocking fact that the betrayer is one who shares table fellowship with Jesus is emphasized in v 23 .

26, 24 :

It would be better … born: the enormity of the deed is such that it would be better not to exist than to do it.

26, 25 :

Peculiar to Mt. You have said so: cf 26, 64; 27, 11 . This is a half‐affirmative. Emphasis is laid on the pronoun and the answer implies that the statement would not have been made if the question had not been asked.

26, 26–29 :

See the note on Mk 14, 22–24 . The Marcan‐Matthean is one of the two major New Testament traditions of the words of Jesus when instituting the Eucharist. The other (and earlier) is the Pauline‐Lucan (1 Cor 11, 23–25; Lk 22, 19–20 ). Each shows the influence of Christian liturgical usage, but the Marcan‐Matthean is more developed in that regard than the Pauline‐Lucan. The words over the bread and cup succeed each other without the intervening meal mentioned in 1 Cor 11, 25; Lk 22, 20 ; and there is parallelism between the consecratory words (this is my body … this is my blood). Matthew follows Mk closely but with some changes.

26, 26 :

See the note on 14, 19 . Said the blessing: a prayer blessing God. Take and eat: literally, Take, eat. Eat is an addition to Mk's “take it” (literally, “take”; 14, 22 ). This is my body: the bread is identified with Jesus himself.

26, 27–28 :

Gave thanks: see the note on 15, 36 . Gave it to them … all of you: cf Mk 14, 23–24 . In the Marcan sequence the disciples drink and then Jesus says the interpretative words. Matthew has changed this into a command to drink followed by those words. My blood: see Lv 17, 11 for the concept that the blood is “the seat of life” and that when placed on the altar it “makes atonement.” Which will be shed: the present participle, “being shed” or “going to be shed,” is future in relation to the Last Supper. On behalf of: Greek peri; see the note on Mk 14, 24 . Many: see the note on 20, 28 . For the forgiveness of sins: a Matthean addition. The same phrase occurs in Mk 1, 4 in connection with John's baptism but Matthew avoids it there ( 3, 11 ). He places it here probably because he wishes to emphasize that it is the sacrificial death of Jesus that brings forgiveness of sins.

26, 29 :

Although his death will interrupt the table fellowship he has had with the disciples, Jesus confidently predicts his vindication by God and a new table fellowship with them at the banquet of the kingdom.

26, 30 :

See the note on Mk 14, 26 .

26, 31 :

Will have … shaken: literally, “will be scandalized in me”; see the note on 24, 9–12 . I will strike … dispersed: cf Zec 13, 7 .

26, 34 :

Before the cock crows: see the note on 14, 25 . The third watch of the night was called “cockcrow.” Deny me: see the note on 16, 24 .

26, 36–56 :

Cf Mk 14, 32–52 . The account of Jesus in Gethsemane is divided between that of his agony ( 36–46 ) and that of his betrayal and arrest ( 47–56 ). Jesus' sorrow and distress ( 37 ) in face of death is unrelieved by the presence of his three disciples who, though urged to watch with him ( 38.41 ), fall asleep ( 40.43 ). He prays that if … possible his death may be avoided ( 39 ) but that his Father's will be done ( 39.42.44 ). Knowing then that his death must take place, he announces to his companions that the hour for his being handed over has come ( 45 ). Judas arrives with an armed band provided by the Sanhedrin and greets Jesus with a kiss, the prearranged sign for his identification ( 47–49 ). After his arrest, he rebukes a disciple who has attacked the high priest's servant with a sword ( 51–54 ), and chides those who have come out to seize him with swords and clubs as if he were a robber ( 55–56 ). In both rebukes Jesus declares that the treatment he is now receiving is the fulfillment of the scriptures ( 55.56 ). The subsequent flight of all the disciples is itself the fulfillment of his own prediction (cf 31 ). In this episode, Matthew follows Mk with a few alterations.

26, 36 :

Gethsemane: the Hebrew name means “oil press” and designates an olive orchard on the western slope of the Mount of Olives; see the note on 21, 1 . The name appears only in Mt and Mk. The place is called a “garden” in Jn 18, 1 .

26, 37 :

Peter and the two sons of Zebedee: cf 17, 1 .

26, 38 :

Cf Ps 42, 6.12 . In the Septuagint (Ps 41, 5.12 ) the same Greek word for sorrowful is used as here. To death: i.e., “enough to die”; cf Jon 4, 9 .

26, 39 :

My Father: see the note on Mk 14, 36 . Matthew omits the Aramaic 'abbā' and adds the qualifier my. This cup: see the note on Mk 10, 38–40 .

26, 41 :

Undergo the test: see the note on 6, 13 . In that verse “the final test” translates the same Greek word as is here translated the test, and these are the only instances of the use of that word in Mt. It is possible that the passion of Jesus is seen here as an anticipation of the great tribulation that will precede the parousia (see the notes on 24, 8; 24, 21 ) to which 6, 13 refers, and that just as Jesus prays to be delivered from death ( 39 ), so he exhorts the disciples to pray that they will not have to undergo the great test that his passion would be for them. Some scholars, however, understand not undergo (literally, “not enter”) the test as meaning not that the disciples may be spared the test but that they may not yield to the temptation of falling away from Jesus because of his passion even though they will have to endure it.

26, 42 :

Your will be done: cf 6, 10 .

26, 49 :

Rabbi: see the note on 23, 6–7 . Jesus is so addressed twice in Mt (cf 25 ), both times by Judas. For the significance of the closely related address “teacher” in Mt, see the note on 8, 19 .

26, 55 :

Day after day … arrest me: cf Mk 14, 49 . This suggests that Jesus had taught for a relatively long period in Jerusalem, whereas 21, 1–11 puts his coming to the city for the first time only a few days before.

26, 57–68 :

 Following Mk 14, 53–65 , Matthew presents the nighttime appearance of Jesus before the Sanhedrin as a real trial. After many false witnesses bring charges against him that do not suffice for the death sentence ( 60 ), two came forward who charge him with claiming to be able to destroy the temple … and within three days to rebuild it ( 60–61 ). Jesus makes no answer even when challenged to do so by the high priest, who then orders him to declare under oath … whether he is the Messiah, the Son of God ( 62–63 ). Matthew changes Mk’s clear affirmative response ( 14, 62 ) to the same one as that given to Judas (cf 25 ), but follows Mk almost verbatim in Jesus’ predicting that his judges will see him (the Son of Man) seated at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of heaven ( 64 ). The high priest then charges him with blasphemy ( 65 ), a charge with which the other members of the Sanhedrin agree by declaring that he deserves to die ( 66 ). They then attack him ( 67 ) and mockingly demand that he prophesy ( 68 ). This account contains elements that are contrary to the judicial procedures prescribed in the Mishnah, the Jewish code of law that dates in written form from ca. A.D. 200, e.g., trial on a feast day, a night session of the court, pronouncement of a verdict of condemnation at the same session at which testimony was received. Consequently, some scholars regard the account entirely as a creation of the early Christians without historical value. However, it is disputable whether the norms found in the Mishnah were in force at the time of Jesus. More to the point is the question whether the Matthean-Marcan night trial derives from a combination of two separate incidents, a nighttime preliminary investigation (cf Jn 18, 13.19–24 ) and a formal trial on the following morning (cf Lk 22, 66–71 ).

26, 57 :

Caiaphas: see the note on 26, 3 .

26, 59 :

Sanhedrin: see the note on Lk 22, 66 .

26, 60–61 :

Two: cf Dt 19, 15 . I can destroy … rebuild it: there are significant differences from the Marcan parallel ( 14, 58 ). Matthew omits “made with hands” and “not made with hands” and changes Mk's “will destroy” and “will build another” to can destroy and (can) rebuild. The charge is probably based on Jesus' prediction of the temple's destruction; see the notes on 23, 37–39; 24, 2; and Jn 2, 19 . A similar prediction by Jeremiah was considered as deserving death; cf Jer 7, 1–15; 26, 1–8 .

26, 63 :

Silent: possibly an allusion to Is 53, 7 . I order you … living God: peculiar to Mt; cf Mk 14, 61 .

26, 64 :

You have said so: see the note on 26, 25 . From now on … heaven: the Son of Man who is to be crucified (cf 20, 19 ) will be seen in glorious majesty (cf Ps 110, 1 ) and coming on the clouds of heaven (cf Dn 7, 13 ). The Power: see the note on Mk 14, 61–62 .

26, 65 :

Blasphemed: the punishment for blasphemy was death by stoning (see Lv 24, 10–16 ). According to the Mishnah, to be guilty of blasphemy one had to pronounce “the Name itself,” i.e. Yahweh; cf Sanhedrin 7, 4.5 . Those who judge the gospel accounts of Jesus' trial by the later Mishnah standards point out that Jesus uses the surrogate “the Power,” and hence no Jewish court would have regarded him as guilty of blasphemy; others hold that the Mishnah's narrow understanding of blasphemy was a later development.

26, 67–68 :

The physical abuse, apparently done to Jesus by the members of the Sanhedrin themselves, recalls the sufferings of the Isaian Servant of the Lord; cf Is 50, 6 . The mocking challenge to prophesy is probably motivated by Jesus' prediction of his future glory ( 64 ).

26, 70 :

Denied it in front of everyone: see 10, 33 . Peter's repentance ( 75 ) saves him from the fearful destiny of which Jesus speaks there.

26, 73 :

Your speech … away: Matthew explicates Mk's “you too are a Galilean” ( 14, 70 ).

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