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The Gospel According to Matthew: Chapter 21

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1When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately. a Or mysteries 4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,5

“Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd b Gk stumbles spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

12Then Jesus entered the temple c Gk hid in and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13He said to them, “It is written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”

14The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. 15But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard d Other ancient authorities read the prophet Isaiah the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry 16and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them,

“Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself’?”

17He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

18In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry. 19And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. then he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. 20When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. 22Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”

23When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father a Other ancient authorities lack of the world went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

33“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; b Other ancient authorities add to hear this was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?

43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. c Gk them 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” a Gk tetrarch

45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

Notes:

b Or mysteries

c Gk stumbles

a Gk hid in

b Other ancient authorities read the prophet Isaiah

c Other ancient authorities lack of the world

d Other ancient authorities add to hear

e Gk them

a Gk tetrarch

Text Commentary view alone

21.1–11 : Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

1 :

Bethphage, a village located just east of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives is part of a ridge on the east side of Jerusalem. A tradition within Second Temple Judaism heldthat a battle would take place there at the end of the age (Zech 14.4; Josephus, Ant. 20.167–72 ).

5 :

Unlikethe parallels in Mk 11.1–10 and Lk 19.28–38 , Matthew includes one of his fulfillment citations, quoting Isa 62.11 and Zech 9.9 . The specification of two animals, donkey and colt, presents Jesus as one who literally fulfills Zech 9.9 . The scene evokes images of a king or triumphant general's entry into a city( 1 Kings 1.32–40; 1 Macc 5.45–54 ; Josephus, War 7.70–71 ). Mounted on a donkey, coming in peace(warriors rode on stallions).

8 :

Spread … cloaks … branches, signs of honor (for branches, see 1 Macc13.49–53 ).

9 :

Hosanna, derived from Ps 118.26 , means “O save!” It was a general cry of acclamation,not necessarily a specific request for salvation.

21.12–27 : Jesus’ confrontations in the Temple

(Lk 19.45–46; Mk 11.15–19; Jn 2.13–17 ). The Temple in Jerusalem was an enormous structure and known throughout the Roman world. It had been rebuilt byHerod the Great beginning around 20 BCE in his most ambitious building project. (It was not completeduntil 63 CE.) The Temple contained many precincts, including places to buy and sell animals for sacrifice,places for foreign visitors to change money into the Temple currency, and offices for local and imperial authorities.

13 :

Combining passages from Jer 7.11 and Isa 56.7 , Jesus condemns those in the Temple bycalling them robbers, the same term used to describe the men with whom Jesus is crucified in 27.38 .

16 :

Ps 8.2 .

17 :

Bethany, another village to the east of Jerusalem.

18–22 :

Sandwiched between two accounts of conflict in the Temple is an enacted parable about a fig tree, a sign of judgment against the Temple ( 23.37–38; 24.2 ); cf. Mk 11.12–14 .

21 :

17.20 .

22 :

7.7 .

23–27 :

Mk 11.27–33; Lk 20.1–8 . The second confrontation in the Temple is with Temple officials directly.

23 :

By what authority, implies that Jesusis no more than a rabble rouser (Aristotle, Politics 3.6–7 ; Plutarch, Moralia 545C).

26 :

Afraid of the crowd, 14.5 ; Josephus, Ant. 18.118 .

27 :

If the Temple officials will not acknowledge John's authority,it is useless to ask them to recognize Jesus’ claims.

21.28–32 : Tax collectors, prostitutes, and the kingdom of God.

This parable about two sons addresses the subject of why those who are lax in observing the Mosaic law receive the kingdom of God.

31–32 :

Tax collectors, see 9.10n. Along with prostitutes they were the members of a despised group. The parableserves to condemn Jesus’ opponents for unbelief. (For use of a parable to accuse the powerful, see 2 Sam12.1–15 .)

21.33–46 : The parable of the wicked tenants

(Mk 12.1–12; Lk 20.9–19 ). See Isa 5.1–7 . The vineyardwas a traditional metaphor for Israel.

33–46 :

The parable is an allegory, in which the vineyard isJerusalem, the tenants the religious authorities (see v. 45 ), the slaves the prophets, and the son Jesus himself.

33 :

Planted … fence … wine press … watchtower, almost a direct quotation of Isa 5.2 . Tenants would contract to give the owner an agreed‐upon portion of the crop, keeping for themselves what was left.

35–39 :

The tenants hope to keep all of the produce.

41 :

A prediction of the destructionof Jerusalem. Other tenants, the church or perhaps church leaders.

42 :

Ps 118.22–23 .

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