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Then the high priest tore his garments, saying, “Defaming talk! What further need do we have of witnesses? See! Now you have heard the defamation. Bible

“tore his garments.” The word “garments” is himation (#2440 ἱμάτιον; hĭ-mä’-tee-on), which refers to a garment of any type, or the outer garment like a cloak or mantle. The Greek is plural, so it may well be that the High Priest grabbed both his inner and outer garment at the neck and tore them a handbreadth, which was the standard tearing when blasphemy was heard. This was a sin on the part of the High Priest, because the Mosiac Law specifically commanded that the High Priest was not to tear his clothes (Lev. 21:10). There are many things in the record of the arrest and trial of Jesus Christ that show that the High Priest was a wicked, ungodly man, and this is one of them. Jesus Christ said we are to know ungodly people by what they do, and this is an example of that.

“Defaming talk...defamation.” The Greek verb blasphēmeō (#987 βλασφημέω) and the Greek noun blasphēmia (#988 βλασφημία) are transliterated (not translated) from the Greek into English as “blasphemy.” However, “blasphemy” in English has a different meaning than blasphēmeō does in Greek. In English, “blasphemy” is only used in reference to God. It is insulting God or a god, insulting something considered sacred (like defacing a cross or statue of Jesus), or claiming to be God or a god in some way. However, in Greek, blasphēmeō and blasphēmia (the noun) did not have to refer to God or a god, although they could, but were common words that were used of someone speaking against another. The primary meanings were showing disrespect to a person or deity, and/or harming his, her, or its reputation. In this case, the religious leaders thought it was insulting to God’s reputation that Jesus would refer to himself as God’s Messiah. [For more on blasphēmeō and blasphēmia see commentary on Matt. 9:3].


Commentary for: Matthew 26:65