Matthew Chapter 22  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Matthew 22
Mat 22:1(top)
Mat 22:2

“a wedding feast for his son.” This is a parable, but it is very accurate in its details and fits well with the Jewish expectation of a great feast, based on Isaiah 25:6. The king is God. The servants who go out and proclaim the coming feast are God’s servants, most specifically in the context of the Old Testament, God’s prophets. Those who had been specifically invited, in the context of the parable, are the Jews. The sumptuousness of the feast, including the oxen and fatted cattle, fits with the Old Testament prophecy that there would be the best of meat and the finest of wine (Isa. 25:6 NIV). That those who had been invited ignored the invitation and even abused the king’s servants fits exactly with how Israel responded to the prophets’ calls for repentance and obedience. That the king then kills those who had been invited fits with the fate of the wicked—destruction in the Lake of Fire, and that the king would invite and accept any who would come fits with the invitation of God that anyone can be saved if they will humble themselves and obey Him, which today means accepting Jesus Christ, the King’s Son, as Lord (Rom. 10:9).

[For more on the “king,” “landowner,” “ruler,” or “man” in Christ’s parables being God, see commentary on Luke 15:11. For more on Christ ruling the earth in the future, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.” For more on the feast in the Messianic Kingdom, see commentary on Matt. 8:11.]

Mat 22:3(top)
Mat 22:4

“Look!” The Greek word is idou (#2400 ἰδού), and it is used to get our attention. See commentary on Matthew 1:20.

Mat 22:5(top)
Mat 22:6(top)
Mat 22:7(top)
Mat 22:8(top)
Mat 22:9(top)
Mat 22:10

“both wicked and good.” Although the use of “wicked” can be general and some of the people who respond to God’s call to be saved are not society’s best people, in the context of the king (God) inviting the Jews to His banquet and them refusing, He invited the Gentiles. The Gentiles were considered unclean and wicked by the Jews because they had many practices, like eating meat with blood in it, or eating pork, or many of the sexual practices in Roman society that were considered “wicked.” Yet we learn from Jesus’ teaching that many people will come from the north and south and east and west—the Gentiles—and eat at the banquet with Abraham, and the Jews, the “sons of the kingdom,” will not be allowed in (cp. Matt. 8:11-12; Luke 13:22-30).

Mat 22:11

“had not been clothed.” In this case, it is important to translate the text in a way that brings out the force of the verb in a way that provides the best understanding of the parable that Jesus is telling. The verb is a passive perfect participle. Although the form of the Greek verb is such that it can be read as either middle voice or passive voice, in this context it is best understood as a passive voice verb, showing that the man had not let himself be clothed in wedding clothes by the king’s attendant.a

The parable is about the Kingdom of Heaven and being clothed with “wedding clothes,” that is, garments appropriate for being saved and being at the wedding banquet of the Lamb. But no one can clothe themselves with righteousness or salvation to the end that they have everlasting life. To have everlasting life and be at the wedding banquet of the Lamb, each person must let themselves be clothed by God in the garments of righteousness and salvation that He provides.

Cp. R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel.
Mat 22:12

“Friend.” The Greek word translated “friend” is hetairos (#2083 ἑταῖρος), and although it means “friend, companion, mate, partner,” that is not really its meaning in this context. The king did not know the man; hetairos is “a general form of address to someone whose name one does not know.”a So by addressing the man as hetairos (“friend”), the king was being polite and friendly, instead of saying something much more crass such as “Hey you!”

“without wedding clothes.” The man at the king’s banquet did not have a wedding garment, but how could he be expected to have one? The king’s servants had gone out and rounded up people—“both wicked and good”—who happened to be out on the roads, (Matt. 22:10). Some commentators suggest that the people had time to go home and change clothes, but generally the kind of people who were on the street did not have nice clothing (cp. Matt. 11:8). Many people in the biblical culture were poor, and it was common for them to only own one set of clothing (cp. Deut. 24:10-12).

The answer to the problem of the man not having wedding clothing is partially given in Matthew 22:11: the man had refused to be clothed in wedding garments by the king’s attendants when he entered the wedding—he had not allowed himself to be clothed (see commentary on Matt. 22:11). The man had the opportunity to be clothed in wedding garments but had refused them, and that is why he was speechless when the king questioned him. He had no excuse other than his own pride and his arrogant belief that what he was wearing was good enough for the banquet.

Commentators often point out that there is no verse that says the attendants were offering wedding garments to guests, but things that were common in the culture or obvious in the context are often not mentioned in the biblical record. There are many reasons for believing that the king would have provided wedding clothes to his guests. Matthew 22:11 indicates the people were offered clothing. The man had no excuse for not having a wedding garment. Most of the people the king invited did not have clothing suitable for a king’s wedding, so the garments would have had to have been provided. The king expected the people present to be wearing wedding clothing. Also, the parable was illustrating salvation, and it is King God who by grace provides the “clothing,” the righteousness and salvation, that enables believers to have everlasting life.

Also, there are verses in the Bible that indicate that proper clothing was provided for special occasions (2 Kings 10:22; Isa. 61:10; Rev. 19:7-8). Furthermore, there is some external evidence from ancient historical records that monarchs sometimes gave clothing to wear to people whom he had invited to his events.

The most important evidence that the king provided the wedding garments for the guests is the fact that the wedding garments were part of a parable that Jesus was telling about the Kingdom of Heaven. When Jesus told parables, he was careful to include things from the culture that would make the parable effective. If kings and nobles did not occasionally provide garments for their guests, then that part of his parable would have been so removed from reality that the parable would have lost much of its effectiveness because his listeners would have been confused about what Jesus was trying to tell them.

When it comes to entering the Kingdom—which means having everlasting life—no one can enter it on their own merits, “clothed in their own righteousness.” No one is righteous enough to enter without the grace of God covering them with a robe of righteousness and garments of salvation (Isa. 61:10).

In Jesus’ parable, the king who threw the banquet is God. The wedding banquet is the banquet that will occur in Christ’s future kingdom on earth (Isa. 25:6; Matt. 8:11; Rev. 19:9). The wedding garments are the righteousness and salvation that God provides by grace to everyone who will accept them. The ones who were initially invited to the wedding feast but would not come are God’s chosen people, the Jews. The slaves who went out to invite the guests were the prophets and others who brought the good news of salvation to the people. The ones who are gathered in from off the street are the Gentiles, who the Jews thought of as unclean and unworthy of everlasting life (cp. Matt. 8:11-12). The man who was not wearing a wedding garment and thought he could enter the banquet without it represents those who think they are worthy of everlasting life on their own merits and arrogantly reject God’s righteousness. The darkness outside the banquet is the darkness of the Lake of Fire and death, which is where everyone not found worthy of everlasting life is thrown (Rev. 20:11-15).

Jesus’ parable is about God’s grace and people’s personal responsibility. God graciously offers a great banquet and everlasting life to anyone who will humbly accept them. Then people individually choose whether or not to accept God’s invitation. Those who accept are granted everlasting life, while those who do not accept have no excuse except their own pride, and will come to a dark end. Sadly, when the people who have rejected God realize they have chosen death over life, they will sob and gnash their teeth, but to no avail; they made their choice and God will honor it.

[For more about the future Kingdom of Christ on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.”]

BDAG, s.v. “ἑταῖρος.”
Mat 22:13

“sobbing and gnashing of teeth. The mention of sobbing and gnashing of teeth occurs seven times in the Bible (Matt. 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28). All of these occurrences are in the Gospels. There is only one future Messianic Kingdom, and it fills the whole earth. The unsaved are not part of that Kingdom but are thrown into the Lake of Fire where there is sobbing and gnashing of teeth (Rev. 20:13-15).

[For a more complete explanation of the sobbing and gnashing of teeth, see commentary on Matt. 8:12.]

Mat 22:14

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” This verse is quoted as if God was the one who did the choosing, but in fact, it is solid evidence that God chooses those who first choose Him. We cannot ignore the parable and just interpret the conclusion like we want to. In the parable, the king invited people to the feast, but the first people who were invited “did not want to come” (Matt. 22:3). Then the king sent more people to invite them again, but they “paid no attention” (Matt. 22:5). Worse, they not only declined the king’s invitation, they mistreated the servants who were sent to invite them (Matt. 22:6). So the king invited others and they came to the feast (Matt. 22:10). Thus it is clear that the “chosen” are “chosen” because, as well as God choosing them, they chose God.

Mat 22:15

“to entrap him in his words.” The record of the trap about paying taxes is recorded in Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17, and Luke 20:20-25.

Mat 22:16

“because you do not show favoritism.” The Greek text is idiomatic, see commentary on Mark 12:14.

Mat 22:17

“census tax.” The Greek word is kēnsos (#2778 κῆνσος). In the NT it referred to the tax or tribute levied on individuals, and it was to be paid yearly. See commentary on Mark 12:14.

Mat 22:18(top)
Mat 22:19

“census tax.” The Greek word is kēnsos (#2778 κῆνσος). In the NT it referred to the tax or tribute levied on individuals, and it was to be paid yearly. See commentary on Mark 12:14.

Mat 22:20(top)
Mat 22:21(top)
Mat 22:22(top)
Mat 22:23

“who say that there is no resurrection.” At the time of Christ the High Priest and the majority of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council in Jerusalem, were Sadducees. The Sadducees denied the legitimacy of the “oral law,” and for the most part saw themselves as drawing their beliefs directly from the Torah, the five books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy). On that basis, they denied the resurrection from the dead, and believed that both the body and soul of a person died and were gone forever. For the Sadducees, there was no Messianic Hope promised by God. There is evidence that because the Sadducees believed that they had no life but their one life, they tried to capitalize on every advantage they could in this life, which, as one can imagine, led to stretching moral boundaries to the breaking point. Thus the Roman guard could tell the priests that an angel had rolled back the stone of Jesus’ tomb and that Jesus had risen from the dead, and the priest, rather than say they were wrong about Jesus and jeopardize their position of power, bribed the guards to say Jesus’ disciples stole his body. The Old Testament has a number of verses about God raising the dead in the future (cp. Deut. 32:39; Job. 19:25-27; Ps. 71:20; Isa. 26:19; 66:14; Ezek. 37:12-14; Dan. 12:2, 13; and Hos. 13:14).

Mat 22:24(top)
Mat 22:25

“Now there were with us seven brothers…” The Sadducees cite this as if it was a real case, and it probably was. Jesus did not try to refute their example. If there was one woman married to two brothers, that would have been good enough to make their case, but the Sadducees had a more involved example, so they used it.

Mat 22:26(top)
Mat 22:27(top)
Mat 22:28(top)
Mat 22:29

“You are in error.” You are mistaken. Lenski asserts that the verb may be taken in a middle sense, “you are deceiving yourselves,” and he may be right.a

“because you do not know the Scriptures.” The word “know” is a participle and in this context has a causal sense: “because you do not know” (cp. CEB; HCSB; NAB; NET; NIV; NRSV). To make their argument, the Sadducees were unknowingly misusing Moses’ teaching on what came to be called the “Levirate Law;” that if a man died, his brother would marry the widow and have children by her to preserve the name of the brother (Deut. 25:5-10). There is no reason to assume conditions on earth in the resurrection will be the same as they are in this life. Moses certainly did not teach that they were, so the Sadducees were taking a liberty with the text that had no foundation in truth. Furthermore, the Scriptures clearly teach a resurrection from the dead (Matt. 22:30-32). Even though the Sadducees only take the Torah (Genesis-Deut.) as authoritative, there is certainly an afterlife implied in the Torah. Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead, for example. Moses knew there was a book of life (Exod. 32:32). Furthermore, Job, who lived around the time of Abraham, certainly knew about it (Job 19:25ff). Besides, the Sadducees were in error in rejecting the Word of God spoken through the prophets, saying it was not Scripture.

“nor the power of God.” In denying the resurrection from the dead, the Sadducees denied the power of God. Furthermore, God is not only able to raise dead people to the state they were before, i.e., living, it is in His power to raise them such that they will be different from how they were on earth. On earth, we have a need for children and families, but that may not be the case in the next life. Our fleshly bodies will change. “…the doctrine of the future state was there [in the Scripture], and the Sadducees should have believed it as it was, and not have added the absurd doctrine to it that men must live there as they do here. The way in which the enemies of the truth often attempt to make a doctrine of the Bible ridiculous is by adding to it, and then calling it absurd.”b

R. C. H. Lenski, Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel, 871.
Barnes’ Notes on Matt. 22:29.
Mat 22:30

“neither marry nor are given in marriage.” This phrase exactly represents the biblical culture. Men marry, while women are “given in marriage.”

“but are as the angels in heaven.” The assumption is that angels do not marry and have families. That will be the case with us in the next life. There are some important things to pay attention to in this verse. One is that Jesus said we will be like the angels, not that we become angels. There are people who believe when a believer dies, he or she goes to heaven and becomes an angel. That is not the case. Dead believers do not become angels. The context of this section is marriage, and when it comes to marriage, resurrected believers will be like angels in that they do not marry.

Also, this verse comes as close as any to addressing the question about whether or not there will be sexual intercourse in the next life, but it does not settle the issue completely. It is possible but unlikely that angels have sexual intercourse. There is no indication in Scripture that angels participate in sexual intercourse with each other, even though there are both male and female spirit beings in the Bible (cp. Zech. 5:9). The most likely case is that human sexual drive was given by God to ensure the future of the race, and that there will be no sexual drive in our new bodies. Without any sexual drive or desire, there would be little point to sexual intercourse. It is true that sexual intercourse is exciting and fulfilling here on earth, but again, that is most likely God’s design for life here and now so that the human race would continue.

Many people ask about the nature of personal relationships in the next life: for example, will people in a wonderful marriage still be friends even if they are not married? In the next life, we will know the people we knew in this life. Just as Jesus came back from the dead in his new body and knew everyone he had known on earth, we are promised that in our new bodies, “I will know fully even as also I was fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

However, the kind of relationships people who were married on earth will have in the future is not answered in the Bible beyond it simply saying that people who are married on earth will not be married in the next life. One likely reason for that is that relationships are complex. For example, the woman the Sadducees were using as an example had been married to seven different men (Matt. 22:25-28). It is probable that she liked or even loved some of them, and just as probable that she did not like others but married them out of duty to the Mosaic Law (Deut. 25:5-10).

Marriages on earth are very complex: some are wonderful relationships; some are a continual battle, often including adultery and even occasionally murdering the spouse; some people marry multiple times; and there are many other permutations of the marriage relationship. Some people would love for their marriage to continue as a friendship in the next life while other people would not even want to be friends with the person they had been married to. Given all that, we can see why God does not give us a better glimpse of the next life—it would just lead to more questions. On the other hand, the Bible does promise happiness and joy in the next life, so there is some reason to believe that people who have had horrible relationships will be delivered from those, while people who have been in wonderful relationships might well have those relationships continue. Thankfully, because God is a Father and a God who loves family, and because He does promise joy in the next life, no matter what our relationships are on earth, we can look for joyful ones in the next life.

Mat 22:31(top)
Mat 22:32

“I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Jesus uses this verse to show that the Torah teaches a resurrection from the dead. God did not say that He “had been” the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but rather that he was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That is, that he was still their God, and would actively be so when they were raised from the dead. Some would say that the present tense of the verb proves that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive in heaven at that time (and now), but the context is clearly “the resurrection,” (used four times in the context: Matt. 22:23, 28, 30, 31).

“God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” The Greek word translated “living” is a participle, and in this context, the participle is not defining a current state of being, but rather a state of being that has occurred or will occur at some point in time. In this case, the dead people are not “living” now, but because God is the God of the living, He is saying that the people will be alive in the future. In the future, at the resurrection of the dead, dead people will hear the voice of the Son of God and be resurrected in a physical body just like Christ had a physical body (John 5:25-29; Luke 24:39; 1 John 3:2; Phil. 3:21). Jesus used the example of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to prove that God would raise the dead because if those men were dead and gone forever, God would not say He was their God, He would say He had been their God.

The noted New Testament scholar, N. T. Wright, wrote about this record about Jesus and the Sadducees discussing resurrection, which occurs in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Concerning what Christ taught. Wright wrote, “People are easily confused here. I frequently hear ‘resurrection’ used to mean simply ‘life after death’; and since many imagine life after death taking place in a disembodied state called ‘heaven’ where (among other things) angels may be found, they understand a passage like this to be saying after death you will go to heaven, and be a disembodied spirit like an angel—and that will be resurrection. That is precisely what this passage, and the New Testament teaching about resurrection in general, does not mean. The whole point of the Jewish doctrine of resurrection was that it meant a new embodied life, a life that would be given at some future date…. Saying that the resurrected dead will be ‘like angels in heaven’ does not mean they will be like them in all respects, including disembodiment. They are like angels in this respect only: that they will not marry. This is Jesus’s first point: resurrection, which he affirms, will not simply reproduce every aspect of our present humanity. It will be a recognizable and re-embodied human existence…. Second, Jesus finds a passage at the heart of the Pentateuch, acknowledged by the Sadducees as authoritative, which, he claims, demonstrates that the dead will indeed be raised. When God meets Moses at the burning bush, he introduces himself as Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God and Jacob’s God. If this is how God chooses to reveal himself, argues Jesus, it cannot be the case that the patriarchs are dead and gone for ever. This again can be misunderstood. Jesus is not simply saying that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still alive in the presence of God, and that their present afterlife is what is meant by ‘resurrection’. Everybody knew that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had not yet been raised from the dead. The point is precisely that they are ‘dead’ at present, but that since God desires to be known as their God he must be intending to raise them from death in the future. ‘Resurrection’, in other words, is not another, somewhat nicer, description of ‘being dead’. It is the reversal of death, the gift of a new body to enjoy life in God’s new world.”a

[For more about dead people being dead in every respect and not alive until the resurrection, see Appendix 4, “The Dead are Dead.”]

N. T. Wright, Mark for Everyone, 167-69.
Mat 22:33(top)
Mat 22:34(top)
Mat 22:35

“testing him.” The Greek word translated “testing” is peirazō (#3985 πειράζω; pronounced pay-'ra-zō), which can mean to tempt or to test. In this case, “test” is better. Behind this question by the Pharisee was a swirling undercurrent of group rivalry coupled with suspicion about Jesus. The Sadducees and Pharisees differed greatly about what were the commandments in the Law. The Sadducees only accepted commandments in the 5 books of Moses, while the Pharisees thought there were many more. Thus, when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they were looking for even more ammunition against them, and would have been happy to have more to hold against Jesus as well. Thus they wanted to see what this young Rabbi from the Galilee could add to the ongoing debate about the commandments.

Mat 22:36(top)
Mat 22:37

“Love.” This is an instance of the verb “love,” agapaō, (#25 ἀγαπάω) being in the future tense and the indicative mood but being used idiomatically as a present imperative.a Given the imperative mood of “love,” it would be quite correct to translate this verse: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (cp. this command in Mark 12:30 and see commentary on Mark 12:30).

“The Lord.” The Hebrew text reads “Yahweh,” which is the personal name of God, and a rabbinic abbreviation for it appears in the Hebrew manuscript of Matthew as well as in the verses of the Old Testament that Matthew quoted. There is evidence that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew and used the name Yahweh (see commentary on Matthew 3:3).

“soul.” The Greek word often translated “soul” is psuchē (#5590 ψυχή; pronounced psoo-'kay), and it has a large number of meanings, including the physical life of a person or animal; an individual person; and attitudes, emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Here psuchē is used very broadly, but certainly includes the attitude, feelings, and emotions of the person himself.

[For a more complete explanation of “soul,” see Appendix 7, “Usages of ‘Soul.’”]

See Robertson, Grammar, 330.
Mat 22:38

“most important.” In this context, “most important” is literally “first” but means “first place” not “first in order.” See commentary on Mark 12:28.

Mat 22:39

“neighbor.” On who is our neighbor, see commentary on Luke 10:27.

Mat 22:40

“hang.” After speaking about love, Jesus said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:40 KJV). An essential part of every biblical household were the pegs in the walls and posts from which things could be hung. Even tents sometimes had pegs in the tent poles, or at least some kind of hook tied to the tent poles so that clothes and other items could be kept in order and off the ground.

It was important that pegs for hanging things were made of good solid wood so that they would be sturdy and not break off. Wood from vines, for example, was not good for pegs, as we learn in Ezekiel. God asked Ezekiel, “Is wood ever taken from it [a vine] to make anything useful? Do they make pegs from it to hang things on?” (Ezek. 15:3 NIV). The expected answer was “No, they do not.” A peg made from the wood of a vine would break when something heavy was hung from it. In Isaiah 22, God said He would remove Shebna, the steward in charge of Hezekiah’s palace, and replace him with Eliakim. Shebna had been a disappointment, but God said that He would make Eliakim like a firm peg, so firm that all the glory of his family could hang from him. “I will drive him [Eliakim] like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars” (Isa. 22:23-24).

Sadly, Eliakim was human, and eventually was not able to perform his duties, and even though he had once been a firm peg, he was broken off and what he supported was destroyed. “…the peg that was driven into a firm place [Eliakim] will give way, be cut off, and fall, and the load on it will be destroyed” (Isa. 22:25 HCSB). The word “destroyed” is accurate because many different things were hung from pegs, and it was common that when a peg broke holding a clay jar, or a skin of wine or milk, the load was destroyed.

Psalms speaks of a wineskin being hung from a peg. People hung their wineskins from pegs to keep them from being accidentally kicked, and also because they were less likely to spill when hung. “Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees” (Psalm 119:83 NIV). The wineskin was “in the smoke” because in the biblical era common houses did not have chimneys. If a fire was built in a house, for warmth and/or to cook, it was usually built in the middle of the room. The room would fill with smoke, but since people sat, ate, and slept on the floor, the really thick smoke usually stayed above them. In contrast, the poor wineskin was hung on a peg up in the thick smoke. What a wonderful Psalm! The psalmist says that even if he feels like a wineskin in the smoke, neglected, and in a difficult situation, he would not forget God’s decrees and laws.

Wall pegs were vital to ancient living. They gave order and organization to the ancient household and held clothes, water jars, and other things that were essential to life. Thus it is not surprising that one of the many names of Jesus Christ is “the tent peg.” Zechariah 10:4 has three of the names of Jesus, the “cornerstone,” the “tent peg,” and the “battle bow.” “From Judah will come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler” (Zechariah 10:4 NIV). Calling Jesus Christ “the tent peg” shows how essential he is to the organization of our lives. He does much more than give us everlasting life. He organizes our lives in a meaningful way, does a lot to keep us out of the dirt of life, and helps keep us from some of the kicks and bumps of life. In return, we should realize that we are hung up for all to see, and like a nice piece of clothing on a peg reflects the wealth and value of the household, we can reflect the glory of Christ to those around us.

In Matthew 22:40 Jesus is using a very familiar scene in every home, and even in tents, of a peg or nail from which were hung wineskins and many other valuable things. In a very real sense, as a wineskin or article of clothing hangs from a peg and depends on the peg to keep it orderly and effective, the laws and commandments depend on love for God and love for mankind to be truly orderly and effective. It helps us understand how love is the peg that keeps the commandments orderly if we remember that the Hebrew word “torah” does not mean “law,” but “instruction.” Most of the “laws” in the Law of Moses are individual commands, certainly, but more than that, they are examples that serve as guides for us from which to build godly rules and laws to govern our society. For example, the Law tells us what to do if a person’s ox gores a person (Exod. 21:28-32), but does not tell us what to do about other animals that might be dangerous. We are to understand that the rules about oxen are “instruction” that we then use to build other, similar righteous rules and laws.

One of Jesus’ complaints about the rules the religious leaders had put in place was that they did not properly apply the instruction of the Torah when making up their rules. So, for example, they realized a person could pull an animal out of a ditch on the Sabbath, but believed that healing a human being on the Sabbath was breaking the Sabbath (Luke 13:14; 14:3-6). Similarly, the Jews wrongly thought that the message of Torah was to withdraw from sinners, while Jesus properly understood Torah and spent time with them. When questioned about it, he said to them, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”

With the above background about tent pegs, we are now able to see the wonderful point Jesus was making when he spoke of the law and commandments hanging from love. He was speaking to the Pharisees, who were trying to trap him in his words (Matt. 22:15). One of them asked him which was the greatest commandment in the Law, to which he answered, love God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and love your neighbor like yourself. Then Jesus added, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:40 KJV). Jesus was making the point that loving God and loving our neighbor are like a great peg in God’s house that give order and meaning to the rest of His commandments. Without love, the commandments lie broken, or in a disorganized heap, on the muddy floor, not able to profit us or others. Without love, the commandments are just heartless demands, but with love, they become the godly fabric upon which a godly society can be built. This should have been a huge lesson to the Pharisees, who were very particular about keeping the fine points of the Law, but often did so without love. Let us not be like the Pharisees, but instead let us understand the point that Jesus was making, that love is the essential peg from which every commandment hangs, and that gives order and meaning to the commandments.

As a final comment, we should point out that the REV and the King James Version give us the correct and literal rendering of the Greek text by using the word “hang.” However, most Christians do not understand the common illustration that Jesus was making by comparing love to a great wall peg, so modern versions such as the HCSB, ESV, NASB, NET, and NIV, say “depend” instead of “hang.” While “depend” gets the general sense of “hang,” some of the depth of what Jesus was saying is lost.

Mat 22:41(top)
Mat 22:42

“The Son of David.” “The Son of David” was a messianic title, as we see here (see commentary on Matthew 1:1).

Mat 22:43

“spirit.” It is very hard to tell whether it is more proper to say “Spirit” referring to God, or “spirit” referring to God’s gift of holy spirit when translating this verse. The Greek had no such problem because every letter was either capital (in uncial manuscripts) or lower case (in miniscule manuscripts). God works seamlessly with people through the agency of His gift of holy spirit, which He puts upon people (and now is born and sealed inside people; Eph. 1:13-14). It was God who originated the words David spoke, but like any prophet, he spoke them because he was energized by way of the gift of holy spirit that was upon him (cp. 1 Sam. 16:13). We used “spirit” here, knowing that the English “spirit” limits what actually transpired to the gift of holy spirit upon David energizing him, but knowing that the educated Christian knows that the gift of holy spirit never acts on its own, but is energized by God. (Cp. Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16; 4:25, which are the other times when David is said to speak by spirit).

It seems in keeping with the flow of the context and standard OT usage that Jesus is saying that David was speaking “by” (or “in association with”) the gift of God. In other words, it seems more likely that Jesus is saying David is speaking by the spirit of God (i.e., not on his own) than saying that he was speaking, being directed by God Himself, although it may well be that is indeed the emphasis here; it is very hard to tell, and it bears repeating that the original text did not make a difference between spirit and Spirit. Also adding weight to the fact that this is likely a reference to the gift, not the Giver (God) is the fact that ἐν πνεύματι is clearly used of the gift of God in other places (cp. Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; 11:13; John 1:33; Acts 11:16; Rom. 9:1; 14:17; 15:16; 1 Cor. 12:3; 1 Thess. 1:5; Jude 1:20), but not once clearly used with God Himself.

The Old Testament context of speaking out in prophecy because a person has the spirit of God upon them is well established (and “upon,” as per the KJV, is a good rendition of the Hebrew and very accurate, in contrast to some modern versions). Many people spoke or acted prophetically when the spirit came upon them (cp. Num. 11:17, 24, 25; 24:2, 3; Judg. 3:10; 1 Sam. 10:6, 10; 1 Chr. 12:18; 2 Chr. 15:1; 24:20). That would make this verse in Matthew similar, and show David to be following in that prophetic pattern.

The REV has “by the spirit,” adding the word “the” even though the Greek text does not have it. The Greek reads en pneuma (“in spirit;” ἐν πνεύματι), but the definite article is not needed in prepositional phrases to make the noun definite. Daniel Wallace writes: “There is no need for the article to be used to make the object of a preposition definite. ...This is recognized by most grammarians.”a Thus, when prepositions such as en, dia, or hupo are used before the noun pneuma hagion, as occurs here in Matthew, the noun can either be definite (i.e., “the pneuma”) or indefinite (i.e., “pneuma”) depending on the context or what reads most smoothly in English, because sometimes “the” just refers to “the” spirit in the context or the spirit that is commonly known.

Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 247.
Mat 22:44

“The Lord said to my Lord.” This is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36, and Luke 20:42-43. The Hebrew text reads, “Yahweh said to adōni [translated “my lord], “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

This is a very important verse showing that Jesus Christ is not God, but a fully human servant of God. To see that, however, we must understand the use of “Lord” in this verse. Trinitarian commentators sometimes argue that “my Lord” in this verse is another name for God, and is, therefore, proof of the divinity of the Messiah. However, that is incorrect. Actually, this verse is one of the great proofs of the complete humanity of the promised Messiah.

In all languages, words are built from root words, and the meaning of the inflected word can sometimes be quite different from the meaning of the root. Psalm 110:1 is an example of the root word, which means “lord,” taking on a more specific meaning when it is inflected, and we need to understand that meaning to understand this verse.

The root word of the word “lord” in Psalm 110:1 is adōn, which means “Lord or lord,” and can refer to a human lord or God (#0113 אָדוֹן pronounced ah-'dōn, and sometimes shortened to אָדֹן). When the root word adōn is inflected to adōnay, it refers to God. (#0136 אֲדֹנָי, usually spelled out as adōnay or adōnai and usually pronounced either ah-doe-nay or ah-doe-nigh).

In stark contrast, however, when the root word adōn is inflected to adōni, it refers to a human or angelic lord (#0113 אֲדֹנִי, pronounced ah-doe-nee). The “i” ending is possessive in Hebrew, and thus is usually translated “my.” Some examples will help us understand this: El is a name of God, so Eli (pronounced El-'ee) is “my God” (cp. Matthew 27:46). Ab or abba is “Father,” so abi (ab-eeˈ) is “my father.” The name Abimelech (pronounced Ab-ee-'mel-ek) is a compound word from abi, “my father” and melek, king, and meant, “my father is king” (cp. Judges 8:31). Similarly then, adōn is “Lord,” and adōni is “my Lord,” and that designation was never used of God, instead, the Hebrew uses adōnay for God.

What people who study the Bible must understand is that most Hebrew-English concordances and lexicons, for example, Young’s Concordance or Strong’s Concordance, give only root words, not the word that actually occurs in the Hebrew text. Even most computer-based research programs give the root word when you mouse over “lord” in Psalm 110:1. The roots can be confusing, and we have sometimes discovered that even the same research tools assign different Strong’s numbers for these words, making exacting study using English resources sometimes quite difficult. This is one reason why biblical research done by people using only tools such as a Strong’s Concordance is limited, and people who genuinely want to do serious research into the text of Scripture must understand, not just the root words, but the inflected forms of the words and the impact those infections have on the translation of the Bible.

Adōni is always used in Scripture to describe human masters and lords, but never God. Buzzard and Hunting write:

Psalm 110:1 provides a major key to understanding who Jesus is. The Hebrew Bible carefully distinguishes the divine title, adōnai, the Supreme Lord, from adōni, the form of address appropriate to human and angelic superiors. Adōni, “my lord,” “my master,” on no occasion refers to the deity. Adonai, on the other hand is the special form of adōn, lord, reserved for address to the One God only.a

The difference between adōn (the root word), adōni (“lord,” always used of men or angels) and adōnai (which is almost always used of God) is critical to the understanding of Psalm 110:1. The Dictionary of Old Testament Words by Aaron Pick makes a difference between adōnay and adōni, saying that adōni was “applied to man.” The Hebrew Lexicon by Brown, Driver and Briggs (BDB), considered by many to be the best available, makes the distinction between these words, and says that adōni “refers to human superiors.” The BDB lexicon points out that the following people were among those called “lord.” A master (Exod. 21:5); a husband (Gen. 18:12); a prophet (1 Kings 18:7 and 18:13); a prince (Gen. 42:10; 43:20); a king (1 Sam. 22:12); a father (Gen. 31:5); Moses (Num. 11:28; 12:11); a priest (1 Sam. 1:15 and 1:26); a theophanic angel (i.e., an angel representing God; Josh. 5:14; Judges 6:13); a captain (2 Sam. 11:11); and adōni was used for general recognition of superiority: Genesis 24:18; Ruth 2:13;

The fact that the Hebrew text uses the word adōni of the Messiah in Psalm 110 is very strong proof that he is not God. If the Messiah was to be God, then the word adōnai would have been used. This distinction between adōni (a lord) and adōnai (the Lord, God) holds even when God shows up in human form. In Genesis 18:3, Abraham addresses God who was “disguised” as a human, but the text uses adōnai, not adōni.

Many scholars recognize that there is a distinction between the words adōni and adōnai, and that these distinctions are important. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia notes:

The form ADŌNI (“my lord”), a royal title (1 Sam. 29:8), is to be carefully distinguished from the divine title ADŌNAI (“my Lord”) used of Yahweh.b

There are several uses of adōnai that refer to angels or men, giving them an elevated status, but that does not indicate that the speaker believed they were God. This is in keeping with the language as a whole. Studies of words like Elohim show that it is also occasionally used of humans who have elevated status. Examples of adōnai referring to humans include Genesis 19:18 and 24:9, 39:2. In contrast to adōnai being used occasionally of men, there is no time when adōni is used of God. Men may be elevated and represent God, but God is never lowered.

So that students can study the uses of adōni (אֲדֹנִי) for themselves (since most sources only give the root words), we list below its occurrences in the Old Testament. Our Hebrew text is the WTT or BHS Hebrew Old Testament, edited by K. Elliger and W. Rudolph of Deutsche Bibelgesellschoft, Stuttgart, fourth corrected edition, copyright © 1990 by the German Bible Society.

The following 148 verses contain 166 uses. Every one of them either refers to a human lord or an angel. None refers to God: Gen. 23:6, 11, 15; 24:12(2x); Gen 24:14, 18, 27(3x); Gen 24:35, 36, 37, 39, 42, 44, 48(2x); Gen 24:49, 65; 31:35; 33:8, 13, 14(2x); Gen 33:15; 39:8; 42:10; 43:20; 44:5, 7, 18(2x); Gen 44:19, 20, 22, 24; 47:18(2x); Gen 47:25; Exod. 21:5; 32:22; Num. 11:28; 12:11; 32:25, 27; 36:2; Josh. 5:14; 10:1, 3; Jdgs. 1:5, 6, 7; 4:18; 6:13; Ruth 2:13; 1 Sam. 1:15, 26(2x); 1 Sam 22:12; 24:8; 25:24, 25(2x); 1 Sam 25:26(2x); 1 Sam 25:27, 28, 29, 31, 41; 26:17, 18, 19; 29:8; 30:13, 15; 2 Sam. 1:10; 3:21; 9:11; 11:11; 13:32, 33; 14:9, 12, 15, 17(2x); 2 Sam 14:18, 19(2x); 2 Sam 14:22; 15:15, 21(2x); 2 Sam 16:4, 9; 18:31, 32; 19:19(2x); 2 Sam 19:20, 26, 27, 30, 35, 37; 24:3, 21, 22; 1 Kings 1:13, 17, 18, 20(2x); 1 Kings 1:21, 24, 27(2x); 1 Kings 1:31, 36, 37(2x); 1 Kings 2:38; 3:17, 26; 18:7,10; 20:4; 2 Kings 2:19; 4:16, 28; 5:3, 18, 20, 22; 6:5, 12, 15, 26; 8:5, 12; 10:9; 18:23, 24, 27; 1 Chr. 21:3(2x); 1 Chr 21:23; 2 Chr. 2:14, 15; Isa. 36:8, 9, 12; Jer. 37:20; 38:9; Dan. 1:10; 10:16, 17(2x); Dan. 10:19; 12:8; Zech. 1:9; 4:4, 5, 13; 6:4.

The following 24 uses “to my Lord” (l’adōni; לַאדֹנִי). While we in English separate the preposition from the noun or verb following, in Hebrew the preposition is attached directly to the word. Genesis 24:3, 54, 56; 32:5, 6, 19; 44:9, 16, 33; 1 Samuel 24:7; 25:27, 28, 30, 31; 2 Samuel 4:8; 19:29; 1 Kings 1:2; 18:13; 20:9; 1 Chronicles 21:3; Psalm 110:1.

The following 6 uses can be found under (v’adōni; וַאדֹנִי), which would generally mean, “and” lord: Genesis 18:12; Numbers 36:2; 2 Samuel 11:11; 14:20; 19:28; 24:3.

The following use can be found under (m_adōni; מֵאֲדֹנִי): Genesis 47:18.

Students of Hebrew know that the original text was written in an “unpointed” form, i.e., without the dots, dashes, and marks that are now the written vowels. Thus some people may point out that since the vowel points of the Hebrew text were added later, the rabbis could have been mistaken. It should be pointed out, however, that the two Hebrew words, adōnai and adōni, even though written the same in unpointed Hebrew, sound different when pronounced. This is not unusual in a language. “Read” and “read” are spelled the same, but one can be pronounced “red,” as in “I read the book yesterday,” while the other is pronounced “reed,” as in “Please read the book to me.” The correct way to place the vowels in the text would have been preserved in the oral tradition of the Jews. Thus when the text was finally written with the vowels it would have been written as it had always been pronounced.

Further evidence that the Jews always thought that the word in Psalm 110:1 referred to a human Messiah and not God is given in the Greek text, both in the Septuagint and in quotations of the Old Testament that appear in the New Testament. It is important to remember that the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, was made about 250 BC, long before the Trinitarian debates started. Yet the Septuagint translation is clearly supportive of Psalm 110:1 referring to a human lord, not God. It translates adōni as ho kurios mou, “my lord.”c

When Psalm 110:1 is quoted in the New Testament the same truth about the human lordship of the Messiah is preserved. Anthony Buzzard writes:

The New Testament, when it quotes Psalm 110:1, renders l’adōni as “to my lord” (to kurio mou). But it renders adōnai ([Psalm 110] v. 5 and very often elsewhere) as “the Lord” (kurios). This proves that the difference between adōnai and adōni was recognized and reported in Greek long before the Masoretic vowel points fixed the ancient, oral tradition permanently in writing.d

Sadly, many scholars have not paid close attention to the Hebrew text of Psalm 110:1, and incorrectly say that the second “Lord” in the verse is the Hebrew word adōnai (or adōnay) and thus means “God,” not recognizing that adōnai is not the actual Hebrew word in the verse. One such source is The Bible Knowledge Commentary edited by Walvoord and Zuck, Victor Books, 1985, p. 873. Another is Herbert Lockyer, All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible, Zondervan, 1975, p. 15. A third is Alfred Plummer, Gospel According to S. Luke [ICC]; Edinburgh; T&T Clark, 1913, p. 472.

The well-known Smith’s Bible Dictionary contains an article on “Son of God,” written by Ezra Abbot. He writes:

Accordingly we find that, after the Ascension, the Apostles labored to bring the Jews to acknowledge that Jesus was not only the Christ, but was also a Divine Person, even the Lord Jehovah.e

We believe Abbot’s conclusion is faulty because he did not pay attention to the exact wording of the Hebrew text. Even scholars who contributed to Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible apparently agree, because there is a footnote after the above quotation that corrects it. The footnote states:

In ascribing to St. Peter the remarkable proposition that “God has made Jesus Jehovah,” the writer of this article appears to have overlooked the fact that kurion (“Lord”) refers to to kurio mou (“my Lord”) in verse 34, quoted from Psalm 110:1, where the Hebrew correspondent is not Jehovah but adōn, the common word for “lord.”

The footnote is quite correct, for the word in Psalm 110 is the word for a “lord” or “master” and not God. Thus Psalm 110:1 gives us very clear evidence that the expected Messiah of God was not going to be God himself, but a created being. The Jews listening to Peter on the Day of Pentecost would clearly see the correlation in Peter’s teaching that Jesus was a “man approved of God” (v. 22 - KJV), the “my lord” of Psalm 110:1 which Peter quoted just shortly thereafter (v. 34). The use of adōni in the first verse of Psalm 110:1 makes it very clear that the Jews were not expecting their Messiah to be God, but were expecting a human “lord.”

The misinformation given about the Hebrew text of Psalm 110:1 in these respected and generally very helpful resource tools is very unfortunate, because it propounds the teaching that Jesus is God, which is actually exactly the opposite of what the Psalm itself is saying. There is a reason that in the Psalm David writes that God is “Yahweh” while the Messiah is his “lord.”

One of the clearest proofs that there is no Trinity is that neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever taught it. Psalm 110:1 is just one of many verses that were reasons the Jews were expecting a human Messiah. The ancient Jews had a lot of expectations about their Messiah that were based on Scripture. The Jews worshiped one God (Deut. 6:4), and never considered there to be a Trinity. Similarly, the Messiah the Jews were expecting was to be a real human, not a God-man. He was to be a descendant of Eve (Gen. 3:15), a descendant of Abraham (Gen. 22:18), from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10); and a descendant of David (2 Sam. 7:12, 13; Isa. 11:1). He was to be a “lord” under Yahweh (Ps. 110:1) and a servant of Yahweh (Isaiah 42:1-7), but he was to be able to draw near to Yahweh (Jer. 30:21). He was to be a Jew, “one of their own” (Jer. 30:21), and he was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

Since the Jews were expecting a human Messiah and did not think of “the Holy Spirit” as a “Person,” if the doctrine of the Trinity was true and was to be believed, someone, ostensibly the Messiah himself, had to teach it. But he never did. While there are a few verses where Jesus said things that modern Trinitarians say mean he was God, each of those can also be interpreted from the perspective that Jesus was not God, and many biblical Unitarian scholars have demonstrated that in their writings. Meanwhile, the vast preponderance of New Testament verses are Jesus or the New Testament authors showing that Jesus was sent by God and did God’s will, not his own. Jesus quoted the Shema (Deut. 6:4), that there was only one God, to Jews who would have taken what he said at face value. Jesus did not take the opportunity—ever!—to teach what modern Trinitarians say is the foundation of the Christian Faith: that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; and together the three Persons make One God. Why not? The most logical explanation is that there is no Trinity

[For more information see, One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith, by Graeser, Lynn, and Schoenheit.]

Psalm 110 is a Messianic and prophetic psalm in which God gave David a vision of the future, when God and the Messiah speak about what the Messiah will accomplish. The fact that David does not call both God and the Messiah his “Lord,” but carefully words what he says such that Yahweh maintains His elevated position while the Messiah, God’s “right-hand man,” is seen as David’s “lord.” If God and Christ were both God and were co-equal and co-eternal, as the Trinity states, then Psalm 110:1 fails to recognize that equality, or even that Yahweh and the Messiah are both God. Quite the opposite! The Messiah, David’s adōni, is seen to be distinct from, and lesser than, Yahweh.

“Yahweh.” “Yahweh” is the personal name of God, and a rabbinic abbreviation for it appears in the Hebrew manuscript of Matthew as well as in the verses of the Old Testament that Matthew quoted. There is evidence that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew and used the name Yahweh, so we have put it in the REV (see commentary on Matthew 3:3).

Buzzard and Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity, Christianity’s Self-inflicted Wound, 49-50.
Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, s.v. “Lord.”
See Buzzard and Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity, 28.
Anthony Buzzard, ed., Focus on the Kingdom, Atlanta Bible College, Morrow, GA, March 2000, 8 (emphasis his).
See Abbot, “Son of God”, Dr. William Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, 4:3090.
Mat 22:45

“how is he his son?” Jesus is the Son of David (cp. Matt. 1:1; 9:27; Luke 18:38-39, etc.), so this question is inviting a discussion on the subject.

Mat 22:46(top)

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