Matthew Chapter 26  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Matthew 26
Mat 26:1(top)
Mat 26:2(top)
Mat 26:3

“the one called Caiaphas.” The reason that Caiaphas had to be named was that Annas was also the High Priest. Annas should have been the only High Priest, since the High Priest served until death, but the Romans favored Caiaphas and made him the High Priest.

Mat 26:4(top)
Mat 26:5

“Not during the feast.” The Feast of Passover was attended by hundreds of thousands of Jews from around the world, and there was great nationalistic fervor that accompanied it because of its historic roots associated with deliverance from Egypt. The Jews of Jesus’ day would have loved nothing better than deliverance from Rome, and would welcome a Messiah to do that for them. The Jews knew this and, as much as they wanted to arrest Jesus, did not want to risk a riot, but preferred to wait until after the feast when the crowds went home. Their plans were altered when one of Jesus’ closest men, Judas, offered to hand him over to them. Jesus himself, knowing that he was to die at the same time the Passover lamb was killed, prodded Judas to make his move quickly to turn Jesus over to the authorities (John 13:27).

Mat 26:6

“Simon the Leper.” Simon had had a skin disease of some kind, but he was now cured or people would not have been in his house. Nevertheless, the name “Simon the Leper” stuck.

Mat 26:7

“a woman came to him.” John 12:3 identifies this woman as Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha (see commentary on John 12:3). This record of Mary pouring the oil on Jesus occurs in Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; and John 12:1-8, it is not included in Luke.

[For more information on this anointing and the controversy it stirred up, see commentary on John 12:3.]

“perfume.” The Greek word is muron (#3464 μύρον), and it is a general term for perfume, ointment, perfumed oil, or even a sweet-smelling substance. In the New Testament, the emphasis is on the way it smells, and thus “perfume” seems to be the best translation. It is not an “ointment,” per se, because that implies it would be being used for healing. Also, what Mary put on Jesus was likely not oily, so “perfumed oil” is perhaps not the best translation.

“poured it on his head.” The anointing of Jesus occurred in the house of Simon the Leper (Matt. 26:6; Mark 14:3), which is why John specifically says Martha was serving. If the supper occurred at the house of Mary and Martha that would never be stated because it would be obvious and expected.

At first glance, there seems to be a contradiction between Matthew, Mark, and John, because Matthew and Mark say the ointment was poured on Jesus’ head, while John says the feet. The key is to realize that a flask of oil worth a year’s salary would be quite large, and covered both his head and feet. That is why Jesus said that the woman “poured this perfume on my body” (Matt. 26:12).

Mat 26:8

“the disciples became angry.” The Greek word translated “angry” is aganakteō (#23 ἀγανακτέω), and it refers to being angry or displeased at a situation that is perceived to be unjust. This grumbling of the apostles started with Judas, who was in charge of the money that people gave to Jesus and stole from it. Judas saw the woman pouring expensive ointment on Jesus as a lost opportunity to enrich himself and started to grumble about the “waste” of money. The other apostles, not knowing Judas’ motive, picked up his cause and also started grumbling, which is what we read in Matthew and Mark. To see the cause of the grumbling, see commentary on John 12:4.

Mat 26:9(top)
Mat 26:10(top)
Mat 26:11(top)
Mat 26:12

“she did it to prepare me for burial.” The perfume was very expensive and therefore likely quite strong, so it is possible that there could have been a faint smell of it even days later when Jesus was buried. It is impossible to know what the disciples thought Jesus meant when he spoke of his burial. They did not expect him to die, much less be buried. However, taking Matthew 26:12 literally could well show us that in contrast to the disciples who did not know Jesus was going to die, Mary believed what Jesus said about dying and anointed his body as part of the preparation for death and burial (cp. Mark 14:8).

Mat 26:13(top)
Mat 26:14(top)
Mat 26:15(top)
Mat 26:16(top)
Mat 26:17

“Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread.” The commentators recognize that this phrase involves an idiomatic understanding of the feast of Unleavened Bread, because technically the feast of Unleavened Bread began the evening after the Passover Lamb was sacrificed (Exod. 12:15-20; Lev. 23:6), and this event in Matthew—and the Last Supper associated with it—occurred before that time.

Different scholars postulate different possibilities for the meaning of this phrase because it is not literal, but it is not difficult to understand what is being said here. Technically the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was on Nisan 15, which started at sunset after Nisan 14, when the Passover Lamb was sacrificed. However, as Lenski correctly observes, the “first day” “originally designated the celebration of the afternoon and evening of the 14th of Nisan (the eating of the Paschal Lamb) and [then] naturally came to be used by both Jewish and Greek writers also for the entire week of the celebration that followed.”a

So, from the way people commonly thought, the Feast of Unleavened Bread originally and technically did not start until sunset ending Nisan 14 and starting Nisan 15 (the Jewish day started at sunset). Then in time, the “first day” of the Feast of Unleavened bread included the afternoon of Nisan 14 when the Passover Lamb was killed, then eventually the saying, the “first day of Unleavened Bread,” came to occasionally be used to refer to the whole week, and that is the way it is used here in Matthew. Similarly, just as the Passover gets swept up in common language into the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is sometimes called the “Passover” (cp. Luke 22:1). In the United States a similar thing has occurred with Christmas, and it would not be uncommon for someone to see Christmas lights and trees and exclaim “It’s Christmas!” when technically Christmas (Dec. 25) was still even weeks away.

The season of Passover and Unleavened Bread took some preparation, for example, the Passover lamb was selected on the tenth day of Nisan, and that was a couple of days before the disciples ate the Last Supper especially if Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane after dark on our Monday night, which would have been Nisan 13 to the Jews. Also, although people did not technically have to remove the leaven from their houses until Nisan 15, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exod. 12:15), we know that later in history people started making plans to remove the leaven days in advance, and there is little reason that could not have happened in Christ’s time as well.

Although we cannot pin down the exact meaning of the idiom here in Matthew, or the exact day it referred to, it is clear that Matthew, who was an observant Jew, knew only too well that technically the Feast of Unleavened Bread occurred the night after the Passover was killed, but that did not stop him from writing what he did in his Gospel. This tells us that Matthew and his immediate audience knew something that we modern interpreters do not know; but likely it had to do with the feast of Unleavened Bread being idiomatically used for that general season.

[For more information on Jesus being in the grave for three days and three nights—from Wednesday Nisan 14 to Saturday Nisan 17, see commentary on Matthew 12:40, “three days and three nights.” For more information on the events from Jesus’ arrest through his resurrection appearances, see commentary on John 18:13 and 19:14. For more information on Nicodemus and that he came after Joseph of Arimathea left the tomb, see commentary on John 19:40.]

R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel, note on Mark 14:12, 609.
Mat 26:18(top)
Mat 26:19(top)
Mat 26:20(top)
Mat 26:21(top)
Mat 26:22(top)
Mat 26:23(top)
Mat 26:24

“but how terrible it will be for that man.” This warning is in Matthew 26:24, Mark 14:21, and Luke 22:22. The Greek word translated “how terrible it will be for” is ouai (#3759 οὐαί; pronounced ooh-'eye). For an explanation of the meaning of ouai, see commentary on Matthew 11:21. In this context, ouai is an expression of warning of the grief, disaster, and divine retribution that is coming to the one who betrays God’s Messiah.

Mat 26:25

“Rabbi.” It is very telling that Judas would call Jesus “Rabbi” when the other disciples call him “Lord” (cp. Matt. 26:22). In the book of Matthew, Jesus is only called “Rabbi” by Judas.

Mat 26:26

“bread.” This was not special bread, but the ordinary bread that the apostles were eating. Originally, communion was not a “ceremony,” but occurred at the start of a communal meal. There was no special bread or wine. Jesus did not have any, nor did the early Church. They used the bread and wine they were already eating and drinking. As with most things, over time the simple offering of thanks and time that was taken to eat some bread and drink some wine in recognition of Jesus’ sacrifice became ritualized and the “communion service” was invented.

In the early Church, anyone who wanted to eat and drink and recognize the sacrifice of Jesus could. There was no “membership,” or “requirements” that had to be met. Jesus did not ask for any, nor, as far as we can tell from the apostolic Church, did the early Christians. Again, over time Christians became concerned about not having the “right” people partake of the bread and wine, especially because it was supposed to accompany a personal commitment to the Lord. That was exacerbated by the Roman persecution of the early Church, because many Christians, rather than be tortured, gave in and offered sacrifices to the Roman gods. They would be “Romans” until the time of persecution was over (most persecutions lasted only a short time), and then they wanted to be received back into the congregation. However, the “confessors,” (those Christians who were tortured and often maimed because they continued to confess Jesus as Lord but survived—in contrast to the martyrs, those Christians who died for Christ) often did not want to allow these “weak” and “uncommitted” Christians back into the Church. Thus they would try to exclude them from the meetings and the communion.

Mat 26:27(top)
Mat 26:28

“this is my blood.” Here in Matthew, Jesus emphasizes that his death paid the penalty for Israel breaking the Old Covenant (the Mosaic Covenant). In Luke, Jesus emphasizes that his death ratifies the New Covenant.

[For more information on the difference between Matthew and Luke, and the two aspects of Jesus’ death, see commentary on Luke 22:20.]

“covenant.” See commentary on Hebrews 7:22. The word “new” is not included, as it is in the KJV. Textual scholars conclude that it was added to some Greek texts so that this verse mirrored Luke 22:20 more closely. Had “new” been original, there is no good reason for dropping it from the early texts.

Mat 26:29

“this fruit of the vine.” The “fruit of the vine” is wine. There are people who teach that Jesus was drinking grape juice because they think that someone as holy as Jesus would never drink alcohol. But drinking wine and beer was a part of the biblical culture, and the Bible testifies that Jesus drank wine (and it is likely he also drank beer, which was part of the biblical culture, but mistranslated in many older English versions. Cp. Lev. 10:9; Num. 28:7; Judg. 13:4; 1 Sam. 1:15; Prov. 31:6; Isa. 28:7; 56:12, etc. HCSB). When Jesus said, “the Son of Man came eating and drinking” (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34), he was contrasting himself to John the Baptist who came “neither eating bread nor drinking wine” (Luke 7:33, cp. Matt. 11:18). So unlike John who did not eat rich foods or drink wine, Jesus did both.

Also, the Last Supper was in the late spring, likely our April, and the grape harvest is in July. R. C. H. Lenski correctly writes: “in April such a thing as grape juice was an impossibility in the Holy Land in Christ’s time. It could be had only when grapes were freshly pressed out, before the juice started to ferment.”a

[For more on John not drinking wine, likely because he was a Nazirite, see commentary on Luke 1:15.]

“when I drink new wine with you in my Father’s kingdom.” The “fruit of the vine” is wine. At the Last Supper Jesus promised his apostles that he would not drink wine again until he drank it with them in his Father’s kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven, which was the Messianic Kingdom on the restored earth. The Old Testament had many verses that promised that when the Messiah conquered the earth and restored it to “Paradise,” that wine would be abundant (Isa. 25:6; Jer. 31:12; Hos. 2:22; Joel 2:19; Amos 9:13). In fact, the great feast that will be held on the mountain of Yahweh will have “the best of meats and the finest of wines” (Isa. 25:6 NIV). Jesus and his disciples knew about the future restored earth and the food and wine that would be there, and it was very meaningful to his disciples that Jesus promised that he would not drink wine until he got to drink it with them in the Kingdom. It has now been some 2,000 years since Jesus made that promise to his disciples, and we can be sure that Jesus has kept his promise and has not had any wine since the Last Supper. It is likely that Jesus will break his wine fast with his apostles and all of us at the great feast, the marriage supper of the Lamb, that will almost surely be held very soon after Jesus establishes his Kingdom on the earth.

The REV has “new wine,” but the Greek uses the word “it,” and in this case the “it” refers to what is being drank, which is the wine. This is clear in Greek, which is an inflected language, but it is not clear in the English if the Greek is translated literally. Saying in English, “until that day I drink new it” makes no sense, so the REV replaces the “it” with what the “it” refers to, which is wine.

[For more on the attributes of the Messianic Kingdom on earth and the names by which it is called, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.” For more about the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven, see commentary on Matthew 8:11, “recline at the feast.” For more about the fate of the unsaved who are not allowed into the feast but are excluded from it, see commentary on Matt. 8:12.]

Lenski, Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel, note on Mark 14:25, 628.
Mat 26:30(top)
Mat 26:31

“with me.” The Greek is literally, “in me,” which can be understood as “in connection with me,” or more simply, “with me.”

Mat 26:32

“Galilee.” See commentary on Matthew 28:7.

Mat 26:33(top)
Mat 26:34(top)
Mat 26:35(top)
Mat 26:36(top)
Mat 26:37(top)
Mat 26:38

“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; or attitudes, emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Here it is used more broadly of Jesus himself with an emphasis on his thoughts and emotions. Thus, while the verse could read something such as, “I am troubled” (cp. NAB; CJB), the inclusion of the word “soul” points us to his thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

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

“deeply grieved.” The Greek word is perilupos (#4036 περίλυπος), and it means deeply grieved, very sad, exceedingly sorrowful. Jesus knew the time of his arrest was approaching, and he was dealing with the emotions that were flooding him. He knew from Scripture and from the culture that he would be whipped and beaten for some 40 hours before dying on the cross as the true Passover Lamb. It was requiring all his love and resolve to move ahead and obey God to his painful death.

almost to the point of death.” The Greek is more literally simply “to death.” The Greek phrase “to the point of death” means “that his sorrow is so great that he is hardly able to bear it.”a Jesus is not saying that his sorrow will literally result in his death, but the phrase is idiomatic and means that he is very deeply grieved. We use the same idiomatic phraseology when say things like, “I am freezing to death,” or, “I am starving to death.” The word death is more idiomatic than literal and expresses the depth of the emotion.

Donald Hagner, Matthew 14-28 [WBC], 782.
Mat 26:39

“let this cup pass from me.” This use of “cup” is an idiom based on the custom of the drink at a meal being passed around from one person to another. There was usually only one cup, so people got what was in the cup without having a choice. Thus the cup at a meal was very similar to life: we often do not have a choice of what happens to us, we get the “cup” that we get. In this verse, Jesus is asking God if he can avoid partaking of the “cup” that is being passed to him.

[For more on the custom of the cup, see commentary on Psalm 11:6.]

Mat 26:40(top)
Mat 26:41

“the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The Greek text contrasts the spirit and flesh quite strongly. This is the use of “spirit” that refers to the action of the mind, i.e., attitudes and emotions. The Apostles had a willing attitude, but their flesh was weak and unable to stay awake.

[For more on “spirit,” including a long list of the ways it is used in the Bible, see Appendix 6, “Usages of ‘Spirit.’”]

Mat 26:42(top)
Mat 26:43(top)
Mat 26:44(top)
Mat 26:45

“Are you still sleeping…?” The verse can be translated with a statement, i.e., “sleep on now…” or with a question, “Are you still sleeping…?” Commentators are divided, but most of them agree that, since Christ said very shortly after that, “Rise and let us go” that if Christ did in fact make a statement, then it is irony, not a serious statement. We have decided to translate the verse as a question given the following:

A) The words can legitimately be translated as a question.

B) Irony is hard to detect in a book and usually confuses the reader.

C) Christ obviously did not mean for them to sleep since he spoke to them (if they were sleeping and he wanted them to continue sleeping, he would not have woken them up just to tell them to sleep on) and since he told them to get up in the very next verse.

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

Mat 26:46

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

Mat 26:47

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

“clubs” The KJV has staves, but the Greek just reads “woods” leaving the reader to figure out what the people were carrying that was made of wood. Since many people carried staffs, it would be natural to say that, but staffs were hard to fight with in a crowd and the association of this weapon with swords makes “clubs” the more likely choice.

Mat 26:48(top)
Mat 26:49(top)
Mat 26:50(top)
Mat 26:51

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

Mat 26:52

“those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” This verse is speaking about self-willed aggression outside the bounds of the law. It has nothing to do with self-defense or the proper use of the criminal justice system. Earlier that same day, Jesus had told the disciples to buy a sword if they did not have one. “He [Jesus] said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one’” (Luke 22:36). Obviously, Jesus would not tell people in the afternoon to go buy a sword if they did not own one, but then later that night teach that if they used the sword they had bought they would die by it.

There is a perfectly good reason Christ told his disciples to go buy a sword: self-defense. Peter, however, was not acting in self-defense when he drew his sword and used it on the servant of the priest. The people who came to arrest Jesus represented the legal authorities at the time. If the police came to your house to arrest you, even if you had not actually committed the crime, you would not be acting in self-defense if you pulled a weapon and started to fight with them. To be acting legally, you would have to win your case in court. When Peter pulled his sword and smote the servant of the High Priest, he was acting outside the will of God and outside the law of the land, and that is the context of Jesus’ rebuke. What Jesus said has absolutely nothing to do with self-defense, war, or the criminal justice system.

What Jesus said has historically been proven to be true. Throughout history, robbers and brigands who unlawfully took up the sword against the legal authorities were frequently killed or executed.

The police and other civil authorities set up by governments are charged with the duty of maintaining a social justice system. They “bear the sword” to keep society safe, and God calls them His “servants.” The Bible states: “For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4).

Mat 26:53

“he will send me more than 12 legions of angels.” Matthew 26:53 is one of the many verses that are evidence that Jesus Christ is not God, but the human Messiah, the “man approved by God” that the Jews were expecting. If Jesus had been teaching the Apostles that he was God in the flesh, they would not have been worried about protecting him, and neither would Peter have drawn a sword to defend him: God is fully capable of defending Himself!

Also, Jesus did not say to Peter: “Put away your sword. I can defend myself if I want to.” No. Jesus said he could ask his Father who would send him 12 legions of angels (72,000 angels) to rescue him. God does not need angels to defend Himself, but the Son of God, the fully human Messiah, would have needed God’s help to be delivered from the multitude of people who came to arrest him with swords and clubs.

[For more on Jesus being the fully human Son of God, see Appendix 10, “Jesus is the Son of God, Not God the Son.”]

Mat 26:54(top)
Mat 26:55(top)
Mat 26:56(top)
Mat 26:57

“led him away to the house of Caiaphas.” Caiaphas was the High Priest. The Gospel of Matthew skips over the fact that Jesus was taken first to Annas, and from Annas to Caiaphas, but that is clearly recorded in the Gospel of John (John 18:13, 24). Annas was the father-in-law to Caiaphas, and from the biblical record and archaeological evidence, Annas and Caiaphas lived side by side in a family compound, which was not unusual. That would also explain how Peter could follow what was happening to Jesus through the night even though the Gospels seem to have him in the same general area. The compound in which Annas and Caiaphas lived would have had a big yard and been surrounded by a fence or wall, which explains why Peter had to be let into the area through a gate (John 18:16).

[For more on the chronology of the last week of Christ’s life from his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane to his appearances on Sunday after his crucifixion, see commentary on John 18:13. For more information about Jesus being in the tomb, “the heart of the earth,” for three full days and three nights, see commentary on Matt. 12:40. For information on the chronology of the four trials of Jesus on Tuesday (before the Jewish Sanhedrin, then Pilate, then Herod, then Pilate) see commentary on John 19:14, “the sixth hour.” For information on the two-stage burial of Jesus, first by Joseph of Arimathea and then by Nicodemus, see commentary on John 19:40. For information on the Hasmonean palace as the likely location of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, see commentary on Luke 23:7.]

Mat 26:58(top)
Mat 26:59(top)
Mat 26:60(top)
Mat 26:61

“I am able to destroy this temple.” This is not what Jesus said! Speaking to the Jews he said, “If you destroy this temple, I will raise it up in three days.” See commentary on John 2:19 and Mark 14:58.

“and to build it in three days.” See commentary on John 2:19.

Mat 26:62(top)
Mat 26:63

“that you tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” What the Jews asked Jesus at his trial, and how Jesus answered, is good evidence that Jesus never claimed to be God and that there is no Trinity. Trinitarians often say that Jesus was claiming to be God, but there is no clear evidence that is true. Here is clear evidence that the priests thought Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah, the Son of God, and they did not think that “Son of God” was in any way equivalent to “God.”

[For more on Jesus being the Son of God and not “God in the flesh,” see Appendix 10, “Jesus is the Son of God, Not God the Son.”]

Mat 26:64

Yes, it is as you say.” See commentary on Matthew 27:11; “It is as you say.” In the related record in Mark 14:62, Jesus says, “I am.” Some critics say that Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God. Here, he swears to it.

“Moreover.” Jesus agrees that he is the Christ, but he is certainly not confirming the accusation of blasphemy, so he says, “Moreover ... you will see the Son of Man....”

“you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power.” The most natural reading of this verse is that Jesus is specifically speaking to the leaders in front of him and saying that they would see him come down from heaven. This would then fit with all the other places in which Jesus indicated that his return would occur during the lifetime of the generation in which he lived.

It is possible, but unlikely, that this statement made by Jesus is a general statement and the “you” is not specific but refers to rulers in any age who are ungodly, such as these ungodly Jews. However, in order to make Jesus’ statement more general, the two main phrases have to be understood in an allegorical, not literal, way. As to the first of these phrases, about Jesus being on the right hand of God, many commentators say that it refers to the way it was possible to “see” the effects of Jesus’ reign from heaven through the actions of the Church. The problem with that interpretation is that there is no evidence that the unbelievers “saw” Christ reigning by watching Christians. Unbelievers regularly mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted Christians. They did not “see” the reign of Christ through them. In contrast, when Jesus actually comes from heaven where he is sitting on the right hand of God, “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him” (Rev. 1:7). When Jesus starts to come down from heaven to conquer the earth (Rev. 19:11ff), not even an unbeliever will be able to deny it; everyone will see him.

The phrase, “coming on the clouds of heaven,” should be understood in a literal way too. When it is taken allegorically, it is said to be a general phrase referring to Christ’s actions in judgments after his ascension. However, there is no reason to assume that Jesus meant it that way with the exception that his return did not occur in the lifetime of those he was speaking to. Had he returned in their lifetimes, the prophecy of him coming in the clouds of heaven and judging the earth and ruling over it (Dan. 7:13, 14), would have been fulfilled. If we read the Bible literally, then the evidence is clear that Jesus was expecting his Second Coming to occur during the lifetime of those Jews to whom he was speaking.

What Jesus said here in Matthew 26:64 (cp. Mark 14:62) fits with what Jesus said to other people at other places in the Gospels, that they would be alive to see Jesus return to earth at his Second Coming. Jesus apparently thought he would return soon and spoke that way in a number of places in the Gospels.

“Power” is a circumlocution for God.a

[For more on Jesus speaking about his Second Coming occurring soon, see commentary on Matt. 16:28. For more on the coming kingdom of Christ on earth, the Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.”]

Grant Osborne, Matthew [ZECNT], 998.
Mat 26:65

“tore his clothing.” The word “clothing” is himation (#2440 ἱμάτιον; hĭ-'mä-tee-on), which refers to clothes 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 clothing 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.]

Mat 26:66

“He deserves to die!” The Law of Moses stated: “But whoever blasphemes the name of Yahweh, he is to be put to death, yes, death” (Lev. 24:16). Since blaspheming Yahweh was the only blasphemy that was deserving of death in the Law, by the time of Christ the overly religious and hypocritical Sadduccees and Pharisees had apparently decided that if anyone claimed to be the Messiah they had blasphemed Yahweh and were worthy of death. As we would expect of their hypocrisy, however, they would not have put everyone who claimed to be the Messiah to death because there are always insane people who think they are the Messiah; they would have only put people to death who they considered a threat to their control over society.

Mat 26:67(top)
Mat 26:68(top)
Mat 26:69

“servant girl.” The Greek word can be either “slave girl” or “servant girl.” The context determines which. This girl (and the ones in Mark 14:66, 69; Luke 22:56; Acts 12:13) may have been slave girls, but there the context does not give enough weight to go in that direction.

Mat 26:70

“But he denied it before everyone.” Each of the Four Gospels has three times that Peter denied Jesus, but they are in different circumstances. Putting the Four Gospels together we see that there are three “denial events.” The first was a denial that occurred at the gateway to the compound of the High Priest. From history and archaeology it seems clear that the High Priests Annas and Caiaphas lived side by side, or very close together, and shared a courtyard, and the common custom was that people of that wealth and distinction would have a courtyard with a wall around it with a gate. When Peter followed Jesus and got to the compound he was stopped at the gate and questioned and denied Christ (John 18:17). Then he went to the campfire in the courtyard where he was questioned by several people and denied Christ (Matt. 26:69; Mark 14:66-68; Luke 22:55-57; John 18:18, 25). Then he went back to the gate where he was questioned again and again denied Christ and a rooster crowed twice (Matt. 26:71-75; Mark 14:68-72; Luke 22:59-62; John 18:26-27). So there were three “denial events,” with different specific denials occurring at each place. The rooster crowed twice, both while Peter was at the gate the second time (Mark 14:68-72). It is very common that roosters crow twice or several times, and often those crowings are not separated by much time at all. It is quite possible that Peter would deny Christ, the rooster crow, then someone else quickly make an accusation, Peter deny Christ again, and then the rooster crow again. The denial event at the gate would not have had to have taken long at all. Because the accusations and denials at any one place—the gate, the courtyard, and the gate again—happened in quick succession, Jesus was accurate in saying that Peter would deny him three times, counting a flurry of accusations and denials as one denial.

Mat 26:71

“another servant girl.” We felt it was important to add “servant girl” in italics because the Greek is feminine, so any Greek reader would know it was another servant girl, and not just another servant. There are times the Greek can be more condensed and clearer than the English.

Mat 26:72

“he denied it, this time with an oath.” For more on the denials of Peter, see commentary on Matthew 26:70.

Mat 26:73

“your accent makes you known.” It is common for “city folk” to make fun of the way “country folk” talk, and the culture at the time of Christ was no different. Galilee was considered unsophisticated by the standards in Judea and Jerusalem. Robertson writes: “The Galileans had difficulty with the gutturals.”a Paul Maier writes: “It was a standing joke that you couldn’t tell if a Galilean were talking about an ass, a lamb, or a jug of wine, since they pronounced hamor, immar, and hamar just about the same.”b

A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 1:220.
Paul Maier, First Easter, 53.
Mat 26:74

“curse...swear.” See commentary on Mark 14:71.

Mat 26:75

“the words.” The Greek text has “the word,” which is a collective singular. In English, we would say “the words” for clarity.

“he went outside.” Peter was in the courtyard, but he did not give himself away by openly crying in the courtyard with all the people there. He left the courtyard and cried privately.


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