Mark 11
ICC New Testament Commentary
And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,

11:1-11. Jesus comes to Bethany, where he procures a colt, on which he rides into Jerusalem. The multitude strew their garments and layers of leaves in the road, and shout Hosanna, invoking blessings on the coming kingdom. Jesus goes immediately to the temple, and satisfying himself for the present with a look at things, goes out to Bethany for the night.

Jesus has told his disciples that he is going to Jerusalem only to meet his fate, and be put to death by the authorities, and yet he enters it amidst the acclaims of the multitude, who hail him as the coming King. This acknowledgment, repelled before, he now accepts. But, the claim once made, he proceeds as before, with his merely spiritual work. The key to these apparent inconsistencies is to be found in the splendid self-consistency of Jesus’ procedure, and in its absolute inconsistency with worldly ideas and policies. Jesus knew that the Messianic claim in Jerusalem meant death, and that death meant the ultimate establishment of the claim, not defeat. Every part of his life, but especially its end, means that he aimed to establish the ideal as the law of human life, and that he would use only absolutely spiritual means in the accomplishment of his end.

Meantime, everything points to the fact that Jesus deliberately used the enthusiasm of the multitude for the purposes of his entry into Jerusalem, intending to make it the means of a public proclamation of his Messianic claim. That proclamation was necessary, because men must understand definitely the issue that he made. The acceptance of him as King, and not merely as Prophet, was what he demanded. And in the events which followed, it immediately became apparent that the question thus raised was not only a question of his personal claim, but of the nature of his kingdom. The multitude who followed him thought that, with the announcement of the claim, the programme would change. But the unchanged programme meant that Jesus, just as he was, claimed kingship, and would be king only by spiritual enforcements.

1. Καὶ ὅτε ἐγγίζουσιν εἰς Ἱερουσόλυμα, καὶ εἰς Βηθανίαν—And when they draw near to Jerusalem, and to Bethany.

καὶ εἰς Βηθανίαν, instead of εἰς Βηθφαγὴ καὶ Βηθανίαν, Tisch. Treg. marg. WH. marg. D Latt. The shorter reading seems probable, the longer reading having crept into the text from Lk.

καὶ εἰς Βηθανίαν—We have here a case of abbreviated expression, which obstructs clearness. The exact statement is, that they approached Jerusalem, and had come on the way as far as Bethany on the other side of the Mount of Olives. Bethany is mentioned here for the first time in Mk. In fact, according to this account, Jesus is now approaching Jerusalem for the first time. And hence places enter into the account which have not appeared before. Bethany was a small village on the other side of the Mount of Olives, about fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem. In approaching it, therefore, they would be on the way towards the Mount, πρὸς τὸ ὄρος.

2. τὴν κώμην τὴν κατέναντι1 ὑμῶν—the village that is over against you. Bethany is the village meant here, as Bethphage is the one designated in Matthew 21:1. In both cases, the village named is the only one mentioned. The implication evidently is that the road did not pass through the village, but was off one side. πῶλον—a colt. Mt. specifies a she-ass and its colt, and as the ass was the more common beast used for domestic purposes, there is no doubt that the colt here was an ass’s colt.2 ἐφʼ ὅν οὐδεὶς οὔπω ἀνθρώπων ἐκάθισεν—on which no one of men yet sat. Lk. also has these words. But they are extremely improbable in the mouth of Jesus. They evidently belong to the narrator, who very likely took a fact that he had discovered about the colt, and which had an undesigned significance, and made it a part of Jesus’ design, an intentional effect in the pageant. There is no indication that Jesus cared for the ceremonious trappings of an event. Such care belongs to homage, not to the person receiving it. On this demand of newness for sacred purposes, see Numbers 19:2, Deuteronomy 21:3, 2 Samuel 6:3. It is evidently the intention of the writers of the Gospels here to imply a supernatural knowledge on the part of Jesus.

Insert οὔπω before ἀνθρώπων Treg. WH. RV. ABL Δ mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. After ἀνθρώπων, Tisch. א C 13, 69, Egyptt. (Pesh.). ἐκάθισεν, instead of κεκάθικε, Treg. marg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ λύσατε αὐτὸν καὶ, instead of λύσαντες αὐτὸν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDL Latt. Egyptt. (Syrr.). φέρετε, instead of ἀγάγετε, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDL Latt. Egyptt. (Syrr.).

3. Ὁ Κύριος αὐτοῦ χρείαν ἔχει, καὶ εὐθὺς αὐτὸν ἀποστέλλει πάλιν ὦδε—the Master has need of it, and will send (sends) it here again immediately.

Omit Ὅτι before ὁ Κύριος Tisch. Treg. (Treg. marg.) WH. RV. B Δ 239, 433, mss. Lat. Vet. ἀποστέλλει, instead of ἀποστελεῖ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. and most authorities. Insert πάλιν, again, after ἀποστέλλει Tisch. Treg. (Treg. marg.) WH. RV. א BC* DL Δ.

ὁ κύριος—the Master. This title was so frequently applied to Jesus by himself and others, that there is little reason to suppose that there is any special significance in its use here. It indicates in general his relation to his disciples, and not any special phase of that relation. It would not be used here, e.g., to indicate that he has assumed his Messianic position, since it is a title common to this with the time before. καὶ εὐθὺς αὐτὸν ἀποστέλλει πάλιν ὥδε—and will send (sends) him here again immediately. With this insertion of again, these words make a part of Jesus’ message to the owner of the animal, instead of his announcement to the disciples of what the owner will do in response to the message. He promises to return the animal immediately.

4. Καὶ ἀπῆλθον, καὶ εὖρον πῶλον δεδεμένον πρὸς (τὴν) θύραν ἔξω ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀμφόδου—And they departed, and found a colt tied at a (the) door upon the street outside.

Καὶ ἀπῆλθον, instead of ἀπῆλθον δὲ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BL Δ, one ms. Lat. Vet. Omit τὸν, the, before πῶλον, colt, Treg. WH. RV. ABDLX ΓΠ Memph. Omit τὴν, the, before θύραν, door, Treg. WH. BL Δ Egyptt.

πρὸς (τὴν) θύραν ἔξω ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀμφόδον—These details are evidently the report of an eyewitness. The first part, at the door outside, is easy of explanation. The better class of houses were built about an open court, from which a passageway under the house led to the street outside. It was at this outside opening to the street, that the colt was tied. But the ἀμφόδου is more difficult. Probably, it differs from ὁδοῦ simply in denoting a roundabout road. The AV. where two ways met, confounds the prep. ἀμφί and ἄμφω meaning both.1 The village may have been built on such a rounding road, that lay off from the straight highway, and the narrator places this in the story of the event in his ἀμφόδου. Such a descriptive touch is quite in Mk.’s manner.

5. Τί ποιεῖτε λύοντες τ. πῶλον;—What are you doing, loosing the colt? This τί ποιεῖτε we use very frequently in asking the meaning of an action; only we leave it by itself. What are you doing? we say. It asks the question, what the act really is, the outward form of which appears in the participial clause. Οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτοῖς, καθὼς εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς—And they told them, as Jesus said.

εἶπεν, said, instead of ἐνετείλατο, commanded, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCL Δ 1, 28, 124, 209, one ms. Lat. Vet. Egyptt.

6. καὶ ἀφῆκαν αὐτούς—and they permitted them, put no hinderance in their way. The expression is elliptical, the full statement including the thing permitted.

7. Καὶ φέρουσιν τὸν πῶλον …, καὶ ἐπιβάλλουσιν αὐτῷ τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐπʼ αὐτόν—And they bring the colt …, and put their garments on him, and he seated himself on him.

φέρουσιν, instead of ἤγαγον, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אc BL Δ. ἐπιβάλλουσιν, instead of ἐπέβαλον, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCDL Δ 1, 28, 91, 201, 299, mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph. αὐτὸν, instead of αὐτῷ after ἐπʼ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCDL Δ.

τὰ ἱμάτια—the outer garments. On this form of royal homage, see 2 K. 9:13.

8. ἄλλοι δὲ στιβάδας κόψαντες ἐκ τῶν ἀγρῶν—and others layers of leaves, having cut them out of the fields. στιβάδας is the object of the preceding ἔστρωσαν.

στιβάδας, instead of στοιβάδας,2 Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBDEGHKL MU ΔΠ. κόψαντες, instead of ἔκοπτον, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א B(C) L Δ, Theb. ἀγρῶν, instead of δένδρων, trees, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א B (C) L Δ Theb. Omit last clause of v., same authorities.

στιβάς is any layer of leaves, twigs, rushes, and the like, used for bedding, or to make a road easy of travel. This throwing their garments on the horse, and strewing the road with garments and layers of leaves, is all in the way of smoothing the road as a part of the homage rendered.

9. ἔκραζον, Ὡσαννά—cried Hosanna.

Omit λέγοντες, saying, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCL Δ 115, mss. Lat. Vet. Egyptt.

Ὡσαννά—Hosanna.3 This cry is not an acclamation, but a prayer, meaning, save now, and it means either that Jehovah shall be propitious to some one else, conspicuous in the scene, or in connection with him, to the people uttering the cry. In the Psalm 118:25, Psalm 118:26 from which this invocation is taken, it is probably a prayer that Jehovah will be propitious to his people. While in Matthew 21:9, where it reads, Ὡσαννὰ τ. υἱῷ Δαυείδ—be propitious now to the Son of David, the prayer is for the one whom the multitude recognize as the coming Messiah. Probably, here it is the prayer of the people that the expected salvation may be accomplished now. εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόμ. Κυρ.—Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. It is a question of feeling, whether ἐστί or ἔστω is to be supplied here; whether it invokes a blessing on the coming king and his kingdom, or pronounces him blessed. Either is grammatically allowable. On the whole, I incline to the latter view. See RV. Κυρίου is a translation of יהוה, Yahweh, in Psalm 118:26, from which all this acclaim is taken. ἐν ὀνόμ. Κυρίου, in the name of the Lord, means that the kingdom of the Messiah is to be a vicegerency, in which the Messiah represents and takes the place of Jehovah.

10. εὐλογημένη ἡ ἐρχομένη βασιλεία τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Δαυείδ—Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David. The coming kingdom represents it as already on the way, and drawing near. It is no longer in a postponed and indefinite future, but in sight. It is represented as the kingdom of David, because the promise of it was made to him as a man after God’s own heart, and the king was to be in his line and to succeed to his spirit. The kingdom was to be a reproduction, after a long collapse, of the splendors of the Davidic kingdom.1

Omit ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου, in the name of the Lord, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCDLU Δ 1, 13, 69, 115, 124, 209, 238, 346, Latt. Egyptt. Pesh.

Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις—Hosanna in the highest (places). τὰ ὕψιστα is a translation of a Heb. word for heaven.2 This addition indicates that Hosanna is not here a mere acclaim, a sort of Hurrah! It is a prayer for God to save them in the highest places, where he dwells.

This entry into Jerusalem, with its accompaniments of shouting multitudes and spontaneous homage, can have only one meaning in our Lord’s life. It is his public announcement of himself as the Messiah, or rather his public acceptance of the title that his disciples had been so long anxious to thrust upon him. And yet, after it, his life lapses again into its quiet ways, and he becomes once more the teacher and benefactor. And so, the distinct claim to be a king is followed immediately by the revolutionizing of the whole idea of kingship. But then, this is only in accordance with what he has already said to his disciples who wished to occupy the places in the kingdom next to the king. “He who desires to be first, let him be least and servant of all.” His teaching and life needed the distinct announcement of his Messianic claim in order that men might understand that this is what is meant by the claim to be king of men.

11. Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα, εἰς τὸ ἱερόν—And he entered into Jerusalem, into the temple.

Omit ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ before εἰς τὸ ἱερόν Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCL Δ Lat. Vet. Memph.

Jesus makes his way immediately, not only into the Holy City, but into the Holy Place, where his claim to lordship over the place can be put to the test.

Καὶ περιβλεψάμενος πάντα, ὀψὲ ἤδη τῆς ὥρας—And having looked round upon all things, the hour being already late.

ὀψὲ, instead of ὀψίας, Tisch. Treg. marg. WH. א CL Δ.

This look took in those things which were to receive the next morning so sharp attention from him, but as the hour was already so late, he went out to Bethany. This differs distinctly from Mt., who places the cleansing of the temple immediately after the entrance into the city, and mentions the cursing of the fig tree as on the morning after the cleansing. This is the first time that Bethany appears in the Synoptical narrative, but the appearance is of such a kind as to imply a previous history, or rather a previous appearance of the place in the life of our Lord. John gives us the clue to Jesus’ freedom of the place in the story of the raising of Lazarus, but at the same time, he places the intimacy further back by calling Lazarus the one whom Jesus loved.


12-14. Jesus leaves Bethany the next morning, and on his way to Jerusalem, he sees a fig tree, whose leaves give promise of fruit. But when he comes to it, he finds only leaves. He dooms the tree to perpetual fruitlessness.

12. Καὶ τῇ ἐπαύριον1 … ἐπείνασε2—And on the morrow … he became hungry.

Jesus’ leaving Bethany in the morning and coming to Jerusalem indicates his habit during this last week. His place of action during the day was Jerusalem, his place of rest at night was Bethany.

13. καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν3—and having seen a fig tree at a distance.

Insert ἀπὸ before μακρόθεν Tisch. Treg. WH. RV., and most authorities.

ἔχουσαν φύλλα—having leaves. This presence of leaves constituted the false appearance of the tree, as on the fig tree these are the sign of fruit. εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει—(to see) whether then he will find anything on it.4 ἄρα is illative, and means here, “since he saw leaves, whether the fruit that accompanies leaves was there.”5 ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων—for the season was not that of figs. This gives the reason why there were no figs, in spite of the presence of leaves. It was about April, whereas the season of figs was not until June for the very early kind, or August for the ordinary crop.

ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων, instead of οὐ γὰρ ἦν καιρὸς σύκων, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBC* L Δ Memph. Pesh.

14. Καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτῇ—And answering, he said to it.

Omit ὁ Ἰησοῦς before εἶπεν Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCDL Δ 1, 33, 91, 124, 238, 346 mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg.

Μηκέτι εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἐκ σοῦ μηδεὶς καρπὸν φάγοι—The position of the words and the double negative make this curse weighty. The reason of it is to be found in the false pretence of leaves without fruit on a tree in which leaves are a sign of fruit. The apparent unreason is in cursing a fig tree for anything. The principle that you must not only judge a person by his acts, but sometimes judge his acts by the person, applies here. The act appears wanton and petulant, but what we know of Jesus warrants us in setting aside this appearance. Jesus was on the eve of spiritual conflict with a nation whose prime and patent fault was hypocrisy or false pretence, and here he finds a tree guilty of the same thing. It gives him his opportunity, without hurting anybody, to sit in judgment on the fault. He does not complete the parable by pointing out the application, but leaves this, as he does his spoken parables, to suggest its own meaning, and so to force men to think. Such acted parables were not without precedent among the Jews. See Hosea 1:1-3, John 4:6-11, Matthew 13:10-15. And in Jesus’ own teaching, the recourse to enigmatical methods that should force men to think, was not uncommon.


15-18. On arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus goes to the temple again, and finds the customary traffic in animals for the Passover sacrifices, and in small change for the purposes of this traffic, going on. Jesus drives out the traffickers, and overturns their tables and chairs.

15. καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν ἤρξατο ἐκβάλλειν τοὺς πωλοῦντας καὶ τοὺς ἀγοράζοντας—and having entered into the temple, he began to cast out those selling and those buying.1

Omit ὁ Ἰησοῦς after εἰσελθὼν Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCDL Δ 1, 33, 91, 124, 238, 346 mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph. Insert τοὺς before ἀγοράζοντας Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCKLMNU Π.

This buying and selling went on in the Court of the Temple, and the merchandise consisted of the animals, incense, oil, and other things required for sacrifice, the demand for which was very great at the time of the annual feasts. τῶν κολλυβιστῶν—this is a word found in the N.T. only in these accounts of the cleansing of the Temple. The word, like its companion κερματίστης, denotes one who changed money for the convenience of the buyers and sellers, of course for a consideration—a dealer in small coin. It is supposed by some that these money-changers exchanged for the foreign coin brought by the pilgrims the shekel in which alone the Temple tax could be paid. But the words used both denote dealers in small coins, which is more consonant with the above explanation. The doves were the offering of the poor, who were not able to offer sheep and oxen.2

16. Καὶ οὐκ ἤφιεν3 ἵνα τις διενέγκῃ σκεῦος διὰ τοῦ ἱεροῦ—and would not allow any one to carry a vessel through the temple.4

σκεῦος—vessel. Used generally for utensils or gear of any kind, even the sails of vessels. The outer Court, and especially the Court of the Gentiles, where this traffic went on, was looked on as a kind of common ground which men might use as a short cut, carrying across it various σκεύη.

17. καὶ ἐδίδασκε, καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς—and he taught and said to them.

καὶ ἔλεγεν, instead of λέγων, saying, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCL Δ 6, 13, 69, 346, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph. Pesh.

οἶκος προσευχῆς1 πᾶσι τοῖς ἔθνεσιν—a house of prayer for all nations. The quotation is from Isaiah 56:7, a passage which predicts the admission of strangers who worship God, as well as Jews, to the privileges of the Temple. The rebuke is specific therefore, denouncing not only the misuse of the Temple, but of that part which made it the seat of a universal worship. It was the Court of the Gentiles which they had thought just good enough for these debased uses. σπήλαιον ληστῶν—a cave of robbers, not thieves. These words are quoted from Jeremiah 7:11. The context in Jer. shows that the name is given there not because of the desecrating uses to which the Temple was put, but because of the character of those who used it. Their use of the Temple was legitimate, but they themselves defiled it by their character and conduct outside. Here, on the contrary, it is their illegitimate use of the Temple which is condemned. The use of this term robbers by our Lord adds an unexpected element to the denunciation of their practice. Evidently trade as such desecrates the Temple, making its precincts and sacrifices the place and occasion of personal gain. It is the incongruous and unhallowed mixture of God and mammon that Jesus elsewhere condemns. But when he calls it robbery, it is evident he means more than the condemnation of trade in itself in the Temple precincts. And yet, we have no reason to suppose that there was anything extraordinary in this traffic. Jesus would need only to see the opposition of all actual trade in principle to the Golden Rule, to condemn it in this strong language, when it invaded the courts of the Temple. It is the principle of trade to pursue personal advantage alone, and leave the other man to pursue his interests, in other words, competition, which makes trade robbery.

πεποιήκατε, instead of ἐποιήσατε, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. BL Δ.

This was an exercise of Messianic authority on the part of Jesus; but it did not transcend his rule of purely spiritual kingship, since the power that he used was simply that of his personal ascendency. It was an impressive example of the authority of truth and goodness. Men are easily overawed by the indignations of righteousness. We should expect such an access of authority in the action and speech of Jesus after the announcement of his Messianic claim, but the element of force, which is the idea of government, is left out.

18. οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς κ. οἱ γραμματεῖς—the chief priests and the scribes. These were the constituted authorities, who had licensed this desecration of the Temple. They sold these rights to the traders, and they resented this invasion of their constituted rights. Together, they constituted the main body of the Sanhedrim.1 The overthrow of evil everywhere, which was the evident mission of this daring innovator, menaced them.

οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς, instead of the reverse order, א ABCDKL ΔΠ Latt. Memph. Pesh. πῶς ἀπολέσωσιν, how they may destroy, instead of πῶς ἀπολέσουσιν, how they shall destroy, Tisch. Treg. WH. and most sources.

ἐφοβοῦντο γὰρ αὐτόν· πᾶς γὰρ ὁ ὄχλος ἐξεπλήσσετο2 ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ3—for they were afraid of him; for all the multitude was amazed at his teaching.

πᾶς γὰρ, instead of ὅτι πᾶς, because all, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBC Δ 1, 13, 28, 69, 346, Memph.

The power that Jesus had to carry the multitude with him, so that they stood amazed at the strength and authority of his teaching, made the rulers fear him. τῇ διδαχῇ—his teaching. Doctrine is a poor translation, first because it omits everything belonging to the manner, and secondly, because it has acquired a technical meaning that does not belong to διδαχή.


19-26. The morning of the third day, as they are passing by, they see the fig tree which Jesus had cursed, withered. Jesus commends faith to them, as able to remove not only trees, but mountains. Mk. introduces here the irrelevant matter of forgiveness as the condition of answer to prayer.

19. Κ. ὅταν ὀψὲ ἐγένετο—And whenever it came to be evening. This may be taken in two ways, either of which involves an irregularity. (1) It may be, And whenever evening came (RV.), every evening; involving the irregularity of the aor. for the impf. Or (2) it may be, And when it came to be evening, referring to a single evening, involving the irregularity of ὅταν for ὅτε. The latter use is found in Byzantine writers. See Win. 425. But in judging an irregular style like this, the anomalous use of the aor. seems more easily accountable than that of the more striking ὅταν. Moreover, the translation whenever is more accordant with the impf. in the principal clause.

ὅταν, instead of ὅτε, when, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCKL ΔΠ* 28, 33. ἐξεπορεύοντο, they would go, instead of ἐξεπορεύετο, he would go, Treg. WH. RV.marg. ABKM* ΔΠ 124, two mss. Lat. Vet. Pesh. Harcl. marg.

21. ἣν κατηράσω—which you cursed.1

22. καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτοῖς, Ἔχετε πιστιν Θεοῦ2—and answering, Jesus says to them, Have faith in God.

Insert ὁ before Ἰησοῦς Tisch. Treg. WH. and most authorities.

Jesus answers here to the wonder expressed in Peter’s statement, pointing out the source of the wonderful thing, and showing how they too may attain the same power. τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ—this mountain. Primarily, this would be the Mount of Olives, which was in their sight all the way. Jesus’ statement is climacteric. The faith in God by which he has dried up this tree can remove mountains too, and, for that matter, can accomplish all things. But in the language of Jesus, who repudiated all mere thaumaturgic use of miraculous power, moving a mountain is not to be taken literally, but stands for any incredible thing, as stupendous as such moving, but not so out of line with the miracles to which Jesus confined himself. It is enough to say that neither Jesus nor his disciples ever removed mountains, except metaphorically.

καὶ μὴ διακριθῇ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὑτοῦ,3 ἀλλὰ πιστεύῃ4 ὅτι ὃ λαλεῖ γίνεται, ἔσται αὐτῷ5—and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he speaks comes to pass, it will come to him.

Omit γὰρ, for, at the beginning of this v. Tisch. (Treg). WH. RV. אBDN 1, 28, 51, 106, 124, 157, 225, 251, Latt. Pesh. πιστεύῃ, instead of πιστεύσῃ, Tisch. Treg. marg. WH. RV. אBL Δ. ὃ, instead of ἃ, before λαλεῖ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBLN Δ 33, two mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph. Pesh. λαλεῖ, speaks, instead of λέγει, says, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBLN Δ two mss. Lat. Vet. Omit ὃ ἐὰν εἴπῃ, whatever he says, after ἔσται αὐτῷ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCDL Δ 1, 28, 209, 346, three mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph.

24. διὰ τοῦτο—on this account, referring to what he has just said of the efficacy of faith. He generalizes from the extreme case of the mountain. πάντα ὅσα προσεύχεσθε κ. αἰτεῖσθε, πιστεύετε ὅτι ἐλάβετε—all things whatever ye pray and ask for, believe that you received them. The aor. is a rhetorical exaggeration of the immediateness of the answer: it antedates even the prayer in the mind of the petitioner.

προσεύχεσθε καὶ, instead of ἂν προσευχόμενοι, pray and ask, instead of praying ask, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCDL Δ mss. Lat. Vet. Pesh. ἐλάβετε, instead of λαμβάνετε, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCL Δ Memph.

It is noticeable that here, and in the case of the demoniac following the Transfiguration, Jesus seeks to turn the thought of the disciples to faith, as a matter of dependence on God, and to the absoluteness of the power thus invoked by them. If we add to this the desire to impress on them the reality of prayer as a means of securing for themselves the exercise of that power, we shall have the substance of Jesus’ teaching on the subject. The power that we invoke is not an impersonal cause, that grinds out its results with the absoluteness of a machine, but a Person whose limitless power is available for him who fulfils the conditions implied in faith.

25. Καὶ ὅταν στήκετε1 προσευχόμενοι, ἀφίετε—And whenever you stand praying, forgive.

στήκετε, instead of στήκητε, Tisch. Treg. WH. ACDHLM2 VX 1, 124, etc. The subj. is an apparent emendation. Omit v. 26 Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBLS Δ 2, 27, 63, 64, 121, 157, 258, two mss. Lat. Vet. Memph. edd.

This injunction to forgive can be joined logically with the injunction about faith in prayer, since the Divine forgiveness of sins, of which it is the condition, is itself the condition of the Divine favor, without which answer to prayer becomes impossible. But it is, notwithstanding, inapposite and diverting here, where the subject is not prayer, but faith in God, prayer being adduced as an instance of the places in which faith is needed. It is found in its proper place in the discourse on prayer, Matthew 6:14 sq. Moreover, it is still further limited here, being placed in connection with the special prayer for forgiveness, and not with prayer in general, which removes it still further from the general subject. This limitation of the Divine forgiveness is not as if God limited himself by the imperfections of our human conduct. But forgiveness is a reciprocal act. In its very nature, it cannot act freely, but is conditioned on the state of mind of the offender. And the unforgiving spirit is specially alien to that state of mind. It shows the offender to be lacking in the proper feeling about sin and forgiveness, which can alone warrant his asking forgiveness. This is an important text in the discussion of justification by faith.


27-33. On Jesus’ return to the city, he comes again to the temple, where the representatives of the Sanhedrim question him as to his authority to cleanse the temple. Jesus answers them with a counter-question, whether John’s baptism was human or divine in its origin, which will test their authority to decide such questions. This puts them in a dilemma, as they had discredited John, making it necessary for them either to sacrifice consistency or to put themselves out of favor with the people, who believed in John. They are unable to answer, and so Jesus refuses to recognize their authority to sit in judgment on him, and remains silent.

27. πρεσβύτεροι—elders. The word denotes the other members of the Sanhedrim, outside of the chief priests and scribes. It is the general word for a member of that council. The whole expression means the chief priests and scribes and other members of the Sanhedrim.1

καὶ ἔλεγον αὐτῶ—and said to him.

ἔλεγον, instead of λέγουσιν, say, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אBCL Δ 1, 209, mss. Lat. Vet. Memph.

28. Ἐν ποίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ.—By what kind of authority.2 It is more specific than simply what authority. They knew that Jesus claimed a certain kind of authority, but it seemed to them just the vague and uncertain thing that personal, as distinguished from official authority, always seems to the members of a hierarchy. ταῦτα ποιεῖς;—do you do these things? things, such as the cleansing of the temple, which took place only the day before. ἢ τίς σοι τ. ἐξοὐσίαν ταύτην ἔδωκεν, ἵνα ταῦτα ποιῇς;3—or who gave you this authority, to do these things?

ἢ, instead of καὶ, and, before τίς, Tisch. Treg. marg. WH. RV. אBL Δ 124, Memph. Harcl. marg.

The second question, who gave thee this authority? is different in form, but substantially the same. The idea of a divine authority, communicated directly to the man by inward suggestion, and showing its warrant simply in his personal quality, was outside the narrow range of men who recognized only external authority.

29. Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Ἐπερωτήσω ὑμᾶς ἕνα λόγον—And Jesus said to them, I will ask you one question (word, literally).

Omit ἀποκριθεὶς, answering, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ 33, two mss. Lat. Vet. Memph. Pesh. Omit κἀγὼ, I also, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. BCL Δ, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph.

30. Τὸ βάπτισμα Ἰωάννου, ἐξ οὐρανοῦ ἦν, ἢ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ;—Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? This question of Jesus was not meeting their question with another harder one, as if he were matching his wits against theirs. But the question is on the same line as theirs, and is intended to show whether they have the same standards as he for testing the question of Divine authority. It is as if he had asked, How do you judge of such things? If Divine authority is communicated externally and through regular channels in your judgment, I have no such credentials. But if it comes inwardly and is attested by its fruits in your opinion, then you are in a condition to judge fairly of my authority. The case of John is a test of this fitness to judge the matter of Divine authority. His authority came out of the clouds, so to speak, having only an inward, not an external warrant; and his influence was owing to his restoration of the spiritual note in a fossilized, external religion. Worshippers of the external and regular see in this the mark of subjectivity, and self-constituted authority, and reject it, and the hierarchy seek to destroy it, whether in John, or Jesus, or Paul. Recognition of it on the part of the scribes and chief priests would have shown their fitness to judge the claim of Jesus.

31. Καὶ διελογίζοντο πρὸς ἑαυτούς, λέγοντες—And they deliberated among themselves, saying.

διελογίζοντο, instead of ἐλογίζοντο, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אca BCDGKLM Δ Π.

Διατί οὖν οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ ;—Why then did you not believe him? On this rejection of John by the rulers, see Matthew 3:7 sq. 11:18, J. 5:35.

32. ἀλλὰ εἴπωμεν, Ἐξ ἀνθρώπων; ἐφοβοῦντο τὸν λαόν.—but shall we say, From men? they feared the people.1

Omit ἐὰν, if, before εἴπωμεν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCL Δ 33.

Lk. says, the people will stone us.1 Herod seems to have had the same wholesome fear of John’s popularity.2 ἅπαντες γὰρ εἶχον ὄντως τὸν Ἰωάννην, ὅτι προφήτης ἦν—for all verily held John to be a prophet.3 A prophet is in Greek an interpreter of oracles, in the Biblical language a speaker of Divine oracles, an inspired man. This dilemma of the authorities was owing to the fact that the case cited by Jesus was one in which their verdict did not agree with the popular verdict. The authority of John was approved by the people, and disallowed by them, and the popular feeling was too strong about it for them to defy.

ὄντως ὅτι, instead of ὅτι ὄντως, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אc BCL13, 69, 346 Δ ὄντως ὡς προφήτην.

33. Καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτοῖς, Οὐδὲ4 ἐγὼ λέγω ὑμῖν ἐν ποίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ ταῦτα ποιῶ—And Jesus says to them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.

Omit ἀποκριθεὶς, answering, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCLN ΓΔ 33, mss. Lat. Vet. Egyptt.

We must remember just what is involved in this refusal. These were the constituted authorities in both civil and religious matters, and Jesus’ refusal to submit his claim to them is a denial of their authority. He refuses because they have confessed their inability to judge a precisely similar case, which involved an abdication of their authority. It is well to carry this in mind in considering Jesus’ silence at his trial.

Tisch. Tischendorf.

Treg. Tregelles.

marg. Revided Version marg.

WH. Westcott and Hort.

D Codex Ephraemi.

Latt. Latin Versions.

1 κατέναντι is not found in profane writers. In the N.T., it is found in the Synoptics, and in the epistles of Paul.

2Matthew 21:2.

RV. Revised Version.

A Codex Alexandrinus.

B Codex Vaticanus.

L Codex Regius.

Δ̠Codex Sangallensis

Lat. Vet. Vetus Latina.

Vulg. Vulgate.

אԠCodex Sinaiticus.

C Codex Bezae.

13 Codex Regius.

69 Codex Leicestrensis.

Egyptt. Egyptian Versions.

Pesh. Peshito.

Syrr. Syriac Versions.

X Codex Wolfi A.

Γ̠Codex Tischendorfianus

Π̠Codex Petropolitianus

Memph. Memphitic.

AV. Authorised Version.

1 Vulg. bivium.

1 .Codex Basiliensis

28 Codex Regius.

209 An unnamed, valuable manuscript.

2 στιβάδας is the proper form. στοιβάδας is a case of mis-spelling.

E Codex Basiliensis.

H Codex Wolfi B.

K Codex Cyprius.

M Codex Campianus.

U Codex Nanianus.

Theb. Thebaic.

3 The full form of the original is הוֹשִׁיעָה־נָא, the Hiph. of יָשַׁע, with the suffixed particle נַא = now.

1 Messianic prophecy proper starts with the promise of the perpetuity of the kingdom in the Davidic line. 2 Samuel 7:8-16, Zechariah 12:10, Zechariah 12:13. One of the Rabbinical titles of the Messiah was David.

346 Codex Ambrosianus.

2 The Heb. word is מָרוֹם, מְרוֹמִים. Job 16:19, Isaiah 57:15, LXX.

1 τῇ ἐπαύριον—this use of ἐπαύριον as a single word is Biblical. Properly, it is ἐπʼ αὔριον, which means on the morrow by itself. The art. is out of place therefore, much as if we should say, on the to-morrow. If anywhere, it belongs between ἐπ and αὔριον. See Luke 10:35, Acts 4:5.

2 The aor. denotes the entrance upon the state denoted by the vb. Burton, 41.

3 μακρόθεν is itself late, and the prep. redundant, as the adv. itself means from a distance. Win. 65, 2.

4 On the mood of indirect questions, see Burton, 341 (b), 343.

5 See Win. 53, 8 a.

33 Codex Regius.

1 There is no sufficient reason for emphasizing the beginning of the act in this case. It belongs to the Heb. idiom of the writer.

N Codex Purpureus.

2Leviticus 5:7, 12:Leviticus 5:6-8, Leviticus 5:15:14, 29, Numbers 6:10.

3 See on 1:34, for form ἤφιεν.

4 On this use of ἵνα with subj., see Win. 44, 8. Burton, 210.

1 προσευχῆς—It is significant of the changes in the language, that this word is not found in the classics, and that the good Greek word εὐχή is found in the N.T. but once.

1 See on 8:31.

2 See Win. 33 b, for this use of ἐπί.

3 See on 1:22.

Win. Winer’s Grammar of N. T. Greek.

Harcl. Harclean.

1 In earlier Greek, καταράομαι takes the dat. Win. 32, 1 b, β. Win., however, fails to note the irregularity.

2 Θεοῦ is obj. gen. Win. 30, 1.

3 διακριθῇ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ—Doubt is a Biblical sense of διακρίνομαι, but comes naturally from the proper meaning, to be divided. This is a good example of the use of καρδία to denote the seat of the intellect rather than the affections. On the evil of doubt, see Jam 1:6.

4 The aor. διακριθῇ and pres. πιστεύῃ are to be discriminated something in this way—does not entertain a doubt, but holds fast to his faith.

5 See Thay.-Grm. Lex. είμί IV. e.

1 On the use of ὅταν with the ind. see Win. 42, 5; Burton, 309 (c). On the attitude in prayer, see Matthew 6:5, Luke 18:11.

V Codex Mosquensis.

S Codex Vaticanus.

1 Schürer N. Zg. II. I. § 23, III.

2 On the instrumental use of ἐν, see Win. 48, 3 d.

3 On the use of ἴνα with subj., for the inf., see Win. 44, 8. Burton, 216 (a).

1 The structure here is very rugged, and without the excuse, or the capacity for hiding defects that belongs to a long sentence. Having started with a question, the only way to state the conclusion is to include it in the question, e.g. Shall we say, from men, and so bring upon us the dislike of the people? Instead of which the writer proceeds with a statement in his own words. Win. 63, 11. 2. 60, 9.

1Luke 20:6.

2Matthew 14:5.

3 On the attraction of Ἰωάννην from the subordinate to the principle clause, see Win. 66, 5 a.

4 On the use of οὐδέ without a preceding negative, see Win. 55, 6, 2.

And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.
And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.
And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.
And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?
And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.
And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.
And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.
And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.
And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
And when even was come, he went out of the city.
And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,
And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?
But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
ICC New Testament commentary on selected books

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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