Matthew 21:24
And Jesus answered and said to them, I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.
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(24) I also will ask you one thing.—The question is met by another question. As One who taught as “having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29), He challenges their right to interrogate Him on the ground of precedent. Had they exercised that right in the case of the Baptist, and if so, with what result? If they had left his claim unquestioned, or if they had shrunk from confessing the result of their inquiry, they had virtually abdicated their office, and had no right, in logical consistency, to exercise it, as by fits and starts, in the case of another teacher.

21:23-27 As our Lord now openly appeared as the Messiah, the chief priests and scribes were much offended, especially because he exposed and removed the abuses they encouraged. Our Lord asked what they thought of John's ministry and baptism. Many are more afraid of the shame of lying than of the sin, and therefore scruple not to speak what they know to be false, as to their own thoughts, affections, and intentions, or their remembering and forgetting. Our Lord refused to answer their inquiry. It is best to shun needless disputes with wicked opposers.And Jesus answered ... - Jesus was under no obligation to give them an answer.

They well knew by what authority he did this. He had not concealed his power in working miracles, and had not kept back the knowledge that he was the Messiah. He therefore referred them to a similar case - that of John the Baptist. He knew the estimation in which John was held by the people, and he took the wise in their own craftiness. Whatever answer they gave, he knew they Would convict themselves, and so they saw when they looked at the question. They reasoned correctly. If they should say that John received authority to baptize from God or from heaven, he would directly ask why they did not believe him. They professed to hear all the prophets. If they said, "Of men," they would be in danger, for all the people believed that John was a prophet.

The baptism of John - For an account of this, see Matthew 3. The word "baptism" here probably includes all his work. This was his principal employment; and hence he was called the Baptist, or the "Baptizer." But our Saviour's question refers "to his whole ministry." "The 'ministry of John' - his baptism, preaching, prophecies was it from God, or not?" If it was, then the inference was clear that Jesus was the Messiah, and then they might easily know by what authority he did those things.

From heaven - By divine authority, or by the command of God.

From men - By human authority.

24. And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, &c. See Poole on "Matthew 21:27". And Jesus answered and said unto them,.... Not by replying directly to their question, but by putting another question to them, whereby he escaped the snare he saw they laid for him:

I also will ask you one thing, word, or question,

which if ye tell me; honestly, and plainly answer to it,

I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: which was putting the thing upon such a foot, and in such a form, as they could not well object to; for Christ promises, that if they would return a plain answer to the question he had to put to them, and which was no unreasonable, nor impertinent one, he would thoroughly satisfy them in this point; and expressly declare his commission and authority, what it was, and from whence he had it. The question is as follows:

And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you {l} one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.

(l) One thing, that is to say, I will ask you one thing first before I answer your questions.

Matthew 21:24 f. Jesus prudently frustrates their design by proposing in reply a puzzling question, which, in the circumstances, they did not know how to answer.

λόγον ἕνα] a single word, a single question; not more. The subject of the question itself is admirably chosen, seeing that the work of reform in which Jesus was engaged had a necessary connection with that of John; both would stand and fall together.

πόθεν ἦν] whence did it proceed? The following alternative is explanatory: was it from God, who had commissioned John, or from men, so that he baptized simply on his own authority or that of his fellow-mortals? The latter was out of the question, if John was a prophet (Matthew 21:26). Comp., further, Acts 5:39.

διελογ. παρʼ ἑαυτοῖς] they deliberated by themselves, privately κατʼ ἰδίαν, i.e. with each other, during a brief pause for private consultation, before giving their decision, which was intimated in the subsequent ἀποκριθέντες τῷ Ἰησοῦ. διαλογίζεσθαι in this instance also denotes reflection combined with mutual consultation. Comp. Matthew 16:7; Mark 8:16; Luke 20:14.

ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ] λέγοντι πολλὰ καὶ μεγάλα περὶ ἐμοῦ, Euthymius Zigabenus.Matthew 21:24. esus replies by an embarrassing counter-question as to the ministry of the Baptist.—λόγον ἔνα, hardly: one question for your many (Beng.) rather: a question, or thing, one and the same (cf. for εἶς in this sense Genesis 41:25-26; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 11:5), an analogous question as we should say; one answer would do for theirs and for His.24. I also will ask you one thing] This form of argument was usual. The question of the Elders was really an attack. Jesus meets that attack by a counter-question which presented equal difficulties in three ways—whether they said from heaven or of men, or left it unanswered. To say from heaven was equivalent to acknowledging Jesus as Christ, to say from men was to incur the hostility of the people, to be silent was to resign their pretensions as spiritual chiefs of the nation.Matthew 21:24. Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, but Jesus answered, etc.) A suitable mode of answering those who tempted Him.—ἐρωτήσω ὑμᾶς κἀγὼ, κ.τ.λ., I will also ask you, etc.) Thus also in ch. Matthew 22:41. Mosheim rightly observes, “Those expositors are mistaken, who imagine that Christ had no other object in this question than to silence His adversaries.”—Oration on Christ the only model for the imitation of Theologians, p. 17.—ἕνα, one) and that too connected with your own question; one, after you have asked Me so many things, both now and heretofore. John the Baptist, though without a human call, could be and was a prophet; therefore also Jesus. If they had acknowledged the baptism of His forerunner, they would have acknowledged the authority of Christ; but since they did not acknowledge John (see Matthew 21:32), they could not believe in Jesus. Nor did they deserve that any further communications should be thrown away by Him on their pride and unbelief. To him that hath is given; from him that hath not is taken away.Verse 24. - I also will ask you one thing; λόγον ἕνα: one word, question. Jesus does not reply directly to their insidious demand. He might have asserted his Divine mission, and appealed to his miracles in confirmation of such claim, which would have been in strict conformity with the old, established rule for discriminating false and true prophets (see Deuteronomy 18:22; Jeremiah 28:9); but he knew too well their scepticism and malice and inveterate prejudice to lay stress on this allegation at the present moment. Before he satisfied their inquiry, he must have their opinion concerning one whom they had received as a prophet a few years ago, and whose memory was still held in the highest respect, John the Baptist. The manner in which they regarded him and his testimony would enable them to answer their own interrogation.
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