Matthew 26:61
And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(61) This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God.—It is remarkable that the two Gospels which record the charge do not record the words in which it had its starting-point. Apparently, the second cleansing of the Temple (Matthew 21:12) had revived the memory of the first, and brought back to men’s minds the words that had then been spoken—“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). What was now reported was a sufficiently natural distortion of what had then been said. St. Mark adds that even then the witnesses did not agree. There were still discrepancies as to time, place, and the exact words, that did not fit in with the established rules of evidence.

26:57-68 Jesus was hurried into Jerusalem. It looks ill, and bodes worse, when those who are willing to be Christ's disciples, are not willing to be known to be so. Here began Peter's denying him: for to follow Christ afar off, is to begin to go back from him. It is more our concern to prepare for the end, whatever it may be, than curiously to ask what the end will be. The event is God's, but the duty is ours. Now the Scriptures were fulfilled, which said, False witnesses are risen up against me. Christ was accused, that we might not be condemned; and if at any time we suffer thus, let us remember we cannot expect to fare better than our Master. When Christ was made sin for us, he was silent, and left it to his blood to speak. Hitherto Jesus had seldom professed expressly to be the Christ, the Son of God; the tenor of his doctrine spoke it, and his miracles proved it; but now he would not omit to make an open confession of it. It would have looked like declining his sufferings. He thus confessed, as an example and encouragement to his followers, to confess him before men, whatever hazard they ran. Disdain, cruel mocking, and abhorrence, are the sure portion of the disciple as they were of the Master, from such as would buffet and deride the Lord of glory. These things were exactly foretold in the fiftieth chapter of Isaiah. Let us confess Christ's name, and bear the reproach, and he will confess us before his Father's throne.And said, This fellow said ... - Mark has recorded this testimony differently. According to him, they said, "We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another. made without hands." Probably both forms of giving in the testimony were used on the trial, and Matthew has recorded it as it was given at one time and Mark at another, so that there is no contradiction. Mark adds, "But neither so did their witnesses agree together." That which they "attempted" to accuse him of is what he had said respecting his body and their destroying it, John 2:19; "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." This he spoke of his body; they perverted it, endeavoring to show that he meant the temple at Jerusalem. They neither stated it as it was, nor did they state correctly its meaning, nor did they agree about the words used. It was therefore very little to their purpose. Mt 26:57-75. Jesus Arraigned before the Sanhedrim Condemned to Die, and Shamefully Entreated—The Denial of Peter. ( = Mr 14:53-72; Lu 22:54-71; Joh 18:13-18, 24-27).

For the exposition, see on [1366]Mr 14:53-72.

Mark saith, Mark 14:57-59, And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together. These are called by the evangelists, false witnesses. Our Saviour said, John 2:19, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up, speaking of his body, as John tells us there, John 2:21. He did not say, I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But Mark saith these witnesses could not agree in their tale, or their testimony, though agreeing was not sufficient to make him guilty of a capital crime. The high priest must use some other arts. And said, this fellow said,.... Or saith, as De Dieu observes, the Syriac version of this place should be rendered; that is, he has not only said in times past, referring to John 2:19, but continues to say it, and glory in it:

I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days; in which they did injury, both to his words and sense: he did not say, "I am able to destroy the temple", but only said, "destroy this temple"; signifying neither his power, nor his will and inclination to it; but put it upon the Jews, and left it to them to do it: nor did he say one word about the temple of God, or as it is in Mark 14:58, "this temple that is made with hands"; the temple at Jerusalem, which was made by the hands of men, and devoted to the worship of God; but only "this temple", referring to his body, or human nature; in which he, the Son of God, dwelt, as in a temple; nor did he say that he was able to "build" it in three days, but that he would "raise it up" in three days; intending the resurrection of his body by his own power, after it had been dead three days; and so they perverted his sense, as well as misquoted his words; applying that to the material temple at Jerusalem, what he spoke of the temple of his body, and of its resurrection from the dead, on the third day; designing hereby to fix a charge, both of sacrilege and sorcery upon him: of sacrilege, in having a design upon the temple of God to destroy it; and of sorcery, or familiarity with the devil, and having assistance from him, or knowledge of the magic art, that he could pretend in three days to rebuild a temple, which had been forty and six years in building; and was what could never be done, but by help of Beelzebub, the prince of devils, by whom it was insinuated he did all his miracles.

And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 26:61. The expression John 2:19, which Jesus had made use of with reference to His own body, was not only misunderstood by those witnesses, but also misrepresented (John: λύσατε): whether wilfully or not, cannot be determined. But in any case the testimony was objectively false, and even in the case of the two who agreed it was in all probability subjectively so. Comp. Acts 6:13 f.

διὰ τριῶν ἡμερ.] not: after three days (Galatians 2:1), but: during three days. The work of building was to extend over this short period, and would then be complete. See on Galatians 2:1.Matthew 26:61. οὗτος ἔφη, this person said: then follows a version of a word really spoken by Jesus, of a startling character, concerning destroying and rebuilding the temple. An inaccurate report of so remarkable a saying might easily go abroad, and the version given by the two witnesses seems from Matthew 27:40 to have been current. They might, therefore, have borne wrong evidence without being false in intention.—δύναμαι, in an emphatic position, makes Jesus appear as one boasting of preternatural power, and τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, as irreverently parading His power in connection with a sacred object.—διὰ τ. ., literally through three days = after: for similar use of the preposition, vide Galatians 2:1. The meaning is: after three days I will complete the rebuilding, so that διὰ in effect is = ἐν in John 2:19.61. I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days] The actual words of Jesus spoken (John 2:19) in the first year of his ministry were, “Destroy” (a weaker Greek verb, and not “I am able to destroy”) “this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” (the word is appropriate to raising from the dead, and is quite different from the verb “to build”). The attempt was to convict Jesus of blasphemy in asserting a superhuman power.Matthew 26:61. Δύναμαι καταλῦσαι, κ.τ.λ., I am able to destroy, etc.) He had not said so. False evidence seizes upon some true particulars; and a great calumny may frequently be produced by no great change of words. They distort the expression used by our Lord three years before, and now unconsciously subserve to its fulfilment.Verse 61. - This fellow (οῦτος). Contemptuously, displaying their animosity by the disrespectful use of the pronoun. I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. This is a distorted account of what our Lord said at his first purgation of the temple, when asked to give a sign in proof of his authority. Speaking metaphorically of his body, he had made this announcement, "Destroy ye this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). At the time the Jews had not understood the words, and they now pervert them into a criminal accusation, which might take the form of charging him with being either an impious fomenter of disturbance, or a pretender to superhuman powers, Divine or Satanic. In either case, the charge would bring him into collision with the Roman authorities, which was the real object of this preliminary inquiry. We must not forget that Christ had twice interfered with the traffic in the temple, which was carried on to the great profit of the avaricious family of Annas, and that the malice of the high priests was on this account greatly embittered.
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