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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Matthew 26

 

 

Verse 1-2

1, 2.] FINAL ANNOUNCEMENT OF HIS SUFFERINGS, NOW CLOSE AT HAND. (Mark 14:1. Luke 22:1.) The public office of our Lord as a Teacher having been now fulfilled, His priestly office begins to be entered upon. He had not completed all his discourses, for He delivered, after this, those contained in John 14:1-31; John 15:1-27; John 16:1-33; John 17:1-26—but not in public; only to the inner circle of his disciples. From this point commences THE NARRATIVE OF HIS PASSION.


Verse 2

2. μετὰ δύο ἡμ.] This gives no certainty as to the time when the words were said: we do not know whether the current day was included or otherwise. But thus much of importance we learn from them: that the delivery of our Lord to be crucified, and the taking place of the Passover, strictly coincided. The solemn mention of them in this connexion is equivalent to a declaration from Himself, if it were needed, of the identity, both of time and meaning, of the two sacrifices; and serves as the fixed point in the difficult chronological arrangement of the history of the Passion. The latter clause, καὶ ὁ υἱὸς κ. τ. λ. depends on οἴδατε as well as the former. Our Lord had doubtless before joined these two events together in his announcements to his disciples. To separate this clause from the former, ‘and then’ &c. seems to me to do violence to the construction. It would require καὶ τότε.


Verses 3-5

3–5.] CONSPIRACY OF THE JEWISH AUTHORITIES. Mark 14:1. Luke 22:2. This assembling has no connexion with what has just been related, but follows rather on the end of ch. 23.

ὁ λεγόμενος κ. is in Jos. Antt. xviii. 2. 2, ἰώσηπος ὁ καὶ καϊάφας. Valerius Gratus, Procurator of Judæa, had appointed him instead of Simon ben Kamith. He continued through the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate, and was displaced by the proconsul Vitellius, A.D. 37. See note on Luke 3:2, and chronological table in Prolegg. to Acts, Vol. II.

τοῦ λεγ. does not mean ‘surnamed,’ but (see Matthew 26:14) implies that some name is to follow, which is more than, or different from, the real one of the person.

μὴ ἐν τ. .] This expression must be taken as meaning the whole period of the feast—the seven days. On the feast-day, i.e. the day on which the Passover was sacrificed (E. V.), they could not lay hold of and slay any one, as it was a day of sabbatical obligation (Exodus 12:16). See note on Matthew 26:17.


Verse 6

6. σίμωνος τοῦ λ.] Not at this time a leper, or he could not be at his house receiving guests. It is at least possible, that he may have been healed by our Lord. Who he was, is wholly uncertain. From Martha serving (John 12:2), it would appear as if she were at home in the house (Luke 10:38 sqq.); and that Lazarus was one τῶν ἀνακειμένων need not necessarily imply that he was a guest properly so called. He had been probably (see John 12:9) absent with Jesus at Ephraim, and on this account and naturally for other reasons would be an object of interest, and one of the ἀνακείμενοι.


Verses 6-13

6–13.] THE ANOINTING AT BETHANY. Mark 14:3-9. John 12:1-8. On Luke 7:36-50, see note there. This history of the anointing of our Lord is here inserted out of its place. It occurred six days before the Passover, John 12:1. It perhaps can hardly be said that in its position here, it accounts in any degree for the subsequent application of Judas to the Sanhedrim (Matthew 26:14-16), since his name is not even mentioned in it: but I can hardly doubt that it originally was placed where it here stands by those who were aware of its connexion with that application. The paragraphs in the beginning of this chapter come in regular sequence, thus: Jesus announces his approaching Passion: the chief priests, &c. meet and plot His capture, but not during the feast: but when Jesus was in Bethany, &c. occasion was given for an offer to be made to them, which led to its being effected, after all, during the feast. On the rebuke given to Judas at this time having led to his putting into effect his intention of betraying our Lord, see note on John 12:4. The trace of what I believe to have been the original reason of the anointing being inserted in this place, is still further lost in Mark, who instead of τοῦ δὲ ἰησ. γενομένου.… has καὶ ὄντος αὐτοῦ.… just as if the narrative were continued, and at the end instead of our τότε πορευθείς.… has καὶ ὁ ἰούδας.… as if there were no connexion between the two. It certainly cannot be said of St. Matthew (De Wette, Neander, Stier) that he relates the anointing as taking place two days before the Passover: of St. Mark it may be said.

It may be observed that St. Luke relates nothing of our Lord’s visits to Bethany.


Verse 7

7. ἀλάβαστρον] ἄγγος μύρου μὴ ἔχον λαβάς, λίθινος, ἢ λίθινος μυροθήκη. Suidas. See Herod. iii. 20. It was the usual cruse or pot for ointment, with a long narrow neck, and sealed at the top. It was thought (Plin. xiii. 3) that the ointment kept best in these cruses. On the nature of the ointment, see note on νάρδου πιστικῆς, Mark 14:3.

τὴν κεφ. αὐτ.] His feet, according to John 12:3. See Luke 7:38, and note there.

ἀνακειμένου is not to be taken with αὐτοῦ, but is a separate gen. absol. by itself; on His head while He was reclining at table. See on this construction, Kühner, Gr. Gr. ii. p. 368, where many examples are given.


Verse 8

8. οἱ μαθηταί] Judeas alone is mentioned, John 12:4. It may have been that some were found ready to second his remark, but that John, from his peculiar position at the table,—if, as is probable, the same as in John 13:23,—may not have observed it. If so, the independent origin of the two accounts is even more strikingly shewn.

ἀπώλεια] Bengel remarks, ‘Immo tu, Juda, perditionis es ( ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας, John 17:12).’


Verse 9

9. πολλοῦ] 300 denarii (John),—even more than that (Mark). On the singular relation which these three accounts bear to one another, see notes on Mark. δοθῆναι, viz. the πολύ for which the ointment might have been sold: the subject being supplied out of the preceding sentence. So Herod. ix. 8, τὸν ἰσθμὸν ἐτείχεον καί σφι ἦν πρὸς τέλεϊ, sc. τὸ τεῖχος. See other examples in Kühner, Gr. Gr. ii. pp. 36, 7.


Verse 10

10. ἔργ. γὰρ καλ. εἰργ.] Stier remarks that this is a stronger expression than ἔργ. ἀγαθὸν ἐποίησεν would have been. See ch. Matthew 5:16. It was not only ‘a good work,’ but a noble act of love, which should be spoken of in all the churches to the end of time. On Matthew 26:11, see notes on Mark, where it is more fully expressed.


Verse 12

12.] I can hardly think that our Lord would have said this, unless there had been in Mary’s mind a distinct reference to His burial, in doing the act. All the company surely knew well that His death, and that by crucifixion, was near at hand: can we suppose one who so closely observed His words as Mary, not to have been possessed with the thought of that which was about to happen? The προέλαβεν μυρίσαι μου τὸ σῶμα of Mark (Mark 14:8), and the ἵνα εἰς τὴν ἡμ. τοῦ ἐνταφ. μου τηρήσῃ αὐτό of John (John 12:7), point even more strongly to her intention.


Verse 13

13.] The only case in which our Lord has made such a promise. We cannot but be struck with the majesty of this prophetic announcement; introduced with the peculiar and weighty ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν,—conveying, by implication, the whole mystery of the εὐαγγέλιον which should go forth from His Death as its source,—looking forward to the end of time, when it shall have been preached in the whole world,—and specifying the fact that this deed should be recorded wherever it is preached. We may notice (1) that this announcement is a distinct prophetic recognition by our Lord of the existence of written records, in which the deed should be related; for in no other conceivable way could the universality of mention be brought about: (2) that we have here (if indeed we needed it) a convincing argument against that view of our three first Gospels which supposes them to have been compiled from an original document: for if there had been such a document, it must have contained this narrative, and no one using such a Gospel could have failed to insert this narrative, accompanied by such a promise, in his own work; which St. Luke has failed to do: (3) that the same consideration is equally decisive against Luke having used, or even seen, our present Gospels of Matthew and Mark. (See the English translation of Schleiermacher’s Essay on Luke, p. 121.) (4) As regards the practical use of the announcement, we see that though the honourable mention of a noble deed is thereby recognized by our Lord as a legitimate source of joy to us, yet by the very nature of the case all regard to such mention as a motive is excluded. The motive was Love alone.


Verses 14-16

14–16.] COMPACT OF JUDAS WITH THE CHIEF PRIESTS TO BETRAY HIM. Mark 14:10-11. Luke 22:3-6. (See also ἤδη, John 13:2.) When this took place, does not appear. In all probability, immediately after the conclusion of our Lord’s discourses, and therefore coincidently with the meeting of the Sanhedrim in Matthew 26:3. As these verses bring before us the first overt act of Judas’s treachery, I will give here what appears to me the true estimate of his character and motives. In the main, my view agrees with that given by Neander, in his Leben Jesu, p. 688. I believe that Judas at first became attached to our Lord with much the same view as the other Apostles. He appears to have been a man with a practical talent for this world’s business, which gave occasion to his being appointed the Treasurer, or Bursar, of the company (John 12:6; John 13:29). But the self-seeking, sensuous element, which his character had in common with that of the other Apostles, was deeper rooted in him; and the spirit and love of Christ gained no such influence over him as over the others, who were more disposed to the reception of divine things. In proportion as he found our Lord’s progress disappoint his greedy anticipations, did his attachment to Him give place to coldness and aversion. The exhibition of miracles alone could not keep him faithful, when once the deeper appreciation of the Lord’s Divine Person failed. We find by implication a remarkable example of this in John 6:60-66; John 6:70-71, where the denunciation of the one unfaithful among the twelve seems to point to the (then) state of his mind, as already beginning to be scandalized at Christ. Add to this, that latterly the increasing clearness of the Lord’s announcements of his approaching passion and death, while they gradually opened the eyes of the other Apostles to some terrible event to come, without shaking their attachment to Him, was calculated to involve in more bitter disappointment and disgust one so disposed to Him as Judas was.

The actually exciting causes of the deed of treachery at this particular time may have been many. The reproof administered at Bethany (on the Saturday evening probably),—disappointment at seeing the triumphal entry followed, not by the adhesion, but by the more bitter enmity of the Jewish authorities,—the denunciations of our Lord in ch. Matthew 22:23. rendering the breach irreparable,—and perhaps his last announcement in Matthew 26:2, making it certain that his death would soon take place, and sharpening the eagerness of the traitor to profit by it:—all these may have influenced him to apply to the chief priests as he did. With regard to his motive in general, I cannot think that he had any design but that of sordid gain, to be achieved by the darkest treachery. See further on this the note on ch. Matthew 27:3.


Verse 15

15.] ἔστησαν may be either weighed out, or appointed. That the money was paid to Judas (ch. Matthew 27:3) is no decisive argument for the former meaning; for it may have been paid on the delivery of Jesus to the Sanhedrim. The συνέθεντο of Luke and ἐπηγγείλαντο of Mark would lead us to prefer the other.

τριάκοντα ἀργύρια] thirty shekels, = the price of the life of a servant, Exodus 21:32. Between three and four pounds of our money. St. Matthew is the only Evangelist who mentions the sum. De Wette and others have supposed that the mention of thirty pieces of silver with the verb ἔστησαν, has arisen from the prophecy of Zechariah (ref.), which St. Matthew clearly has in view. The others have simply ἀργύριον. It is just possible that the thirty pieces may have been merely earnest-money: but a difficulty attends the supposition; if so, Judas would have been entitled to the whole on our Lord being delivered up to the Sanhedrim (for this was all he undertook to do); whereas we find (ch. Matthew 27:3) that, after our Lord’s condemnation, Judas brought only the thirty pieces back, and nothing more. See note there.


Verse 17

17. τᾖ πρ. τ. ἀζ.] If this night had been the ordinary time of sacrificing the Passover, the day preceding would not indeed have been strictly the first day of unleavened bread; but there is reason to suppose that it was accounted so. The putting away leaven from the houses was part of the work of the day, and the eating of the unleavened bread actually commenced in the evening. Thus Josephus, Antt. ii. 15. 1, ἑορτὴν ἄγομεν ἐφʼ ἡμέρας ὀκτώ, τὴν τῶν ἀζύμων λεγομένην,—including this day in the feast.

ποῦ θέλεις] The ‘making ready’ would include the following particulars: the preparation of the guest-chamber itself (which however in this case was already done, see Mark 14:15 and note);—the lamb already kept up from the 10th (Exodus 12:3) had to be slain in the fore-court of the temple (2 Chronicles 35:5; see also Jos. B. J. vi. 9. 3);—the unleavened bread, bitter herbs, &c., prepared;—and the room arranged. This report does not represent the whole that passed: it was the Lord who sent the two disciples; and in reply this enquiry was made (Luke).


Verses 17-19

17–19.] PREPARATION FOR CELEBRATING THE PASSOVER. Mark 14:12-16. Luke 22:7-13. The whole narrative which follows is extremely difficult to arrange and account for chronologically. Our Evangelist is the least circumstantial, and, as will I think appear, the least exact in detail of the three. St. Mark partially fills up the outline;—but the account of St. Luke is the most detailed, and I believe the most exact. It is to be noticed that the narrative which St. Paul gives, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and which he states he ‘received from the Lord,’ coincides almost verbatim with that given by Luke. But while we say this, it must not be forgotten that over all three narratives extends the great difficulty of explaining ἡ πρώτη τῶν ἀζ. (Matt., Mark), or ἡ ἡμ. τ. ἀζ. (Luke), and of reconciling the impression undeniably conveyed by them, that the Lord and his disciples ate the usual Passover, with the narrative of St. John, which not only does not sanction, but I believe absolutely excludes such a supposition. I shall give in as short a compass as I can, the various solutions which have been attempted, and the objections to them; fairly confessing that none of them satisfy me, and that at present I have none of my own. I will first state the grounds of the difficulty itself. The day alluded to in all four histories as that of the supper, which is unquestionably one and identical, is Thursday, the 13th of Nisan. Now the day of the Passover being slain and eaten was the 14th of Nisan (Exodus 12:6; Exodus 12:18; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:3; Numbers 28:16; Ezekiel 45:21), between the evenings ( בֵּין הָעַרְבַּיִם ), which was interpreted by the generality of the Jews to mean the interval between the first westering of the sun (3 p.m.) and his setting,—but by the Karaites and Samaritans that between sunset and darkness:—in either case, however, the day was the same. The feast of unleavened bread began at the very time of eating the Passover (Exodus 12:18), so that the first day of the feast of unleavened bread was the 15th (Numbers 28:17). All this agrees with the narrative of John, where (John 13:1) the last supper takes place πρὸ τῆς ἑορ. τοῦ πάσχα—where the disciples think (ib.John 13:29) that Judas had been directed to buy the things ὧν χρείαν εἶχον εἰς τὴν ἑορτήν—where the Jews (John 18:28) would not enter into the prætorium, lest they should be defiled, ἀλλʼ ἵνα φάγωσιν τὸ πάσχα (see note on John 18:28)—where at the exhibition of our Lord by Pilate (on the Friday at noon) it was (John 19:14) παρασκευὴ τοῦ πάσχα—and where it could be said (John 19:31) ἦν γὰρ μεγάλη ἡ ἡμέρα ἐκείνου τοῦ σαββάτου,—being as it was a double Sabbath,—the coincidence of the first day of unleavened bread, which was sabbatically hallowed (Exodus 12:16), with an actual sabbath. But as plainly it does not agree with the view of the three other Evangelists, who not only relate the meal on the evening of the 13th of Nisan to have been a Passover, but manifestly regard it as the ordinary legal time of eating it. τῇ πρ. ἡμ. τ. ἀζ., ὅτε τὸ πάσχα ἔθυον (Mark 14:12), ἔδει θύεσθαι τὸ πάσχα (Luke 22:7), and in our Gospel by implication, in the use of τὸ πάσχα, &c., without any qualifying remark. The solutions which have been proposed are the following: (1) that the Passover which our Lord and his disciples ate, was not the ordinary, but an anticipatory one, seeing that He himself was about to be sacrificed as the true Passover at the legal time. To this it may be objected that such an anticipation would have been wholly unprecedented and irregular, in a matter most strictly laid down by the law: and that in the three Gospels there is no allusion to it, but rather every thing (see above) to render it improbable. (2) That our Lord and his disciples ate the Passover, but at the time observed by a certain portion of the Jews, while He himself was sacrificed at the time generally observed. This solution is objectionable, as wanting any historical testimony whereon to ground it, being in fact a pure assumption. Besides, it is clearly inconsistent with Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7, cited above. A similar objection lies against (3) the notion that our Lord ate the Passover at the strictly legal, the Jews at an inaccurate and illegal time. (4) Our Lord ate only a πάσχα μνημονευτικόν, such as the Jews now celebrate, and not a πάσχα θύσιμον (Grotius). But this is refuted by the absence of any mention of a π. μνημ. before the destruction of Jerusalem; besides its inconsistency with the above-cited passages. (5) Our Lord did not eat the Passover at all. But this is manifestly not a solution of the difficulty, but a setting aside of one of the differing accounts: for the three Gospels manifestly give the impression that He did eat it. (6) The solution offered by Chrys., on our Matthew 26:58 (Hom. lxxxiv. 2, p. 800), is at least ingenious. The Council, he says, did not eat their Passover at the proper time, but ἐν ἑτέρᾳ ἡμέρᾳ ἔφαγον, καὶ τὸν νόμον ἔλυσαν, διὰ τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν τὴν περὶ τὴν σφαγὴν ταύτην.… εἵλοντο καὶ τὸ πάσχα ἀφεῖναι, ὑπὲρ τοῦ τὴν φονικὴν αὐτῶν ἐμπλῆσαι ἐπιθυμίαν. This had been suggested before in a scholium of Eusebius: see Wordsw.’s note on John 18:28, in which it is adopted. But St. John’s habit of noticing and explaining all such exceptional circumstances, makes it very improbable. (I may state, as some solutions have been sent me by correspondents, that I have seen nothing besides the above, which justifies any extended notice.)

I will conclude this note by offering a few hints which, though not pointing to any particular solution, ought I think to enter into the consideration of the question. ( α) That, on the evening of the 13th (i.e. the beginning of the 14th) of Nisan, the Lord ate a meal with his disciples, at which the announcement that one of them should betray Him was made: after which He went into the Garden of Gethsemane, and was betrayed (Matt., Mark, Luke, John):—( β) That, in some sense or other, this meal was regarded as the eating of the Passover (Matt., Mark, Luke). (The same may be inferred even from John; for some of the disciples must have gone into the prætorium, and have heard the conversation between our Lord and Pilate (John 18:33-38): and as they were equally bound with the other Jews to eat the Passover, would equally with them have been incapacitated from so doing by having incurred defilement, had they not eaten theirs previously. It would appear too, from Joseph of Arimathea going to Pilate during the παρασκευή (Mark 15:42-43), that he also had eaten his passover.) ( γ) That it was not the ordinary passover of the Jews: for (Exodus 12:22) when that was eaten, none might go out of the house until morning; whereas not only did Judas go out during the meal (John 13:29), but our Lord and the disciples went out when the meal was finished. Also when Judas went out, it was understood that he was gone to buy, which could not have been the case, had it been the night of eating the passover, which in all years was sabbatically hallowed. ( δ) John, who omits all mention of the Paschal nature of this meal, also omits all mention of the distribution of the symbolic bread and wine. The latter act was, strictly speaking, anticipatory: the Body was not yet broken, nor the Blood shed (but see note on Matthew 26:26 ad fin.). Is it possible that the words in Luke 22:15-16 may have been meant by our Lord as an express declaration of the anticipatory nature of that passover meal likewise? May they mean, ‘I have been most anxious to eat this Paschal meal with you to-night (before I suffer), for I shall not eat it to-morrow,—I shall not eat of it any more with you?’ May a hint to the same effect be intended in καιρός μου ἐγγύς ἐστιν (Matthew 26:18), as accounting for the time of making ready—may the present tense ποιῶ itself have the same reference? I may remark that the whole of the narrative of John, as compared with the others, satisfies me that he can never have seen their accounts. It is inconceivable, that one writing for the purpose avowed in John 20:31, could have found the three accounts as we have them, and have made no more allusion to the discrepancy than the faint (and to all appearance undesigned) ones in ib. ch. John 12:1; John 13:1; John 13:29; John 18:28.


Verse 18

18.] The person spoken of was unknown even by name, as appears from Mark and Luke, where he is to be found by the turning in of a man with a pitcher of water. The Lord spoke not from any previous arrangement, as some have thought, but in virtue of His knowledge, and command of circumstances. Compare the command ch. Matthew 21:2 sq., and that in ch. Matthew 17:27. In the words πρὸς τὸν δεῖνα here must be involved the additional circumstance mentioned by Mark and Luke, but perhaps unknown to our narrator: see note on Luke 22:10, where the fullest account is found.

The words ὁ διδάσκ., common to the three accounts, do not imply that the man was a disciple of our Lord. It was the common practice during the feast for persons to receive strangers into their houses gratuitously, for the purpose of eating the Passover: and in this description of Himself in addressing a stranger, our Lord has a deep meaning, as (perhaps, but see note) in ὁ κύριος in ch. Matthew 21:3. ‘Our Master and thine says.’ It is His form of ‘pressing’ for the service of the King of this earth, the things that are therein.

ὁ καιρός μου is not ‘the time of the feast,’ but my time, i.e. for suffering: see John 7:8 a(169). freq. There is no reason for supposing from this expression that ὁ δεῖνα was aware of its meaning. The bearers of the message were; and the words, to the receiver of it, bore with them a weighty subjective reason, which, with such a title as ὁ διδάσκαλος prefixed, he was bound to respect. For these words we are indebted to St. Matthew’s narrative.


Verses 20-25

20–25.] JESUS, CELEBRATING THE PASSOVER, ANNOUNCES HIS BETRAYER. Mark 14:17-21. John 13:21 ff. Our Lord and the twelve were a full Paschal company; ten persons was the ordinary and minimum number. Here come in (1) the expression of our Lord’s desire to eat this Passover before His suffering, Luke 22:15-16; (2) the division of this first cup, ib. Luke 22:17, Matthew 18:3) the washing of the disciples’ feet, John 13:1-20 (? see note, John 13:22). I mention these, not that I have any desire to reduce the four accounts to a harmonized narrative, for that I believe to be impossible, and the attempt wholly unprofitable; but because they are additional circumstances, placed by their narrators at this period of the feast. I shall similarly notice all such additional matter, but without any idea of harmonizing the apparent discrepancies of the four (as appears to me) entirely distinct and independent reports.


Verse 21

21.] This announcement is common to Matt., Mark, and John. In the part of the events of the supper which relates to Judas, St. Luke is deficient, giving no further report of them than Matthew 26:21-23. The whole minute detail is given by St. John, who bore a considerable part in it.


Verse 22

22.] In the accounts of Luke and John, this enquiry is made πρὸς ἑαυτούς or εἰς ἀλλήλους. The real enquiry from the Lord was made by John himself, owing to a sign from Peter. This part of John’s narrative stands in the highest position for accuracy of detail, and the facts related in it are evidently the ground of the other accounts.


Verse 23

23.] These first words represent the answer of our Lord to John’s question (John 13:26). The latter (Matthew 26:24) were not said now, but (Luke 21:1-38; Luke 22:1-71) formed part of the previous announcement in our Matthew 26:21.


Verse 25

25.] I cannot understand these words (which are peculiar to our Gospel) otherwise than as an imperfect report of what really happened, viz. that the Lord dipped the sop, and gave it to Judas, thereby answering the general doubt, in which the traitor had impudently presumed to feign a share. If the question μήτι ἐγώ εἰμι; before, represented ἔβλεπον εἰς ἀλλήλους ἀπορούμενοι, and was our author’s impression of what was in reality not a spoken but a signified question,—why now also should not this question and answer represent that Judas took part in that ἀπορία, and was, not by word of mouth, but by a decisive sign, of which our author was not aware, declared to be the traitor? Both cannot have happened;—for (John 13:28) no one knew (not even John, see note there) why Judas went out; whereas if he had been openly (and it is out of the question to suppose a private communication between our Lord and him) declared to be the traitor, reason enough would have been furnished for his immediately leaving the chamber. (Still, consult the note on Luke 22:24-30, where I have left room for modifying this view.) I am aware that this explanation will give offence to those who believe that every part of each account may be tessellated into one consistent and complete whole. Stier (Reden Jesu, vi. 46) handles the above supposition very roughly, and speaks of its upholders in no measured terms. Valuable as are the researches of this Commentator into the inner sense of the Lord’s words, and ready as I am to acknowledge continual obligation to him, I cannot but think that in the whole interpretation of this part of the Gospel-history, he and his school have fallen into the error of a too minute and letter-serving exposition. In their anxiety to retain every portion of every account in its strict literal sense, they are obliged to commit many inconsistencies. A striking instance of this is also furnished in Mr. Birks’s Horæ Evangelicæ, p. 411: where in treating of this difficulty he says, “If we suppose St. Matthew to express the substantial meaning of our Lord’s reply, rather than its precise words, the two accounts are easily reconciled. The question of Judas might concur with St. John’s private enquiry, and the same sign which revealed the traitor to the beloved disciple, would be an affirmative reply to himself, equivalent to the words in the Gospel—‘Thou hast said.’ ” Very true, and nearly what I have maintained above: but the literal harmonizers seem to be quite blind to the fact, that this principle of interpretation, which they use when it suits them, is the very one against which they so vehemently protest when others use it, and for the use of which they call them such hard names. On σὺ εἶπας, see below, Matthew 26:64, note.


Verse 26

26.] While they were eating, during the meal,—as distinguished from the distribution of the cup, which was after it.

No especial stress must be laid on the article before ἄρτον, if read; it would be the bread which lay before Him: see below. The bread would be unleavened, as the day was ἡ πρώτη τῶν ἀζύμων (see Exodus 12:8).

εὐλογήσας and εὐχαριστήσας amount to the same in practice. The looking up to heaven and giving thanks was a virtual ‘blessing’ of the meal or the bread.

εὐλογ. must be construed transitively (1 Corinthians 10:16).

ἄρτον is governed by all four verbs, λαβών, εὐλογήσας, ἔκλασεν, ἐδίδου (see also Luke 9:16, and the reff. to the text here). It was customary in the Paschal meal for the Master, in breaking the bread, to give thanks for the fruit of the earth. But our Lord did more than this: “Non pro veteri tantum creatione, sed et pro nova, cujus ergo in hunc orbem venerat, preces fudit, gratiasque Deo egit pro redemtione humani generis quasi jam peracta.” Grotius.

From this giving of thanks for and blessing the offering, the Holy Communion has been from the earliest times also called εὐχαριστία, viz. by Justin Martyr, Cyril of Jerusalem, Origen, Clem. Alex(170), Chrysostom, &c. The passages may be seen in Suicer’s Thesaurus, under the word.

ἔκλασεν] It was a round cake of unleavened bread, which the Lord broke and divided: signifying thereby both the breaking of his body on the Cross, and the participation in the benefits of his death by all His. Hence the act of communion was known by the name ἡ κλάσις τοῦ ἄρτου, Acts 2:42. See 1 Corinthians 10:16, also Isaiah 58:7; Lamentations 4:4.

ἐδίδου, imperf. He gave to each, distributed.

λάβετε φάγετε] Our Gospel alone has both words. φάγετε is spurious in Mark: both words, in 1 Corinthians 11:24. Here, they are undoubted: and seem to shew us (see note on Luke 22:17) that the Lord did not Himself partake of the bread or wine. It is thought by some however that He did: e.g. Chrysostom, Hom. lxxxii. 1, p. 783, τὸ ἑαυτοῦ αἷμα αὐτὸς ἔπιεν. But the analogy of the whole, as well as these words. and πίετε ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντες below, lead us to a different conclusion. Our Lord’s non-participation is however no rule for the administrator of the rite in after times. Although in one sense he represents Christ, blessing, breaking, and distributing; in another, he is one of the disciples, examining himself, confessing, partaking. Throughout all Church ministrations this double capacity must be borne in mind. Olshausen (ii. 449) maintains the opposite view, and holds that the ministrant cannot unite in himself the two characters. But setting the inner verity of the matter for a moment aside, how, if so, should an unassisted minister ever communicate?

τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου] τοῦτο, this, which I now offer to you, this bread. The form of expression is important, not being οὗτος ὁ ἄρτος, or οὗτος ὁ οἶνος, but τοῦτο, in both cases, or τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον, not the bread or wine itself, but the thing in each case;—precluding all idea of a substantial change.

ἐστιν] On this much controverted word itself no stress is to be laid. In the original tongue in which our Lord spoke, it would not be expressed: and as it now stands, it is merely the logical copula between the subject, this, and the predicate, my Body. The connexion of these two will require deeper consideration. First we may observe, as above of the subject, so here of the predicate, that it is not ἡ σάρξ μου (although that very expression is didactically used in its general sense in John 6:51, as applying to the bread), but τὸ σῶμά μου. The body is made up of flesh and blood; and although analogically the bread may represent one and the wine the other, the assertion here is not to be analogically taken merely: τοῦτο, this which I give you, (is) τὸ σῶμά μου. Under this is the mystery of my Body: the assertion has a literal, and has also a spiritual or symbolic meaning. And it is the literal meaning which gives to the spiritual and symbolic meaning its fitness and fulness. In the literal meaning then, this (is) my Body, we have BREAD, ‘the staff of life,’ identified with THE BODY OF THE LORD: not that particular ἄρτος with that particular σάρξ which at that moment constituted the Body before them, nor any particular ἄρτος with the present Body of the Lord in heaven: but τοῦτο, the food of man, with τὸ σῶμά μου. This is strikingly set forth in John 6:51, καὶ ὁ ἄρτος δὲ ὃν ἐγὼ δώσω ἡ σάρξ μου ἐστὶν ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου ζωῆς. Now the mystery of the Lord’s Body is, that in and by it is all created being upheld: τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν, Colossians 1:17; ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, John 1:4. And thus generally, and in the widest sense, is the Body of the Lord the sustenance and upholding of all living. Our very bodies are dependent upon his, and unless by his Body standing pure and accepted before the Father, could not exist nor be nourished. So that to all living things, in this largest sense, τὸ ζῇν, χριστός. And all our nourishment and means of upholding are Christ. In this sense his Body is the Life of the world. Thus the fitness of the symbol for the thing now to be signified is shewn, not merely by analogy, but by the deep verities of Redemption. And this general and lower sense, underlying, as it does, all the spiritual and higher senses in John 6:1-71, brings us to the symbolic meaning which the Lord now first and expressly attaches to this sacramental bread.

Rising into the higher region of spiritual things,—in and by the same Body of the Lord, standing before the Father in accepted righteousness, is all spiritual being upheld, but by the inward and spiritual process of feeding upon Him by faith: of making that Body our own, causing it to pass into and nourish our souls, even as the substance of the bread passes into and nourishes our bodies. Of this feeding upon Christ in the spirit by faith, is the sacramental bread the symbol to us. When the faithful in the Lord’s Supper press with their teeth that sustenance, which is, even to the animal life of their bodies, the Body of Christ, whereby alone all animated being is upheld,—they feed in their souls on that Body of righteousness and acceptance, by partaking of which alone the body and soul are nourished unto everlasting life. And as, in the more general and natural sense, all that nourishes the body is the Body of Christ given for all,—so to them, in the inner spiritual sense, is the sacramental bread symbolic of that Body given for them,—their standing in which, in the adoption of sons, is witnessed by the sending abroad of the Spirit in their hearts. This last leads us to the important addition in Luke and 1 Cor. (but omitted here and in Mark) τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ( διδόμενον, Luke,—omitted in 1 Cor.),— τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. On these words we may remark (1) that the participle is present: and, rendered with reference to the time when it was spoken, would be which is being given. The Passion had already begun; in fact the whole life on earth was this giving and breaking, consummated by His death: (2) that the commemorative part of the rite here enjoined strictly depends upon the symbolic meaning, and that, for its fitness, upon the literal meaning. The commemoration is of Him, in so far as He has come down into Time, and enacted the great acts of Redemption on this our world,—and shewn himself to us as living and speaking Man, an object of our personal love and affectionate remembrance:—but the other and higher parts of the Sacrament have regard to the results of those same acts of Redemption, as they are eternized in the counsels of the Father,—as the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).


Verses 26-29

26–29.] INSTITUTION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER. Mark 14:22-25. Luke 22:19-20. 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. We may remark on this important part of our narrative, (1) That it was demonstrably our Lord’s intention to found an ordinance for those who should believe on Him; (2) that this ordinance had some analogy with that which He and the Apostles were then celebrating. The first of these assertions depends on the express word of the Apostle Paul; who in giving directions for the due celebration of the rite of the Lord’s Supper, states in relation to it that he had received from the Lord the account of its institution, which he then gives. He who can set this aside, must set aside with it all apostolic testimony whatever. The second is shewn by the fact, that what now took place was during the celebration of the Passover: that the same Paul states that Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; thus identifying the body broken, and blood shed, of which the bread and wine here are symbolic, with the Paschal feast. (3) That the key to the right understanding of what took place must be found in our Lord’s discourse after the feeding of the five thousand in John 6:1-71, since He there, and there only, besides this place, speaks of His flesh and blood in the connexion found here. (4) It is impossible to assign to this event its precise place in the meal. St. Luke inserts it before the announcement of the treason of Judas: St. Matt. and St. Mark after it. It is doubtful whether the accounts found in the Talmud and elsewhere of the ceremonies in the Paschal feast (see Lightfoot ad loc. De Wette) are to be depended on:—they are exceedingly complicated. Thus much seems clear,—that our Lord blessed and passed round two cups, one before, the other after the supper,—and that He distributed the unleavened cake during the meal. More than this is conjecture. The dipping of the hand in the dish, and dipping and giving the sop, may also possibly correspond to parts of the Jewish ceremonial.


Verse 27

27.] ἔδωκεν, aor. He gave, not to each, but once for all: in remarkable coincidence with Luke 22:17, λάβετε τοῦτο κ. διαμερίσατε ἑαυτοῖς. This was after the meal was ended: ὡσαύτως καὶ τὸ ποτήριον μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι. (Luke and 1 Cor.) As remarked above, it is quite uncertain whether our Lord followed minutely the Jewish practices, and we cannot therefore say whether the cup was one of wine and water mixed. It hardly follows from the expression of Matthew 26:29, ἐκ τούτου τοῦ γεν. τ. ἀμπ., that it was of unmixed wine. The word ὡσαύτως (in Luke and 1 Cor.) contains our λαβὼν καὶ εὐχαρ. ἔδωκ.

πίετε ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντες] Peculiar to Matthew, preserved however in substance by Mark’s καὶ ἔπιον ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντες. The πάντες is remarkable, especially with reference to the practice of the Church of Rome, which forbids the cup to the laity. Calvin remarks: “Cur de pane simpliciter dixit ut ederent; de calice, ut omnes biberent? Ac si Satanæ calliditati ex destinato occurrere voluisset.” (Cited in Stier, vi. 115.) It is on all accounts probable, and this command confirms the probability, that Judas was present, and partook of both parts of this first communion. The expressions are such throughout as to lead us to suppose that the same persons, οἱ δώδεκα, were present. On the circumstance mentioned John 13:30, which has mainly contributed to the other opinion, see note there.


Verse 28

28. τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν τὸ αἷμά μου τῆς [ καινῆς] διαθ.] So Mark also, omitting γάρ and καινῆς. In Luke and 1 Cor. there is an important verbal difference. τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθ. [ ἐστὶν] ἐν τῷ ἐμῷ αἵματι. But if we consider the matter closely, the real difference is but trifling, if any. Let us recur to the Paschal rite. The lamb ( χριστὸς τὸ πάσχα ἡμῶν) being killed, the blood ( τὸ αἷμα τῆς διαθήκης, Exodus 24:8) is sprinkled on the doorposts, and is a sign to the destroying angel to spare the house. The blood of the covenant is the blood of the lamb. So also in the new covenant. The blood of the Lamb of God, slain for us, being not only, as in the former case, sprinkled on, but actually partaken spiritually and assimilated by, the faithful soul, is the blood of the new covenant; and the sacramental cup, is, signifies, sets forth ( καταγγέλλει, 1 Corinthians 11:26), this covenant in His blood, i.e. consisting in a participation in His blood. With this explanation let us recur to the words in our text. First it will be observed that there is not here that absolute assertion which τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου conveyed. It is not τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ αἷμά μου absolutely. Wine, in general, does not represent by itself the effects (on the creation) of the blood of Christ; it, like every other nourishment of the body, is nourishment to us by and in Him, forasmuch as in Him all things consist: but there is no peculiar propriety whereby it is to us his Blood alone. But it is made so by a covenant office which it holds in his own declaration. Without shedding of blood was no remission of sins under the old covenant: and blood was, throughout, the covenant sign of forgiveness and acceptance. (See ref. Heb., where the Author, substituting τοῦτο for ἰδού in the LXX of Exodus 24:8, seems to be alluding to this very formula.) Now all this blood of sacrifice finds its true reality and fulfilment in the blood of Christ, shed for the remission of sins. This is the very promise of the new covenant, see Hebrews 8:8-13, as distinguished from the old: the ἄφεσις ἁμαρτιῶν, once for all,—whereas the old had continual offerings, which could not do this, Hebrews 10:3-4. And of this ἄφεσις, the result of the outpouring of the blood of Christ,—first and most generally in bringing all creation into reconciliation with the Father (see Colossians 1:20),—secondly and individually, in the application by faith of that blood to the believing soul,—do the faithful in the Lord’s Supper partake.

τὸ περὶ πολλῶν (Luke, ὑμῶν) ἐκχ.] On the present participle, see above. The situation of the words in Luke is remarkable; for τὸ ποτήριον is the subject of the sentence, and ἡ κ. διαθήκη the predicate. See note there.

πολλῶν] see note, ch. Matthew 20:28. Cf. also Hebrews 9:28.

εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν] Peculiar to Matthew: see above. The connexion is not πίετε.… εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμ. In the Sacrament, not the forgiveness of sins itself, but the refreshing and confirming assurance of that state of forgiveness is conveyed. The disciples (with one exception) were clean before the institution: John 13:10-11. St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:25, repeats the τοῦτο ποιεῖτε ὁσάκις ἂν πίνητε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. On the words ὁσάκις ἂν πίνητε, see note there.

In concluding this note I will observe that it is not the office of a Commentator to enter the arena of controversy respecting transubstantiation, further than by his exegesis his opinions are made apparent. It will be seen how entirely opposed to such a dogma is the view above given of the Sacrament. Once introduce it, and it utterly destroys both the verity of Christ’s Body, and the sacramental nature of the ordinance. That it has done so, is proved (if further need be) by the mutilation of the Sacrament, and disobedience to the divine command, in the Church of Rome. See further notices of this in notes on 1 Corinthians 10:16, and on John 6:1-71.


Verse 29

29.] This declaration I believe to be distinct from that in Luke 22:18. That was spoken over the first cup—this over one of the following. In addition to what has been said on Luke, we may observe, (1) that our Lord still calls the sacramental cup τὸ γέν. τῆς ἀμπ., although by Himself pronounced to be his blood: (2) that these words carry on the meaning and continuance of this eucharistic ordinance, even into the new heavens and new earth. As Thiersch excellently says, in his Lectures on Catholicism and Protestantism, ii. 276 (cited by Stier, vi. 160), “The Lord’s Supper points not only to the past, but to the future also. It has not only a commemorative, but also a prophetic meaning. In it we have not only to shew forth the Lord’s death, until He come, but we have also to think of the time when He shall come to celebrate his holy Supper with His own, new, in his Kingdom of Glory. Every celebration of the Lord’s Supper is a foretaste and prophetic anticipation of the great Marriage Supper which is prepared for the Church at the second appearing of Christ. This import of the Sacrament is declared in the words of the Lord, οὐ μὴ πίω ἀπʼ ἄρτι κ. τ. λ. These words ought never to be omitted in any liturgical form of administering the Communion.”


Verse 30

30.] The ὕμνος was in all probability the last part of the Hallel, or great Hallel, which consisted of Psalms 115:1-18; Psalms 116:1-19; Psalms 117:1-2; Psalms 118:1-29; the former part (Ps. 113. 114.) having been sung during the meal. It is unlikely that this took place after the solemn prayer in John 17:1-26.

ἐξῆλθ.] Luke (Luke 22:39) adds κατὰ τὸ ἔθος—namely, of every evening since his return to Jerusalem.


Verses 30-35

30–35.] DECLARATION THAT ALL SHOULD FORSAKE HIM. CONFIDENCE OF PETER. Mark 14:26-31. See Luke 22:31-38; John 13:36-38. Here, accurately speaking perhaps between ὑμνήσαντες and ἐξῆλθον, come in the discourses and prayer of our Lord in John 14-17, spoken (see note on John 14:31) without change of place, in the supper-chamber.


Verse 31

31.] πάντες (emphatic) ὑμεῖς seems to be used as distinguishing those present from the one, who had gone out.

σκανδ.] see note on ch. Matthew 11:6. The word is here used in a pregnant meaning, including what followed,—desertion, and, in one case, denial.

γέγραπται γάρ] This is a very important citation, and has been much misunderstood; how much, may appear from Grotius’s remark: “Tantum abest ut Zachariæ verbis directe Christum putem respici, ut multo magis credam agi inibi de aliquo non bono pastore,” &c. But, on the contrary, if we examine Zechariah 11-13., we must I think come to the conclusion that the shepherd spoken of Matthew 11:7-14, who is rejected and sold, who is said to have been pierced (Matthew 12:10), is also spoken of in ch. Matthew 13:7. Stier (Reden Jesu, vi. 176 ff.) has gone at length into the meaning of the whole prophecy, and especially that of the word עֲמִיתִי, ‘my fellow,’ and shewn that the reference can be to no other than the Messiah. The citation agrees verbatim with the LXX-A, except that πάταξον is changed into πατάξω—God who commands the striking, into God who Himself strikes.


Verse 32

32.] In this announcement our Lord seems to have in mind the remainder of the verse in Zechariah: “and I will turn ( הֵשִׁיב, reducere manum, i.e. impiis sublatis curam agere, &c. Schröder) mine hand upon the little ones.” As this could not be cited in any intelligible connexion with present circumstances, our Lord gives the announcement of its fulfilment, in a promise to precede them ( προάγ ., a pastoral office, see John 10:4) into Galilee, whither they should naturally return after the feast was over: see ch. Matthew 28:7; Matthew 28:10; Matthew 28:16. Schleiermacher thinks it “extremely improbable that Jesus, if He foresaw so exactly the days of His resurrection, and therefore could not but know that He should see his disciples again more than once in Jerusalem, should here have said that He would lead them into Galilee” (English Translation, p. 298). I confess that I see no improbability in the case; but the three references to this promise just quoted make it surely in the highest degree improbable that it should have been subsequently foisted in. We do not find such elaborate attempts to preserve the appearance of consistency in our Gospels. The reader who sees in it the reference to prophecy, will form a very different opinion.


Verse 33

33.] Nothing can bear a greater impress of exactitude than this reply. Peter had been before warned (see note on Luke 22:31-34); and still remaining in the same spirit of self-confident attachment, now that he is included among the πάντες, not specially addressed,—breaks out into this asseveration, which carries completely with it the testimony that it was not the first. Men do not bring themselves out so strongly ( εἰ πάντες, οὐκ ἐγώ: and not only so, but, οὐδέποτε, as opposed to ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ταύτῃ) unless their fidelity has been previously attainted.


Verse 34

34.] The very words in their order are, I doubt not, reported by St. Mark— ἀμὴν λ. σοι ὅτι σήμερον ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτὶ πρὶν ἢ δὶς ἀλέκτορα φωνῆσαι τ. με ἀπ. The contrast to Peter’s boast, and the climax, is in these words the strongest; and the inference also comes out most clearly, that they likewise were not now said for the first time. The first cock-crowing is at midnight; but inasmuch as few hear it,—when the word is used generally, we mean the second crowing, early in the morning, before dawn. If this view be taken, the ἀλέκτ. φων. and δὶς ἀλ. φ. amount to the same—only the latter is the more precise expression. It is most likely that Peter understood this expression as only a mark of time, and therefore received it, as when it was spoken before, as merely an expression of distrust on the Lord’s part; it was this solemn and circumstantial repetition of it which afterwards struck upon his mind when the sign itself was literally fulfilled.

A question has been raised whether cocks were usually kept or even allowed in Jerusalem. No such bird is mentioned in the O.T., and the Mischna states that the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests every where, kept no fowls, because they scratched up unclean worms. But the Talmud is here not consistent with itself: and Lightfoot brings forward a story which proves it. And there might be many kept by the resident Romans, over whom the Jews had no power.

We must not overlook the spiritual parabolic import of this warning. Peter stands here as a representative of all disciples who deny or forget Christ—and the watchful bird that cries in the night is that warning voice which ‘speaketh once, yea twice,’ to call them to repentance: see Romans 13:11-12.


Verse 35

35.] This ἂν δέῃ again appears to have the precision of a repeated asseveration. Mark has the stronger expression ἐκ περισσοῦ ἔλεγεν, which even more clearly indicates that the συναποθανεῖν was not now first said. The rest said it, but not so earnestly perhaps;—at all events, Peter’s confidence cast theirs into the shade.


Verse 36

36.] Mark alone, besides our account, mentions the name of the place—Luke merely calls it ὁ τόπος, in allusion to κατὰ τὸ ἔθος before. John informs us that it was a garden. The name is גִּת שִׂמָנֵא or שִׂמָני, ‘an oil press.’ It was at the foot of the Mount of Olives, in the valley of the Kedron, the other side of the brook from the city (John 18:1).

καθίσ.] not strictly and literally ‘sit,’ but = μείνατε, Matthew 26:38, stay here.

προσεύξωμαι] Such is the name which our Lord gives to that which was coming upon Him, in speaking to the Eight who were not to witness it. All conflict of the holy soul is prayer: all its struggles are continued communion with God. In Genesis 22:5, when Abraham’s faith was to be put to so sore a trial, he says, ‘I and the lad will go yonder and worship.’ Our Lord (almost on the same spot) unites in Himself, as the priest and victim, as Stier strikingly remarks, Abraham’s Faith and Isaac’s Patience.

ἐκεῖ] probably some spot deeper in the garden’s shade. At this time the gorge of the Kedron would be partly in the moonlight, partly shaded by the rocks and buildings of the opposite side. It may have been from the moonlight into the shade that our Lord retired to pray.


Verses 36-46

36–46.] OUR LORD’S AGONY AT GETHSEMANE. Mark 14:32-42. Luke 22:39-46. John 18:1. The account of the temptation, and of the agony in Gethsemane is peculiar to the three first Evangelists. But it does not therefore follow that there is, in their narratives, any inconsistency with St. John’s setting forth of the Person of Christ. For it must be remembered, that, as we find in their accounts frequent manifestations of the divine nature, and indications of future glory, about, and during this conflict,—so in St. John’s account, which brings out more the divine side of our Lord’s working and speaking, we find frequent allusions to his human weakness and distress of spirit. For examples of the first, see Matthew 26:13; Matthew 26:24; Matthew 26:29; Matthew 26:32; Matthew 26:53, and (171) in Mark and Luke; and Luke 22:30; Luke 22:32; Luke 22:37; Luke 22:43; of the latter, John 12:27; John 13:21; John 14:30; John 16:32.

The right understanding of the whole important narration must be acquired by bearing in mind the reality of the manhood of our Lord, in all its abasement and weakness:—by following out in Him the analogy which pervades the characteristics of human suffering—the strength of the resolved spirit, and calm of the resigned will, continually broken in upon by the inward giving way of human feebleness, and limited power of endurance. But as in us, so in the Lord, these seasons of dread and conflict stir not the ruling will, alter not the firm resolve. This is most manifest in His first prayer— εἰ δυνατόν ἐστιν—‘if consistent with that work which I have covenanted to do.’ Here is the reserve of the will to suffer—it is never stirred (see below). The conflict however of the Lord differs from ours in this,—that in us, the ruling will itself is but a phase of our human will, and may be and is often carried away by the excess of depression and suffering; whereas in Him it was the divine Personality in which the higher Will of the covenant purpose was eternally fixed,—struggling with the flesh now overwhelmed with an horrible dread, and striving to escape away (see the whole of Psalms 55:1-23). Besides that, by that uplifting into a superhuman circle of Knowledge, with which the indwelling of the Godhead endowed his humanity, his flesh, with all its capacities and apprehensions, was brought at once into immediate and simultaneous contact with every circumstance of horror and pain that awaited Him (John 18:4), which is never the case with us. Not only are the objects of dread gradually unveiled to our minds, but hope ( ἐλπὶς κινδύνῳ παραμύθιον οὖσα, Thuc. ver. 103) is ever suggesting that things may not be so bad as our fears represent them.

Then we must not forget, that as the flesh gave way under dread of suffering, so the human ψυχή was troubled with all the attendant circumstances of that suffering—betrayal, desertion, shame (see Psalms 55:1-23 again, Psalms 55:12-14; Psa_55:20-21; Psalms 38:11-12; Psalms 88 alli(172).). Nor again must we pass over the last and deepest mystery of the Passion—the consideration, that upon the holy and innocent Lamb of God rested the burden of all human sin—that to Him, death, as the punishment of sin, bore a dark and dreadful meaning, inconceivable by any of us, whose inner will is tainted by the love of Sin. See on this part of the Redeemer’s agony, Psalms 40:12; Psalms 38:1-10 a(173).

See also as a comment on the whole, Hebrews 5:7-10, and notes there.

The three accounts do not differ in any important particulars. Luke merely gives a general summary of the Lord’s prayers and his sayings to the disciples, but inserts (see below) two details not found in the others. Mark’s account and Matthew’s are very nearly related, and have evidently sprung from the same source.


Verse 37

37.] These three—Peter, the foremost in attachment, and profession of it—the two sons of Zebedee, who were to drink of the cup that He drank of—He takes with Him, not only nor principally as witnesses of his trial—this indeed, in the full sense, they were not—but as a consolation to Him in that dreadful hour—to ‘watch with Him.’ In this too they failed—yet from his returning to them between his times of prayer, it is manifest that, in the abasement of his humanity, He regarded them as some comfort to Him. ‘In magnis tentationibus juvat solitudo, sed tamen ut in propinquo sint amici.’ Bengel.

ἤρξατο—not merely idiomatic here—He began, as He had never done before.

λυπεῖσθαι = ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι Mark. ‘Dicit incursum objecti horribilis.’ Bengel (see below on Matthew 26:38).

ἀδημονεῖν = λίαν λυπεῖσθαι, ἀπορεῖν, Suidas; τὸ βαρυθυμεῖν νοεῖται, Euthym(174); ἀγωνιᾷν, Hesychius; ἀδήμων, ὁ ἐξ ἄδου, ὅ ἐστι κόρου τινὸς ἢ λύπης, ἀναπεπτωκώς. ἀδημονεῖν, τὸ ἀλύειν καὶ ἀμηχανεῖν, Eustathius.


Verse 38

38.] Our Lord’s whole inmost life must have been one of continued trouble of spirit—He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief—but there was an extremity of anguish now, reaching even to the utmost limit of endurance, so that it seemed that more would be death itself. The expression is said to be proverbial (see ref. Jonah): but we must remember that though with us men, who see from below, proverbs are merely bold guesses at truth,—with Him, who sees from above, they are the truth itself, in its very purest form. So that although when used by a man, a proverbial expression is not to be pressed to literal exactitude,—when used by our Lord, it is, just because it is a proverb, to be searched into and dwelt on all the more. The expression ἡ ψυχή μου, in this sense, spoken by our Lord, is only found besides in John 12:27. It is the human soul, the seat of the affections and passions, which is troubled with the anguish of the body; and it is distinguished from the πνεῦμα, the higher spiritual being. Our Lord’s soul was crushed down even to death by the weight of that anguish which lay upon Him—and that literally—so that He (as regards his humanity) would have died, had not strength (bodily strength, upholding his human frame) been ministered from on high by an angel (see note on Luke 22:43).

γρηγορεῖτε μετʼ ἐμοῦ] not προσεύχεσθε μετʼ ἐμοῦ, for in that work the Mediator must be alone; but (see above) watch with Me—just (if we may compare our weakness with His) as we derive comfort in the midst of a terrible storm, from knowing that some are awake and with us, even though their presence is no real safeguard.


Verse 39

39.] προελθὼν μικρόν (Matt., Mark) ═ ἀπεσπάσθη ἀπʼ αὐτῶν ὡσεὶ λίθου βολήν Luke, who in this description is the more precise. ἀπεσπ., I cannot help thinking, implies something more than mere removal from them—something of the reluctance of parting.

The distance would be very small, not above forty or fifty yards. Hence the disciples might well catch the leading words of our Lord’s prayers, before drowsiness overpowered them. Luke has however only θεὶς τὰ γόνατα, which is not so full as our account.

προσευχ.] Stier finely remarks: ‘This was in truth a different prayer from that which went before, which John has recorded.’ But still in the same spirit, uttered by the same Son of God and Redeemer of men. The glorifying (John 17:1) begins with suffering, as the previous words, ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα, might lead us to expect. The ‘power over all flesh’ shews itself first as power of the conflicting and victorious spirit over his own flesh, by virtue of which He is ‘one of us.’

Mark expresses the substance of the prayer, and interprets ποτήριον by ὥρα. Luke’s report differs only in verbal expression from Matthew’s. In the address, we have here and in Luke πάτερ—in Mark ἀββᾶ ὁ πατήρ. In all, and in the prayer itself, there is the deepest feeling and apprehension in the Redeemer’s soul of his Sonship and the unity of the Father—the most entire and holy submission to His Will. We must not for a moment think of the Father’s wrath abiding on Him as the cause of his suffering. Here is no fear of wrath,—but, in the depth of his human anguish, the very tenderness of filial love.

The variation in Mark and Luke in the substance of the prayer, though slight, is worthy of remark.

εἰ δυνατόν ἐστιν = πάντα δυνατά σοι, = εἰ βούλει. All these three find their union in one and the same inward feeling. That in the text expresses, ‘If, within the limits of Thy holy Will, this may be;’—that in Mark, ‘All things are (absolutely) possible to Thee—Thou canst therefore—but not what I will, but what Thou wilt:’—that in Luke, ‘If it be Thy Will to remove, &c. (Thou canst): but not my will, but Thine be done.’ The very words used by our Lord, the Holy Spirit has not seen fit to give us—shewing us, even in this solemn instance, the comparative indifference of the letter, when we have the inner spirit. That our Lord should have uttered all three forms of the prayer, is not for a moment to be thought of; and such a view could only spring out of the most petty and unworthy appreciation of the purpose of Scripture narrative.

παρελθάτω] as we should say of a threatening cloud, ‘It has gone over.’

But what is the ποτήριον or ὥρα, of which our Lord here prays that it may pass by? Certainly, not the mere present feebleness and prostration of the bodily frame: not any mere section of his sufferings—but the whole—the betrayal, the trial, the mocking, the scourging, the cross, the grave, and all besides which our thoughts cannot reach. Of this all, his soul, in humble subjection to the higher Will, which was absolutely united and harmonious with the Will of the Father, prays that if possible it may pass over. And this prayer was heard—see Hebrews 5:7ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας—on account of His pious resignation to the Father’s will, or on the ground of it, so that it prevailed—He was strengthened from Heaven. He did indeed drink the cup to the dregs—but He was enabled to do it, and this ἐνίσχυσις was the answer to his prayer.

πλὴν οὐχ] The Monothelite heresy, which held but one will in the Lord Jesus, is here plainly convicted of error. The distinction is clear, and marked by our Lord Himself. In His human soul, He willed to be freed from the dreadful things before Him—but this human will was overruled by the inner and divine purpose—the Will at unity with the Father’s Will.


Verse 40

40.] Mark agrees, except in relating the beginning of the address in the singular—no doubt accurately—for it was Peter (Simon, der hier kein Petrus mar. Stier), who had pledged himself to go with Him to prison and death.

οὕτως] see reff., ‘adeo:’—it implies their utter inability, as shewn by their present state of slumber. Are ye so entirely unable, &c.

μίαν ὥραν need not imply that our Lord had been absent a whole hour:—if it is to be taken in any close meaning, it would be that the whole trial would last about that time. But most likely it is in allusion to the time of our Lord’s trial, so often called by that name.


Verse 41

41.] Luke gives this command at the beginning and end of the whole; but his account is manifestly only a compendium, and not to be pressed chronologically. The command has respect to the immediate trial which was about to try them, and (for γρηγ. is a word of habit, not merely, as ἐγείρω, Ephesians 5:15, or ἐκνήφω, 1 Corinthians 15:34, one of immediate import) also to the general duty of all disciples in all time.

εἰσελθεῖν εἰς π. is not to come into temptation merely, to be tempted: this lies not in our own power to avoid, and its happening is rather joy than sorrow to us—see James 1:2, where the word is περιπέσητε—but it implies an entering into temptation with the will, and entertaining of the temptation. Grotius compares ἐμπίπτειν εἰς πειρασμόν, 1 Timothy 6:9. ‘Plenius Hebræi dicunt, intrare in manum tentationis, hoc est, in ejus potestatem atque dominium, ita ut ab ea subjugemur atque absorbeamur’ (Witsius, Exerc. in Orat. Dom. p. 196, cited by Stier, vi. 237).

τὸ μὲν πν.] I cannot doubt that this is said by our Lord in its most general meaning, and that He Himself is included in it. At that moment He was giving as high and pre-eminent an example of its truth, as the disciples were affording a low and ignoble one. He, in the willingness of the spirit—yielding Himself to the Father’s Will to suffer and die, but weighed down by the weakness of the flesh: they, having professed, and really having, a willing spirit to suffer with Him, but, even in the one hour’s watching, overcome by the burden of drowsiness. Observe it is here πνεῦμα, not ψυχή; and compare Matthew 26:38 and note. To enter further into the depths of this assertion of our Lord would carry us beyond the limits of annotation: but see Stier’s remarks, vi. 237–242.


Verse 42

42.] Mark merely says of this second prayer, τὸν αὐτὸν λόγον εἰπών. Luke gives it as ἐκτενέστερον προσηύχετο—and relates in addition, that His sweat was like the fall of drops of blood on the ground: see notes on Luke 22:44. (At what precise time the angel appeared to Him is uncertain: I should be inclined to think, after the first prayer, before He came to his disciples.)

The words are not exactly the same: “the Lord knew that the Father always heard Him (John 11:42); and therefore He understands the continuance of His trial as the answer to His last words, as Thou wilt.” Stier. Here therefore the prayer is, If it be not possible.… thy will be done. It is spoken in the fulness of self-resignation. ‘Jam addita bibendi mentione, propius ad bibendum se confert.’ Bengel.


Verse 43

43.] Mark adds, and it is a note of accuracy, καὶ οὐκ ᾔδεισαν τί ἀποκριθῶσιν αὐτῷ.


Verse 44

44.] τὸν αὐτόν, viz. as the last. This third prayer is merely indicated in Mark, by ἔρχεται τὸ τρίτον, on our Lord’s return.


Verse 45-46

45, 46.] The clause καθεύδετε λ. κ. ἀναπ. has been variously understood. To take it interrogatively does not improve the sense, and makes an unnatural break in the sentence, which proceeds indicatively afterwards. It seems to me that there can be but two ways of interpreting it—and both with an imperative construction. (1) Either it was said bonafide,—‘since ye are not able to watch with Me, now ye may sleep on—for my hour is come, and I am about to be taken from you’—which sense however is precluded by the ἐγείρεσθε ἄγωμεν below: or (2) it was said with an understanding of ‘if you can’ as Bengel; ‘si me excitantem non auditis, brevi aderunt alii qui vos excitent. Interea dormite, si vacat.’ (Only let us beware of the so-called “deeper sense,” suggested by Wordsw. here, “Now you may hope for sleep and rest (? cf. Mark 13:37; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-7), for I am about to die.”)

ἰδοὺ ἤγγ. = ἀπέχει· ἦλθεν Mark. The ἀπέχει implies, ‘It is enough’—enough of reproof to them for drowsiness—enough of exhortations to watch and pray—that was now coming which would cut all this short. This first ἰδού is hardly to be taken literally of the appearance of Judas and his band; it merely announces the approach of the hour, of which the Lord had so often spoken: but at the utterance of the second, it seems that they were in sight, and that may be taken literally.

This expression, παραδ. εἰς χεῖρας ἁμαρτωλῶν, should be noticed, as an echo of the Redeemer’s anguish—it was the contact with sin,—and death, the wages of sin,—which all through His trial pressed heavily on His soul.


Verse 47

47.] Judas is specified as εἷς τῶν δώδεκα, probably because the appellation, as connected with this part of his history, had become the usual one—thus we have in Luke ὁ λεγόμενος ἰούδ. εἷς τῶν δώδεκα—fuller still. To the reader, this specification is not without meaning, though that meaning may not have been intended.

ὄχλος πολύς] consisting of (1) a detachment of the Roman cohort which was quartered in the tower of Antonia during the feast in case of an uproar, called ἡ σπεῖρα, John 18:3; John 18:12. (2) The ὑπηρέται of the council, the same as the στρατηγοὶ τοῦ ἱεροῦ, Luke 22:52. (3) Servants and others deputed from the high-priest to assist, see our Matthew 26:51. (4) Possibly, if the words are to be taken exactly (Luke 22:52), some of the chief priests and elders themselves, forward in zeal and enmity. There is nothing improbable in this (as Meyer, Schleiermacher, &c. maintain), seeing that we have these persons mixing among the multitude and stirring them up to demand the crucifixion of Jesus afterwards.

ξύλων] not clubs—but staves,—or any tumultuary weapons. The intention of the chief priests evidently was to produce an impression to the effect that a seditious plot was to be crushed, and resistance might be expected. John mentions also lanterns and torches—to search perhaps in the dark parts of the garden, most of which would by this time be in the shade.


Verses 47-56

47–56.] BETRAYAL AND APPREHENSION OF JESUS. Mark 14:43-52. Luke 22:47-53. John 18:2-11. Mark’s account has evidently been derived from the same source originally as Matthew’s, but both had gained some important additions before they were finally committed to writing. Luke’s is, as before, an abridged narrative, but abounding with new circumstances not related by the others. John’s account is at first sight very dissimilar from either: see text above cited, and notes there. It may suffice now to say, that all which John 4:1-54; John 5:1-47; John 6:1-71; John 7:1-53; John 8:1-59; John 9:1-41, relates, must have happened on the first approach of the band—and is connected with our ἐγείρεσθε ἄγωμεν. Some particulars also must have happened, which are omitted by all: viz. the rejoining of the eight Apostles (not alluded to in Luke 22:46, as Greswell supposes), and the preparing them for what was about to take place. On the other hand, John gives a hint that something had been passing in the garden, by his word ἐξῆλθεν, Matthew 26:4. The two first Evangelists were evidently unaware of any such matter as that related by John, for they (Matthew 26:49; Mark 14:45) introduce the Kiss by an εὐθέως.


Verse 48

48.] The common rendering of ἔδωκεν as a plusq. perf. is unnecessary and unwarranted: the aorist is simply historical,—gave them a sign;when is not stated. On Mark’s addition, καὶ ἀπαγάγετε ἀσφαλῶς, see notes there.


Verse 49

49. εὐθέως] see above on Matthew 26:47. The purpose of the kiss, supposing it to have taken place after John 4:1-54; John 5:1-47; John 6:1-71; John 7:1-53; John 8:1-59, (and it is surely out of the question to suppose it to have taken place before, contrary to the plain meaning of John 18:4,) has been doubted. Yet I think on a review of what had happened, it is very intelligible—not perhaps as some have supposed, to shew that Jesus could be approached with safety—but at all events as the sign agreed on with the Roman soldiers, who probably did not personally know Him, and who besides would have had their orders from the city, to take Him whom Judas should kiss. Thus the kiss would be necessary in the course of their military duty, as their authorization,—notwithstanding the previous declaration by Jesus of Himself.

κατεφ. is hardly as in my earlier editions, another word for ἐφίλ. It may well have its common and proper meaning, ‘Kissed him eagerly,’ with ostentation, as a studied and prearranged sign. See Ellicott, Lectures on the Life of our Lord, p. 331 note: and comp. Xenophon, Mem. ii. 6. 33, cited by Meyer, ὡς τοὺς καλοὺς φιλήσοντός μου, τοὺς δʼ ἀγαθοὺς καταφιλήσαντος.


Verse 50

50.] In Luke we have ἰούδα, φιλήματι τὸν υἱὸν τ. ἀνθ. παραδίδως,—which sense is involved in the text also: that variation shewing perhaps that one of the accounts is not from an eye-witness.

ἑταῖρε] see ch. Matthew 22:12 and note. ὁ ἑταιρος οὐ πάντως φίλος. καὶ ἑταῖροι, οἱ ἐν συνηθείᾳ καὶ ἐν συνεργίᾳ πολὺν χρόνον γεγονότες. Ammonius.

ἐφʼ ὃ πάρει can hardly be a question. No such use of the simple relative ὅς has ever been adduced: “pronomen ὅς pro interrogativo τίς usurpari, falsa est Hoogeveeni opinio, ad Viger. Matthew 26:14, alienissimo Demosthenis loco (p. 779) abutentis.” Lobeck on Phryn. p. 57 note. It therefore must be either an exclamation, as Fritzsche, “ad qualem rem perpetrandam ades!” which would be equally alien from the usage of ὅς, exclamations of this sort in Greek being expressed in an interrogative form:—or an aposiopesis; as Euthym(175), διʼ ὃ παραγέγονας, ἤγουν τὸ κατὰ σκοπὸν πράττε, τοῦ προσχήματος ἀφιέμενος. And to this I should incline. “Friend, there needs not this shew of attachment: I know thine errand,—hoc age.” But the command itself is suppressed. See Meyer’s note, who also takes this view. On any understanding of the words, it is an appeal to the conscience and heart of Judas, in which sense (see above) it agrees with the words spoken in Luke:—see note there. The fact that at this period our Lord was laid hold of and secured (by hand—not yet bound) by the band, is important, as interpreting Luke’s account further on.


Verse 51

51.] The εἷς (or εἷς τις of Luke) was Peter;—John 18:10. Why he was not mentioned, is idle to enquire: one supposition only must be avoided—that there is any purpose in the omission. It is absurd to suppose that the mention of his name in a book current only among Christians, many years after the fact, could lead to his apprehension, which did not take place at the time, although he was recognized as the striker in the palace of the High-priest, John 18:26. The real reason of the non-apprehension was, that the servant was healed by the Lord.

This is the first opposition to ‘Thy will be done.’ Luke expresses it, that they saw what would happen—and asked, ‘Lord, shall we smite with the sword?’ Then, while the other (for there were but two swords in the company) was waiting for the reply, the rash Peter, in the very spirit of ch. Matthew 16:22, smote with the sword—the weapon of the flesh:—an outbreak of the natural man no less noticeable than that more-noticed one which followed before morning. All four Evangelists agree in this account. Luke and John are most exact—the latter giving the name of the slave,—Malchus.

The aim was a deadly one, and Peter narrowly escaped being one ὅστις ἐν τῇ στάσει φόνον πεποιήκει. From Luke 22:51, we learn that our Lord said ἐᾶτε ἕως τούτου (on the meaning of which see note there), touched the ear and healed it.

ὠτίον] “Plerisque corporis partibus vulgaris dialectus formam deminutivam tribuit, τὰ ῥινία, Aristot. Physiogn. iii. 57, τὸ ὀμμάτιον iii. 46, στηθίδιον, χελύνιον, σαρκίον (corpus).” Lobeck on Phryn. p. 211, note.


Verse 52

52. τὴν μάχ. σου] ‘tuum gladium: alienissimum a mea causa.’ Bengel.

τὸν τόπον αὐτῆς = τὴν θήκην John. The sheath is the place for the Christian’s sword—‘gladius extra vaginam non est in loco suo, nisi ubi subservit iræ divinæ,’ Bengel: see note on Luke 22:36. Our Lord does not say ‘Cast away thy sword;’ only in His willing self-sacrifice, and in that kingdom which is to be evolved from his work of redemption, is the sword altogether out of place.

πάντες γὰρ κ. τ. λ.] Peculiar to Matthew. There is no allusion, as Grotius and some of the ancients thought, to the Jews perishing by the Roman sword (‘crudeles istos et sanguinarios, etiam to quiescente, gravissimas Deo daturos pœnas suo sanguine,’ Grot., Euthym(176)): for the very persons who were now taking Him were Romans. The saying is general—and the stress is on λαβόντες—it was this that Peter was doing—‘taking up the sword’—of his own will; taking that vengeance which belongs to God, into his own hand.

ἐν μαχαίρῃ ἀπολ. is a command; not merely a future, but an imperative future; a repetition by the Lord in this solemn moment of Genesis 9:6. This should be thought of by those well-meaning but shallow persons, who seek to abolish the punishment of death in Christian states.

John adds the words τὸ ποτήριον ὃ δέδωκέν μοι ὁ πατήρ, οὐ μὴ πίω αὐτό; on which see notes there. 53, 54 are peculiar to Matthew.


Verse 53

53.] The Majesty of our Lord, and His Patience are both shewn here.

πλείω δώδ. is a strictly Attic idiom, the neuter πλεῖον or πλείω, and the unchanged construction omitting the . So Plato, Legg. vi. p. 759, ἔτη μὴ ἔλαττον ἑξήκοντα γεγονώς: Paus. x. 57. 295, οἱ ἄνθρωποι πλέον ἡμίσεις ἁλιεῖς εἰσι. See the matter discussed, and more examples given, in Phryn. Lobeck, p. 410.

δώδεκα—not perhaps so much from the number of the Apostles, who were now οἱ ἕνδεκα, but from that of the then company, viz. the Lord and the eleven.

λεγεῶνας—because they were Roman soldiers who were taking Him. The complement of the legion was about 6000 men. The power, implied in δοκεῖς ὅτι οὐ δύναμαι, shews the entire and continued free self-resignation of the Lord throughout—and carries on the same truth as He expressed John 10:18.


Verse 54

54. οὖν] not, ‘but;’—How then—considering that this is so, that I voluntarily abstain from invoking such heavenly aid,—shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be, if thou in thy rashness usest the help of fleshly weapons?


Verse 55

55.] Mark begins this with an ἀποκριθείς—it was an answer to their actions, not to their words. Luke, here minutely accurate, informs us that it was to the chief priests and στρατηγοὺς τοῦ ἱεροῦ and elders, that our Lord said this. It is strange that the exact agreement of this classification with μεθʼ ὑμῶν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ did not prevent Schleiermacher from casting a doubt on the truth of the circumstance (English Translation, p. 302).

In his submission to be reckoned among the transgressors, our Lord yet protests against any suspicion that He could act as such. There seems to be no necessity for putting an interrogation after συλλαβεῖν με.

καθʼ ἡμέραν—during the week past, and perhaps at other similar times.

ἐκαθεζόμην (Matt. only) to indicate complete quiet and freedom from attack.

ἐκαθεζόμην διδάσκων is the greatest possible contrast to λῃστής.


Verse 56

56.] It is doubted whether these words are a continuation of our Lord’s speech, or a remark inserted by Matthew. The use of τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν in this Gospel would lead us to the latter conclusion: but when we reflect that thus our Lord’s speech would lose all its completeness, and that Mark gives in different words the speech going on to this same purport, we must I think decide for the other view. Besides, if the remark were Matthew’s, we should expect some particular citation, as is elsewhere his practice: see ch. Matthew 1:22; Matthew 21:4. Mark gives it elliptically, ἀλλʼ ἵνα πληρωθῶσιν αἱ γραφαί. The Passion and Death of Christ were especially ἡ τῶν γραφῶν πλήρωσις. In this they all found their central point. Compare his dying word on the Cross,— τετέλεσται,—with this his assertion. On the addition in Luke, see note there.

There is an admirable sermon of Schleiermacher (vol. ii. of the Berlin ed. of 1843, p. 104) on Matthew 26:55-56.

τότε οἱ μαθ.] Some of them did not flee far. Peter and John went after Him to the palace of the High-priest: John 18:15. On the additional circumstance in Mark 14:51, see note there. Chrys.’s remark is worth noting: ὅτε μὲν γὰρ κατεσχέθη, ἔμενον· ὅτε δὲ ἐφθέγξατο ταῦτα πρὸς τούς ὄχλους, ἔφυγον· εἶδον γὰρ λοιπόν, ὅτι οὐκ ἔτι διαφυγεῖν ἔνι, ἑκόντος ἑαυτὸν παραδόντος αὐτοῖς καὶ λέγοντος κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς τοῦτο γίνεσθαι.


Verse 57

57. καϊάφαν τὸν ἀρχ.] He was ἀρχιερεὺς τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ ἐκείνου, Annas having been deposed, and since then the High-priests having been frequently changed by the Roman governors.

ὅπου οἱ γρ.] Probably they had assembled by a preconcerted design, expecting their prisoner. This was a meeting of the Sanhedrim, but not the regular assembly, which condemned him and handed Him over to Pilate. That took place in the morning, Luke 22:66-71 (where see note).


Verses 57-68

57–68.] HEARING BEFORE CAIAPHAS. Mark 14:53-65. (Luke 22:54; Luke 22:63-65.) John 18:24. Previous to this took place a hearing before Annas, the real High-priest (see note on Luke 3:2), to whom the Jews took Jesus first;—who enquired of Him about his disciples and his teaching (John 18:19-23), and then (John 18:24) sent Him bound to Caiaphas. Only John, who followed, relates this first hearing. See notes on John 18:12-24, where this view is maintained. It may be sufficient here just to indicate the essential differences between that hearing and this. On that occasion no witnesses were required, for it was merely a private unofficial audience. Then the High-priest questioned and our Lord replied: whereas now, under false witness and reproach, He (as before Herod) is silent.


Verse 58

58.] “ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν is a well-known pleonasm. μακρόθεν itself is a late Greek word. See Lob. on Phryn. p. 93.” Meyer.

We have not here the more complete detail of John 18:15-19. The αὐλή is one and the same great building, in which both Annas and Caiaphas lived. This is evident from a comparison of the narratives of Peter’s denial: see below. The circumstance of a fire being lighted and the servants sitting round it, mentioned by the other three Evangelists, is here omitted.


Verse 59

59. ψευδομ.] ὡς μὲν ἐκείνοις ἐδόκει, μαρτυρίαν, ὡς δὲ τῇ ἀληθείᾳ, ψευδομαρτυρίαν. Euthym(177) But is this quite implied? Is it not the intention of the Evangelist to represent that they sought false witness, not that they would not take true if they could get it, but that they knew it was not to be had?

This hearing is altogether omitted in Luke, and only the indignities following related, Matthew 26:63-65.


Verse 60

60.] οὐχ εὗρον, i.e. sufficient for the purpose, or perhaps, consistent with itself. See note on ἴσαι, Mark 14:56.


Verse 61

61.] See ch. Matthew 27:40 : the false witness consisted in giving that sense to His words, which it appears by ch. Matthew 27:63 they knew they did not bear. There is perhaps a trace, in the different reports of Matt. and Mark, of the discrepancy between the witnesses. There is considerable difference between τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θ.… οἰκοδομῆσαι and τὸν ν. τοῦτον τὸν χειροποίητον.… ἄλλον ἀχειροποίητον. The instance likewise of his zeal for the honour of the temple which had so lately occurred, might tend to perplex the evidence produced to the contrary.


Verse 62

62.] Dost thou not answer what it is which these testify against thee? i.e. wilt Thou give no explanation of the words alleged to have been used by Thee? Our Lord was silent; for in answering He must have opened to them the meaning of these his words, which was not the work of this His hour, nor fitting for that audience. It is not easy to say whether this sentence ought to be taken as one question or two. Meyer, in his former editions, maintained the latter, on the ground that ἀποκρίνῃ would require πρός after it. But he has now discovered in his fourth edition that ἀποκρίνεσθαι may be constructed with an accusative simply, and that τί may be equivalent to ὅτι. So that there is no serious objection remaining to the usual way of construction.


Verse 63

63.] See Leviticus 5:1.

ἐξορκίζω σε, ‘I put thee under an oath,’ the form of which follows. The junction of ὁ υἱὸς τ. θ. with χριστός must not be pressed beyond the meaning which Caiaphas probably assigned to it—viz. the title given to the Messiah from the purport of the prophecies respecting Him. It is however a very different thing when our Lord by his answer affirms this, and invests the words with their fullest meaning and dignity.


Verse 64

64.] By σὺ εἶπας, more may perhaps be implied than by Mark’s ἐγώ εἰμι: that is a simple assertion: this may refer to the convictions and admissions of Caiaphas (see John 11:49). But this is somewhat doubtful. The expression is only used here and in Matthew 26:25 : and there does not appear to be any reference in it as said to Judas, to any previous admission of his.

πλήν] but—i.e. ‘there shall be a sign of the truth of what I say, over and above this confession of Mine.’

ἀπʼ ἄρτι] The glorification of Christ is by Himself said to begin with his betrayal, see John 13:31; from this time—from the accomplishment of this trial now proceeding. In what follows, the whole process of the triumph of the Lord Jesus even till its end is contained. The ὄψεσθε is to the council, the representatives of the chosen people, so soon to be judged by Him to whom all judgment is committed—the τῆς δυνάμεως in contrast to his present weakness— καθήμενον—even as they now sat to judge Him; and the ἐρχ. ἐπὶ τ. ν. τ. οὐρ. (see Daniel 7:13) looks onward to the awful time of the end, when every eye shall see Him.


Verse 65

65.] In Leviticus 21:10 (see also Leviticus 10:6) the High-priest is ordered not to rend his clothes; but that appears to apply only to mourning for the dead. In 1 Maccabees 11:71, and in Josephus, B. J. ii. 15. 4, we have instances of High-priests rending their clothes. On rending the clothes at hearing blasphemy, see 2 Kings 18:37.


Verse 66

66.] This was not a formal condemnation, but only a previous vote or expression of opinion. That took place in the morning, see ch. Matthew 27:1, and especially Luke 22:66-71.


Verse 67

67.] Luke gives these indignities, and in the same place as here, adding, what indeed might have been suspected, that it was not the members of the Sanhedrim, but the men who held Jesus in custody, who inflicted them on Him.

κολαφίζω is to strike with the fist; ῥαπίζω, generally, to strike a flat blow with the back of the hand—but also, and probably here, since another set of persons are described as doing it, to strike with a staff.


Verse 69

69.] “An oriental house is usually built round a quadrangular interior court; into which there is a passage (sometimes arched) through the front part of the house, closed next the street by a heavy folding gate, with a small wicket for single persons, kept by a porter. In the text, the interior court, often paved or flagged, and open to the sky, is the αὐλή where the attendants made a fire; and the passage beneath the front of the house from the street to this court, is the προαύλιον or πυλών. The place where Jesus stood before the High-priest may have been an open room or place of audience on the ground-floor, in the rear or on one side of the court; such rooms, open in front, being customary.” Robinson, Notes to Harmony, p. 225.


Verses 69-75

69–75.] OUR LORD IS THRICE DENIED BY PETER. Mark 14:66-72. Luke 22:56-62. John 18:17-18; John 18:25-27. This narrative furnishes one of the clearest instances of the entire independency of the four Gospels of one another. In it, they all differ, and, supposing the denial to have taken place thrice, and only thrice, cannot be literally harmonized. The following table may serve to shew what the agreements are, and what the differences:—

MATTHEW.

MARK.

LUKE.

1st denial.

Sitting in the hall without, is charged by a maid servant with having been with Jesus the Galilæan. ‘I know not what thou sayest.’

Warming himself in the hall below,—&c. as Matt.—goes out into the vestibule—the cock crows. ‘I know not, neither understand what thou sayest.’

Sitting πρὸς τὸ φῶς is recognized by the maid and charged—replies, ‘Woman, I know Him not.’

Is recognized by the porteress on being introduced by the other disciple. ‘Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples?’ He saith, ‘I am not.’

2nd denial.

He has gone out into the porch—another maid sees him. ‘This man also was with Jesus of Naz(178)’ He denies with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’ (178) Nazianzenus, Gregory, fl. 370–389

The same maid (possibly: but see note, p. 284, Colossians 1:1-29, line 34) sees him again, and says, ‘This man is of them.’ He denies again.

Another (but a male servant) says: ‘Thou also art of them.’ Peter said, ‘Man, I am not.’

Is standing and warming himself. They said to him, ‘Art not thou also of His disciples?’ He denied, and said, ‘I am not.’

3rd denial.

After a little while, the standers-by say, ‘Surely thou art of them; for thy dialect be-trayeth thee.’ He began to curse and to swear: ‘I know not the man.’

As Matt. ‘Surely thou art of them: for thou art also a Galilæan.’

After about an hour, another persisted saying, ‘Truly this man was with Him, for he is a Galilæan.’ Peter said, ‘Man, I know not what thou sayest.’

One of the slaves of the High-priest, his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, says, ‘Did I not see thee in the garden with Him?’ Peter then denied again.

Immediately the cock crew, and Peter remembered, &c.—and going out he wept bitterly.

A second time the cock crew, and Peter remembered, &c.—and ἐπιβαλών he wept.

Immediately while he was yet speaking the cock crew, and the Lord turned and looked on Peter, and Peter remembered, &c.—and going out he wept bitterly.

Immediately the cock crew.

On this table I would make the following remarks:—that generally,—(1) supposing the four accounts to be entirely independent of one another,—we are not bound to require accordance, nor would there in all probability be any such accordance, in the recognitions of Peter by different persons. These may have been many on each occasion of denial, and independent narrators may have fixed on different ones among them. (2) No reader who is not slavishly bound to the inspiration of the letter, will require that the actual words spoken by Peter should in each case be identically reported. See the admirable remarks of Aug(179) cited on ch. Matthew 8:25 : and remember, that the substantive fact of a denial remains the same, whether οὐκ οἶδα τί λέγεις, οὐκ οἶδα αὐτόν, or οὐκ εἰμί are reported to have been Peter’s answer. (3) I do not see that we are obliged to limit the narrative to three sentences from Peter’s mouth, each expressing a denial, and no more. On three occasions during the night he was recognized,—on three occasions he was a denier of his Lord: such a statement may well embrace reiterated expressions of recognition, and reiterated and importunate denials, on each occasion. And these remarks being taken into account, I premise that all difficulty is removed from the synopsis above given: the only resulting inferences being, (a) that the narratives are genuine truthful accounts of facts underlying them all: and (b) that they are, and must be, absolutely and entirely independent of one another. For (1) the four accounts of the FIRST denial are remarkably coincident. In all four, Peter was in the outer hall, where the fire was made (see on Matthew 26:69): a maid servant (Matt., Mark, Luke),—the maid servant who kept the door (John) taxed him (in differing words in each, the comparison of which is very instructive) with being a disciple of Jesus: in all four he denies, again in differing words. I should be disposed to think this first recognition to have been but one, and the variations to be owing to the independence of the reports. (2) In the narratives of the SECOND denial, our first preliminary remark is well exemplified. The same maid (Mark possibly: but not necessarily—perhaps, only the παιδίσκη in the προαύλιον)—another maid (Matt.), another (male) servant (Luke), the standers-by generally (John), charged him: again, in differing words. It seems he had retreated from the fire as if going to depart altogether (see note, Matthew 26:69), and so attracted the attention both of the group at the fire and of the porteress. It would appear to me that for some reason, John was not so precisely informed of the details of this as of the other denials. The “going out” (Matt., Mark) is a superadded detail, of which the “standing and warming himself” (John) does not seem to be possessed. (3) On the THIRD occasion, the standers-by recognize him as a Galilæan (simply, Mark (txt.), Luke: by his dialect, Matt., an interesting additional particular),—and a kinsman of Malchus crowns the charge by identifying him in a way which might have proved most perilous, had not Peter immediately withdrawn. This third time again, his denials are differently reported:—but here, which is most interesting, we have in Matt. and Mark’s “he began to curse and to swear” a very plain intimation, that he spoke not one sentence only, but a succession of vehement denials. It will be seen, that the main fallacy which pervaded the note in my first edition, was that of requiring the recognitions, and the recognizers, in each case, to have been identical in the four. Had they been thus identical, in a case of this kind, the four accounts must have sprung from a common source, or have been corrected to one another: whereas their present varieties and coincidences are most valuable as indications of truthful independence. What I wish to impress on the minds of my readers is, that in narratives which have sprung from such truthful independent accounts, they must be prepared sometimes (as e.g. in the details of the day of the Resurrection) for discrepancies which, at our distance, we cannot satisfactorily arrange: now and then we may, as in this instance, be able to do so with something like verisimilitude:—in some cases, not at all. But whether we can thus arrange them or not, being thoroughly persuaded of the holy truthfulness of the Evangelists, and of the divine guidance under which they wrote, our faith is in no way shaken by such discrepancies. We value them rather, as testimonies to independence: and are sure, that if for one moment we could be put in complete possession of all the details as they happened, each account would find its justification, and the reasons of all the variations would appear. And this I firmly believe will one day be the case. (See the narrative of Peter’s denials ably treated in an article on my former note, in the “Christian Observer” for Feb. 1853.)john.


Verse 70

70.] οὐκ οἶδα τί λέγεις is an indirect form of denial, conveying in it absolute ignorance of the circumstances alluded to.


Verse 73

73. ἡ λαλιά] Wetstein (ad loc.) gives many examples of various provincial dialects of Hebrew. The Galilæans could not pronounce properly the gutturals, confounding (180), ע and ח; and they used ת for שׁ.


Verse 74

74.] καταθεματ. is a corrupted form, belonging probably to the class of vulgarisms. κατάθεμα occurs Revelation 22:3. ‘Nunc gubernaculum animæ plane amisit,’ says Bengel.


Verse 75

75.] ἔξω—viz. from the πυλών where the second and third denial had taken place: the motive being, ἵνα μὴ κατηγορηθῇ διὰ τῶν δακρύων, as Chrys.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Matthew 26:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/matthew-26.html. 1863-1878.

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