Matthew Chapter 23

I. Jesus Condemns the Scribes and Pharisees.

II. Scripture Text

III. Dr. John F. Walvoord, Th. D. (DTS). Overview.

A. Hypocrisy of the Pharisees, 23:1-12.

1. Jesus, at this time, was thronged with pilgrims from all over Israel who had come to celebrate the Passover feast. Addressing Himself to them and to His own disciples, Jesus solemnly warned them concerning the scribes and Pharisees (cf. Mk 12:38-40; Lk 20:45-47). This discourse, as a whole, is found only in Matthew. Jesus began by acknowledging that they were seated in Moses’ seat. While not saying it in so many words, He implied that they were usurpers who were not truly successors of Moses. But nevertheless, their position must be recognized. Accordingly, He told them, “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do” (23:3).

2. By commanding them to observe and do what the Pharisees instructed them, Jesus certainly did not mean that they should follow the false teachings of the Pharisees but rather those teachings that naturally and correctly arose from the Law of Moses. In general, the Pharisees were upholders of the law and should be recognized for this.

3. Jesus went on immediately, however, to point out their hypocrisy and commanded the people, “But do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (v. 3). He then cited the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. They lay heavy burdens upon the people but would not do anything to make the load lighter. Their own works were done to be observed by men rather than God. They made broad their phylacteries, the Scriptures which they customarily bound to their forehead and to their left wrist, containing the Scriptures of Exodus 13:3-16; Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and 11:13-21. This they did, not only when they prayed in the morning, but throughout the day, for the purpose of being seen of men. They also enlarged the borders of their garments, the tassels referred to in Deuteronomy 22:12, which were tokens that they were holy men.

4. Jesus charged the Pharisees with loving the best places at the feasts and the chief seats in the synagogue. They loved to be called rabbi, which recognized that they were teachers and scholars. Jesus reminded them that their Messiah, “Christ,” was their Master, and God was their Father. It is of interest that He referred to the Christ, or the Messiah, in Matthew 23:8, 10. What He was saying was that the Pharisees and scribes had forgotten the preeminence of God and of their Messiah.

5. This condemnation by Jesus of the pretentions of the scribes and Pharisees does not rule out reasonable recognition of authority in Israel, but obviously prohibits making this a goal in itself. He held before them instead the desirability of being a servant, or one who ministers, and He concluded, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (v. 12). His disciples were not to seek to be called rabbi and were forbidden to use the word father indiscriminately, even though Paul used father correctly in 1 Corinthians 4:15, and John addressed fathers in 1 John 2: 13-14. The general teaching is clear. They were not to seek man-exalting titles such as rabbi, father, or minister to gain the recognition of men. Disciples of Christ should not exalt themselves but should seek to serve others and leave the exalting to God Himself.

B. Jesus Pronounces Seven Woes Upon the Scribes and Pharisees, 23:13-36.

1. In this section, climaxing the controversy of Christ with the scribes and Pharisees, seven solemn woes are pronounced upon them. Only Matthew records this scathing denunciation of these religious leaders of the Jews. These woes, in contrast to the Beatitudes, denounce false religion as utterly abhorrent to God and worthy of severe condemnation. No passage in the Bible is more biting, more pointed, or more severe than this pronouncement of Christ upon the Pharisees. It is significant that He singled them out, as opposed to the Sadducees, who were more liberal, and the Herodians, who were the politicians. The Pharisees, while attempting to honor the Word of God and manifesting an extreme form of religious observance, were actually the farthest from God.

2. His first condemnation, in 23:13, related to the fact that they did all they could to shut out others. False religion and pretense are always the worst enemies of the truth and are far more dangerous than immorality or indifference. As the religious leaders of the Jews, they were held guilty before God of blocking the way for others seeking to enter into the kingdom of God.

3. In verse 14, another woe is indicated, in which the scribes and Pharisees were charged with devouring widows’ houses and making long prayers to impress others. The verse, however, is omitted in most manuscripts and probably should not be considered as rightly a portion of this Scripture. It may have been inserted from Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47. If it is included, it would bring the total woes to eight instead of seven.

4. In Matthew 23:15, the second woe is mentioned. In this one, the Pharisees were described as extremely energetic on both land and sea to make proselytes of the Jewish religion. But when they were successful, Jesus charged, “Ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” In referring to hell, Christ used the word Geenna or Gehenna, a reference to eternal damnation, rather than to Hades, the temporary abode of the wicked in the intermediate state. The Pharisees and their proselytes both would end up in eternal damnation.

5. A third woe is mentioned in verse 16, based on the trickery of the Pharisees, who held that swearing by the gold of the temple bound the oath. Jesus denounced them as both fools and blind, as obviously the gold was meaningless unless it was sanctified by the temple, and the gift on the altar was meaningless unless it was given significance by the altar. Repeating His accusation, He declared in verse 19, “Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?” Accordingly, Christ concluded that an oath based on the temple was binding, just as an oath based on heaven carried with it the significance of the throne of God and God who sits on the throne.

6. The fourth woe, mentioned in verse 23, has to do with hypocrisy in tithing. While they were so concerned in paying the tithe down to the smallest spice or seed, they omitted the really important matters: obeying the law and manifesting mercy and faith. He repeated His charge that they were blind, straining out a gnat or a small insect, but swallowing a camel. He was, of course, speaking figuratively of their dealing with minutiae but omitting the really important things.

7. The fifth woe is pronounced in verse 25, where He repeated the charge that they were hypocrites, merely actors acting a part. He charged them with cleaning the outside of the cup and the platter but being unconcerned about what was inside, where cleanliness really matters. He meant by this that they were concerned with ceremonial cleanliness, that which men observed, but not really concerned with holiness. While observing ceremonial rites of cleansing, they were not above extortion and excess.

8. In verse 27, Jesus mentioned the sixth woe. In this one, He described them as whited sepulchres, graves that had been made beautiful and white on the outside but within were full of dead men’s bones. This illustrated that the Pharisees were outwardly righteous but inwardly full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

9. Jesus concluded with the seventh woe, in verse 29, in which He charged them with building tombs of the prophets and garnishing them with decorations and claiming that they would not be partakers with their fathers in martyring prophets. Jesus called their very witness to account, that they were the children of those who killed the prophets, and He told them, in verse 32, “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.” In other words, do what your fathers did and even do worse. Jesus was, of course, referring to their intent to kill Him and to their later persecution of the church.

10. In the severest terms, in verse 33, Jesus addressed them, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” He described the scribes and Pharisees as poisonous snakes, destined for terrible judgment which would be theirs in hell, specifically Gehenna, the place of eternal punishment.

11. Jesus declared, in verse 34, that He would send to them prophets, wise men, and scribes who were also believers. Some of them they would persecute, some they would scourge and drive out of the synagogue, and others they would kill and crucify. Their works would justify bringing upon them the just condemnation coming from all the righteous blood shed upon the earth from the time of righteous Abel, killed by Cain (Gen 4:8), to the martyrdom of Zacharias, the son of Barachias (2 Ch 24:20-22). Zacharias, mentioned as the son of Jehoiada in 2 Chronicles 24:20, probably was the grandson of the priest and Barachias was his actual father. Richard Glover, in his outline of Matthew 23, summarizes the characteristics of hypocrisy in these words, “Hypocrisy is a hard taskmaster…lives only for the praise of men…concerns itself with the small things of religion…deals with externals chiefly…reveres only what is dead…finds a fearful judgment.”

12. The present sad chapter in the days of Israel’s apostasy was the climax of the religious rulers’ long rejection of the things of God. Jesus solemnly pronounced that all these acts of rejection of God and His prophets would cause judgment to come upon this generation, which they would bring to culmination by their rejection of God’s only Son. This prophecy was tragically fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the children of Israel over the face of the earth. Jerusalem, the city of God, and the magnificent temple, the center of their worship, were to lay in ashes as an eloquent reminder that divine judgment on hypocrisy and sin is inevitable.

C. Lament over Jerusalem, 23:37-39.

1. Probably no words of Jesus in His public ministry are more eloquent than the words recorded in Matthew of Christ’s lament over Jerusalem (cf. His earlier lament over Jerusalem, Lk 19:41-44). Here is revealed the breaking heart of God over a people whom God loved, and yet a people who spurned that love and killed those whom God sent to them. The chapter that holds the most severe indictment of any of the discourses of Christ “ends in sobs and tears.” Jesus declared, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Mt 23:37). The repetition of the address to Jerusalem signifies the deep emotion in which Jesus spoke, and can be compared to repetitions of similar character in Samuel 18:33, where Absalom is so addressed; Jesus’ repeated address to Martha in Luke 10:41; and the call to Saul in Acts 9:4.

2. Jerusalem, which means “city of peace,” was the scene where the blood of the prophets was spilled, and stones were cast at those who brought a message of love. Both the verbs for “killest” and “stonest” are present tense, speaking of habitual or characteristic action. Again and again, prophets had been killed and stoned, and the end was not yet. The figure of a hen, or any mother bird, connotes a brood of young gathering under protective wings, a familiar image in the Bible (Deu 32:11; Ps 17:8; 61:4).

3. How tragic the words, “Ye would not!” It was God’s desire to save them, but it was their will to turn away. There was nothing left but to pronounce judgment, and Jesus did this in Matthew 23:38, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” By “house,” undoubtedly He was referring to the city. It could, however, also relate to the nation itself, which was to suffer severely in dispersion over the world. The expression left desolate is contained in a simple verb meaning to be left alone. How alone is a city, a nation, or an individual from whom God has departed.

4. Even in the midst of this gloom and condemnation, however, a ray of light is given in verse 39, when Jesus said, “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” The generation to whom He was speaking was indeed to be left desolate, tragically alone, but there was hope for a future generation, a generation which would turn once again to the Lord. With these words, Jesus closed His last public discourse and left the temple for the last time (cf. Mt 24:1).

5. Moses had written long ago in Deuteronomy 30:1-3, “And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee.” Moses went on to predict their regathering and their possession of the land (Deu 30:4-5). In Deuteronomy 30:6, he stated “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”

6. Other references to the same revival in the Old Testament are frequently found. The closing chapters of the prophecies of Isaiah mention again and again the coming revival of Israel, as, for instance, in Isaiah 65:18-25. Jeremiah, in like manner, prophesies Israel’s future restoration in Jeremiah 30:1-11; 31:1-14, 27-37. Zechariah speaks of it in chapter 8, and 12:10; 13:1; 14:9-21. The New Testament picks up similar truth in Romans 11:25-36 and pictures Israel triumphant on Mount Zion in Revelation 14:1-5. While it is tragic that Israel did not know the day of her visitation at the time of the first coming of Christ, the godly remnant of Israel, that awaits His second coming to sit on the throne of David, will experience the blessing of the Lord and receive a new heart and a new spirit, of which Ezekiel spoke in Ezekiel 36:23-28.

7. The tragic note which ends Matthew 23 introduces the great prophecy of the end of the age, recorded in Matthew 24-25 and delivered privately to His disciples. This discourse details the prophecy of the coming kingdom and the time of reward and blessing for those who trust in the Lord.

Part Eight

The Olivet Discourse On The End Of The Age

IV. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie, Th. D., Ph. D. (DTS). Scripture Text Examination.

23:39. “from now on you will not see me.” I.e., I will no longer teach publicly “until you say.” At the second coming of Christ, Israel will recognize and welcome their rejected Messiah (Zech 12:10).

V. Dr. Michael VanLaningham, M. Div, Ph. D. (MBI). Scripture Text Examination.

23:37-39. Jesus reiterated the fate awaiting the Jewish people because of the disobedience of the leaders. Judgment, however, is not the last word, for Jesus will come again to a repentant people. At some time in the future, as a virtual prerequisite for the second coming, the Jewish people will recognize that Jesus of Nazareth is their Messiah, and will express a Ps 118:26 like confession. Only then will He come (cf. also Acts 3:19-20) and be seen by them in fulfillment of Zech 12:10. Cf. the comments on Mt 21:4-9 for the significance of Ps 118:26.

VI. Summing It Up. It is very clear throughout this chapter that the context of the conversation between Jesus and the people is that of Jesus speaking with “God’s Chosen People,” Israel (Deu 14:2), including the unbelieving Jews. Gentiles, neither, would have had any knowledge of the verses of Scripture that Jesus used in reference in His discourses, nor would Gentiles have had any understanding of the context in which Jesus was speaking. Of Key interest is vs 23:37-39, which will take place at the end of the Tribulation. Those that are mentioned in 23:37-39 will be a future generation of Jews, who will be left behind from the rapture, and will be alive at the end of the Tribulation.

VII. For education and other supporting data for each source of information in this article, please refer to my Page, “About My References.” The following link shows information about Dallas Theological Seminary, from which many of my sources have a connection, of student, graduate, instructor. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Seminary. 

A. Wikipedia info.

B. Faculty.

C. About DTS.

VIII. DTS Galatians Classroom Teaching.

A. Instructor: Dr. Mark Yarbrough, President of DTS, M.Th., Ph. D. 

B. Outline: Galatians Chapters 5-6.

C. In this lesson, Paul explains how we should live as free in Christ.

D. Outline.

1. The model of law is to obey to be rewarded. The model of grace is to obey because we have been rewarded.

2. Galatians 5–6, Freedom in Christ Defended.

a. Galatians 5:1–12, Paul wanted the Galatians to stand firm in freedom in Christ. (1) Galatians 5:1–6, Paul wasn’t forbidding circumcision. Instead, he was forbidding circumcision as a means of justification. (2) Galatians 5:7–12, Paul used graphic language to show how important it is to continue with the true gospel of grace.

b. Galatians 5:13–15, Love works as a safeguard for freedom.

c. Galatians 5:16–26, Those who are saved by grace live by the Spirit. (1) It’s tempting to interpret this portion of Galatians with a performance-based mindset as a list of don’ts followed by a list of dos. (2) Our sinful nature leads us to do things to gratify our desires. (3) People will see the fruit of that activity when the Spirit is active in our lives. (4) Most New Testament lists are not exhaustive. (5) We want to have an overall character that aligns with the fruit of the Spirit and not the acts of the sinful nature.

d. Galatians 6:1–10, We are to live in love toward others. (1) Galatians 6:1–5, We restore each other gently and carry each other’s burdens because the Christian life is not meant to be lived alone. (2). Galatians 6:7–10, We do good because of the Spirit’s work in our lives and not because we’re striving to earn God’s favor.

e. Galatians 6:11–18, Paul ended his letter with a final plea that the Galatians recognize the meaninglessness of circumcision.

f. Instead of striving to earn God’s favor, let us walk in step with the Holy Spirit.


Matthew Chapter 22

I. Jesus’s Controversy With The Jewish Rulers.

II. Scripture Text.

III. Dr. John F. Walvoord, Th. D. (DTS). Overview.

A. Parable of the Marriage Feast, 22:1-14.

1. As Jesus drew nearer to the cross, His message became more and more directed to the representatives of the Jewish nation. In this chapter, He dealt with the three main groups: the Herodians, Sadducees, and Pharisees. The Herodians were political activists who supported the rule of Herod. The Pharisees were usually against them, ardently supporting Israel as against Rome. The Sadducees were the liberal theologians, questioning the miraculous, opposed to the Pharisees. The three parties hated each other, but they hated Jesus more. Jesus included them all in the parable of the wedding feast, the third in the series of parables (cf. Lk 14:16-24).

2. Jesus declared that the kingdom of heaven may be compared to the incident in which a king made a marriage feast for his son. His slaves were sent out to invite the guests, but the guests were not willing to come. The king sent them out a second time, reminding them that the feast was ready, but the guests were unconcerned and went about their business as if they had not received the invitation. Some of them actually treated the servants roughly and even killed some of them. When tidings of this reached the king, he sent forth his soldiers, destroyed the murderers, and burned their city.

3. The wedding, however, was still without guests, so he commanded his servants to invite anyone they could, and being invited, many came. As the wedding feast was progressing, however, the king saw one of the guests without a wedding garment. These garments were supplied by the host, and the guest not wearing the wedding garment was violating the normal custom. When confronted with his lack of a wedding garment, the guest was speechless. The king then gave orders to bind him hand and foot and cast him out. Jesus added the comment, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:13-14).

4. G. Campbell Morgan observes that there were three distinct invitations. The first was the preaching ministry of Jesus, which constituted an invitation for the hearers to come. The second referred to a further invitation, which the nation would reject and which would result in the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. The third movement referred to the gospel age when all are bidden to come regardless of race or background.

5. The lessons of the parable are clear. First, the king had issued a gracious invitation. The response was rejection of the invitation by those who would normally be considered his friends; second, their rejection would result in the king’s taking severe action; third, their rejection would result in the invitation being extended to all who would come. The application to the scribes and Pharisees, who, as the representatives of Israel, would normally be invited, is clear. The rejection of Christ and His crucifixion is implied, and the extension of the gospel to Jew and Gentile alike is anticipated. While the invitation is broad, those actually chosen for blessing are few. The parable inspired the Jews to make another attempt to trap Christ into giving them a ground for His condemnation.

B. Controversy with the Herodians, 22:15-22.

1. The Pharisees, after taking counsel, decided they would send some of their number, accompanied by the Herodians, to attempt another encounter with Jesus (Mk 12:13-17; Lk 20:20-26). The Herodians, a political party who supported the dynasty of Herod, probably cut across the religious lines of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They came to Him with the subtle strategy, “Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men” (Mt 22:16). All of this, of course, was double-talk, as they did not really believe in Jesus.

2. The Herodians, having paved the way in a manner that they regarded as disarming Christ, then said, “Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (v. 17). As political experts, the Herodians thought that they had Jesus on the horns of a dilemma. If He said it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar, He could be accused of siding with the Romans as opposed to the Jews. If He denied that it was right to give tribute to Caesar, then He could be accused of rebellion against Roman law.

3. In this encounter, as in all others, Jesus easily handled the problem. The tax they were referring to was the poll tax, a small tax levied on women aged twelve to sixty-five and men aged fourteen to sixty-five. It was a relatively small tax, as the Romans also exacted a ten-percent tax on grain and a twenty-percent tax on wine and fruit, as well as other taxes for road and bridge improvements. The Pharisees had chosen the least of the taxes, but to pay it was to recognize Roman oppression, which was most unpopular with the Jews.

4. Jesus easily saw through their hypocrisy and said to them, “Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?” Jesus asked them to bring Him a piece of money suitable for tribute, and they brought Him a penny, or a Roman denarius, worth about sixteen cents. He then asked, “Whose is this image and superscription?” The answer was obvious, and they said, “Caesar’s.” Jesus then gave them an answer, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” As they heard His answer, they marveled at the adroit way in which He had solved their problem, and they had nothing more to say. If they used Roman coins, then they were subject to Roman tax. The Herodians went away defeated in their intent to compromise Jesus on this issue. In His answer, Jesus also cut the knotty problem of the relation of church and state. “Our Lord said that there are obligations we have and duties we ought to perform in the sphere of both secular and sacred life, and our duties in one do not exclude our duties in the other… A free church in a free state, and a free state with a free church, is to find the ideal of political and religious history as announced by the Lord Himself.”

C. Controversy with the Sadducees, 22:23-33.

1. Following His controversy with the Herodians, the Sadducees came with a similar intent to trap Jesus (cf. Mk 12:18-27; Lk 20:27-38). They were the liberals in the Jewish religion and opposed the Pharisees who were the conservatives. The Pharisees, however, were more liberal in their additions to tradition than the Sadducees; the Sadducees were more opposed to supernaturalism than the Pharisees. Accordingly they tried to trap Him theologically on the matter of resurrection.

2. Attempting to hide their true intent, the Sadducees began by quoting the law of Moses requiring a brother to marry the wife of a deceased brother and raise up children to him. They were referring to such passages as Deuteronomy 25: 5-10, a regulation which entered into the marriage of Ruth and Boaz, recorded in Ruth 4:1-12. The Sadducees brought up the extreme case of a wife who successively married seven brethren all of whom preceded her in death. The question they raised was, “Therefore in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her” (Mt 22:28). The situation, to the Sadducees, illustrated the absurdity of the doctrine of resurrection.

3. Jesus gave them a direct answer. He stated that their problem was not in the doctrine of resurrection but in their ignorance of the Scriptures and of the power of God. He explained, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (v. 30). In other words, their question was foolish because marriage is not a relationship realized in heaven.

4. Then proceeding to the real issue, the question of whether the dead are raised, Jesus said, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (vv. 31-32). In His reply, Jesus not only affirmed resurrection but also the continuance of personal identity, in that Abraham would be Abraham, Isaac would be Isaac, and Jacob would be Jacob, an identity related to the resurrection of their bodies. The Sadducees could not attack this statement of Christ without being in the position of attacking Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. They were neatly trapped in their own hypocrisy.

5. By this interchange with the Sadducees, Christ placed the Sadducees in direct conflict with the Scriptures, and again His questioners had nothing to say. The multitude listening was astonished at the ease with which His teaching disposed of these difficult questions. The defeat of both the Herodians and the Sadducees left the field only to the Pharisees to renew questions.

D. Controversy with the Pharisees, 22:34-46.

1. When the word reached the Pharisees that Jesus had silenced those who had tried to question Him, they sent a lawyer who attempted to trap Christ in a question of theological law (cf. Mk 12:28-34). To Jesus he addressed the question, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Mt 22:36). As Morgan points out, there was controversy concerning which of the Ten Commandments was the greatest, some favoring the third.

2. To this direct question, Jesus gave an immediate answer, quoting two commandments not in the ten. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (vv. 37-40). Matthew does not report the rest of the interchange with the lawyer. In the parallel passage in Mark 12:28-34, record is made of the conversation, which Matthew omits, in which the lawyer, described as a scribe, recognized that Jesus had correctly answered the question. Mark 12:34 records Jesus’ reply, “And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.” Luke 10:25-28 mentions a similar incident, which had occurred earlier, where the same question and answer were given, which led to the parable of the good Samaritan to illustrate who is one’s neighbor. It is not unnatural for the same question to have been raised more than once in the course of the three years of Christ’s ministry.

3. Having silenced His questioners, Jesus then asked the Pharisees a question. In effect, Jesus asked “the all-important question ‘What is your view of the Messiah?’” When the Pharisees gathered before Him, Jesus posed the question, “What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?” They gave immediately the answer, “The son of David” (Mt 22:42). Then Jesus countered with a second question, “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then called him Lord, how is he his son?” (vv. 43-45). The theological problem of how the son of David could be greater than David was too much for their theological insights. They retired in confusion and gave up trying to trap Jesus with their questions. Their hypocrisy and unbelief led Jesus, in the next chapter, to denounce the scribes and Pharisees in unsparing language.

IV. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie, Th. D., Ph. D. (DTS). Scripture Text Examination.

A. 22:7. “set their city on fire.” A prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

B. 22:9. “highways.” Better, broad places, or plazas, where streets merge.

C. 22:12.”without wedding clothes.” This assumes that the guests would have been supplied with robes by the king’s servants, since all the guests came in a hurry, and most were unsuitably attired.

D. 22:13. “outer darkness’ away from the lights of the wedding activities. “weeping and gnashing of teeth” indicates extreme torment, as will be true in hell (13:42; 25:30, 46).

E. 22:14. There is a general call of God to sinners inviting them to receive His salvation, and there is also a specific election that brings some to Him. At the same time, man is held responsible for rejecting Christ, whether it be because of indifference (v 5), rebellion (v 6), or self-righteousness (v 12).

F. 22:16. “Herodians.” A Jewish party who favored the Herodian dynasty, the party of “peace at any price” and appeasement of Rome.

G. 22:17. “Is lawful? I.e., Is it in accordance with the Torah, the sacred law?

H. 22:30. “like angels in heaven.” Christ’s argument is this: In the resurrection men will not marry and women will not be given in marriage. There is no married state in that life. Thus, the whole case cited is irrelevant and immaterial. Resurrected saints will be as angels who do not produce offspring.

I. 22:32. The point is this: If God introduced Himself to Moses as still the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (by using the present tense, “I am”), when these patriarchs had died hundreds of years earlier, there must be life after death, somethin the Sadducees denied.

J.22:35. “lawyer” = scribe. They belonged mainly to the party of the Pharisees, functioned as members of a highly honored profession. They were professional students and defenders of the law (scriptural and traditional), gathering around them pupils who they instructed in the law. They were also referred to as lawyers because they were entrusted with the administration of the law as judges in the Sanhedrin.

K. 22:37. Christ quotes Deu 6:5, part of the Shema, used by all Jews in their daily prayers (in ref to 22:36).

L. 22:39-40. Christ was the first to combine these two texts (Deu 6:5 and Lev 19:18) into a summary of the law.

M. 22:43. “in the Spirit.” I.e., inspired by the Holy Spirit.

N. 22:44. “The Lord SAID TO MY LORD.” Christ was trying to make the Pharisees see that the Son of David was also the Lord of David (Ps 110:1); i.e., the Messiah was both David’s human descendant and divine Lord.

V. Summing It Up. It is very clear throughout this chapter that the context of the conversation between Jesus and the people is that of Jesus speaking with “God’s Chosen People,” Israel (Deu 14:2), including the unbelieving Jews. Gentiles, neither, would have had no knowledge of the verses of Scripture that Jesus used in reference in His discourses, nor would Gentiles have had any understanding of the context in which Jesus was speaking.

VI. For education and other supporting data for each source of information in this article, please refer to my Page, “About My References.” The following link shows information about Dallas Theological Seminary, from which many of my sources have a connection, of student, graduate, instructor. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Seminary.


VII. DTS Galatians Classroom Teaching.

A. Instructor: Dr. Mark Yarbrough, President of DTS, M.Th., Ph. D. 

B. Outline: Galatians Chapters 3-4.

C. This session we look at the role of the law in redemption history and in the life of the believer.

1. Galatians 3–4, Justification by Faith Defended.

a. The Galatians’ salvation started with faith and had to continue with faith. (Galatians 3:1–5). b. Paul referenced the Galatians receiving the Holy Spirit because the Spirit is the sign of the New Covenant. c. Even believers can slip into great doctrinal heresy.

2. Galatians 3:6–25, Abraham was justified by faith.

a. Galatians 3:6–9, The concept of justification by faith goes back to Abraham, making it even older than Moses and the law.

(1) The circumcision group saw themselves as followers of Moses, the prophet through whom the law was given. (2) God always intended to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. (3) Those who receive the blessings of Abraham have always been people of faith.

b. Galatians 3:10-14, We know that Gentiles are accepted into God’s family by faith and not by following the law because they have received the Spirit.

c. Galatians 3:15–18, The promise of Christ, the seed of Abraham, came hundreds of years before the law.

d. Galatians 3:19–20, Paul explained that God gave Israel the law because of sin.

(1) One purpose of the law was to prevent sin so that Israel could be an example to the other nations. (2) Another purpose of the law was to reveal sin by showing the people their inability to live up to God’s standard. (3) Some argue that the law provokes sin because having rules creates in us a desire to break them.

e. Galatians 3:21–25, The law isn’t bad, it’s simply incomplete. The law was never meant to bring about life.

3. Galatians 3:26–4:7, Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ.

(a) Galatians 3:26–29, The blessings of Christ as promised in the Abrahamic covenant are available to Jews and Gentiles without distinction. (b) Galatians 4:1–5, Now that Christ has come both Jews and Gentiles are heirs of the inheritance. (c) Galatians 4:6–7, All believers can call God Abba, Father because the barrier to intimacy has been removed.

4. Galatians 4:8–20, Turning back to the law is enslavement.

(a) Galatians 4:8–11, Following the practices of the law is only wrong if our motive is earning right standing with God. (b) Galatians 4:12–20, Paul took the Galatians’ wanderings as a personal betrayal.

5. Galatians 4:21–31, The stories of Hagar and Sarah can be used as an analogy of law and promise.

(a) Galatians 4:21–27, Hagar was a slave who conceived a child in the regular human way. Sarah was a freewoman who miraculously conceived a child as the result of a promise. (b) Galatians 4:28–31, We are children of a promise like Isaac. (c) Just as a person can’t be born of two different mothers, so we cannot live by performance and by grace.


Matthew Chapter 21

I. Jesus’ Arrival in Jerusalem.

II. Scripture Text.

III. Dr. John F. Walvoord, Th. D. (DTS). Overview..

A. Triumphal Entry, 21:1-11.

1. The final hours of Jesus’ life on earth drew near, and, in Matthew 21, the cross was less than a week away. In sharp contrast to the shame of the cross is the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, described by all four gospels (cf. Mk 11:1-10; Lk 19:29-38; Jn 12:12-19). “Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time in a manner which showed that He was none other than the Messiah, the Son of David, who was coming to Sion to claim the city as His own.

2. The night before the triumphal entry, Jesus had an intimate supper in the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, as recorded in John 12:1-11.

3. Matthew mentions Bethphage, a village no longer in existence, which apparently was close to Bethany on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives, just a few miles from Jerusalem. Anticipating His entry into Jerusalem, Jesus sent two of the disciples, not named in any of the gospel accounts, into the village of Bethphage, to secure an ass and her colt to serve as His transportation as He entered Jerusalem. He told them they would find both animals tied; they were to untie them and bring them to Him. If anyone asked why they were doing this, they were to reply, “The Lord hath need of them” (21: 3). Mark 11:5 and Luke 19:31 indicate that the question was asked, but the disciples were not stopped from borrowing the beasts. Matthew does not record the question, but only Matthew records that there were two animals and that Jesus sat on the colt.

4. Matthew calls attention to the precise fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy which he quotes. Without following the exact words of the Old Testament, Matthew quotes Zechariah 9:9, prefaced by the phrase from Isaiah 62:11, “Tell ye the daughter of Zion.” He omits from Zechariah 9:9 the phrase, “O daughter of Jerusalem.” The reference to Zion is a specific reference to a hill in Jerusalem, the exact location of which is disputed today, but Zion is often used as a title for Jerusalem itself. There is no need to spiritualize Zion and make it represent the church, as it is a geographic designation especially related to the King and the kingdom.

5. The main point is contained in the quotation from Zechariah 9:9, which prophesies that the Messiah King of Israel, unlike earthly kings, would come in a lowly or meek manner sitting upon an ass and a colt, the foal of an ass. No king had ever come to Israel in this manner, as kings usually came on horses (cf. Rev 6:2; 19:11).

6. Matthew, intent on establishing the triumphal entry as a fulfillment of prophecy of the coming of Jesus as King to Jerusalem, ignores some of the details and simply records that the disciples brought the ass and the colt and put their garments on both of them. Jesus probably sat only on the colt, as mentioned in the other gospels, which had never been ridden before (Mk 11:2; Lk 19:30). To form a saddle, they threw their outer garments on both beasts, even though Jesus used only the colt.

7. As they proceeded to Jerusalem, they were accompanied by a crowd familiar with Christ’s miracle of raising Lazarus (Jn 12:17-18), and were met by another multitude coming out of the city of Jerusalem, which went before Him (Mt 21:9). Both groups outdid themselves in honoring Jesus, laying their garments on the ground for the beasts to travel over and cutting down branches from trees and spreading them in a festive way along the road. John alone mentions that the branches were from palm trees. Although they were treating Jesus as their King, in keeping with the meaning of the triumphal entry, it seems clear that they did so with only partial understanding. John comments, “These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him” (Jn 12:16).

8. In greeting Him, however, the multitudes fulfilled the prophecies of just such an entry into Jerusalem (Zec 9:9) and addressed Jesus with the words, “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Mt 21:9). Hosanna is a transliteration of a Hebrew expression meaning, “grant salvation,” but is used here more as a greeting or ascription of praise. Most significant is the reference to Christ as the Son of David. They recognized that He was in the kingly line, although they do not seem to have entered fully into the concept that He was coming into Jerusalem as its King.

9. As they came into Jerusalem, both the multitude which accompanied Him and the multitude which met Him were confronted by still others who asked, “Who is this?” The entire city, according to Matthew, was excited by the arrival of Christ. The multitude answered the question by saying, “This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” It is possible that some of the multitude were pilgrims from Galilee, in Jerusalem at this time for the feast of Passover, and that therefore, they were claiming Jesus proudly. The form of the verb said in 21:11 indicates that they repeated the information again and again.

10. Matthew does not record the details which followed that day. It was probably Sunday afternoon when Christ came into Jerusalem. Mark 11:11 records that He looked into the temple and then went out to Bethany with the twelve for the night. The events which follow, in Matthew 21:12-17, probably occurred on Monday.

B. Jesus’ Second Cleansing of the Temple, 21:12-17.

1. Early on Monday morning, Jesus returned to Jerusalem, and, entering into the temple, which Matthew significantly refers to as “the temple of God,” He began to cast out those who sold and bought in the temple and overthrew the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold the doves for the sacrifice (cf. Mk 11:15-18; Lk 19:45-47). There is no excuse for trying to harmonize this with a much earlier incident, recorded in John 2:13-16, which was at a previous Passover. There is obvious resemblance between the two cleansings, but the point, of course, is that the first cleansing was ineffective in bringing about any permanent cure.

2. Jesus rebuked them with the words, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Mt 21:13). The custom was to require the people to exchange Roman money for temple money at an arbitrary rate and also to force them to buy the animals or doves for sacrifice at a high price exacted in the temple. They had “a grand lucrative monopoly. If one bought his animals here, had his money exchanged here, these would be accepted; otherwise he might have trouble on that score.” In doing this, the temple authorities were robbing the people and making a farce out of the whole sacrificial system. The area where the animals were kept and sold was in the great court of the temple, which never was intended to serve as a stockyard.

3. It is significant that on this occasion, as in the first cleansing of the temple, there was no resistance offered. There was something about the bearing of Jesus that silenced these money-loving merchants, and undoubtedly the people approved. Jesus had no illusions that His act would result in any permanent good, but it was part of His solemn judgment pronounced upon Jerusalem and His generation. Luke records that prior to going into the temple, He wept over the city (Lk 19:41-44). Matthew records a similar lamenting over Jerusalem prior to the Olivet discourse (Mt 23:37-39).

4. After the cleansing of the temple, Matthew alone of the four gospels records, “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them” (21:14). The result of His cleansing of the temple and the miraculous healings which took place inspired the crowd once again to repeat their acclamation of the preceding day, “Hosanna to the son of David.”

5. The chief priests and the scribes, who apparently were silent at the indictment of Jesus on the corruption of the temple, now spoke up and expressed their displeasure that Jesus was greeted as the Son of David, recognizing as they did that this was connecting Jesus with the promise of the kingly line of David. They said to Jesus, “Hearest thou what these say?” (v. 16). However, they were helpless and were at a loss to know what to do with the enthusiasm of the crowd. The Jewish leaders were especially concerned because the young people, referred to as “the children” (v. 15), had joined in the ascription of praise to Christ. These were boys, who like Jesus, had come to the temple for the first time at the age twelve.

6. In answer to their question, however, Jesus replied by quoting from Psalm 8:2, “Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise?” In effect, He was saying, “The youths are right, and you are wrong.” If babes who barely can speak can praise the Lord, how much more these youths now twelve years of age and older? In claiming Psalm 8:2, Jesus, in effect, was also claiming to be God and, thus, worthy of praise. He left the scribes and the Pharisees stunned with no more to say.

7. That night, once again, Jesus probably went out to Bethany and lodged. By thus leaving Jerusalem, He placed Himself outside the area where the scribes and Pharisees could order His arrest after the crowd had left the temple.

C. Cursing of the Fig Tree, 21:18-22.

1. The incident recorded here in Matthew in regard to the fig tree is presented as another significant incident in Jesus’ last days. Mark 11:12-14, the only other account, makes it clear that it actually occurred on Monday morning, prior to the incident of the cleansing of the temple. It is now brought in by Matthew because of the significant comment of Jesus on the next day, which was Tuesday morning.

2. Matthew records that Jesus, coming into the city on Monday morning of His last week, was hungry. No explanation is given, but the assumption is that Jesus had not eaten before He left Bethany. Jesus spent the night “in some long lone vigil on the hillside, in a quiet and secluded place.” Seeing a fig tree with leaves on it, He came to pick its fruit. Normally, fruit grows on a fig tree before the leaves come out in spring, but it is not clear whether the figs would be left over from the previous year or whether the tree, because of being more sheltered from winter than others, had started its spring growth early. According to the parallel passage in Mark 11:13, “The time of figs was not yet.” Finding the tree with only leaves and no fruit, He said, “Let no fruit grow on thee [henceforth] forever” (Mt 21:19). This, however, was not observed immediately, and refers to the experience of the disciples on Tuesday morning, approximately twenty-four hours later. Perceiving that the fig tree had withered, the disciples were amazed that this had occurred so quickly.

3. Many questions have been raised about this incident, including the problem that Jesus as God should have known that there was no fruit on the tree. Here, Matthew is apparently speaking from the viewpoint of human intelligence only, but the whole incident was planned as a means of conveying truth to the disciples.

4. In answer to their wondering, Jesus gave them a sermon on faith. Jesus informed His disciples that if they had real faith in God, they would not only be able to curse the fig tree effectively as He had done, but, He told them, “If ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done” (v. 21). He added the great promise, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (v. 22). In other words, they should not marvel, but believe and pray.

5. Many expositors see in the fig tree a type of Israel, fruitless and yet showing leaves, typical of outer religion. This is frequently tied to Matthew 24:32, referring to “a parable of the fig tree.” There is no scriptural support for this interpretation contextually. There is no ground today to support Lenski in his statement made in 1943, “Judaism stands blasted from the roots to this day.” Israel, instead, is marvelously revived today. Jesus made no application to Israel as a nation here; nor does the context of the fig tree in Matthew 24 refer to Israel. While Jeremiah 24:1-8 uses good and bad figs to represent the captives in Israel as contrasted to those remaining in the land, actually, there is no case in the Bible where a fig tree is used as a type of Israel. In view of the silence of Scripture on this point, it is preferable to leave the illustration as it is, a lesson on faith and the miraculous rather than a lesson on fruitlessness.

D. Authority of Jesus Challenged, 21:23-27.

1. Upon the return of Jesus to the temple, probably on Tuesday morning of the last week, as He was teaching, the chief priests and the elders brought up the question which they were unprepared to raise the preceding day, “By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” (Mt 21:23).

2. Once again, the Jewish leaders were trying to trap Jesus in utterances which they could label blasphemy (cf. Mk 11:27-33; Lk 20:1-8). They made no attempt, however, to arrest Him or to expel Him from the temple, as they feared the people. They were no match for Jesus, however, in an interchange of questions, and Jesus replied that He would answer their question if they would answer His first: “The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” (Mt 21:25).

3. The Pharisees were caught in a dilemma. As Allen expresses it, “If the authorities had given credence to John, they would have had no need to ask by what authority Jesus acted.” If the Pharisees said the baptism of John was only of men, they would be opposed by the people who believed John was a prophet. If they said it was from heaven, then they would be obliged to believe his message affirming the deity of Jesus. Accordingly, they answered Jesus, “We cannot tell” (v. 27). Jesus replied that if they could not identify the authority of John, then He did not need to tell them by what authority He cleansed the temple. The point, of course, is that they were not seeking a real answer, as they knew that Jesus claimed the authority of God.

E. Parable of the Two Sons, 21:28-32.

1. To expose the unbelief of the chief priests and the scribes, Jesus introduced three parables, the parable of the two sons (21:28-32), the parable of the householder (21:33-46), and the parable of the marriage feast (22:1-14). To start with, Jesus used a simple story of a father who asked his two sons to work in his vineyard, a parable found only in Matthew.

2. The first son, when instructed to work in the vineyard, replied, “I will not,” but later on, thought better of it and began to work. The second son replied quickly, “I go, sir,” literally, “I, sir,” but he went not. Jesus then raised the question as to which one did the will of the father. They answered, “The first.”

3. Then Jesus made the application. He said, “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him” (21: 31-32). What had been subtly indicated before was now brought out in the open. They had rejected the ministry of John, whom even harlots and publicans had recognized as a prophet of God. They were like the son who said, “I go, sir,” but who went not. By their confession, they stood condemned.

F. Parable of the Householder and his Rejected Son, 21:33-46.

1. To drive the point home still further, Jesus used another parable (cf. Mk 12:1-9; Lk 20:9-19). This time, He described a man who planted a vineyard, built a wine tower, and leased it to tenants. When the time of harvest came, he sent his servants to take the fruit of it, but the tenants treated the servants harshly, beating one, killing another, and stoning another. When he sent other servants, they were treated in like manner. Finally, he sent his son, thinking that they would have respect for him. But the tenants, recognizing him, said, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance (Mt 21:38). And so they caught the son and killed him.

2. Jesus then raised the question as to what the Lord of the vineyard would do under these circumstances. They replied, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons” (v. 41).

3. Jesus then made the application. It is probably true that no person would send his son into a situation where servants had previously killed his other representatives but would immediately call the authorities. The contrast is between what men would do and what God had done. God did send His son, even though Israel had rejected His prophets earlier and killed them and had rejected John the Baptist.

4. Jesus made the application with tremendous force: “Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” (v. 42). Jesus was quoting from Psalm 118:22-23.

5. The figure of a stone is found often in Scripture, Jesus being referred to both as the foundation stone and the head of the corner (1 Co 3:11; Eph 2:20-22; 1 Pe 2:4-5). To Israel, Jesus was a stumbling stone and rock of offense (Is 8:14-15; Ro 9:32-33; 1 Co 1:23; 1 Pe 2:8). At the time of His second coming, He will be a smiting stone of destruction (Dan 2:34).

6. Jesus also made the further application, “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (Mt 21:43). Here, as Matthew does rarely, the expression “kingdom of God” is used, referring to the sphere of reality rather than a mere profession of faith. Jesus declared that the kingdom of God would be given to a nation which does bring forth proper fruit. This should not be construed as a turning away from Israel to the Gentiles but rather a turning to any people who would bring forth the fruits of real faith. The word nation is without the article in the Greek and probably does not refer to the Gentiles specifically.

7. Carrying further the significance of Jesus as a stone, He stated, “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (v. 44). Here Jesus was referring to Himself as the Judge of all men. The rejected stone is also the smiting stone. “These parables in the latter part of Matthew are somber, terrible, fearful… They are parables of fire and fury and terrible rejection like a king taking account of unfaithful servants and visiting judgment with a drawn sword.”

8. The point of this parable was all too clear, and the chief priests and Pharisees realized that Jesus was talking about them. However, because of the presence of the people, they were helpless to do anything at this time. Their hatred of Jesus was only intensified by this exposure, and it gave impetus to the plot already formed to kill Jesus when they could. The shadow of the cross was lengthening over these closing events of the life of Jesus.

IV. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie, Th. D., Ph. D. (DTS). Scripture Text Examination.

A. 21:4-5. Re Zech 9:9 concerning the quote: “Say to the daughter of Zion….”

B. 21:9. “Hosanna” = save now. The acclamation is a quoted based on Ps 118:25-27, sung at the Feast of Tabernacles. The crowd wanted salvation from the oppression of Rome, not the spiritual salvation that Christ offered.

C. 21:12. John records Jesus cleansing the Temple at the beginning of his ministry (Jn 2:12-16). Mark makes clear that a second cleansing occurred much later on Monday of Holy Week (Mark 11:12-19).

D. 21:16. Jesus is apparently quoting Ps 8:2.

E. 21:18. “in the morning.” I.e., on Monday of Holy Week.

F. 21:19. “except leaves only.” Normally the fruit of leaves appear at the same time. The curse on the tree is illustrative of the rejection of Israel, a nation unfruitful despite every advantage.

G. 21:23. This begins Tuesday of Holy Week.

H. 21:42. “Cornerstone.” “Did you never read the Scriptures?” See Ps 118:22-23.

I. 21:43. “taken away from you and given to a people.” See Walvoord note above, F.6.

V. Summing It Up. It is very clear throughout this chapter that the context of the conversation between Jesus and the people is that of Jesus speaking with “God’s Chosen People,” Israel (Deu 14:2). Gentiles, neither, would have had n0 knowledge of the verses of Scripture that Jesus used in reference in His discourses, nor would Gentiles have had any understanding of the context in which Jesus was speaking.

VI. For education and other supporting data for each source of information in this article, please refer to my Page, “About My References.” The following link shows information about Dallas Theological Seminary, from which many of my sources have a connection, of student, graduate, instructor. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the seminary.

VII. DTS Galatians Classroom Teaching.

A. Instructor: Dr. Mark Yarbrough, President of DTS, M.Th., Ph. D. 

B. Outline: Galatians Chapters 1-2.

  • Galatians 1:1–5, Compared to other Pauline epistles, the introduction to Galatians is brief and confrontational.
  • Galatians 1:6–10, Paul laid out early on that Galatians is about the real gospel versus a false gospel.
  • Galatians 1:11–24, Paul received the gospel by direct, divine revelation.
    1. Galatians 1:11–12, The true gospel is from God, and Paul received it by revelation from Christ Himself.
    2. Galatians 1:13–17, Paul didn’t need the other apostles to verify what he received from Christ.
    3. Galatians 1:18–24, Paul used his testimony to build his case.
      1. Galatians gives us an account of Paul’s timeline that adds to the information we have in Acts.
      2. Paul wants the Galatians to see how he’s been transformed by the gospel of grace.
  • Galatians 2:1–14, Paul preached a gospel to the Gentiles that the apostles in Jerusalem fully embraced.
    1. In Galatians 2:1–3, Paul wanted to ensure that all who preached Christ agreed upon the nature of the gospel.
    2. Galatians 2:4–10, As Gentiles came to faith in Christ, the question arose of whether or not Gentiles had to become Jews to become Christians.
  • Galatians 2:15–16, Paul repeated his message that we are justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law.
  • Galatians 2:17–21, Paul anticipated the objection that grace leads to the promotion of sin.
    1. Galatians 2:17–18, If following Christ means rejecting the law, does that mean Christ condones sin.
    2. Galatians 2:19–21, Going back to the law for justification would make Christ’s death meaningless.
      1. The law is good because it shows us our sinfulness compared to God’s holiness.
      2. Paul saw a unity between Christians and Christ. As Jesus was crucified, we were crucified with Him.
  • Paul contrasted what God has done for us with what we think we can do for ourselves.
    1. Even today, Christians struggle with performance.
    2. We should all evaluate our motives and resist the temptation of thinking we can earn God’s favor.

Matthew 20

I. The Rejected King Teaches On Service.

II. Scripture Text.

III. Dr. John F. Walvoord, Th. D. (DTS). The Journey To Jerusalem.

A. Parable of the Householder and the Laborers, 20:1-16.

1. In amplification of His answers to Peter’s question in 19:27, “What shall we have, therefore?” Christ used an illustration, found only in Matthew, of a wealthy man who owned a vineyard. There does not seem to be any significance to selection of the vineyard, except that it was a common feature of life in Israel. In seeking laborers to work in his vineyard, the owner promised them the usual daily wage of a “penny,” the Greek denarius, worth about sixteen cents and the normal daily pay for a laborer or a Roman soldier. Later in the day, seeing others idle in the marketplace, he invited them to join his laborers. Apparently, no specific agreement was made as to how much they would receive, except that he would do “whatever is right.” Later he found others in the sixth and ninth hour, referring at noon and 3:00 p.m. Finally, at the eleventh hour, or 5:00 p.m., he found still others whom he invited to enter the vineyard to work.

2. At nightfall, the laborers came for their hire, and to each he gave the same wage. This caused complaint on the part of those who had labored all day, and they said “These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.” But the owner of the vineyard replied, “Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way; I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” (vv. 13-15).

3. Complicated explanations of the spiritual meaning of this illustration are not wanting. The denarius represent temporal blessings and what is called “good” (v. 15) refer to life eternal, or eternal blessings. A simple explanation is better. By this illustration, Christ makes clear that God is sovereign. He may not reward according to length of toil or even according to the work performed, but according to “whatever is right” (vv. 4, 7). He chooses those for reward according to His own judgment. Some of the rewards are temporal, but the implication is that the full reward awaits the end of the day, reward in heaven.

B. Jesus’ Death and Resurrection Again Predicted, 20:17-19.

1. All of Jesus’ ministry in Perea was relentlessly taking Him closer to the cross. Soon now they would be crossing the Jordan, passing through Jericho, below sea level, and then up the steep winding road to Jerusalem, about 2,550 feet above sea level. As they were walking the hot desert road to Jericho, Christ took occasion to separate His twelve disciples from the multitude and remind them that at the end of the road, there was a cross (cf. Mk 10:32-34; Lk 18:31-34). How cheap was the goal of reward symbolized by the denarius in comparison to what Jesus Himself was going to experience.

2. This was not the first time that Jesus had mentioned His death and resurrection to the disciples (cf. Mt 12:38-42; 16:21-28; 17:22-23). It, of course, had been announced as early as Genesis 3:15 that Satan would “bruise his heel.” The shadow of the cross hung over Christ from the time He was born. He had clearly announced this to the disciples in Matthew 16:21-23, when Peter had attempted to rebuke Him. He had mentioned it again in Matthew 17:22-23, following the transfiguration. Now as they were moving closer and closer to Jerusalem, He said to His disciples, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.” As Morgan points out, Jesus gave accurately the details of His coming death and resurrection, and there is no question about His certainty of it. Morgan states, “There is utmost accuracy in the details, and a calm, quiet knowledge of the actual things before Him.”

3. Interestingly—although in Matthew 16 Peter rebuked Jesus, and in 17:23 it states, “They were exceeding sorry”— here, as far as Matthew’s record is concerned, they were silent. Mark 10:32-34 indicates that before He gave them this prediction, the disciples were “amazed” and “afraid.” According to Luke 18:34, the disciples “understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” Putting these passages together, it seems that the disciples had a foreboding that the trip to Jerusalem was dangerous, but they could not bring themselves to believe literally what Jesus was saying.

C. Request of the Mother of James and John, 20:20-24.

1. The unwillingness of the disciples to face the reality of Christ’s suffering and death is illustrated in the next incident, in which the mother of James and John, the wife of Zebedee, came to Jesus seeking favors for her sons (cf. Mk 10:35-41). When she bowed before Him, Christ asked her, “What wilt thou?” Her request was abrupt and to the point, “Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom” (Mt 20:21). Her ambition was the same as that of the disciples, recorded in Matthew 18:1-14, and the question of Peter in 19:27. Here, their desire for power and position emerges again in the petition of this ambitious mother. Perhaps she can be excused partially in desiring her sons to have a prominent place in serving the Lord, but it was a request relating to ambitions of earth rather than to the glory of God.

2. Jesus dealt with her gently. He replied, “Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Here, as also recorded in the parallel account in Mark 10:35-41, James and John broke in and answered, “We are able.” How little they knew what they were saying. Jesus replied sorrowfully to them, “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with” (Mt 20:23). Early in the ministry of the church, James was to lay down his life as a martyr. Although the evidence is not complete, John may also have died a martyr’s death as did some of the other disciples. Although they were to die in one sense as Jesus died, even this did not justify granting their mother’s petition. Jesus completed the answer, “But to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.”

3. The other disciples were furious at this attempt to secure preference for these two. They apparently concluded that James and John had influenced their mother to make this request. The fact that the other disciples were angered at James and John shows that they were in heart and spirit no better than the two brothers… “They all wanted the first place,” Both James and John as well as the other ten disciples were far from giving up their attempts to gain the place of power in the kingdom, and their scheming continued, even to the time of the Last Supper in the upper room. How frail and faulty are the human instruments that God must use to accomplish His purposes!

D. Jesus Comments on Their Ambitions, 20:25-28.

Using this incident as an occasion for further discussion of the disciples’ ambition to be great, Jesus pointed out some obvious lessons. He acknowledged that in worldly kingdoms, places of power with great authority are sought. But He declared that in the kingdom of heaven, it shall be different, “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister: And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Mt 20:26-27). The goal in the kingdom is not to rule but to serve. Jesus used His own ministry as an illustration, “Even as the Son of man came not to be to ministered unto, but to minister, to give his life a ransom for many” (v. 28). The road to privileged authority is often paved with lowly service.

E. Healing of Two Blind Men, 20:30-34.

1. In the journey to Jerusalem, a great multitude had followed them from Jericho. As the company moved along, they encountered two blind men sitting beside the road. When they heard that it was Jesus who passed by, mindful of the stories that they had heard of His healing power, they cried out, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David” (20:31). Rebuked by the multitude, they only cried the more, repeating their request.

2. Hearing their petition, Jesus stood still, and calling them to Him, He asked, “What will ye that I shall do unto you?” It was a most dramatic situation, as the crowd thronged about, wondering what would happen. The blind man answered simply, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” Jesus, having compassion on them, touched their eyes; they immediately received their sight and followed Christ. The incident, as recorded in Matthew with parallel accounts in Mark 10:46-52 and Luke 18:35-43, is significant as emphasizing the title “Son of David,” which was to be prominent in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

3. The account of Mark 10 differs from Matthew’s account, in that it mentions only one blind man who is named, “blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus,” and adds considerable detail to the conversation between them. That Mark omits reference to the second blind man is no serious problem. Luke’s gospel represents it as being “nigh” or “near” Jericho, as if they were about to enter Jericho. The variations in these accounts have given rise to the allegation that the Scriptures are in error in some of the details.

4. Most of the problems dissolve when it is realized that there were two Jerichos: the Old Testament Jericho and the new city, which Herod the Great had built. It may be that Jesus was between the two cities when the miracle took place.

5. The order of events includes Jesus’ having passed through the city (Lk 19:1) without finding lodging. After meeting Zacchaeus, Jesus and His disciples then went back into Jericho and spent the night in his house. On this return to Jericho, the blind men were healed. This permits all the accounts to harmonize.

6. The problem is not in the details that are given but the details which are omitted. If the full story were told, all of the gospel accounts would undoubtedly be found accurate. As it is, each account adds something to the others. Most significant is the fact that those who sought Jesus earnestly received the demonstration of His miraculous power.

IV. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie, Th. D., Ph. D. (DTS). Scripture Text Examination.

A. 20:1-16. The subject is the reward of willingness to serve, whether one comes early or late. Christ is not teaching economics.

B. 20:2. “a denarius for the day.” A good and normal wage for a rural worker. Additional workers were hired at about 9 AM, noon, 3 PM and 5 PM.

C. 20:10-22. We should be grateful, not envious (v 15), if we are permitted to work long and hard for our Lord. We leave rewards to His judgment.

D. 20:14. “I wish to give.” This is the point of the parable: God’s grace and generosity know no bounds and man’s ideas of merit and earned rewards are irrelevant.

E. 20:16. Not that they trade places but that there will be an equality of rewards for equal faithfulness to differing opportunities given to each of us.

F. 20:22. “the cup that I am about to drink.” I.e., the cup of suffering. “We are able.” James was the first of the apostles to be martyred (Acts 12:2).

G. 20:26. Greatness is not ruling over others but serving them.

H. 20:28. “ransom for many.” The word “for” undebatably means “in the place of.” Christ, here, clearly interprets the meaning of His sacrifices as substitution for sinners.

I. 20:29-34. The differences in this account (which speaks of two blind men and of the miracle being done Jesus left Jericho) and the accounts in Mark 10:46-52 and Luke 18:35-43(which mention only one blind man and the miracle performed as they entered Jericho) are explained thus: (1) there were actually two men involved, but Bartimaeus, being more aggressive, takes place in the prominence; and (2) the men pled with Jesus as He entered Jericho but were not healed until He was leaving after. It is also possible that the healing took place after Jesus left old Jericho, and was nearing new Jericho.

J. 20:30. “Son of David.” The specific messianic title (Ps 72; Isa 9:7). See 9:27.”Son of David.” A title that linked Jesus to the messianic line (cf 1:11).

V. Summing It Up. In 20:17-19, Christ took occasion to separate His twelve disciples from the multitude and remind them that at the end of the road, there was a cross (cf. Mk 10:32-34; Lk 18:31-34). Christ did not reveal “everything to everybody.” The disciples of Christ were told things that the other Jews would not know, until such things were revealed to them through observation. It is important to notice that in 20:21, that the mother of James and John made this request of Jesus: “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” The point of this request is that when the kingdom comes, “but which has not yet come.” That, for which our Lord asked the Jews to pray in Matt 6:10, “thy kingdom come,” had not yet come to earth, and would not come while our Lord was still on this earth (Acts 1:6) and would not come until His return to earth (Acts 7, 9-11), after the tribulation (Matt 24:29-30) (Zech 14:5, 9) (Rev 19:11-16; 20:4).

VI. For education and other supporting data for each source of information in this article, please refer to my Page, “About My References.” The following link shows information about Dallas Theological Seminary, from which many of my sources have a connection, of student, graduate, instructor. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the seminary.

VII. Galatians Outline Classroom Teaching.

A. Dr. Mark Yarbrough, President of DTS, M.Th., Ph. D. 

B. Introduction to Galatians. In a way, Paul’s epistle to the Galatians is an emancipation proclamation because it announces our freedom as believers. 

  1. The epistle contains lots of internal evidence for authorship by the apostle Paul.
    1. The author was once a persecutor of the church but was later transformed into a preacher of Christ (Galatians 1:23).
    2. He had a special commission as an apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 1:16).
    3. He was independent of but endorsed by the apostles (Galatians 2:9).
    4. He was a staunch opponent of Judaizers (Galatians 2:1–5, 11–14).
    5. He is the founder of the churches in Galatia and their spiritual father (Galatians 4:19­–20).
    6. An illness prompted his ministry there (Galatians 4:13).
    7. The Holy Spirit and miracles were evident in Galatia (Galatians 3: 2, 5).
    8. The author and the people were bonded together in love (Galatians 4:15–16).
    9. His credentials were well-known.
  2. The debate over whether the epistle was written to southern or northern Galatia is irrelevant to the book’s message.
  3. The epistle gives us lots of insight into the believers in Galatia.
    1. There were multiple churches with a common problem (Galatians 1:2).
    2. The churches were founded by Paul (4:13­­­–14).
    3. The believers there revered Paul as an “angel of God” (Galatians 4:14).
    4. They loved Paul enough to sacrifice their eyes for him (Galatians 4:15).
    5. The Galatians were mostly Gentiles. As such, they had not been circumcised (Galatians 5:2).
    6. They were familiar with the Old Testament (Galatians 3:6–9).
    7. They had been saved long enough to be mature in their faith (Galatians 5:7–12).
    8. They had fallen prey to a new, deviant gospel (Galatians 1:6–10).
  4. Paul wrote to address a controversy in Galatia.
    1. The controversy struck at the very heart of the gospel.
      1. The Galatians had begun to stray from something they once solidly believed.
      2. Paul expressed great emotion that people he knew so well were beginning to fall away.
      3. Many doctrines should be held loosely; however, there is no room for debate on the issue of seeking God’s favor through performance.
    2. There are several problems with the false gospel tempting the Galatians.
      1. It misrepresents grace.
        • The true gospel is not about our works but God’s work on our behalf.
        • We should revel in the grace Christ offers to us.
      2. It eliminates the cross.
      3. It seeks to bring bondage to the believer.
  5. As typical with an epistle, the book begins with an emphasis on right belief and then moves into a section on right living based on those beliefs.
    1. The book’s three main sections are personal, doctrinal, and practical.
      1. We must not distinguish too heavily between right belief and right practice.
      2. Galatians contains a theological argument and an explanation of how proper theology should affect our lives.
    2. The book’s three sections look at the source, content, and effect of the gospel Paul preaches.
    3. Two key passages encapsulate the book’s message: Galatians 2:15–16 and Galatians 5:1.
    4. The central idea of Galatians is that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone.
    5. The book of Galatians follows a straightforward argument.
      1. In Galatians 1–2, Paul shows that the source of his gospel is God’s revelation alone.
      2. In Galatians 3–4, Paul shows that the essence of his gospel is justification by faith alone.
      3. In Galatians 5–6, Paul shows that the application of his gospel is to have freedom through the Spirit alone

%d bloggers like this: