Nazarene Commentary 2000©

21st Century Paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures©
21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures© [NCMM]

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THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

CHAPTER ELEVEN:
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR JOHN
AND REPROACH FOR CITIES

[“Impossible to please”]

Matthew 11:1 – Twelve Sent out to Teach

MT11:1 And it occurred when Jesus finished giving instructions to the twelve disciples, he crossed from there teaching and preaching in their towns. 582
582 Preaching in their towns: Jesus was a teacher who practiced what he preached. He has just spoken at length to his “apostles” and given them precise instructions. Now he does not sit back and let them do the work while he relaxes. But he immediately sets the example (Revelation 14:4).

Matthew 11:2-6 – Imprisoned Baptist Encouraged

|| Luke 7:18-23

MT11:2 But while in jail 583 John the Baptist heard 584 about the works of the Messiah, 585 and by means of his disciples, 586
583 Jail: See Luke 7:18-28.
584 The Baptist heard: Either he is able to receive visitors or he learns from his guardians.
585 Messiah: The Greek is CHRISTOU. Originally the Gospel of Matthew was written in Hebrew and so the word would have been more like ham·Ma·shi’ach. Leviticus 4:3, 5 is the first use of the word regarding the high priest of Israel, Aaron. Anyone “anointed” is a “messiah.” Compare Daniel 9:25, 26.
586 His disciples: For some time the Messianic movement was divided into two primary groups: the disciples of John and the disciples of Jesus. There may have been a degree of dissension between the two. Later in the Book of Acts we come upon John’s disciples unfamiliar with baptism in the name of Jesus (Acts 18:24, 25). The phrase “his disciples” is also used of Paul (Acts 9:25).
MT11:3 asked Jesus, “Are you the One coming 587 or are we to expect a different person?” 588
587 One coming: At Matthew 3:11 John has already confessed of another one coming who is more privileged. Possibly the idea of a “Coming One” is drawn from Genesis 49:10, Daniel 9:24, and Malachi 3:1. Compare also Deuteronomy 18:15 (Luke 7:19). Possibly the imprisoned John wants confirmation regarding the very one he pointed out as the “Lamb of God.” (John 1:29)
588 Expect a different person: Evidently some Jews had different views regarding “the coming one” expecting two different persons, one of which was to be “Elijah.” To this day some Jews expect both the Messiah and Elijah. At Passover an empty chair is provided should Elijah appear.
MT11:4 Jesus responded, telling [John’s disciples], “Go back and report 589 to John what you heard and saw:
589 Go back and report: Jesus sends these disciples back to the imprisoned Baptist with the good news of what has been happening during his incarceration. We may happily assume this news was received by John with tremendous joy. We can hear his rejoicing and prayers in that dungeon.
MT11:5 Blind people are seeing, lame people are walking around, lame people have been cleansed, deaf people are hearing, dead people are being raised up, and poor people 590 are hearing the good news!
590 Poor people: Jesus never forgets the poor and he lists them among genuine miracles.
MT11:6 And blessed is anyone who is not offended by me!” 591
591 Not offended by me: The Greek is interesting and related to an English word, SKANDALISTHE – and perhaps “scandalized” would be a better word. Most translators prefer “stumbled.” A person in prison gets his news from mixed sources – some may be accusatory and scandalous. Possibly there was much divisive talk among John’s own disciples. John wants confirmation and proof that the One he baptized is the Messiah. Perhaps he wants this more for his disciples than himself. Note Jesus does not directly answer the question which is something of a Hebrew manner. The prophet foretold stumbling (Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8).

Matthew 11:7-15 – John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal

|| Luke 7:24-28

MT11:7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus started to tell the crowds regarding John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? 592 A breeze rattling some willows? 593
592 What did you go out into the wilderness to see: We have learned earlier that all Judea went out into the desert to see this strange prophet who dressed primitively and eat honey and locusts.
593 A breeze rattling some willows: Possibly a bit of sarcasm? Others render this phrase: KJV: a reed shaken with the wind; RIEU: a reed swaying in the wind; NEB: a reed-bed swept by the wind. As a metaphor John the Baptist could not be characterized like a reed-willow easily blown about (Ephesians 4:14). Rather, he was stalwart and firm – even dogmatic.
MT11:8 But, what did you go to see? A human dressed in soft clothes? Look! Those who wear soft clothes 594 are in royal houses.
594 Soft clothes: John was dressed roughly in harsh clothing. His clothes and manner must have attracted inquisitive crowds wondering about this strange man. The phrase is rendered by others: WMS: silks and satins; NJB: fine clothes.
MT11:9 But, why did you come out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet. 595
595 More than a prophet: The Bible is fill with “prophets” of the two types: the one foretelling events and the one declaring God’s righteous will. The word “prophet” occurs over 500 times in the Bible. Jesus makes clear the Baptist is more than just a prophet and he now explains what he means. The idea of saying that someone is more or greater than another is something Jesus uses several times. Compare Matthew 12:41, 42; Luke 11:31, 32.
MT11:10 This person is the one about whom it has been written, 596 ‘Look! I am sending forth My messenger 597 before your person. He will prepare your way ahead of you.’ [Isaiah 40:3]
596 It has been written: Jesus quotes Isaiah 40:3.
597 My messenger: Literally the Greek is “my angel.”
MT11:11 I tell you this truth: None generated by women have been raised up who are greater than 598 John the Baptist. But, a lesser person 599 in the Realm of the Heavens 600 is greater than John.
598 Who are greater than: John the Baptist is at least equal to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, or Elijah.
599 A lesser person: The Greek is MICROTEROS and is rendered: KJV: least; ASV: little; PME: humble.
600 In the Realm of the Heavens: It is possible this phrase is limited to that Realm of Profession, or the territory or domain over which Lord Messiah reigns – his congregation of disciples. In other words: the most humble member of the Christian Church is greater than John the Baptist and therefore greater than all the ancient worshippers of God. See notes in Matthew chapter 13 on identifying the “kingdom of the heavens.” Some also believe this to mean John the Baptist and the ancient patriarchs would not attain to heaven but would be raised in the resurrection of the righteous on earth (John 3:13; Hebrews 11:39, 40; 1 Corinthians 15:20-24).
MT11:12 From the days of John the Baptist right up until now the Realm of the Heavens is being zealously pursued 601 and those in energetic pursuit are grabbing for it.
601 Zealously pursued: This is a classically difficult text. Most translators tend toward the idea that the kingdom is attacked violently and the violent seize it. However, from John the Baptist to the present of Jesus’ statement there is little evidence of persecution against the King or his realm. The Greek word here is BIAZETAI and its root meaning is “violent.” Jesus repeats the word group in the next phrase (See Acts 2:2). The word is rare in this form. However, there are two verses in Luke which might shed light on the Nazarene’s intent. Luke 13:24 literally means, ‘agonize to enter through the narrow door.’ And, the parallel in Luke to Matthew here is, ‘everyone is violently forcing [BIAZETAI] themselves into (the Kingdom of The God).’ This could mean violent men force themselves violently into the kingdom; or, it could mean the agonizing struggle to enter the realm of profession. This is the first interpretation the New Jerusalem Bible gives in its footnote “f” – “1. The praiseworthy violence, the bitter self-sacrifice, of those who would take possession of the kingdom.” Strong’s (#971, #973) offers “vital activity, energetic.” Thayer’s (page 101) says: “a share in the heavenly Kingdom is sought for with the most ardent zeal and the intense exertion… utmost eagerness.” Thus, the context and the parallel in Luke suggests the possibility that Jesus is describing the agonizing zeal his disciples have demonstrated in their pursuit of the “kingdom” – willing to make any sacrifice, willing to surrender their soul in the process.
William Barclay suggests a possibility: “‘The Kingdom of the Heaven is not for the well-meaning but for the desperate,’ that no one drifts into the Kingdom, that the Kingdom only opens it doors to those who are prepared to make as great an effort to get into it as men do when they storm a city.… Only the man who is desperately in earnest, only the man in whom the violence of devotion matches and defeats the violence of persecution will in the end enter into it.” (Matthew, Volume 2. page 8)
MT11:13 For the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 602
602 Prophets and the Law prophesied until John: The complete phrase linking the Law and the Prophets is used by Jesus elsewhere (Matthew 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40). There is now to be a great transition. Hebrews 1:1 states that The God used to speak in a variety of ways to the prophets of old, but now speaks to us by means of a Son. With the coming of John the Baptist in the year 29 AD a new season, a new age begins to open up – a Messianic one. Grace and Truth will now come by means of Jesus the Nazarene (John 1:17).
MT11:14 And, if you wish to accept it – John is Elijah, 603 the one who was to come.
603 John is Elijah: Jesus explains this to his own disciples elsewhere (Matthew 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13). Compare Luke 1:17. Elijah’s name (My God is Yah) occurs 100 times in the Bible and most importantly at Malachi 4:5 where the prophet is foretold to appear before the Day of Yehowah. The end of the Jewish Temple Age is upon that generation. The name Elijah only occurs twice outside the Gospels (Romans 11:2; James 5:17). Note Elijah is missing by name in the Book of Revelation. He is alluded to at Revelation 11:5, 6.
MT11:15 Let the person with ears listen.” 604
604 Let the person with ears listen: This becomes in Revelation a phrase identified with Jesus (Revelation 2:7). PME: the man who has ears to hear must use them.

Matthew 11:16-19 – The Impossibility of Pleasing Everyone

|| Luke 7:31-35

MT11:16 “But, with whom shall I compare this generation? 605 [This generation] is like young children, sitting in the market-squares, who yell at various ones, 606
605 This generation: The Greek is TEN GENEAN. It means his contemporaries. He uses the phrase several times (Matthew 12:41, 42; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29-32, 50, 51; 17:25; 21:32).
606 Various ones: The Greek is “different ones” and some render this: KJV: fellows; TCNT: playmates.
MT11:17 saying, ‘We played the flute but you did not dance! We cried but you did not mourn!’ 607
607 We cried but you did not mourn: There is no pleasing these fickle children. One loses no matter which respond is taken. The phrase is rendered: PME: we played at funerals and you wouldn’t cry; RHM: we sang a lament. The Greek for “mourn” here is EKOPSASATHE and literally means “beat yourselves.”
MT11:18 For John did not eat 608 [normally] or drink 609 [wine], and yet they say about him, ‘He is demonized!’ 610
608 Did not eat: Of course actually John ate honey and locusts. So it is implied he did not eat as other people do (Luke 7:33). He was severely ascetic.
609 Or drink: Obviously John drank water. The phrase “drink” is often related to drinking wine. Luke 7:33 explains this. PME: John came in the strictest austerity.
610 Demonized: Or, demon-possessed. LAM: crazy. Jesus is later to be so criticized (Mark 3:21; John 10:20, 21).
MT11:19 [And yet] the Son of Humankind came eating [normally] and drinking [wine], 611 and yet they say about him, ‘Look! a gluttonous human and a drunk 612 – friend of tax-collectors and sinners.’ Now, wisdom is justified by its works.” 613
611 Came eating [normally] and drinking [wine]: Jesus was not an ascetic, nor a vegetarian. He was what may be called today “a drinker” in that he did imbibe wine. The KJV has the accusation: winebibber; WEY: tippling; WMS: wine-drinker. Wine in the Middle East and the whole Mediterranean area is a basic fluid at all tables (Genesis 27:25; 1 Samuel 16:20; Canticles 5:1; Isaiah 22:13; 55:1; Ecclesiastes 9:7). It is drank throughout the day, including breakfast, which might be merely dripping dried bread from the previous day into table wine. The English “wine” is a corruption of the Greek OINOS. These wines were generally of weak 4-8% alcoholic content, often mixed with water. It is possible the enormous miracle of making 120 gallons of water into wine – after the wine provided ran out – at the Cana wedding contributed to slanderous rumors (John 2:1ff).
612 A drunk: Jesus would not be criticized for drinking wine for everyone did. The Greek is OINOPOTES and implies OINOPHLYGIA or drinking to excess. Compare Romans 14:21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Timothy 3:8; 5:23; Titus 2:3.
613 Wisdom is justified by its works: Compare Luke 7:35. Some may have seen a contradiction in the way both John and Jesus came. Some may have had their own expectations on the manner of how these ought to come. Though God sent both men, His wisdom in the case of John and Jesus, is proved right or correct by the results. PME: wisdom stand or falls by her own actions; RIEU: God’s ways were proved to have been wise by their results; BECK: yet what a wise person does proves he’s right.

Matthew 11:20-24 – Reproached Cities a Lesson for Judgment Day

|| Luke 10:13-15

MT11:20 Then Jesus began to reproach the cities where most of his dynamic works 614 occurred, because they did not repent:
614 Dynamic works: The Greek is DYNAMEIS as it is in verses 21, 23. Others rendered this: KJV: mighty works; TCNT: miracles; GDSP: wonders; PME: demonstrations of God’s power.
MT11:21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! 615 Woe to you, Bethsaida! 616 Because if the dynamic works which occurred in you took place in Tyre 617 and Sidon 618 of old it is most likely they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. 619
615 Chorazin: A town at the north end of Galilee. Compare Luke 10:10-16. It was not far from Capernaum, the early home base of the Nazarene.
616 Bethsaida: This village was also on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. Josephus mentions such a populous village near the Jordan River. This village was rebuilt by Philip the tetrarch and was named Julias in honor of the daughter of Caesar Augustus (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 28 [ii, 1]).
617 Tyre: This city had a long history with Israel (1 Chronicles 14:1; 1 Kings 9:10, 11). It was destroyed in fulfillment of Bible prophecy (Ezekiel 26:7-12; Zechariah 9:3, 4).
618 Sidon: An ancient city of Canaan, called Phoenicia by the Greeks. The city exists today as Saida (Jeremiah 25:22; 27:3; 47:4; Joel 3:4; Zechariah 9:2; Isaiah 23:4, 12; Jeremiah 25:17, 22; 27:1-8; 47:4; Ezekiel 28:20-24; 32:30; Joel 3:4-8; Zechariah 9:1-4).
619 Repented in sackcloth and ashes: This is not a mere “I’m sorry.” The repentance is severe in the Biblical and eastern manner. The first such occurrence is Genesis 37:34 for a total of 48 occurrences of mourning in sackcloth (2 Samuel 3:31; Nehemiah 9:1; Esther 4:1-3; Job 16:15; Psalm 35:8; Jeremiah 4:8; 6:26; 49:3; Jonah 3:6). The exact phrase “sackcloth and ashes” occurs only about half dozen times in the Bible.
MT11:22 Also, I tell you: it will be more bearable 620 for Tyre and Sidon on Judgment Day 621 than for you.
620 More bearable: See footnotes on Matthew 10:15. Or, endurable, tolerable.
621 Judgment Day: See notes on Matthew 10:15.
MT11:23 And you, Capernaum, 622 will you be exalted 623 heaven-high? Down to Hades 624 you will descend! Because if those dynamic works which occurred in you had taken place in Sodom it is likely it would have remained until today.
622 Capernaum: See notes on Matthew 4:13. Jesus’ original home base.
623 Exalted: Was the problem of those cities which witnessed Jesus’ early work one of pride?
624 Hades: The Greek is HADES and means un + seen. This is the first occurrence in the teachings of the Nazarene. The word occurs only in Matthew and Luke. Jesus is to use the word in only three settings (Matthew 11:23; Luke 10:15; 16:23). It occurs only ten times in the Christian Bible (Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31; Revelation 1:18; 6:8; 20:13, 14). The English word “hell” (hel) is drawn from the Latin cel as in “cellar.” It meant an unseen storage place for such things as potatoes, thus the old English “helin potatoes.” In the Bible it is the abode of the dead who await Judgment Day and the resurrection from the dead. The idea of eternal torment of the soul in Hell is a Greek notion borrowed from Egyptians and older cultures. See dictionaries or encyclopedias on the subject. It is the equivalent of the Hebrew sheol (Job 14:12-14; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10).
MT11:24 So, I tell you that it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day than for you.”

Matthew 11:25-30 – Take My Yoke and Become Disciples

|| Luke 10:21, 22

MT11:25 During that period Jesus gave a response: “I openly confess to You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, 625 because You hide 626 things from sophists 627 and intellectuals 628 and reveal them to babies.
625 Lord of heaven and earth: The Father is “Lord of heaven and earth,” and thus the Lord of Jesus. Compare Psalm 110:1 KJV. The designation is only used of the Father of the Son (Luke 10:21; Acts 17:24).
626 Hide: The Greek is EKRYPSAS.
627 Sophists: The Greek is SOPHON and may be rendered KJV: wise; WEY: sages. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:27.
628 Intellectuals: The Greek is SYNETON and may be rendered: IB: cunning; KJV: prudent; STR: understand, discerning (1 Corinthians 1:19 = BER: keenness of the sagacious; TAY: the most brilliant).
MT11:26 Yes, Father, because to do it this way is by your good will. 629
629 To do it this way is by your good will: Or, KJV: so it seemed good in thy sight; WEY: for such has been Thy gracious will; BECK: for wanting it to be that way.
MT11:27 Everything has been given me 630 by my Father. No one perfectly knows 631 the Son but the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father perfectly but the Son; and whom ever the Son wishes to unveil [Him]. 632
630 Everything has been given me: This is explained in John 5:19-47. God could not have everything given to Him for He already possesses everything.
631 Perfectly knows: The Greek is a heightened form of knowing, EPI-GINOSKEI – not just an intellectual understanding but a perfect relationship. Note the “holy spirit” is absent from this formula. Others render the word: RHM: fully knoweth. Compare John 1:18.
632 And whom ever the Son wishes to unveil [Him]: The Holy Spirit is absent here. Why does the Son not include the Holy Spirit in the formula? Does the Son reveal the Father to the Holy Ghost? The word “unveil” is from the Greek APEKALYPSAS and related to the word for the Book of Revelation. Others render this: KJV: reveal; AMP: make Him known; KIT: uncovered.
MT11:28 Come to me all those burdened by toil 633 and I will refresh you. 634
633 Burdened by toil: Or, KJV: labour and are heavy laden; WEY: toiling and burdened; PME: weary and over-burdened; NEB: those who work hard, whose load is heavy (Isaiah 55:2).
634 I will refresh you: Or, KJV: give you rest; WMS: lead you into rest. A person who comes to the Nazarene is not further burdened but feels a sense of relief and liberation.
MT11:29 Pick up my yoke 635 and learn from me, 636 because I am meek and humble in heart, 637 and you will find refreshment for your souls.
635 Pick up my yoke: Some effort is required. Others render this: NEB: bend your necks to my yoke. Compare Galatians 5:1.
636 Learn from me: Two things are required: a yoke and an effort to learn. This course of discipleship is not without a yoke, nor without effort to learn the teachings of the Master. BAS: let me be your teacher.
637 I am meek and humble in heart: Or, TCNT: gentle and lowly-minded. Despite his credentials and authority as stated in verse 27 the Messiah is not arrogant or puffed up with self-importance. One feels the simple, poor, and lowly felt free to approach Jesus freely with their pain and problems. Though Moses is described as “the meekest of men” Jesus is clearly the meekest of all who have ever lived (Numbers 12:3).
MT11:30 For my yoke is kind 638 and my load is light.” 639
638 My yoke is kind: Or, KJV: easy. Though the disciple is under a yoke – indicating this is not a freedom from work – this yoke fits well and is shared with the strongest shoulders known among men. The law forbade the yoking of two animals of different strengths and yet here we have exactly that. NOR: my yoke fits so easily.
639 Load is light: There is a load though it is described as light. Others render this: KJV: my burden light.

Nazarene Commentary 2000©

Mark Heber Miller

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