Matthew

21:33-46

11. Out with the old and in with the new, 21:1-23:39

iv] The parable of the tenants in the vineyard

Synopsis

Matthew continues his account of Passion Week and the controversies that occur in the precincts of the temple court. With Jesus' parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard and his prophecy of the stone, along with the outright rejection of the chief priests and the pharisees, Matthew continues his critique of unrepentant religious Israel.

 
Teaching

The righteous elite stand under divine judgment when they fail to rest in faith on the grace of God.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 21:23-32.

 

ii] Structure: This episode, The parable of the tenants in the vineyard, presents as follows:

The problem of evil tenants, v33-46:

Parable, v33-39;

Application, v40-41:

a self-incriminating question;

The prophecy of the stone, v42:

a fulfillment text taken from Psalm 18:22-23:

Sayings, v43-44:

"the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given ......"

"anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces and ........"

The reaction of the Jewish authorities, v45-46.

 

iii] Interpretation:

The parable of the Wicked Husbandman, its application and attached prophecy and sayings, together calls for a single metaphorical idea: "God's kingdom will be taken from Israel and given to a people that produces the proper fruit", Schweizer. Of course, this judgment theme applies to the new Israel, as to the old - the promised blessings of the covenant apply to a people who rest in faith on the grace of God rather than religiosity. For an overview of the theological issues raised by the parables of the Two Sons, the Wicked Husbandman, and the Wedding Banquet, see "Interpretation", 21:23-32.

 

The parable of the Wicked Husbandman. This parable has all the trappings of a kingdom parable, a gospel riddle announcing that the kingdom of God is at hand, but without the usual introductory formula, "the kingdom of heaven is like ..." Note how Mark places this parable immediately after the questioning of Jesus authority and introduces it by saying "then he began to speak to them in parables" - certainly not in the sense of helpful illustrations, cf., Mk.12:1-12. The use of the word parabolh, "parable" (see v33 below), and particularly Matthew's statement "once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: The kingdom of heaven may be compared to ...", 22:1, indicates that Matthew views the parable of the tenants in the vineyard in like manner to the parable of the wedding feast, namely as a kingdom parable. Like Mark, Matthew is true to his received tradition and has not added the phrase "the kingdom of heaven is like ......" More than likely the tag line "the kingdom of heaven / God is like ....." got lost in transmission. So, what we have is a kingdom parable, a climactic riddle emphasizing judgment: the day has arrived when rebels get sorted out, ie., the kingdom of heaven is upon us.

None-the-less, one can't help but identify the players in the drama and this has prompted some scholars to doubt the parable's authenticity. Yet, Jesus is not bound by some unseen law that says he must never use an allegory, nor that he must never subtly identify himself as God's messiah. Still, as noted above, it is likely that in its original setting this parable was not an allegory, but rather a kingdom parable - a proclamation of the gospel / the coming kingdom in the form of a riddle. None-the-less, in its present context the parable is not used to convey the gospel, but rather it is used as an illustrative allegory to teach that "God's kingdom will be taken from Israel and given to a people that produces the proper fruit", Schweizer. This adaption of the parable may be down to either Matthew or Mark, but one suspects that it took place much earlier - an apostolic example of poetic license?? Of course, Matthew himself is not adverse to using a kingdom parable for a different didactic intent. In fact, given the allusions to Isaiah 5:1-7, Jesus seems to hint at a wider application. So, we end up with Israel as the vineyard, Israel's religious leaders / unbelieving Israel as the farmers, the servants as the prophets, the son as Jesus and the other tenants as Gentile believers now gifted the vineyard.

With regard the similarities between the parable and Isaiah 5:1-7 (note also Jeremiah 7:25-26), it is worth noting that in Isaiah, Israel, the vineyard, gets destroyed, not the son. Yet, it remains possible that Jesus is alluding to Isaiah's vineyard image and that he purposely reshapes it.

 

The fulfillment text - the prophecy of the stone, v42: Addressing the wider context, namely the rejection of the Christ by Israel's religious authorities, this fulfillment text announces that the rejected stone is now the cornerstone, a wonder to behold. In Psalm 118, Israel is the stone, although in Jewish exegesis there is some evidence that David / messiah was viewed as the stone. Nolland notes that the Aramaic words for "son" and "stone" are very similar, indicating that we may well have here a play on words. Of course, this linkage is not evident in the Gk. For D&A this produces the formula "son = Jesus = the stone." Hendriksen proposes that the stone is Israel, thus representing Christ as faithful Israel. This would produce the formula "son = Jesus = the stone = Israel", in which case the text proclaims the fulfillment of Israel's hope, the realization of the kingdom. It is evident that Jesus is the source of many fulfillment texts (cf. Luke 24:27), but he doesn't usually link them with climactic / kingdom parables. It seems more likely that the Aramaic linkage of a rejected "son" and "stone" has prompted an early placement of this fulfillment text near the parable. If this is the case then the formula "son = Jesus = stone", D&A, stands. None-the-less, it addresses the wider context, not just the parable.

 

The reversal saying, v43. This saying is not found in Mark or Luke's record of the parable of the vineyard. As such it serves as another example in Matthew's gospel where a kingdom parable is shaped toward an application beyond the announcement that the kingdom is at hand. The parable, and its attached saying, still declares the realization of the kingdom in the rejected son / stone, but by extending the imagery of the parable, Matthew draws out the truth that Israel's religious leaders, and by implication Israel itself, have, by their rejection of the messiah, lost the opportunity to share in the realization of the kingdom, which opportunity is given to another.

The identification of the plural dative of direct object uJmin, "to you", singular collective eqnei, "a people / nation", and touV karpouV, "the fruit", is fraught.

Who is the "you"? The context implies Israel's religious leaders, the righteous of Israel, those who claim that their covenant standing is confirmed by their righteous life, and who are thus not lost, nor needful of God's mercy in Christ. This is supported by the response of the chief priests and the Pharisees who "realized that he (Jesus) was speaking about them", v45.

Who are the "people"? They are sometimes identified with the Gentiles, although God's new people is both Jew and Gentile. Of course, God's faithful people Israel can be identified with Jesus, the one who serves as corporate Israel, the one faithful son, and by implication, those who are in him through faith. If this is the intended sense then our formula could be expressed as: son = Jesus = the stone = Israel = a people. Yet, surely God's faithful people in Christ is the intended sense, although the context would narrow this people to the religious leadership of God's new people.

What is the "fruit"? If Jesus is himself the new people of God then the fruit is his faithfulness, but if this people consists of those who are in Christ then faith is the fruit of the kingdom, faith in Christ's faithfulness. Where "a people" is viewed as God's people in Christ, the "fruits of the kingdom" are sometimes identified with the fruits of the Spirit, or the fruits of faith, etc. Yet v32 expressly identifies repentance and faith as that which is required for participation in the kingdom, ie., the appropriation of the promised blessings of the kingdom rests on grace through faith, not works.

 

The judgment saying, v44. The prophecy of the stone is reinforced by a saying which is actually missing from some manuscripts. It was possibly brought over from Luke 20:18, but may have just been missed during transcribing. The imagery is probably drawn from Daniel 2:34, 44-45. The stone that crushes was later understood to be the Messiah. The interesting feature lies in the imagery. "Crushed", pulverized, ground to powder / dust, is clearly a judgment picture. When the messiah judges / falls on those who have rejected him, they will be ground to dust. Yet, what of "he who falls on the stone will be broken to pieces"? Some commentators argue that the sense of this image is positive, not negative; that this is a "broken before the Lord" image. The one "who falls on this stone" = who bows before him, humbles himself, accepts, submits ....., is broken to salvation. If we fall on the stone it may change us, but not destroy us. This line of interpretation is certainly worth pursuing, although it is not the one taken in the sample sermon. So either as Barclay, "anyone who falls against this stone will be shattered", or Junkins, "whoever falls on this cornerstone, which I mentioned, may break an arm or a leg, but, it will grind into paste those upon whom it may fall", Junkins.

 

iv] Synoptics:

When Matthew's version of the parable and fulfillment text is compared with Mark's, 12:1-12, there is some evidence that either Matthew, or his source material (which is not necessarily Mark, eg., oral tradition), has shaped the story somewhat to align with the rejection of Jesus. Note how in Matthew's account the son is taken, thrown out and then killed.

With regard the sayings, the first saying is unique to Matthew. The second saying is found in Luke 20:18, but not in Mark. Either it is from an independent source (oral??), or there is dependence, either Luke on Matthew, or Matthew on Luke.

 

v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

 
Text - 21:33

Israel's rejection: i] The parable of the tenant farmers in the vineyard, v33-39. The parable tells the story of a landowner's care in preparing a beautiful and efficient vineyard and renting it out to tenant farmers. At harvest time the landowner's agents come to collect its fruit. Certainly not all the fruit, just the rent from the tenant farmers. The tenant farmers rough up the landowner's agents, even killing some. Finally, the landowner sends his son, for he says, "they will respect my son". The farmers are cruel in the extreme, taking the son out of the vineyard and killing him.

parabolhn (h) "[another] parable" - [listen to another] parable. Accusative direct object of the verb "to hear." The word is not usually used of Jesus' illustrations, his teaching parables, but rather when he employs a riddle, a kingdom parable. This may indicate that Matthew understands this parable as a kingdom parable.

oikodespothV (hV ou) "a landowner" - [there was a man] a householder. This noun stands in apposition to "man", the nominative subject of the verb to-be; "There was a farmer".

o{stiV "who" - who [planted a vineyard]. Nominative subject of the verb "to plant." Matthew favors the indefinite pronoun "whosoever", referring here to landowners in general, although here used of one "who planted a vineyard."

fragmon (oV) "[he put] a wall [around]" - [and put around it] a fence. Accusative direct object of the verb "to put around." Most likely a "hedge".

autw/ dat. pro. "it" - [he put around] it. A dative of direct object following the peri prefix verb "to put around", following the LXX of Isaiah 5:2.

en "in" - [and dug] in [it a wine press]. Local; expressing space / sphere; "Dug a hole in some flat rock for a wine press."

purgon (oV) "watchtower" - [and built] a tower. Accusative direct object of the verb "to build." For security.

exedeto (ekdidwmi) aor. "rented" - [and] handed over, leased [it]. Possibly on a sharecropping basis, but also, given that the vineyard would take a few years to come into full production, these "farmers" may well just be given care of the vineyard and paid to do so.

gewrgoiV (oV) dat. "to some farmers" - to farmers. Dative of indirect object.

apedhmhsen (apodhmew) aor. "went away on a journey" - [and] departed. The aorist is probably inceptive, "began a journey." Possibly "went abroad", Phillips, but at least went away until the vineyard came into production.

 
v34

oJte "when" - Temporal conjunction introduces a temporal clause.

twn karpwn (oV) "the harvest [time]" - [came near the time] of the harvest. The genitive noun is adjectival, idiomatic / temporal, limiting "time", as NIV; "the time when the first fruits are gathered", "vintage season", NEB.

gewrgouV (oV) "farmers" - [he sent the slaves of him to] the farmers, people who work the land. Here "vine growers."

labein (lambanw) inf. "to collect" - to receive. The infinitive is adverbial, expressing purpose; "in order to collect." Possibly, "to obtain his share of the grapes", NAB, if they are share farmers.

autou gen. pro. "his [fruit]" - [the fruits] of it. The antecedent of this adjectival genitive is unclear: either "the fruit of it", ie., the fruit of the vineyard, then we could classify the genitive as idiomatic /producer, "the fruit produced by the vineyard", or if "his fruit", ie., "the landowner's fruit", as NIV, then we would classify the genitive as possessive.

 
v35

labonteV (lambanw) aor. part. "[the tenants] seized" - [the farmers] having taken [the slaves of him]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verbs "they beat", "they killed" and "they stoned"; "took his servants and beat ....."

men ... de .... de "-" - An adversative comparative construction which presents as a coordinate series rather than adversatives; "[who] on the one hand [beat] and [who] on the other hand [killed] and [who] on the other hand [stoned]." The relative pronouns o}n, "who", serve as demonstratives, "beat one, killed another, and stoned another", ESV.

edeiran (derw) aor. "they beat" - flay, beat. The softer "beat" is intended. Possibly an ascending order of violence which means that the stoning is a violent stoning to death.

 
v36

palin adv. "then [he sent]" - again [he sent]. Modal adverb expressing repetition. Possibly indicating the sending of servants at the next harvest in the following year.

twn prowtwn adj. "the first" - [other slaves more than] the first ones. The genitive is ablative, of comparison.

autoiV dat. pro. "[treated] them" - [and they did similarly] to them. Dative of indirect object / interest. "But the vine-growers dealt with them in exactly the same way", Cassirer.

wJsautwV adv. "likewise / the same way" - Modal adverb, expressing similarity.

 
v37

uJsteron comp. adj. "last of all" - finally, at last [he sent the son of him]. Here the comparative adjective serves as a temporal adverb with superlative force so expressing the last in a series, as NIV.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle identifying action accompanying the action of the main verb "sent"; "he sent and said." Probably said to himself, so "he thought to himself."

entraphsontai (entrepw) fut. pas. "they will respect" - they will respect [the son of me]. Here with the sense "to show deference to"; "Surely they will act respectfully toward ..."

 
v38

de "but" - but, and. Usually treated here as an adversative, as NIV, although it primarily indicates a step in the narrative.

idonteV (eidon) aor. part. "when [the tenants] saw" - [the farmers] having seen [the son]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV. "But when they saw the son coming ..."

en "[they said] to [each other] / among [themselves]" - [said] in [themselves]. Local, expressing space / sphere; "among themselves."

oJ klhronomoV (oV) "the heir" - [this is] the heir. Predicate nominative. "Some day he will own the vineyard. Let's kill him! Then we can have it for ourselves", CEV.

apokteinwmen (apokteinw) aor. subj. "let's kill [him] / let us kill [him]" - let us kill [him]. As with "let us seize", hortatory subjunctive.

thn klhronomian (a) "[his] inheritance" - [and let us take possession of] the inheritance [of him]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to take possession of." "His property", TEV.

 
v39

labonteV (lambanw) aor. part. "they took him" - [and] having taken [him]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to cast out"; "they grabbed him and cast him out."

exebalon (ekballw) aor. "threw him" - they cast him. Note, opposite to Mark who has killed and then threw out. This is a possible alignment to the order of Jesus' arrest and crucifixion. Note that the Talmud makes the point that people who have worked land that is not theirs for over three years have gained rights over it. In this case, the owner may then be treated as an intruder.

ex (ek) + gen. "out of [the vineyard]" - [out, outside of] the vineyard [and killed him]. The genitive substantive is Ablative, expressing separation, but is clarified by the preposition exw "out, outside". An example of language development in Koine Greek.

 
v40

ii] Rather than drawing out the parable's conclusion himself, Jesus, in an example of 1st century audience participation, gets his audience to state the obvious, v40-41. In climactic terms (as a kingdom parable) the parable teaches that the day has arrived for the settling of accounts. In contextual terms the parable illustrates the moral that selfish and willful behavior will be punished (the tenants will lose their living and the vineyard handed to new tenants), which moral applies to old Israel.

oun "therefore" - Drawing a logical conclusion, but also possibly just introducing the next logical step, namely, the coming of the owner.

oJtan + subj. "when" - when [came]. Temporal conjunction serving to introduce an indefinite temporal clause.

tou ampelwnoV (wn wnoV) gen. "[the owner] of the vineyard" - [the Lord ...] of the vineyard. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, as NIV, but possibly viewed as of subordination, "Lord over the vineyard."

toiV gewrgoiV ekeinoiV dat. "[what will he do] to those tenants?" - Dative of indirect object / interest.

 
v41

kakouV kakwV "[he will bring] those wretches to a wretched [end]" - [they say to him] evil badly [he will destroy them]. The adjective, kakouV, "evil, bad", is used as a noun, "[the / these] evil ones", and placed beside the adverb, kakwV, "badly, severely, fiercely", which modifies the verb apolesei "will destroy", serves as a play on words; "he will bring those bad men to a bad end", NEB. Possibly meaning total destruction; "shot and their cloths burnt", ie., all memory of them removed (an Australian 1st World War saying usually referring to the officer class and most often used with the addition of a number of expletives. Since we lost our mojo such sayings can no longer be used in PC company, although expletives are acceptable as long as they are not sexist, racist, homophobic, agist, ........).

legousin (legw) pres. "they replied" - they say. Historic present.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - to him. Dative of indirect object.

alloiV gewrgoiV dat. "[he will rent the vineyard] to other tenants" - [and the vineyard he will release] to other farmers. Dative of indirect object.

oiJtineV (oJstiV) rel. ind. pro. "who" - whoever. The indefinite pronoun is used as in v33, introducing a relative clause which Wallace, Zerwick, suggest is final, expressing purpose; "so that they may give him his share", Moule. Olmstead suggests that "the chief function of the relative clause is not to express purpose but instead to characterize these tenants over against the former ones."

en + dat. "at [harvest time]" - [the fruits] in [seasons of them]. Adverbial use of the preposition, temporal; "Who will pay his full share of the crops when it is due", Barclay.

 
v42

iii] The prophecy of the stone, v42. A fulfillment text taken from Psalm 18:22-23. Israel's rejection of the Christ will be overturned by God; the results will be wonderful to behold.

en + dat. "in [the scriptures]" - [Jesus says to them, have you never read] in [the scriptures]. Local; expressing space. "In the Bible."

liqon (oV) acc. "the stone" - An example of attraction, where "stone" should be in the nominative case, here properly a nominative pendens, but has been attracted into the accusative case by the relative pronoun beside it.

apedokimasan (apodokimazw) aor. "rejected" - [which the ones building] rejected. completely rejected as useless.

ou|toV pro. "-" - this. This demonstrative serves as the nominative subject of the verb "to become." Referencing the stone; "this same stone is (has) become (turned into)."

eiV + acc. "[has become the capstone / cornerstone]" - [became] into. This preposition + acc. following ginomai, "to become", similarly einai, sometimes forms a predicate nominative, as here. A Semitic construction.

gwniaV (a) gen. "the capstone / cornerstone" - [head] of corner. Partitive genitive. It is not actually known whether this stone is the capstone, top stone of the building, binding the walls together, or whether it is the corner foundation stone. Whatever, the builders rejected it as unsuitable, but from God's perspective, it works perfectly.

para + gen. "[the Lord has done this]" - [this has become] from [Lord]. Possibly expressing agency, "by", but more likely expressing source; "this action derives from the Lord himself."

en + dat. "[it is marvelous] in [our eyes]" - Local; expressing sphere. A Semitism expressing the sense "in our judgment" = "what a wonderful thing that is", "isn't that something!"

 
v43

iv] With two sayings of Jesus Matthew now applies the parable, v43-44. The first saying is peculiar to Matthew while the second is similar to a saying in Luke 20:18, a saying which alludes to Isaiah 8:14-15 and Daniel 2:34, 44-45. In v43 Jesus announces that the kingdom will be taken away from "you" and given to another people who bear "the fruits of the kingdom." In v44 we have a judgment saying from Jesus where the rejected stone now becomes the stumbling stone that crushes. Thus we learn of "a new people of God arising out of Jesus' ministry and characterized by faith in him", France, cf. Dan.7:27, 43-44.

dia touto. "therefore" - because of, on account of this. This causal construction serves to draw a logical conclusion; therefore the rejected messiah is now Lord .......; "for this reason I tell you", NAB.

uJmin dat. pro. "[I tell] you" - [I say] to you. Dative of indirect object. This phrase is used to underline the importance of the following words.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Jesus intends to tell them.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[the kingdom] of God" - The genitive is usually taken as verbal, subjective; God's dynamic reign exercised in and through Christ. Only on some four occasions does Matthew drop his usual title "kingdom of heaven", used out of deference toward the divine. Both titles take the same meaning; see 3:2. Of interest here is the way the kingdom is described as a present reality which arqhsetai, "will be taken away", from "you". The kingdom is indeed, in Christ, a now / not-yet reality, but how is it "taken away" from those who have rejected Christ and have therefore never been members? If our eschatology is not realized then what is taken away is "the promise and the prospect of the kingdom", Luz.

arqhsetai (airw) fut. pas. "will be taken away" - will be taken. Both this verb, and "given" are passive and may be classed as theological / divine passives; God does the taking away and the giving.

af (apo) + gen. "from [you]" - Here expressing separation, "away from". Who is the "you"? Specifically the religious authorities, but inevitably all who reject the messiah. Not necessarily Israel as such because remnant Israel (those who are in Christ) do not reject the messiah and so serve as the founding members of the new people of God. Yet, "you" is compared with eqnei "a people / nation", and inevitably it is not just the religious authorities who reject Christ, since old Israel as a whole is complicit in the crucifixion of Jesus.

eqnei (oV) dat. "to a people" - [and given] to a nation, people, gentile people. Collective singular. Dative of indirect object. The "people" remain undefined, but at least a people under God, a community of Jesus' disciples. Possibly "church", Hagner. There may be a hint here of the movement of the gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles, but such is unstated.

poiounti (poiew) dat. pres. part. "who will produce" - doing = producing. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "people", as NIV.

touV karpouV (oV) "[its] fruit" - the fruit [of it]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to make, do." The word is used to tie in with the parable where the tenants did not provide the harvested fruit from the vineyard to the owner and who therefore are cast from the vineyard. It is interesting how we become very creative when "the fruit" of the kingdom is mentioned. Obedience / faithfulness is the usual line (eg. "live in the righteousness of the law as interpreted by Jesus", Hagner; "the works of love", Luz), but given the context, the fruit which the religious leaders failed to produce is repentance and faith; "you did not change your mind and believe in him", v32, so Filson, France... It is essential to note that this fruit is not just an initial response to the gospel, but rather the totality of life in the kingdom. Membership in the kingdom proceeds as it began, by grace through faith. Israel's religious leaders knew well enough that their covenant standing rested on divine grace, but they viewed continued membership and the appropriation of the abrahamic promises as a matter of law-obedience. The fruit of the kingdom is faith, faith in the faithfulness of Jesus the messiah, in which faithfulness is found the full measure of God's promised blessings.

 
v44

oJ peswn (piptw) part. "he who falls" - the one having fallen. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to crush."

epi + acc. "on [the stone]" - Spacial; "on, upon."

sunqlasqhsetai (sunqlaw) fut. pas. "will be broken to pieces" - will be crushed, broken into pieces, shattered.

d (de) "but" - but, and. Here coordinative; "and".

o}n ... an + subj. "he [on] whom" - [upon] whoever [it falls]. Introducing an indefinite relative clause, presenting as a 3rd. class condition where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true; "upon whomever, as may be the case, it falls, then it will crush him."

likmhsei (likmaw) fut. "will be crushed" - it will crush, winnow, ground to powder/dust.

 
v45

v] Matthew now records the reaction of the religious authorities to Jesus' words - they realize that he is speaking about them, v45-46. Jesus has warned them that they are in danger of violently rejecting God's messiah, and by doing so undermine their covenant standing. In response they rush off to plan Jesus' arrest.

akousanteV (akouw) aor. part. "when .... heard" - [and the chief priests and the Pharisees] having heard [the parables of him]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

oiJ arciereiV kai oiJ Farisaioi "the chief priests and the Pharisees" - Nominative subject of the participle "having heard." Interesting how Matthew now associates members of the party of Sadducees with that of the Pharisees, both sworn enemies, but both opposed to Jesus.

oJti "[they knew] that" - [understood] that. Here introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they knew.

peri + gen. "about [them]" - [he spoke] about, concerning [them]. Reference / respect. Mark has proV them, probably with the sense "against them", NRSV.

 
v46

zhtounteV (zhtew) part. "they looked for a way" - [and] seeking. Possibly just an attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "they knew", v45; "they knew he was talking about them and tried to have him arrested", Berkeley. Yet, probably adverbial, possibly temporal, "when they sought to lay hands on him", AV, or concessive, "but though they would have liked to arrest him", NJB, or better consecutive expressing result, "so they tried to arrest him", TEV, CEV.

krathsai (kratew) aor. inf. "to arrest [him]" - to grasp, take possession of = arrest [him]. Taking the participle as verbal, the infinitive may be classified as complementary, completing the sense of "seeking", or as forming a dependent statement of perception expressing what the were "looking" to do.

"but" - Added for meaning.

efobhqhsan (fobew) aor. pas. "they were afraid of" - they feared, were afraid of. "They thought about arresting him, but they were afraid to try it since they knew that the crowds considered Jesus to be a prophet", TH.

touV oclouV (oV) gen. "of the crowd" - of the people, crowd, multitude. Genitive of direct object after the verb fobew, "to be afraid of."

epei "because" - Here causal, introducing a causal clause; "because / since ....."

eicon (ecw) imperf. "the people held" - they had = considered, had an opinion about [him]. "Regarded him as a prophet", Phillips.

eiV + acc. "that [he was a prophet]" - o [a prophet]. Clearly a Semitic construction although the function of the preposition is unclear: i] Possibly indicating a predicate accusative complement of the direct object standing in a double accusative construction where the accusatives profhthn and auton stand in apposition to each other; "they considered him a prophet"; ii] Where an articular infinitive is assumed, eiV to einai, "they considered him to be a prophet", forming an object clause / dependent statement of perception, as NIV; iii] Where eiV is used instead of wJV, "as, like", "they took him for a prophet", AV.

 

Matthew Introduction

Exposition

 

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