10. The fruit of faith, 19:1-20:34

i] Accepting the children of grace


Jesus and his ministry team leave Galilee and head for Judea. It is unclear whether they move into Samaria, or cross the Jordan into Peraea on the east side of the river, following the pilgrim route to Jerusalem. Matthew is not very concerned with the exact details of the journey. Some Pharisees approach Jesus and ask him for his opinion on the issue of divorce. Jesus deals with the Pharisees question and then clarifies the issue for his disciples. At that moment, little children are brought to Jesus for a blessing, but the disciples send them away. Jesus asks that the little children be able to come to him "because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."


The children of grace in Christian community will strive to honor relationships, seeking to serve rather than be served, accepting and forgiving a brother or sister, even when divorced (or gay).


i] Context: See 1:1-17. Matthew's thematic selection and arrangement of his received tradition as it relates to revealing the gospel at work has been the focus of the 3rd. Narrative, 13:53-17:23. Now in the 4th. Narrative, 19:1-20:34, controlled by the 4th. Discourse, Life in Christian Community, 17:24-18:35, Matthew will develop a pastoral theme, examining the practical application of divine grace and its gracious fruit, namely, love. The disciples will begin to learn that "the last will be first and the first last", and inevitably, like the two blind men, 20:29-34, "they will receive their sight." So, the theme developed in chapter 18 - "Instructions for the Christian household", D&A - will guide the narratives in chapters 19 and 20. The disciples are learning to apply the revolutionary values of the kingdom within Christian community, "especially as these relate to family and social life", France. They will learn that the values of the kingdom are not the values of the kingdoms of the world. These lessons will be painful, challenging their own conventional value system, but they will learn the truth of the totality of grace, of love / mercy / forgiveness, of all that is truly good and thus worth pursuing. So, in these chapters we will learn what it means to live with compassion in Christian community.

Bacon, Studies in Matthew, took the view that the narratives introduce the discourses, so the narrative from 19:1-20:34 serves to introduce the final discourse, Concerning the Judgment, 19:1b-26:2. This seems unlikely. Gundry, on the other hand, states that "as usual, Matthew edits his narrative materials to carry out the overriding theme of the preceding discourse as far as possible. The theme of churchly brotherhood in chap. 18 therefore spills over into chaps. 19-22." Yet, although the narrative section runs through to the end of chapter 22, or even 23 (the final discourse is usually taken as chapters 24 and 25, but could include chapter 23), it is hard to observe the theme of "churchly brotherhood" moving beyond the end of chapter 20. A significant thematic break takes place in the gospel with Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, 21:1-11. It seems then that chapters 19 and 20 of the narrative ("The revolutionary values of the kingdom of heaven", France; "Jesus activity in the church", Luz) carries over the theme of the preceding discourse, but that chapters 21-22/23, beginning with Jesus' entry (coming!) to Jerusalem, looks forward to the final discourse concerning Jesus' coming in judgment, chapters 23/4-25.

If, as seems likely, Matthew has used Mark, or a proto-Mark, as a primary source for this narrative section (Mark's order of events is similar to Matthew's), then we will understand why the theme of "churchly brotherhood" / gracious fellowship is not always dominant. As Gundry notes, Matthew pushes his theme "as far as possible." Matthew's additions to Mark certainly help assist his theme, eg., the disciples' impractical suggestion on how to avert failed marriages. Matthew's addition of the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard is particularly relevant. Matthew uses this parable to illustrate the principle "the first will be last and the last first." God takes those who are last in line and puts them up the font; he rewards by grace, not works; he accepts without a ground for acceptance; he forgives without a ground for forgiveness. Christian community flourishes when it applies God's graciousness to family and social life.

This unit, Love, the Fruit of Faith, 19:1-20:34, presents as follows:

Accepting the children of grace, 19:1-15

Wealth and the kingdom, 19:16-30

The parable of the workers, 20:1-16

Suffering and service, 20:17-28

Healing two blind men, 20:29-34


ii] Structure: Accepting the children of grace:

On the issue of divorce, v1-12:

Setting, v1-2;

The Pharisees' question regarding divorce, v3;

Jesus' answer, v4-6:

"what God has joined together let no man separate."

Objection to Jesus' answer - Law allows divorce, v7;

Jesus' response, v8-9:

Divorce allowed "because of your hardness of heart"

"whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality ....."

The disciples' suggestion regarding celibacy, v10;

Jesus' response, v10-12:

"there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, ....."

Jesus welcomes little children, v13-15.

"let the little children come to me ...."


iii] Interpretation:

On the issue of divorce, debate raged around the "unseemly thing", Deut.24:1. The school of Hillel interpreted this "unseemly thing" in the terms of even the slightest offense, whereas the school of Shammai interpreted it in the terms of adultery. The Pharisees ask for Jesus' opinion. Jesus refers them back to the creation ordinances, namely the creation of male and female and their one flesh union in marriage, cf., Gen. 1:27, 2:24. The Pharisees reply by quoting Deuteronomy 24:1, but overstate it by calling it a command of Moses. Jesus answers their point by defining the so called "command" of Moses as a gracious kindness on God's part, given the human inclination toward disloyalty. God's will is that the one flesh union between a man and a woman be inviable. The disciples, aware that marriages do break down, suggest it may be better if believers don't get married. Jesus accepts that the single life is an option for those who feel that by remaining unmarried they can better serve the kingdom, but this is a matter of personal preference.

Matthew concludes by recording the approach of the little children. Most commentators see no link between the discussion on divorce and the approach of little children to Jesus, nor any significance in Matthew's additional piece on celibacy. The material is usually treated at face value with only a nod to chapter 18. Gundry, on the other hand, argues for the theme of acceptance, accepting the unmarried in the church, divorcees and children. Patte also argues for a contextual link. He sees in the disciples suggestion that it is better not to marry, and in their rejection of the children, a hardness of heart which stands against the true nature of the kingdom, namely relationships / fellowship. Keener also sees a contextual link, of the need for forgiveness and reconciliation to be offered to divorced woman and children. So, Gundry, Patte and Keener give weight to the contextual setting established by chapter 18, although each with their own perspective.


Within the context of compassion in Christian community, of caring for the children of grace, which is the subject of the 4th Discourse, chapter 18, it is likely that the two pericopes before us serve as a paradigm for both honor in relationships and acceptance / forgiveness when they fail. Matthew again faces us with the important ethical issue of the sanctity of marriage. He has already established the absolute nature of Jesus' instruction, providing a goal to aim at (fostering our marriage by forgiving, accepting, supporting, protecting, ......) and exposing sin - our inability to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (marriages fail, thus the need to recognize that righteousness / holiness is not by works of the law), 5:31-32. For Matthew, the subject of divorce sets the ground for the disciples' solution to the potential problem of a failed marriage, namely, celibacy. This solution for living in Christian community is, of course, impractical, as Jesus explains. The answer to the problem, as with any ethical problem, is graciousness - care, acceptance, forgiveness, and where possible, reconciliation. The way the Christian community needs to handle broken relationships is revealed in the following pericope, Jesus welcomes little children, v13-15. This story reminds the Christian community to be accepting and affirming of those children of grace who are broken by sin, whether it be divorce, or whatever - "let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." The Christian community is founded on grace and progresses by grace, because it is God's nature to take the last in line and make them first.


Divorce: In the debate on divorce, Jesus' uses a technical ploy with the Pharisees, namely, a more original citing is weighter, in order to establish that the creation ordinance for a one flesh union outweighs, although does not necessarily obliterates, the divorce ordinance of Moses. So the point is, sinful humanity may need a mechanism for divorce, but it is in no way God's intention that the marriage union be violated.

The exceptive clause mh epi porneia, "except for sexual immorality", v9, seems to undermine Jesus' absolute position, but it is likely that it recognizes a situation where the one-flesh union has been destroyed by adultery. In such a case, divorce is appropriate, although not ordained, eg., Hosea. So, the sense is "apart from the circumstance where the marriage has already been destroyed by sexual unfaithfulness", France. Yet, the divorce of an unfaithful partner does not allow for remarriage. Remarriage is adulterous. See 5:32. Even so, v13-15 still applies; little children, even when fallen, are always welcome, forgiven, accepted by Jesus, and the fellowship of believers should follow suit.


It is very likely that this passage provides a way forward for the church's response to gay believers? Like divorce and remarriage, a gay union cannot be sanctioned since it defies holy writ (it is unnatural and immoral - we all live unnatural and immoral lives), yet grace applies; we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. See Homiletics below.


iv] Synoptics:

In this narrative section through to chapter 22/23, Matthew and Mark tend to align, but Luke goes his own way. Matthew has some received tradition not found in Mark, 20:1-16, 21:28-32, 22:1-14, along with much of chapter 23. Some passages expand on Mark's account, or alter it significantly, eg. 21:10-17.

With regard to the passage before us, Mark is usually taken as Matthew's source (cf., Mk.10:2-12), although the defining statement in Matthew "for any and every reason", is peculiar to Matthew. The priority of Matthew can be argued on the basis of this qualification, although most commentators regard it as redactional (ie., Matthew is aware of the debate between Hillel and Shammai on this very issue and so adds the qualification himself). The interchange between the disciples and Jesus on the subject of celibacy, v10-12, is unique to Matthew. Some commentators regard all three verses as redactional. The frame may well be from Matthew's hand, v10 (a reshaping of Mk.10:10??), possibly v11, but the pericope surely rests on a saying of Jesus which Matthew uses in v12. The priority of Matthew can be argued on the basis of Mark's simplification of the passage and his failure to note the link between the issue of divorce and celibacy, and the acceptance of little children.


v] Homiletics: Welcoming little children.

Cardinal Pell, former archbishop of Melbourne, and later Sydney, Australia, was recently found guilty of the sexual assault of a minor. The case has been highly controversial, given the bizarre account of the molestation by the survivor. The first trial ended with a hung jury, but in the second the Cardinal was found guilty, a verdict confirmed on appeal, although with one dissenting judge. Judge Mark Weinberg concluded that the evidence was not there to convict, and that Pell may well be an innocent man. Finally, the case was dismissed on appeal before the High Court. It is nigh impossible to determine guilt or innocence when it comes down to one man's word against another.

An interesting feature of the case is how the Cardinal was targeted by the Victorian police. There were no complaints against him, but Cardinal Pell accompanied to court a longtime friend, a pedophile priest by the name Gerald Ridsdale. The police then assumed that Pell was also a pedophile and sought to gather evidence against him. Pell's attendance at Ridsdale's trial may well be viewed as politically naive, but from a Christian perspective, it was an act of love.

The story of Jesus' welcoming little children sits within the wider context of life in Christian community, of brotherhood, particularly with respect to warmly accepting brothers and sisters who have been stained by sexual sins, sins such as divorce and remarriage. Thankfully we no longer ostracize divorced and remarried members of the Christian fellowship. Yet, what of other sexual sins? We are constantly touched by flawed relationships, sometimes our own. Gay couples struggle for acceptance, but rarely find it in church. Yes, their union is unnatural and immoral, just as the union of a remarried couple is unnatural and immoral, and yet should they not be warmly received as Christ's little children? What of a pedophile who is a brother, and yet daily struggles with their sickness. Should we not willingly walk the path of shame with them as they head off to court?

"Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'"


Preaching this sermon could well be the most stupid thing any minister ever did in their whole life! Yet, the question remains, is it true to the text?

Text - 19:1

The question on divorce, v1-12: i] The setting, v1-2.

oJte "when" - [and it came to pass] when [jesus finished these words]. Temporal conjunction, introducing a temporal clause. This phrase "and it came to pass" is used by Matthew at the end of a discourse to indicate its conclusion, cf., 7:28.

apo + gen. "[he left Galilee]" - [he departed] from [galilee]. Expressing separation; "away from."

thV IoudaiaV (a) gen. "of Judea" - [and came into the domain] of judea. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, idiomatic / locative; "into the border region which is located in Judea."

peran + gen. "to the other side of [the Jordan]" - across, beyond [the jordan river]. Spacial. See Synopsis above for the geographical problem raised by this statement.


autw/ dat. pro. "[followed] him" - [and a large crowd followed after] him [and he healed them]. Dative of direct object after the verb akolouqew, "to follow after."

ekei "there" - Adverb of place.


ii] The debate over the grounds for divorce, v3-9. "The fact that divorce was possible did not mean that it was to be sought. Rather, it was to be seen as a desperate last resort; every effort must be made to save a marriage", Morris. A sound perspective from Leon, but it rests on the assumption (probably true) that Jesus does not dispense with the Mosaic compromise when revealing the divine ideal.

autw/ dat. pro. "[came to] him" - [and pharisees came to] him. Dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to come to."

peirazonteV (peirazw) pres. part. "to test [him]" - The participle is adverbial, best taken as final expressing purpose; "in order to test him." Probably in the sense of putting a tricky question to Jesus that may flummox him, rather than trying to get him offside with the people or the authorities. The issue was one of general debate and it would not be seen as unreasonable for Jesus to hold an opinion on the issue.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "they asked" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to come to."

ei + ind. "[is it lawful]" - if [it is permissible, right, possible]. Here serving to introduce an interrogative object clause / dependent statement, direct question, expressing what the Pharisees asked. The question is not whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. Under Mosaic law it is lawful, but not lawful for a wife to divorce her husband. The question concerns the lawful grounds for divorcing a wife.; "Is a man permitted", Barclay. "Is there any ground on which it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife?", Turner.

anqrwpw/ (oV) dat. "for a man" - Dative of interest, advantage, or reference / respect.

apolusai (apoluw) aor. inf. "to divorce" - to release = divorce [the wife of him]. The infinitive is epexegetic, specifying what is lawful; "Is it lawful, namely, for a man ....."

kata + acc. "for [any and every reason]" - for [all reason]. Reference / respect; "with respect to, with reference to", or cause / ground, "on any and every ground", Moule. "On any pretext whatsoever", NJB, is somewhat disparaging of the Pharisees question; see Turner above. As already noted, the Pharisees are posing a question which relates to the grounds for divorce debated by the school of Hillel and Shammai. The school of Hillel, with regard to the "unseemly / indecent thing" proscribed as a ground for divorce by Moses, Deut:24:1-4, argued for any offense whatsoever. The school of Shammai took a stronger view arguing that the "unseemly thing" is adultery. Under the law adultery is punishable by death so the Mosaic compromise is possibly something less than adultery.


Jesus bases his argument on two truths. The first truth refers to the design of creation. By a creation ordinance God reveals that the nature of marriage is a union between a male and female. Jesus confirms the Biblical truth that humanity is designed for monogamous relationships between a man and a woman.

Socialist / Marxist political theory is fiercely opposed to this point of view such that the Christian church now faces moves against its freedom to articulate this fundamental Biblical truth. Thousands have died fighting for the principle of freedom of religion, but today Western societies are giving preference to the socialist principle of equality.

ouk "[have]n't [you read]" - This negation is used in a question expecting a positive answer.

apokriqeiV (apokrinomai) aor. pas. part. "he replied" - [but he] answering [said, have you not read]. Attendant circumstance participle, redundant.

oJti "that" - that [the one having created]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of direct speech expressing what Jesus said.

ap (apo) + gen. "at [the beginning]" - from [the beginning]. Adverbial use of the preposition, temporal, so "in the beginning", Barclay.

oJ krisaV (krizw) aor. part. "the Creator" - the one who creates. The participle serves as a substantive.

epoihsen (poiew) aor. "made" - he made [them male and female]. "Male and female" serve as the complement of the accusative object "them" standing in a double accusative construction.


The second truth, again a creation ordinance from Genesis. Sexual union between a man and woman creates a one-flesh union - a "persistent state" of "psychosexual unity", Nolland. Note the two requirements for a marriage in the eyes of God (they are not a church service / sacrament, or bit of paper from the government!!!):

a) a leaving a public declaration of the union;

b) a cleaving - sexual union;

= a God-designed permanent psychosexual union.

eJneka + gen. "for [this] reason" - [and he said] because of [this]. Usually causal, "because of", with toutou, "for this reason", as NIV. The reason for God's design of marriage as a persistent psychosexual unity is because he created humanity as male and female.

kataleiyei (kataleipw) fut. "[a man] will leave" - An imperatival future.

th/ gunaiki (h aikoV) dat. "to [his] wife" - [the father and the mother and will be joined / adhered to] the wife [of him]. Dative of direct object after to verb "to be joined to."

eiV + acc. "[become one flesh]" - [and the two will become / turn] into [one flesh]. Under Semitic influence eiV will sometimes introduce what is a predicate nominative, as here; "the two shall become one flesh", ESV.


Jesus draws a conclusion from the fact that marriage is a God-designed one-flesh union, namely, "let not man separate." Divorce entails the human undoing of a divine work. For this reason God declares "I hate divorce", Mal.2:16.

w{ste + ind. "so" - Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion; "so, thus, therefore, it follows that." Often with an infinitive, but with the indicative it "puts some emphasis on the actuality of the result", Morris.

alla "but [one flesh]" - [they are no longer two] but [one flesh]. Strong adversative used in a counterpoint construction; "no longer two but one flesh", ESV.

oun "therefore" - therefore [what god joined together let not man remove = separate]. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion. "Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder", English Prayer Book, 1662.


This is not so much a question as an objection to Jesus statement that God does not countenance divorce.

ti pro. "why" - [they say to him] why. Interrogative pronoun with the sense dia ti, "because why?"

oun "then" - therefore. Inferential; "so in view of the one-flesh proposition why ......?"

legousin (legw) pres. "they asked" - they said. Historic / narrative present tense.

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

eneteilato (entellw) aor. "[Moses] command" - did [moses] command. The word means "command" although Moses' command directs a former husband not to remarry a divorced wife. To be fair to Deuteronomy 24:1 the question would have to be something like "Why did Moses prescribe a regulation in the context of which he allowed for the possibility of a man to give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Mark has "permitted". The Pharisees are probably over selling the point in support of their argument, so "Why did Moses command ......?" best expresses what they are saying.

dounai (didwmi) aor. inf. "that a man give his wife" - to give. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Moses commanded, as NIV.

apostasiou (on) "[a certificate] of divorce" - [a scroll = certificate, notice, letter] of departure = dismissal = divorce. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "notice"; "a divorce notice." Legally a "writ of dismissal", Cassirer.

apolusai (apoluw) aor. inf. "[and] send [her] away" - [and] to send away = divorce (technical sense) [her]. The infinitive again introduces a dependent statement expressing what Moses commanded, namely, "that a man give a certificate of divorce and send her away." As noted above, Moses didn't actually command this.

authn pro. "her" - Variant, but present in "sends her from his house", Deut.24:1.


Divorce is not God's original intent for marriage, it is but a secondary allowance designed to restrict a hasty separation and to protect a wife from a vindictive husband. The Mosaic law addresses a time when men were casting off their wives. This left the wife legally married, but unable to remarry and so destitute, without any means of support. The regulation for a certificate of divorce freed the woman, enabling her to remarry. The regulation was a concession for an evil situation, rather than a modal to emulate.

legei (legw) "Jesus replied" - he said. Historic / narrative present tense, highlights Jesus' response.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - to them. Dative of indirect object.

oJti "-" - that. Here introducing a dependent statement, direct speech / recitative.

uJmin dat. pro. "[Moses permitted] you" - [moses, because of the hardness of the heart of you, permitted] you. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to allow."

apolusai (apoluw) aor. inf. "to divorce" - to release = divorce (technical) [the wives of you]. The infinitive is best classified as introducing an object clause / dependent statement of cause expressing what Moses permitted, namely, "gave you permission to divorce / that you may divorce your wife."

proV + acc. "because" - toward. The preposition here takes a rare causal sense; "because of, on account of" - a classical usage.

thn sklhrokardian (a) "[your] hearts were hard" - the hard-heartedness / stubbornness [of you]. Expressing an "obstinate refusal to respond to God's promptings", Zerwick; because "your hearts are quite impervious to the real commandment of God", Barclay. Given the contextual setting established by chapter 18, Phillips' paraphrase is worth considering: "because you knew so little of the meaning of love."

de "but" - but/and. Here adversative, as NIV.

ou{twV adv. "this way" - [from the beginning it was not to be] thus. Modal adverb, expressing manner; "God did not intend it to be that way", CEV.

ap (apo) + gen. "from [the beginning]" - from [beginning]. Temporal use of the preposition; "at the beginning."


The issue continues to be expressed in the terms of traditional culture, namely, that only a husband can initiate a divorce (there were mechanisms by this time for a wife to force an unfaithful husband to divorce her, but they were not part of Mosaic law). Jesus clearly states that remarriage is adulterous. Yet, taking kai as coordinative, the text implies that the act of divorce, as well as the act of remarriage, is adulterous. Jesus classifies divorce itself as adulterous in that by breaking the one-flesh union, opportunity is provided for the establishment of a new sexual relationship. The man who divorces his wife is then responsible for the adultery of the divorcee if she remarries, and also the adultery of her new husband, given that he is an adulterer by marrying a divorced woman, cf., 5:31-32.

de "-" - but/and. Here adversative, "but ....", indicating a further step in the dialogue.

uJmin dat. pro. "[I tell] you" - [i say] to you. Dative of indirect object.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Jesus says.

o}V an + subj. "anyone" - whoever [divorces the wife of him]. Introducing an indefinite relative clause which is conditional; "whoever divorces his wife ...... and marries another, then he commits adultery. The indefinite nature of the clause lies with the subject, "whoever", not with the consequences.

mh epi + dat. "except for" - not on. The preposition here expresses ground / cause, "on the ground of, basis of / because of"; "not on the ground of porneia." Best treated as an exceptive clause; "except for fornication." See "Interpretation" above for this exceptive clause. "Apart from the circumstance where the marriage has already been destroyed by sexual unfaithfulness", France. Note that the exception is not found in Mark or Luke. It is strange that Jesus would state an exception when revealing a divine ideal. Still, Jesus is only stating the obvious. If a one-flesh union has been destroyed by adultery then the sending away of the adulterer "was not simply permitted - it was required", Morris. None-the-less, the exception does dilute the impact of Jesus idealist ethic and for this reason is often classified as redactional (an editorial inclusion by Matthew).

porneia/ (a) dat. "sexual immorality" - all forms of sexual immorality = fornication, unchastity, sexual unfaithfulness, unlawful cohabitation, concubinage [and marries another commits adultery]. Initially the word is used of sexual relations between unmarried persons, but took on a wider usage.


iii] Celibacy, v10-12. These verses, unique to Matthew, seem somewhat incongruous, but it is very likely that Matthew has attached this saying of Jesus to the issue of divorce with a clear purpose in mind. One could conclude that this observation by the disciples "does them no credit", D&A ("misogynist", Nolland), but it more likely does them credit in that they have understood the perfection Jesus demands in relationships. They know well that marriages break down and don't wish their brothers and sisters accused before God if such should befall them. Jesus doesn't rebuke them, but rather explains that their suggestion is impractical. Celibacy only works for some, ie., those who can accept it. So, the Christian community will have to face the problem of failed marriages. Matthew provides the answer to the problem of failed relationships among believers in v13-15.

legousin (legw) pres. "said" - [the disciples of him] say. Again another historic / narrative present tense indicating a move in the dialogue, here to the disciples..

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

ei + ind. "if" - Introducing a conditional clause 1st. class were the proposed condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, thus is the situation of a man with the wife, then it is not good to marry." "If that's how it is between a man and a woman, it's better not to get married", CEV.

ou{twV adv. "this [is the situation]" - thus [is the case, position, matter, situation]. Predicate adverb.

tou anqrwpou (oV) gen. "between a husband" - of the man. The genitive is obviously adjectival, limiting the noun hJ aitia, "situation", possibly by specifying it, ie., epexegetic, "if this is the situation, namely, that adultery is consequent on the divorce of a man with his wife, then it is better not to marry." The genitive could also be treated as verbal, subjective, or, possessive, "if this is a man's situation." "If this is the only ground on which a man may divorce his wife", Barclay.

meta + gen. "and wife" - with [the woman / wife]. Expressing association; "in company with."

gamhsai (gamew) aor. inf. "to marry" - [it is better, good = advantageous, profitable, expedient not] to marry. The infinitive serves as the subject of the negated impersonal verb "it is not advantageous"; "to marry is not advantageous" = "it is better not to marry."


autoiV dat. "[Jesus replied]" - [but he said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

touton pro. "this [word]" - [not all have capacity for, hold = are able to comprehend, understand / accept] this [word = precept, idea]. Probably referring to the disciples' observation, so D&A, Nolland, but some commentators argue for Jesus' commandment, v9, so Gundry, it is even possible that the reference is forward looking.

all (alla) "but" - Strong adversative in a counterpoint construction; "not ...... but ....."

oi|V dat. pro. "only those to whom" - Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage.

didotai (didwmi) perf. pas. "it has been given" - Theological passive; God does the giving.


gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the celibate lifestyle is not suitable for everyone.

eunoucoi (oV) "eunuchs" - [there are] eunuchs. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. Used either figuratively, as in the last clause, or physically, as in the first two clauses. Used of a man who has been castrated and is therefore unable to reproduce. So, can't marry, and wouldn't want to, at least as regards sex.

oiJtineV pro. "who" - Indefinite pronoun, nominative subject of the verb "to be born."

ek + gen. "[who were born that way]" - from [womb of mother they were born thus]. Temporal use of the preposition, "from birth" = "when they were born." Presumably referring to a genetic defect which has affected their sexual capacity.

uJpo "by [others]" - [and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs] by [men]. Expressing agency. This refers to men who have been castrated, either as punishment, or for service in high office, usually associated with service to the family of an important official.

dia + acc. "for the sake of [the kingdom of heaven]" - [and there are eunuchs who make eunuchs of themselves] for [the kingdom of heaven]. Causal, "on account of", but here leaning toward benefit, "for the sake of / for the benefit of." "They make themselves eunuchs by renouncing marriage and parenthood because of the demands of the kingdom of heaven / to benefit the work of the kingdom of heaven." Jesus does not suggest that foregoing the joys of marriage is a higher calling, nor is there any suggestion that he has in mind castration.

oJ dunamenoV (dunamai) pres. mid. part. "the one who can" - the one being able. The participle serves as a substantive; "the one who is able."

cwrein (cwrew) aor. inf. "accept" - to accept, receive (and so act accordingly) [this let him accept, receive it]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the the substantive participle "the one being able." "If its right for you, then go for it."


iv] Welcoming little children, v13-15. The thematic force of chapters 17:24-20:34, namely, life in Christian community / brotherhood, is dominant in this little episode, indicating its important supportive function in relation to divorce and celibacy. All members of the Christian community are flawed, many with broken relationships, broken lives; as Jesus welcomes little children, so members of the fellowship must welcome, accept, and forgive the repentant sinner.

tote adv. "then" - The temporal adverb is used to indicate a step in the narrative, a common device in Matthew; "At that time ....." The sense is "next in time."

autw/ dat. pro. "to Jesus" - [they brought children] to him. Dative of indirect object. The paidia is diminutive, so "little children."

iJna + subj. "for" - that [the hands he might put on them and pray]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that ...."

autoiV dat. pro. "[place his hands on] them" - [put, placed, laid on] them. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to place on."

de "but" - but/and. Here adversative, as NIV.

autoiV dat. pro. "[rebuked] them" - [the disciples rebuked] them. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to rebuke." Probably not "rebuked the children", but the parents who dared to interrupt proceedings with their offspring.


Jesus' willingness to welcome little children to him is a beautiful picture, and one which reveals much of his divine character. At times Jesus has used children as a model for some particular spiritual truth, cf., 18:1-6, and here he reminds the disciples that children of grace / believers, those who possess the kingdom, in many ways share the qualities of little children - dependence / humility. In the immediate context Matthew uses the incident "as a paradigm for the conduct of disciples", Hagner. In Christ's name it is our task to welcome the children of grace, particularly those who are marred by sexual sin - divorced and remarried, etc.

In the wider context of compassion in Christian community, the pericope has something to say about what the Christian fellowship should do with children. If "welcome them" is the answer, then it is easy to understand why family baptism so quickly became part of life in the New Testament church - "he and all his household were baptized" (Yes, children are not mentioned and it is dangerous to argue from silence, but none-the-less the statement presents as inclusive).

elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "come [to me]" - [but jesus said allow the children and do not hinder them] to come [to me]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to hinder." The disciples' attitude toward the children is wrong.

gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the disciples should not hinder the children from coming to him. Because "the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like them", Morris.

toioutwn gen. pro. "such as these" - of such [is the kingdom of heaven]. The demonstrative pronoun serves as a substantive, the genitive being adjectival, possessive, identifying the possession of a derivative characteristic; "such people share in (the God of) heaven's reign", Olmstead.


epiqeiV (epitiqhmi) aor. part. "when he placed his hand on" - [and] having placed on. The participle is adverbial, best taken as temporal, as NIV.

autoiV dat. pro. "them" - them [the/his hands]. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to place on."

ekeiqen adv. "[he went on] from there" - [he departed] from there. Adverb of place.


Matthew Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]