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

ii] Wealth and the kingdom


A young man approaches Jesus and asks "what good" he must do "to have eternal life." Jesus questions his use of "good", given that only God is good, and then, in answer to his question, tells him to "keep the commandments." The young man asks which ones and Jesus lists five of the neighborly commandments, concluding with the catchall, "love your neighbor as yourself." The young man indicates he has kept all these, so what more is required. Jesus suggests that he sell all that he has and give it to the poor. The young man leaves "grieving" because he has many possessions.

Jesus goes on to point out that it is hard for a person with possessions to enter the kingdom of heaven. The disciples are shocked, "who then can be saved?" Jesus points out that all things are possible for God. Peter, as usual, puts his foot in it by pointing out that the apostles have made substantial financial sacrifices in following Jesus. In response, Jesus reminds them of the abundance of eternal reward which will far outweigh any sacrifice they may have made. Peter goodie-two-shoes would do well to remember that God tends to take those who are last in line and puts them up the front.


The reign of Christ is gracious such that the last in line are placed first, the unrighteous made righteous by grace apart from works of the law. The Christian community must emulate this gracious reign, accepting / forgiving the broken-hearted.


i] Context: See 19:1-15 - The subject matter of the 4th Narrative, 19:1-20:34, concerns membership in the kingdom of God / life in Christian community / brotherhood, or as Carson puts it "life under kingdom authority." At the center is love, particularly focused on forgiving a brother or sister, accepting them warts and all, leading a lost brother back into the fold rather than driving them away. This pivotal issue is the subject of the 4th. Discourse, 17:24-18:35, and flavors the issues of reconciliation, forgiveness, acceptance, precedence / status, raised in this the related 4th Narrative section. Together this major section of the gospel, 17:24-20:34, serves to guide the business of living in Christian community.


ii] Structure: Wealth and the kingdom:

On grace and reward in the kingdom, v16-30:

A pronouncement story, v16-22;

Discourse on wealth, v23-26:


"only with difficulty

will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven."

"it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle

than for a rich man ....."

"with God all things are possible."

Discourse on eternal reward, v27-30:


"in the new world ......

you who have followed me will sit on twelve thrones ..."

"everyone who has left houses ...

will receive a hundredfold and ..."

"but many who are first will be last, and the last first."


iv] Interpretation:

In the pericope The Rich Young Ruler we are confronted by a goodly number of propositional truths: Eschatological reversal - the first will be last and the last first; The world - the enslaving power of mammon; Ethics - the eternal worth of the moral law, summarized in neighborly love; Eschatology - eternal reward / blessings.

Above all there is Justification - salvation is by grace through faith apart from works of the law. This young man is a nomist; born to the family of Abraham, an inheritor of the covenant under the grace of God, striving to progress his holiness through obedience to the law that he may receive in full the promised blessings of the covenant. He is a good man. Well! Not really, only God is good; but he strives to be good. So, it is not unreasonable for him to look for some necessary extra good deed to assure his appropriation of the fullness of God's promised blessings, of salvation. Of course, he can't do the extra, and even if he thought he could, Jesus would load him up with even more law to force him to face his sinful condition. So finally, he recognizes his condition and is "sad". Salvation, and thus the full appropriation of the blessings of the covenant, cannot be gained through a faithful application of Biblical law; the human condition simply does not allow it - easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. So, who can be saved? For we mere mortals it is impossible, but for God, all things are possible by grace through faith.


Again the overall message of this passage is shaped by its context. Although Bacon, Studies in Matthew, argues that the narratives at this point (on "the subject of domestic affairs", D&A,"; a "focus for fresh assessment in light of the kingdom", Nolland; "the unimportance of worldly influence in the kingdom of heaven", France) look forward to the 5th. Discourse, The Kingdom's Coming, it seems more likely that they reflect the 4th. Discourse, The Christian Community, with its focus on brotherhood / love / compassion. Gundry, who holds that the narrative looks back to the 4th. discourse, suggests that from Matthew's point of view we have another paradigm of acceptance, and this does seem to be the case. We have a rich young man who stands broken before the Lord - "he went away sad." Like him, we are all locked into this world's things and therefore face exclusion from the kingdom, but thankfully, our impossible situation is not impossible for God. We also have self-righteous disciples who are impressed with their material sacrifice for the kingdom. They seem to have forgotten that they will reign with Christ and that whatever sacrifice they may have had to make in this life is far outweighed by the eternal bounty that will be theirs in the new age of the kingdom. They need to act graciously, be like the God who takes the last in line and makes them first, otherwise they may find themselves last, and a wealthy repentant young man first. Welcome / accept the lupoumenoV, "the distressed one", rather than lord it over him.


Two Biblical propositions, sometimes drawn from this passage, that are questionable:

• Wealth hinders entry into the kingdom of heaven - "riches pose a profound barrier to engagement with the kingdom", Nolland. The truth is otherwise! The disciples' reaction to Jesus' words indicate that as far as they are concerned, Jesus' use of plousioV, "rich", is inclusive, not exclusive. This is evident in their response: "who then can be saved?" Everyone, even the poor, have a myriad of human attachments which they cherish. The young man may have had kthmata polla, "many possessions", but the quantity of mammon is not the problem. The totality of life corrupted by sin hinders the spiritual enlightenment of humanity, rich and poor alike.


• Jesus demands that those who would follow him must sever all social and economic ties - "the absolute claim of the kingdom upon a disciple's life..... Discipleship is a matter of total, undistracted, and unqualified commitment", Hagner. For some commentators, this is literally so, others will add the qualifier, "be willing to." This qualifier is a bit like a priest in a church service, raising high the offertory plate before the altar ("communion table" for my Low Church friends!!) and quietly saying the prayer, "Lord, please take what you want and we'll keep the rest." "Willing!" Ho-hum.

It is a mistake to read Jesus' command "go sell" as a requirement for discipleship. Even if it were a requirement for the young man it is not necessarily a requirement for anyone else - a command to a specific person at a specific point in time is not necessarily a command to all people for all time. The young man is a nomist, pursuing holiness / sanctification for the full appropriation of the promised covenant blessings. This is expressed in his "what do I still lack", and underscored by Jesus' "if you want to be perfect." Jesus is forcing the young man to recognize that perfection, and thus the appropriation of the promised covenant blessings, is apart from works of the law. This man is going to have to find another way to attain his goal. So, the sell all is not a requirement for discipleship. Cross-bearing discipleship is a light burden, an easy yoke (Matt.11:30), for Jesus carries the cross for us; we but surrender to the one who was broken for us, cf., 16:24.


iii] Synoptics:

This episode is found in both Mark and Luke, with Mark 10:17-31 usually taken to be the source for both Matthew and Luke. There are some interesting changes worth noting:

• Matthew has "why do you ask me about what is good?", whereas both Mark and Luke have "why do you call me good?". Matthew's change removes the possible conclusion that Jesus is not good;

• Matthew adds the neighborly command, "love your neighbor as yourself";

• Matthew has "if you would be perfect", whereas Mark and Luke has "one thing you lack." This change emphasizes the flaw in the young man's nomist theology;

• Matthew adds "how will it be with us?" to Peter's statement "we have left everything to follow you", making clear the unworthiness of Peter's comment;

• Matthew lists the first reward as "judging the twelve tribes of Israel." This is not found in Mark, but Luke concludes with a similar statement;

• Matthew, has no present reward, as listed in Mark 10:30, so also Luke;

• Both Matthew and Mark have leaving of family etc. Luke has "those who have stood by me in my trials", 22:28.

There is little agreement between Luke and Matthew against Mark. The priority of Mark is affirmed by most scholars.

Text - 19:16

Grace and reward in the kingdom, v16-30: i] A rich young man learns that keeping the commandments is not enough for salvation, v16-22. This story is sometimes used as a call to abandon the world and follow Christ, with Peter's observation serving as an example of leaving all, v27, for which reward is offered, v28-29. This interpretation should be rejected; see above.

proselqwn aor. part. "just then [a man] came up to" - [and behold one] having approached. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to say", "came up ..... and asked", but it may be taken to introduce a temporal clause, as NIV.

ei|V adj. "a man" - a certain one. The adjective serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb to-be.

autw/ dat. pro. "Jesus" - him. Dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to come to."

poihsw (poiew) aor. subj. "[said, what good thing] must i do" - [what good] may/shall i do. Deliberative subjunctive.

iJna + subj. "to [get]" - that [i may have eternal life]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that ...." "What good thing must I do to secure eternal life (life in all its fullness)", Phillips.


Matthew's account of Jesus' words is smoother than Mark's "why do you call me good?" Matthew may have wanted to avoid the suggestion that Jesus is not good, but the following words can still lead to this conclusion. The wording serves to focus the young man's attention on God, "the good is one", and thus establish the truth that to enter into life a person must keep the commandments of "the one." Jesus is good, but here "the good one" is God.

ti pro. "why" - [and he said to him] why. Here the interrogative pronoun is used adverbially for seeking the reason for an action.

peri + gen. "about" - [do you ask me] about. Expressing reference / respect; "about, concerning."

tou agaqou adj. "what is good" - the good [one is good]. The article specifies; there is only one who is good and so therefore "the good" is what he commands.

ei + ind. "if" - [but] if [as is the case, you wish to enter into life, then keep the commandments]. Introducing a conditional clause 1st. class where the proposed condition is assumed to true; "If you wish to know how to find entry into the realm where true life is to be found, the answer is: keep the commandments", Cassirer.

eiselqein (eisercomai) aor. inf. "[you want] to enter [life]" - The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to will." Since qelw, "I will", is a cognitive verb it is possible to classify the infinitive as introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what is desired, namely, "that you may enter into life (possess eternal life)."

eiV + acc. "-" - into [life]. Here expressing goal. If the man's goal in life is to gain eternal life, then he must obey the commandments. He is about to learn a very important lesson. Obeying God's commands is well beyond him and so he will have to find another way to gain eternal life.


The same list is provided by Mark and Luke with Matthew adding the great commandment, love of neighbor, cf., 5:43, 22:39. The order of the social commandments is interesting. For some reason, the honoring of parents is not first, and the commandment not to covet is left out (does Matthew add love of neighbor to make up for the loss?). Matthew drops Marks' "you shall not defraud" (as does Luke) - it is not found in the ten commandments so why does Mark include it? Matthew follows the LXX by using the future tense; Mark uses a negated subjunctive. Despite these differences, Jesus simply provides a representative list of moral requirements, and this is made clear by the catch-all great commandment.

poiaV pro. "Which ones" - [he says to him] what kind of commandment / which ones. Interrogative pronoun. Barclay has "what kind of commandment", what type of commandment does Jesus have in mind? Possibly implying that some special kind of commandment must be obeyed to gain eternal life. The pronoun certainly has this sense, "of what quality or sort", but it can just be used with the sense "which"; "'which do you mean', asked the man", Rieu.

legei (legw) pres. "he inquired" - he says. Narrative / historic present, probably serving to indicate a change in speaker.

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

de "[Jesus replied]" - but, and [jesus said]. Transitional, indicating a step in the dialogue; "And so Jesus said to him ..."

to "-" - the. The neuter article is often used to introduce a quotation and that is probably its use here, but possibly it just means "such as, for example." It could also be a nominalizer, turning the list of verbs (future tense serving as imperatives, except tima, "honor", present imperative) into the direct object of an assumed verb "to keep"; "you must keep the command do not murder, do not commit adultery ....."; see Olmstead p.115.


panta adj. "all" - [the young man says to him] all. Emphatic by position.

efulaxa (fulassw) aor. "[these] I have kept" - [these commands] i kept / guarded = observed. "I have carefully kept all these", Phillips.

legei autw/ "[the young man] said" - [the young man] says to him. See v18.

eti adv. "[what do I] still [lack]?" - [what] still [am I lacking, failing, falling short]? Temporal adverb, used here with a quantitative sense, numerical rather than temporal. The young man is aware that he is lacking in the spiritual department, so "what else must I do?" CEV.


"Jesus demands not alms but everything", D&A. Actually, perfection has always been God's standard for entrance into the kingdom of heaven, necessitating alignment with Abraham and the righteousness which is by grace through faith. Even the Torah, with all its divine concessions to the human inclination toward selfish indulgence, was never achievable. So, Jesus was teaching this young man an invaluable lesson, he was not promoting "something new, a novel change engendered by the nature of discipleship and the greater righteousness announced by 5:20", D&A. "The greater righteousness" is given, not earned, because it can never be earned!

autw/ dat. pro. "[Jesus answered]" - [jesus said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

ei + ind. "if" - Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, you will to be perfect, then go sell the possessions of you and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heavens."

einai (eimi) pres. inf. "[you want] to be" - [you wish] to be. The infinitive is usually classified as complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to wish, will", but it can be classified as introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what is desired.

teleioV adj. "perfect" - Predicate adjective. The word has the sense of reaching completeness; "If you would be perfect / complete", here, achieve perfection in service to God. Jesus is not implying that there are two types of disciples, normal everyday / secular disciples, married with possessions, and "perfect" / religious disciples who own nothing, having dedicated themselves totally to Christ - a kind of clergy / laity situation. "Perfect" is just that, the divine requirement for entrance into the kingdom of God (and as my carpenter uncle would always say, particularly when me had just made a mistake, and after some colorful words, "there has only ever been one perfect carpenter").

ta uJparconta (uJparcw) pres. part. "[your] possessions" - [go sell] the things existing = the possessions [of you]. The participle serves as a substantive.

toiV ptwcoiV adj. "to the poor" - [and give] to the poor. The adjective serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object. As already noted, Jesus' injunction is determined by the circumstance facing the young man at the time and does not establish a general proposition. Like the Pharisees, who would burden their disciples with an impossible weight of rules and regulations, too many sermons have weighed believers down with the call to "leave all and follow Jesus." The congregation is left to struggle with guilt and so is forced to adopt guilt dissipation techniques, (eg., focus on the sins of others - speck removal!), or worse, simply give up because it's all too hard.

en + dat. "[treasure] in [heaven]" - [and you will have treasure] in [the heavens]. Local, expressing space / sphere. If the young man were to give up what he possessed in its totality, then he would possess something in heaven which is obviously of far greater worth. He would give up what he can't take with him beyond death, for something that he can possess for eternity. The treasure is surely eternal life / salvation. Given that it is totally impractical, if not impossible, to give up everything to the poor, to love his neighbor in totality, then he is going to have to find another way to gain the treasure; he will need to discover the source of a righteousness which exceeds that of the Scribes and the Pharisees.

deuro "then come" - [and] come!. Interjection. The NIV "then come" implies that the series of moral injunction must necessarily be done first, but "come follow me" stands in its own right.

moi dat. pro. "[follow] me" - Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow after." The "follow" = "follow as a disciple."


As already noted, the response of the young man, his going away sad, is usually classed as one of loss, but his reaction is correct in that he has come face to face with his human condition. The disciples, on the other hand, are the ones who could find themselves lost / last!!!

akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "when [the young man] heard" - [and/but] having heard [the word the young man]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

lupoumenoV (lupew) pres. mid./pas. part. "sad" - [departed] grieving, being distressed, sad. The participle is adverbial, best treated as modal, expressing the manner of his going.

gar "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why he "went away sad." "He went on his way full of sorrow for he had great possessions", Cassirer.

ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "he had [great wealth]" - [he was] having [much possessions]. This participle with the imperfect verb to-be h\n forms a periphrastic imperfect construction possibly emphasizing durative aspect; "he was holding on tight to a lot of things and he couldn't let go", Peterson.


ii] Jesus addresses the subject of wealth and salvation, v23-26. The sayings serve as a commentary on Jesus' encounter with the young man. Matthew does not record the statement made in Mark 10:24 concerning the difficulty for everyone to enter the kingdom of heaven, although in the end, it is everyone, since everyone is like the young man - we all have kthmata, "possessions." In the saying before us Jesus uses the word plousioV, "rich, wealthy", none-the-less the disciples take the word as inclusive; this is evidenced by their response "who then can be saved?" What is impossible for humanity is possible for God.

de "-" - but/and. Possibly slightly adversative, "but Jesus said", but primarily indicating a step in the narrative.

toiV maqhtaiV (hV ou) dat. "to [his disciples]" - [jesus said] to the disciples [of him]. Dative of indirect object.

uJmin dat. pro. "[truly I tell] you" - [truly I say] to you. Dative of indirect object. Jesus tends to say "truly I say to you" when he wants to make an important point.

oJti "-" - that. Recitative / introducing an dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Jesus says.

duskolwV adv. "it is hard" - with difficulty [a rich person will enter into the kingdom of heavens]. Modal adverb, expressing manner. "Whatever our wealth, great or small, it can tempt us to self-sufficiency", Morris.

plousioV adj. "someone who is rich" - rich. The adjective serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to enter into"; "a rich person." The word has limited use in the NT and so it is not overly clear who this "rich person" represents. The person is often identified as a wealthy person, and given that wealth is a sign of God's blessings, it is understandable why the disciples would be "astonished" at Jesus' words. Yet, it seems more likely that the disciples' reaction is driven by their inclusion with the rich. Peter will make a point of their having divested themselves of their wealth / possessions for the kingdom (partly divested would be a better description since we know that they still owned homes (Andrew), boats (Peter), .......).

thn basileian twn ouranwn "the kingdom of heaven" - See 3:2. Note Matthew's use of "kingdom of God" in the linked saying in v24, indicating that he is not totally opposed to use of the divine identifier. Note also that kingdom terminology is not always used of participation in the promised blessings of the covenant, eg., "enter into life", v17.


This hyperbolic analogy, contrasting the largest animal with the smallest hole, emphasizes the impossibility of crossing the divide between Mammon and God. The story about the gate in the city wall of Jerusalem called "the eye of the needle" where a rider would have to bow down to get through it has thankfully been put to bed, although probably not after a million sermons have been delivered on the subject (The Eye of Needle sermon = a rich person can get to heaven if they bow in allegiance to Jesus). Strange as it may seem, the proposition proclaimed in The Eye of a Needle sermon is true, so all those sermons based on a myth were true to the gospel because they were grace orientated, while the Cross Bearing Discipleship sermons that pushed for a divesting of wealth for eternal blessing were not true to the gospel because they were law orientated (being a pietist in my youth you can guess which line I took!).

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

eukapwteron adj. "easier" - Comparative adjective in the predicate position.

dielqein (diercomai) aor. inf. "to go through" - [a camel] to pass through [the eye of a needle is easier]. The infinitive forms a noun clause which serves as the subject of the verb to-be estin, "is". The accusative subject of the infinitive is the noun "camel".

dia + gen. "through" - Spacial. Redundant given the dia prefix verb "to pass through", but usual form.

rJofidoV (iV idoV) gen. "[the eye] of a needle" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

h] "than" - or = than. Here serving as a comparative.

plousion adj. "someone who is rich" - The adjective serves as the accusative subject of the infinitive "to enter into."

eiselqein (eisercomai) aor. inf. "to enter into" - [a rich person] to enter into [into the kingdom of god is]. The infinitive forms a noun clause which serves as the subject of the assumed verb to-be, estin, "is".

eiV + acc. "into" - Redundant use of the preposition, given the eiV prefix verb "to enter into", but usual form.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[the kingdom] of God" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive, but it can be treated as verbal, subjective, where the sense is taken to mean "reign of God"; see 3:2.


de "-" - but/and. Indicating a step in the dialogue.

akousanteV (akouw) aor. part. "when [the disciples] heard this" - having heard this. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

exeplhssonto (ekplhssw) imperf. "they were [greatly] astonished" - [the disciples] were amazed [greatly]. The imperfect is durative expressing a continuing state. The verb "to be astonished, amazed, overwhelmed" is reinforced by the adverb sfodra, "very much"; "completely overwhelmed", Cassirer, "the disciples were staggered", Peterson.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "and asked" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "they were amazed"; "they were astonished and said."

ara "[who] then" - therefore [who]. Inferential / drawing a logical conclusion.

swqhnai (swzw) aor. pas. inf. "[can] be saved" - [is able] to be saved. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to be able."


"Here the notion is antithetical to that of human impotence: regarding salvation, only God has strength", D&A.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the dialogue - from the disciples back to Jesus.

embleyaV (emblepw) aor. part. "looked" - [jesus] having looked hard at/on, looked straight at them. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said". "Jesus fixed his gaze on them and said."

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - to them. [jesus said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

para + dat. "with" - with [men this is impossible]. Expressing sphere; "in the sight of / in the sphere of" = "in the sphere in which man / God operates" = "with men / God." "It is impossible for anyone to get into heaven on their own merits; but, God can do anything", Junkins

de , "but" - but [with God all things are possible]. Adversative / contrastive; what may be impossible for mankind, is not impossible for God. "Is anything too hard for the Lord", Gen.18:14. Of course, the panta, "all things", must be qualified in that God cannot act against his own nature, eg., he can't be unjust because he is by nature a just God. It is because he is a gracious / merciful / loving God that salvation for the human race, a people entrapped by Mammon, is possible.


iii] Eternal reward, v27-30. Peter's announcement that, unlike the young man, the apostles have cast off the fetters of human attachment, suits Matthew's overall context of active compassion in Christian community. Peter's we're up pull the ladder up serves as a paradigm of what not to do. What happened to going in search of the lost sheep? The young man surely represents "the one that went astray." Peter will soon demonstrate that he is no different to that young man when, faced with a threat to that most important of human attachments, life itself, he denies his Lord three times. We are all in lock-step with Mammon; we are all in the same boat. The disciples will reign with Christ in eternity because God made it "possible", not because they have "left everything to follow" Christ. What Peter needs to work on is reigning here, "to serve rather than be served", cf., 20:24-28. The disciples may suffer loss along the way, but the blessings of eternity will far outweigh any loss here. So, we are reminded to adopt the mind / eye of Christ and make the last in line first.

tote adv. "-" - then. Temporal adverb, serving to indicate a step in the dialogue; "Then Peter said in reply", ESV.

apokriqeiV (apokrinomai) aor. pas. part. "answered" - having answered. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said", redundant / pleonastic; "Peter answered and said."

autw/ "-" - [peter said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

idou "-" - behold. Interjection; "See, we have left everything", ESV.

hJmeiV pro. "we" - Emphatic by position and use; "Here we are, having given up everything we possessed", Cassirer.

panta adj. "everything" - [left] all. The adjective serves as a substantive. Peter is gilding the lily somewhat! Well, of course, he is a fisherman!!!!

soi dat. pro. "you" - [and followed] you. Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow." "Followed" = to follow as a disciple.

ti pro. "what" - Interrogative pronoun. Peter's question, "what reward will we get?", is found only in Matthew. It is less than flattering for Peter, but it serves Matthew's purpose, clearly exposing Peter's behavior as a negative example of life in Christian community; contra Morris, Nolland, .. Hagner notes "a certain self-satisfaction" in Peter's statement and question. Carson argues that Jesus' response to Peter serves as "a gentle rebuke."

ara "then" - therefore. Inferential / drawing a logical conclusion.

hJmin dat. pro. "for us" - [will be] to us. Dative of interest, advantage, or possession; "what will we get?" CEV.


Jesus' reference to the reign of his disciples in "the new era that is really new, a new creation", Manson, is not found in Mark, although interestingly a similar idea is found in Luke 22:30, being the last verse of his record of this pericope: "so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Again, Matthew's inclusion of this saying (or is it Mark's removal of this saying????) serves his contextual purpose of compassion in Christian community. The nature of reigning with Christ entails service rather than status. This idea is developed in 20:24-28 in the context of James and John seeking positions of authority in the kingdom. Reigning is serving.

oJ de IhsouV eipen autoiV amhn legw umin "Jesus said to them, 'Truly I tell you'" - but/and jesus said to them, 'truly I say to you'. For the syntax see v23.

oJti "-" - that [the ones having followed me]. Introducing a dependent statement of direct speech expressing what Jesus says to the disciples.

en + dat. "at" - in. Local, sphere, "in the new world", ESV, or temporal, as NIV.

th/ paliggenesia/ (a) dat. "the renewal of all things" - the regeneration, rebirth. The only other use of this word in the NT is found in Titus and there it refers to personal regeneration, but here a more technical sense is likely. Manson states that the Stoics used the word for "the beginning of a new cycle in the cosmic process" and that the Jews then took it up to refer to the new age of the coming kingdom, of the "cosmic renewal of the world reflected in Matt.5:18, 24:35, where the passing away of the present heaven and earth is anticipated", Nolland. "At the time of the restoration of all things", Cassirer.

oJtan + subj. "when" - whenever. This construction introduces an indefinite temporal clause, translated as definite.

oJ uiJoV tou anqrwpou "the Son of Man" - See 8:20.

epi + gen. "[sits] on" - [may sit] upon [throne of glory of him]. Spacial; "down upon." Ref., Dan.7:9, 13.

oiJ akolouqhsanteV (akolouqew) aor. part. "[you] who have followed" - [you] the ones having followed. The participle is probably best classified as a substantive standing in apposition to the emphatic uJmeiV, "you".

moi dat. pro. "me" - Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow."

uJmeiV pro. "-" - you [also will sit upon twelve thrones]. Emphatic by use.

kai "also" - and. Here adjunctive; "also".

krinonteV (krinw) pres. part. "judging" - judging [the twelve tribes]. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the sitting. It seems likely that "judging" is being used in the OT sense of "reigning / governing", of the management of divine affairs; "rule", TEV. "The eschatological rule of disciples with their Lord is also found in Rev.3:21, 20:6", Hagner.

tou Israhl gen. "of Israel" - The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic, limiting the twelve tribes by specifying them. By this time it was really just Levities, Judah and Benjamin (half tribe) = Israel. This "rule" may be exercised over "an eschatological Israel with the reconstituted twelve tribes", Hagner. It seems unlikely that this "rule" is exercised just by the twelve apostles, but rather by all believers who have followed Jesus, particularly as "rule" = service.


This verse seems to imply that "leaving" human attachments is a requirement of discipleship and that such sacrifices are bountifully rewarded in the afterlife. That "wife" and "children" are included in the human attachments to be afhken, "left, abandoned", should warn us to tread warily. If we are not careful, God's abundant natural blessings can become the god Mammon for us, particularly as Luther observed, "the old Adam retains his power until he is deposited in the grave." So, there will always be tension in the Christian life between the sacred and the secular, but that doesn't mean we are required to leave all to follow Christ. Salvation is not attained by the sacrifice of human attachments, but by dependence on the one perfect Son of God who sacrificed the totality of his human attachments on our behalf. There will be sacrifice in the Christian life, and this because we follow in the footsteps of the Man of Sorrows, but whatever the sacrifice, it does not compare with the glory that will one day be ours.

o{stiV pro. "[everyone] who" - [and anyone] whoever. The indefinite relative pronoun serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to abandon."

afhken (afihmi) aor. "has left" - left, abandoned [home or brothers or sister or father or mother or children or lands].

eneken + gen. "for" - on account of. Causal, "because of, on account of", leaning toward benefit, "for the sake of", so "for my name."

tou onomatoV (a atoV) gen. "[my] sake" - the name [of me]. "The name" = the whole person; "for me", CEV.

lhmyetai (lambanw) fut. "will receive" - will receive [a hundred times and will inherit life eternal]. Not a hundred houses etc., but "uncountable blessings", Morris.


This saying about the great reversal has produced a number of colorful interpretations: First / Last = Jew / Gentiles (the Church Fathers); Rich / poor (liberal theologians); "The highly esteemed and held to be first in this worlds order of things" / the lowly esteemed who "have not accepted the false values of the world but have set their sights on the service of God", Morris; Disciples who are called first / disciples who are called last ......... Carson suggests that the saying serves "as a way of setting forth God's grace ..... Those who approach God in childlike trust (vv.13-15) will be received and advanced in the kingdom." This does seem likely, so the gracious, humble = the last who end up first, as opposed to those who claim status in their own right = the first who end up last. Carson goes on to suggest that the "first" are "the rich, powerful, great, and prominent", but I suspect that they are not so easily identified. It is more likely that the "first" are nomists who claim status before God in their own right, eg., the Pharisees. They are easily identified by their inclination to remove specks from people's eyes while ignoring the log in their own (eg., Peter; "we have left everything"!!!). God is a God who takes the last in line and makes them first. Within Matthew's context of compassion in Christian community, believers need to adopt the same way of thinking, the same eye.

kai "and" - [but/and many first will be last] and [last first]. Coordinative; "This is the great reversal; many of the first ending up last and the last first", Peterson.


Matthew Introduction

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