11. Old is out; new is in, 21:1-23:9

ix] Whose son is the Christ?


Matthew now records the last question of a series of four, this time put by Jesus himself. This Q & A session took place while Jesus was teaching in the temple during the week before his arrest and crucifixion. Jesus has answered the questions put by the religious authorities and now he sets out to silence them with a question focused squarely on their area of expertise. Whose son is the messiah? The Pharisees answer "the son of David." Jesus then asks, How can king David refer to the coming messiah as "my Lord" if he is merely a son / descendant? Obviously, the messiah is something more than just a nationalist leader, someone greater than an earthly king. "No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions."


The messiah may be a descendant of David, but he's something more than that, and we would do well not to dismiss him lightly.


i] Context: See 22:15-22. From the moment of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem he was in conflict with the religious authorities of old Israel, particularly the Pharisees. The cleansing of the temple, the cursing of the fig tree, the question of authority, the parables of the two sons and the great feast, have all exposed old Israel's rejection of Christ and thus the condemnation now faced by God's historic people. In like manner, the four questions (disputations) expose Israel's rejection of Jesus as the Christ and so serve to introduce Jesus' condemnation of Jewish Pharisaism in chapter 23.


ii] Structure: Whose son is the Christ?:

Setting, v41;

Jesus poses a question, v42a, b;

An answer by the authorities, v42c;

Two more questions by Jesus, v43-5;

Conclusion, v46:

"no one could say a word in reply ...."


iii] Interpretation:

Standing in its own right, this scholastic dialogue reveals the simple truth that the messiah is a person of greater significance than just a descendent of David (it does not imply that Jesus is not a descendant of David). The Christological implication is that Jesus is the Son of God, although Jesus doesn't make this point.

Again we have an issue, here theological, which fits in with Matthew's wider context of the coming of the Son of Man, both to bless and to curse. The Pharisees are silenced by Jesus' question and his analysis of messiah's person. Indeed, old Israel stands cursed. "Jesus' message has rung true, but the result here is not a response to his call to come to the wedding banquet, but instead withdrawal from engagement with him", Nolland. The message to the reader is one of warning: Don't become a Christian Pharisee or you will stand condemned as they are. "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." This exceeding righteousness is only found in union with Christ, by grace through faith, apart from works of the law.


iv] Synoptics:

This question is recorded in all three synoptic gospels. Mark's observation that the crowd "listened to him with delight" is not found in Matthew, given that old Israel is in the spotlight here, silenced and condemned. Matthew specifically notes that the crowd Jesus addresses is made up of Pharisees, it is old Israel who hears and disengages with Jesus. Mark is usually identified as Matthew's source, although mutual oral independence is possible.

Text - 22:41

Whose son is the Messiah? v41-46. i] Setting, v41

sunhgmenwn (sunagw) gen. perf. mid./pas. part. "while [the Pharisees] were gathered together" - [the pharisees] having gathered together [jesus asked them]. The participle stands in a genitive absolute construction, usually treated as temporal, as NIV. "When a group of Pharisees had come to him, Jesus put a question to them", Barclay.

v42a, b

ii] Jesus poses a question, v42a, b.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle, redundant, "Jesus asked them and said ....", or adverbial, modal, expressing manner, how Jesus asked them, "asked them saying ..."

ti pro. "what" - Interrogative pronoun; "what is your opinion concerning God's anointed?", Cassirer.

uJmin dat. pro. "you [think]" - [seems] to you. Dative of direct object after the verb dokew, "to think", dative of persons when transitive / interest, advantage / possibly adverbial, reference, respect.

peri + gen. "about [the Messiah]" - concerning [the christ]. Expressing reference / respect; "about, concerning."

tinoV pro. "whose" - whose [son is he]? Interrogative pronoun.

tou Dauid gen. proper "[son] of David" - The genitive is adjectival, relational. The title is messianic, but strictly it indicates "descendant of David." It was a popular messianic title because of its nationalist overtones, and for this reason Jesus avoided it. Although popular, David's links to the messiah are not overly strong, cf., Jer.23:5, 33:15 for the branch raised up out of David, and the "branch" allusions in Isa.11:1 and Zech.3:8, 6:12.


iii] An answer by the authorities, v42c.

autw/ dat. pro. "[they replied]" - [they said] to him [the one = son of david]. Dative of indirect object.


iv] Jesus poses two more questions, v43-45.

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

pwV "how is it" - how. Interrogative use of the particle, here as a direct question, rhetorical.

oun "then" - therefore. Inferential.

en + dat. "by [the Spirit]" - [is david able] in [spirit]. Instrumental, expressing means / agency, "under the influence of", BAGD. The statement asserts that the word of the Psalm is authoritative, it is divine revelation. Like the prophets, David looks into heaven where he beholds the one he calls "my lord", enthroned at the right hand of the Ancient of Days. Mark implies that "my lord" is Jesus, the Christ, and certainly he is affirmed as such by the early church. "David, moved by the Holy Spirit", Barclay.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "for he says" - [call him lord] saying. The participle is adverbial, possibly causal, as NIV, or temporal, "when he says."


kurioV (oV) "The Lord" - lord. Nominative subject of the verb "to say." This first use of "Lord" in the Hebrew text is the word used for God, YHWH. The second use is the word adonay, a word for master, king, ruler, so "lord". The LXX uses kurioV for both, as here. Taking the Psalm as a coronation hymn, "the first Lord refers to God and the second to the king; that is, at his coronation the king of Israel was inducted as God's vicegerent and seated symbolically at God's right hand", Edwards.

tw/ kuriw/ (oV) dat. "[said] to [my] Lord" - Dative of indirect object, with the genitive pronoun mou, "my", probably expressing subordination, "said to the Lord over me"; David recognizes "my lord" "as his superior rather than his son", France.

ek + gen. "at [my right hand]" - [sit] of [right of me]. Technically expressing separation in this phrase, but logically expressed locally, "at", as NIV. "The right hand signified honor and closeness to God, and legitimacy to rule with dominion and justice", Edwards. The sitting position denotes authority / co-regency; David's Lord sits at the right hand of the Lord God. This too is the position assumed by Daniel's Son of Man.

e{wV an + subj. "until" - until [i put the enemies of you under the feet of you]. Introducing an indefinite temporal clause, future time, as NIV.

uJpakatw + gen. "under" - under, beneath [the feet of you]. Spacial. Expressing subservience.


ei "if" - Conditional clause third class where the proposed condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, David calls him Lord, then pwV ("how?") the son of him is he?" = "If David calls him Master, how can he at the same time be his son", Peterson. Under Biblical law a son cannot have mastery over his father.

oun "then" - therefore. Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion.

kurion (oV) "Lord" - [david calls him] lord. Accusative complement of the direct object "him" standing in a double accusative construction.

pwV "how" - how [son of him is he]? Interrogative particle. Mark has poqen, often translated "how", although Gundry suggests it expresses source, "from where"; "where in the scriptures do you find the messianic title son of David?" The question logically implies that the messiah is not David's son - by calling him "Lord" he obviously isn't David's son. Yet, it is more likely that the question does not deny that the messiah is a descendent of David, but just that he is something more than a descendent. Matthew makes the point clear by his use of pwV. The argument establishes the inferiority of David to the messiah rather than deny the messiah's heritage, cf., Rom 1:3-4, both son of David and Son of God. Of course, the title Son of God has its own difficulties in that it can signify nothing more than messiah / Christ, but then, depending on the context, it can also signify the filial relationship the Son has with God the Father. The question exposes the inadequacy of the Davidic image to express the full identity of the messiah.


v] Conclusion, v46.

oudeiV adj. "no one" - The indefinite adjective serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to be able." Matthew has specified that Jesus is speaking to a group of Pharisees and it is they, the religious representatives of old Israel, who disengage.

apokriqhnai (apokrinomai) aor. pas. inf. "[could] say [a word] in reply" - [was able] to answer [him a word]. Complementary infinitive completing the sense of the verb "was able."

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

ap (apo) + gen. "from" - from [that day]. Temporal use of the preposition.

oude "-" - nor [did anyone, from that day, dare to ask him any longer = any more questions]. Introducing a negated clause linked to the previous negated clause, oudeiV ...... oude ....

eperwthsai (eperwtaw) aor. inf. "to ask" - The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb tolmaw, "to dare."


Matthew Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]