11. Old is out; new is in, 21:1-23:39

xii] Judgment upon the old Israel


Matthew continues his record of Jesus' sermon on the hypocrisy, and thus eternal loss, of religious Israel. This part of the sermon consists of a prophetic word to the gathered congregation. Given that the old religious Israel has failed to give a hearing to the prophets and righteous ones of old, even setting upon them and murdering them (dia touto, v34), Jesus prophetically announces, in the Father's name / authority, that he will send even more messengers for them to reject and murder and so their guilt will be confirmed. This end is not how he would have it. He would have gathered the children of Israel under his care, as a hen gathers her chicks, but they would have none of it. Thus, the old Israel is a house deserted and must await the coming of the Lord in judgment.


When we ignore the gracious mercy of God in Christ we place ourselves beyond hope.


i] Context: See 23:1-12. The inclusion formed by 23:39 indicates that chapters 21-23 are to be treated as a whole. Some take the view that chapter 23 introduces the 5th Discourse, but it seems best to take it as the concluding chapter of the 5th Narrative, chapters 21-23. Both the 5th Narrative and the 5th Discourse together cover the theme of the Coming of the Lord in judgment. It is also somewhat unclear where the judgment sayings upon the teachers of the law begin and where the last woe ends. Verse 33 may serve to introduce the sayings, as NIV, but it seems more likely that it concludes the last Woe.


ii] Structure: Judgment upon the old Israel:

Jesus' sermonic critique of pharisaism, v34-39:

Judgment sayings on the teachers of the Law, v34-36:

"I send you prophets .... some of whom you kill ....", v34;

Consequence, v35:

oJpwV, "with the result that

[upon you will come all the righteous blood ...]";

Confirmation and immediacy, v36:

"all this will come on this generation.".

Judgment saying on Jerusalem / Israel, v37-39.

Critique of old Israel (grace offered, not accepted), v37:

"Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets ......"

A word of judgment, v38:

"look, your house is left to you desolate."

Text - Psalm 118:26, v39.


Note, the text, Psalm 118:26, which concludes the prophetic announcement covering v34-39, records the words used by the crowd at the time of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. The text serves as an inclusio for the coming of the Son of Man, both to Jerusalem and at the end of the age.


iii] Interpretation:

Jesus' first prophetic announcement of judgment is directed to uJmaV, "you", v34, obviously the object of the preceding woes, namely the teachers of the law. They have rejected Christ's word of grace, and now, "solidly aligned with those of previous generations, they have filled to the full the measure of their fathers and so have inescapably brought themselves into that judgment that was to be theirs", Hagner. Jesus' words are not necessarily good news for the Christian community because this rejection of the Christ has a real and present impact. Persecution will come upon those who follow Christ. Hatred, violence and even murder will be part of this filling to the full.

Jesus' second prophetic announcement of judgment is addressed to Jerusalem, which city represents old Israel as a whole. It is not just the teachers of the law, or even Israel's religious establishment, who have rejected Christ, but, other than a remnant of believers, Israel as a whole has ignored God's saving grace in Christ. So, God has abandoned the temple and Israel's house is left desolate, and since old Israel has spurned Christ's offer of protection they must now face the coming tribulation alone. Some commentators focus on the constancy of Jesus' affection for Jerusalem / Israel, but the issue before us is not God's love in Christ, but Jerusalem's / Israel's rejection of that love. Thus, the opportunity to be gathered under God's protection is over; judgment is at hand.

The last verse of Jesus' second prophetic announcement is somewhat fraught; see v39 below.


iv] Synoptics:

The two judgment sayings are found in Luke, the first in 11:49-51, and the second in 13:34-5. It is usually held that they originate from Q and that Luke has more accurately preserved the sayings, eg., Matthew's editorial license is evident in his use of the words "crucify" and "scourge in synagogues", both reflecting Jesus' end and the persecution of his disciples. It is argued that had Luke used Matthew he would not have left these words out. Luz is of the view that Matthew's sofouV, "the wise, sages", v34, and "son of Barachiah", v35, come from Q. Again, mutual independence is possible with both Matthew and Luke using their own oral source. Mark does not record these sayings.

Text - 23:34

i] A judgment saying addressed to the teachers of the law, v34-36.

dia touto "therefore" - because of this. This causal construction is inferential, as NIV; "Therefore ......."

egw pro. "I" - [behold] i [am sending]. Emphatic by position and use.

profhtaV (hV ou) "prophets" - [to you] prophets [wise men and scribes]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to send." Religious Israel rejected and maltreated the prophets and the "righteous ones" (other ministers of God's word) who followed them. This ministry of God's word will continue with Christian ministers. Luke, possibly following Q, has "prophets and apostles", but Matthew has a ministry triad which is probably more artistic than technical. "Jesus sends prophets to those who honor only dead prophets, wise men to those whose wisdom is in name only (11:25), and scribes to those who have failed in their scribal duties (v3, etc.)", D&A. New Testament prophets may be viewed as a secondary class of prophet (similar to present day preachers) in that they are not involved in primary revelation, or as a primary class which ceases to exist after the formation of the New Testament. Such a distinction is not evident here.

sofouV (oV) "wise men / sages" - Those aware of the wisdom of God; another sort of messenger from God, as with grammateiV, "scribes / teachers."

ex (ek) + gen "some of [them]" - from [them you will kill and crucify]. The preposition here serves as a partitive genitive, with tinaV, "certain" = "some", assumed; "certain from them" = some of them."

en + dat. "[others you will flog] in" - [and certain from them you will whip] in. Local, expressing space. A wayward member of the local synagogue could be flogged as a just punishment for sins committed, cf., 2Cor.11:24.

uJmwn gen. pro. "your [synagogues]" - [the synagogues] of you. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, or idiomatic, local, "the synagogues where you gather for worship."

diwxete (diwkw) fut. "pursue" - [and] you will pursue / persecute / drive out [from city to city]. Expressing "a wide variety of harassments", Morris.


o{pwV + subj. "and so" - that. This construction usually forms a purpose clause, "in order that" - "that the divine purpose will be worked out in and through this human rejection of God's messengers", Morris; "so that there may come upon you .....", Berkeley. Yet, result (consecutive rather than final) may well be intended, "with the result that."

ef (epi) + acc. "upon [you]" - [came] upon [you]. Spacial.

aiJma dikaion "the righteous blood" - [all] righteous blood. "Righteous" here in the sense of "innocent", and "blood" in the sense of "responsible for the death of", Nolland = "murder". Luke spells this out, "that the blood of all the prophets shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation", Lk.11:50. "That is why you will be held guilty for every good person", CEV. Jesus' focus is not every good person, but every messenger from God, and as for the burden of responsibility, it is not just for the murder of some, culminating in the murder of Jesus himself, but for the rejection of these messengers from God. Jesus encapsulates this evil in the murder of the first righteous man in the Hebrew Bible, namely Able, found in the book of Genesis, and the last, Berekiah, in the second book of Chronicles, 24:20-21.

ekcunnomenon (ekcunnw) pres. mid./pas. part. "that has been shed" - being poured out, shed. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "righteous blood."

epi + gen. "on [earth]" - upon [the earth]. Spacial.

apo + gen. ...... e{wV + gen. "from ..... to .." - from [the blood of abel the righteous] to [the blood of zechariah son of barachiah]. Temporal use of the prepositions; "from the time of / time when .... to .."

tou dikaiou gen. adj. "[the blood] of righteous [Abel]" - The adjective serves as a substantive standing in apposition to "Abel"; "Abel the righteous one." As above, "blood" = "murder"; "from the time of the murder of righteous Abel" = "from the time when righteous Abel was murdered, to the murder of zechariah son of Berekiah"

metaxu + gen. "between" - [whom you murdered] between [the temple and the altar]. Spacial. This is a way of saying "that the slaying occurred in a very holy place", Morris.


uJmin dat. pro. "[truly I tell] you" - [truly I say] to you. Dative of indirect object. This phrase serves to introduce an important statement; "And indeed, I can give you solemn assurance of this", Cassirer.

hJxei (hJkw) fut. "will come" - [all these thing] will come, be present. "It will all come down to this present generation", Cassirer.

epi + acc. "on" - upon. Spacial, metaphorical.

genean tauthn "this generation" - The coming of the Son of Man, a coming in judgment, will be experienced by Jesus' present generation. Numerous comings are proposed, but judgment upon Jerusalem, its destruction in 70AD, is surely the focus of Jesus' words. Yet, as we will see in chapters 24 and 25, the destruction of Jerusalem serves as a paradigm for Jesus coming in the last day, the parousia, in fact, for any coming in judgment in like form to God's coming in judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah.


ii] A judgment saying addressed to Jerusalem / Israel, v37-39. Jesus expresses deep affection for Jerusalem / Israel, exhibiting a strong desire for the people to follow as disciples and so escape the coming terrible day. They may have welcomed his coming to Jerusalem, but it was nothing more than a superficial greeting. They would soon be crying out "crucify him", and thus their refusal to follow will spell their doom.

hJ apokteinousa (apokteinw) voc. pres. part. "you who kill [the prophets]" - [jerusalem, jerusalem], the one killing [the prophets and stoning the ones having been sent to her]. As with the "the one stoning", the participle serves as a substantive standing in apposition to "Jerusalem".

touV apostalmenouV (apostellw) perf. mid./pas. part. "those sent" - the ones having been sent. The participle serves as a substantive.

proV authn "to you" - to her. This construction after the vocative stands for proV se, "to you."

posakis adv. "how often" - Interrogative temporal adverb, rhetorical, but possibly here exclamatory; "How many times / how often? / !" Expressed positively; "Many times I wanted to .......", TH.

episunagagein (episunagw) aor. inf. "[I have longed] to gather" - [i wanted] to gather [the children of you]. The infinitive serves to introduce an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Jesus has longed for.

o}n tropon pro. "as" - in which manner, way [a hen gathers together the chicks of her under the wings]. This construction is adverbial, modal / comparative; "in which manner" = "in the very same manner as", Culy.

uJpo + acc. "under [her wings]" - under [the wings of her]. Spacial.

ouk hqelhsate (qelw) "you were not willing" - [and] you wanted not. Given the punctiliar aorist the sense is more like "you refused", Barclay.


A judgment declaration, cf., Isa.64:10-11.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - [behold, the house of you is left desolate] for you. Dative of interest, disadvantage.

erhmoV adj. "desolate" - deserted. Complement of the nominative subject "house" standing in a double nominative construction. Variant, possibly a late addition or an assimilation to Luke. See Metzger.


The quote from Psalm 118:26 forms a structural inclusio: Jesus comes in judgment to Jerusalem (the words of the crowd on entering Jerusalem, 21:9, leading to Jesus' cleansing of the temple and the sign of the fig tree), and Jesus comes in judgment as the Son of Man (spelt out in full in chapters 24 and 25). If, as D&A point out, ou mh .... eJwV an forms a conditional clause, giving the sense, "when his people bless him, then the Messiah will come", then we have the seeds of a very popular prophetic indicator, namely that the return of Christ "is contingent upon Israel's acceptance of Jesus", cf., 19:28. Nolland, for example, accepts this approach, but he sees it more in terms of an ongoing conversion of Jews during the period of the church's mission rather than a wholesale conversion of Israeli Jews at some point in time. None-the-less, he is of the view that "the Matthean church expected a significant Jewish turning to Christ." Yet, it seems more likely that the verse is not conditional, but rather temporal, eJwV an + subj. (the parousia may be in mind, or the destruction of the temple, so France, although better both - the destruction of the temple serves as a paradigm for the parousia) , and that the acclimation from Psalm 118:26 said when you "see me again" is just as weightless as it was at the time of Jesus entry into Jerusalem, ie., it is not a welcoming in faith, so Hagner. This was the crowd that cried "crucify him", and thus the acclimation is the cry of those facing judgment. In the last day, at the coming of the Son of Man, Jerusalem / Israel will again acclaim the coming king. They will, in that day, "recognize the reality of the divine visitation that took place when Jesus (first) came to them", Morris. So, their acclimation will herald the fire of divine judgment, so Luz. It is possible to keep both options open - an acclimation of welcome, and an acclimation of horror; "Jesus will be received - as a consuming Judge, or a welcoming King", so Carson, but "received as a consuming Judge" is surely the intention here. "The next time you see me you'll cry out, 'Oh, heaven preserve us, God has blessed him! "He's coming to judge us!'"

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why "your house" is left desolate.

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

ou mh + subj. "[you will] not [see me]" - no no = by no means [will you see me]. A subjunctive of emphatic negation; "you will certainly not see me again."

ap arti "again" - from now. The preposition + the temporal adverb produces a temporal construction which is unique to Matthew. "Again" is probably not Matthew's intention as they do see Jesus again over the next few days, so possibly something like "after a short time from now"; "I'm out of here soon", Peterson.

eJwV an + subj. "until [you say]" - Introducing an indefinite temporal clause, future time in relation to the main verb, "until". Note the suggestion above that the construction here introduces a conditional clause. This seems unlikely.

euloghmenoV (eulogew) perf. pas./mid. part. "blessed" - having been blessed. The participle is adjectival, predicative, asserting a fact about "the one who comes"; "blessed is the one who comes."

oJ ercomenoV (ercomai) pres. mid. part. "he who comes" - is the one coming. The participle serves as a substantive.

en + dat. "in [the name]" - The preposition here is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner in which the blessed one comes. He comes "in the name", ie., in/with the authority of the Lord.

kuriou (oV) gen. "of the Lord" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive; the authority belongs to the Lord.


Matthew Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]