6. The business of mission, 11:1-12:50

vii] Doing the Father's will


In the context of Jesus healing a demon-possessed man who is deaf and dumb, and the subsequent discourse that followed with the Pharisees, Jesus is told that has family is outside and want to speak with him. Jesus responds by announcing that the disciples are his family; "anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."


Participation in gospel ministry identifies believers as Christ's family, and his family is everything to him.


i] Context: See "Issues", 11:1-19.


ii] Structure: This pronouncement story, Doing the father's will, presents as follows:

Setting, v46-47;

"your mother and brothers ... want to speak to you."

Pronouncement, v48-49:

believers are Jesus' family.

Saying, v50:

Jesus' family are those who do the Father's will.


iii] Interpretation:

Matthew now concludes the narrative section which he has crafted to serve as a paradigm for the mission of the church. As with chapter 11, he ends chapter 12 on a positive note. The pericope identifies Jesus' true family as his disciples, the ones who do the will of "my Father in heaven." Given the context, this "will" is mission / gospel ministry, and it is in this mission that believers stand together as brothers and sisters of Christ. Jesus serves as the eschatological preacher of divine grace / the kingdom, which example we should follow, and in following we are "everything to Christ", Nolland. Doing the Father's will does not make us disciples, but it certainly identifies us as disciples.

This episode is often viewed as an invitation to the crowd to become Jesus' family by doing the will of the Father. The "will" is variously defined: "to receive Jesus and his teachings", Hagner; "obedience, action ... love ... in the relationship of the members of the community to one another", Luz; "obedience to Jesus and his teachings", Carson; "obedience to the Law as reinterpreted by Jesus, an attitude which necessarily involves belief in and commitment to Jesus", Hill; "a commitment which must go further than a mere profession of allegiance ... the sort of discipleship which is outlined in chapters 5-7 and which is summed up as a greater righteousness than the Scribes and the Pharisees (ouch! That wipes me out!!!)", France; ..... From the original setting of this episode, or treated independently of its context, it is possible to draw out some of these conclusions, but they fail to address the context of mission which Matthew has set for us. Doing "the will of my Father in heaven" entails a commitment to the gospel and the imperative of its communication, such identifies us as Christ's family.


iv] Synoptics:

The source of this pericope is usually identified as Mark 3:31-35, set in the context of Jesus' family seeking to take control of him because they think he is out of his mind. Luke uses the same source, shortening the episode somewhat. Of course, an edited common oral source with local differences should not be discounted. Matthew links this pronouncement saying to his context with the genitive absolute construction eti autou lalountoV toiV ocloiV, "while Jesus was still taking to the crowd." Only Matthew notes that the family were zhtounteV autw/ lalhsai, "seeking to speak to him", but it is assumed by Mark and may well be part of Matthew's received tradition. Mark has Jesus "looking around" to emphasize the pronouncement, and Matthew has Jesus "pointing at his disciples" as he asks the question "who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Both phrases could well be part of the received tradition.


v] Homiletics:

My surname is Findlayson, which of course means, Son of Findlay. Thankfully they didn't continue with the Son-of tradition otherwise it would have been Findlaysonson, and then sonsonson. The ties of blood identify family membership , but in Jesus' family, membership is identified by participation in a particular activity. Of course, we are members of the family by association, by our belief in Jesus, but there is a particular enterprise, a project that causes us to stand out from the wider community.

My mother was a member of the Curl Curl Ladies Bowls Club, and her membership was particularly noticeable on Bowls days by her uniform and her desire to constantly role bowls down a perfectly flat grass lawn. We affectionally called the ladies the White Leghorns, but never to their face. You couldn't miss them in their white uniform and regalia; how she loved that game! The members of Jesus' family, his association, his club if you like, are marked out by a consuming occupation which Jesus identifies as "the will of my Father in heaven." It's the communication of the gospel - Christian mission. Chapters 11 to 13 in Matthew's gospel is all about mission, and as far as Matthew is concerned, it marks out Jesus' family.

In order to communicate the good news of God's grace in Christ we build churches on the top of hills and mount them with a cross; we open their doors and invite people in. We fund gospel ministry, using evangelists and the media to communicate the message. We support missionary organizations, the Bible Society and the like, so that they can get the gospel out into "the highways and byways." And when the opportunity presents itself, we tell people what Jesus means to us personally. As members of Christ's family, we are encouraged to play our part in making known the good news of God's grace.

Text 12:46-50

Jesus' true family, v46-50. i] Setting, v46-47.

lalountoV (lalew) pres. part. "While [Jesus] was [still] talking" - [he still] speaking. The participle stands within a genitive absolute construction serving to introduce a temporal clause, as NIV; "while he was still speaking", ESV.

eti adv. "still" - still, again. Temporal adverb.

toiV ocloiV (oV) dat. "to the crowd" - Dative of indirect object.

idou "-" - behold [the mother and brothers of him]. An interjection favored by Matthew to focus attention on what follows. There is some argument as to whether the brothers (and sisters) are blood brothers, children of Mary and Joseph, or near relatives. They are named in 13:55 as James, Joses, Judas and Simon. The reference in Mark 15:40, supposedly to Mary the mother of Jesus, is rather strange and prompts some to argue for confusion in the oral tradition.

eiJsthkeisan (iJsthmi) pluperf. "stood" - Pluperfect with imperfect force; "were standing."

exw adv. "outside" - Adverb of place. We may call this a continuity problem carried over from the original setting of this pericope, given that the debate with the Pharisees is more likely in the open.

zhtounteV (zhtew) pres. part. "wanting" - seeking. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of their standing outside; "standing outside, seeking to speak to him."

lalhsai (lalew) aor. inf. "to speak" - The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Jesus' family wants. The negative desire expressed in Mark is not present in Matthew's account as it would be an unnecessary diversion from the point he desires to make.

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - Dative of association; "wanting to talk with him", Berkeley.


This verse is missing in some manuscripts, but is most likely original. It would be easily missed when copied given the similar construction at the end of v46 and this verse; eisthkeisan exw zhtounteV autw/ lalhsai and exw esthkasin zhtounteV soi lalhsai.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - [and someone said] to him. Dative of indirect object.


ii] Pronouncement, v48-49. Jesus true family is his disciples, those who strive to place themselves in the center of the will of God. "Kinship with Jesus consists not in physical relationship of blood or race, but in the spiritual affinity which reveals itself in obedience to his heavenly Father", Cox.

apokriqeiV (apokrinomai) aor. part. "he replied" - [and] having answered [he said]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "he said"; Semitic form, redundant.

tw/ legonti (legw) dat. pres. part. "to him" - to the one speaking. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object; "but he rejoined to the one who told him", Berkeley.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - to him. Dative of association, "with him; "he said to the person who spoke with him about their request to see him."

tiV "who" - who [is the mother of me and who are the brothers of me]? Interrogative pronoun, serving as a predicate nominative. "In the light of the ministry he is exercising in the name of God, what do ordinary family ties mean?", Morris.


ekteinaV (ekteinw) aor. part. "pointing" - [and] stretching out [the hand of him]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "he said"; "then he stretched out his hand toward his disciples and said", Knox. "A rhetorical gesture", Nolland. "He pointed to his disciples and said", CEV.

epi acc. "to" - to, toward [the disciples of him he said]. Spacial, here used to express direction.

idou "here" - behold [the mother of me and the brothers of me]. Usually as an interjection to emphasize something, but here it may carry the sense "look at these people", Morris.


iii] Saying, v50. Mark's doing "the will of God", becomes in Matthew doing "the will of my Father in heaven." The family that believers belong to is the family of God the Father, and as the Son serves as the prophet like unto Jonah, the bearer of news, good and bad, so the other members of the family can be identified by their commitment to the imperative of gospel communication.

gar "for" - Probably serving to introduce a causal clause explaining why the disciples are family to Jesus, because, for Jesus, those who do the will of the Father are his family. Possibly reason / explanatory, and so not translated, so Moffatt, Barclay, .., or just emphatic, "and indeed, .....", Cassirer.

o{stiV ... an pro. + subj. "whoever" - all / everyone who. Introducing an indefinite relative clause, here as a conditional clause 3rd. class where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "whoever, as the case may be, does the will of the Father of me, the one in heavens, then he my brother and sister and mother is." Everyone who does the will of the Father may be described / classified as Jesus' family.

tou patroV (hr roV) gen. "[does the will] of [my] Father" - The genitive is usually treated as verbal, subjective; "anyone who is willing to do as my Father in Heaven wants", Junkins = "anyone who obeys my Father in heaven", CEV. For the content of that "will" see "Issues / Interpretation" above.

tou "[in heaven]" - the one [in heavens]. The article here serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase "in heaven" into an attributive adjective, "the one who is in heaven", so clarifying the father referred to, ie., God the Father.

autoV pro. "-" - he. Emphatic by use and position; "it is that person who is brother, who is sister, who is mother to me", Cassirer.

adelfh (h) "sister" - [is my brother and] sister [and mother]. Predicate nominative. "This is an important modification of the formula 'mother and brothers' of the preceding verses. It stand in noticeable tension with the contemporary Jewish perspective in which women had no equal rights in the study of Torah, or in the life of the religious community, and is consonant with the progressiveness of Jesus on the issue of women seen elsewhere in the Gospels", Hagner.


Matthew Introduction

TekniaGreek font download


[Pumpkin Cottage]