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

i] Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem


John, in his gospel, tells us that Jesus is in Bethany on Saturday, the Sabbath of Nisan 8. The next day, Sunday, the pilgrims head out for Jerusalem. Having reached Bethphage, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sends two disciples ahead to collect a donkey and its foal for him to ride on as he enters Jerusalem. Presumably Jesus has already made arrangements with the owner for their hire. Matthew notes how Jesus' entry to Jerusalem fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9-10. The disciples place their coats on the two animals and Jesus sits upon them. By this time there is a crowd of pilgrims, and on seeing Jesus they start laying out tree branches and pieces of clothing on the road in front of him while singing from the festal Psalm 118, a Psalm often sung at the feast of Passover. Soon the whole city is in an uproar.


The coming Son of Man, the Davidic messiah, "is not the conquering hero of contemporary expectation, but the King of meekness and peace whose advent is foretold by Zechariah, 9:9-10", Cox. We do well to welcome him!


i] Context: See 1:1-17. Gundry argues that the theme of acceptance continues through to chapter 22, but it seems more likely that Matthew's theme of compassion in Christian community ends with the healing of the two blind men, 20:29-34.

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem heralds the final thematic section of Matthew's gospel, The Coming of the Son of Man, this time with the 5th. Narrative, 21:1-23:39 (of dialogue leading to monologue), introducing the 5th. Discourse, 24:1-25:46. What we end up with is a package enclosed by Jesus' coming to Jerusalem and his coming in the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of Days, of judgment upon the temple and the final judgment, of the failure of the existing regime and the full realization of the royal authority of the Son of Man. "This temple is a visible symbol of the old regime; its fall is not just the loss of a building but the end of an era. The kingdom of the Son of Man will be established in its place, and the great discourse will reach its superb climax in the vision of the Son of Man ultimately enthroned in power and pronouncing judgment over all the nations", France. Thus we witness in the Son of Man "the victorious advance of the liberator who comes to set his community free from the tribes of the earth", Schweizer.

In recording the end of one era and the dawning of a new, of a house abandoned and a house renewed, Matthew will constantly "warn the community that they face the threat of this same judgment if they act as Israel did ..... experience an identical fate with the hypocrites", Schweizer. It is essential for the new Israel to learn from the mistakes of the old, otherwise it too will become a house abandoned, cast from the vineyard, barred from the wedding feast, cursed. Let the old pharisaic Israel, dismissive of God's Word in Christ, bound by law, devoid of faith, spur the new Israel to hold firmly to the faith that moves the immovable - salvation by grace through faith apart from works of the law.


The 5th. Narrative presents as follows:

Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, 21:1-11;

Cleansing the temple, 21:12-22;

The issue of Jesus' authority, 21:23-32;

The parable of the tenants in the vineyard, 21:33-46;

The parable of the wedding feast, 22:1-14;

The question about paying taxes, 22:15-22;

The issue of marriage in the resurrection, 22:23-33;

The great commandment, 22:34-40;

Whose son is the Christ? 22:41-46;

Jesus warns against false teachers, 23:1-12;

Seven woes on the teachers of the law, 23:13-33.

xii] Judgment upon the old Israel, 23:34-39;


ii] Background: The timing of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem: T.W. Manson and others suggest that Jesus' entry into Jerusalem was during the feast of Tabernacles (autumn), some six months before his crucifixion at the feast of Passover (around April). Yet, it is probably still best to go with an entry into Jerusalem a few days before the crucifixion. John tells us that Jesus went first to Bethany "six days before Passover", probably on Friday evening, stayed there for the Sabbath and entered Jerusalem on Sunday. Passion Week begins with Jesus' triumphal entry, although it is interesting to note that in the English Prayer Book this reading is used for the first Sunday in Advent, the beginning of the Church Year, thus serving as a challenge to welcome the coming Son of Man.


iii] Structure: Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem:

Jesus gives directions to his disciples, v1-4;

Fulfillment text, Isa.62:11, Zech.,9:9, v5;

The disciples follow Jesus' instructions, v6-7;

On the pilgrim way, v8-9:

"hosanna to the Son of David."

"blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."

Jesus enters Jerusalem, v10-11:

"this is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee."


It is generally felt that v1-17 is a single pericope, as Mark 11:1-17. So, the narrative includes:

Jesus drives out the money changers, v12-13:

"my house will be called a house of prayer, but ....."

The broken come to Jesus, v14;

The Pharisees are indignant, v15:

The children proclaim, "hosanna to the Son of David."

Jesus responds, v16:

"from the lips of children and infants .....", Ps.8:2.

Jesus returns to Bethany, v17.


iv] Interpretation:

The coming of the Son of Man to Jerusalem is a preview of Christ's coming in glory to the Ancient of Days to receive an everlasting crown. Jesus the messianic king, in line with prophetic expectation, triumphantly enters his capital with jubilant acclaim, so revealing the full extent of his messianic character. This is a sense where we are invited to join in that jubilant acclaim.


v] Synoptics:

The Johannine account provides a straightforward reason for Jesus' visit to Jerusalem, namely to help his friend at Bethany. Obviously the raising of Lazarus would have stirred popular sentiment and prompted the crowd's enthusiastic welcome of Jesus on entry to the city. Jesus' use of a donkey serves to dampen the crowd's expectation of a political messiah; Jesus is no Davidic warrior, but rather the Prince of Peace. The synoptic gospels, on the other hand, give us little insight into the background of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. As far as they are concerned, Jesus' entry serves "to fulfill the purpose of God" (Morris) in the public acclamation of Jesus as the long-awaited Son of David, the Messiah of Israel.

It is usually argued that Matthew depends on Mark for his account of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, with one major addition, the fulfillment quotation which draws on Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9. Of course, it is not so much the similarity of the two accounts that is of interest, but the many omissions and changes, all of which can be accounted for where a story is drawn from an existing oral tradition.


vi] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 21:1

Jesus enters Jerusalem, v1-11: i] Jesus arrives at Bethany, v1. The Romans had upgraded the road from Jericho to Jerusalem (with local help!!!). It was just over 30 kilometers long, passing by Bethany and Bethphage, over the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley and into Jerusalem.

oJte "as [they approached]" - [and] when [they came near]. Here serving to introduce a temporal clause, as NIV.

eiV "to [Bethphage] on [the Mount]" - into [jerusalem and came] into [bethphage] into [the mount of olives]. A spacial sense is intended although slightly awkward in English; "when they reached Bethphage at the Mount of Olives", Barclay.

twn elaiwn (a) gen. "of Olives" - of olive tree. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / local, of identification, limiting "Mount"; "the mount which is called Olives."

tote adv. "-" - then [jesus]. Temporal adverb indicating a step in the narrative.

aposteilen (apostellw) aor. "sent" - sent [two disciples]. "Sent .... on ahead", TEV.


ii] Jesus gives instructions to his disciples, v2-3. Jesus has probably arranged for his ride into Jerusalem, a ride that serves as an acted-out parable for those with eyes to see. It is interesting how the disciples use the title "Lord" when picking the animals up. Jesus doesn't use this title of himself. Some have suggested that the word here could mean "owner", in the sense of "owner for a day", ie., Jesus has rented the animal for a day. None-the-less, the gospel account reveals that something more than a simple financial transaction has secured Jesus' ride into Jerusalem. For Matthew it seems to be a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more!" - it's all going to plan!

legwn (legw) pres. part. "saying" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "sent", v1. "With these instructions", TEV; "He told them", CEV.

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

thn "-" - the. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase "opposite you" into an attributive adjective.

katenanti + gen. "ahead of [you]" - [go into the village] opposite [you]. Spacial.

dedemenhn (dew) perf. pas. part. "tied there" - [and immediately you will find a donkey] having been tied. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "donkey", "a donkey which has been tied up"; "you will find a tethered donkey with its foal."

met (meta) + gen. "with [her]" - [and a colt] with [her]. Expressing association.

pwlon (oV) "colt" - foal, colt. Accusative direct object of the verb "to find." "A donkey with her foal tethered beside her", REB. Initially used of a horse, but later of any animal. Here obviously a "foal."

lusanteV (luw) aor. part. "untie them" - having loosed, released. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative verb "bring / lead", as NIV, but possibly adverbial, temporal, "when you untie them bring them to me."

moi dat. pro. "to me" - [bring] to me. Dative of indirect object.


ean + subj. "if [anyone says anything]" - if [anyone should say anything]. Conditional clause, 3rd class, where the proposed condition has the possibility of becoming true; "if, as may be the case, ..... then ....." "If anyone objects."

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of indirect object.

oJti "that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing what the disciples are to say, although Gundry thinks that Matthew's aversion to the use of this conjunction as a recitative possibly means that it is being used to form an epexegetic clause. Luke treats the phrase as recitative, ie., a dependent statement, indirect speech.

oJ kurioV (oV) "the Lord" - Nominative subject of the verb "to have." Numerous possibilities exist, but most likely referring to Jesus, so "the Master." The actual words, "the Lord has a need of them", are possibly a pre arranged password, so Morris. Yet, note below.

autwn gen. pro. "[needs] them" - [has need] of them. Gundry assumes an objective genitive, although creian would naturally take a genitive, "need of". In NT Greek a modifying genitive would normally follow the word it modifies, which in this case is "Lord", so "their Lord [has need]", implying that Jesus is now the owner of the animals, or better, the owner for the moment, ie., lessee (note Mark's account re the return of the animals). "You shall say, their master has need [of them], and he will send them straightaway", Torrey; "their owner needs them", TNT.

euquV adv. "right away" - immediately [he will send them]. As already noted, some have suggested that Jesus is performing a miracle in obtaining the animal, but it seems more likely that he has made arrangements for its hire. None-the-less, the need to record such details is interesting.


iii] Matthew notes the scriptures that are fulfilled in this episode, v4-5. Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9 are combined in the quote. The coming king who brings salvation, comes meekly (ie., not in a chariot). Zechariah speaks of the same animal.

iJna + subj. "to [fulfill]" - [and this took place] that [might be fulfilled]. Possibly forming a purpose clause, "in order that", although better a consecutive clause expressing result, "with the result that"; "this was in fulfillment of the word of the prophet", Torrey.

to pJhqen (eipon) aor. pas. part. "what was spoken" - the thing being spoken. The participle serves as a substantive; "that which was spoken / what was said."

dia + gen. "through" - through, by means of [the prophets]. Instrumental, agency; "through."

legontoV (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. The participle may be treated as adjectival, attributive, limiting prophets, "prophets who said", but usually taken as adverbial, modal or temporal.


th/ qugatri (hr ou) dat. "to the Daughter" - [tell] to the daughter. Dative of indirect object. The sense is "say to the children of Jerusalem."

Ziwn gen. "Zion" - of Zion. The genitive is adjectival, relational. Olmstead suggests that it is a dative in apposition to "daughter", "Say to the Daughter, Zion, .... "Zion" is indeclinable so both possibilities are acceptable.

soi dat. "[comes] to you" - [behold the king comes] to you. Dative of destination with ercomai, "to come"; used instead of a preposition like proV, "to".

prauV adj. "gentle" - humble, meek, gentle. The adjective limits "king", "king .... who is humble." Possibly, one who renounces force, but better, one who gives deference to the divine.

epibebhkwV (epibainw) perf. part. "riding" - having sat. The participle stands in agreement with "king" and so presumably modifies its head noun, so, adjectival, attributive, limiting "king"; a king "who is humble and mounted on a colt." It should by noted that adjectives sometimes serve as adverbs, cf., BDF #243, so prouV, "humble", may be adverbial, in which case epibebhkwV, "having sat", may also be adverbial, modal, modifying the verb "comes", "your king comes to you, gentle and mounted on a donkey."

uJpozugiou (on) gen. "a donkey" - [on a donkey and upon a colt the foal [of a donkey]. The genitive is adjectival, relational. Literally, "a beast of burden" (under the yoke). The use of "donkey" and "on a colt, the foal of a donkey", is an example of Hebraic poetic parallelism. Interestingly, Matthew seems to make a point of the fact that there were two animals (Mark has only one), v7. It is very unlikely that Matthew doesn't understand Zechariah's used of parallelism, but rather that he knows that two animals were involved and that this fact is reflected in Zechariah's parallelism.


iv] The disciples return with the beast of burden and place Jesus upon it. As already noted, the breeding of the animal remains undefined, either a horse or a donkey, but more likely a donkey, and the colt possibly a mule, the offspring of a donkey and a horse , v6-7.

poreuqenteV (poreuomai) aor. pas. part. "[the disciples] went" - [the disciples], having gone [and having done, just as jesus commanded them, brought the donkey]. This participle, along with poihsanteV, "having done", is attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the verb "they brought" "the disciples carried out Jesus' instructions and brought the donkey ...."

kaqwV "as" - Comparative.

autoiV dat. pro. "[Jesus had instructed] them" - Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to instruct."


ta iJmatia (on) "their cloaks" - [they brought the donkey and the colt and they put] the garments [upon them]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to put, place." Mark has autwn, "their [garments]", but not Matthew. Gundry suggests Matthew intends "saddle garments" not articles of personal clothing.

ep (epi) + gen. "on them" - upon them. As with epanw, "[sit] on", spacial. The "garments", probably outer cloaks, are placed on both animals and then Matthew tells us that Jesus "sat on them" epanw autwn, plural. Sat on both animals? This seems unlikely. Sat on the garments is obviously what he intends.


v] The response of the crowd: preparing the way for Jesus and proclaiming his messiahship, v8-9.The spreading of cloaks on the road by the crowd acknowledges Jesus' kingship. The cutting of branches and spreading them before Jesus is a gesture similar to that offered to Simon Maccabaeus when he entered Jerusalem, 1Macc.13:51, 2Macc.10:7. So, the action of the crowd was a gesture of respect.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

pleistoV "very large [crowd]" - Superlative of "much/many", so "most"; here elative, as NIV. Possibly Matthew means it was the largest of the groups moving toward Jerusalem, but more likely just "a very large crowd."

estrwsan (estrwnnumi) aor. "spread" - spread out [their garments]. "Spread out their cloaks as a carpet for Jesus to ride on."

en + dat. "on [the road]" - Local, expressing space / sphere.

eJautwn "their [cloaks]" - their own. Reflective pronoun used as a strengthened personal pronoun, possibly making the point that now personal items of clothing are being strewn in front of Jesus.

kladouV (oV) "branches" - [and others were cutting] branches. Accusative direct object of the verb "to cut down." John tells us that they were palm branches, often waved at times of national celebration. Here just "branches from trees", a more suitable material for a coming king than Mark's stibadaV from the fields, possibly meaning corn stalks, grass and the like.

apo + gen. "from [the trees]" - from [the trees and were spreading on the road]. Expressing separation; "away from."


The crowd starts singing a pilgrims' chant. The chant comes primarily from Psalm 118:25-26. "Hosanna" is an acclamation of praise. "Son of David", and "He who comes in the name of the Lord", are both messianic titles. "Hosanna in the highest" is equivalent to "Glory to God in the highest." The disciples may understand the significance of these words, but it is unlikely the crowd does.

oiJ ocloi (oV) "the crowds" - the people. Nominative subject of the verb "to shout." Are they actually with Jesus or are they just part of the pilgrim crowd singing as they journey to Jerusalem? Literally, they are "the ones going before and the ones following."

oiJ proagonteV (proagw) pres. part. "that went ahead of [him]" - the ones going before [him and the ones following]. The participle, as with oiJ akolouqounteV, "those that followed", serves as an attributive adjective, limiting "crowds", as NIV.

ekrazon (krazw) imperf. "shouted" - were shouting, crying out. Imperfect tense indicates an ongoing shouting; "kept shouting", Barclay.

logonteV (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle, redundant; "called out and said."

wJsanna "hosanna" - An exclamation of praise (originally a prayer, "help", "save I pray"), either directed to Jesus, or just part of the pilgrim liturgy. Either way, the words are fulfilled in Jesus.

tw/ uiw/ Dauid "to the Son of David" - Dative of indirect object / possession after the exclamation "hosanna", as of offering praise to God. Matthew shapes the words as a declaration that Jesus is the messianic son of David. Jesus' coming ushers in the long-awaited eschatological salvation, although from the crowds point of view, such would be viewed in national political terms.

euloghmenoV (eulogew) perf. pas. part. "blessed" - having been blessed is. The participle is adjectival, predicative, "the one coming in the name of the Lord has been blessed", ie., he is in a state of divine grace, as NIV. Psalm 118:26, words addressed to pilgrims coming to the temple; "blessed in the name of Yahweh is he that cometh." Note how some treat the participle as attendant on "Hosanna", so as a request; "God save David's son, God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord", Barclay.

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

en + dat. "in [the name of the Lord]" - Adverbial use of the preposition expressing manner; he comes "with the Lord's authority."

en + dat. "[hosanna] in [the highest]" - Again the preposition is adverbial expressing manner. The expression of praise is repeated, "praise be to God", TEV.


vi] The reaction of the population of Jerusalem and their question regarding Jesus' identity, v10-11. Mark has Jesus weeping over the city while Matthew focuses on the entry. Jesus probably enters the city near the north entrance to the outer court of the temple. By this time many in the city are caught up in the event, but of course, question what it all means. They are not actually asking "Who is this?", but rather "Who is this Jesus?" For many in the crowd Jesus is just a local prophet, certainly not the messiah.

eiselqontoV (eisercomai) gen. aor. part. "when [Jesus] entered" - [and he] having entered [into jerusalem]. The genitive absolute participle introduces a temporal clause, as NIV.

pasa hJ poliV "the whole city" - all the city. Nominative subject of the verb "to shake." "Everyone in the city", CEV; "the people", TEV.

eseisqh (seiw) aor. "was stirred" - shaken. "Went wild with excitement", REB.

legousa (legw) pres. part. "and said" - saying [who is this?] Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "was shaken", as NIV; "were stirred up and asked." Possibly consecutive, expressing result, "were stirred up and so asked ...."


oiJ ocloi (oV) "the crowds" - Nominative subject of the verb "to say." The "crowds" obviously refers to the pilgrims who have accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem.

oJ profhthV "the prophet" - [were saying, this is] the prophet [jesus]. Predicate nominative. It is not clear to what degree this is a confessional statement - the crowds are always fickle. Matthew seems to be referring to the wider group of pilgrims entering the city, rather than just the disciples, so they are probably not saying that Jesus is the long awaited prophet promised in the scriptures, but rather a local prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. Nazareth is an interesting reference, given that Jesus' center of ministry has been Capernaum. Seeing he grew up in Nazareth, it is probably assumed that it was his place of birth. At any rate, the statement falls far short of a declaration of Jesus' messianic credentials.

apo + gen. "of [Nazareth]" - from [nazareth]. Expressing source / origin; "from Nazareth."

thV GalilaiaV (a) gen. "in Galilee" - of galilee. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic, locative; "Nazareth which is located in Galilee."


Matthew Introduction



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