Matthew 21:23-32

Matthew 21:23-32
Proper 21A


23 When he enteredA the temple,B the chief priestsC and the eldersD

Notes on verse 23a

A “entered” = erchomai. This is to come or go.
B “temple” = hieron. From hieros (sacred, something sacred, temple, holy, set apart; something consecrated to a god). This is the word for temple.
C “chief priests” = archiereus. Related to “temple” in v23. From archo (to rule, begin, have first rank or have political power) + hiereus (a priest literal or figurative – of any faith); {from hieros (see note B above)} This is a high or chief priest.
D “elders” = prebuteros. From presbus (old man). This is an elder as one of the Sanhedrin and also in the Christian assembly in the early church.

of the peopleE cameF to him as he was teachingG and said,H

Notes on verse 23b

E “people” = laos. This is the people or crowd – often used for the chosen people. This is where the word “laity” comes from.
F “came” = proserchomai. Related to “entered” in v23. From pros (for, at, towards) + erchomai (see note A above). This is to approach, draw near, come up to. It is also used figuratively to mean worship.
G “teaching” = didasko. From dao (learn). This is to teach, direct, instruct, or impart knowledge. In the New Testament, this is almost always used for teaching scripture.
H “said” = lego. This is to speak, say, name, call, command. It is generally to convey verbally.

“By what authorityI are you doingJ these things, and who gaveK you this authority?” 

Notes on verse 23c

I “authority” = exousia. From exesti (to be permitted or lawful); {from ek (out, out of) + eimi (to be, exist)}. This is power to act or weight. It especially denotes moral authority or influence. It can mean domain, liberty, freedom, capacity, mastery, right, force, or strength.
J “doing” = poieo. This is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause.
K “gave” = didomi. To give, offer, place, bestow, deliver. This is give in a literal or figurative sense.

24 JesusL saidM to them, “I will also askN you

Notes on verse 24a

L “Jesus” = Iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone)}. This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
M “said” = apokrinomai. From apo (from, away from) + krino (to judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue; judging whether in court or in a private setting; properly, mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty; can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging). This is to reply or respond, to draw one’s own conclusions, to speak when one is expected to.
N “ask” = erotao. From eromai (to ask) OR from ereo (to say, tell, call, speak of). This is asking a question or making an earnest request. It is used between someone with whom the asker is close in some sense. So, they anticipate special consideration for their request.

oneO question;P if you tell me the answer, then I will also tellQ you by what authority I do these things. 

Notes on verse 24b

O “one” = heis. This is one, a person, only, some.
P “question” = logos. Related to “said” in v23. From lego (see note H above). This is word, statement, speech, analogy. It is a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying. It could refer to a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words. By implication, this could be a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive. It can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ.
Q “tell” = ereo. Related to “ask” in v24. See note N above.

25 Did the baptismR of JohnS comeT from heaven,U or was it of humanV origin?”

Notes on verse 25a

R “baptism” = baptisma. From baptizo (to submerge, wash, or immerse; used specially for baptism); from bapto (to dip or dye; to entirely cover with liquid, to stain). This is dipping or sinking. Also, the rite of baptism.
S “John” = Ioannes. Related to “Jesus” in v24. From Hebrew yochanan (Johanan); from Yehochanan (“the Lord has been gracious”); {from YHVH (see note L above) + chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status)}. This is John, meaning “the Lord has been gracious.”
T “come” = eimi. Related to “authority” in v23. See note I above.
U “heaven” = ouranos. May be related to oros (mountain, hill); probably related to airo (raise, take up, lift, remove). This is the air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity.
V “human” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face); {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (become, seem, appear)}. This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.

And they arguedW with one another,X “If we say,Y ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why, then, did you not believeZ him?’ 

Notes on verse 25b

W “argued” = dialogizomai. Related to “said” in v23 & “question” in v24. 16x in NT. From dia (through, because of, across, thoroughly) + logizomai (to compute or reckon up, to count; figuratively, it is coming to a conclusion or decision using logic; taking an inventory in a literal or figurative sense); {from logos (see note P above)}. This is to consider, have a back and forth debate with an uncertain conclusion. It can be multiple confused minds reinforcing a faulty conclusion.
X {untranslated} = lego. Same as “said” in v23. See note H above.
Y “say” = ereo. Same as “tell” in v24. See note Q above.
Z “believe” = pisteuo. From pistis (faith, faithfulness, belief, trust, confidence; to be persuaded or come to trust); from peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is to believe, entrust, have faith it, affirm, have confidence in. This is less to do with a series of beliefs or doctrines that one believes and more to do with faithfulness, loyalty, and fidelity. It is trusting and then acting based on that trust.

26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraidAA of the crowd,BB for allCC regardDD John as a prophet.”EE 

Notes on verse 26

AA “are afraid” = phobeo. From phobos (panic flight, fear, fear being caused, terror, alarm, that which causes fear, reverence, respect); from phebomai (to flee, withdraw, be put to flight). This is also to put to flight, terrify, frighten, dread, reverence, to withdraw or avoid. It is sometimes used in a positive sense to mean the fear of the Lord, echoing Old Testament language. More commonly, it is fear of following God’s path. This is where the word phobia comes from.
BB “crowd” = ochlos. Perhaps from echo (to have, hold, possess). This is a crowd, the common people, a rabble. Figuratively, it can refer to a riot.
CC “all” = pas. This is all or every.
DD “regard” = echo. Related to “crowd” in v26. See note BB above.
EE “prophet” = prophetes. From pro (before, in front of, earlier than) + phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view); {from phao (to shine) or phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear)}. This is a prophet or poet – one who speaks with inspiration from God.

27 So they answeredFF Jesus, “We do not know.”GG

And he saidHH to them, “Neither will I tellII you by what authority I am doing these things.

Notes on verse 27

FF “answered” = apokrinomai. Same as “said” in v24. See note M above.
GG “know” = eido. This is to know, consider perceive, appreciate, behold, or remember. It means seeing with one’s eyes, but also figuratively, it means perceiving – seeing that becomes understanding. So, by implication, this means knowing or being aware.
HH “said” = phemi. Related to “prophet” in v26. See note EE above.
II “tell” = lego. Same as “said” in v23. See note H above.

28 “What do you think?JJ A manKK hadLL twoMM sons;NN

Notes on verse 28a

JJ “think” = dokeo. From dokos (opinion). This is to have an opinion, seem, appear, think, suppose. It deals with a personal judgment. This is the root of the word “doxology.”
KK “man” = anthropos. Same as “human” in v25. See note V above.
LL “had” = echo. Same as “regard” in v26. See note DD above.
MM “two” = duo. This is two or both.
NN “sons” = teknon. From tikto (to beget, bring forth, produce). This is a child, descendant, or inhabitant.

he wentOO to the firstPP and said, ‘Son, goQQ and workRR in the vineyardSS today.’TT 

Notes on verse 28b

OO “went” = proserchomai. Same as “came” in v23. See note F above.
PP “first” = protos. From pro (before, first, in front of, earlier). This is what is first, which could be the most important, the first in order, the main one, the chief.
QQ “go” = hupago. From hupo (by, under, under the authority of) + ago (lead, bring, guide, spend, drive, carry). This is to lead under so to depart, go away, or die. It is to lead away under the command of someone else, being given a mission or objective to carry out.
RR “work” = ergazomai. From ergon (work, task, action, employment). This is to work, labor, perform, toil.
SS “vineyard” = ampelon. From ampelos (vine or grapevine as that which coils around); perhaps from the base of amphoteros (both, all); {from amphi (around) + halon (the threshing floor where grain is rolled to separate from the chaff); {from halos (threshing floor); probably from helisso (to roll up, coil, wrap)}}. This is vineyard. Figuratively, it can be the religious life of the people of Israel or the body of Christ.
TT “today” = semeron. From hemera (day, time, daybreak); perhaps from hemai (to sit). This is today, now, at present.

29 He answered, ‘UUI willVV not,’ but laterWW he changed his mindXX and went.YY 

Notes on verse 29

UU {untranslated} = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
VV “will” = thelo. This is to wish, desire, will, or intend. It is to choose or prefer in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean inclined toward or take delight in. It can have a sense of being ready to act on the impulse in question.
WW “later” = husteron. 11x in NT. From husteros (last, later); from hupo (by, under, about, subordinate to). This is afterwards, eventually, lastly.
XX “changed…mind” = metamelomai. 6x in NT. From meta (with, among, behind, beyond) + melo (to think about something, take an interest; to care or worry about something). This is to regret or repent. It is changing your mind – generally used in a positive sense. Often, it means experiencing an emotion that causes you to change your mind such that you care afterwards.
YY “went” = aperchomai. Related to “entered” and “came” in v23. From apo (from, away from) + erchomai (see note A above). This is to depart, follow, or go off in a literal or figurative sense.

30 The father wentZZ to the secondAAA and said the same, and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’BBB but he did not go.CCC 

31 Which of the two did the willDDD of his father?”EEE

They said,FFF “The first.”

Notes on verses 30-31a

ZZ “went” = proserchomai. Same as “came” in v23. See note F above.
AAA “second” = deuteros. Related to “two” in v28. From duo (see note MM above). This is second, twice, again. It is part of where “Deuteronomy” comes from, which means “second law” or “a repetition of the law.” See
BBB “sir” = kurios. Same as {untranslated} in v29. See note UU above.
CCC “go” = aperchomai. Same as “went” in v29. See note YY above.
DDD “will” = thelema. Related to “will” in v29. From thelo (see note VV above). This is the act of will, choice, purpose, or decree.
EEE “father” = pater. This is father in a literal or figurative sense. Could be elder, senior, ancestor, originator, or patriarch.
FFF “said” = lego. Same as “said” in v23. See note H above.

Jesus saidGGG to them, “TrulyHHH I tellIII you, the tax collectorsJJJ

Notes on verse 31b

GGG “said” = lego. Same as “said” in v23. See note H above.
HHH “truly” = amen. From Hebrew amen (verily, truly, amen, truth, so be it, faithfulness); from aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This word is literally firmness, but figuratively fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, responsibility, trust, truth, steadfastness. Properly, it is to be sure, certain, or firm. This is a word of emphasis indicating that something crucial follows.
III “tell” = lego. Same as “said” in v23. See note H above.
JJJ “tax collectors” = telones. From telos (an end, aim, purpose, completion, end goal, consummation, tax; going through the steps to complete a stage or phase and then moving on to the next one) + oneomai (to buy); {from onos (a price or sum)}. This is tax collector, one who worked for the Romans taking taxes from Jews. It also meant the toll house. Literally, this is “paying at the end.”

and the prostitutesKKK are going into the kingdomLLL of GodMMM aheadNNN of you. 

Notes on verse 31c

KKK “prostitutes” = porne. 12x in NT. From pornos (fornicator or immoral person); perhaps from pernemi (to sell off or export); related to piprasko (to sell with travel involved; to sell into slavery; to be devoted to); from perao (to travel); from peran (over, beyond). This is prostitute. Can be used figuratively to refer to a community that is taken with idolatry.
LLL “kingdom” = basileia. From basileus (king, emperor, sovereign); probably from basis (step, hence foot; a pace); from baino (to walk, to go). This is kingdom, rule, authority, sovereignty, royalty, a realm.
MMM “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
NNN “going…ahead” = proago. Related to “go” in v28. From pro (before, first, in front of, earlier) + ago (see note QQ above). This is to lead, go before, bring forward, walk ahead. It can be before in location or in time.

32 For John cameOOO to you in the wayPPP of righteousness,QQQ and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him, and even afterRRR you sawSSS it you did not change your minds and believe him.

Notes on verse 32

OOO “came” = erchomai. Same as “entered” in v23. See note A above.
PPP “way” = hodos. This is way, road, path, or journey. It can imply progress along a route.
QQQ “righteousness” = dikaiosune. From dikaios (correct, righteous – implies innocent; this is that which conforms to God’s notion of justice, uprightness); from dike (the principle of justice; that which is right in a way that is very clear; a decision or the execution of that decision; originally, this word was for custom or usage; evolved to include the process of law, judicial hearing, execution of sentence, penalty, and even vengeance; more commonly, it refers to what is right); may be from deiknumi (to show, point out, exhibit; figurative for teach, demonstrate, make known). This is judicial or divine approval of character or action. This is righteousness, justice, justness, divine righteousness.
RRR “after” = husteron. Same as “later” in v29. See note WW above.
SSS “saw” = horao. Related to “human” in v25. See note V above.

Image credit: “Jesus Asked About Fasting” by Bible Society Australia – The Wild Bible.

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