ICC New Testament Commentary
And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,(M) 17:1. And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, and James, and John his brother, and leadeth them up into a high mountain privately.] So Mk., without τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ and with μόνους after κατʼ ἰδίαν. For Mt.’s omission of one of two synonymous expressions, see on 8:16.
(M) 2. And was transfigured before them; and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment became white as the light.] Mk.: “And was transfigured before them; and His raiment became glistening, very white, as a fuller on earth cannot so whiten.”—μετεμορφώθη] Both the later Evangelists seem to have found difficulty in the use of this word in reference to Christ. It was ambiguous, and it might easily be misinterpreted. Lk. omits it, and substitutes ἐγένετο—τὸ εἶδος τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ ἕτερον. For this, cf. Daniel 5:6 LXX. ἡ ὅρασις αὐτοῦ ἠλλοιώθη, Theod. ἡ μορφὴ ἠλλοιώθη, Secrets of Enoch 1:7 “the appearance of my countenance was changed.” Mt. retains the word, but explains it by adding καὶ ἔλαμψεν τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ὡς ὁ ἥλιος. For this, cf. Secrets of Enoch 1:5 “their faces shone like the sun,” 19:1 “their faces shining more than the rays of the sun,” 2 ES 7:97 “their face shall shine as the sun,” Revelation 1:16 “His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” In Enoch 14:20 the simile is used of raiment, “His raiment did shine more brightly than the sun.”—τὰ δὲ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο λευκὰ ὡς τὸ φῶς] τὰ δέ for καὶ τά, as often. Mt. omits Mk.’s στίλβοντα. This word is used elsewhere of metals, e.g. brass, Ezekiel 40:3, Dn (Th.) 10:6; or of hills reflecting the sun’s rays, 1 Mac 6:39. Lk. substitutes ἐξαστράπτων, which is the LXX. equivalent of Theodotion’s στίλβοντος in Daniel 10:6. For Mk.’s simile of the fuller, which Lk. omits, Mt. substitutes ὡς τὸ φῶς.
(M) 3. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him.] Mk. has: “And there appeared to them Elias with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.”—καὶ ἰδού] see on 1:20. The order Moses and Elias, substituted by Mt. and Lk. for Elias with Moses, is probably simply due to a natural desire for the chronological order; cf. Lk.’s order in 11:31, 32, as compared with Matthew 12:41, Matthew 12:42. On Elijah as the expected forerunner of the Messiah, see note on v. 10. There seem to be traces in Jewish literature of a belief that Moses would accompany Elijah when he came; see Volz, Jüd. Eschat. 191-193, and cf. Jochanan ben Zaccai in Midr. Debarim R. Par. 111 (Wünsche), p. 55: “When I bring the prophet Elijah, you shall both (Moses and Elijah) come together.” Moses may be referred to as one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3; see Bousset and Swete, in loc., and Tert. Anim. 50.
(M) 4. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, I will make here three booths; for Thee one, and for Moses one, and for Elias one.] Mk.: “And Peter answered and saith to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three booths,” etc. For the Semitic use of ἀποκριθείς, see Dalm. Words, p. 24. δέ for καί, as often. ἑ͂πεν for λέγει, as often.—Κύριε] see on 8:2. Ῥαββεί occurs again in Mark 10:51, Mark 11:21, Mark 14:45, Mt. retains it only in the last instance.—τρεῖς σκηνάς] The idea apparently is that of prolonging the scene. Mk. adds at the end; “For He did not know what to answer; for they were very afraid.” For Mt.’s omission, see Introduction, pp. xxxiii f.; and cf. the omission of Mark 14:40c The “fear” is postponed by Mt. to a more suitable place in v. 6.
(M) 5. While He was still speaking, behold, a cloud of light over-shadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My Son, the Beloved its whom I took pleasure; hear Him.]—ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος] is inserted by the editor; cf. similar insertions, Matthew 12:46 = Mark 3:31, and Matthew 9:18 = Mark 5:21. In both these passages, however, the clause is placed at the beginning of a section as a connecting link. Here there seems no reason for the insertion. Lk. has a similar clause; see below. Mk. has καὶ ἐγένετο here twice, and in 1:9, 11, 2:23, 4:4, 39. Mt avoids it in 1:9, 2:23, 4:4. He has it 5 times in a formula, 7:28, 11:1, 13:53, 19:1, 25:1. In 3:17 = Mark 1:9 he has καὶ ἰδού, and in clause b here he assimilates to that passage. In clause a he has simply ἰδού.—νεφέλη] Mt. adds φωτινή; cf. Revelation 14:14 νεφέλη λευκή. The cloud is the symbol of the divine presence. It was to reappear in the Messianic period; cf. 2 Malachi 2:8 ὀφθήσεται ἡ δόξα τοῦ Κυρίον καὶ ἡ νεφέλη.—ἐπεσκίασεν] cf. Exodus 40:29 ἐπεσκίαζεν ἐπʼ αὐτὴν ἡ νεφέλη.—καὶ ἰδού] for Mk.’s καὶ ἐγένετο, assimilated to 3:17.—οὗτός ἐστιν, κ.τ.λ.] See on 3:17. Mt. assimilates to that passage by adding ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα.—ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ] cf. Deuteronomy 18:15, αὐτοῦ ἀκούσεσθε. Christ was the prophet foretold by Moses.
(E) 6. And the disciples, when they heard it, fell upon their face, and feared exceedingly.]
(E) 7. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Rise up, and fear not.] Mk. has nothing corresponding to these two verses. Mt., who has omitted ἔκφοβοι γὰρ ἐγένοντο from 6, where “He knew not what to answer; for they were very afraid” seems to express a degree of bewilderment on the part of the Apostles which is unexpected, expands it here into the statement that the disciples were exceedingly afraid when they heard the divine voice from the cloud of light. Lk. places the “fear” at the entry into the cloud.—σφόδρα] occurs 7 times in Mt., 1 in Mk., 1 in Lk.—προσῆλθεν] see on 4:3.
(M) 8. And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, save Jesus only.] Mk. has: “And suddenly, looking round, they saw no one with them, save Jesus only.” Mt. has modified to suit the previous verse. “Suddenly looking round” would harmonise badly with “Jesus came and touched them.”—οὐδένα] Mt. omits Mk.’s οὐκέτι; see Introduction, p. xxxi.
1-8. Mt. and Lk. both modify Mk. in some striking respects. In some of these modifications they agree, but not in others, .e.g. both feel the necessity of explaining μετεμορφώθη, but do so in different ways; see above. Both omit στίλβοντα, but Lk. substitutes ἐξαστράπτων. Both omit the simile of the fuller, but Mt substitutes ὡς τὸ φῶς. Both transfer the fear of the disciples to another part of the narrative, but they do not agree in the position which they assign to it; see on v. 7. These changes look like independent editing. Further, both agree in καὶ ἰδού and in Μωυσῆς καὶ Ἠλείας, Mat_3, Lk 30; in εἶπεν, Mat_4, Lk 33; in ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος, Mat_5 = ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ λέγοντος, Lk 34; and in λέγουσα, Mat_5, Lk 35. Of these all except the insertion of “while He was still speaking” = “while He was saying these things,” may be accidental coincidences. The additions of Mt. in vv. 5, 6, 7 are probably due to the editor. On the other hand, Lk 31-32 and ἐκλελεγμένος in 35 for ἀγαπητός rather suggest that Lk. had a second source for the narrative. But they might be explained equally well by supposing that Lk. is inserting reminiscences of other versions of the incident, or as simply editorial insertions. The insertion of “while He was still speaking” = “while He was saying these things,” can hardly be purely accidental, but is insufficient even in combination with the other small details, καὶ ἰδού, Μωυσῆς καὶ Ἠλείας, εἶπεν, λέγουσα, to serve as a basis for the theory that Mt. and Lk. had in common a second narrative which they both used in addition to Mk. If so, their divergences, e.g. in Mat_2 = Lk 29, in Lk 31, 32, in Mt 6-7, and in Lk 33, cause fresh difficulties. Rather Lk. may be supposed to have read Mt., and to have occasionally written reminiscences of Mt.’s phraseology.
(M) 9. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell no man the vision, until the Son of Man be risen from the dead.] Mk. has: “And as they came down from the mountain, He charged (διεστείλατο) them that they should recount to no man what they saw, except when the Son of Man should rise from the dead.”
ἐγερθῇ for ἀναστῇ; cf. on 16:21.
Mk. has here the words: “And they kept the saying to themselves, disputing what the ‘rising from the dead’ was.” Mt. omits other statements of misunderstanding on the part of the disciples; cf. the omission of Mark 6:52, Mark 8:17, and see Introduction, pp. xxxiii f.
(M) 10. And the disciples asked Him, saying, Why therefore do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?] Mk. has: “And they were asking Him, saying, Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Two facts in the preceding narrative may have suggested this question. The disciples had seen Elijah on the mountain. In what relation did this appearance stand to the coming which was attributed to him by the official theologians? Further, it was part of this official theory, that Elijah would prepare the way for the Messiah by restoring all things. (On this see Volz, Jüd. Eschat. p. 192.) But if all things were restored, and Israel was made ready for the Messiah, what did Christ mean by foretelling His death and resurrection? Why death in view of the restorative work of the forerunner?—ἐπηρώτησαν] aor. for Mk.’s imperf, as often. τί for Mk.’s ambiguous ὅτι; cf. similar changes in 17:19 = Mark 9:28, Matthew 9:11 = Mark 2:16.
(M) 11. And He answered and said, Elijah indeed cometh, and shall restore all things.] Mk. has: “And He said to them, Elijah indeed having come first, restores all things.“—ἀποκατατήσει] for Mk.’s ἀποκατιστάνει is an assimilation to the LXX. of Malachi 4:5. Christ answers that the scribes are right in expecting a return of Elijah to accomplish a restoration, because so much was foretold in the prophet Malachi.
The words which follow in Mk. are very obscurely expressed: “And how has it been written concerning the Son of Man, that He should suffer much, and be set at nought?” Does this mean: “It has not been so prophesied. Elijah’s coming was foretold, but not the Messiah’s suffering”? Or, “Seeing that Elijah was predicted as coming to restore, in what sense are the prophecies of Messiah’s suffering to be understood”? Or, “Elijah indeed comes, and (yet) how has it been written of the Son of Man? (It stands written) that He should suffer”? “But I say to you that Elijah has come,” that is, “It was not only foretold that he should come, but he has come in the person of John the Baptist.” “And they did to him whatever they wished.” That is, “And he did not restore all things, because Herod thwarted prophecy by putting John to death. Thus no restoration has taken place, and there is room for the fulfilment of the prophecies of Messiah’s death.” “As it has been written concerning Him.” To what does this refer? The answer is generally found in 1 K 19:2, 10 “The fate intended for Elijah had overtaken John: he had found his Jezebel in Herodias” (Swete). But how can this prophecy by type and contrast explain the matter of fact words καθὼς γέγραπται ἐπʼ αὐτόν? How can the escape of Elijah from death at the hands of Jezebel be a prophecy of the execution of John the Baptist at the instigation of Herodias? Mt. has re-edited the passage in order to simplify it. He omits the obscure question Mk 12b, and the equally obscure καθὼς γέγραπται ἐπʼ αὐτόν. The reference to Herodias can hardly have been present to his mind, for he has omitted Mk.’s statements that she persecuted the Baptist. Further, he adds: οὐκ ἐπέγνωσαν αὐτὸν ἀλλά, to explain the failure of the prophecy that Elijah should restore all things, and to compensate for the omission of Mk 12b adds the definite statement: οὕτως καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μέλλει πάσχειν ὑπʼ αὐτῶν.
(M) 12. And I say to you, That Elijah has already come, and they did not recognise him, but did in his case whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is about to sufer from them.]—οὐκ ἐπέγνωσαν αὐτόν] i.e. did not recognise Elijah in the person of the Baptist.—ἠθέλησαν] aor. for imperf., as often.—ἐποίησαν—ὅσα ἠθέλησαν] Cf. Daniel 11:16 ποιήσει—κατὰ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ.—μέλλει] see on 16:27.
(E) 13. Then understood the disciples that He spake to them concerning John the Baptist.] An editorial comment in favour of the disciples; cf. 16:12.
(M) 14. And when they came to the multitude.] Mk. has: “And having come to the disciples, they saw a great multitude, and scribes disputing with them. And straightway all the multitude seeing Him, were astonished; and running up, were saluting Him. And He asked them, Why dispute ye with them?” Mt. shortens the narrative throughout. Here he omits as elsewhere the question in the mouth of Christ. See Introduction, p. xxxii. The rest he probably passes over because it is ambiguously expressed. Who were the parties to the dispute—the scribes and the disciples, or the scribes and the multitude? Why should the people be astonished (ἐκθαμβεῖν is a strong word) when they saw Christ?
There came to Him a man, kneeling down, and saying.] Mk. has: “And there answered Him one out of the multitude.”—προσῆλθεν] see on 4:3.
(M) 15. Lord, have pity on my son: because he is moonstruck, and in evil plight: for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water.] Mk. has: “Teacher, I brought my son to Thee, having a dumb devil; and wheresoever it takes him, it throws him down: and he foams, and gnashes his teeth, and wastes away.” And in v. 22 “And often it cast him into the fire, and into waters, to destroy him.” The symptoms seem to be those of some form of epileptic seizure, described in Mk. under terms of demoniac possession. Mt. omits the references to demoniac possession, except in vv. 18, 20.—κύριε] for Mk.’s διδάσκαλε. A similar change in 8:25.—σελμνιάζεται] only again in 4:24.
(M) 16. And I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not heal him.] Mk. has: “And I spoke to Thy disciples that they should cast him out, and they could not (ἴσχυσαν).—προσήνεγκα] See on 4:3.—θεραπεῦσαι] because Mt. omits the references to demoniac possession.
(M) 17. And Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him to Me here.] Mk. omits ὁ Ἰησοῦς.—εἶπεν] for Mk.’s λέγει, as often.—καὶ διεστραμμένη] is not in Mk.; cf. Deuteronomy 32:5.—μεθʼ ὑμῶν] “in your company.” Mk. has πρὸς ὑμᾶς; cf. Mark 6:3.—ὧδε] is not in Mk.; cf. Matthew 14:18. Mk. adds here eight verses describing how the boy was brought, how the spirit rent him so that he fell on the earth and wallowed foaming, how Christ asked how long he had been so afflicted. Then follows a short dialogue with the father, after which Christ commands the spirit to come forth; upon which the spirit having “cried and rent him much, came forth: and he became as dead; so that many said that he had died.” Jesus then took him by the hand, and he rose up. For all this Mt. simply has:
(M) 18. And Jesus rebuked him; and the demon came forth from him: and the boy was healed from that hour.] It is probable that Mt. has intentionally omitted Mk.’s account of this healing. He elsewhere omits questions in the mouth of Christ; see Introduction, p. xxxii. He elsewhere has omitted a narrative of the expulsion of a demon, Mark 1:23-28, in which it was said that after the command of Christ the demon rent the sufferer and cried out. And, lastly, he has elsewhere omitted a miracle in which the healing was described as a gradual process, Mark 8:22-26. He therefore substitutes the simple statement that Christ rebuked the demon, and the boy was healed; but curiously enough retains the clause that the demon came out, although he has elsewhere in the narrative, except in the next two verses, suppressed the references to features of demoniac possession. For ἀπὸ τῆς ὥρας ἐκείνης, cf. 8:13, 9:22, 15:28.
(M) 19. Then came the disciples to Jesus privately, and said, Why could not we cast him out?] Mk. has: “And when He entered into a house, His disciples privately were asking Him, Why (ὅτι) could not we cast him out?” For Mt.’s omission of the house, see on 15:15. διὰ τί for Mk.’s ὅτι; cf. τί, 17:10, for ὅτι, and 9:11 διὰ τί, for ὅτι.
(M) 20. And He with to them, Because of your little faith: for verily I say to you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove hence yonder; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.] Mk. has: “And He said to them, This kind cannot go out by anything except by prayer.” This apparently means, “devils (or this particular species of devil) can only be expelled by the power of prayer which you lacked.” But the words are vague and ambiguous. Mt. omits them, and substitutes a direct reproof, “because of your little faith.” Cf. the editor’s use of ὀλιγόπιστος in 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8. To emphasise the effect of faith, he adds a saying, influenced, perhaps, by ὄρος, 17:1, 9, which recurs in a different form in 21:21, where it is taken from Mk. Luke 17:6 has a similar but quite independent saying.—ὀλιγοπιστίαν] πίστις here is different from the trust implied in 8:10, 9:2, 22, 29, 15:8, 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8. In all these passages it is assurance, trust in the power and love of God or of Christ. Here it is the same trust, but combined with the confidence that the man who has it can himself apply the divine power to work miracles. Cf. 21:21 and 1 Corinthians 13:2. The Talmudic writers use “uprooter of mountains” as a term of praise for a skilful expositor of the law who removed difficulties of interpretation. See Lightfoot on Matthew 21:21.
14-20. Mt. and Lk. agree against Mk. (a) in two or three small points, e.g. λέγων, Mat_15, Lk 38; ὅτι, ib.; ἠδυνήθησαν, Mat_16, Lk 40; εἶπεν, Mat_17, Lk 41; καὶ διεστραμμένη, ib.; ὧδε, Mat_17, Lk 41; (b) in omitting the greater part of Mk 20-26, of which, however, Mt. shows a trace in v. 15 πολλάκις γάρ, κ.τ.λ. = Mk 22, and Lk. shows traces in v. 38 ἐξέφνης κράζει καὶ σπαράσσει αὐτὸν μετʼ ἀφροῦ καὶ μόλις ἀποχωρεῖ ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ συντρῖβον αὐτόν. Cf. Mk 20, 26. Lk. has transposed the convulsions of the sufferer after the command of Christ to a general description of his condition before that command. Lk. treats Mark 1:26 in a similar way. It is there said that after Christ’s command “the unclean spirit rent him, and cried with a loud voice.” Luke 4:35 omits the loud cry, and adds a clause to the effect that the demon did him no harm. It is therefore probable that the two Evangelists independently modify Mk. in this passage. The other verbal agreements are insufficient as a basis for a theory of a second source used by Mt. and Lk. It may more probably be supposed that Lk. had read Mt., and inserted reminiscences of his phraseology into his own account.
20. όλιγοπιστίαν] א B. 1 13 22 33 124 346 S2. ἀπιστίαν, C D al S1 latt όλιγοπιστια occurs only here, but όλιγόπιστος occurs 4 times in Mt. Internal evidence is in favour of όλιγοπιστία—(1) in view of the facts collected in Introduction, pp. xxxiii f., it is unlikely that the editor would have written ἀπιστία here, whilst his use of όλιγόπιστος 4 times of the Apostles would suggest όλιγοπιστία as a suitable word here; (2) the substitution in the MSS. of the common άπιστία for the rare όλιγοπιστία is easier than the reverse process.
21. τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορύται εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ] So אb C D al latt Omit א* B. 33 e ff1 S1 S2. The words are interpolated here from Mark 9:29, which had already been corrupted by the addition of καὶ νηστείᾳ.
(M) 22. And whilst they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.] Mk. has: “And they went out thence, and were going through Galilee. And He wished that no one should know it; for He was teaching His disciples, and saying to them that the Son of Man is being delivered into the hands of men.”
It is in accordance with the editor’s practice to omit Mk.’s καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν ἵνα τις γνοῖ. Cf. his omission of οὐδένα ἤθελεν γνῶναι fromMk 7:24, ἤθελεν παρελθεῖν αὐτούς from Mark 6:48. But it is difficult to see why he substitutes συστρεφομένων δὲ αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ for Mk.’s ἐπορεύοντο διὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας. συστρέφεσθαι occurs only once again in the N.T., in Acts 28:3, of S. Paul gathering sticks. It is used of the movement of soldiers or of men conspiring together. Here apparently it means simply to “gather together.”—μέλλει] See on 16:27.
(M) 23. And they shall kill Him, and on the third day He shall be raised again.] Mk. has: “And they shall kill Him; and being killed, He shall rise after three days.” See on 16:21.
(M) And they were exceedingly grieved.] Mk. has: “And they were ignorant about the saying, and were fearing to ask Him.” For Mt.’s omission of the ignorance of the disciples, see Introduction, p. xxxiii.—λυπεῖσθαι] occurs six times in Mt., twice in Mk.—σφόδρα] seven times to Mt., once in Mk.
Lk. also found a difficulty in the ignorance of the disciples in view of Christ’s plain statement. He adds a clause to the effect that “it was hidden from them that they should not perceive it,” probably meaning that their ignorance was due to the divine providence. See note on Luke 9:45.
22, 23. Mt. and Lk. agree against Mk. in the following:—δέ, Mat_22, Lk 43; εἶλεπεν, Mat_22, Lk 44. Mk. has παραδίδοται.
22. συστρεφομένων] So א B 1. ἀναστρεφομένων, C D al.
(M) 24. And when they came to Capharnaum.] Mk. has: “And they came to Capharnaum.” Mt. here inserts (24-27) the incident of the stater in the fish’s mouth. Mk. has here: “And being in a house, He was asking them, What were you disputing about on the way? And they were silent, for they had disputed with one another on the way (as to) who was the greater.” It is quite in accordance with Mt.’s practice to omit this. For his omission of questions in the mouth of Christ, see Introduction, p. xxxii. For his omission of disputes among the disciples, see on 16:19. He substitutes for it the simple statement that “the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Who is the greater in the kingdom?” 18:1. But this by itself, and as compared with Mk., would be rather abrupt. Mk.’s account of the dispute formed a suitable introduction to the dis course which follows. Mt. therefore, having omitted Mk.’s introduction, substitutes another, viz. the incident of the stater in the fish. In this story Peter was singled out by the tax-collectors as though he were in some way the representative of Christ’s followers. This affords, therefore, an occasion for the question, “Who then is the greater?” i.e. “Why is Peter assumed to be the chief among us?”
(P) They who receive the half-shekel came to Peter, and said, Does not your Master pay the half-shekel? He saith, Yes.] According to Exodus 30:13 every Jew from the age of twenty was to pay half a shekel to the Temple treasury once a year. The LXX. renders shekel by δίδραχμον, so that the sum to be paid according to the LXX. of Exodus 30:13 was τὸ ἥμισυ τοῦ διδράχμου. But Josephus, Ant. iii. 194, says that the shekel was equivalent to four Attic drachmæ, and calls the sum paid to the Temple τὸ δίδραχμου. Ant. xviii. 312, so that this was a current term for the Temple tax. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the Romans confiscated this yearly tax, and applied it to the support of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus; Josephus, Wars, vi. 218. As v. 25 shows, it is the tax paid to the Jewish Temple that is here intended. The narrative, therefore, reflects the condition of things in Palestine before the year 70 a.d. It looks like a tradition which had grown up in Palestine to regulate the position of Jewish Christians towards the Jewish authorities. Christ Himself had paid the Temple tax. His disciples should do the same. Earthly monarchs take tribute from subject peoples, not from their own race and kin. Christians, as disciples of the Son of God, were children of the heavenly King. By analogy, they should be exempted from paying tribute to His Temple. This might rightly be imposed upon the Jews who, as compared with Christians, were strangers and foreigners. But no good purpose could be gained by giving needless offence. For the tax, see Schürer, 11. i. 249 ff. We should expect here τὸ δίδραχμον. For the prominence assigned to S. Peter, see on 16:19, p. 180.
(P) 25. And when he entered into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth receive taxes or tribute; from their own people, or from aliens?]—εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν] may be a reminiscence of Mk. v. 33.—τί σοι δοκεῖ] the phrase is common in the latter part of the Gospel; cf. 18:12, 21:28, 22:17, 42, 26:66.—οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς] are obviously contrasted with God, the heavenly King; cf. 5:35.—τῶν υἱῶν αὐτῶν αὐτῶν] in Oriental idiom, means not relatives, but members of one’s own race. “Earthly monarchs (in the East) take no tribute from their own people, but from aliens.” The implied analogy is that God, the heavenly King, takes no tribute from His own people. But by His sons or people the Jews can hardly be intended. Otherwise, the meaning would be that the Temple tax, as paid by the Jews, was an unjustifiable one, not binding on the consciences of religious Jews. It might be paid voluntarily as a freewill offering, but not of necessity. It is, however, questionable whether the Lord would thus have criticised the imposition of the Temple tribute sanctioned by Old Testament precedent, Exodus 30:13. Compare, however, His criticism of the Pentateuchal distinction between clean and unclean meats. Rather the υἱοί seem to signify a class of people contrasted with the Jews. The latter are the aliens who are rightly called upon to pay tribute to the heavenly King. In this case the υἱοί must be Christ and His disciples. They were in a true sense “Sons of God,” cf. 5:9, and might claim exemption from tribute.
τέλη] taxes on goods.—κῆνσος] the capitation tax.
(P) 26. And when he said, From aliens; Jesus said to him, Then are their own people free.]
(P) 27. But that we may not cause them to stumble, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. And having opened its mouth, thou shalt find a stater. That take, and give for Me and thee.]—σκανδαλίσωμεν See on 5:29.—στατῆρα] The stater was equivalent to four drachmæ, and thus exactly equivalent to the Temple tax for two persons. The Evangelist probably recorded this tradition as illustrative of Christ’s foreknowledge and power, which emphasised His independence from obligation to pay taxes. Divine foreknowledge may also be intended in v. 25 προέφθασεν.
M the Second Gospel.
LXX. The Septuagint Version.
E editorial passages.
B. Babylonian Talmud.
S Syriac version: Curetonian.
al i.e. with other uncial MSS.
S Syriac version: Sinaitic MS.
P Palestinian traditions.
And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:
And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.