Matthew 21
Vincent's Word Studies
And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,

House of figs.

Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
A colt with her

The Lord does not separate the colt from its dam.

And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
The Lord (ὁ κύριος)

From κῦρος, supreme power, authority. Hence κύριος, one having authority, lord, owner, ruler. In classical Greek, used of the gods, and in inscriptions applied to different gods, as Hermes, Zeus, etc.; also of the head of the family, who is lord (κύριος) of the wife and children (1 Samuel 1:8, Sept.); while to the slaves he is δεσπότης. In the Pauline writings, however, the master of slaves is called both δεσπότης (1 Timothy 6:1, 1 Timothy 6:2; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18), and κύριος (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1).

In the Septuagint it is used by Sarah of her husband (Genesis 18:12; compare I Pet. en 3:6). Joseph is called lord of the country (Genesis 42:33), and is addressed by his brethren as my lord (42:10). It is applied to God (Genesis 18:27; Exodus 4:10). In the New Testament it is a name for God (Matthew 1:20, Matthew 1:22, Matthew 1:24; Matthew 2:15; Acts 11:16; Acts 12:11, Acts 12:17; Revelation 1:8). As applied to Christ, it does not express his divine nature and power. These are indicated by some accompanying word or phrase, as my God (John 20:28); of all (Acts 10:36); to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11); of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8); so that, as a title of Christ, Lord is used in the sense of Master or Ruler, or in address, Sir (Matthew 22:43, Matthew 22:45; Luke 2:11; Luke 6:46; John 13:13, John 13:14;1 Corinthians 8:6). Ὁ κύριος, the Lord, is used of Christ by Matthew only once (Matthew 21:3) until after the resurrection (Matthew 28:6). In the other gospels and in the Acts it occurs far oftener. Nevertheless, in the progress of Christian thought in the New Testament, the meaning develops toward a specific designation of the divine Saviour, as may be seen in the phrases Jesus, Christ our Lord, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Jesus our Lord.

All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
Daughter of Sion

Jerusalem. Compare daughter of Babylon for the city of Babylon (Psalm 137:8; Isaiah 47:1); daughter of Tyre for the city or people of Tyre (Psalm 45:12); daughter of my people (Isaiah 22:4).

Sitting (ὲπιβεβηκὼς)

Lit., having gone upon, or mounted. Rev., riding.

Foal of an ass (υἱὸν ὑποζυγίου)

Lit., son of a beast-of-burden. Ὑποζύγιον, from ὑπό, beneath, ζυγός, a yoke. Wyc., son of a beast-under-yoke. The phrase emphasizes the humble state of Jesus. He is mounted, not on a stately charger with embroidered and jewelled housings, nor even on an ass for the saddle, the Eastern ass being often of great beauty and spirit, and in demand for this purpose. He rides on a common beast-of-bur-den, furnished with the every-day garments of his disciples.

Garments (ἱμάτια)

Outer garments. See on Matthew 5:40.

And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
Set him thereon

But the preferable reading is ἐπεκάθισεν, he took his seat upon.

A very great multitude (ὁ πλεῖστος ὄχλος)

The A. V. is wrong. The reference is not to the size, but to the proportionate part of the multitude which followed him. Hence Rev., correctly, The most part of the multitude.

Their garments (ἑαυτῶν)

Lit., "their own garments." The disciples spread their garments on the beasts; the multitude strewed their own garments in the way. Dr. Edward Robinson, cited by Dr. Morison, speaking of the inhabitants of Bethlehem who had participated in the rebellion of 1834, says:" At that time, when some of the inhabitants were already imprisoned, and all were in deep distress, Mr. Farrar, then English consul at Damascus, was on a visit to Jerusalem, and had rode out with Mr. Nicolayson to Solomon's Pools. On their return, as they rose the ascent to enter Bethlehem, hundreds of people, male and female, met them, imploring the consul to interfere in their behalf, and afford them his protection; and all at once, by a sort of simultaneous movement, they spread their garments in the way before the horses."

The variation of tenses is not preserved in the English versions. Spread their garments, aorist tense, denoting one definite act. Cut down, spread in the way, imperfects, denoting continued action. As Jesus advanced, they kept cutting branches and spreading them, and the multitude kept crying.

And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

O save!

And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
Was moved (ἐσείσθη)

Moved is hardly strong enough. It is shaken as by an earthquake. Rev., stirred. As Morison happily observes, "a profounder ground-swell of feeling."

And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
The money-changers (κολλυβιστῶν)

From κόλλυβος, the rate of exchange. These changers sat in the temple, in the court of the Gentiles, to change the foreign coins of pilgrims into the shekel of the sanctuary for payment of the annual tribute. See on Matthew 17:24.

And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Thieves (λῃστῶν)

Rev., correctly, robbers. See on Matthew 26:55; and Luke 10:30.

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,
And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
Say (λέγουσιν)

The Rev. is more graphic, are saying. While the songs and shouts are rising, the priests turn angrily to Christ with the question, "Hearest thou what these are saying?"

Thou hast perfected (θκατηρτίσω)

The same word as at Matthew 4:21, where it is used of adjusting or mending nets. Its secondary meaning is to furnish completely, equip; hence to perfect. Thou hast provided the perfection of praise. The quotation from Psalm 8:2, follows the Septuagint, and not the Hebrew, which is, "Thou hast founded strength."

And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.
Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
A fig-tree (συκῆν μίαν)

Lit., one single fig-tree. Rev., in margin.

Presently (παραχρῆμα)

Presently, in popular speech, has acquired something of a future force. I will do such a thing presently means, I will do it, not immediately, but soon. The rendering here was correct in the older English sense of instantly. So constantly in Shakspeare:

"Prospero. Go, bring the rabble,

O'er whom I gave thee pow'r, here, to this place.

Ariel. Presently?

Pros. Ay, with a twink.

Ar. Before you can say 'come,' and 'go,'

And breathe twice; and cry 'so so;'

Each one tripping on his toe

Will be here."

Temptest, iv., 1.

Compare Matthew 21:20. "How did the fig-tree immediately wither away?" Rev.

And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.
The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?
But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
Repented (μεταμεληθεὶς)

This is a different word from that in Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; μετανοεῖτε, Repent ye. Though it is fairly claimed that the word here implies all that is implied in the other word, the New Testament writers evidently recognize a distinction, since the noun which corresponds to the verb in this passage (μεταμέλεια) is not used at all in the New Testament, and the verb itself only five times; and, in every case except the two in this passage (see Matthew 21:32), with a meaning quite foreign to repentance in the ordinary gospel sense. Thus it is used of Judas, when he brought back the thirty pieces (Matthew 27:3); of Paul's not regretting his letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:8); and of God (Hebrews 7:21). On the other hand, μετανοέω, repent, used by John and Jesus in their summons to repentance (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17), occurs thirty-four times, and the noun μετάνοια, repentance (Matthew 3:8, Matthew 3:11), twenty-four times, and in every case with reference to that change of heart and life wrought by the Spirit of God, to which remission of sins and salvation are promised. It is not impossible, therefore, that the word in this passage may have been intended to carry a different shade of meaning, now lost to us. Μεταμέλομαι, as its etymology indicates (μετά, after, and μέλω, to be an object of care), implies an after-care, as contrasted with the change of mind denoted by μετάνοια. Not sorrow for moral obliquity and sin against God, but annoyance at the consequences of an act or course of acts, and chagrin at not having known better. "It may be simply what our fathers were wont to call hadiwist (had-I-wist, or known better, I should have acted otherwise)" (Trench). Μεταμέλεια refers chiefly to single acts; μετάνοια denotes the repentance which affects the whole life. Hence the latter is often found in the imperative: Repent ye (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19); the former never. Paul's recognition of the distinction (2 Corinthians 7:10) is noteworthy. "Godly sorrow worketh repentance (μετάνοιαν) unto salvation," a salvation or repentance "which bringeth no regret on thinking of it afterwards" (ἀμεταμέλητον). There is no occasion for one ever to think better of either his repentance or the salvation in which it issued.

And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
Hedged it round about (φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν)

Rev., more literally, set a hedge about it; possibly of the thorny wild aloe, common in the East.

Digged a wine-press (ὤρυξεν ληνὸν)

In Isaiah 5:1, Isaiah 5:2, which this parable at once recalls, the Hebrew word rendered by the Septuagint and here digged, is hewed out, i.e., from the solid rock. "Above the road on our left are the outlines of a wine-fat, one of the most complete and best preserved in the country. Here is the upper basin where the grapes were trodden and pressed. A narrow channel cut in the rock conveyed the juice into the lower basin, where it was allowed to settle; from there it was drawn off into a third and smaller basin. There is no mistaking the purpose for which those basins were excavated in the solid rock" (Thomson, "Land and Book").

A tower (πύργον)

For watchmen. Stanley ("Sinai and Palestine") describes the ruins of vineyards in Judea as enclosures of loose stones, with the square gray tower at the corner of each. Allusions to these watching-places, temporary and permanent, are frequent in Scripture. Thus, "a booth in vineyard" (Isaiah 1:8). "The earth moveth to and fro like a hammock" (so Cheyne on Isaiah; A. V., cottage; Rev., hut), a vineyard-watchman's deserted hammock tossed to and fro by the storm (Isaiah 24:20). So Job speaks of a booth which the keeper of a vineyard runneth up (Job 27:18), a hut made of sticks and hung with mats, erected only for the harvest season on the field or vineyard, for the watchman who spreads his rude bed upon its high platform, and mounts guard against the robber and the beast. In Spain, where, especially in the South, the Orient has left its mark, not only upon architecture but also upon agricultural implements and methods, Archbishop Trench says that he has observed similar temporary structures erected for watch men in the vineyards. The tower alluded to in this passage would seem to have been of a more permanent character (see Stanley above), and some have thought that it was intended not only for watching, but as a storehouse for the wine and a lodging for the workmen.

Let it out (ἐξέδετο)

"There were three modes of dealing with land. According to one of these, the laborers employed received a certain portion of the fruits, say a third or a fourth of the produce. The other two modes were, either that the tenant paid a money-rent to the proprietor, or else that he agreed to give the owner a definite amount of the produce, whether the harvest had been good or bad. Such leases were given by the year or for life; sometimes the lease was even hereditary, passing from father to son. There can scarcely be a doubt that it is the latter kind of lease which is referred to in the parable: the lessees being bound to give the owner a certain amount of fruits in their season" (Edersheim, "Life and Times of Jesus"). Compare Matthew 21:34, and Mark 12:2, "that he might receive of the fruits" (ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν).

And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
They will reverence (ἐνταραπήσονται)

The verb literally means to turn toward; hence to give heed to, pay respect to.

But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
He will miserably destroy those wicked men (κακοὺς κακῶς ἀπολέσει αὐτούς)

There is a play upon the words which the A. V. misses and the Rev. preserves by rendering "miserably destroy those miserable men." So the Rheims version: "The naughty men will he bring to naught." Tynd., "He will evil destroy those evil persons." The order of the Greek words is also striking: Miserable men, miserably he will destroy them.

Which (οἵτινες)

The compound Greek pronoun marks the character of the new husbandmen more distinctly than the simple which ; husbandmen of such a character that, or belonging to that class of honest men who will give him his due.

Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
Shall be broken (συνθλασθήσεται)

The verb is stronger: broken to pieces; so Rev.

Grind him to powder (λικμήσει αὐτόν)

But the A. V. misses the picture in the word, which is that of the winnowing-fan that separates the grain from the chaff. Literally it is, will winnow him. Rev., scatter scatter as dust.

And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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