The King’s Family Tree

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:1

Abraham fathered Isaac, Isaac fathered Jacob, and Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers. Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez fathered Hezron, Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David the king.

David fathered Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon fathered Rehoboam, Rehoboam fathered Abijah, Abijah fathered Asa, Asa fathered Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat fathered Joram, Joram fathered Uzziah, Uzziah fathered Jotham, Jotham fathered Ahaz, Ahaz fathered Hezekiah, 10 Hezekiah fathered Manasseh, Manasseh fathered Amon, Amon fathered Josiah, 11 and Josiah fathered Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 Now after the deportation to Babylon, Jeconiah fathered Shealtiel, Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel, 13 Zerubbabel fathered Abiud, Abiud fathered Eliakim, Eliakim fathered Azor, 14 Azor fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Achim, Achim fathered Eliud, 15 Eliud fathered Eleazar, Eleazar fathered Matthan, Matthan fathered Jacob, 16 and Jacob fathered Joseph, the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Christ.2

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon until the Christ, fourteen generations.

The Birth of Christ

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ came about in this way. During the time when his mother Mary was engaged3 to Joseph, and before the two of them4 had come together, Mary was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Now her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, was unwilling to make a public example of her; therefore he had in mind to divorce her privately. 20 But while he was considering these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus,5 for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place in order to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call his name Immanuel,” which, when translated, means “God with us.”6 24 So when Joseph awoke from his sleep, he did just as the angel of the Lord had commanded him: He took Mary as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her7 until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Notes

  1. All names are given in their OT forms
  2. Greek for Anointed One; Heb. Messiah
  3. Greek betrothed (but legally reckoned as Joseph’s wife, vv. 19, 24)
  4. Lit. they
  5. I.e. “Yahweh saves,” or “Yahweh is salvation.”
  6. Is. 7:14, 9:6-7
  7. Lit. was not knowing her

 

The Visit of the Magi

2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, Magi1 from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the child who is born2 to be king of the Jews; for we saw his star in the east3 and have come to worship him?” Now when Herod the king heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. So when he had assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. Then they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is how the prophet wrote: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”4

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. And sending them on to Bethlehem, he said, “Go and search carefully for the young child; and when you have found him, report back to me so that I too may come and worship him.”

So after hearing from the king, the wise men once again took up their journey; and behold, the star they had seen in the east continually went before them until it arrived and stood over the place where the young child was. 10 Now when they saw the star, they rejoiced with an exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had entered the house, they saw the young child with his mother Mary; and they fell to the ground and worshiped him. And opening up their treasure boxes, they presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Then, being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way.

Warning and Flight

13 Now after they had left, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt; and remain there until I bring you word, for Herod is going to seek the child in order to kill him.” 14 So when he had gotten up, Joseph took the child and his mother and departed by night for Egypt; 15 and he remained there until the death of Herod. All this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”5

Rachel Weeping

16 Now when Herod realized that the wise men had deceived him, he was beside himself with rage. So sending out men, he had all the little boys6 in Bethlehem and its surrounding districts put to death, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then the words7 spoken through the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled, who said,8 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, for they were no more.”9

Return to Nazareth

19 Now after Herod had died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream while he was still in Egypt, 20 saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel; for the men who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21 So he arose, took the child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in the place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. So after being warned in a dream, he withdrew into10 the districts of Galilee. 23 And he came and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: that he would be called a Nazarene.11

Notes

  1. Traditionally, wise men; possibly Zoroastrian priests, specializing in astronomy, astrology, and natural science.
  2. Lit. the one born
  3. Or possibly when it rose
  4. Mic. 5:2
  5. Hos. 11:1
  6. Or children
  7. Lit. What was
  8. Lit. saying
  9. Jer. 31:15
  10. Or turned aside for
  11. Or be fulfilled: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

 

The Ministry of John the Baptizer

Now in those days John the Baptizer came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!” For this was he of whom the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; straighten out his paths!’”1 Now John himself wore an outer garment made of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. At that time people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and the entire region surrounding the Jordan began going out to him; and he was baptizing them in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Very well then, bring forth fruit to prove your2 repentance! 9 And don’t presume to say among3 yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these very stones. 10 Moreover, the axe is already laid against the root of the trees; every tree, therefore, that fails to bring forth good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 As for me, I am baptizing you in water for repentance. But the one coming after me has far greater power,4 and I am unfit even to carry5 his sandals. He will baptize you in6 the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Jesus Fulfills All Righteousness

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 But John was trying to prevent him,7 saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and you are coming to me?” 15 But in reply Jesus said to him, “Permit it at this time, for it is proper8 that we fulfill all righteousness in this way.” Then John consented.9 16 And after he was baptized, Jesus immediately came up out of the water;10 and behold, the heavens were opened,11 and John12 saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. 17 And behold, a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Notes

  1. Is. 40:3
  2. Lit. fruit worthy of
  3. Or within
  4. Lit. is mightier than me
  5. Or remove
  6. Or with
  7. Lit. he was preventing him
  8. Or fitting
  9. Lit. permitted him
  10. Or went up from the water
  11. Many mss add to him
  12. Lit. he

 

Temptation in the Wilderness

Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he hungered. Then the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” But Jesus answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”1

Then the devil took Jesus with him to the holy city, stood him on the pinnacle2 of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written that he will command his angels to care for you; and they will lift you up with their hands, lest you should strike your foot against a stone.’”3 But Jesus said to him, “It is also written, ‘You shall not force a test on the Lord your God.’”4

Once again the devil took Jesus with him, this time to a very high mountain; and he showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “If you fall down and worship me, I will give you all these things.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him alone you shall serve.’”5 11 Then the devil left him; and behold, angels came and ministered to his needs.6

Ministry in Galilee

12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth, he went and settled in Capernaum, a town by the sea in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah, when he said,7 15 The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward8 the sea, this side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: 16 The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and on those who sit in the region and shadow of death a light has dawned.”9 17 Now from that time on Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!”

The First Disciples

18 Now as he was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew—casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Come, follow me,10 and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 So at once they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there, he saw two more brothers—James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John—sitting in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. So he called them as well22 and immediately leaving the boat and their father behind, they followed him.

Healing for the Multitudes

23 Then Jesus began traveling throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of sickness and every kind of infirmity11 among the people. 24 And the news of him spread throughout all Syria, with the result that the people12 brought him all who were sick: those taken with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, and those who were epileptics and paralytics. And he healed them all25 And huge crowds followed him, people from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and the regions beyond the Jordan.

Notes

  1. Deut. 8:3
  2. Or highest point; lit. wing
  3. Ps. 91:11-12
  4. Deut. 6:16
  5. Deut. 6:13
  6. Lit. to him
  7. Lit. saying
  8. Lit. the way beside
  9. Is. 9:1-2
  10. Lit. Come after me
  11. Or disease
  12. Lit. they

 

The Beatitudes

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain; and after he had seated himself, his disciples came to him. 2And opening his mouth, he began to teach them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the humble,1 for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.2
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and speak all kinds of evil against you falsely because of me. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for that is how they persecuted the prophets who came before you.

Believers Are Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how can it become salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and then place it under a basket; instead, they place it on its stand,3 and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Christ and the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets: I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For I tell you the truth: Till heaven and earth pass away, not one iota or one serif4 will pass from the Law till all is fulfilled. 19 Therefore whoever sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches men to do the same, he will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you this: Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Murder

21 “You have heard that it was said to5 the men of long ago, ‘You shall not commit murder,’6 and ‘Anyone who murders will be liable to the court.’ 22 But I say to you that anyone who goes on in anger against his brother7 will be liable to the court.8 Moreover, anyone who says ‘Raca!’9 to his brother will be liable to the supreme court.10 And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to punishment in the fires of Gehenna.11 23 So then: If you are bringing your gift12 to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there, in front of the altar, and first go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. 25 Make peace with your opponent quickly, while the two of you are still on your way to court,13 lest your opponent hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, so that you are thrown into jail. 26 I tell you the truth: You will not get out of there till you have paid the last cent.

Adultery

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’14 28 But I say to you that anyone who looks at a woman in order to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your right eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna.15 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna.

Marriage

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’16 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the grounds of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to17 the men of long ago, ‘Do not swear falsely, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’18 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 nor by the earth, for it is the footstool for his feet, nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor should you swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37 You should simply say, ‘Yes, yes,’ or ‘No, no.’ Anything beyond these stems from the evil one.19

Enemies

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’20 39 But I say to you, do not retaliate against21 an evil-doer. Instead, whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other as well. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him also have your cloak. 41 And whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you for help; and from the one who seeks to borrow from you, do not turn away.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor22 and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be seen as23 sons of your Father in heaven; for he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you deserve? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more are you doing than anyone else? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore, you too must be24 perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.25

Notes

  1. Or meek
  2. Or satisfied
  3. Lit. on the lampstand
  4. I.e. very small Hebrew marks
  5. Or by
  6. Ex. 20:13;Deut. 5:17
  7. Some mss add without a cause
  8. An apparent reference to a lesser Jewish tribunal
  9. Aramaic for empty-head or good-for-nothing
  10. Lit. Sanhedrin
  11. Lit. the Gehenna of fire. Gehenna was a smoldering garbage dump outside Jerusalem
  12. Or offering
  13. Lit. while you are with him in the way
  14. Ex. 20:14; Deut. 5:18
  15. Traditionally hell
  16. Deut. 24:1, 3
  17. Or by
  18. Lev. 19:12
  19. Or evil; lit. (is) out of the evil (one)
  20. Ex. 21:24, Lev. 24:20
  21. Or resist
  22. Lev. 19:18
  23. Or be, become
  24. Lit. you shall be
  25. See Lev. 19:2; Deut. 18:13

 

Almsgiving

“Take care that you don’t perform your good deeds1 in front of men, in order to be seen by them; if you do, you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, whenever you give to the poor, you are not to sound a trumpet before you like the hypocrites do in the streets and synagogues, in order to receive praise from men. I tell you the truth: They have their reward. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be done in secret; then your Father, who is watching in secret, will reward you himself.2

Prayer

“And when you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. I tell you the truth: They have their reward. 6 But as for you, when you pray, go into your inner room;3 and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is with you in secret; and your Father, who is watching in secret, will reward you. 7 Also, when you pray, don’t be like the Gentiles, repeating yourselves over and again; for they think they will be heard due to the abundance of their words. You are not to4 be like them, for your Father knows the things you need before you ask him. Here then is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heavenmay your name be held in honor. 10 May your kingdom come. May your will be done: as it is in heaven, so too upon the earth. 11 Give us today our daily5 bread. 12 And forgive us our debts as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’6 14 For if you forgive others7 of their sins, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you do not forgive others of their sins,8 neither will your Father forgive you yours.

Fasting

16 “And whenever you fast, don’t be like the hypocrites, looking sad and sullen; for they distort their faces in order to show men that they are fasting. I tell you the truth: They have their reward. 17 But as for you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting will not be seen by men, but by your Father who is with you in secret; and your Father, who is watching in secret, will reward you.

Treasure in Heaven

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves cannot break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be as well. 22 The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore if your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters, for he will either hate the one and love the other, or he will cling to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Worry

25 “For this reason I say to you, don’t worry about your life: what you will eat or what you will drink. And don’t worry about your body: what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the wild birds,9 how they neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. And are you not of far greater value than they? 27 Moreover, which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his appointed span of life? 10

28 “Again, why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, the way in which they grow: They neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was never dressed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you who have so little faith?

31 “Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles are constantly seeking all these things; but you need not, for11 your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 Instead, seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 So then: Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.12

Notes

  1. Lit. your righteousness
  2. Some mss add openly
  3. I.e. an inner room of one’s house, hidden from the outside world
  4. Lit. Therefore do not
  5. Or necessary
  6. Or evil; lit. the evil (one)
  7. Lit. men
  8. A few ancient mss omit their sins (trespasses)
  9. Lit. birds of the air
  10. Or add a single cubit to his stature
  11. Or possibly all these things; and (besides)
  12. Lit. Sufficient for the day is its own troubles

 

Judging 

“Do not judge, so that you yourself will not be judged; for in the way you judge, you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.1 Moreover, why do you stare at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to consider the beam in your own? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look: There’s a beam in your own! You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s. 

Wisdom  

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs, and do not throw your pearls before the pigs; otherwise they may trample your pearls beneath their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. 

Perseverance 

“Keep on asking, and it will be given to you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Or what man among you, if his son asks him for some bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks him for a fish, will he give him a snake? 11 If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want others2 to do for you, do the same for them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.

The Narrow Gate  

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide—and the road is broad—that leads to destruction, and many are entering by it. 14 How3 narrow is the gate—and how difficult the road—that leads to life; and how few are those who find it! 

False Prophets

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 By their fruits you will know them. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then: By their fruits you will know them.

21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 In that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and drive out demons in your name, and perform many miraculous works of power in your name?’ 23 And then I will openly declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!’4

The Good Foundation  

24 “So then: Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice5 may be likened to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floodwaters6 rose,7 and the winds blew and beat against that house; but it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice may be likened to a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floodwaters rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; and it fell with a terrible fall.”8

28 Now when Jesus had finished saying all these things,9 the crowds stood amazed at his teaching; 29 for he was not teaching them like the scribes, but as one who had authority.

Notes

  1. Lit. it will be measured to you
  2. Lit. all things whatsoever you desire men
  3. Some mss For
  4. See Ps. 6:8
  5. Lit. and does them
  6. Or streams, rivers
  7. Lit. came
  8. Lit. and it fell, and great was its fall
  9. Lit. And it came about when Jesus had finished (completed) these words (sayings)

 

Christ the Healer

Now when Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came up to him, knelt down before him, and said, “Lord, if you’re willing, you can make me clean.” So Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And at once the man was cleansed of his leprosy.1 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

Now when he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came up to him and began to plead with him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home, paralyzed and dreadfully tormented.” So Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But in reply the centurion said, “Lord, I’m not worthy that you should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, and I myself have soldiers under me. So I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.10 Now when Jesus heard that, he stood amazed; and he said to those who were following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found such great faith in anyone in Israel!2 11 And I tell you this: Many will come from the east and the west, and will recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where3 there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And in that very hour his servant was healed.

Further Healings

14 Now when Jesus had entered Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. 15 So he touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose and began to serve him. 16 And when evening fell, they brought him many who were tormented by demons; and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick, 17 so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, when he said, “He took away4 our infirmities,5 and carried off our diseases.”6

Uncompromising Discipleship

18 Now when Jesus saw the crowd7 around him, he ordered his disciples to depart for the other side of the sea19 Then a certain scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 But Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the wild birds8 have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Then another one of the9 disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Lord of Wind and Sea

23 Now when Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, a great storm arose on the sea, so great that the waves began to swamp the boat. But Jesus himself was asleep. 25 So they10 went over to him and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re about to die!” 26 But he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and a great calm fell upon the waters. 27 And the disciples11 stood in awe, saying, “What sort of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

Satan Driven Out

28 Now when Jesus came to the other side—to the territory of the Gadarenes—two demon-possessed men emerged from the tombs and rushed towards him, men so exceedingly violent that no one could pass through by that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, saying, “Son of God, what do you want with us?12 Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a good way off from them there was a large herd of pigs, feeding. 31 So the demons pleaded with him, saying, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” 32 Then he said to them, “Begone!” And when the demons came out, they entered the herd of pigs; and behold, the entire herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and died in the waters. 33 Then the herdsmen fled; and when they had entered13 the city, they reported everything, including14 what had happened to the demoniacs. 34 And behold, the entire city went out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw him,15 they pleaded with him to leave their territory.

Notes

  1. Lit. his leprosy was cleansed
  2. Many mss I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.
  3. Lit. in that place
  4. Or took on, took hold of
  5. Or sicknesses
  6. Is. 53:4
  7. Some mss a large crowd; others, large crowds
  8. Lit. birds of the air
  9. Many mss his
  10. Some mss the disciples or his disciples
  11. Lit. men
  12. Lit. “What to us to you?”
  13. Or left for the city; lit. departed into
  14. Or especially; lit. and
  15. Lit. when they had seen him

 

A Paralytic Forgiven and Healed

So after entering a boat, he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some men were bringing him a paralytic who was lying on a makeshift bed.1 Now when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, take heart; your sins are forgiven you.” 3 So at once2 some of the scribes said within themselves,3 “This man is blaspheming!” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why are you harboring evil4 thoughts in your hearts? For which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or, ‘Get up and walk’? But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ” (then he said to the paralytic), “Rise, pick up your bed, and go back to your house.” And the man got up and left for his house. Now when the crowds saw this, they were gripped with fear; and they glorified God5 who had given such authority to men.

A Tax Collector Called

Now as Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting in the tax collector’s booth. So he said to him, “Follow me!” And he got up and followed him.

10 Now as he was dining in Matthew’s house, it so happened that many tax collectors and sinners arrived and began to recline at the table with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why is your teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But overhearing them, Jesus said, “Those who are well don’t need a physician, only those who are sick. 13 So go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’6 For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Fasting

14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast,7 but your disciples don’t fast at all?” 15 So Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom8 mourn while the bridegroom is still with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment and the tear will be made worse. 17 Nor do men put new wine into old wineskins, for if they do, the wineskins burst, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. Instead, they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Two Women Healed

18 Now as he was telling them these things, behold, a ruler of the synagogue arrived and knelt down before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her and she will live.” 19 Then Jesus, along with his disciples, got up and followed him. 20 And behold, a woman who had suffered a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and grasped the hem of his outer garment; 21 for she was saying to herself, “If only I can grasp his cloak, I will be healed.” 22 But Jesus, turning around and seeing her, said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well!”9 And from that hour on the woman was healed.

23 Now when Jesus entered the ruler’s house, and when he saw the flute players and the noisy, wailing crowd, 24 he said to them, “Go back to your homes, for the girl isn’t dead, but only sleeps.” So they began to laugh at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand; and the girl arose. 26 And the news of this spread throughout that entire region.

Two Blind Men See

27 Now as Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” 28 So when he had entered the house, the blind men came up to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “May it be done to you according to your faith.” 30 And their eyes were opened. But Jesus sternly warned them, saying, “See that no one knows of this!” 31 But once they had gone out, they spread the news of it10 throughout that entire region.

A Mute Man Speaks

32 And as they were leaving, behold, some people11 brought him a man who was mute and oppressed by a demon; 33 and when the demon had been driven out, the mute man spoke. So the crowds stood amazed, saying, “Nothing like this was ever seen in Israel!” 34 But the Pharisees kept saying, “He is casting out demons by the ruler of the demons.”

The Compassion of Christ

35 Then Jesus began circulating through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and infirmity. 36 And when he beheld the crowds, he was moved with compassion for them, for they were harassed and helpless,12 like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “Truly, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 So pray in earnest to the Lord of the harvest, that he would send out13 workers into his harvest.”

Notes

  1. Or stretcher
  2. Lit. And behold
  3. Or among themselves
  4. Or corrupt, perverted
  5. Or they feared and glorified God
  6. Hos. 6:6
  7. Many mss add much; some mss often
  8. Lit. sons of the wedding hall
  9. Lit. saved you
  10. Or him
  11. Lit. they
  12. Or downcast
  13. Or thrust

 

The Twelve Sent Out

10 Now when Jesus had called for his twelve disciples, he gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and heal every kind of disease and infirmity. And these are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out after giving them the following instructions: “Take no road that leads you to the Gentiles,1 and enter no city of the Samaritans, but go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, proclaim this message, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is near!’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not supply yourselves with gold, silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or with a bag for your journey, or two tunics, or extra sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his keep.2 11 And in whatever city or village you enter, make inquiries as to who is worthy, and stay with him3 until you leave. 12 And when you enter that household, greet it witha blessing. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace4 come upon it; but if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you or listen to your words, when you leave that house or city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 I tell you the truth: In the Day of Judgment it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that city!

The Twelve Warned

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the councils and will scourge you in their synagogues. 18 Because of me you will even be brought before governors and kings, to testify to them and the Gentiles. 19 But when they hand you over, don’t be concerned about how you should speak or what you should say, for what you should say will be given to you in that very hour; 20 for it will not be you who is speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through5 you.

21 “And brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his own child; and children will rise up against their parents and have them put to death; 22 and because of my name you will be hated by all. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 And whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next.6 For I tell you the truth: You will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, neither is a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for a disciple to be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members7 of his household!

Healthy Fear

26 “So have no fear of them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and nothing hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And have no fear of those who kill the body, but who cannot kill the soul; but fear instead him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a single copper coin, yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father? 30 But as for you, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid: You are more valuable than many sparrows! 32 Therefore I say to you that everyone who confesses me8 before men, I too will  confess him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever denies me before men, I too will deny him before my Father who is in heaven.

Not Peace, But a Sword

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members9 of his own household.10 37 Whoever11 loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Holy Giving and Receiving 

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet12 will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth: He will by no means lose his reward.”

Notes

  1. Lit. Do not depart into (the) way of the Gentiles
  2. Lit. food, nourishment
  3. Lit. there
  4. Or blessing of peace
  5. Lit. in
  6. Lit. the other
  7. Lit. those
  8. Lit. will confess in (with) me
  9. Lit. those
  10. Mic. 7:6
  11. Lit. He who
  12. Lit. in the name of a prophet

 

John Inquires of Jesus

11 Now after Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. But when John, who was in prison, heard about the miraculous works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples, asking1 him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for someone else?” So in reply Jesus said to them, “Go and tell John the things you hear and see: The blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised to life and the poor have good news proclaimed to them; and blessed are those who do not stumble over me.”2

7 Then, as John’s disciples3 were going their way, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to observe: a reed shaken by the wind? But if not that, what did you go out to see: a man dressed in soft robes? Behold, those who wear soft robes are found in the palacesof kings. But what then did you go out to see: a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face; he5 will prepare your way before you.’6

11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptizer; nevertheless, he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptizer until now the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men are seizing it for themselves. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he himself is Elijah, who was promised come.7 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

16 “But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, calling out to their playmates and saying, 17 ‘We played the flute for you, but you wouldn’t dance; we sang a dirge for you, but you wouldn’t beat your breasts!’ 18 For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is vindicated by what she does.”8

Two Cities of Woe

20 Then he began to denounce the cities in which most of his mighty miracles9 had been performed,10 because they did not repent: 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! And woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty miracles performed in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 Moreover,11 I say to you that in the Day of Judgment it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And as for you, Capernaum, do you refuse to be lifted up to heaven?12 Very well, you will be thrown down to Hades! For if the mighty miracles performed in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained to this very day. 24 Moreover, I say to you that in the Day of Judgment it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Revelation and Rest

25 At that time Jesus spoke up in response, saying, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for to work in this way was pleasing in your sight. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father. And no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son is willing to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who are weary13 and loaded down, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy14 and my load is light.”

Notes

  1. Lit. (and) said to
  2. Lit. blessed is whoever is not made to stumble by me
  3. Lit. these
  4. Lit. houses
  5. Lit. who
  6. Mal. 3:1
  7. Lit. who is (was) to come
  8. Or accomplishes; lit. her works. Many mss her children (Luke 7:35)
  9. Or works of power; lit. powers
  10. Lit. occurred, taken place
  11. Or But, nevertheless
  12. Lit. will you not be exalted to heaven?
  13. Or who labor, toil (i.e. to the point of exhaustion)
  14. Or mild, pleasant

 

Lord of the Sabbath

12 At that time Jesus passed through the grain fields on a Sabbath day; and his disciples grew hungry and began picking the heads of wheat and eating themBut when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing on the Sabbath what the Law forbids!”1 But he said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he was hungry—both he and the men with him—how he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated loaves, something that wasn’t lawful for him or his companions to do,2 but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests serving in the temple break3 the Sabbath, and yet are guiltless? But I say to you: Something4 greater than the temple is here. Moreover, if you had known what this means—‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’5— you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Now after leaving that place he entered their synagogue. 10 And behold, a man with a withered hand was inside. So the Pharisees questioned Jesus, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—in order to accuse him. 11 But he said to them, “What man among you, if he owned a single sheep that6 fell into a pit on the Sabbath, would not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 If, then, a sheep has value, how much more a man! Accordingly, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and it was restored to health, just like the other. 14 But after they had gone out, the Pharisees began plotting against him as to how they might put him to death.

The Patience of Christ

15 So Jesus, being aware of this, withdrew from that place. And many people7 followed him, and he healed them all. 16 But he warned them not to make him known, 17 so that what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled, when he said:

18 “Behold! My servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved one, in whom my soul is well pleased!
I will set my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice8 to the nations.
19 He will not quarrel or cry out;
neither will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
20 A bruised reed he will not break off,
and a dimly burning wick he will not extinguish
until he sends forth judgment to victory.
21 And in his name the Gentiles will place their hope.”9

The Unpardonable Sin

22 Then a demon-possessed man, blind and mute, was brought to him; and Jesus healed him, so that the mute both spoke and saw. 23 And all the crowds stood amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard that, they said, “This man only drives out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” 25 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to ruin; and every city or house divided against itself cannot10 stand. 26 Now if Satan is driving out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then can his kingdom stand? 27 Moreover, if I am driving out demons by Beelzebul, by whom are your sons driving them out? For this reason they will be your judges. 28 If, however, I am driving out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or again, how can someone enter a11 strong man’s house and plunder his goods unless he first ties up the strong man? Only12 then can he plunder his house. 30 He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me is scattering far and wide. 31 For this reason I say to you that every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven to men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the age to come.

Tend First to the Tree

33 “Either make the tree good, so its fruit is good,13 or make the tree bad, so its fruit is bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 You offspring of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart. 35 The good man out of his good treasury brings forth good things; and the evil man out of his evil treasury brings forth evil things. 36 Moreover, I tell you this: In the Day of Judgment men will give an account for every thoughtless14 word they speak; 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

The Sign of Jonah

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees responded to him, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation clamors for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so too the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 At the Judgment the men of Nineveh will rise up with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, One who is greater15 than Jonah is here. 42 At the Judgment the Queen of the South will rise up with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, One who is greater than Solomon is here.

Woe to a Wicked Generation

43 “Now when an unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest but finding none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will go back to my house, the house from which I came.’ And when it arrives, it finds the house empty, swept clean, and set in order. 45 Then it goes out and takes with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all go in and live there, so that the final state of that man is worse than the first. So too shall it be for this evil generation.”

Jesus’ Family Tree

46 While he was still speaking to the crowds, behold, his mother and brothers came and stood outside, desiring to speak with him. 47 So someone said to him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to speak with you.” 48 But in reply Jesus said to the man who was talking to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand towards his disciples, he said, “Look, here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven, that is my brother and my sister and my mother.”

Notes

  1. Lit. what is unlawful to do
  2. Lit. for him or those with him to eat
  3. Lit. desecrate, profane
  4. Or one who is
  5. Hos. 6:6
  6. Lit. and it
  7. Many mss great crowds
  8. Or judgment
  9. Is. 42:1-4
  10. Lit. will not
  11. Lit. the
  12. Lit. and
  13. Lit. and its fruit good
  14. Lit. lazy, careless
  15. Or something greater

 

The Parable of the Sower

13 On that same day, after he had left the house, Jesus was sitting beside the lake. But such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down there, while the whole crowd stood on the shore. Then, using parables, he told them many things, saying: “Behold, a1 sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some of the seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky places, where they had little soil; and because their soil had no depth, they sprang up immediately. But after the sun had risen, the seedlings were2 scorched; and because they had no root, the plants3 withered away. Other seeds fell among thorn bushes, with the result that the bushes sprang up and choked the plants. But other seeds fell on good ground and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Purpose of Parables

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why are you speaking to them in parables?” 11 In reply Jesus said to them, “Because to you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, whereas to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he does have will be taken from him. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, for though they see, they do not see; and though they hear, they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in them the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says:

‘With your ears4 you will hear,
but by no means understand;
and with your eyes5 you will see,
but by no means perceive;
15 for the heart of this people has grown fat.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and return, so that I might heal them.’6

16 “But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and blessed are your ears, for they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth: Many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

The Sower Explained

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means19 When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and fails to understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the meaning of the seed sown beside the road. 20 As for the seed sown on rocky places, this refers to the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 21 However, he has no root within himself, but is only temporary. Therefore when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, he immediately falls away. 22 The seed sown among the thorn bushes refers to the one who hears the word, but the cares of this present age and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, so that it bears no fruit. 23 But the seed sown in the good soil refers to the one who hears the word and understands it; who does indeed bear fruit and produce a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

Of Wheat and the Tares

24 Then he set another parable before them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares7 among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the wheat sprang up and formed heads,8 the tares appeared as well. 27 So the servants of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 Therefore he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, for when you gather up the tares you might uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let them both grow together until the harvest. Then, at the time of the harvest, I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and tie them in bundles to be burned; but as for the wheat, gather it into my barn.” ’ ”

Of Mustard Seed and Leaven

31 Then he set another parable before them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 Though it is indeed the smallest of all seeds, when it reaches full stature it is the largest of the garden plants, and becomes a tree; and as a result, the wild birds9 come and make their nests in its branches.”10

33 And he spoke another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until the entire dough11 was leavened.”

34 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; and without a parable he would not speak to them at all, 35 so that what was declared through the prophet might be fulfilled, when he said, “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the founding of the world.”12

The Parable of the Wheat and Tares Explained

36 Then Jesus dismissed13 the multitudes and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 So in reply he said, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world. The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, and the tares are the sons of the evil one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore, just as tares are gathered up and burned in a fire, so it will be at the end of the age: 41 The Son of Man will send forth his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all stumbling-blocks and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.14 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Hidden Treasure and a Precious Pearl

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid. Then, for joy over the treasure, he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who went in search of fine pearls. 46 And when he found a single pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

The Dragnet

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was thrown into the sea and gathered in fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, they pulled it up onto the shore, sat down, and collected the good fish in baskets; but the worthless ones they threw away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age: The angels will come forth, take the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 Then he said to them, “For this reason I say to you: Every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven15 is like the head of a household who brings out of his storeroom of valuables things both new and old.”

A Prophet Without Honor

53 Now when Jesus finished delivering these parables, he left that place. 54 And when he came again to his home town,16 he began teaching the people17 in their synagogue. As a result, they stood amazed and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and such powers? 55 Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother called Mary, and aren’t his brothers called James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? 56 And as for his sisters, don’t they all live here with us?18 Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 So they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town19 and his own house.” 58 And he did not perform many miracles20 there because of their unbelief.

Notes

  1. Lit. the
  2. Lit. it was (a collective pronoun)
  3. Lit. it
  4. Lit. with the sense of hearing
  5. Lit. and seeing
  6. Lit. and I would heal them; Is. 6:9-10
  7. Lit. darnel, a poisonous weed resembling wheat
  8. Lit. produced fruit
  9. Lit. birds of the air
  10. See Ezek. 17:22f, 31:5
  11. Lit. all of it
  12. Ps. 78:2
  13. Or left
  14. See Dan. 12:3
  15. Or trained for the kingdom of heaven
  16. Or home territory
  17. Lit. them
  18. Lit. aren’t they all with us?
  19. Or part of the country
  20. Lit. works of power

 

John Beheaded

14 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus. So he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptizer; he has risen from the dead, and that’s why these miraculous powers are at work in him!” For after Herod had arrested John, he had him bound and put in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. For John kept telling him, “It isn’t lawful for you to have her.” And though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, for they regarded John as a prophet. Now when Herod’s birthday arrived, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance in the midst of the gathering; and she pleased Herod, so much so that he promised with an oath to give her anything she might request. But at the prompting of her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptizer here on a platter.” And though it grieved the king, because of the oaths he had sworn, and because of those who were reclining at the table with him, he ordered that it be given to her. 10 So he sent word and had John beheaded in prison; 11 and his head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who in turn brought it1 to her mother. 12 Then John’s disciples came, carried away the body, and buried it. And they went and reported these things to Jesus.

Food for Five Thousand

13 Now when Jesus heard about this, he withdrew from there by boat and went to an isolated place where he could be by himself. But when the crowds heard of it, they followed him on foot from the cities. 14 So when he got out of the boat, he beheld a great crowd; and he was moved with compassion for them, and he healed those among them who were sick.

15 Now when evening arrived his disciples came to him, saying, “This place is uninhabited, and the hour is already late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy themselves some food.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “There’s no need for them to leave: You give them something to eat.” 17 But they said to him, “Out here we only have five loaves of bread and two fish.” 18 So he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then, after ordering the crowds to sit down on the grass, he took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up into heaven, and asked God’s blessing. And after breaking the loaves, he gave portions to the disciples, who in turn gave portions to the multitudes. 20 So all of them ate and were filled;2 and they took up twelve basketfuls of the fragments that were left over. 21 Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

A Walk on the Sea

22 Then Jesus immediately had the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side of the sea while he sent the crowds away; 23 and after doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. Now when evening arrived, he was still there, all alone; 24 but by this time the boat was many stadia away from the land and being battered3 by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 So in the fourth watch of the night Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were deeply distressed, saying, “It’s a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But at once Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage! It is I; don’t be afraid!”

28 But in reply, Peter said to him, “Lord, if it really is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 So Jesus said, “Come!” And when he had gotten down out of the boat, Peter walked on the water and came towards Jesus. 30 But looking upon the high winds,4 he grew fearful; and as he started to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 So stretching out his hand, Jesus immediately took hold of him; and he said to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat knelt down before him, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God!”

The Touch that Heals

34 Now after they had finished crossing the sea, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent messengers out into the entire surrounding area; and the people brought to him all who were sick. 36 And they pleaded with him just to let them touch the edge of his cloak; and everyone who touched it was healed.

Notes

  1. Lit. and she brought it
  2. Or satisfied
  3. Lit. tormented
  4. Lit. seeing (noticing) the strong wind; some mss omit strong

 

God, Law, Tradition

15 Then certain Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying, “Why do your disciples violate the tradition of the elders; for when they eat their food, they don’t wash their hands?” But in reply he said to them, “And why do you1 violate the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said,2 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’3 and ‘He who curses his father or mother, let him be put to death.’4 Yet you say, ‘If someone5 tells his father or mother, “Anything of mine by which you might have received help has been dedicated as a gift to God,”6 he no longer needs to honor his father.’7 Thus you have nullified the word of God for the sake of your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; moreover, they worship me in vain, for they teach8 as doctrines of God the commandments of men.’ ” 

Defilement is From Within

10 Now when he had summoned the crowd, he said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of it; that is what defiles a man.” 12 Then the disciples came up and said to him, “Do you realize that the Pharisees were offended when they heard you say that?”9 13 But in reply Jesus said, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Leave them alone.10 They are blind guides; and if the blind leads the blind, they both will fall into a pit.” 15 Then Peter replied and said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 But Jesus said, “After all this, are you too without understanding? 17 Don’t you see that everything going into the mouth enters the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But the things that go forth from the mouth come out of the heart; and it is these that defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false witness, and slanders.11 20 These are the things that defile a man. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

Amazing Faith

21 Now after leaving that place, Jesus withdrew into the districts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman who lived12 in those parts came forth and began to cry out, saying, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is cruelly tormented by a demon.” 23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a single word. Then his disciples came up and began to plead with him, saying, “Send her away, for she is constantly crying out behind us.” 24 But he answered and said, “I have not been sent to any except the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 Now after the woman had come up, she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me!” 26 But in reply Jesus said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the household dogs.” 27 But the woman said, “Yes, Lord, but even the household dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “Woman, your faith is great! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And from that very hour her daughter was healed.

Multitudes Healed

29 Now after he had left that place, Jesus traveled along the Sea of Galilee; and when he had gone up into the mountain, he sat down there. 30 Then large crowds came to him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, and mute, along with many others. And they laid them at his feet, and he healed them. 31 So when the crowd saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored to health, the lame walking, and the blind seeing, they were utterly amazed. And they glorified the God of Israel.

The Feeding of the Four Thousand

32 Then Jesus called for his disciples and said, “I am concerned about the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days; they13 have nothing to eat, and I don’t want to send them off hungry since they might weaken along the way.” 33 Then his disciples said to him, “In this remote place where could we get enough bread to satisfy so great a crowd?” 34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 So when he had ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took up the seven loaves and the fish. And when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave portions to his disciples, who in turn gave portions to the crowd. 37 So all the people ate and were satisfied; and they picked up the leftover fragments: seven large basketsful. 38 Now those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And when he had dismissed the crowd, Jesus got into the boat and came to the region of Magadan.

Notes

  1. Or possibly Why do you yourselves; lit. Why also do you
  2. Many mss issued a command, saying
  3. Ex. 20:12
  4. Ex. 21:17
  5. Lit. Anyone who
  6. Lit. is a gift
  7. Many mss add or mother.
  8. Lit. in vain, teaching; Is. 29:13
  9. Lit. when they heard the word (saying)
  10. Or Leave them!
  11. Or blasphemies
  12. Lit. from
  13. Lit. and they

 

Blind to the Signs

16 Now the Pharisees and Sadducees, coming to Jesus in order to test him, asked that he show them a sign from heaven. But in reply he said to them, “When evening arrives, you say, ‘Tomorrow it will be fair, for the sky is red.’ 3 And at dawn you say, ‘ Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the face of the sky, but you cannot read the signs of the times! An evil and adulterous generation keeps seeking a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he turned away from them and departed.

Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees!

Now when the disciples arrived on the other side of the sea, they had forgotten to take along bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out and be on guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees!” So the disciples started to discuss this among themselves, saying, “It’s because we’ve brought no bread.” But when Jesus became aware of this, he said to them, “You men of little faith! Why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Are you still without understanding? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand men, and how many baskets of fragments you picked up? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand men, and how many large baskets of fragments you picked up? 11 How is it that you don’t understand I was not speaking to you about bread? Nevertheless, be on guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” 12 Then they realized he was not telling them to beware of the leaven in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Peter’s Good Confession

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he put a question to his disciples, saying, “Who do men say the Son of Man is?” 14 So they replied, “Some say John the Baptizer, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 Jesus said to them, “But who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” 17 Then Jesus responded and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 Moreover, I say to you that you are Peter;1 and on this rock2 I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will by no means prevail against3 it. 19 I will give you4 the keys of the kingdom of heaven: Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.”5 20 Then he commanded his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.

Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection

21 From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be put to death and raised up on the third day. 22 Then Peter, having taken Jesus aside, began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord!6 This will never happen to you!” 23 But turning his back on him,7 Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, for you are not intent8 on the things of God, but the things of man.”9

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is soon to come in the glory of his Father, and with all his angels; and then he will repay every man according to his deeds. 28 But I tell you the truth: There are some standing here who will not taste death before they have seen the Son of Man coming in his royal power.”10

Notes

  1. Greek petros: a stone
  2. Greek petra: large rock, bedrock
  3. Or overpower
  4. “You” is singular
  5. Or possibly will be bound . . . will be loosed
  6. Lit. Mercy to you, Lord!
  7. Or turning away, turning around; lit. turning
  8. Or setting your mind
  9. Lit. men
  10. Or with (in) his kingdom

 

The Transfiguration

17 So six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and his brother John; and he brought them up into a high mountain by themselves. And there he was transfigured before them; and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared before them, conversing with Jesus! So Peter, in response, said to Jesus, “Lord, it’s good for us to be here! If you like, I will set up three tents in this place: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But while Peter was still speaking, a bright cloud suddenly overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Now when the disciples heard that, they fell face down to the ground, deathly afraid. But Jesus came to them; and when he had touched them, he said, “Stand up, and don’t be afraid.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus himself, standing there all alone.

Now as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus gave them a command, saying, “Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.” 10 Then his disciples inquired of him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 11 In reply Jesus said, “Elijah does indeed come first and will restore all things. 12 But I say to you, Elijah has already come; yet they failed to recognize him, and they did to him whatever they wished. So too is the Son of Man about to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples realized he was speaking to them about John the Baptizer.

Healing and Faith

14 Now when they had come down to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic who1 suffers terribly; for time and again he falls into the fire and into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” 17 But in reply Jesus said, “O unbelieving and perverse generation! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me!” 18 Then Jesus rebuked the evil spirit,2 and it came out of him; and from that very hour the child was healed. 19 Afterwards the disciples came to Jesus in private and said, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” 20 So he said to them, “Because of the smallness of your faith. For I tell you the truth: If you have faith no larger than a mustard seed,3 you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”4

A Second Prediction

22 Now while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man will soon be delivered5 into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him. But on the third day he will be raised.” And they were deeply grieved and distressed.

The Sons are Free

24 Now when they arrived in Capernaum, the men who collected the temple tax6 came up to Peter and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25 Peter said, “Yes, he does.” But when Peter came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first,7 saying, “Simon, what do you think? From whom do the kings of the earth receive customs or taxes: from their sons or from foreigners?” 26 Now when Peter replied “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 Nevertheless, to avoid offending them, go down to the lake, throw in a hook, and take the first fish you bring up.8 When you have opened its mouth, there you will find a stater.9  Take that and give it to them for me and you.”

Notes

  1. Lit. and he
  2. Lit. him, it
  3. Lit. as a mustard seed
  4. Some mss add verse 21: However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting; see Mark 9:29
  5. Or betrayed
  6. Lit. the two drachma tax, equivalent to two days wages, used for the maintenance of the temple
  7. Or anticipated what he was about to say
  8. Lit. coming up
  9. A coin worth four drachmas

 

True Greatness

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” So after calling a little child to himself, Jesus stood him in the midst of them and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you are converted1 and become like little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in my name receives me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a great millstone2 were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea.

7 “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For stumbling blocks must indeed appear, but woe to the man through whom they appear!3 Moreover, if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it far from you; it is better for you to enter into life crippled or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it far from you; it is better for you to enter into life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fires of Gehenna.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 “See to it that you don’t look down with scorn on one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels behold the face of my heavenly Father at all times.4 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the mountains and go and look for the one that has strayed? 13 And if in fact he finds it, I tell you the truth: He will rejoice over that one sheep more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t stray. 14 Just so, it is not the will of your Father in heaven for a single one of these little ones to perish.

The Road to Reconciliation

15 “If your brother is sinning,5 go to him in private6 and reprove him for his fault. If he hears you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take along with you one or two more, so that ‘by the testimony7 of two or three witnesses every fact8 may be confirmed.’9 17 And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. But if he even refuses to listen to the church, let him be to you like a Gentile and a tax-collector. 18 I tell you the truth: Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.

19 And again I say to you: If, in regard to any matter, two of you agree on earth as to what they should ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

Forgiveness and the Family of God

21 Then Peter came up to him and said, “Lord, how often must I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I say to you: not up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.10 23 This is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a certain king who desired to settle accounts with his servants. 24 Now when he had begun to do so, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought before him. 25 But since the man had nothing with which to pay, his master ordered him to be sold, together with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and that repayment be made. 26 Then the servant fell to his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you back everything!’ 27 Therefore, being moved with pity, the master of the servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But after the servant had gone out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you back!’ 30 But he was unwilling to do so, and instead went off and had him thrown11 into jail until he could pay back the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply distressed; and they came and told their master everything that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned the first servant12 and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me for mercy. 33 Should you not also have shown mercy to your fellow servant, just as I did to you?’ 34 And moved with anger, his master handed him over to the torturers until he should repay13 everything he owed. 35 This is what my heavenly Father will do to you as well if each one of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.”

Notes

  1. Lit. turned
  2. Lit. millstone turned by a donkey
  3. Lit. the stumbling block appears
  4. Some later mss add verse 11: For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
  5. Or sins; many mss add against you
  6. Lit. between you and him alone
  7. Lit. mouth
  8. Or charge; lit. word
  9. Deut. 19:15
  10. Or seventy-seven
  11. Lit. and threw him
  12. Lit. him
  13. Or had repaid; the Greek implies doubt about the possibility of repayment

 

Marriage, Divorce, and Kingdom Celibacy

19 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; and large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

Then certain Pharisees came to him in order to test him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason whatever?” So he answered and said, “Have you not read that he who created them at the beginning1 made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’2 So then: They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together let no man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses authorize3 a man to give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” He said to them, “Due to the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it was not meant to be.4 And I say to you that except in the case of sexual immorality, anyone divorces his wife and then marries someone else, commits adultery.”5, 6

10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the rule for a man with a wife, it is better not to marry at all! 11 So Jesus said to them, “Not all of you can receive what I am about to say,7 only those to whom it has been given. 12 For some eunuchs were born as such directly from their mother’s womb; some have been turned into eunuchs by men; and some have turned themselves into eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.

Let the Children Come

13 Then some little children were brought to him so that he might lay his hands on them and pray; but the disciples rebuked the ones who brought them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do nothing to hinder them,8 for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these!” 15 And when he had laid his hands on them, he departed from that place.

Riches and the Kingdom

16 And behold, a man came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do in order to obtain eternal life?” 17 But Jesus said to him, “Why are you asking me about what is good? There is only one who is good. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 The man said to him, “Which ones?” So Jesus declared, “‘You shall not commit murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 You shall honor your father and your mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 The young man said to him, “I have carefully observed all these commandments;9 what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be complete, go, sell what you have, and give the proceeds to the poor; and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 But when the young man heard him say that,10 he went away sorrowing, for he had many possessions.11

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 Now when his disciples heard this, they were stunned; and they said, “Who then can be saved?” 26 So looking at them, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” 27 In response Peter then said to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you; what then lies in store for us?” 28 So Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth: In the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 Moreover, everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for my name’s sake will receive back a hundred times as much, and will also inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Notes

  1. Lit. that (he) who having created (them) from (at) the beginning
  2. Gen. 1:27, 2:24, 5:2
  3. Lit. command, order
  4. Or it was not so; lit. it has not happened thus
  5. Some mss makes her commit adultery
  6. Some mss add and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery
  7. Lit. receive this saying
  8. Or Leave the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me
  9. Lit. all these things
  10. Lit. heard the word
  11. Or much property

 

The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers to pay them a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. Now around the third hour he went out and saw other men standing idle in the marketplace; so he said to them, ‘You too go into the vineyard, and I will give you whatever is right.’ So they went. And around the sixth and the ninth hours he again went out and did the same. Then, around the eleventh hour, he went out and found still others standing there. So he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard as well.’

Now when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, starting with the last and finishing with the first.’ And when the men who were hired around the eleventh hour came forward, they each received a denarius. 10 Now when the first to be hired came forward, they assumed they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 So when they received it, they began to speak up in anger against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last only worked one hour, and you’ve made them equal to us who suffered the burden and scorching heat of the day!’ 13 But answering one of them, the landowner said, ‘Friend, I’m doing you no injustice. Didn’t you agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. As for me, I wish to give this last man the same as I gave you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I want with my own belongings? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 In just this way, the last will be first, and the first last.”

Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection a Third Time

17 Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve aside; and standing by1 the road, he said to them, 18 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed2 to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will sentence3 him to death 19 and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified. And on the third day he will be raised.”

The Path to Greatness

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee, together with her sons, came up to him, knelt down, and asked a favor of him. 21 So he said to her, “What is it you want?” She said to him, “Declare that in your kingdom these two sons of mine will sit, one on your right hand and the other on your left.” 22 But Jesus answered and said, “You don’t realize what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup. But to sit on my right and on my left is not mine to give, but belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

24 Now when the ten heard about this, they were angry with the two brothers. 25 But summoning them all, Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and that their great men wield authority over them. 26 But among you it must4 not be so. Rather, whoever desires to be great among you must be your servant; 27 and whoever desires to be first among you must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Two Blind Men Regain Their Sight

29 Now as they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 And behold, two blind men were sitting beside the road. Now when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, saying, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 31 But the crowd rebuked them, telling them to be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 32 Then, after coming to a halt, Jesus called for them; and he said, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” 34 So Jesus, moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and the men immediately regained their sight and followed him.

Notes

  1. Lit. in, on
  2. Or handed over
  3. Lit. condemn
  4. Lit. will (and so throughout these verses)

 

The Triumphal Entry

21 Now when they were nearing Jerusalem and had come to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent out two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will come upon a donkey secured with a rope, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. And if anyone says something to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them at once.” Now this took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, when he said: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble and seated on a donkey; yes, on a donkey’s colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’ ”1

So when the disciples had gone and done just as Jesus commanded them, they brought him the donkey and the colt; and they laid their cloaks on the animals,2 and Jesus sat down on the cloaks.3 Meanwhile, a large crowd was spreading their garments on the road, while others were cutting down branches from the trees and doing the same with them. And the crowds that went before him, as well as those that followed after, kept crying out, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’4 Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was thrown into turmoil, so that the people were saying, “Who is this man?” 11 And the crowds would reply, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee!”

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

12 Then Jesus entered the temple precincts and drove out all the men who were buying and selling in the temple courts; and he overturned the tables of the money changers and knocked down the chairs of those who were selling doves. 13 And he said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’5 but you have made it a den of thieves!”6

14 Then the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things he was doing,7 and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were outraged. 16 So they said to him, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” But Jesus said to them, “Yes. And have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of children and nursing infants you have perfected praise’?” 8 17 Then he left them and went outside of the city, to Bethany; and he spent the night there.

The Fig Tree Cursed

18 Now early in the morning, as he was returning to the city, Jesus grew hungry. 19 And seeing a lone fig tree standing beside the road, he went over to it; but he found nothing on it except leaves. So he said to it, “Let no fruit ever grow on you again.” And at once the fig tree withered away. 20 Now when the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” 21 So in reply Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth: If you have faith, and do not give way to doubt,9 you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you said to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it would be done for you22 And whatever things you may ask for in prayer, if you believe, you will receive them.”

Jesus’ Authority Challenged

23 Now when he entered the temple grounds, the chief priests and elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching. And they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 But in reply Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question, and if you answer me, I also will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 The baptism of John: Where was it from? From heaven or from men?” Then the leaders began to deliberate among themselves, saying, “If we answer, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we answer, ‘From men,’ we fear the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus and said, “We don’t know.” And he in turn said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons; and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 But the son answered and said, ‘I will not.’ Yet later on he came to regret it and went out. 30 Then the man came to the second son and said the same thing to him. And he answered and said, ‘I will, sir,’ but he didn’t go out. 31 Which of the two sons did the will of his father?” The leaders said to him, “The first.” Then Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth: The tax collectors and the prostitutes will enter10 the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and the prostitutes did believe him; and even after seeing that, you did not change your mind and believe him.11

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

33 Now hear another parable. There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard, placed a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower to protect it. Then he leased it out to tenants12 and went away to a far country. 34 Now when the time for harvesting drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants in order to collect his share of the crop. 35 But seizing his servants, the tenants beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 So once again the landowner sent other servants, more than the first; but the tenants did the same thing to them. 37 Finally, he sent them his own son, saying, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and take his inheritance!’ 39 And after they had seized him, they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 So then: When the owner of the vineyard returns, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 The leaders said to him, “He will bring those wretches to a miserable end, and will lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him his share of the crop season by season.”13

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is wondrous in our eyes’?14 43 For this reason I say to you that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation that produces its crops. 44 Moreover, he who falls on this stone will be broken in pieces, and15 he on whom it falls—it will grind him to powder.”16

45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they realized he was speaking about them. 46 But when they tried to lay hands on him, they feared the crowds, for the people17 held that he was a prophet.

Notes

  1. Zech. 9:9
  2. Lit. them
  3. Lit. them
  4. Ps. 118:26
  5. Is. 56:7
  6. See Jer. 7:11
  7. Lit. did
  8. Or you have prepared praise for yourself; see Ps. 8:2
  9. Lit. and are not at odds with yourself
  10. Lit. are entering
  11. Lit. repent to believe (in) him
  12. Or sharecroppers
  13. Lit. at their appointed times
  14. Ps. 118:22-23
  15. Or but
  16. Or crush him in pieces; scatter him like chaff (dust)
  17. Lit. they

 

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

22 Responding further, Jesus again spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. And he sent out his servants to call those who had been invited to the feast; but they were unwilling to come. So again he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who were invited, “Look, I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and my fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!” ’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his place of business; 6 and as for the rest, when they had seized his servants, they abused1 and killed them. So the king, roused to anger, sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were unworthy. Therefore go out into the highways, and as many as you find there, invite them to the wedding banquet.’ 10 So the servants went out into the highways and gathered together everyone they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

11 “But when the king came in to view the guests, he saw there a man who wasn’t wearing a wedding robe. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And the man was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness: In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The Pharisees Inquire about Taxes

15 Then the Pharisees went and discussed among themselves how they might trap Jesus in his own words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, together with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are dedicated to the truth, that you teach the way of God in truth, and that you court no man’s favor, since you have no regard for the standing of men.2 17 So tell us what you think: Is it lawful3 for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, perceiving their evil intent, replied, “You hypocrites, why are you putting me to a test? 19 Show me the coin that is used for taxes.” So they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” 21 They said to him, “Caesar’s.” So he said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 Now when they heard that, they marveled; and they left him and went their way.

The Sadducees Inquire about the Resurrection

23 On that same day the Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came up to him and questioned him, 24 saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies having no children, his brother must marry his widow and raise offspring for his brother. 25 Now we had seven brothers living among us. After he had married, the first one died; and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing also happened to the second and third brothers, all the way down to the seventh. 27 And last of all, the woman died. 28 So then: In the resurrection which of the seven brothers will have her as his wife? For they all had her as a wife.”

29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, knowing4 neither the scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are they given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven. 31 But as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, when he said, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?5 God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowds heard that, they marveled at his teaching.

The Scribes Inquire about the Greatest Commandment

34 Now when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they too gathered together to test him.6 35 Then one of them—a lawyer—asked him a question, putting him to a test. 36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 So Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.7 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’8 40 All the Law and all the Prophets hang on these two commands.”

Jesus Inquires about David’s Faith

41Now while the Pharisees were still assembled together, Jesus put a question to them, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 So Jesus said to them, “How then does David, in the Spirit, call him Lord, saying, 44 ‘The LORD said to my Lord,9 “Sit at my right hand till I place your enemies beneath your feet”’?10 45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 And no one was able to answer him with a single word; nor, from that day on, did anyone dare to question him anymore.

Notes

  1. Or treated them disgracefully
  2. Lit. And it is not a concern to you about anyone because you do not see the face of men
  3. Or right
  4. Or understanding
  5. Ex. 3:6,15
  6. Lit. for the same purpose
  7. Deut. 6:5
  8. Lev. 19:18
  9. In Hebrew: Yahweh said to my Adonai
  10. Ps. 110:1

 

One Brotherhood, One Leader

23 Then Jesus addressed both the crowds and his disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses. Therefore practice and observe everything they tell you; but do not imitate their deeds, for they teach one thing and do another.1 Indeed, they tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with a single finger.

“What’s more, everything they do, they do to be seen by men. They broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels on their robesand they love the place of honor at banquets, the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 formal salutations in the marketplaces, and being called ‘Rabbi’ by the people.2 But as for you, you are not be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father: for you have one father, your Father in heaven.3 10 And do not be called leaders,4 for you have one leader: the Messiah. 11 Instead, the greatest among you will be your servant; 12 and whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees!

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you stand in front of men, blocking the door to the kingdom of heaven;5 for you yourselves do not go in, and those who are trying to do so you turn away.

14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for mere show offer lengthy prayers; for this reason you will receive the greater punishment.6

15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you traverse land and sea to win a single proselyte; and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of Gehenna as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, his vow means nothing;7 but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated to fulfill it. 17 Fools and blind! Which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18 Moreover, you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, his vow means nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that was placed on the altar, he is obligated to fulfill it.’ 19 You blind men!8 Which is greater: the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 So then: He who swears by the altar is swearing by the altar and everything on it; 21 and he who swears by the temple is swearing by the temple and him who dwells within it; 22 and he who swears by heaven is swearing by the throne of God, and by him who is seated upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin, but have neglected the weightier matters of the Law: justice, mercy, and faith.9 These are the things you should have done, without neglecting the others. 24 Blind guides, men who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are filled with greed10 and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the dish, so that the11 outside can be clean as well.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which do indeed look beautiful on the outside, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all kinds of uncleanness. 28 And so it is with you: Outwardly you look righteous in the sight of men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous; 30 and you say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would never have joined them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 But in so doing you testify against yourselves that you are the sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 So then: Fill up the measuring jar of your fathers!

33 Serpents, offspring of vipers! How can you escape the sentence of Gehenna? 34 For this reason, behold, I am sending you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and chase from city to city, 35 so that all the righteous blood ever shed upon the earth may fall on you: from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth: All these things will come upon this generation.

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, she who kills the prophets and stones the men who are sent to her! How often I yearned to gather your children together like a hen that gathers her chicks beneath her wings; but you were unwilling. 38 Behold, your house is left to you in ruins. 39 For I tell you this: From now on you will not see me at all, not until the day you say,12 ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”13

Notes

  1. Lit. do not do according to their works, for they say, but do not practice
  2. Lit. by men
  3. Lit. the heavenly Father
  4. Or teachers, masters, guides
  5. Lit. You shut off the kingdom of heaven before men
  6. This verse is not found in early mss; see Mark 12:40, Luke 20:47
  7. Lit. it is nothing
  8. Lit. Blind! (plural)
  9. Or faithfulness
  10. Or robbery, extortion
  11. Lit. so that its
  12. Or you can say; lit. until whenever you say
  13. Ps. 118:26

 

The Signs of His Coming

24 Now after departing from the temple complex, Jesus was going his way; and his disciples came up to him and called his attention to its many buildings. But he said to them, “Do you not see all these things? I tell you the truth: Not one stone in this place will be left upon another; every one of them will be thrown down.”1

3So as he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us: When will these things happen? And what will be the sign of your coming2 and of the end of the age?” In reply, Jesus said to them: “See to it that no one leads you astray; for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. You will also hear of wars and rumors of wars: See that you don’t give way to fear, for these things must take place, but the end has not yet comeFor nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these are only the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will hand you over to tribulation and kill you; and because of my name you will be hated by all nations. 10 And then many will take offense, betray one another, and hate one another. 11 Moreover, many false prophets will rise up and lead many astray; 12 and because lawlessness will increase, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world3 as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.

Great Tribulation

15 “So when you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’4 which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (let the reader understand), 16 “then those who are living in Judea must flee to the mountains; 17 he who is on the roof must not come down to take things out of his house; 18 and he who is out in the field must not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 And pray that your flight does not occur in winter, or on a Sabbath day; 21 for at that time there will be great tribulation, the likes of which have not been seen5 from the beginning of the world until now, no and never will be. 22 And unless those days had been cut short, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, they will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe him. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will arise; and they will display great signs and wonders, so great that even the elect would be led astray,6 if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Look, he’s in the desert!’ do not go out; and if they say, ‘Look, he’s in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes all the way to the west, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the vultures7 will be gathered together.

The Coming of the Son of Man

29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will wail and mourn and beat their breasts; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send forth his angels with a loud blast of the trumpet; and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the skies8 to the other.

The Parable of the Fig Tree

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branch has become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also with you: When you see all these things, know that he9 is near—right at the doors! 34 I tell you the truth: This generation will by no means pass away till all these things have taken place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

36 “But as for that day and hour, no one knows them, not even the angels of heaven,10 but my Father alone. 37 And just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage, right up to the day when Noah entered the ark; 39 and they did not understand11 until the flood came and swept them all away. This is how it will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 At that time two will be working in the field: One will be taken and the other left. 41 Two will be grinding at the mill: One will be taken and the other left. 42 So keep careful watch, for you do not know the day on which your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the head of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and not allowed his house to be entered by force. 44 This is why you as well must be ready, for in an hour when you are not expecting him, the Son of Man will come.12

The Good and Evil Servant

45 “Who then is that faithful and wise servant whom his master put in charge of his household, to give its members13 their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant if his master finds him doing so when he returns: 47 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says in his heart, ‘My master has been delayed.’ 49 And suppose he begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards. 50 Then that servant’s master will come on a day when he is not expecting him, and at an hour he does not foresee; 51 and he will cut him in two and assign him his lot with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Notes

  1. Lit. on another that will not be thrown down
  2. Greek parousia: the arrival of a dignitary in glory
  3. Lit. in the whole inhabited world
  4. Dan. 11:31, 12:11
  5. Lit. that has not taken place
  6. Lit. wonders so as to lead astray even the elect
  7. Or eagles
  8. Or heavens
  9. Or it
  10. Some mss add or the son; see Mark 13:32
  11. Or perhaps realize (their peril; what was about to occur)
  12. Lit. comes
  13. Or the other servants; lit. them

 

The Parable of Virgins 

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were foolish and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they brought no oil with them; but the wise brought jars of oil along, together with their lamps.

Now while the bridegroom tarried they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there came a shout: ‘Look, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out!’ But the wise answered and said, ‘No, for there may not be enough for both of us; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 But as the foolish were on their way to buy more oil, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11 Later on the other virgins also arrived, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘I tell you the truth: I don’t know you.’ 13 So then: Keep careful watch, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The Parable of the Talents 

14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man setting off on a journey,1 and who therefore summoned his servants2 and entrusted his possessions to their care. 15 And to one of them he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his own ability. And then he left. 16 Now the servant who had received the five talents immediately went off, traded with them, and gained five more. 17 In the same way, the servant who had received two talents gained two more. 18 But the servant who had received the one talent went out, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.

19 “Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 And when the servant who had received the five talents came up to his master, he brought him five more, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted me with five talents; look, I have gained five more besides.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things, I will make you a ruler over many. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 Then the servant who had received the two talents also came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted me with two talents; look, I have gained two more besides.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you a ruler over many. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

24 “Then the servant who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew that you were a hard man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you’ve scattered no seed. 25 So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, you have what is yours.’ 26 But in reply his master said to him, ‘You evil, lazy servant! You “knew” that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I’ve scattered no seed? 27 In that case you should have deposited my money in the bank,3 so that at my return I might have received it back with interest. 28 Therefore take the talent from this man,4 and give it to the servant who has the ten. 29 For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he does have will be taken away. 30 And throw that worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The Judgment Seat of Christ  

31 “Now when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, at that time he will sit on his glorious throne.5 32 And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and he will place the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in, 36 naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, a prisoner6 and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe you39 And when did we see you sick or in prison, and come to you?’ 40 And in reply the king will say to them, ‘I tell you the truth: Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will also say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. 43 I was a stranger and you did not take me in, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they too will reply, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘I tell you the truth: Inasmuch7 as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And then they will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Notes

  1. Lit. leaving home on a journey to foreign lands
  2. Lit. his own servants (slaves)
  3. Lit. with the bankers
  4. Lit. him
  5. Lit. the throne of his glory
  6. Lit. in prison
  7. Or To the extent that

 

A Plot to Kill Jesus

26 Now when Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “You know that two days from now the Passover will arrive, and the Son of Man will be handed over for crucifixion.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered together at the residence of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas; and they conspired with one another as to how they might seize Jesus by trickery and put him to death. But they said, “Not during the feast, or there will be an uproar among the people.”

The Anointing at Bethany

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him holding an alabaster jar full of very costly perfumed oil; and as he was reclining at the table, she poured the oil on his head. But when his disciples saw it, they were filled with indignation and said, “Why such waste? For this oil might have been sold for a high price, and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you troubling the woman? In performing this work, she has served me well.1 11 For the poor will always be with you, but I will not; 12 for when she poured this fragrant oil on my body, she was doing it to prepare me for burial. 13 I tell you the truth: Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, people will speak of what this woman has done; and it will serve as a memorial to her.”2

The Treachery of Judas  

14 Then one of the twelve, the one called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out to him3 thirty silver coins; 16 and from that time on Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray him.

The Final Passover

17 Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?” 18 So he said, “Go into the city to such and such a man, and say to him, ‘The teacher says, “My time is near; I will observe the Passover at your house, together with my disciples.”’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had instructed them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

20 Now when evening came, he reclined4 at the table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating he said, “I tell you the truth: One of you will betray me.” 22 So each of them, in deep distress, said to him, “Surely it isn’t me, Lord?”5 23 He answered and said, “Someone6 who dipped his hand with me in the bowl—he is the one who will betray me. 24 And yes, the Son of Man will go his way just as it is written of him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would have been better for that man if he had never been born.” 25 Then Judas, the one who was betraying him, responded and said, “Surely it isn’t me, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.

Jesus Institutes the Lord’s Supper

26 Now while they were eating, Jesus took up bread; and when he had given thanks,7 he broke it and passed it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it: This is my body.” 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and handed it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 And I tell you this: From now on I will no longer drink this fruit of the vine until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 And after they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

31 Then Jesus said to them, “Tonight you all will made to stumble because of me, for it is written, ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’8 32 But after I’ve been raised, I will go before you into Galilee.” 33 But Peter replied and said to him, “Even if everyone stumbles because of you, I will never do so.” 34 Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth: This night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples said the same thing.

Anguish in Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to the disciples, “Sit down here while I go over there and pray.” 37 And after taking Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him, he began to grieve, and to sink into deep distress. 38 Then he told them, “Sorrow is overwhelming my soul, even to the point of death; stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Then he went on a little further, fell face down to the ground, and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.40 Then he came back to the disciples, but he found them sleeping. So he said to Peter, “What! Couldn’t you men watch with me for a single hour? 41 Watch and pray, so that you don’t enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for a second time, he went off and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if it is not possible for this cup to pass me by unless I drink from it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came back and found the men sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them once more, he went off and prayed a third time, saying the same words yet again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?9 Behold, the hour has arrived for the Son of Man to be betrayed10 into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up and let us be going; look, my betrayer is drawing near!”

Betrayal and Arrest

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, suddenly arrived, together with a large crowd carrying11 swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now his betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whichever one I kiss, that is the man; seize him.” 49 And immediately Judas went over to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why are you here?”12 Then the men came over, took hold of Jesus, and arrested him. 51 But suddenly one of the men who were with Jesus stretched out his hand, drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword! 53 Or is it that you think I’m unable to call on my Father, who would immediately supply me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then could the scriptures be fulfilled which say it must happen in this way?” 55 Now at that point13 Jesus spoke to the crowds: “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me, as you would against a robber? Day by day I sat in the temple teaching you, yet you didn’t arrest me. 56 But all this has happened so that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples fled, leaving him behind.14

Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

57 So the men who had seized Jesus led him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed Jesus at a distance as far as the high priest’s courtyard; and after he had gone inside, he sat down with the guards to see what the outcome would be.

59 Now the chief priests and the entire council kept seeking false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death; 60 but even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. Finally, two came forward 61 and said, “This man stated: ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” 62 So the high priest stood up and said to him, “Will you give no answer? What is it that these men are testifying against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. So the high priest said to him, “By the living God, I put you under oath: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God!” 64 Jesus said to him “You have said it. Nevertheless, I tell you this: Hereafter15 you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power on high, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes, saying, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have for witnesses? Behold, you yourselves have now heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is guilty and deserves to die!” 67 Then they spat in his face and struck him with their fists; and some of them slapped him68 saying, “Prophesy to us, ‘Messiah’! Which one of us hit you?”

Peter Denies His Lord

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard; and a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” 70 But he denied it in front of them all, saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” 71 Then, after going out to the entrance, another servant noticed him and said to the people there, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth!” 72 But using an oath, he again denied it, saying, “I don’t know the man!” 73 A little while later the people who were standing around came up to Peter and said, “Surely you too are one of them, for even your accent gives you away!”16 74 Then he began calling down curses on himself, and swearing with an oath, saying, “I don’t know the man!” And all at once a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Notes

  1. Lit. she has worked a good (beautiful, valuable, admirable) work for me
  2. Lit. what this woman has done will be spoken of unto her memorial
  3. Or weighed out for him
  4. Or And evening having come, he was reclining
  5. Or Is it me, Lord?
  6. Or The one
  7. Lit. having blessed
  8. Zech. 13:17
  9. Or Sleep on now, and take your rest; or Sleep and take your rest later on
  10. Lit. and the Son of Man is betrayed
  11. Lit. with
  12. Or possibly Friend, do what you have come to do
  13. Lit. in that hour
  14. Or forsaking (abandoning) him
  15. Or From now on
  16. Lit. for even your speech makes you evident

 

Jesus Delivered Up to Pilate

27 Now as day began to dawn, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death; and when they had bound him, they led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

A Prophecy Fulfilled

When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus now stood condemned, he regretted what he had done. So he brought the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” So after Judas had thrown the silver coins into the temple, he withdrew from there; and he went away and hanged himself.

Now after the chief priests had picked up1 the silver coins, they said, “It is not lawful for us to put them into the temple treasury, since they are the price of blood.” So after deliberating among themselves, they used the money to buy the potter’s field as a cemetery for foreigners. Therefore, to this day it is called the Field of Blood. Then what was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled, when he said, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver—the price of him whose price was set by the sons of Israel— 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, just as the Lord directed me.”2

Jesus Before Pilate

11 So Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor questioned him, saying, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “You are saying it.” 12 Now as the chief priests and elders were accusing him, he said nothing at all. 13 So Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear how many accusations they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus gave him no reply, not even to a single charge,3 with the result that the governor was utterly amazed.

The People Choose Barabbas

15 Now at the feast the governor had a custom of releasing to the crowds any one prisoner whom they desired. 16 And at that time they were holding a notorious prisoner by the name of Barabbas.3 17 So after the people5 had assembled, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 (For Pilate knew the leaders had handed him over out of jealousy.) 19 But as he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for today I suffered many things6 in a dream because of him.” 20 Now the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus put to death. 21 But in reply the governor again said to the people, “Which of the two men do you want me to release to you?” And they said, “Barabbas!” 22 Pilate said to them, “What then should I do with Jesus, who is called the Messiah?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 So he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let him be crucified!”

24 Now when Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere—indeed, that a riot was about to start—he took some water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “See for yourselves: I am innocent of this man’s blood!” 25 So all the people answered and said, “May his blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

27 At that point the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the entire cohort around him. 28 Then they stripped him and wrapped a scarlet robe around him; 29 and after they had woven a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. Then they knelt down before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 30 They also spat on him and took the reed and repeatedly struck him on the head. 31 Then, when they had finished mocking him, they removed the robe, clothed him again, and led him away to be crucified.

The King is Lifted Up

32 Now as they were going out of the city, they came upon a man from Cyrene whose name was Simon; and they forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. 33 And when they had come to the place called Golgotha (which means “Place of a Skull”), 34 they gave Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he was unwilling to drink further. 35 Now after they had crucified him, they divided up his clothing by casting lots; 36 then they sat down and began to keep watch over him there. 37 And above his head they posted the indictment written against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then they crucified two robbers along with him, one on his right hand, and one on his left. 39 And the passersby began to rail at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you really are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” 41 And the chief priests as well, together with the scribes and elders, were mocking him in the same way, saying, 42 “He saved others, but he cannot save himself. He is the king of Israel—let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusted in God, so let God deliver him now if he really does delight in him,7 for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And8 the robbers who were crucified with him were also insulting him in the same way.

Jesus Dies on the Cross

45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour9 darkness came over the entire land.10 46 Then, around the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”11 47 Now when some of the people standing there heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah!” 48 And immediately one of them ran and picked up a sponge, filled it with sour wine, placed it on a reed, and offered it to him to drink. 49 But the rest of them said, “Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah really does come and save him.”

50 Now when Jesus had again cried out with a loud voice, he gave up12 his spirit. 51 And suddenly the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, the rocks were split, 52 and the tombs were opened; and the bodies of many of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 (Moreover, after his resurrection they came out of the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.) 54 Now when the centurion and the men who were guarding Jesus with him saw the earthquake and the things that had taken place, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly, this was a son of God!”13 55 And in that place, looking on from afar, there were a number of women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and ministered to his needs.14 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Jesus Buried in Joseph’s Tomb

57 Now when evening arrived, there came a rich man from Arimathea by the name of Joseph, a man who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, this man asked to take custody of Jesus’ body, at which time Pilate ordered the body to be handed over to him. 59 And when Joseph had received the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, a tomb he had hewn out of the rock. Then he rolled a large stone up against the entrance of the tomb and went his way. 61 (Now Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were in that place, sitting opposite the tomb.)

Pilate Sets a Guard

62 The next day (that is, the day after the Preparation), the chief priests and the Pharisees assembled before Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember that when that deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore, command that the tomb be kept secure until the third day is over. Otherwise his disciples may come, secretly take him away,15 and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first!” 65 Pilate said to them, “Take a guard16 and go and make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went their way and secured the tomb by placing a seal on the stone in the presence of the guard.17

Notes

  1. Or received
  2. Jer. 19:1-13, 32:6-9; Zech. 11:12-13
  3. Or not even a single word
  4. Some mss Jesus Barabbas
  5. Lit. they
  6. Or greatly
  7. Or if he desires it
  8. Or even
  9. I.e. 12-3 PM
  10. Or earth
  11. Ps. 22:18
  12. Or yielded up, dismissed
  13. Or possibly the Son of God; there is no article in the Greek
  14. Lit.to him
  15. Lit. steal him
  16. I.e. a Roman guard of 4-16 soldiers
  17. Or possibly stone, and posting the guard

 

He is Risen!

28 Now after the Sabbath, towards1 dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. But behold, a great earthquake had just occurred; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven and coming to the tomb, had rolled back the stone and was now sitting on it. His face2 was like lightning, and his robe3 was as white as snow; and for fear of him the guards trembled and shook and became like dead men. But responding to their presence, the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid; for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here, for he has been raised, just as he said! Come and see the place where he4 was lying. Now,5 go quickly and tell his disciples that he has been raised from the dead.6 And behold, he is going before you into Galilee; you will see him there. See, I myself have told you!” So with fear and great joy they quickly left the tomb and ran to bring word to his disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Rejoice!” So they came up to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to leave for Galilee; there they will see me again.”

The Soldiers Bribed

11 Now while they were on their way, some of the soldiers from the Roman guard7 went into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when the chief priests had come together with the elders for consultation,8 they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 saying, “Tell your superiors,9 ‘His disciples came at night and stole his body while we were sleeping.’ 14 And if news of this should reach the governor’s ears, we will win him over, freeing you from every fear.”10 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story was spread far and wide among the Jews, and has been to this very day.

The Great Commission

16 So the eleven disciples went their way into Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 And when they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus drew near and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples in all the nations,11 baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all12 that I commanded you. And behold, I am with you each and every day,13 even to the end of the age!”

Notes

  1. Or at
  2. Lit. appearance
  3. Lit. outer garment
  4. Many mss read the Lord
  5. Or Then; lit. And
  6. Some mss omit from the dead
  7. Lit. Behold, certain of the guard
  8. Or as a council
  9. Lit. money, saying, “You are to say that
  10. Lit. and make you free from fear
  11. Lit. Having gone, therefore, disciple all the nations
  12. Lit. all things whatsoever
  13. Lit. all the days

The Word of Life

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have beheld and handled with our hands—I write1 concerning the Word of life; 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and that was manifested to us—3 that which we have seen and heard we also proclaim to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. 4 And we write these things to you so that our joy may be fulfilled.

God is Light

5 Now this is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If, then, we say that we have fellowship with Him but continue to walk in darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son keeps on cleansing us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just2 to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Notes

  1. See v. 4, 2:1, 7, 12, etc.
  2. Or righteous
Read More

NOTE: This esay brings together excerpts from my forthcoming book, The Great End Time Debate: Issues, Options, and Amillennial Answers (Redemption Press). In the following critique of dispensational premillennialism I often refer to subjects covered in that book. In the present essay I will supply links to other articles where I offer biblical support for my general assertions about the Kingdom of God, Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP),  the Millennium, and the Consummation.

Exposition

(For a time line of Dispensational Premillennialism, click here)

Dispensational Premillennialism is a recent, complex, and increasingly controversial form of modern Historical Premillennialism (HP). It was developed in mid-19th century England by John Darby, a leader of the small but influential Plymouth Brethren Movement. In a day when theological liberalism was rotting out the foundations of mainline Protestantism, dispensationalists held loyally to a high view of Scripture and so won favor among biblical conservatives. Also, as the murderous 20th century progressed, the dispensational interpretation of biblical prophecy—which was decidedly pessimistic about the future of world society—seemed to make good sense of the tumultuous times in which people were living.

As a result, Dispensationalism enjoyed a large following. It included a number of devoted apologists: men like C. I. Scofield, Harry Ironside, William Blackstone, and A. C. Gabelein. Evangelist D. L. Moody did much to spread the new eschatology among Christian laymen, as did the popular Scofield Reference Bible and the Prophetic Conference Movement. In time, dispensationally oriented Bible colleges and seminaries began to spring up here and there, from which there flowed a continuous stream of teachers, pastors, writers, and conference speakers. Familiar contemporary proponents of Dispensationalism include William Criswell, Norman Geisler, Dave Hunt, Thomas Ice, John Hagee, David Jeremiah, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, John MacArthur, Joel Rosenberg, Charles Ryrie, Chuck Smith, Charles Swindoll, Jack Van Impe, and John Walvoord.

Two Peoples, Two Plans, Seven Dispensations

At the heart of Dispensationalism lies a novel and highly controversial thesis, namely, that God has always had two different plans for two different people groups: one for Israel and another for the Church (comprised largely of Gentile believers). This conviction is reflected in its picture of Salvation History, which is divided into seven different dispensations. These are defined as seasons during which God tests people in a particular way. Accordingly, dispensationalists break up the Era of Promise and Preparation (i.e., the era stretching from the fall to the advent of Christ) into four separate dispensations: the dispensation of Conscience (Adam), Human Government (Noah), Promise (Abraham), and Law (Moses/Israel).

Among these, the fourth is of special importance, since it was during this troubled season of Israel’s moral failure that God, through his OT prophets, ever-increasingly promised that he would restore his (scattered) people to their homeland in Canaan, send them a Messianic King, and set up a global theocracy with Israel as the head and the Gentiles as the tail. Dispensationalists interpret these OTKP’s quite literally, and therefore anticipate a future “dispensation of the Kingdom” in whcih God’s earthly people—ethnic Israel—will again be living in Canaan/Palestine, reigning triumphantly with their Messiah over the other nations of the world.

This brings us to the NT era. Here God finally sends his Son into the world for the express purpose of offering the promised theocratic Kingdom to Israel. However, as the four gospels make painfully clear, Israel largely refuses to submit to Christ, thereby failing their test and forfeiting the theocratic Kingdom. But this does not spell the death of God’s Kingdom promises. Instead, God graciously postpones the dispensation of the Kingdom until the Millennium (Matt. 11:20f). Meanwhile, about mid-way through his earthly ministry, Christ unveils a new plan by which God will henceforth create a new (heavenly) people and introduce a new dispensation: the Dispensation of the Church, or the so-called Church Age (Matt. 13:1f). Some dispensationalists speak of this dispensation as the “mystery form” of the Kingdom, since here Christ does indeed rule over his saints, but only inwardly, by his Spirit.

Very importantly, dispensationalists insist that this new plan was a pure mystery. That is, the OT prophets never foresaw or spoke of it at all. Rather, Christ introduced it altogether de novo during the days of his flesh when he realized that the Jewish nation would soon reject him. And that, of course, is precisely what happened, with the result that on the Day of Pentecost the crucified, risen, ascended, and glorified Christ did indeed give birth to a heavenly people, pouring out the Holy Spirit on his disciples and seating them—along with all who would afterwards believe their report—in heavenly places at the Father’s own right hand.

The Consummation

This brings us to the most complicated part of the dispensational system, the part that deals with the Consummation. I will sketch it as simply as I can.

First comes the secret Rapture. This is “phase one” of the Lord’s Parousia, the phase of his Coming in which Christ descends from heaven for his saints. When he does, he will resurrect the saints of old, transform the living believers, gather them all to himself in the sky, and then take them with him to heaven, where, for the next seven years, they will enjoy the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Again, the Rapture is a “secret” event: Here, no (unbelieving) person on earth sees Christ or the departure of the glorified Church. Also, it is an “imminent” event: Since God has not given us any signs by which we might know that it is at hand, no one can know when the great catching up will occur. The saints must be prepared for an “any-moment Rapture.”

Next comes the Tribulation. Based on a unique and quite literal interpretation of Daniel 9 (see below), dispensationalists argue that the Tribulation will last for seven literal years. During this time 144,000 converted Jews will preach “the gospel of the Kingdom” to all nations. This is the good news of Christ’s coming millennial reign, and also of access to that reign through personal faith in him. As the 144,000 preach, many Jews and Gentiles will believe. However, mid-way through the Tribulation the Antichrist will step onto the stage of history. When he does, the whole world will go after him, believers will undergo fierce persecution, and God will pour out dreadful warning judgments upon the earth. This season of three and a half years—referred to as The Great Tribulation—concludes with the Battle of Armageddon: a military conflict centered in Palestine that will scarcely get under way before Christ returns visibly, in power and glory, to rescue his beleaguered people and destroy their enemies.

This return is “phase two” of the Parousia (and is also called the Revelation). Here Christ will come with his saints (and all the holy angels). His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives. More Jews will be converted. OT saints—and believers who died during the Tribulation—will be raised from the dead. Then Christ will judge the living Gentile nations, punishing many, but permitting those who treated his “brethren” (i.e., the Lord’s Jewish emissaries) well to enter the Millennium. Likewise, he will also judge between believing and unbelieving Jews. Finally, he will cast Satan into the abyss for 1000 literal years. Then all the glorified saints will return to heaven and the thousand-year Kingdom Age will begin.

Throughout the Millennium Christ will reign on earth and over the earth from the earthly Jerusalem. A glorious rebuilt temple will become the center of the global worship of God. In commemoration of Christ’s atoning death, priests will again offer animal sacrifices and observe Jewish feast days. Though sin and death will be marginally present, the Millennium will largely be a time of widespread peace, prosperity, longevity, righteousness, and joy. On those rare occasions when rebels rise up against their King, Christ will swiftly punish them with a rod of iron, possibly with help from certain glorified saints living on earth or sent from above. At the end of the Millennium God will permit Satan and his demon hosts to arise from the abyss and deceive the nations one final time. A final battle will ensue, wherein a confederacy of rebellious nations will attack the camp of the (largely Jewish) saints. But God (or Christ) will quickly intervene, destroy his foes, cast Satan into hell, and raise the millennial saints from the dead.

Now comes the Last Judgment. Here the focus is upon the unbelieving dead, who will be raised and brought before the Great White Throne, where Christ will judge them according to their works and then cast them into the Lake of Fire.

Finally, God (or Christ) creates the World to Come, the new heavens and the new earth. This is the eternal home of the redeemed. The Church—God’s heavenly people—descends to the new earth to join Israel, God’s earthly people. Though remaining forever distinct (according to some dispensationalists), both now live and serve together in the eternal Kingdom of God and Christ.

Current Status

Among modern scholars dispensationalism has largely fallen out of favor. Nevertheless it is still preached by a great many pastors, for which reason it has also acquired a large following among the people in the pews. Indeed, for over 150 years evangelical Christians have been saturated with dispensational thinking, whether in sermons, prophetic conferences, novels, or movies. If, then, it truly is in error, many of god’s children will need considerable time, effort, and eschatological re-training to unlearn it. But if they are Good Bereans, they will be willing to pay the price.

Critique

As ever, the most effective way to understand, evaluate, and critique any given eschatology is to see what it has to say about the four underlying issues in the Great End Time Debate (GETD): The Kingdom of God, the proper interpretation of OTKP, the meaning of the Millennium, and the nature of the Consummation. Let us do so now, taking a close look at Dispensational Premillennialsim.

View of the Kingdom

Dispensationalism misunderstands the Kingdom of God in the following three ways.

First, it misunderstands the nature of the Kingdom. Classic dispensationalism identifies the Kingdom as a future earthly theocratic reign of Christ over ethnic Israel and the nations. However, the Didactic New Testament (DNT, the specifically teaching portions of the NT) identifies the Kingdom as a direct reign of God the Father, through Christ the Son, by the Holy Spirit, over all who have entered the New Covenant by faith. Thus, the Kingdom has nothing to do with a return to the theocratic institutions of the Mosaic Law, all of which have been fulfilled and rendered obsolete by Christ and the New Covenant. (More here)

Secondly, it misunderstands the structure of the Kingdom. As in the case of Historic Premillennialism, so here: Dispensationalists look for three stages of the Kingdom, whereas the DNT looks only for two. (More here and here)

Thirdly, dispensationalists misunderstand the people of the Kingdom. According to the DNT they are a great multitude taken out of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, bound as one through their common faith in Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:28f; John 6:37, 44, 65; Eph. 2:11-3:13). This is the true spiritual seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:29). This is the true Israel of God (Gal. 6:16). The DNT is emphatic: God does not have two separate families, nor does he have two separate plans for those families: a Gospel of the Kingdom for the Jews, and a Gospel of Grace for the Gentiles. Through Christ, God has broken down the middle wall separating Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14). Henceforth, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). Henceforth, there is one flock (John 10), one Woman (Rev. 12), one Bride (Eph. 5), one Wife (Rev. 21), one Body (Eph. 5), one New Man (Eph. 2), one Olive Tree (Rom. 11), one City (Rev. 21), one Royal Priesthood (1 Pet. 2), and one Holy Nation (6:16; 1 Pet. 2). Therefore, let no man rebuild what God has forever torn down (Gal. 2:18); and let no one separate what God has forever joined together (Matt. 19:6).

View of OTKP

Like many Historic Premillennarians, dispensationalists interpret OTKP quite literally. Thus, the hermeneutical problems of the latter are the same as those of the former. Their literal approach entangles them in historical anachronisms, apparent contradictions, a resurrection of the OT Law, a rebuilding of the wall between Jew and Gentile, and the problem of millennial conditions said to endure forever. And this in turn brings them into direct conflict with NT teaching on the nature and structure of the Kingdom introduced under the New Covenant. (More here and here)

Thankfully, progressive dispensationalists have begun to feel the force of these objections. Recognizing that the Kingdom is indeed “already” and “not yet,” they acknowledge that even now the greater David is reigning on his heavenly throne, and that under the New Covenant the Church is indeed participating in the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants. Accordingly, these interpreters (who nevertheless still adhere to the basic the dispensational scheme of Salvation History) argue that OTKP has a double fulfillment: It speaks both of the Church Era and also of a future Jewish millennium. Amillennarians acknowledge this as a small step in the right direction. It is, however, but a first step in a long journey that will only end when dispensationalists finally come home to the eschatology the Bible and their Protestant forefathers.

View of the Revelation

The dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 is the rock of dispensational theology. Broadly, it grounds their conviction that God has a double purpose in Salvation History: the salvation of the Church (his heavenly people), and the salvation ethnic Israel (his earthly people). More narrowly, it governs their understanding of the Revelation. Very importantly, dispensationalists find the perceived harmony between Daniel 9 and the Revelation compelling: The one seems clearly to reinforce the other, and so to vindicate the entire dispensational system. Accordingly, in this this section we must spend some extra time discussing these crucial matters.

 I will do so in three steps. First, we’ll look briefly at the dispensational interpretation of Daniel’s famous prophecy of the seventy weeks (Dan. 9). Next, we’ll discuss their interpretation of the Revelation, emphasizing its (alleged) correspondence to Daniel 9, and offering amillennial critiques along the way. Finally, I will conclude with some remarks designed to show why dispensational interpreters have so grievously misunderstood this precious book, the Grand Finale of all Scripture.

  1. The Dispensational Interpretation of Daniel’s Seventy Sevens

Here, very briefly, is the standard dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27.

The theme of the grand theme prophecy is not the future of spiritual Israel (i.e. all God’s people, Jew and Gentile), but of ethnic Israel. Daniel’s people and Daniel’s city are not spiritually circumcised Jews and Gentiles, but rather the Jewish race and nation (Dan. 9:24). Throughout OT times, God promised the latter a theocratic kingdom, mediated by his Messiah. But before Israel can enter this promised Kingdom Age, it must first traverse Daniel’s “seventy sevens.” These are seventy weeks of calendar years, totaling 490. The 69 weeks of verse 25 began with Artaxerxes’ decree to rebuild Jerusalem (445 BC); they ended at the birth (or triumphal entry) of Christ. Verse 26 gives us the events of the 69th week, in which Christ was rejected, and after which the Roman general Titus came and destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. But now something unexpected happens. At this point in the prophecy, Daniel leaps over the entire Church Age (now some 2000 years long), thereby rendering God’s dealings with his heavenly people (i.e., the Church) a mystery, a hidden purpose and plan later to be unveiled by Christ.

Accordingly, verse 27 gives us future events that are set to occur during the seventieth week, the week that follows the secret Rapture of the Church. Here, “God’s prophetic time clock” begins to tick again; here he resumes his redemptive dealings with the (physical) sons of Abraham. Dispensationalists refer to this week of seven years as the Tribulation. At the beginning of the Tribulation, the Antichrist makes a covenant with ethnic Israel. In the middle of the week he breaks that covenant, suppresses Jewish worship, and defiles the (restored) Jewish temple. This marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation, a 3½ year season of dreadful divine judgments upon the world, and intense persecution for believing Jews and Gentiles. At their end, Christ will return in glory, destroy the Antichrist, and welcome the Jewish saints who have survived the Tribulation into the promised Kingdom Age. According to Revelation 20, this age will last 1000 literal years. (More here)

  1. The Dispensational Interpretation of the Revelation

In the paragraphs ahead I will sketch the dispensational interpretation of each section of the Revelation, and then offer a brief amillennial reply based on all we learned earlier about the purpose, literary genre, structure, and themes of the Revelation  (More here, here, and here)

Chapter 1 of the Revelation gives us a vision of the exalted Christ, the One who will first bring to pass God’s purpose for the Church (Rev. 2-5), and thereafter God’s purpose for ethnic Israel (Rev. 6-20).

 Amillennarians reply: Yes, chapter 1 gives us a revelation of the exalted Christ, the Lord of the remainder of Salvation History. But no, the book does not give us God’s two-fold purpose and plan, first for the Church, and then ethnic Israel. Rather, it gives us God’s singular purpose and plan for his one and only people, the Church, comprised of elect Jews and Gentiles of all time. Here, however, the emphasis falls upon God’s New Covenant people, as the High King of Heaven enables them to make their difficult spiritual pilgrimage through the lengthy Era of Gospel Proclamation.

Chapters 2-3 give us the Lord’s messages to the seven Churches of Asia. Real as they were, these churches also symbolize the universal Church, and (for some interpreters) the historical stages through which she must pass over the course of the Church Age. This age is the “mystery parenthesis,” a season of Salvation History that neither Daniel nor any of the other the OT prophets foresaw. It is the age that Christ unveiled when, in anticipation of his rejection by Israel, he said, “I will build my Church” (Matt. 16:18) Thus, in chapters 2-3, Christ is speaking to the Church, about the Church, in the Church Age. Soon, however, he will be speaking to Israel, about Israel (and the nations), during the Tribulation, and on into the Millennium.

 Amillennarians reply: Yes, the true nature of the Church, as the spiritual Body of the Messiah, was a mystery to the OT prophets. However, the prophets did indeed foresee the Church, and were moved by the Spirit to speak about her, albeit under a veil of OT imagery. And this is true of the prophet Daniel himself, who was actually speaking about the Church in Daniel 9! As for the Revelation, in chapters 2-3 the High Prophet of Heaven speaks to the Church about the various strengths and weaknesses that she will manifest during her pilgrimage to the World to Come. Then, in chapters 6-20, he speaks to the Church about the persons, powers, events, and institutions she will encounter along the way. In the Revelation, ethnic Israel is never in view, whereas Israel’s anti-type, the Church, is always and only in view.      

In chapters 4-5 we have John’s vision of heaven, its occupants, and the worship that fills it. The apostle hears a voice, saying, “Come up here” (Rev. 4:1). For many interpreters, this is a veiled reference to the secret Rapture. For all interpreters, the 24 elders represent the raptured, glorified, rewarded, and worshiping Church. In her presence, and eliciting her praise, Christ receives from the Father the title deed to the earth and prepares to unfasten the seven seals. When the unfastening begins, so too does the 70th week of Daniel (i.e., the Tribulation). That is, the exalted Christ launches God’s eschatological dealings with ethnic Israel and the nations, all with a view to bringing in the (1000-year) Kingdom Age.

 Amillennarians reply: No, John’s journey to heaven does not picture the Rapture (a doctrine not found in the DNT). It does, however, remind us that through the new birth all the members of Christ’s Church are seated in the heavenly places in/with him. As for the scene in heaven, it is timeless, and therefore depicts the worship of all God’s people of all times: the Church. She is comprised of OT saints (symbolized by the 12 patriarchs) and NT saints (symbolized by the 12 apostles). The scroll in the Father’s hand is a last will and testament, containing the eternal inheritance of the saints promised in the Covenant of Grace: the Gospel (Rev. 21-22). Howver, before they can receive that inheritance, the High King of heaven, who prevailed upon the earth for the salvation of his people, must first unfasten its seven seals. That is, he must preside over the various historical events through which his redemptive work will be proclaimed and applied to the hearts of his elect. He must superintend the pilgrimage of the Church throughout the Era of Gospel Proclamation, after which he will come again to consummate God’s plan in final judgment and redemption, and bring in the new heavens and the new earth, the eternal inheritance of the saints.

Chapters 6-19 give us the Tribulation, the seventieth week of Daniel. In essence, it is a seven-year season of world evangelization, during which 144,000 redeemed Israelites will proclaim the Gospel of the (coming millennial) Kingdom amidst ever-increasing and ever-intensifying providential judgments, culminating in a supernatural judgment at the personal Coming (Revelation) of Christ (Rev. 7:1-8, 19:11-21). The judgments are serial in nature, progressing from the seven seals (6-7), through the seven trumpets (8-11), and on to the seven bowls (15-16). Writes John MacArthur, “The seal judgments include all the judgments to the end. The seventh seal contains the 7 trumpets, the seventh trumpet contains the 7 bowls.” Midway through the Tribulation, the Antichrist (i.e., the Beast) will arrive on the scene, break his covenant with Israel, defile the temple, and devastate Jerusalem; thus do the 3½ years of the Great Tribulation begin (Rev. 13:5). This section ends with chapter 19, which alone of all the chapters in this section gives us the second coming of Christ in glory (19:11-16), the demise of Christ’s enemies gathered against Israel at Armageddon (19:17-21), and the close of the Great Tribulation.

 Amillennarians reply: No, these chapters do not speak of a future seven-year tribulation. Rather, together with chapter 20, they give us six parallel recapitulations of the course and character of the High King’s heavenly reign. Each one begins at the beginning of the Era of Gospel Proclamation and ends with a more or less symbolic representation of the return of Christ in final judgment and redemption. Literal interpretations of the 140,000, the seal judgments, the trumpet judgments, the bowl judgments, the two witnesses, the permutations of 3½, the mark of the Beast, and the Battle of Armageddon all wreak havoc with the text. They needlessly strain credulity, engender crippling fears, and obscure the meaning, solemnity, and wonder of these parallel visions. Here the dispensational interpretation works positive harm to the Church by projecting the fulfillment of these chapters onto another people and into a distant (post-Rapture) future. Because the flock of God is journeying through the howling wilderness of this present evil age, it needs to hear the voice of its heavenly Shepherd (Rev. 12:1-17). Here and elsewhere, dispensationalism cuts it off. (More here)

Chapter 20 gives us the goal and aftermath of Daniel’s 70 weeks: the 1000-year Kingdom Age, in which all OTKP is (literally) fulfilled at last. First, Satan and his demons are cast into the abyss, paving the way for vastly improved spiritual and physical conditions upon the earth. Then, in “the first resurrection,” Christ raises the OT saints and the Tribulation martyrs. They, along with those who came to faith during the Tribulation, enter the Kingdom Age and rule with Christ throughout the Millennium. OT temple worship, centered in Jerusalem, is revived, but only to commemorate the finished work of Christ. Again, the Millennium is basically a lengthy season of peace, prosperity, longevity, righteousness, and joy. Nevertheless, as time passes many of the children of the tribulation saints fall into unbelief. This results in a series of dramatic eschatological events that will bring the Millennium to a close: the release of Satan from the abyss, a gathering of rebellious nations against Jerusalem, a divine judgment by fire, a second resurrection (this time of the unrighteous dead), and a final Judgment of all unbelievers at the Great White Throne.

 Amillennarians reply: No, Revelation 20 does not describe a future 1000-year reign of Christ upon the earth. Rather, it gives us a seventh and final recapitulation of the course and character of his heavenly reign. During this time, which stretches between the Lord’s first and second advents, Satan is bound from deceiving God’s elect, and from gathering the unbelieving world to the Last Battle. It is a long time (symbolized by 1000), but also a finite time, during which the triune God (3) completes (10) the application of the redemption purchased by Christ (10 x 10 x 10). During this time the souls of believers who die in the faith are raised to spiritual perfection and reign in life with Christ in heaven above. This is the first resurrection, a spiritual resurrection that secures, for the saints, their bodily resurrection at the Parousia of Christ. At the end of the age Satan is released from his restraints and gathers the unbelieving world against the Church for the Last Battle. But Christ returns in fire to destroy his enemies, raise the dead of all time, consigns the unrighteous to the Lake of Fire, and brings in the eternal World to Come. (More here)   

Dispensationalists hold conflicting views on chapters 21-22. All look for new heavens and a new earth. All look for a physical city, the eternal habitation of the saints. Many look for a physical tree and water of life, albeit with spiritual properties and benefits. Some say that the middle wall between Jew and Gentile will be removed once and for all; others say it will endure forever.

 Amillennarians reply: Yes, chapters 21-22 give us the eternal World to Come; but no, we should not bring a literalist hermeneutic into it. Here, the Church—comprised of all God’s people of all time—is not only the Bride of Christ, but also the City of God. She is the Bridal City, forever dwelling in glory in the new creation. The throne of God and the Lamb, the river of the water of life, the tree of life and its fruits and leaves . . . all are spiritual realities, rather than physical objects. They are symbols, teaching us that the sovereign Father and Son, by the Holy Spirit, will forever refresh, nourish, and maintain the good health of their beloved children and Bride in the glorious World to Come.

  1. Why the Dispensational Interpretation Fails

Our dispensational brothers have stumbled badly in their interpretation of the Revelation. It will serve us well to ask ourselves why. I would answer as follows:

They misunderstood the intended audience of the book, which is the Church.

They misunderstood the nature and purpose of the book, failing to see that it is an extended prophecy, designed to edify, exhort, and encourage the Church as she makes her pilgrim way to the Promised Land through the howling wilderness of this present evil world.

They misunderstood the underlying theme of the book, which is the exaltation of Christ, the High King of Heaven, who, at the Father’s right hand, rules heaven and earth for the ingathering, upbuilding, preservation, and final glorification of the Church.

They misunderstood the literary genre of the book, which is biblical apocalyptic, and therefore interpreted the persons, places, objects, and events of the Revelation literally instead of figuratively (i.e., in terms of the spiritual realities previously disclosed in the DNT).

They misunderstood the structure of the book, failing to see that its five major blocs are meant as a celebration of the heavenly reign of the exalted Christ, and that the very lengthy fourth bloc (chapters 6-20) gives us parallel representations of the course and character of the High King’s reign. They also failed to see that this structure rules out their futurist interpretation, but instead mandates an “idealist” interpretation, according to which the key symbols (i.e., the Woman, the Dragon, the Beast, the False Prophet, the Harlot, Babylon the Great, etc.) all stand for persons and institutions that Christ’s Church will encounter again and again throughout her historical pilgrimage. (More here)

Finally, they misunderstood the ancillary purpose of the Revelation, which is to give us the Grand Finale of Scripture: a biblical movement that introduces no new themes (such as a future millennium), but instead simply rehearses and celebrates all that has been previously disclosed in the Bible, and especially in the master key to the Bible: the DNT.

In short, our dispensationalist brothers have stumbled over the Revelation because, in trying to understand it, they turned away from the High Prophet of Heaven and the DNT, choosing instead to impose their novel interpretation of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks upon the Grand Finale of all Scripture. The result has been enormous complexity, and therefore great confusion and controversy. But the cause was simple: They failed to listen to Him (Matt. 17:5).

View of the Consummation

For believers steeped in the DNT, dispensational teaching on the Consummation is painful in the extreme. The essential problem here is that it destroys the Blessed Hope of the Church by breaking God’s one eschatological gem into tiny pieces, and then sewing them like sequins on a false time-line of future Salvation History. The result is still more confusion and controversy, neither of which well serve a people upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1 Cor. 10:11).

In our journey towards eschatological clarity I have sought to address every element of the dispensational Consummation. Working out way through the dispensational time line, let us review what we have learned.

First comes the Rapture, when Christ secretly returns to the earth and removes his glorified Bride to heaven, thereby marking the onset of a seven-year season of tribulation. We have seen, however, that this teaching is based on a faulty exegesis of Daniel 9, and also on a small handful of NT texts forced into its mold. In truth, the catching up of God’s glorified saints occurs at the one Parousia of Christ, when the High King returns in power and glory, raises all the dead of all time, transforms the living, and gathers all men and angels before his throne for the Judgment (Matt. 13, 25; 1 Thess. 4). (More here)

Next comes the (seven-year) Tribulation, or the 70th week of Daniel. Here, error abounds. The Great Tribulation of Revelation 7:14 is the entire present evil age, begun at the fall and stretching all the way to the Consummation. Now over six millennia long, it has ever been a season of tribulation for the true saints of God. The permutations of 3½ years, found throughout the Revelation (i.e., 42 months, 1260 days, a time, times, and a half a time), recall Elijah’s years in the wilderness, and therefore symbolize the entire Era of Gospel Proclamation as a season of persecution and divine provision (1 Ki. 17:1-6). The “greatest tribulation” of which our Lord spoke in Matthew 24:21 is a brief season of unspecified length, set to occur at the end of the age; a season of affliction for both the Church and the world. Dispensationalists are correct when they identity Daniel’s 70th seven as final “seven” of Salvation History, the “week” in which the Antichrist will rise to power, deceive the world, and persecute the saints (Dan. 9:27). They err, however, when they identify the “week” as seven literal years. And they further err when they assert that the Church will escape it. Quite the opposite: The Spirit’s purpose in giving this prophecy is to prepare the saints for the final 69 weeks, and especially for the 70th! In those days the saints must take up the weapons of their warfare and, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, fight bravely right up to the last hour of the Last Battle (2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:19f; 2 Tim. 2:3, 4:5). (more here)

Next we have “phase two” of the Parousia: the Revelation of Christ, that is, his visible coming with his saints, at which time he will resurrect only the OT saints and Tribulation martyrs, and welcome Tribulation saints believers into his millennial Kingdom. We have seen, however, that this truncated view empties the Consummation of much of its Christ-centered power and glory. For again, there is only one Consummation of all things, set to occur at the one Parousia. When it is complete, the divine Consummator will lay the shining trophy of the God’s completed Kingdom at his Father’s feet, thereby concluding his Messianic reign, rather than beginning it. (More here)

Next comes the Millennium, or the so-called Kingdom Age. By projecting it in the distant future, dispensationalists misrepresent the true structure of the Kingdom, giving us three stages instead of two. Also, their premillennialism further disrupts the unity of the Consummation by requiring a third coming of Christ at the end of the Millennium. But neither the DNT nor the Revelation support this scenario, teaching as they do that the 1000 years of Revelation 20 symbolize the lengthy era between Christ’s first and second advents.

We conclude, then, that the dispensational view of the Consummation seriously departs from Scripture, robs Christ of his proper glory, and needlessly confuses the saints by breaking up the one Consummation into multiple comings, resurrections, judgments, and transformations of nature. (More here and here)

Conclusion

These are difficult days ahead for the Church. We are heading for the Last Battle. (More here) As never before,  the Body of Christ will need to stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and ever-increasingly energized and encouraged by her one Blessed Hope (Phil. 1:27; Eph. 4:4). This is not a time for confusion and controversy; it is a time for recovering this historic Blessed Hope of the Church. (More here) Accordingly, I would urge my  dispensational brothers to rethink your position, and to come home to the good old paths of our Protestant forefathers. On that solid ground they stood strong amidst many dangers, toils, and snares. If we will stand with them, in these last days we can do the same.

 

 

NOTE: This essay is an excerpt from my book, The Great End Time Debate: Issues, Options, and Amillennial Answers (Redemption Press, 2021)

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These mysterious chapters give us Ezekiel’s famous prophecy of the Deception, Destruction, and Disposal of Israel’s great eschatological enemy: Gog and his confederation of evil armies. In the latter days, by divine decree, they all will go up against a people fully restored to the LORD and his covenant blessings, thinking to annihilate them and seize their homeland. But it is Gog and his armies who will be annihilated. Under furious strokes of divine judgment they will suffer complete and everlasting destruction upon the mountains of Israel.

How shall we understand this prophecy?

The answer from our premillennarian brethren is predictable and disappointing. Embracing prophetic literalism, they argue that Ezekiel is predicting a military war against latter day Jews who are spiritually renewed and happily resettled in their ancestral homeland of Palestine. But once again there are telling disagreements among them. Some, following the lead of Revelation 20:7-9, place this battle at the end of the Millennium. Others say it will take place just prior to Christ’s Second Coming and the onset the Millennium. This, however, forces the latter group to explain why Ezekiel has the Messiah living in the land before the Last Battle, rather than coming to it afterwards (Ezek. 37:24-25).

There are other problems as well, and of the same kind that appear in all Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP). As we have seen, the conspicuous use of figurative language warns against prophetic literalism. But if, in the case before us, the warning is ignored, our text is seen to conflict with other OT prophecies of the Last Battle, entangles us in numerous historical anachronisms, and plunges us into incredulity. For consider: Would (or could) modern armies bring wooden weapons to the field of battle? Would there be enough such weapons for a nation of millions to use them as fuel for seven years (Ezek. 39:9)? If all the people of the land worked daily for seven months to bury the bodies of their defeated foes, how many millions of corpses would there have to be (Ezek. 39:13)? How could the Israelites bear the stench or avoid the spread of disease?

But if prophetic literalism is not the key, what is? The Didactic New Testament (DNT) points the way. As we have seen, according to the NT the Kingdom enters history in two stages: a temporary spiritual Kingdom of the Son, followed by an eternal spiritual and physical Kingdom of the Father. Sandwiched between the two stages of the one Kingdom is the Last Battle: a final global clash between the Kingdom of Christ and the Kingdom of Satan, during which, for a brief moment, it will appear to all the world that the Lord’s Church has been destroyed. However, nothing could be farther from the truth, for in fact the Last Battle is the sign and trigger of the Consummation of all things: No sooner has it begun, than Christ himself comes again to rescue his Bride, destroy his enemies, and usher in the eternal Kingdom of the Father (and the Son).

These NT mysteries richly illumine large portions of the book of Ezekiel, including our text. In chapters 33-37 Ezekiel prophesies about the Days of the Messiah, and about the great spiritual renewal that he will accomplish among God’s people. In these chapters the prophet is using covenantally conditioned language to speak of the Era of Gospel Proclamation, during which the Father will bring “the Israel of God” into the spiritual Kingdom of his Son (Gal. 6:16). Later, in chapters 40-48, Ezekiel encourages the saints with visions of the Everlasting Temple (40-42), the Everlasting Glory (43), the Everlasting Worship (43-46), the Everlasting Wholeness (47), the Everlasting Homeland (47-48:29), and the Everlasting City (48:30-35). In these chapters he is using covenantally conditioned language to picture the glorified Church in the eternal World to Come. And what is sandwiched between these two great blocs of prophecy? You have guessed correctly: A covenantally conditioned picture of the Last Battle, cast as the Deception, Destruction, and Disposal of Israel’s most fearsome enemy: the armies of Gog.

Keeping these introductory thoughts in mind, let us now begin our journey through Ezekiel 38-39.

The Deception of Gog (38:1-17)

In verses 1-6 God commands Ezekiel to prophesy against Gog—who is consistently represented as a person—and the seven nations that will join him in the eschatological assault against Israel: Meschech, Tubal, Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer, and Togarmah. The number is symbolic, indicating that these nations typify the entire world. So too does the fact that they are situated to the north, east, and south of Israel. Rev. 20:7-10 further opens up the meaning, declaring that Gog and Magog will be gathered from “the four corners of the earth.” The message, then, is that Gog—unveiled in the NT as a personal antichrist controlled by Satan himself—will gather together the entire world-system for a final attack against the NT people of God: the Church. Her enemies will mean it for evil, but the all-sovereign God of providence, intent on a final majestic display of his glory, will mean it for good (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28, 9:14-18, 11:36; 2 Thess. 2:1ff).

In verses 7-9 God elaborates. The battle will occur “after many days” and “in the latter years”—that is, at the end of the Era of Gospel Proclamation. By his providence God himself will summon his foes, emboldening them to gather together against the LORD and his anointed servants (Ps. 2:1-3; Acts 4:23-31; Rev. 13:7). Accordingly, they will go up against a people gathered out of the nations and henceforth resting securely in their homeland and upon the mountains of Israel (v. 8). That is, they will attack the Church: a people called out of the world-wide Domain of Darkness, and planted in the heavenly places in Christ. Because of man’s sin, those places were long a desolate waste (i.e., uninhabited); but now God’s nation dwells there in peace and security with their mighty risen Lord (Eph. 1:3, 2:6; Col. 3:1-3; Heb. 12:22). Observe again from verse 9 the universality and magnitude of the attack against the Church: “Many peoples” are joined with Gog, and together they cover the land like a cloud (Rev. 13:3, 8, 20:9).

In verses 10-13 God elaborates further, this time probing the evil motivations of Gog and his hordes. Seeing both the prosperity and powerlessness of a peace-loving people who trust in God rather than walls and weapons, they will be emboldened “to capture spoil and to seize plunder” (v. 12). So too will many covetous onlookers, typified by the merchants of Sheba, Dedan, and Tarshsish (v. 13; Rev. 18:15-19). These images speak of spiritual conditions in the last of the last days. Hitherto the Church has enjoyed a wealth of adherents, as well as religious, moral, and cultural influence; now, however, all is attenuated. Spiritually speaking, she is no longer “the navel of the earth,” the spiritual center of human civilization (v. 12). The moral force of the Gospel—and the moral influence of the Church that proclaims it—no longer register on the conscience of a lawless world. Accordingly, it now dawns on the rulers of this present evil age that there is nothing to prevent them from seizing, not simply the property, but also the religious, philosophical, and moral high ground of the followers of the Prince of Peace (Matt. 24:12; 2 Tim. 3:1f; 2 Thess. 2:1ff). Foolishly, they decide to try.

Before pronouncing judgment on his foes, God reiterates his decree one final time (vv. 14-17). Yes, Gog will discern the vulnerability of the LORD’s little flock (v. 14). And yes, a multitude of latter-day nations will follow him in the attack, animated by the same spirit that motivated so many of Israel’s former enemies to invade Palestine from the north (v. 15; Is. 41:25; Jer. 1:13-15, 6:22f). But why are these things so certain? It’s because God himself has ordained them, and because he has done so in order to manifest his glory to all mankind (v. 16). As in the Exodus, so at the Last Battle: God will demonstrate his wrath and make his power known upon vessels fitted for destruction, even as he displays the riches of his glory upon (persecuted) vessels of mercy, whom he lovingly prepared beforehand for glory (Rom. 9:22-23, 2 Thess. 1). Over the course of many years the former prophets spoke of these very things. Why? Because God himself had decreed them (v. 17; Deut. 32:34-43; Is. 34:1-6, 63:1-6, 66:15-16; Joel 3:9-14; Mic. 4:19-23). Amidst all their tribulations the saints are invted to take refuge and comfort in the absolute sovereignty of their covenant-keeping God.

The Destruction of Gog (38:17-23)

Having spoken at length of the Deception of Gog, the LORD now unveils his Destruction (vv. 18-23). When the murderous armies attack his beloved land, he will jealously pour out his fury, anger, and blazing wrath upon them, even as he did upon his uniquely begotten Son, so that his chosen people might be rescued from these most dreadful enemies (vv. 18-19; Ezek. 20:33-35; Matt. 27:4; Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2, 4:10).

The first judgment is an earthquake. It is cosmic in scope, affecting seven sectors of the creation: fish, birds, beasts, all men, all mountains, and all human constructs (vv. 19-20; Heb. 12:29, Rev. 11:3, 16:8). In verses 21-22, seven more judgments are announced: sword, pestilence, blood, overflowing rain, hailstones, fire, and brimstone (Rev. 17:16). The numbers are clearly symbolic, and so too is the message. The NT decodes it. Ezekiel’s catalog of OT punishments symbolizes the one cosmic judgment by fire set to occur at the return of Christ (Matt. 3:12; Luke 17:29; 2 Thess. 1:8, 2 Peter 3:7, 12; Rev. 20:9). When it comes, all men and nations will see and confess that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the indeed the one, true, living, and altogether holy God (v. 23; 2 Thess. 1:3-10, Phil. 2:9-11).

The Disposal of Gog (39:1-20)

Chapter 39 gives us the Disposal of Gog and his hordes. Verses 1-8 begin with a brief recapitulation of his Deception and Destruction, wherein we learn again of the universality (v. 6), purpose (7), and certainty (v. 8) of the coming judgment. Observe from verse 6 that when it does come, all the earth will be living in security. But when people are saying, “Peace and safety,” sudden destruction will come upon them like labor pains upon a pregnant woman; and they will not escape (1 Thess. 5:3).

The theme of verses 9-10 is eschatological pillage and plunder. That the passage is symbolic is clear from the numbers used: six kinds of weapons will be used for fire over the course of seven years. The meaning? Time and again Israel had been pillaged and plundered by her human enemies; the Last Battle will be their last attempt, when fallen man (6) will do his very worst. But here, says God, is where it ends, and where the tables are forever turned. For here eschatological Israel will pillage and plunder all her foes, and for all time; her victory will be complete (7).

 The NT unveils the fulfillment of our text. By God’s decree the saints will have a share in the Judgment. “Do you not realize,” asked the incredulous Paul, “that the saints will judge the world” (Rom. 16:20; 1 Cor. 6:2; Rev. 20:4)? In that Day, the glorified Church will pillage her enemies and plunder their illicitly held possessions. When the fires of judgment have performed their work, a world formerly gone over to Satan and his seed will forever belong to the saints of the Most High. The humble will inherit the earth (Gen. 3:15; Dan. 7:18; Matt. 5:5, Luke 4:5-7; 2 Pet. 3:10-13).

The message is much the same in verses 11-16, which describe the burial of the hordes of Gog. The imagery of verse 11 is designed to communicate the immensity of the burial ground, while that of verses 12-15 staggers us with the multitude of dead bodies that will lie there. Verse 16 makes the latter idea explicit, declaring that the valley will suddenly become a city (or at least play host to a city) that men will call Hamonah (i.e., Multitude). The NT gives the interpretation: In the Judgment the resurrected saints will receive from Christ the honor of co-laboring with him in the eschatological cleansing of the world. The Church will have a role in the final casting out of all things that offend (v. 13; Matt. 13:41; 1 Cor. 6:2-3).

Verses 17-20 alert us to the symbolic character of the entire prophecy, since now we learn that the corpses of Gog are not actually buried in the valley, but instead become a sacrificial meal prepared by the LORD on the mountains of Israel for every sort of bird of the air and beast of the field. Here again the theme is the Last Judgment. We are assured of this by its NT counterpart, Revelation 19:17-21. Drawing liberally from Ezekiel’s words, the Spirit there associates “the Great Supper of God” with the Second Coming of Christ as Judge of all (Rev. 19:11-16). Passages from the DNT decode the symbolism of both prophecies: At the Parousia, Christ, the holy angels, and (perhaps) the saints themselves will fall upon the wicked and cast them into Gehenna, where the latter will be eternally devoured by the fires of divine judgment (Matt. 13:39-43; Rom. 2:5-10; 2 Thess. 1:3ff, 2:8; Jas. 5:3; Rev. 19:20, 20:14-15). Thus shall they become a kind of sacrifice, not to atone for sin, but to glorify the holiness, righteousness, justice, wrath, and power of the divine Judge of sin (Rom. 9:19-24; Rev. 15:1-8, 16:4-6).

A Final Promise of Restoration (39:21-29)

This section brings the prophecy to a close, paving the way for Ezekiel’s description of life in the everlasting World to Come (40-48). Appropriately enough, it gives us yet another promise of Israel’s eschatological restoration (vv. 25-29).

In verses 21-24 God casts a backward glance at his supreme purpose in the Judgment previously described: “That they may know.” He desires all to know his glory (v. 21). He desires Israel to know his covenant faithfulness (v. 22). And he desires the Gentiles to know that whenever they (briefly) triumphed over his people and nation, it was not because he was unable or unwilling to save them, but because they had sinned, with the result that for a little season he was forced to hide his face from them in judgment (vv. 23-24; Is. 54:8).

Mindful of this purpose, and eager to instill hope in his suffering people, God therefore concludes the prophecy with yet another promise of eschatological redemption (vv. 25-29). The blessings are familiar. He will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the house of Israel (v. 25). They will forget their former disgrace and live securely in their own land (v. 26). Their holy and blessed life will bring honor to his name (v. 27). They will learn to see his sovereign hand, both in their previous exile and in their return (v. 28). And when in fact they have returned, they will rest in this glorious confidence: Never again shall God hide his face from them in judgment, for he will have poured out his life-transforming Spirit upon all the house of Israel (v. 29; Heb. 8:1-13).

How shall we interpret this final promise? That it appears to be speaking exclusively of ethnic Israel can scarcely be denied. However, the NT assures us that such is not the case. In fact, the promise will be fulfilled in Christ, under the New Covenant, in the two-fold Kingdom that he will introduce. On this view, Israel’s history of sin, exile, and return stands as a type of the history of all God’s people of all times, whether Jew or Gentile. Having sinned in Adam, as well as by their own evil choices, God has exiled them into the Domain of Darkness, where they suffered grievously at the hands of their many enemies. Yet because of his everlasting love for them, he will take action. In the last days, he will set his glory—the Person and Work of his Son—among the nations, draw a chosen people to him, justify them, fill them with his Spirit, and plant them securely, with neither shame nor disgrace, in their new heavenly homeland.

Yes, at the end of the age the unbelieving world-system will mount a fierce attack against God’s holy nation, for it is appointed to the saints that they should follow in the footsteps of their Master (John 15:20; Rev. 11:7-10) But after they have suffered a little, and after they have been sanctified through it, God will yet again set his glory among the nations. He will do so by sending the High King of Heaven back into the world to destroy and dispose of all his foes, and to establish his people once and for all in their eternal homeland: the new heavens and the new earth (1 Pet. 1:3-9).

In that day, all men—both saints and sinners—will indeed come to know the LORD. They will come to know the sovereignty, righteousness, justice, power, wrath, love, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, and grace of the one true living triune God.

We are all homeward bound. But as I near the end of my journey, I sometimes find myself circling back to the beginning, re-reading the great books that set me on my way. Hinds Feet on High Places is one of them. And strange to tell, it is the golden nuggets found in the Preface to the Allegory that shine most brightly in my memory.  For those of you who love the old book, here’s the Preface. I hope you have found, with the author, that ” . . . the High Places and the hinds’ feet do not refer to heavenly places after death, but are meant to be the glorious experience of God’s children here and now—if they will follow the path he chooses for them.” But if you haven’t—or if you haven’t to the degree you had hoped for when you first began the journey—take courage: Just like me, you’re homeward bound.

 

Preface to the Allegory

One morning during the daily Bible reading on our mission compound in Palestine, our little Arab nurse read from Daily Light a quotation from the Song of Songs, “The voice of my Beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills” (Song of Solomon 2:8). When asked what the verse meant, she looked up with a happy smile of understanding and said, “It means there are no obstacles which our Savior’s love cannot overcome, and that to him, mountains of difficulty are as easy as an asphalt road!”

From the garden at the back of the mission house at the foot of Mount Gerizim we could often watch the gazelles bounding up the mountainside, leaping from rock to rock with extraordinary grace and agility. Their motion was one of the most beautiful examples of exultant and apparently effortless ease in surmounting obstacles which I have ever seen.

How deeply we who love the Lord of Love and desire to follow him long for the power to surmount all difficulties and tests and conflicts in life in the same exultant and triumphant way. To learn the secret of victorious living has been the heart’s desire of those who love the Lord, in every generation.

We feel we would give anything if only we could, in actual experience, live on the High Places of love and victory here on this earth and during this life—able always to react to evil, tribulation, sorrow, pain, and every wrong thing in such a way that they would be overcome and transformed into something to the praise and glory of God forever. As Christians we know, in theory at least, that in the life of a child of God there are no second causes, that even the most unjust and cruel things, as well as all seemingly pointless and undeserved sufferings, have been permitted by God as a glorious opportunity for us to react to them in such a way that our Lord and Savior is able to produce in us, little by little, his own lovely character.

The Song of Songs expresses the desire implanted in every human heart, to be reunited with God himself, and to know perfect and unbroken union with him. He has made us for himself, and our hearts can never know rest and perfect satisfaction until they find it in him.

It is God’s will that some of his children should learn this deep union with himself through the perfect flowering of natural human love in marriage. For others it is equally his will that the same perfect union should be learned through the experience of learning to lay down completely this natural and instinctive desire for marriage and parenthood, and accept the circumstances of life which deny them this experience. This instinct for love, so firmly implanted in the human heart, is the supreme way by which we learn to desire and love God himself above all else.

But the High Places of victory and union with Christ cannot be reached by any mental reckoning of self to be dead to sin, or by seeking to devise some way or discipline by which the will can be crucified. The only way is by learning to accept, day by day, the actual conditions and tests permitted by God, by a continually repeated laying down of our own will and acceptance of his as it is presented to us in the form of the people with whom we have to live and work, and in the things which happen to us. Every acceptance of his will becomes an altar of sacrifice, and every such surrender and abandonment of ourselves to his will is a means of furthering us on the way to the High Places to which he desires to bring every child of his while they are still living on earth.

The lessons of accepting and triumphing over evil, of becoming acquainted with grief, and pain, and ultimately, of finding them transformed into something incomparably precious; of learning through constant glad surrender to know the Lord of Love himself in a new way and to experience unbroken union with him—these are the lessons of the allegory in this book. The High Places and the hinds’ feet do not refer to heavenly places after death, but are meant to be the glorious experience of God’s children here and now—if they will follow the path he chooses for them.

Perhaps the Lord will use it to speak comfort to some of his loved ones who are finding themselves forced to keep company with Sorrow and Suffering, or who walk in darkness and have no light or feel themselves tossed with tempest and not comforted. It may help them to understand a new meaning in what is happening, for the experiences through which they are passing are all part of the wonderful process by which the Lord is making real in their lives the same experience which made David and Habakkuk cry out exultantly, “The Lord God maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon mine High Places” (Ps. 18:33 and Hab. 3:19).

–Hannah Hurnard