The apocalyptic vision here under consideration is one of a number found in the book of Daniel in which we behold the course, conflict, and climax of Salvation History from the time of the Babylonian Empire until the coming the Kingdom of God in its fullness at the end of the age (Dan. 2, 7, 9, 11, 12).

The purpose of these visions is clear: to give God’s suffering people hope.

The method is also clear: to give them hope by means of repeated symbolic representations of: (1) God’s absolute sovereignty over history; (2) the necessity—and brevity—of holy suffering on the part of his saints; (3) the final overthrow of the enemies of God and his people; and (4) the final rescue, restoration, and vindication of the saints on the Day of Judgment, when the Kingdom appears in fullness, triumphing once and for all over the kingdoms of this fallen world.

Needless to say, such prophecies are of great eschatological importance. But given the abundance and complexity of the symbolism involved—and the multitude of interpretations offered—how can we interpret them with confidence?

The short answer is: When we employ the New Covenant Hermeneutic (NCH). (More here)

The long answer is: When we let Christ and the apostles be our theological guides; when we have understood the nature and structure of the two-fold spiritual Kingdom they proclaimed; when we follow them in seeing Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP) as NT truth mystically communicated under  OT type and shadow . . . then, and only then, will we be able to approach these otherwise daunting visions with true spiritual confidence. (More here and here)

With Daniel 7 before us, let us see if these bold assertions are really true. In particular, let us see if this prophecy really does confirm the two-fold spiritual Kingdom of NT eschatology, thereby enabling us confidently to decide between the amillennial and premillennial interpretations, not only of Daniel 7, but of all OTKP.

The Four Beasts (1-8)

In the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream in which he beheld visions from God. In the first part of his vision he saw the four winds of heaven stir up the Great Sea in such a manner that four powerful and terrifying beasts rose up out of it, one after another (1-3).

The first was like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard (4-6).

The fourth— stronger and more dreadful than the rest—was largely indescribable, though Daniel does manage to convey its rapacity by mentioning its iron teeth (well suited for devouring) and its powerful feet (well suited for trampling). This beast had ten horns (2:41-41). While contemplating the horns, Daniel saw a little horn rising from among them: It tore out three horns by the roots, had the eyes of a man, and spoke boastful words (7-8).

The message of this vision—which is almost identical with that of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a huge, four-part statue (chapter 2)—is clear: The sovereign God has decreed that between the days of Daniel and the coming of the Kingdom of God in its fullness, four earthly kings/kingdoms shall arise. Like monstrous, predatory beasts, they will emerge from the turbulent sea of fallen, sinful humanity (2:24ff; Isaiah 7:12, 13, 57:20).

Because of the particular symbols used to describe these four beasts, conservative commentators are nearly unanimous in identifying them as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.

The NT gives further insight into this vision by unveiling Satan as the unseen ruler of all the kingdoms of this world (Luke 4:5, John 12:31, Eph. 6:12, 1 John 5:19); as he who (under God’s over-arching sovereignty) summons one evil empire after another onto the stage of history (Rev. 13:1); as he who, since the days of Babel, has sought to use proud and wicked men to consolidate the entire world-system around himself, thereby usurping the worship of God and mimicking his absolute sovereignty (Mt. 4:8-10). One day, according to Daniel and the NT writers, he will get his wish—and much more besides (2 Thess. 2:1f, Rev. 11:5, 16:14).

The Ancient of Days (9-12)

Even as the little horn continues to exalt himself, Daniel beholds the chariot-throne of God arriving upon the scene for final judgment. Immediately, other thrones are set up, and the Ancient of Days—He who was, and is, and is to come—takes his seat (Rev. 4:8). His garment and his hair are as white as snow and wool, emblems of his holiness, righteousness, and age-old eternity. His throne and its wheels are ablaze with fire, a token of his wrath, now fully kindled (9). A stream of fire pours forth from before him, ready to engulf his enemies. Ten thousand times ten thousand holy ones stand before him, ministering to him, alerting us to the cosmic dimensions of this Day.

The court is seated and the books are opened: The Judgment has begun (10). As soon as it does, the little horn is forever silenced, for the body of the beast from which it arose is now slain and cast into the blazing fires of hell (11). So too, one must assume, are the rest of the beasts, whose dominion was lately taken away, but who were allowed to live (perhaps as members of the fourth beast) only for a little time (12).

There can be no reasonable doubt that this majestic vision depicts the Last Judgment. As we have just seen, it is preceded by the destruction of the final earthly kingdom, and it is followed by the saints taking possession of the everlasting Kingdom of the Most High (7:18, 26-27). But if this is so, then NT teaching concerning the Last Judgment must be brought to bear upon the passage before us.

When it is, wonderful things suddenly appear before our eyes!

Who, for example, is the Ancient of Days? Verse 7:13 (and Revelation 4) make it clear that this is indeed the One we immediately think of: God the Father. Yet the NT calls for a more nuanced answer, since there we also learn that God the Father has committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22), and that all must appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Mt. 25:31:f, Acts 17:31, 2 Cor. 5:10). The Ancient of Days of vv. 9-10 is, then, God the Father acting through Christ—the very Christ who, when he came to John on Patmos, appeared in the form of the Ancient of Days (Rev. 1:14)!

The NT answers other important questions, as well.

Where shall the Judgment Seat of Christ appear? According to the NT, it will appear in the skies above the earth (Mt. 19:29, 1 Thess. 4:13-18, Rev. 20:11-21:2).

Who are the thousands of thousands who stand before him and minister to him? Doubtless the holy angels, but also the glorified saints, rejoicing in their new resurrection bodies and exulting in the justice of God (Mt. 13:43, 24:29-31, 1 Cor. 15:50-58, 1 Thess. 4:13-18, Rev. 15:1-4, 16:6, 19:11-21).

Who is seated upon on the other thrones that were “put in place,” presumably around the throne of Christ itself? Again the NT fills in the blanks, assuring us that the thrones belong to the saints, who, under Christ, will judge both men and angels (Rom. 16:20, 1 Cor. 6:1-3, Rev.4:4, 19:11-21, 20:4).

And what of the books that were opened when the court sat for judgment? The NT helpfully identifies them as the Book of Life, and also the multitude of books in which God has recorded the deeds of men, so that all may be judged according to their works (Luke 10:20, Rev. 20:12).

We conclude, then, that the NCH does indeed richly illuminate this mysterious OT revelation of the Last Judgment.

The Coronation of the Divine Son of Man (13-14)

As Daniel continues to watch, still another vision appears before his inward eye. He beholds a Personage—One like a Son of Man—coming with the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of Days. An entourage, presumably of angels, brings him near to the throne (13). At this point, God gives him dominion, glory, and a kingdom—or a right of universal sovereignty—so that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. Unlike the dominion of the four beasts, the dominion of the Son of Man will be everlasting. Unlike the kingdoms of the four beasts, the Kingdom of the Son of Man—the realm that is the fruit of his universal reign—will never pass away or be destroyed (14).

Doubtless the OT saints found this text quite mysterious, for it raises three great questions arise that would remain unanswered until Christ and the apostles flung open the doors of truth for all to see: 1) Who is the One like a Son of Man; 2) What is the nature of the transfer of authority here envisioned; and 3) When exactly does the transfer occur?

As for the One like a Son of Man, nearly all evangelical commentators identify him as the Messiah, the divine-human Lord Jesus Christ (Dan. 9:25-26). True, there is a certain parallelism between the inheritance of the Son of Man (v. 14) and the inheritance of the saints (vv. 18, 27), a parallelism suggesting to some that the Son of Man symbolizes the saints. But our text explicitly identifies this Personage as One who is like a Son of Man, and it uses the singular pronoun throughout to speak of him. As for the parallelism itself, the NT explains everything, declaring that through Christ the saints will indeed reign (and judge) upon the earth (Rev. 2:26-27, 5:10).

Very importantly, the Lord Jesus repeatedly spoke of himself as the Son of Man; it was, by far, his favorite self-designation. Moreover, towards the end of his earthly course he explicitly referenced this text when speaking to the Sanhedrin about his Parousia, lest there should be any confusion about who he understood himself to be (Mt. 26:64, Mark 14:62)!

But what about the nature and timing of the transfer of authority from the Ancient of Days to his Messiah? If we were shut up to the OT, having no recourse to NT teaching on this matter, it would indeed be most natural to conclude that God plans to bestow absolute and universal sovereignty upon the Messianic Son of Man at the (time of the) Judgment described in the vision immediately preceding; and that it may well be the Messiah himself who executes it (7:9-12). Interestingly, some of the OT apocrypha, along with a number NT texts, make it clear that this was the impression of at least some of Jews of Jesus’ day, possibly including John the Baptizer himself (Mt. 3:12, John 12:34). (1)  Nevertheless, the ambiguity here is considerable, and stands as an open invitation to search the NT for much-needed help.

Happily, the NT does not disappoint. When was it, according to the NT, that Christ came to the Ancient of Days, riding upon the clouds of heaven (v. 13)? And when was it that God gave him dominion, glory, and absolute sovereignty over all creation, so that in the end all peoples, nations, and men of every tongue might serve both Him and his Father (14)?

As we have already seen, both Jesus and his apostles answer fulsomely: All this occurred when the Father highly exalted Christ by raising him from the dead, catching him up into heaven on clouds of glory, seating him at his own right hand, and bestowing upon him all authority in heaven and earth, so that he might apply and consummate the redemption that he achieved through his humiliation on earth, thereby bringing in the Kingdom in its full, final, and glorious form (Luke 19:12, Mt. 28:18ff, Acts 1:9-11, 2:22-36, Phil. 2:5-11, Heb. 1:1-3).

On this score, Rev. 4-5 is of special importance. Indeed, one might well argue that these two chapters constitute a NT elaboration of Dan. 7:9-14. In Revelation 4 we behold the Ancient of Days, the eternal Creator and Judge of the world, seated in glory upon his throne. Then, in Revelation 5, we behold the Redeemer. Using apocalyptic imagery reminiscent of Daniel 7, the Spirit here depicts the session of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having “prevailed” on earth to fulfill all righteousness and to atone for the sins of his people, the Lion/Lamb enters heaven, comes before the Father, and, in taking the scroll from his hand, receives all authority in heaven and on earth (Rev. 5:1-7, 12). Henceforth, he is authorized to “break the seals” on God’s last will and testament. That is, he is commissioned to superintend the remainder of Salvation History with a view to applying the merits of his redemptive work to God’s elect, gathering in a chosen people for his possession from every tribe, tongue, people and nation, thereby creating a kingdom of priests who will in inherit (the fullness of) eternal life and who will everlastingly reign upon the earth (Rev. 5:8-14).

This is Daniel 7:9-14, writ large.

But this line of interpretation raises a legitimate question: Why, in Daniel 7, would the Spirit represent the heavenly reign of Christ as coming after the Last Judgment? Several answers immediately come to mind.

First, the text itself hints that here we are actually dealing with two visions rather than one, for both begin with the telltale introductory phrase: “I saw in my vision by night” (7:2-12, 13-14). Yes, the chapter as a whole may indeed be reckoned as a single vision; but at the very least, these verbal markers suggest that 7:13-14 touches upon a new (though related) theme. The NT, as we have just seen, confirms this very thing.

Secondly, the burden of the chapter is to speak of the great inversion of cosmic rulership that will occur at the end of Salvation History. It is, then, altogether fitting for the Spirit here to touch on Christ’s heavenly reign in such a way as to emphasize its end result, precisely as he does in verse 14.

Finally, the sequence of the two visions effectively underscores a pervasive biblical theme: The Messianic Son of Man—though himself divine—is nevertheless subordinate to the Ancient of Days; the Ancient of Days is the fountainhead of the authority by which he (the Son of Man) will rule in such a way as to create the eternal Kingdom of God. As we have seen, the NT fleshes out this important theme in a number of texts, especially 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. (2, 3)

Given that Daniel received this vision in an era when God was pleased to veil the mystery of the Eternal Covenant, it should not surprise us that here much eschatological truth is fused, hidden, or (purposely) left unclear. This includes the two stages of the Kingdom, the Messiah’s heavenly reign, its distinctly redemptive character, the exact sequence of events leading up to the Judgment, the Messiah’s role in the Judgment, and his role in the coming of the Kingdom in its fullness.

But in the NT—and especially in Revelation 4-5—all is finally unveiled, clarified, and set in good order. Therefore, the NT mysteries of the Kingdom—and the NCH built upon them—do indeed prevail, not only to open up Daniel 7, but all OTKP. Without them we are at sea. With them, we reach our desired haven and stand confidently upon solid ground.

The Vision Interpreted (15-28)

As the vision draws to a close, Daniel inquires as to the meaning of what he has seen, and then receives a measure of further illumination from one of the angels involved. The section falls nicely into four parts. I will comment briefly on each, highlighting aspects of special relevance for our study.

In verses 15-18, we find the prophet—grieved and troubled by the persecutions yet in store for God’s people—asking for more light on the vision as a whole. One of the angels responds, identifying the four beasts as four kings/kingdoms that will arise “out of the earth.” However, the emphasis here, as elsewhere, falls upon the eternal Kingdom of God, which the Most High—the sovereign LORD of all history—will bestow upon the saints from heaven above (2:44-45). As we have seen, verses 13-14, supplemented by an abundance of NT teaching, reveal that God will accomplish the final inversion at the Parousia of the glorified Son of Man. This is the blessed hope of all the saints, both OT and New (Titus 2:13).

In verses 18-20, Daniel relates that even after this broad explanation, he remained curious about the fourth beast. As if in answer to his curiosity, the vision suddenly resumes, so that now he sees the little horn making war against the saints and prevailing over them (v. 21). In a moment, the angel will explain the meaning of these ominous symbols. Meanwhile, the prophet’s vision ends with yet another sighting of the coming of the Ancient of Days (who is Christ at his Parousia), vindicating the faith (and the faithfulness) of the saints, and bestowing upon them the joys of eternal life in his Kingdom (1 Thess. 1:3-10). By now, the motif of the entire vision—indeed, of the entire book—has become clear: God warns of coming conflict with a view to producing endurance, but also promises coming triumph with a view to producing courage, hope, and eager expectation.

In verses 23-27, we have the angel’s (partial) explanation of the vision of the fourth beast. Several key points—much illumined by the NT—may be made.

First, the fourth beast, which is emblematic of the final earthly kingdom, will be different from all the rest, largely because it will succeed in devouring the whole earth (v. 23). Here, the global hegemony of the ancient Roman Empire is partly in view. However, that very hegemony anticipates something far greater, something eschatological, and the true burden of this verse: In the days of the fourth beast, Satan will finally achieve his age-old purpose—manifested from the very beginning at Babel—of creating a counterfeit kingdom that overspreads the entire world (Gen. 11:1-9). Later, the apostle John foresaw much the same thing, writing, “And all the world marveled and followed the beast” (Rev. 13:3; 12:9, 16:4). Only “the saints”—the true spiritual Church of all generations, but especially of the last generation—will refuse to marvel, follow, worship, and otherwise receive his mark of ownership (Rev. 13:8, 17:8, 20:4).

Secondly, the verbiage of verse 24 suggests to some commentators that the life of the fourth beast is destined to unfold in three separate stages. In the first, the beast arises from the Great Sea: This marks the advent of the ancient Roman Empire. In the second, “ten” horns (i.e., kings/kingdoms) arise from head of the Beast: This marks the totality (symbolized by the number ten) of the serial manifestations of Greco Roman culture subsequent to the fall of ancient Rome. In the third, one final horn arises, subduing “three” of its ten predecessors. This speaks of the final eschatological embodiment of the Roman Empire, achieved by the Antichrist, who suddenly consolidates the residuum of Roman power and influence (symbolized by the number 3). This approach, advocated by E. J. Young, is quite attractive in that it allows us to see how, from the time of Christ right up to the Consummation, the territories, peoples, and culture of the ancient Roman Empire remain near the center of the drama of world history.

There are, of course, other views. For example, many of our Dispensational brethren, adopting a highly futuristic interpretation of this verse, look for an end-time confederacy of ten European nations, over (the remnant of) which the Antichrist will rule after subduing three of them. However, this approach seems too futuristic: Certainly the text itself does not teach it explicitly. Moreover, if the numbers ten and three are meant symbolically, then the Dispensational view becomes a prescription for fruitless speculation and failed “fulfillments” based upon the ebb and flow of European politics. By my lights, Young’s approach is far preferable.

Verse 25 sketches the character and career of the Antichrist. He is arrogant and blasphemous; he will attempt to alter well-established customs and laws (including many pertaining to religious observances); and—for a brief, divinely ordained season—he will “wear out” the saints (i.e., persecute them to the point of apparent defeat). This, as we have seen, is none other than the Last Battle, which, according to the NT, will be pitched by the Man of Lawlessness and his subservient world-system against the true spiritual Church of Christ (Mt. 24:9-13, 2 Thess. 2:1f, Rev. 11:7-10, 16:14, 20:8).

In verses 26-27 the angel brings his message to a close by once again sounding a note of final triumph. The NT fully illumines his words. At Christ’s return, the Son of Man will execute final judgment, destroying not only the antichrist and his followers, but also “the dragon” that inspired and empowered them all (Mt. 25:41, 2 Thess. 2:8, Rev. 17:14, 19:19-21, 20:10). After this, the kingdoms of the world will become  the (universal) Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ: He—and the saints with him—will reign forever and ever (v. 27, 1 Cor. 15:28, Rev. 11:5, 22:5). Amen.

Premillennial Musings

From all we have just seen, it certainly appears that the NCH powerfully opens up this majestic but deeply mysterious OTKP, giving us a simple, biblically coherent interpretation, thereby warning and encouraging the saints of all subsequent generations.

Alas, premillennial views do not fare so well.

Premillennarians assert, for example, that verses 9-12 do not describe the Last Judgment at all, but speak instead of a lesser judgment that will immediately precede Christ’s millennial reign. This is counter-intutive in the extreme.

Regarding verses 13-14, some commentators, following Scofield, argue that Daniel is describing a special “investiture” in heaven, by which Christ, just prior to his millennial reign, will receive authority from the Father to descend to the earth and rule there (Rev. 5).

Others, such as Fausset, Walvoord, and Pentecost, contend that these verses—and verses 26-27 as well—simply describe Christ’s Second Coming in order to inaugurate his millennial kingdom upon the earth.

The great difficulty with both of these views—apart from the fact that they are needlessly complicated and confusing—is that they miss the thrust of the chapter as a whole. For again, the Spirit’s purpose in giving Daniel this vision was clearly to illumine, prepare, strengthen, and encourage all the saints—both OT and New—with a revelation of the entire course and sequence of “the kingdoms of this world;” a revelation of all that must occur up to and including the Consummation, after which God’s everlasting Kingdom will appear in its glorious fullness.

But premillennarians, bound by their eschatological commitments, are forced to deny what is right before their eyes, and so to assert that the prophecy merely takes us to the end of the present age, after which there must still come to pass the Millennium, the (last) Last Battle (Rev. 20:7-10), and the Last Judgment, all of which the Spirit somehow neglected to mention, not only here, but in chapter 2, as well!

The net effect of this fundamental error is to eclipse the grandeur what God actually revealed, to becloud the vision of the saints, and to defer their fondest dreams for an extra thousand years!

Conclusion

We conclude, then, that unlike premillennarian literalism, the NCH does indeed supply the most satisfying interpretation of Daniel 7; an interpretation that helpfully equips Christ’s Church for the dramatic closing scenes of the present evil age, even as it kindles their hopes for a glorious, everlasting, heavenly Kingdom soon to come!

NOTES

1. See George Ladd, New Testament Theology, p. 136.

2. 1 Cor. 15:20-28 makes it clear that Christ’s heavenly mediatorial reign is temporary, and that after the Consummation he will subject himself afresh to the Father. Whatever the nature of this further and final subordination, it is clear from a great many other biblical texts, including Daniel 7:14, that Christ will indeed rule forever, with and under the Father, over the eternal Kingdom of God (Psalm 72:7, Isaiah 9:7, Ezek. 37:25, Luke 1:32-33, Rev. 5:13, 11:5).

3. It is true that Jesus, in speaking with the Sanhedrin about his Parousia, referred to Daniel 7:13. This does not mean, however, that he would endorse the conclusion of those commentators who argue that Daniel saw the Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days at the Parousia in order to receive sovereignty and a kingdom. As I argued above, either this view seriously misunderstands the structure of NT eschatology, or else it refuses to bring it boldly to the (interpretation of the) text. No, in speaking as he did, Jesus was not saying that he will fulfill Daniel 7:13 at the Parousia. Rather, he was saying (to us, his NT saints) that just as he came to the Ancient of Days upon clouds of glory to receive his heavenly Messianic reign, so, at the Parousia, he will come from the (right hand of the) Ancient of Days on clouds of glory to consummate it. A great many NT texts confirm this very thing (Mt. 24:30, 13:26, Acts 1:9-11,1 Thess. 4:17, Rev. 1:7).

The apocalyptic vision here under consideration is one of a number found in the book of Daniel in which we behold the course, conflict, and climax of Salvation History from the time of the Babylonian Empire until the coming the Kingdom of God in its fullness at the end of the age (Dan. 2, 7, 9, 11, 12).

The purpose of these visions is clear: to give God’s suffering people hope.

The method is also clear: to give them hope by means of repeated symbolic representations of: 1) God’s absolute sovereignty over history; 2) the necessity—and brevity—of holy suffering on the part of his saints; 3) the final overthrow of the enemies of God and his people; and 4) the final rescue, restoration, and vindication of the saints on the Day of Judgment, when the Kingdom appears in fullness, triumphing once and for all over the kingdoms of this fallen world.

Needless to say, such prophecies are of great eschatological importance. But given the abundance and complexity of the symbolism involved—and the multitude of interpretations offered—how can we interpret them with confidence?

The short answer is: When we employ the New Covenant Hermeneutic (NCH).

The long answer is: When we let Christ and the apostles be our theological guides; when we have understood the nature and structure of the two-fold spiritual Kingdom they proclaimed; when we follow them in seeing Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP) as NT truth mystically communicated under  OT type and shadow . . . then, and only then, will we be able to approach these otherwise daunting visions with true spiritual confidence.

With Daniel 7 before us, let us see if these bold assertions are really true. In particular, let us see if this prophecy really does confirm the two-fold spiritual Kingdom of NT eschatology, thereby enabling us confidently to decide between the amillennial and premillennial interpretations, not only of Daniel 7, but of all OTKP. (More here and here)

The Four Beasts (1-8)

In the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream in which he beheld visions from God. In the first part of his vision he saw the four winds of heaven stir up the Great Sea in such a manner that four powerful and terrifying beasts rose up out of it, one after another (1-3).

The first was like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard (4-6).

The fourth— stronger and more dreadful than the rest—was largely indescribable, though Daniel does manage to convey its rapacity by mentioning its iron teeth (well suited for devouring) and its powerful feet (well suited for trampling). This beast had ten horns (2:41-41). While contemplating the horns, Daniel saw a little horn rising from among them: It tore out three horns by the roots, had the eyes of a man, and spoke boastful words (7-8).

The message of this vision—which is almost identical with that of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a huge, four-part statue (chapter 2)—is clear: The sovereign God has decreed that between the days of Daniel and the coming of the Kingdom of God in its fullness, four earthly kings/kingdoms shall arise. Like monstrous, predatory beasts, they will emerge from the turbulent sea of fallen, sinful humanity (2:24ff; Isaiah 7:12, 13, 57:20).

Because of the particular symbols used to describe these four beasts, conservative commentators are nearly unanimous in identifying them as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.

The NT gives further insight into this vision by unveiling Satan as the unseen ruler of all the kingdoms of this world (Luke 4:5, John 12:31, Eph. 6:12, 1 John 5:19); as he who (under God’s over-arching sovereignty) summons one evil empire after another onto the stage of history (Rev. 13:1); as he who, since the days of Babel, has sought to use proud and wicked men to consolidate the entire world-system around himself, thereby usurping the worship of God and mimicking his absolute sovereignty (Mt. 4:8-10). One day, according to Daniel and the NT writers, he will get his wish—and much more besides (2 Thess. 2:1f, Rev. 11:5, 16:14).

The Ancient of Days (9-12)

Even as the little horn continues to exalt himself, Daniel beholds the chariot-throne of God arriving upon the scene for final judgment. Immediately, other thrones are set up, and the Ancient of Days—He who was, and is, and is to come—takes his seat (Rev. 4:8). His garment and his hair are as white as snow and wool, emblems of his holiness, righteousness, and age-old eternity. His throne and its wheels are ablaze with fire, a token of his wrath, now fully kindled (9). A stream of fire pours forth from before him, ready to engulf his enemies. Ten thousand times ten thousand holy ones stand before him, ministering to him, alerting us to the cosmic dimensions of this Day.

The court is seated and the books are opened: The Judgment has begun (10). As soon as it does, the little horn is forever silenced, for the body of the beast from which it arose is now slain and cast into the blazing fires of hell (11). So too, one must assume, are the rest of the beasts, whose dominion was lately taken away, but who were allowed to live (perhaps as members of the fourth beast) only for a little time (12).

There can be no reasonable doubt that this majestic vision depicts the Last Judgment. As we have just seen, it is preceded by the destruction of the final earthly kingdom, and it is followed by the saints taking possession of the everlasting Kingdom of the Most High (7:18, 26-27). But if this is so, then NT teaching concerning the Last Judgment must be brought to bear upon the passage before us.

When it is, wonderful things suddenly appear before our eyes!

Who, for example, is the Ancient of Days? Verse 7:13 (and Revelation 4) make it clear that this is indeed the One we immediately think of: God the Father. Yet the NT calls for a more nuanced answer, since there we also learn that God the Father has committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22), and that all must appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Mt. 25:31:f, Acts 17:31, 2 Cor. 5:10). The Ancient of Days of vv. 9-10 is, then, God the Father acting through Christ—the very Christ who, when he came to John on Patmos, appeared in the form of the Ancient of Days (Rev. 1:14)!

The NT answers other important questions, as well.

Where shall the Judgment Seat of Christ appear? According to the NT, it will appear in the skies above the earth (Mt. 19:29, 1 Thess. 4:13-18, Rev. 20:11-21:2).

Who are the thousands of thousands who stand before him and minister to him? Doubtless the holy angels, but also the glorified saints, rejoicing in their new resurrection bodies and exulting in the justice of God (Mt. 13:43, 24:29-31, 1 Cor. 15:50-58, 1 Thess. 4:13-18, Rev. 15:1-4, 16:6, 19:11-21).

Who is seated upon on the other thrones that were “put in place,” presumably around the throne of Christ itself? Again the NT fills in the blanks, assuring us that the thrones belong to the saints, who, under Christ, will judge both men and angels (Rom. 16:20, 1 Cor. 6:1-3, Rev.4:4, 19:11-21, 20:4).

And what of the books that were opened when the court sat for judgment? The NT helpfully identifies them as the Book of Life, and also the multitude of books in which God has recorded the deeds of men, so that all may be judged according to their works (Luke 10:20, Rev. 20:12).

We conclude, then, that the NCH does indeed richly illuminate this mysterious OT revelation of the Last Judgment.

The Coronation of the Divine Son of Man (13-14)

As Daniel continues to watch, still another vision appears before his inward eye. He beholds a Personage—One like a Son of Man—coming with the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of Days. An entourage, presumably of angels, brings him near to the throne (13). At this point, God gives him dominion, glory, and a kingdom—or a right of universal sovereignty—so that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. Unlike the dominion of the four beasts, the dominion of the Son of Man will be everlasting. Unlike the kingdoms of the four beasts, the Kingdom of the Son of Man—the realm that is the fruit of his universal reign—will never pass away or be destroyed (14).

Doubtless the OT saints found this text quite mysterious, for it raises three great questions arise that would remain unanswered until Christ and the apostles flung open the doors of truth for all to see: 1) Who is the One like a Son of Man; 2) What is the nature of the transfer of authority here envisioned; and 3) When exactly does the transfer occur?

As for the One like a Son of Man, nearly all evangelical commentators identify him as the Messiah, the divine-human Lord Jesus Christ (Dan. 9:25-26). True, there is a certain parallelism between the inheritance of the Son of Man (v. 14) and the inheritance of the saints (vv. 18, 27), a parallelism suggesting to some that the Son of Man symbolizes the saints. But our text explicitly identifies this Personage as One who is like a Son of Man, and it uses the singular pronoun throughout to speak of him. As for the parallelism itself, the NT explains everything, declaring that through Christ the saints will indeed reign (and judge) upon the earth (Rev. 2:26-27, 5:10).

Very importantly, the Lord Jesus repeatedly spoke of himself as the Son of Man; it was, by far, his favorite self-designation. Moreover, towards the end of his earthly course he explicitly referenced this text when speaking to the Sanhedrin about his Parousia, lest there should be any confusion about who he understood himself to be (Mt. 26:64, Mark 14:62)!

But what about the nature and timing of the transfer of authority from the Ancient of Days to his Messiah? If we were shut up to the OT, having no recourse to NT teaching on this matter, it would indeed be most natural to conclude that God plans to bestow absolute and universal sovereignty upon the Messianic Son of Man at the (time of the) Judgment described in the vision immediately preceding; and that it may well be the Messiah himself who executes it (7:9-12). Interestingly, some of the OT apocrypha, along with a number NT texts, make it clear that this was the impression of at least some of Jews of Jesus’ day, possibly including John the Baptizer himself (Mt. 3:12, John 12:34). (1)  Nevertheless, the ambiguity here is considerable, and stands as an open invitation to search the NT for much-needed help.

Happily, the NT does not disappoint. When was it, according to the NT, that Christ came to the Ancient of Days, riding upon the clouds of heaven (v. 13)? And when was it that God gave him dominion, glory, and absolute sovereignty over all creation, so that in the end all peoples, nations, and men of every tongue might serve both Him and his Father (14)?

As we have already seen, both Jesus and his apostles answer fulsomely: All this occurred when the Father highly exalted Christ by raising him from the dead, catching him up into heaven on clouds of glory, seating him at his own right hand, and bestowing upon him all authority in heaven and earth, so that he might apply and consummate the redemption that he achieved through his humiliation on earth, thereby bringing in the Kingdom in its full, final, and glorious form (Luke 19:12, Mt. 28:18ff, Acts 1:9-11, 2:22-36, Phil. 2:5-11, Heb. 1:1-3).

On this score, Rev. 4-5 is of special importance. Indeed, one might well argue that these two chapters constitute a NT elaboration of Dan. 7:9-14. In Revelation 4 we behold the Ancient of Days, the eternal Creator and Judge of the world, seated in glory upon his throne. Then, in Revelation 5, we behold the Redeemer. Using apocalyptic imagery reminiscent of Daniel 7, the Spirit here depicts the session of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having “prevailed” on earth to fulfill all righteousness and to atone for the sins of his people, the Lion/Lamb enters heaven, comes before the Father, and, in taking the scroll from his hand, receives all authority in heaven and on earth (Rev. 5:1-7, 12). Henceforth, he is authorized to “break the seals” on God’s last will and testament. That is, he is commissioned to superintend the remainder of Salvation History with a view to applying the merits of his redemptive work to God’s elect, gathering in a chosen people for his possession from every tribe, tongue, people and nation, thereby creating a kingdom of priests who will in inherit (the fullness of) eternal life and who will everlastingly reign upon the earth (Rev. 5:8-14).

This is Daniel 7:9-14, writ large.

But this line of interpretation raises a legitimate question: Why, in Daniel 7, would the Spirit represent the heavenly reign of Christ as coming after the Last Judgment? Several answers immediately come to mind.

First, the text itself hints that here we are actually dealing with two visions rather than one, for both begin with the telltale introductory phrase: “I saw in my vision by night” (7:2-12, 13-14). Yes, the chapter as a whole may indeed be reckoned as a single vision; but at the very least, these verbal markers suggest that 7:13-14 touches upon a new (though related) theme. The NT, as we have just seen, confirms this very thing.

Secondly, the burden of the chapter is to speak of the great inversion of cosmic rulership that will occur at the end of Salvation History. It is, then, altogether fitting for the Spirit here to touch on Christ’s heavenly reign in such a way as to emphasize its end result, precisely as he does in verse 14.

Finally, the sequence of the two visions effectively underscores a pervasive biblical theme: The Messianic Son of Man—though himself divine—is nevertheless subordinate to the Ancient of Days; the Ancient of Days is the fountainhead of the authority by which he (the Son of Man) will rule in such a way as to create the eternal Kingdom of God. As we have seen, the NT fleshes out this important theme in a number of texts, especially 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. (2, 3)

Given that Daniel received this vision in an era when God was pleased to veil the mystery of the Eternal Covenant, it should not surprise us that here much eschatological truth is fused, hidden, or (purposely) left unclear. This includes the two stages of the Kingdom, the Messiah’s heavenly reign, its distinctly redemptive character, the exact sequence of events leading up to the Judgment, the Messiah’s role in the Judgment, and his role in the coming of the Kingdom in its fullness.

But in the NT—and especially in Revelation 4-5—all is finally unveiled, clarified, and set in good order. Therefore, the NT mysteries of the Kingdom—and the NCH built upon them—do indeed prevail, not only to open up Daniel 7, but all OTKP. Without them we are at sea. With them, we reach our desired haven and stand confidently upon solid ground.

The Vision Interpreted (15-28)

As the vision draws to a close, Daniel inquires as to the meaning of what he has seen, and then receives a measure of further illumination from one of the angels involved. The section falls nicely into four parts. I will comment briefly on each, highlighting aspects of special relevance for our study.

In verses 15-18, we find the prophet—grieved and troubled by the persecutions yet in store for God’s people—asking for more light on the vision as a whole. One of the angels responds, identifying the four beasts as four kings/kingdoms that will arise “out of the earth.” However, the emphasis here, as elsewhere, falls upon the eternal Kingdom of God, which the Most High—the sovereign LORD of all history—will bestow upon the saints from heaven above (2:44-45). As we have seen, verses 13-14, supplemented by an abundance of NT teaching, reveal that God will accomplish the final inversion at the Parousia of the glorified Son of Man. This is the blessed hope of all the saints, both OT and New (Titus 2:13).

In verses 18-20, Daniel relates that even after this broad explanation, he remained curious about the fourth beast. As if in answer to his curiosity, the vision suddenly resumes, so that now he sees the little horn making war against the saints and prevailing over them (v. 21). In a moment, the angel will explain the meaning of these ominous symbols. Meanwhile, the prophet’s vision ends with yet another sighting of the coming of the Ancient of Days (who is Christ at his Parousia), vindicating the faith (and the faithfulness) of the saints, and bestowing upon them the joys of eternal life in his Kingdom (1 Thess. 1:3-10). By now, the motif of the entire vision—indeed, of the entire book—has become clear: God warns of coming conflict with a view to producing endurance, but also promises coming triumph with a view to producing courage, hope, and eager expectation.

In verses 23-27, we have the angel’s (partial) explanation of the vision of the fourth beast. Several key points—much illumined by the NT—may be made.

First, the fourth beast, which is emblematic of the final earthly kingdom, will be different from all the rest, largely because it will succeed in devouring the whole earth (v. 23). Here, the global hegemony of the ancient Roman Empire is partly in view. However, that very hegemony anticipates something far greater, something eschatological, and the true burden of this verse: In the days of the fourth beast, Satan will finally achieve his age-old purpose—manifested from the very beginning at Babel—of creating a counterfeit kingdom that overspreads the entire world (Gen. 11:1-9). Later, the apostle John foresaw much the same thing, writing, “And all the world marveled and followed the beast” (Rev. 13:3; 12:9, 16:4). Only “the saints”—the true spiritual Church of all generations, but especially of the last generation—will refuse to marvel, follow, worship, and otherwise receive his mark of ownership (Rev. 13:8, 17:8, 20:4).

Secondly, the verbiage of verse 24 suggests to some commentators that the life of the fourth beast is destined to unfold in three separate stages. In the first, the beast arises from the Great Sea: This marks the advent of the ancient Roman Empire. In the second, “ten” horns (i.e., kings/kingdoms) arise from head of the Beast: This marks the totality (symbolized by the number ten) of the serial manifestations of Greco Roman culture subsequent to the fall of ancient Rome. In the third, one final horn arises, subduing “three” of its ten predecessors. This speaks of the final eschatological embodiment of the Roman Empire, achieved by the Antichrist, who suddenly consolidates the residuum of Roman power and influence (symbolized by the number 3). This approach, advocated by E. J. Young, is quite attractive in that it allows us to see how, from the time of Christ right up to the Consummation, the territories, peoples, and culture of the ancient Roman Empire remain near the center of the drama of world history.

There are, of course, other views. For example, many of our Dispensational brethren, adopting a highly futuristic interpretation of this verse, look for an end-time confederacy of ten European nations, over (the remnant of) which the Antichrist will rule after subduing three of them. However, this approach seems too futuristic: Certainly the text itself does not teach it explicitly. Moreover, if the numbers ten and three are meant symbolically, then the Dispensational view becomes a prescription for fruitless speculation and failed “fulfillments” based upon the ebb and flow of European politics. By my lights, Young’s approach is far preferable.

Verse 25 sketches the character and career of the Antichrist. He is arrogant and blasphemous; he will attempt to alter well-established customs and laws (including many pertaining to religious observances); and—for a brief, divinely ordained season—he will “wear out” the saints (i.e., persecute them to the point of apparent defeat). This, as we have seen, is none other than the Last Battle, which, according to the NT, will be pitched by the Man of Lawlessness and his subservient world-system against the true spiritual Church of Christ (Mt. 24:9-13, 2 Thess. 2:1f, Rev. 11:7-10, 16:14, 20:8).

In verses 26-27 the angel brings his message to a close by once again sounding a note of final triumph. The NT fully illumines his words. At Christ’s return, the Son of Man will execute final judgment, destroying not only the antichrist and his followers, but also “the dragon” that inspired and empowered them all (Mt. 25:41, 2 Thess. 2:8, Rev. 17:14, 19:19-21, 20:10). After this, the kingdoms of the world will become  the (universal) Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ: He—and the saints with him—will reign forever and ever (v. 27, 1 Cor. 15:28, Rev. 11:5, 22:5). Amen.

Premillennial Musings

From all we have just seen, it certainly appears that the NCH powerfully opens up this majestic but deeply mysterious OTKP, giving us a simple, biblically coherent interpretation, thereby warning and encouraging the saints of all subsequent generations.

Alas, premillennial views do not fare so well.

Premillennarians assert, for example, that verses 9-12 do not describe the Last Judgment at all, but speak instead of a lesser judgment that will immediately precede Christ’s millennial reign. This is counter-intutive in the extreme.

Regarding verses 13-14, some commentators, following Scofield, argue that Daniel is describing a special “investiture” in heaven, by which Christ, just prior to his millennial reign, will receive authority from the Father to descend to the earth and rule there (Rev. 5).

Others, such as Fausset, Walvoord, and Pentecost, contend that these verses—and verses 26-27 as well—simply describe Christ’s Second Coming in order to inaugurate his millennial kingdom upon the earth.

The great difficulty with both of these views—apart from the fact that they are needlessly complicated and confusing—is that they miss the thrust of the chapter as a whole. For again, the Spirit’s purpose in giving Daniel this vision was clearly to illumine, prepare, strengthen, and encourage all the saints—both OT and New—with a revelation of the entire course and sequence of “the kingdoms of this world;” a revelation of all that must occur up to and including the Consummation, after which God’s everlasting Kingdom will appear in its glorious fullness.

But premillennarians, bound by their eschatological commitments, are forced to deny what is right before their eyes, and so to assert that the prophecy merely takes us to the end of the present age, after which there must still come to pass the Millennium, the (last) Last Battle (Rev. 20:7-10), and the Last Judgment, all of which the Spirit somehow neglected to mention, not only here, but in chapter 2, as well!

The net effect of this fundamental error is to eclipse the grandeur what God actually revealed, to becloud the vision of the saints, and to defer their fondest dreams for an extra thousand years!

Conclusion

We conclude, then, that unlike premillennarian literalism, the NCH does indeed supply the most satisfying interpretation of Daniel 7; an interpretation that helpfully equips Christ’s Church for the dramatic closing scenes of the present evil age, even as it kindles their hopes for a glorious, everlasting, heavenly Kingdom soon to come!

NOTES

1. See George Ladd, New Testament Theology, p. 136.

2. 1 Cor. 15:20-28 makes it clear that Christ’s heavenly mediatorial reign is temporary, and that after the Consummation he will subject himself afresh to the Father. Whatever the nature of this further and final subordination, it is clear from a great many other biblical texts, including Daniel 7:14, that Christ will indeed rule forever, with and under the Father, over the eternal Kingdom of God (Psalm 72:7, Isaiah 9:7, Ezek. 37:25, Luke 1:32-33, Rev. 5:13, 11:5).

3. It is true that Jesus, in speaking with the Sanhedrin about his Parousia, referred to Daniel 7:13. This does not mean, however, that he would endorse the conclusion of those commentators who argue that Daniel saw the Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days at the Parousia in order to receive sovereignty and a kingdom. As I argued above, either this view seriously misunderstands the structure of NT eschatology, or else it refuses to bring it boldly to the (interpretation of the) text. No, in speaking as he did, Jesus was not saying that he will fulfill Daniel 7:13 at the Parousia. Rather, he was saying (to us, his NT saints) that just as he came to the Ancient of Days upon clouds of glory to receive his heavenly Messianic reign, so, at the Parousia, he will come from the (right hand of the) Ancient of Days on clouds of glory to consummate it. A great many NT texts confirm this very thing (Mt. 24:30, 13:26, Acts 1:9-11,1 Thess. 4:17, Rev. 1:7).

4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat upon them; and authority to judge had been given to them. And I saw the souls of those who were beheaded because of their testimony concerning Jesus, and because of the word of God. And I saw those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead or on their hand. And they all came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years had come to an end.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection: Over these the second death holds no sway, but they will be priests of God and of Christ; and they will reign with him (throughout) the 1,000 years. — Revelation 20:4-6

———–

BY AND LARGE, amillennial interpreters agree that in Revelation 20 the Holy Spirit, for a sixth and final time, has used Old and New Testament imagery to symbolize the Era of Gospel Proclamation: the season between Christ’s first and second advents.

Accordingly, this chapter also speaks of certain key eschatological events that will occur in that era. In particular, the first of its four sections speaks of the binding and imprisonment of Satan at the beginning of the 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1-3). The second speaks of the First Resurrection and the blessings of those who reign with Christ throughout the 1,000 years; correspondingly, it also speaks of the Second Death of persons who did not attain the First Resurrection or the millennial reign of Christ (Rev. 20:4-6). The third section speaks of the Last Battle and the judgment of Satan, set to occur at the end of the 1,000 years (Rev. 20:7-10). The fourth and final section speaks of the Judgment of all mankind at the Great White Throne, which also occurs at the end of the 1,000 years (Rev. 20:11-15).

In this essay I want to focus on the second section of Revelation 20, found in verses 4-6. Of the four, this is certainly the most difficult and controversial, and therefore merits special consideration. I will begin by offering my own amillennial interpretation, after which I will interact with premillennial views and defend mine at greater length.

An Amillennial Interpretation of Revelation 20:4-6  

John has opened the chapter by giving us a revelation of the binding and imprisonment of Satan, both of which will last for 1000 years. Here the Spirit is using the number 1000 symbolically: it is a sign, signifying the entire era of Gospel Proclamation (Rev. 1:1). This era began when Jesus Christ—through his atoning death, resurrection, session, and ensuing heavenly reign—bound (i.e., restrained) Satan from deceiving the nations any longer (John 12, 2 Thess. 2, Rev. 12). In particular, Satan can no longer deceive God’s worldwide elect in such a way as to keep them in his thrall and prevent them from coming to Christ. Similarly, he cannot (yet) deceive the multitude of unregenerate persons in such a way as to gather them together for the Last Battle against Christ and the Church (Rev. 20:7-10). Here we are told that this era will last a long time (1000), but only long enough for the triune God (3) to complete (10) the ingathering of his people (10 x 10 x 10). Once that is accomplished, the end will come (Matt. 24:14).

Having opened the chapter in this way, the Holy Spirit now addresses a question that will naturally arise in the minds of every believer. One thousand years bespeaks a long time. What will happen to the saints who die during that season? Our text supplies the answer. The amillennial interpretation is as follows:

Those whom John sees seated on thrones are souls: the souls of the saints who remained faithful to Christ throughout their portion of the Era of Proclamation, died, and entered Heaven (v. 4). In partial fulfillment of Daniel 7:9, at the moment of their death authority to judge was given to them; that is, God authorized them to participate with Christ in the Judgment (v. 4).

Some of these saints died as martyrs, but all were loyal to the Word of God (v. 4). All refused to worship the Beast (i.e., the self-deifying, anti-Christian State). All refused to worship the image of the Beast (i.e., to participate in the religious cultus of the anti-Christian State) (v. 4). And all refused to take the mark of the Beast upon their forehead or their hand (i.e., to identify themselves, in thought and deed, as loyal followers of the Beast).

As a result of their covenant loyalty to the Lord, these saints “came to life and reigned with Christ during the 1,000 years” (v. 4). That is, at the moment of their death God raised their souls to spiritual perfection for life in Heaven with Christ throughout the (remainder of the) Intermediate State. The Holy Spirit identifies this spiritual coming to life as “the first resurrection”. Later on, at the end of the 1,000 years, this spiritual coming to life will be followed by a physical coming to life; the first (spiritual) resurrection will be consummated by a second (bodily) resurrection that will equip the saints for the fullness of human life in the new heavens and the new earth (v. 5).

In speaking of these things, and by way of a warning to all, the Holy Spirit also mentions here the destiny of unbelievers. They too will “come to life,” but only at the end of the 1,000 years, when their souls, previously in Hades, are joined to resurrection bodies and then subjected to “the second death,” which is the Lake of Fire (vv. 5, 14).

Our passage concludes with John identifying three blessings that God has prepared for the saints who attain the first resurrection.

First, the second death now holds no sway [lit. has no authority] over them. Having triumphantly passed their probation on the earth, they are eternally secure from all possibility of apostasy and perdition. Henceforth, admonitions and warnings to remain faithful will neither be needed nor heard.

Secondly, they will be priests of God and Christ. Spiritually, they will enter fully upon their eternal ministry of worship and service to the triune God (1 Peter 2:9-10).

And thirdly, they will reign with Christ throughout the 1,000 years. That is, having attained to the fullness of eternal life through the entrance of their spirits into Heaven, they, like Christ, will reign victoriously over every deadly spiritual enemy that previously opposed them during their time on earth.

Summing up, (many) amillennarians believe that Revelation 20:4-6 gives us a final biblical depiction of the Intermediate State. At the moment of their death the spirits of the saints who have persevered in the faith enter Heaven, where they come to the fullness and perfection of eternal life. The Holy Spirit identifies this special coming to life as “the first resurrection” because it is analogous to, and guarantees, a second resurrection (of the body) at the Lord’s return at the end of the age. Herein lies a great a hope for all Christians, a hope that will encourage and enable them to persevere in their difficult pilgrimage through the wilderness of this present world.

This Interpretation Defended

Alas, our premillennarian brethren cannot agree. They say that the “coming to life” of verse 4 is not strictly spiritual, but rather physical: At the Lord’s premillennial return he will join the departed souls of faithful Old and New Testament believers to their new resurrection bodies. Henceforth they will sit upon thrones and reign with him for 1,000 years. This coming to life is called “the first resurrection” because it is the first of two bodily resurrections. The second will occur at the end of the Millennium when God raises unrighteous and unbelieving persons for the last judgment.

Premillennarians defend this view by citing the parenthetical remark found in verse 5. It reads, “The rest of the dead did not come to life [ezesan] until the thousand years were completed.” All interpreters agree that “the rest of the dead” are the souls presently in Hades, souls that will come to life at the resurrection of their bodies. “But,” say the premillennarians, “if the Holy Spirit used the same Greek word (ezesan) to describe both the first (v. 4) and second resurrections (v. 5), how can you possibly assert that the first is spiritual but the second physical?”

At first blush this argument seems compelling. But what if there was solid evidence to show that the Spirit, for wise reasons, intentionally used the same word in two different senses? What if there was evidence to show that the two “comings to life” differ not only in timing, but also in nature? Needless to say, amillennarians are convinced that such evidence does indeed exist.

But let us begin at the beginning: with the various evidences favorable to the amillennial view.

First, we have just seen from verse 4 that the entire scene is heavenly. John has explicitly referenced souls, and Revelation 6:9 strongly suggests that they are in Heaven. He has explicitly mentioned thrones, and in the Revelation they are always situated in Heaven when associated with the saints (Rev. 4:4, 11:16, 19:4). Moreover, he says not a word about the bodily resurrection of these saints.

Secondly, the parenthetical remark found in verse 5 actually supports the amillennial interpretation. John writes, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years had come to an end.” The premillennial reading is: “The dead referred to in verses 4-5 come to life bodily at the beginning of the Millennium and reign with Christ for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead will not come to life bodily until the 1,000 years are over.” The amillennial reading is: “The dead are divisible into two groups: the dead whose souls John is seeing in Heaven, and the rest of the dead whose souls are still in Hades. The former come to life spiritually at the moment of their death, but not yet bodily (Rev. 20:13). The latter will never come to life spiritually, but will indeed come to life bodily, but only to be thrown into the Lake of Fire.” The evidences previously cited, together with the eschatology of the DNT, strongly favor the amillennial view.

Thirdly, we have John’s remark found in verse 6: “Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection: over these the second death holds no sway.” This is a glorious promise, given to conscientious saints struggling to pass all tests and resist all temptations so that they may complete their earthly pilgrimage victoriously. But if, as premillennarians assert, the first resurrection is bodily, then this promise, far from being a blessing, opens a door to all manner of doubts and fears. Henceforth, premillennarians are left to wonder: “When I die and my soul enters Heaven, will it still be in danger? Must I still take tests and wrestle with temptations? Might I yet apostatize? Do I really have to wait until the Lord’s return and the resurrection of my body before I can rest assured that the second death will hold no sway over me?”

“God forbid!” cries the amillennarian. “The first resurrection is not bodily, but spiritual. It is the holy moment when you transition from earthly life to the Intermediate State. It is the triumphant conclusion of your Gospel probation upon the earth. Henceforth you will be perfectly holy in spirit. Henceforth you can never fall away from God. Henceforth the second death has no authority over you, as indeed it would if, while still living upon the earth, you fell into temptation and denied your Lord (2 Tim. 2:12); which, by the way, is something that the Good Shepherd will never let one of his true sheep do (John 10:27-29)!”

We find, then, that verse 6 powerfully illumines the true meaning of the saints’ “coming to life” and “the first resurrection.” These picturesque expressions speak of their souls’ victorious entrance upon the glories of the Intermediate State.

It remains to ask, however, why the Holy Spirit would use the same Greek word (ezesan) to describe two different kinds of coming to life: two different kinds of resurrection. The answer, I believe, is found in the progress of biblical revelation concerning the Intermediate State, and in the prophetic purpose of the Revelation.

 Think back to the days of the early Church. Having been well taught by the apostles, most Christians would have understood that “soon” all (deceased) human beings will come to life in a single bodily resurrection of the dead (Luke 20:27-40; John 5:26-29; Acts 24:15, 21; 1 Cor. 15:50-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). However, as the Lord tarried, and as some of the saints began to die, surviving believers would naturally be concerned about the condition of departed loved ones after their death but prior to the bodily resurrection. The apostles understood this and addressed their concern by teaching them about the Intermediate State (2 Cor. 5:1-10; Phil. 1:21-24; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; Heb. 12:22-24). However, as the NT canon neared completion, it pleased the High Prophet of Heaven to do so one final time.

Accordingly, here in Revelation 20 he gives the Church Militant a climactic word of instruction, exhortation, and encouragement concerning the Intermediate State. I would paraphrase it as follows: “Yes, in the general resurrection all people will come to life bodily. However, should I tarry, always remember that for those who believe, overcome, and die in the faith there awaits a first resurrection of their spirit that supplies a foretaste and guarantee of the final resurrection of their body. There awaits a first coming to life in Heaven that supplies a foretaste and guarantee of a final coming to life in the World to Come. And there awaits a first reigning with me in Heaven that supplies a foretaste and guarantee of a final reigning with me and my Father in the new heavens and the new earth. So then: Armed with these glorious promises, see to it that you overcome!” (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 3:21; 5:10; 22:5).

We find, then, that the Lord used the same word to describe two different “comings to life” because the two comings to life—much like the two stages of the one Kingdom of God—share the same fundamental nature: the first is unto spiritual perfection, and lasts a little while; the second is unto spiritual and physical perfection, and lasts forever. Thus did it please the High Prophet of Heaven to further illuminate the glories of the Intermediate State, thereby giving his people fresh hope and moving them to stay faithful throughout the remainder of their difficult pilgrimage upon the earth (John 11:26; Rev. 20:6).

This article is an extract from my book, The Great End Time Debate: Issues, Options and Amillennial Answers. Because a number of contemporary postmillennarians also embrace Partial Preterism, you may also wish to read my article on Preterism, available here.

Here is a key to some of the abbreviations you will encounter as you read:

GETD = Great End Time Debate
DNT = Didactic New Testament (i.e., the teaching portions of the gospels, the book of Acts, and the epistles)
OTKP = OT Kingdom Prophecy (OT prophecies of the coming Kingdom of God)
NCH = New Covenant Hermeneutic (the NT method for interpreting the OT in general, and OTKP in particular)

 

Exposition

(To view a timeline for Postmillennialism, please click here)

The word postmillennialism means after the millennium. Thus, like Amillennialism, Postmillennialism teaches that Christ will come again after the “1000 years” of Revelation 20. Nevertheless, the two schools differ, primarily because postmillennarians are highly optimistic about the progress and societal impact of the Gospel during the Era of Proclamation. The seeds of this persuasion were first planted by Augustine, who was quite confident about the redemptive power and future growth of the City of God (i.e., the Church). In Reformation times certain Dutch theologians modified his view, asserting that the thousand years symbolize a later portion of the Era of Proclamation, during which time large numbers of Jews will be converted and the world will become largely Christian.

Though hardly the majority report of the Church, Postmillennialism has had some astute defenders. Most of the American Puritans were postmillennarians. They believed that God would use the American experiment in a special way to advance his universal Kingdom. More recent postmillennarians include Charles Hodge, Benjamin Warfield, Lorraine Boettner, John Jefferson Davis, Jeff Durbin, Marcellus Kik, Keith Mathison, James White, and Doug Wilson. The disciples of Rousas Rushdoony—the founder of a theological school called Christian Reconstructionism—are also postmillennial. They include Greg Bahnsen, Ken Gentry, Gary North, Martin Selbrede, and Doug Wilson.

Very briefly, here is the postmillennarian position on the four underlying issues of the GETD.

The Kingdom of God

Postmillennarians agree with their amillennarian brothers that the Kingdom of God is a direct spiritual reign of the triune God, and that it enters history in two fundamental stages: the purely spiritual Kingdom of the Son, followed by the spiritual and physical Kingdom of the Father. But again, some postmillennarians think of the Millennium as a distinct phase of the Kingdom of Son, in which Christ suddenly binds Satan and then triumphantly extends his spiritual reign over the face of the whole earth. Thus, for these interpreters, postmillennialism is not really a species of present-millennialism, since here the Millennium is present with some, but not all, Christians who live in the Era of Proclamation.

The Interpretation of OTKP

Once again postmillennarians agree with their amillennarian brethren in interpreting OTKPs typologically and figuratively, as being fulfilled under the New Covenant and among its people, the Church. There is, however, a crucial difference: In OT texts where amillennarians find the prophets speaking of the World to Come, most postmillennarians find them speaking of the triumphs of the Era of Gospel Proclamation. More on this in a moment.

The Meaning of the Millennium

On this issue postmillennarians differ among themselves. Some identify the 1000 years of Revelation 20 with the entire Era of Proclamation, others with its final thousand years, still others with a season of indeterminate length situated towards the end of the present evil age. In the latter case, this season is held to commence with a special, latter-day binding of Satan, possibly leading to the conversion of ethnic Israel at large (the view I have pictured in the time-line above). All agree, however, that the basic trajectory of Church history, despite occasional setbacks, is one of Gospel triumph.

The Consummation

Regarding the Consummation, postmillennarians concede that Revelation 20:7-10 does indeed anticipate a final, global rebellion against Christ and his faithful people (i.e., the Last Battle). This painful interlude—so out of character with the preceding years of triumph and blessing—will quickly lead to the Parousia, the several other elements of the Consummation, and the advent of the World to Come.

We find, then, that for most postmillennarians the true locus of Christ’s victory over the powers of evil is the Era of Proclamation itself, with Christ’s Second Coming serving largely as a glorious capstone upon all that he was able previously to accomplish through the faithful preaching of his Church and the activism of Christian citizens.

Does Scripture justify this optimistic scenario? Does the course of Church History to date confirm it? In the following critique we will seek to answer these important questions.

Critique

With the help of the time line above, let us critically examine the postmillennarian understanding of Salvation History, paying special attention to the four underlying issues we have just identified and discussed.

View of the Kingdom

Amillennarians divide the Kingdom of God into two simple stages: the temporary Kingdom of the Son, followed by the perfect and eternal Kingdom of the Father (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43; Col. 1:13). But as we have seen, most postmillennarians go on to divide the Kingdom of the Son into two sub-stages: an initial stage of real, difficult, and partial Gospel progress, followed by a millennial stage of enormous Gospel progress. Postmillennarian Ken Gentry speaks for many when he says of the Millennium: “The Kingdom will grow and develop until eventually it exercises a dominant and universal gracious influence in a long era of righteousness, peace, and prosperity on the earth and in history.”

But this view of the Kingdom of the Son is not supported in Scripture. Nowhere in the DNT do we find any suggestion that it is divided into two stages, or that it includes a long, future Golden Era. Quite to the contrary, we find both Christ and the apostles repeatedly girding the loins of the saints for constant opposition and persecution, though also for a real measure of success as God gathers together his little flock through the faithful preaching of the Gospel (Matt. 24:9-14; John 10:16; Rom. 8:30; 1 Thess. 2:2; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet. 4:12; 1 John 3:13, 5:19).

On this score, the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares is paradigmatic (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). Here the Lord clearly assumes that throughout the entire Era of Proclamation the tares will grow up alongside the wheat. Indeed, so abundant are the tares that the angels regard them as a threat to the safety of God’s crop (Matt. 13:27-28). This is the template of all NT eschatology. Believers ever live and serve in the present evil age (Gal. 1:4). They must redeem the time, for the days are evil (Eph. 5:16). They constantly struggle against the world-forces of this present darkness (Eph. 6:12). To the very end, the world-system lies in the grip of the evil one (1 John 5:19). Always and everywhere the Church is a light shining in the deepening darkness of the world-system (Matt. 5:14; John 1:5; Phil. 2:15). Her ongoing experience is one of Great Tribulation (Rev. 7:14). She is constantly making a hard pilgrimage through the wilderness of a hostile world (Rev. 12:6, 13-17). The Last Battle is simply the final and most extreme engagement of this perennial war. Where, in all of this, is there room for a Golden Era of peace, righteousness, and prosperity?

View of OTKP

Postmillennarians argue that many OTKP’s predict a global triumph of the Gospel in the Era of Proclamation (see Psalms 72, 110; Is. 2:1-4, 45:2-3, 65:17-25; Mic. 4:1-3; Zech. 9:10, etc.). But here we encounter some serious confusion. Yes, postmillennarians are correct when they assert that these prophecies are fulfilled under the New Covenant, and that we must therefore interpret them typologically and figuratively. But they err when they assert that the prophecies are largely fulfilled in the Era of Proclamation, and not at all in the World to Come.

The truth here is nuanced, and accessible only through a careful use of the DNT and the NCH. The DNT always depicts the Kingdom of the Son as a temporary season of partial Gospel success leading up to the Consummation, and the Kingdom of the Father as an eternal season of complete success following the removal of all evil at the Consummation. Under the discipline of this rubric we will understand OTKP’s prophecies well. Apart from it we will will stumble into error, false optimism, and deep disappointment.

Let us apply this principle to a text that is especially dear to the hearts of our postmillennial brothers. In Psalm 72, the writer (likely David) supplies his fellow Israelites with a coronation prayer that they can offer to God in behalf of Solomon and his royal successors. In so doing he gives the world a picture of Israel’s ideal king, and of the blessings that will attend his reign. Premillennarians say that here David is describing the fruits of a millennial era that will begin after Christ’s return. Postmillennarians say he is describing the fruits of a Golden Era that will occur before his return. Amillennarians, operating under the discipline of the DNT, say he is describing the fruits of Christ’s heavenly reign during the Era of Proclamation, at the Consummation, and throughout the eternal World to Come. They understand that the mystery of the two-staged Kingdom was hidden from the Psalmist’s eyes, with the result that the latter gives us a seamless vision of the total fruitage of the Messiah’s promised reign.

With the help of the NCH we can see exactly how the vision is fulfilled. For example, we can see that even now the heavenly King defends the cause of the poor (v. 4; Matt. 5:3; 1 Cor. 1:26–30). Even now he gives deliverance to the oppressed and needy (vv. 4, 12; Eph. 2:1–10; 1 Thess. 1:10; Titus 3:3–7). Even now, to his spiritually thirsty people, he is like showers that water the earth (v. 6; Acts 3:19; 1 Cor. 12:13; Phil. 1:19). Even now, through the faithful preaching of the Gospel, his far-flung dominion is spreading from sea to sea, and to all the ends of the earth (v. 8; Matt. 13:33; Acts 1:8; Col. 1:23).

However, this psalm also anticipates the Consummation, as well as the eternal stage of the Kingdom that will follow. At his return, the King’s enemies will lick the dust (v. 9; Luke 19:27), all the rulers of the earth will fall down before him (v. 11; Phil. 2:10), and every remaining oppressor, including death itself, will be crushed (vv. 4, 14; Rom. 16:20; 1 Cor. 15:25). Then, in the completed Kingdom that he himself has ushered in, the mountains will bring forth perfect prosperity (v. 3; Heb. 12:18–24; Rev. 21:10), the peoples will flourish like the grass of the field (v. 16; Rev. 22:2), the saints will praise his name forever (v. 17; Heb. 13:15), and all the nations of the saved will call him blessed (v. 17; Rev. 5:6–14). Long shall he live, and long shall his redeemed Bride and Family live with him in the eternal Kingdom of God (vv. 14, 15; Rev. 1:18; 21:3–4).

It is not that OTKPs cannot be understood to promise a Golden Era of Gospel prosperity; it is that the DNT requires us to interpret them otherwise. The OT does indeed promise a universal reign of Israel’s Messiah and Israel’s God. But that reign will overspread the earth in part through the preaching of the Gospel, and then in fullness at the Lord’s return. In that day the OT prophets themselves will rejoice, for the Golden Age of Israel’s ideal King will have come at last.

View of the Revelation

As a rule, postmillennarians teach that the events described in Revelation 20 follow those described in Revelation 19:11–21. But since Revelation 20:7–15 clearly speaks of the Consummation, postmillennarians conclude that Revelation 19:11–21 must be speaking of something else. According to certain preterists, it is the providential “judgment-coming” of the Lord in AD 70, when Titus destroyed Jerusalem. Loraine Boettner argues that this text is giving us “. . . a vision setting forth in figurative language the age-long struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil in the world, with its promise of complete victory.” In other words, Revelation 19 is giving us Christ winning a fair measure of Gospel success during the first stage of the Kingdom of the Son, which, in time, will lead to a special binding of Satan, which in turn will inaugurate a millennial era of extraordinary Gospel success (Rev. 20:1–3).

In that day, say the postmillennarians, the world will experience “the first resurrection.” That is, it will experience a “. . . restoration and vindication of the cause for which the martyrs died” (John Jefferson Davis) and “a rebirth of the martyr spirit” (Augustus Strong). Accordingly, vast numbers of millennial saints, now fully subject to the Spirit of Christ, will reign in victory over sin on a peaceful and prosperous earth (Rev. 20:4–6). Yes, at the close of the Millennium this global triumph will seem, for the briefest of moments, to end in defeat, as Satan is released from his prison and gathers multitudes against the faithful people of God. But at his Parousia, Christ will swiftly intervene to destroy his enemies (Rev. 20:7–10). This will lead to the Last Judgment (Rev. 20:12–15), which in turn will lead to the advent of the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 21–22).

But again, the DNT does not support this teaching. As we have seen, Revelation 20 runs parallel to Revelation 17–19, and does not follow it chronologically.1 Revelation 19:11–21 most certainly does give us the Parousia, as do Revelation 6:12–17, 11:11–19, 14:14–20, and 20:10–15. The binding of Satan took place at the beginning of the Era of Proclamation, through Christ’s work on the cross. It is not still future, even to us who live 2,000 years into that era (Matt. 12:29; John 12:31; Col. 2:15; 1 Peter 3:22; Rev. 12:7–12)! The first resurrection is not a revival of the martyr’s cause or spirit, but rather the perfection of the spirits of the saints as they enter upon the joys of the Intermediate State (Rev. 14:13). And finally, the millennial reign of the saints does not take place on the earth, but rather in Heaven, where the spirits of the saints reign in life with Christ, even as they await the final triumph of life in Christ: the resurrection of their bodies at the Parousia of the High King (Rom. 5:17; 1 Cor. 15:1–58; Rev. 20:11–15).

View of the Consummation

Fundamentally, the postmillennial view of the Consummation is sound, since it looks for a single Consummation at the Parousia of Christ. There are, however, some weighty problems.

First, many postmillennarians anticipate a latter-day conversion of ethnic Israel prior to the Golden Era of Gospel success. But this is not the teaching of the DNT, which, by my lights, looks for Israel’s conversion near the end of the Millennium; that is, near the end of the Era of Proclamation. Here the postmillennial error is of real concern, since it robs the Church of an important sign of the imminence of the Parousia: the grafting of (many) ethnic Jews back into the vine of Christ, after which we may soon expect “life from the dead” (Rom. 11:15).

Secondly, Postmillennialism vitiates biblical teaching about the Last Battle. Yes, postmillennarians confess that a Last Battle will occur just prior to the Parousia. But by placing it on the far side of their Golden Era, they leave the Church looking first for a Golden Era (that will not come), and only then for a Last Battle (which, for postmillennarians, will come all too soon). Thus, Postmillennialism cuts the nerve of NT teaching, which warns that the Last Battle can swiftly fall upon the Church, and that she must always be ready for it (Mark 13:37; 2 Thess. 2:1–10; Rev. 16:15). It leaves a naively optimistic Church vulnerable to the shock of the sudden rise of the Antichrist, and to all the spiritual disillusionment that must flow from such a disappointment. These dire consequences are rooted in Postmillennialism’s failure to see that the entire Era of Proclamation is a season of Gospel combat, conflict, and “great tribulation” (Rev. 7:14).

Finally, Postmillennialism tends to trivialize the Last Battle and the Judgment. Both are solemn events that will engulf huge swaths of humanity. Postmillennialism pictures the Last Battle as an unfortunate ripple upon a sea of millennial bliss. Similarly, it minimizes the gravity of the Judgment by implying that in virtue of the Golden Era of Gospel progress, relatively few souls will be lost.

On both counts the DNT disagrees. Our Lord said that throughout the Church Era, and especially at its end, his disciples will be hated by all nations (Matt. 10:16–25; 24:9). John relates that the number of those who will wage war against the eschatological camp and city of the saints will be “like the sands of the seashore” (Rev. 20:8). As for the ratio of the saved to the lost, we are unwise to engage in speculation (Luke 13:22–30). Nevertheless, it is sobering to recall that wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and that many go in by it (Matt. 7:13; 13:24–30, 36–43); that Christ refers to his Church as “a little flock” (Luke 12:32); and that those who will follow him upon the slopes of the eternal Zion are the first fruits (i.e., the smaller part) of the total harvest of God and the Lamb (Matt. 3:11–12; 13:36–43; James 1:18; Rev. 14:1–4, 14–20). We find, then, that despite its welcome nod to orthodoxy, Postmillennialism gives us a marred and potentially harmful view of the Consummation.

Conclusion

Certainly we can be grateful when our postmillennarian brethren remind us that God has promised to redeem a great multitude of believers out of every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Rev. 5:9; 7:9). And certainly we can join them in affirming that the advance of Christ’s Kingdom will leaven the evil world system in such a way as to have positive impacts on its various institutions, whether cultural, political, or economic (Matt. 5:13–16). By all means, then, let individual Christians serve the Lord in every legitimate sphere of life; let them speak prophetically to the powers that be, urging full conformity to the law of God; and let them be grateful for whatever temporal good their presence may accomplish, whether great or small (John 17:15).

In the end, however, they are wise to view Postmillennialism as a seriously flawed eschatology. As we have seen, it misconstrues the primary purpose of God for the Era of Gospel Proclamation, which is not to Christianize the Domain of Darkness, but rather to rescue a chosen people out of it, and to transfer them into the Kingdom of his beloved Son (Gal. 1:4; Col. 1:13). Its unbiblical doctrine of a Golden Era bleeds into its interpretation of OTKP, distorting the true sense of these precious OT texts. And the same is true concerning the Revelation. But above all, Postmillennialism distorts the believer’s Blessed Hope, focusing it upon an illusory stage of Church history, rather than upon the true signs of the times and the Consummation at Christ’s return (Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:13).2

For all these reasons I would urge my postmillennial brethren to come home to your spiritual birth mother: the amillennial eschatology of the classic Reformation. Truly, she has prepared her table well, and is eager to forgive, forget, and savor all good things with her beloved sons.3

Notes:

1. To view a chart giving the structure of the Revelation, click here.
2. For a discussion of the Consummation and the signs preceding it, click here.
3. For an in-depth and up-to-date critique of Postmillennialism, see this outstanding article by Jeremy Sexton.

Prologue

1 Seeing that many have undertaken to compose a written account of the things that have been fulfilled1 among us— 2 accounts like the ones handed down to us by those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning— 3 it seemed good to me as well, most excellent Theophilus, having closely followed all things from the very start, to write an orderly account for you, 4 so that you may enjoy2 complete certainty about the matters in which you were instructed.

Good News for Zacharias

5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest by the name of Zacharias, who belonged to the division of Abijah; and he had a wife by the name of Elizabeth, whose descent was from the daughters of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. 7 But they had no child, for Elizabeth was barren; and they both were well along in years.

8 Now during the time when Zacharias’ division was on duty, while he was performing his priestly service before God, 9 it so happened that in accordance with the custom of the priesthood he was chosen by lot to enter the Holy Place3 of the Lord and burn incense; 10 and during the hour when the incense was offered, the entire multitude of the people were outside, praying.

11 At that time an angel of the Lord appeared to Zacharias, standing on the right side of the altar of incense; 12 and when Zacharias saw him, he was deeply distressed, and great fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Don’t be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer has been heard: Your wife Elizabeth will soon bear you a son, and you must name him John. 14 He4 will be a joy and a delight to you. Indeed, many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and will never partake of wine or strong drink, but will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God; 17 indeed, he himself will go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, turning the hearts of the fathers back to the children,5 and those who are disobedient back to the wisdom of the righteous, in order to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

A Doubter Silenced

18 But Zacharias said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this, since I am an old man and my wife is well along in years?” 19 So the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in waiting in the presence of God; and I have been sent to speak with you and bring you this good news. 20 But look: Now you will be silent, unable to speak until the day these things take place, for you did not believe my words, which will surely be fulfilled at their appointed time.”

21 Now the people outside were waiting for Zacharias, wondering why he lingered so long in the Holy Place. 22 Moreover, when he finally did come out, he was unable to speak to them. Then they realized he had seen a vision in the Holy Place, for6 he kept using gestures to communicate with them, but remained unable to speak. 23 And when the days of his priestly service were complete, he departed for his own home.

24 Now after those days, Zacharias’ wife Elizabeth conceived; and for five months she kept herself in seclusion, saying, 25 “This is what the Lord has done for me in a time when he looked on me with favor in order to remove my disgrace from among the people.”7

The Annunciation

26 Now in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man of the house of David whose name was Joseph. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And when he had entered the house, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was troubled by his words, and began to ponder in her heart what such a greeting might mean. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive a child in your womb, and will give birth to a son; and you must call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom8 there will be no end.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have never known9 a man?” 35 So the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for this reason the holy offspring will be called the Son of God.10 36 And behold, Elizabeth, your blood relative, has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month of pregnancy for her who was called barren. 37 For nothing shall be impossible with God.”11 38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord. May it happen to me just as you have said.” And the angel departed from her.

Two Mothers Meet

39 Now in those days Mary rose up and went in haste to the hill country, to a town of Judah; 40 and she entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, it came about that the baby leaped in her womb, and that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then, with a loud cry, she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For listen: No sooner did the sound of your greeting reach my ears, than the baby leaped in my womb for joy! 45 And blessed is she who believed that12 what was spoken to her by the Lord would indeed be fulfilled.”

The Magnificat

46 And Mary said:
“My soul declares the greatness of the Lord,
47 and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the humble state of his maidservant; for behold, from this time forth all generations will call me blessed,
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
50 From generation to generation his mercy is on those who fear him.
51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the inmost thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent away the rich empty-handed.
54 In remembrance of his mercy he has given help to his servant Israel,
55 just as he promised13 to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed forever.”

56 So Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months, and then returned to her home.

The Birth of John

57 Now the time for Elizabeth to give birth arrived, and she brought forth a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her, they rejoiced with her. 59 Then, on the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child; and they were about to name him Zacharias, after his father. 60 But his mother answered, saying, “No, he must be called John!” 61 They said to her, “None of your relatives are called by that name.” 62 Then they motioned towards the child’s father, inquiring as to what he wanted his son to be called. 63 So when he had asked for a tablet, Zacharias wrote down: “His name is John.” And they all were amazed. 64 Moreover, Zacharias’ mouth was suddenly opened, and his tongue freed; and he began to speak, praising God! 65 Then fear fell on all their neighbors; and throughout the entire hill country of Judea people were discussing all these events. 66 And everyone who heard about them treasured them in their hearts, saying to themselves, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For truly, the hand of the Lord was with him.

The Prophecy of Zacharias

67 As for Zacharias, he was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying:
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited his people  and accomplished redemption in their behalf;
69 He has raised up for us a horn of salvation in the house of his servant David,
70 just as he told us long ages ago through the mouth of his holy prophets:
71 Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us!
72 He has done this to show mercy to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham,
74 to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might live without fear,
75 serving before him in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.
76 And you, my child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the presence14 of the Lord in order to prepare his ways,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through15 the forgiveness of their sins,
78 all because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise from on high shall visit us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 And the child continued to grow and become strong in spirit; and he was in the deserts until the day of his public presentation to Israel.

Notes

  1. Or on which there is full conviction
  2. Or experience; lit. know
  3. Or temple, sanctuary
  4. Or This, It
  5. Mal. 4:5-6
  6. Lit. and
  7. Lit. Thus has the Lord done to me in (the) days he looked upon (me) to remove my disgrace among men
  8. Or dominion
  9. Lit. do not know
  10. Or the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God; lit. the One having been born holy will be called Son of God
  11. Or no word of God shall be devoid of power
  12. Or believed, because
  13. Lit. spoke
  14. Many mss face
  15. Lit. by

 

The Birth of Christ 

Now in those days a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus, declaring that the entire Roman empire1 must be registered for taxation. 2 (This first registration began2,3 while Quirinius was governing Syria.) 3 So everyone set out to be registered, each to his own home town. 4 And Joseph too went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David (which is called Bethlehem), because he belonged to the house and family line of David. 5 He did so in order to be registered together with Mary, who was betrothed to him, and who was now with child. 6 And while they were there, the time arrived4 for her to give birth. 7 So she gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, for there was no room for them at the inn.

The Angel’s Song of Praise

8 Now in that same region there were shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them; and they were terribly afraid. 10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid; for behold, I am bringing you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people; 11 for this very day, in the city of David, there is born for you a savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this is the sign appointed for you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Then, together with the angel, there suddenly appeared a vast assembly of the army of heaven, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest place, and on earth, peace to those whom he is pleased to bless.”5

A Midnight Visit to the Newborn Christ

15 Now when the angels had departed from them to heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go at once to Bethlehem and see for ourselves this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they hurried off and sought out both Mary and Joseph; and they found the baby, lying in a manger. 17 And after they had seen him, they began to spread the news of what they were told6 about this little boy; 18 and everyone who heard of it was amazed at the things the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary hid these matters deep within, and continually pondered them in her heart. 20 So the shepherds returned to their flock, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were indeed just as they had been told.

The Presentation in the Temple 

21 Now when the eight days required for his circumcision were completed, the child was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days required by the Law of Moses for their purification had been fulfilled, Joseph and Mary brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every first-born male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was set forth in the Law of the Lord: “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”7

Simeon and the Consolation of Israel

25 Now in Jerusalem there was a man by the name of Simeon. This man—both righteous and devout—was watching for the Consolation of Israel;8 and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 Moreover, the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So at the prompting of the Spirit, Simeon entered the temple precincts. And when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary according to the Law, 28 Simeon took him up in his arms and blessed God, saying, 29 “Master, just as you promised,9 you are now releasing your servant in peace; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples: 32 a light of10 revelation for the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at the things he had spoken about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them. And he said to Mary, his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to serve as a sign that will be spoken against—35 indeed, a sword will pierce your own soul as well—so that the inmost thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Anna Testifies of the Redeemer

36 And a certain prophetess was there: Anna,11 the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was quite old now, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four; and she never left the temple precincts, but served God night and day with fasting and prayers. 38 And coming up to them at that very hour, she gave thanks to God; and she went on to speak of the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 So when Joseph and Mary had finished performing everything prescribed by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. 40 And the child, increasingly filled with wisdom, continued to grow and became strong; and the grace of God was upon him.

The Boy Jesus Teaches the Teachers

41 Now every year Jesus’ parents would go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. 42 So when he was twelve years old, they again went up to Jerusalem in accordance with the custom of the feast. 43 But after the feast days were over, while Joseph and Mary were on their way home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. Now his parents were unaware of this. 44 And so, assuming he was in the caravan, they traveled on for a full day, after which12 they began to look for him among their relatives and acquaintances; 45 and when they couldn’t find him, they headed back for Jerusalem in search of him. 46 Now it happened that after three days they found him in the temple, seated in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; 47 and all who heard him were marvelling at his insight and his answers. 48 But when his parents13 saw him, they were shocked and upset. His mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? You should know that14 your father and I have been terribly worried, looking for you everywhere.49 But he said to them, “How is it that you had to look15 for me? Didn’t you understand that I must be involved in my Father’s affairs?”16 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. 51 Then he went down from Jerusalem with his parents,17 and they arrived in Nazareth; and he continued in submission to them both.

Now his mother carefully guarded all these things18 in her heart. 52 Meanwhile, Jesus himself kept on increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. 

Notes

  1. Lit. inhabited world
  2. Or took place
  3. Or This registration first began (to occur)
  4. Lit. it happened that the days were completed
  5. Or with whom he is pleased; lit. among (in) men of (his) good pleasure
  6. Lit. made known the word which was told to them
  7. Ex. 13:2, 12, 15; Lev. 12:8
  8. I.e. the Messiah
  9. Lit. according to your word
  10. Lit. unto, for
  11. Lit. And (also) there was Anna, a prophetess
  12. Lit. and
  13. Lit. they
  14. Lit. Behold
  15. Lit. were looking
  16. Or possibly be in my Father’s house; lit. in (among) the things of my Father
  17. Lit. them
  18. Lit. words, matters

 

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

3 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, when Herod was tetrarch of Galilee and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and when Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. So he traveled throughout1 the entire region surrounding the Jordan River, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord!
Straighten out his paths!
5 Every valley will be filled,
and every mountain and hill brought low;
the crooked ways will become straight,
and the rough roads made smooth;
6 and all flesh will see the salvation of God.’”2

John’s Message of Repentance 

7 For this reason John would say to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Very well then, bring forth fruits worthy of repentance! And don’t begin to say among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these very stones! Moreover, the axe is already laid to the root of the trees; therefore every tree that fails to bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 So the crowds were continually inquiring of John, asking, “What, then, must we do?” 11 In reply he would tell them, “He who has two tunics should give one to the man who has none; and he who has food should do likewise.” 12 Then some of the tax collectors also came to be baptized; and they said to him, “Teacher, what must we do?” 13 So he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to receive.”3 14 And some of the soldiers inquired of him as well, saying, “What about us; what should we do?” So he said to them, “Don’t intimidate anyone,4 bring no false accusations, and be content with your wages.”

John’s Message of Faith  

15 Now while the people were waiting in expectation, and while all were weighing in their hearts whether or not John was the Messiah, 16 John himself responded by telling them all, “Yes, I am baptizing you in water; but one who is stronger than me is coming, and I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandal. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 And so, while exhorting the people on many other matters, John would proclaim the good news to them. 19 But when he reproved Herod the tetrarch about Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and about all the other evils he had done, 20 Herod added this to5 them all: He locked up John in prison.

John Baptizes Jesus

21 Now when all the people had been baptized, it came about that Jesus too was baptized; and as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove; and a voice came out of heaven: “You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased!”

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

23 Now when Jesus himself began his ministry, he6 was about thirty years old, being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Hesli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Joseph, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Heber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Notes

  1. Lit. came into
  2. Is. 40:3-5
  3. Lit. than what is appointed to you
  4. Or Extort nothing from anyone
  5. Or on top of, above
  6. Or possibly Now when Jesus began his own ministry, he

 

Jesus Tested in the Wilderness 

4 Then Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River; and for forty days he was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where he was repeatedly tempted1 by the devil.

Now during those days Jesus ate nothing at all; and when they were completed, he suffered great hunger. 3 So the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 But Jesus answered him: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”2

5 Then, taking him up to a high place, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And he said to him, “I will give you this entire domain—and the glory of all these kingdoms3—for it has been handed over to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish. 7 If then you will kneel in worship before me, all will be yours.” 8 But Jesus answered and said to him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him alone you shall serve.’”4

9 Then the devil led5 him up to Jerusalem and had him stand6 on the pinnacle of the temple; and he said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, that they must guard you with utmost care,’ 11 and, ‘With their hands they will lift you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”7 12 But in reply Jesus said to him, “It is stated, ‘You shall not force a test on the Lord your God.’”8

13 And when the devil had finished every temptation, he left him, waiting for a favorable time.9

A Prophet Without Honor

14 So Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit; and the news of him spread swiftly throughout the entire surrounding region. 15 And he began to teach in their synagogues, and was honored and praised by all. 

16 Then he arrived in Nazareth, where he was brought up; and as was his custom, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 17 Then they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah; and opening the scroll, he found the place where it was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor;
he has sent me to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty10 those who are stricken and shattered,
19 and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”11

20
Then Jesus rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon him. 21 And he began to address them, saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 Now all in attendance were speaking well of him, and marvelling at the gracious words that fell from his lips. Yet they kept on saying, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” 23 So he said to them, “No doubt you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will say, ‘What we’ve heard that you did in Capernaum, do here as well in your own home town.’” 24 But he went on to say, “I tell you the truth: No prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 But I also tell you truly that there were many widows in Israel during the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, and when a great famine covered the whole land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them, except to a woman—a widow—who lived in Zarephath, in the land of Sidon. 27Moreover, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet none of them was cleansed except Naaman, the Syrian.” 28 Now when they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29 So rising up, they forced him out of the city and were taking him towards the brow of the hill on which their city was built, so that they could throw him off the cliff. 30 But passing safely through their midst, he went his way.

A Teaching with Power
31 Then Jesus went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee; and on the Sabbath days he began to instruct them. 32 And they were amazed at his teaching, because his word was spoken with authority. 33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had an unclean spirit, a demon.12 And the demon cried out with a loud voice, 34 saying, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God!” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” So when the demon had thrown him down into their midst, it came out of him, doing him no harm. 36 Then wonder and amazement fell on them all, and they began to converse with one another, saying, “What is this new teaching?13 For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 So the news of him spread to every place in the surrounding region.

Healings in Capernaum 

38 Now after Jesus got up and departed from the synagogue, he entered Simon’s house. And Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever; so they asked him to minister to her.14 39 Then, standing over her, he rebuked the fever and it left her; and immediately she got up and began to serve them.

40 And while the sun was setting, all who had friends or relatives15 who were afflicted with various diseases brought them to him; and laying his hands on each one of them, he would heal them. 41 Moreover, demons were coming out of many among them, crying,16 “You are the Son of God!” But Jesus rebuked the demons and would not permit them to speak, for they knew he was the Messiah.

Proclaiming the Kingdom Throughout Judea

42 Now at the break of day, Jesus left the city and went to an isolated place. But the crowds kept looking for him; and when they finally came to the place where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities as well, for this is why I was sent.” 44 So he began to preach in the synagogues of Judea.17 

Notes

  1. Lit. being tempted (tested)
  2. Deut. 8:3
  3. Lit. and their glory
  4. Deut. 6:13
  5. Or brought
  6. Or stood [him]
  7. Ps. 91:11-12
  8. Deut. 6:16
  9. Lit. until a favorable (opportune) time
  10. Lit. to set free by release (pardon)
  11. Is. 61:1-2
  12. Lit. a spirit of an unclean demon
  13. Or What a teaching this is! Or What’s happening here?
  14. Lit. they asked concerning her
  15. Lit. who had any 
  16. Lit. crying out and saying
  17. Some mss Galilee; others, land of the Jews

 

Four Fishermen Called  

5 Now while he was standing beside the Lake of Gennesaret, and while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, Jesus happened to notice two boats lying at the water’s edge (the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets). 3 Stepping into one of the boats (it was Simon’s), he asked him to put out a little from the shore; then he sat down and began teaching the crowds from the boat.

4 When he was finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” In reply Simon said, “Master, we’ve toiled all night long and caught nothing; nevertheless, at your word I’ll let down the nets.” 6 And once they had done so, they enclosed such a huge number of fish that their nets began to break! 7 Then they motioned to their partners in the other boat, signaling that they should come over and help them. So they came over, and the men so completely filled both of the boats that they began to sink. 8 Now when Simon Peter saw all this, he fell down at Jesus’ knees and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For utter amazement had taken hold of Simon and all his companions due to the catch of fish they had just hauled in; 10 and the same was true for James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. But Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And once they had brought their boats to land, they left everything behind and followed him.

A Leper Cleansed 

12 Now while Jesus was spending time in one of the towns, he happened upon a man who was full of leprosy;1 and when the man saw Jesus, he bowed his face to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 So stretching out his hand, Jesus touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And at once the leprosy left him. 14 Then Jesus commanded him, “Tell no one about this, but go, show yourself to the priest and present an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses instructed; this will serve as a testimony to them.” 15 But more than ever the news about Jesus2 spread throughout that region; and great crowds gathered together, both to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. 16 But Jesus himself would often withdraw to isolated places and pray.

A Paralytic Healed

17 Now on one of those days, while Jesus was teaching, it so happened that certain Pharisees and teachers of the Law were sitting nearby (they had come from every town of Galilee and Judea, and also from Jerusalem). And the power of the Lord was present with him to heal. 18 Suddenly a number of men appeared,3 carrying a paralytic on a makeshift bed; and they tried to bring him into the house and set him before Jesus. 19 But finding no way to do so because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and then lowered the man and his bed down through the tiles into the midst of the crowd,4 and in front of Jesus. 20 Now when he saw their faith, he said to him, “Friend,5 your sins are forgiven you.” 21 So the scribes and the Pharisees began thinking to  themselves,6 “Who is this who utters blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 But when Jesus discerned their thoughts, he responded by saying to them, “Why are you raising questions7 in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? 24 But so that you may know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—and then he spoke to the paralytic—“I say to you, arise, pick up your bed, and go back to your house.” 25 And at that very moment the paralytic got up in front of them, picked up the stretcher he was lying on, and left for his own house, glorifying God. 26 Then utter amazement gripped them all, and they too began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear,8 saying, “We’ve seen incredible things today!”

A Tax Collector Called

27 After these things, Jesus went out and noticed a certain tax collector by the name of Levi, who was sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything behind, he got up and began to follow him. 

29 Then Levi prepared a great banquet for Jesus in his own home; and a large company of tax collectors and other outsiders were reclining at the table with them. 30 So the Pharisees and their scribes complained to Jesus’ disciples, saying, “Why are you men eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 But in reply Jesus said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, only9 those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Fasting, Fabric, and Wine

33 Then they said to him, “The disciples of John regularly fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees; but yours are always eating and drinking!” 34 But Jesus said to them, “Would you have the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is still with them? 35 But the days are coming when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then, in those days, they will fast.” 36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece of fabric from a new garment and sews it onto an old one; otherwise he will damage10 the new, and the piece taken from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. 38 Rather, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 Moreover, no one who has drunk old wine desires new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’ ”

Notes

  1. Lit. towns, behold, a man full of leprosy!
  2. Lit. him
  3. Lit. And behold, men
  4. Or room
  5. Lit. Man
  6. Lit. began to reason, saying
  7. Or objections; lit. reasoning
  8. Or awe
  9. Lit. but, rather
  10. Lit. tear

 

Lord of the Sabbath 

6 Now on a certain Sabbath day Jesus happened to be walking through some grain fields; and his disciples were picking the heads of wheat, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. So some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 3 In reply Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you even read this, what David did when he was hungry, both he and the men who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God, and how he took and ate the consecrated bread, which is unlawful for anyone to eat except the priests; and how he gave some of it to his companions?” 5 Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

A Sabbath Healing

6 On yet another Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and began to teach. And in that place there was a man whose right hand was deformed and paralyzed. So the scribes and Pharisees, trying to find grounds for accusing him, were watching Jesus closely to see if he would perform a healing on the Sabbath. 8 But he knew their thoughts. So he said to the man with the deformed hand, “Get up and stand here in the midst of the people.” So he got up and stood before them. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or evil, to save a life or destroy it?10 And when he had looked around at them all, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” And the man did so; and his hand was immediately restored to its former health. 11 But the scribes and Pharisees1 were beside themselves with rage;2 and they began discussing among themselves what they might do to Jesus.

The Calling of the Twelve

12 Now at that time Jesus departed into a mountain to pray; and there he spent the entire night in prayer to God. 13And when morning arrived, he called for his disciples and chose from among them twelve men whom he also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he also named Peter, and his brother, Andrew; James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon who was called the Zealot, and 16 Judas the son of James and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Power Flowing Forth

17 Now when he had come down from the mountain with them, he stood on a level place. And a large crowd of his disciples was gathered there, together with a great multitude of people from all parts of Judea, Jerusalem, and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon. These all had come to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; 18 and3 those who were troubled by unclean spirits were also being restored to health. 19 So the whole crowd was trying to touch him, for power was flowing out of him and healing4 them all.

Blessing and Woe 

20 Now when he had lifted up his eyes towards his disciples, he began to teach,:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, hurl insults at you, and banish your name as though it were evil, all because of the Son of Man. 23 In that day be exceedingly glad and leap for joy; for behold, your reward in heaven is great, for their fathers did the same things5 to the prophets. 

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort in full. 25 Woe to you who are satisfied, for you will hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers did the same to the false prophets.

On the Love of Enemies

27 “But to you who are listening,6 I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who abuse and mistreat you. 29 To the man who strikes you on one7 cheek, offer the other as well. And from the man who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic.8 30 Give to everyone who asks of you; and from the man who takes away your belongings, do not demand them back. 31 Just as you would have men do for you, so also you must do for them.

32 “Now if you love those who love you, what thanks or reward do you deserve?9 For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what compensation is rightfully yours; for even sinners do that? 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what thanks or reward should you receive? For even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be paid back in full. 35 But as for you: Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.10 Then your reward will be great, and you will show yourselves11 sons of the Most High; for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the immoral. 36 You, then, must be12 merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

On Passing Judgment

37 “Also, do not pass judgment, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured out into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you in return.” 

39 And he also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher; however, once he is fully trained, a disciple will be like his teacher. 41 And why do you gaze at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that’s in your eye,’ when you yourself do not perceive the beam that’s in your own? Hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck in your brother’s.

A Tree and Its Fruit

43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit; nor again does any bad tree bear good fruit—44 for every tree is known by its own fruit. For men never gather figs from a briar, nor do they harvest grapes from a bramble. 45 The good man, out of the good treasure stored up in his heart,13 brings forth what is good; and the evil man, out of the evil in his heart, brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Hear, Do, and Build

46 “And why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but fail to act on the things I say? 47 Everyone who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them,14 I will show you what15 he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, a man who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. Now when a flood arose, the river broke against that house but couldn’t shake it, for the house was well built. 49 But he who has heard my words and not acted on them is like a man who built his house on the ground with no foundation. When the river burst against it, it instantly fell; and great was the ruin of that house.”

Notes

  1. Lit. they
  2. Lit. filled with mindless (foolish) rage
  3. Or even
  4. Or and he was healing
  5. Lit. according to these things
  6. Or hear (me)
  7. Lit. the
  8. I.e. undergarment
  9. Lit. what sort of grace belongs to you? (also vs. 33, 34)
  10. Or in no way despairing
  11. Lit. you will be
  12. Or become
  13. Lit. of his heart
  14. Lit. does them
  15. Or whom

 

A Centurion’s Amazing Faith 

After Jesus had fully delivered1 all his teachings in the hearing of2 the people, he went to Capernaum. 2 Now in that city there was a centurion whose servant was sick and at the point of death; and the centurion held him in high regard. 3 So when he heard about Jesus, he sent some of the Jewish elders to him, requesting3 that he come and heal his servant. 4 And when they had drawn near to Jesus, the elders besought him with great fervor, saying, “This man4 is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation; indeed, he is the one who built us our synagogue!” So Jesus headed off with them. But no sooner had he drawn near the house than the centurion sent out some of his friends, saying to him, “Sir, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7 and this also is why I did not think it fitting to come to you in person. But simply say the word,5 and my beloved servant6 will be healed. 8 For I too am a man placed under authority, and a man with soldiers under me. And 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.9 Now when Jesus heard these words, he stood amazed at the centurion. And when he had turned around, he said to the crowd following him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found so great a faith!” 10 And when the men who had been sent to Jesus returned to the centurion’s house, they found the servant in perfect health.

A Son Raised, a Family Restored  

11 Soon after this, Jesus went on to a city called Nain; and his disciples went with him, together with a large crowd. 12 Now as he drew near to the city gate, he suddenly noticed that a man who had died was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother (who was now a widow); and a large crowd from the city was keeping company with her. 13 Now when the Lord saw her, he was moved with compassion for her. So he said to her, “Weep no more.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and when he did so, the men who were carrying it stood still. Then Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” 15 And the man who had died sat up and began to speak; and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 Then fear took hold of them all; and they began to glorify God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up in our midst!” and “God has looked upon his people!” 17 And this report about Jesus went out into all Judea and the entire surrounding region.

John’s Faltering Faith

18 Now John’s disciples brought him word of all these things. 19 So after calling for two of his disciples, he sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the Coming One, or should we look for another?” 20 So when the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptizer sent us to ask you,7 ‘Are you the Coming One, or should we look for another?’” 21 Now in that very hour Jesus healed many people of various diseases, afflictions, and evil spirits; and he also granted sight to many who were blind. 22 Then, in response to the disciples’ question, he said, “Go and report the things you’ve seen and heard to John: how the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news prolcaimed to them.8 23 And blessed is the man who does not stumble over me!”

24 Now when the messengers from John had gone their way, Jesus began speaking to the crowds about John. “What did you go out into the desert to observe and consider? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But if not that, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? But look around:9 Those who are elegantly dressed and live in luxury are only found in royal courts. 26 But what then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 For this is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I am sending my messenger before your face; he will prepare your way before you.’10 28 And I tell you this: Among those born of women there is none greater than John. Nevertheless, he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

29 Now when all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s righteous judgment,11 for they all had been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in Jewish law had rejected God’s purpose for their lives, refusing to be baptized by John.12

31 And Jesus said, “With what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to one another, saying: ‘We played the flute for you, but you wouldn’t dance; we mourned with lamentation, but you wouldn’t weep.’ 33 For John the Baptizer has come, eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating bread and drinking wine; and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

Forgiven Much, Loving Much  

36 Then one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to dine with him; so Jesus entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 Now in that city there was a woman who had lived a sinful life; and when she learned that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought in an alabaster jar filled with perfumed ointment. 38 And standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to water his feet with her tears; and she kept wiping them with the hairs of her head, kissing them, and anointing them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Jesus13 to dinner saw this, he said to himself, “If this man really were a prophet, he would know who this is, and what kind of woman is touching him. He would know that she is a sinner.”

40 But in response Jesus said to him: “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “say it.” 41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One of them owed him five hundred denarii, and the other owed fifty. 42 But since they had nothing with which to repay him, he graciously forgave them both. Tell me then: Which of the debtors will love him most?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one to whom he forgave the greater debt.” Jesus said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 Then, turning to the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house and you gave me no water for my feet; but she has continually washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss; but from the time I came in, she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet. 46 You didn’t anoint my head with oil; but here she is, continually anointing my feet with fragrant ointment. 47 Therefore I say to you: Her sins, which are many, have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And Jesus said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 Then those who were reclining at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this that even forgives sins?” 50 But Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Notes

  1. Lit. fulfilled, completed
  2. Lit. into the ears of
  3. Or beseeching
  4. Lit. He
  5. Lit. say with a word
  6. Or child, boy
  7. Lit. sent us to you, saying
  8. See Is. 61:1f
  9. Lit. Behold!
  10. Mal. 3:1
  11. Lit. declared God’s righteousness
  12. Lit. not having been baptized by him
  13. Lit. him

 

Women Support the Work 

8 Soon after this, Jesus began traveling from city to city and village to village, publicly proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve apostles were with him, 2 as well as certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and various infirmities. They included Mary (the one called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had been expelled), 3 Joanna (the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager1), Susanna, and many others who were continually ministering to their2 needs out of their own resources.

The Parable of the Sower

4 Now while a large crowd was gathering around, and while people from town after town were making their way to him, Jesus spoke to them by way of a parable: “A3 sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some of the seed fell beside the path and was trampled, after which the wild birds4 came and completely devoured it. 6 Other seed fell on rocky ground; but as soon as it sprang up, it withered away for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and crowded out5 the plants. But other seed fell into good ground, sprang up, and produced a crop, a hundredfold.” And as he spoke these words, he cried out: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

9 Then his disciples began to question him about the meaning of this parable. 10 So he said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to the rest they come in parables, so that seeing, they may not see, and hearing, they may not understand.6

11 “Now this is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those beside the path are the ones who hear, but then the devil comes and takes the word from their hearts, so that they cannot believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who hear the word and receive it with joy, but they develop7 no root; they believe for a season, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 As for the seed that fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard the word, but as they go their way they are overcome8 by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and therefore bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But as for the seed that landed on good ground, these are the ones who hear the word in an honest and good heart, take hold of it,9 and bring forth fruit with patience and endurance.

Hearing the Word, Displaying the Light

16 “No one lights a candle or an oil lamp, and then covers it with a clay pot, or places it under a bed. Instead, he sets it out on a lampstand so that those who enter the room can see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything kept secret that will not be made known and come to light. 18 So take care how you hear; for whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

Jesus’ True Family

19 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to him; but they could not get near him because of the crowd. 20 So someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21 But he answered and said to them, “My mother and my brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it!”

Lord of Sea and Storm

22 Now on one of those days it came about that Jesus stepped into a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” So they headed out; 23 and as they were sailing along, Jesus fell asleep. Then a fierce windstorm swept down onto the lake, with the result that the boat was being swamped, and they themselves were now in danger.10 24 So the disciples went over to him, woke him up, and said, “Master, Master, we’re going to die!” But Jesus, roused from his sleep, rebuked the wind and the violent surging of the waters; and they both died down, and a great calm settled upon the lake. 25 Then he said to them, “Where is your faith?” But gripped with fear, they stood amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this? He even commands the winds and the water, and they obey him!”

The Gerasene Demoniac

26 Then they sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is situated opposite Galilee. 27 Now when Jesus stepped out onto the shore, a certain man from the city who was controlled by11 demons came out to meet him. For a long time this man had worn no clothing;12 nor had he lived in a house, but dwelt instead among the tombs. 28 Now when he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before him, and said in a loud voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the most high God? I beg you not to torment me!” 29 (For Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man; for the spirit had seized him many times, with the result that they would tie him down with chains and shackles, and keep him under guard; but he would break the chains, after which the demon would drive him into the deserts.) 30 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” So he said, “Legion”—for many demons had entered the man. 31 Then the demons began pleading with Jesus not to command them to go into the abyss. 32 Now in that place there was a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside; so they begged him to let them enter the pigs. And Jesus let them. 33 So the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs; and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

34 Now when the men who fed the pigs saw what had taken place, they fled and reported these things in the city and the surrounding villages. 35 So the people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone out sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed, and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 Then those who had witnessed the event told them how the demon-possessed man had been rescued and restored.13 37 Then the Gerasenes and all the people living around them begged Jesus to depart from them, for sheer terror had taken hold of them. So stepping into a boat, Jesus headed back. 38 But the man from whom the demons had gone out began pleading with him that he might come with him. But Jesus sent him on his way, saying, 39 “Go back to your home and tell everyone what great things God has done for you.” So the man went off and began proclaiming throughout the entire city what great things Jesus had done for him.

Healing and Resuscitation

40 Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they all were eagerly waiting for him. 41 But just then a man by the name of Jairus, a leader of the synagogue, came to him. And when he had fallen down at Jesus’ feet, he began pleading with him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter—about twelve years old—and she was at the point of death.

Now as Jesus was making his way to Jairus’ house, the crowds kept pressing in on him. 43 And among them was a woman who had suffered for twelve years from an issue of blood, and whom no one was able to heal. 44 Coming up to Jesus from behind, she touched the edge of his cloak; and immediately the flow of her blood was stanched. 45 So Jesus said, “Who touched me?” Now while everyone was denying it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are thronging you and pressing in on every side!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I experienced14 power flowing out of me.” 47 Then the woman, realizing she could no longer remain hidden, came up to him, trembling; and falling down before him, she explained in front of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been instantly healed. 48 So he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.15 Go in peace.” 

49 Now while Jesus was still speaking, someone from the home of the synagogue leader arrived and said to him, “Your daughter has died; don’t trouble the teacher any more.” 50 But when Jesus heard it, he responded to the ruler, “Don’t be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” 51 Now when he arrived at the house, he allowed no one to go in with him except Peter, John, James, and the father and mother of the little girl. 52 Now all the people were wailing and beating their breasts over her passing. But Jesus said, “Stop your wailing; she isn’t dead, but only sleeps.” 53 So they began to laugh at him, for they knew very well that she was dead. 54 But after taking her hand, he called out in a loud voice: “Little girl, arise!” 55 And her spirit returned, and at once she rose up. Then Jesus directed that she be given something to eat. 56 As for her parents, they were beside themselves with amazement; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.

Notes

  1. Or steward (i.e. a court official)
  2. Some mss his
  3. Lit. The
  4. Lit. birds of the sky (vs. domesticated birds)
  5. Lit. choked
  6. Is. 6:9
  7. Lit. have
  8. Or suffocated, overwhelmed; lit. choked
  9. Or possibly who, hearing the word, take hold of (cling to) it with an honest and good heart
  10. Lit. lake, and they were being swamped and were in danger
  11. Lit. had
  12. Lit. did not put on a garment
  13. Lit. had been saved
  14. Lit. was knowing, aware of
  15. Lit. has saved you

 

The Apostles Empowered and Sent Forth 

9 Now when Jesus had called the twelve together, he gave them power and authority over all the demons, and to heal those with diseases; 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Moreover, he said to them, “Take nothing for the journey: no staff, no bag, no bread, and no money; nor should you bring along an extra tunic.1 4 Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave the area.2 5 And whoever will not welcome you, as you leave that town, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 So heading out, they began to travel from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

Curious Herod 

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was taking place; but was thoroughly perplexed. For some of the people were saying that John the Baptizer had risen from the dead, 8 others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. 9 But Herod said, “I myself had John beheaded, so who is this about whom I’m hearing such things?” So he kept on trying to see Jesus.

Five Thousand Are Fed

10 Now when the apostles returned, they gave Jesus a full account of all they had done. Then, taking them with him, he withdrew to a town called Bethsaida to be by himself. 11 But when the crowds learned of it, they followed him; and after he had welcomed them, he began to speak with them about the kingdom of God, and to cure those in need of healing.

12 But now the day was drawing to a close. So the twelve came up and said to him, “Send the crowd away so they can go into the surrounding towns and countryside, find lodging, and get some food; for this is3 a remote area.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we go off and buy food for all these people.” 14 (For about five thousand men were gathered there.) So he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 So the disciples did as he said, and all the people sat down. 16 Then, picking up the five loaves and two fish, and looking up into heaven, Jesus blessed and broke them; and he gave4 portions to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 So all the people ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was gathered up: twelve baskets full of fragments.

Peter’s Good Confession 

18 Now on a certain occasion, when Jesus was praying by himself, his disciples happened to be nearby. So he put a question to them, saying, “Who do the crowds say I am?” 19 They answered, “John the Baptizer. But others say Elijah, and still others that one of the prophets of former times has risen again.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say I am?” And Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” 21 But Jesus strictly charged them, commanding that they should speak of this to no one. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.”

The Cost of Discipleship

23 Then he began speaking to all the people:5 “If anyone desires to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, when he himself is destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory, and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: Some of those who are standing here will by no means taste death until they have seen the kingdom of God.”

The Transfiguration

28 Now about eight days after saying these things, Jesus took Peter, John, and James, and went up onto the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered; and his cloak turned white and shone like lightning. 30 And behold, two men—Moses and Elijah—were speaking with him; for after appearing in glory, 31 they had begun to discuss his departure,6 which he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.

32 Now Peter and those who were with him had sunk into a deep sleep. But once they were fully awake, they beheld his glory; and they also saw the two men standing with him. 33 Now it so happened that just as the men were beginning to depart from Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here! Let us prepare three tabernacles:7 one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (not realizing what he was saying). 34 But even as he was speaking these words, a cloud appeared and began to overshadow the two men;8 and as they entered the cloud, the disciples9 were gripped with fear. 35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had finished speaking, they found Jesus standing there all alone. Now the disciples kept all this to themselves: At that time they told no one about any of the things they had seen.

A Boy Set Free

37 On the next day, after they had come down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38 And suddenly a man from the crowd lifted up his voice, saying, “Teacher, I beg you: Take pity on10 my son, for he is my only child. 39 For this is what’s happening:11 An evil spirit takes hold of him, and suddenly he lets out a scream. Then it throws him into convulsions, and he starts foaming at the mouth. What’s more, the spirit hardly ever leaves him, but is constantly tearing at him. 40 So I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t do it.” 41 Then Jesus replied, “O unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I remain among you?12 How much longer must I put up with you? Bring your son here!” 42 Now as the boy was coming towards him, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him; but Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And the entire crowd stood in awe at the greatness of God.13

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

Now while everyone was marveling at all the things he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Put these words into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” 45 But they failed to understand this statement. Indeed, its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not discern it; and they were afraid to ask him what it meant.14

Who Is the Greatest? 

46 Then an argument arose among the disciples as to which one of them would be15 the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing the inmost thoughts of their heart, took a little child and stood him by his side; 48 and he said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the one who is great.” 

49 Now in reply John said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he doesn’t follow along with the rest of us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for anyone who is not against you is on your side.”

A Samaritan Village and a Jewish Savior  

51 Now when the time had finally come for Jesus to be taken up, he resolutely set his face to go to Jerusalem; 52 and he sent messengers on ahead of him. As the messengers went their way, they entered a village of the Samaritans in order to make preparations for him. 53 But the villagers would not welcome him, because he was intent on traveling to Jerusalem. 54 So when James and John, his disciples, saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and destroy16 them?” 55 But turning around, Jesus rebuked them.17 56 And they went their way to another village.

The Cost of Discipleship 

57 Now as they were walking down the road, someone said to him, “Lord, I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 But Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the wild birds18 have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 And to another he said, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow you, but first let me go and say goodbye to the members of my household.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one who has put his hand on the plow and then looks back is fit for18 the kingdom of God.”

Notes

  1. Lit. nor have two tunics (apiece)
  2. Lit. remain there and go out from there
  3. Lit. for here we are in
  4. Or started giving, kept giving
  5. Or to (them) all; but see Mark 8:34
  6. Or decease
  7. Or booths, shelters, (sacred) tents
  8. Lit. them
  9. Lit. they
  10. Lit. look upon, regard
  11. Lit. And behold
  12. Lit. Until when shall I be with you?
  13. Lit. all were amazed (awestruck) at the greatness (majesty) of God
  14. Lit. to question him concerning this statement
  15. Or was, might be
  16. Or consume
  17. Some mss add and said, “You don’t know what kind of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
  18. Lit. birds of the sky
  19. Or of any use to

 

Jesus Commissions the 72 

10 Now after these things the Lord appointed seventy-two1 others and sent them out two by two before his face to every town and locale where he himself was planning to go. 2 At that time he told them, “The harvest is indeed bountiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest, that he would thrust forth laborers into his crop. 3 Go your ways, but realize this:2 I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry neither purse, nor traveler’s bag, nor extra sandals; and greet no one along the way. 5 Whenever you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If a son of peace is living there, your peace will rest upon him;3 if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in that same house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. You are not to move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and the people4 welcome you, eat the things they5 set before you; 9 then heal those in the town who are sick,6 and say to the people, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they don’t welcome you, go out into its streets and declare, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off as a testimony against you. Nevertheless, be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’7 12 I say to you: In that day it will be more bearable for Sodom than it will for that city!

Two Impenitent Cities

13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty miracles performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But in the judgment it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon than it will for you. 15 And you, Capernaum: Do you refuse to be8 exalted to heaven? Very well then, you will be pulled down into Hades!”

16 And he said to his disciples, “He who listens to you listens to me; and he who rejects you rejects me. But he who rejects me is rejecting the One who sent me.”

Right Rejoicing  

17 Now the seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name!” 18 So he said to them, “I was watching as Satan fell like lightning from heaven. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and on all the power of the enemy, so that9 nothing will by any means harm you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names have been recorded in heaven.”

Jesus Rejoices in His Father’s Plan  

21 At that time Jesus greatly rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, saying, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I delight in10 you because you have concealed these things from the wise and learned,11 and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for to work in this way was pleasing in your sight.12 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, nor does anyone know who the Father is except the Son, and those13 to whom the Son is willing to reveal him.23 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and spoke to them privately, saying, “Blessed are the eyes which see things you are seeing; 24 for I tell you this: Many prophets and kings longed to see the things you see, but never saw them, and to hear things you hear, but never heard them.

The Good Samaritan 

25 Now it happened that a certain expert in the Mosaic Law stood up in order to test Jesus. So he said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 Jesus said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you understand14 its teaching on this subject?” 27 In reply the lawyer said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and you must love your neighbor as yourself.”15 28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”

29 But the lawyer, wanting to be sure that he himself was righteous,16 said to Jesus, “But who exactly is my neighbor?” 30 Taking up his question, Jesus said, “A certain man was going down to Jericho from Jerusalem; and he fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went their way, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest was going down the same road; but when he saw the wounded man, he passed him by on the opposite side. 32 Likewise, when a Levite came to that place and saw the wounded man, he too passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan making a journey came upon the man; and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. 34 So he went over to him, poured oil and wine into his wounds, and dressed the wounds with strips of cloth. Then he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him there. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Look after him; and whatever you spend above this, I will repay you when I return.’ 36 Now, which of these three men do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 The lawyer said, “The one who showed him mercy.” So Jesus said to him, “Go then and do the same.”

Mary Chooses the Best Part  

38 As they continued on their journey, Jesus entered a certain village where a woman by the name of Martha welcomed him as her guest. 39 Now Martha had a sister named Mary, who had seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to his word; 40 but as for Martha, she was consumed with all the serving that had to be done. So she came and stood before Jesus, saying, “Lord, doesn’t it matter to you that my sister has left me to do all the serving by myself? So tell her to help me!” 41 But in reply the Lord said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but only one thing is truly necessary.17 I’m telling you this because Mary has chosen the best18 part, and it will not be taken from her.” 

Notes

  1. Many mss seventy (also in v. 19)
  2. Lit. Go! Behold,
  3. Or it
  4. Lit. they
  5. Lit. those that are
  6. Lit. in it
  7. Or is near
  8. Lit. will you not be
  9. Lit. and
  10. Or praise, thank, acknowledge; lit. confess
  11. Or intelligent, understanding
  12. Lit. for thus it became pleasing before you
  13. Lit. the one
  14. Lit. read
  15. Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18
  16. Lit. justify himself
  17. Some mss only a few things are necessary; really, only one
  18. Lit. good

 

Lord, Teach Us to Pray 

11 Now in a certain place Jesus was spending time in prayer; and when he was done, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.” 2 So he said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, may your name be held in reverence. May your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread; 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation.”1

On Persistence in Prayer 

Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for an acquaintance of mine who is making a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And suppose your friend answers you from inside the house, saying, ‘Don’t bother me; the door is already locked, and my children are here with me in bed; I can’t get up and give you what you want.’ I tell you, even though this man won’t get up and give him something for friendship’s sake, yet because of his friend’s persistence he will indeed get up and give him as many loaves as he needs. 9 Therefore I say to you: Keep on asking, and it will be given to you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and the door2 will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door3 will be opened. 11 Moreover, what father among you, if his son asks him for a fish, would give him a serpent instead? 12 Or if the son asks for an egg, would his father give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Overcoming the Strong Man 

14 Now Jesus was casting out a demon that made its victim mute;4 and when the demon had come out of him, the mute man spoke and the crowds stood amazed. 15 But some of them said, “He’s driving out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons!” 16 Others, putting him to a test, were asking him for a sign from heaven. 17 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to ruin; and a house divided against a house will fall. 18 So then: If Satan is also divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I’m asking you this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. 19 But if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom are your sons driving them out? For this reason, they themselves will be your judges. 20 On the other hand, if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man who is fully armed guards his own property, his holdings are secure.5 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, the stronger takes away all his armor in which he trusted and then divides his spoils. 23 He who isn’t with me is against me; and he who doesn’t gather with me scatters.

The Peril of an Empty House 

24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest. But when it finds none, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; 25 and when it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes out and brings along seven other spirits more wicked than itself; and once they all have entered the house, they settle down to live there. Thus, the final state of that man is worse than the first.”

True Blessedness 

27 Now as Jesus was saying these things, a certain woman in the crowd lifted up her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and blessed are the breasts that nursed you!” 28 But he said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God, and are careful to obey it!”6

An Evil Generation Given a Sign  

29 Then, as the crowds were growing, Jesus began to speak: “This generation is an evil generation. It is constantly demanding a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so too will the Son of Man be a sign to this generation. 31 At the judgment, the queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and condemn them, 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. 32 At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will stand with this generation, and they too will condemn it, for they repented when they heard the preaching of Jonah; and behold, One who is greater than Jonah is here.

Take Heed to the Light Within

33 “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it in a vault7 or under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lampstand, so that those who enter the room can see the light. 34 The lamp of your body is your eye. Therefore, when your eye is healthy, your whole body will also be filled with light; but when it’s diseased, your whole body will also be filled with darkness. 35 So see to it that the light within you is not darkness. 36 If, then, your whole body is full of light—with no part at all containing darkness—it will be fully illumined, as when the lamp in your house illumines you with its light.”

A Litany of Woes

37 Now while Jesus was speaking, a certain Pharisee invited him to dine at his home; so he entered his house and reclined at the table. 38 But when the Pharisee saw it, he was taken aback, for Jesus had not performed a ceremonial washing prior to the meal. 39 So the Lord said to him, “Now as for you Pharisees, you cleanse the outside of the cup and the plate, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Didn’t he who made the outside make the inside as well? 41 So then: Bestow as alms the things on the inside, and behold, all things will be clean for you!

42But woe to you Pharisees, for you give a tenth part of your mint, rue, and every kind of garden herb, but overlook justice and the love of God; yet these are the things you should have done, while not neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees, for you love the chief seats8 in the synagogues, and deferential greetings9 in the marketplaces! 44 Woe to you, for you are like unmarked graves on which men walk, suspecting nothing!”10 

45 Now in reply, one of the lawyers said to him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you are insulting us too.” 46 But Jesus declared, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you load men down with burdens that are hard to carry, while you yourselves won’t touch them with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you, for you build the tombs of the prophets, yet it was your own fathers who killed them; 48 thus, you are testifying that you approve of the deeds of your fathers, for they killed the prophets, and you are building their tombs! 49 And this is why11 the wisdom of God has declared, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles. Some of them they will kill, and some of them they will persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the very founding of the world, may be required of this generation— 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary.12 I tell you the truth: All of it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers, for you have completely taken away13 the key to knowledge: You yourselves did not go in, and those who were trying to go in,14 you hindered.”

53 Now when he left that place, the scribes and the Pharisees began to oppose him bitterly,15 and to pepper him with questions on many subjects, 54 setting traps for him16 in order to catch him in something that he might say.

Notes

  1. Or testing
  2. Lit. it
  3. Lit. it
  4. Or that was mute; many mss demon, and it was mute
  5. Lit. in peace
  6. Lit. guard it, watch over it, keep it
  7. Or cellar
  8. Or possibly best (front) seats
  9. Lit. the greetings
  10. Lit. and the men who walk over (them) do not know
  11. Lit. For this reason also
  12. Lit. house; some interpreters close the quote here
  13. Lit. took away
  14. Lit. who were going in
  15. Or engage him strenuously (furiously)
  16. Or lying in wait for (him)

 

Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees 

12 While these things were taking place—and after a crowd of so many thousands had gathered together that people were stepping on one another—Jesus began to speak, first of all to his disciples: “Guard yourselves against the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 For nothing is covered that will not be revealed, nor is anything hidden that will not be made known. 3 For this reason, whatever you have spoken in the darkness will be heard in the light; and whatever you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the housetops.

Fear and Fear Not

4 “Moreover, I say to you who are my friends: Don’t be afraid of those who can kill the body, after which there is nothing more that they can do. On the other hand, I will show you whom you should indeed fear: Fear him who, once he has killed, has the power to cast into Gehenna.1 Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two small copper coins,2 yet not one of them is forgotten before God? 7 But as for you, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid: You are of greater value than many sparrows!

The Good Confession

8 “And I tell you this: Everyone who acknowledges me before men will be acknowledged by the Son of Man before the angels of God. But he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 Moreover, everyone who speaks3 a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who has spoken blasphemously against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven. 11 Now when they bring you before the synagogues, the magistrates, and the authorities, don’t be concerned about how to defend yourself or what you should say; 12 for in that very hour the Holy Spirit will teach you the things you should say.”

True Riches

13 Now someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, speak to my brother about dividing the family inheritance with me.” 14 But Jesus said to him, “Man, who appointed me over you two as a judge or an arbiter?” 15 Then he said to them all, “Watch out and be on guard against every form of covetousness, for a man’s life is not found in the abundance of things he owns.”

16 Then he told them a parable, saying: “The land of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop. 17 So he began to deliberate within himself, saying, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Finally, he said, ‘Here’s what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build bigger barns, and I will store all my grain and all my goods there; 19 then I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have stored up many goods for many years to come. Take your ease: Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul will be required of you; and all the things you prepared—to whom will they then belong?’ 21 This is how it will be for the man who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich towards God.”

True Life

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “For this reason I say to you: Don’t worry about your4 life, what you are going to eat; or about your5 body, what you are going to wear. 23 For there is more to life than food, and more to the body than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: They neither sow nor reap, nor do they have a storehouse or a barn; yet God feeds them. And are you not of far greater value than the birds? 25 Moreover, who among you, by worrying, can add a single hour to the length of his life?6 26 If, then, you cannot accomplish even the smallest thing, why should you worry about all the rest? 27 Consider also the lilies, how they grow: They neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was never clothed like one of these! 28 And if God so clothes the wild grass, which today is found in the field but tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you who have so little faith? 29 So then: Don’t concern yourselves about what you’re going to eat or what you’re going to drink; and don’t be anxious about them. 30 For all the nations of the world continually pursue these things, yet your Father already knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “O little flock, don’t be afraid: Your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom! 33 Sell your belongings and give gifts7 to those in need. Make purses for yourselves that won’t grow old or wear out. Prepare an unfailing treasury in the heavens, where no thief draws near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be as well.

Be Ready at All Times!

35 “Stay dressed for action,8 and keep your lamps burning bright. 36Indeed, be like men who are eagerly waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, so that when he arrives and knocks, they can immediately open the door for him. 37 Blessed are those servants whose master finds them on watch when he comes. I tell you the truth: He will dress himself for service, seat them at the table, and come and wait on them. 38 And if he should arrive during the second watch of the night, or even the third, and find them doing so, how blessed those servants will be! 39 But understand this: If the head9 of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be entered by force. 40 And you too must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.

41 Then Peter said to him, “Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to all alike?” 42 So the Lord replied, “Who then is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master places over his household servants, to give them their allotment of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is the servant whose master finds him doing so when he arrives. 44 I tell you the truth: He will put him in charge of all his belongings. 45 But if that servant should say in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his return,’ and if he should begin to abuse the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 then the master of that servant will come on a day he is not anticipating, and at an hour he has not foreseen;10 and he will cut him in two and assign him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And the servant who knew his master’s will, but who did not prepare himself or act according to that will, will be beaten with many blows. 48 But he who did not know it, yet did things worthy of blows, will be beaten with few. Moreover, from everyone to whom much is given, much will be required; and from the one to whom they have entrusted much, they will ask all the more.

The Fire of Division

49 “I have come to pour out11 fire upon the earth; and how I wish it was already kindled! 50 But there is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished.12 51 Are you thinking that I have come to grant peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on there will be five in one household: three divided against two, and two against three. 53 They will be divided father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”13

Learn to Discern

54 And he also was saying to the crowds, “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, you immediately say, ‘A storm14 is coming!’ And so it does. 55 Again, whenever you notice the south wind beginning to blow, you say, ‘There’s going to be a scorching heat!’ And so there is. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to read the face15 of the earth and the sky; so how is it that you don’t know how to read this appointed moment in time?16

Judge for Yourselves 

57 “But why do you not decide for yourselves what is right?17 58 For I tell you this: As you and your adversary are on your way to appear before the magistrate, you should make every effort to settle the matter with him while you are still on the road. Otherwise he may18 drag you before the judge, the judge will hand you over to the executioner, and the executioner will throw you into jail. 59 I tell you the truth: You will not get out of there until you have paid the last cent!”

Notes

  1. Traditionally, hell; the place of eternal punishment
  2. Lit. assaria; a small Roman coin, worth about a half hour’s wage
  3. Lit. will speak
  4. Lit. the
  5. Lit. the
  6. Or a single cubit to his height?
  7. Lit. alms
  8. Lit. Let your loins be girded about
  9. Or owner
  10. Lit. which he does not know
  11. Or throw, scatter
  12. Or completed, fulfilled, brought to an end
  13. Mic. 7:6
  14. Or shower
  15. Or interpret the appearance
  16. Lit. this time (Greek: kairos, a divinely appointed time, season)
  17. Lit. But (and) why even from yourselves do you not judge what is right?
  18. Or will

 

Repent or Perish

13 Now at that time certain men were present who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 But in reply he said to them, “Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered such things? I tell you: Not at all! Moreover, unless you repent, all of you will perish as well. 4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower in Siloam fell on them: Do you think they deserved a greater punishment than all the other men living in Jerusalem? 5 Not at all, I tell you. Moreover, unless you repent, all of you will perish as well.”

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

6 Then he began telling them this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree that was planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. So he said to the man in charge of tending his vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming here, looking for fruit on this fig tree, but finding none. Cut it down! Why should it keep using up the soil?’ 8 But in reply the man said to him, ‘Sir, leave it alone this year too, until I can dig around it and put in some fertilizer. 9 If it bears fruit next year, good; but if not, cut it down.’”

Healing on the Sabbath

10 Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And in that synagogue there was a woman1 who had been afflicted by an evil spirit for eighteen years;2 and she was hunched over and unable to fully straighten herself up.3 12 But when Jesus saw her, he called her to himself; and he said to her, “Woman, you are released from your infirmity.” 13 Then he laid his hands on her; and at once she straightened up and began to glorify God!

14 But the ruler of the synagogue was angry and offended that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; so in response he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which work should be done; therefore come and be healed on one of those days, but not on the Sabbath.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each one of you untie his ox or his donkey from its feeding trough on the Sabbath, and then lead it off to water? 16 What then of this woman, who is a daughter of Abraham, and one whom Satan has bound—think of it4—for eighteen long years? Should she not be released from this bondage on the Sabbath day?” 17 Now when he spoke these words, all of his opponents were put to shame; but the people themselves were rejoicing over all the glorious things he was doing.5

Two Parables about the Kingdom

18 So Jesus began to speak, asking, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what should I compare it? 19 It’s like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his own garden; and it grew up and became a tree, and the wild birds nested in its branches.” 20 And again he said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 It’s like yeast that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour until the lump was leavened through and through.”

Strive to Enter by the Narrow Door

22 Now Jesus was traveling through city after city and village after village, teaching and making his way towards Jerusalem. 23 And a certain man asked him, “Lord, are only a few going to be saved?” So he said to them all, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door; for I say to you that many will try to enter, but will not be able to do so. 25 Once the ruler of the house has gotten up and shut the door, and once you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open for us!’ he will answer by declaring, ‘I neither know you, nor where you are from.’6 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught us in our streets!’ 27 But he will reply, “I tell you, I don’t know where you’re from. Depart from me, all you workers of unrighteousness!’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, while you yourselves are thrown out. 29 Moreover, people will come from the east and the west, and from the north and the south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 So know this:7 Some who are last will be first, and some who are first will be last.”

Jesus Laments Over Jerusalem

31 At that very moment certain Pharisees came up to him and said, “Get away from here,8 for Herod is planning to kill you.” 32 But he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, today and tomorrow I drive out demons and perform healings; and on the third day I am done with my work.’9 33 Nevertheless, I must continue my journey today, tomorrow, and the day after that, for it is impossible that a prophet should be put to death outside of Jerusalem. 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that10 kills the prophets and stones the men who are sent to her! How often I would have gathered your children together, just as a mother hen gathers her brood beneath her wings; but you were unwilling. 35 See, your house is left to you in ruins. Moreover, I say to you: You will not see me again until the time arrives when you say,11 ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”12

Notes

  1. Lit. And behold, a woman
  2. Lit. having a spirit of infirmity
  3. Or unable to straighten herself at all
  4. Lit. behold
  5. Lit. and the whole crowd (multitude) was rejoicing . . . things done by him
  6. Or I do not know you. Where do you come from?
  7. Or But know this; lit. And behold
  8. Lit. Go forth and depart from here
  9. Lit. I am complete, perfect
  10. Lit. which
  11. Some mss until you say
  12. Ps. 118:26

 

Exchanges with the Pharisees  

14 One Sabbath day when Jesus had gone to dine1 at the home of a certain leader of the Pharisees, the guests2 were watching him carefully; 2 and there before him was a man whose limbs were badly swollen with fluid. 3 In response, Jesus addressed the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they kept silent. So taking hold of the man, Jesus healed him and sent him on his way. 5 Then he said to them, “Which one of you, if you had a son or an ox fall into a well on the Sabbath, would not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they were powerless to speak against his words.3 

7 Now when Jesus observed how those invited to the meal were choosing the places of honor at the tables, he told them a parable. “Whenever someone invites you to a wedding feast, never seat yourself 4 in a5 place of honor, for it may be that your host has invited someone more distinguished than you. 9 If so,6 he who invited you both will come over and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man;’ and then, in disgrace,7 you will start moving down to8 the lowest place. 10 Therefore, whenever you’re invited to a feast, go instead and seat yourself in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes in, he can9 say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the sight of those who are seated at the table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

12 Then he also spoke to the man who had invited him: “When you host a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends, your siblings, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; otherwise they in turn may also invite you, with the result that you are repaid. 13 But whenever you host a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then you will be blessed, for you will have been repaid at the resurrection of the righteous, since these have nothing with which to repay you.”

The Parable of the Great Supper 

15 Now when one of the men reclining at the table with Jesus heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is he who eats bread10 in the kingdom of God!” 16 But Jesus said to him, “A certain man prepared a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 Now when the time for the banquet arrived, he sent his servant to those who had been invited, saying, ‘Come, for the banquet is now ready!’ 18 But one after another11 they all began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have purchased a piece of land and need to go out and inspect it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 Then another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to examine them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have just taken a wife, and because of this I am unable to come.’ 21 So when the servant returned, he reported all these things to his lord. Then the master of the house, moved to anger, said to his servant, ‘Quickly, go out into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame into this place.’ 22 Later on12 the servant declared, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, but there is still room for more.’ 23 So the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the roads and country lanes, and compel13 them to come in so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you this: Not one of those men who were invited will taste of my supper!’”

Counting the Cost of Discipleship

25 Now large crowds were traveling with Jesus. So14 after he had turned around, he said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and doesn’t hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever doesn’t carry his own cross and follow after me, he cannot be my disciple. 28 For what man among you, desiring to build a tower, won’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has the means with which to finish it? 29 Otherwise, if he lays the foundation, but is unable to complete the project, everyone who sees it15 will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build but wasn’t able to finish!’ 31 Or what king, going out to meet another king in battle, doesn’t first sit down and take counsel to see if he is able with ten thousand men to confront him who is coming against him with twenty? 32 And if in fact he is not, he will send a messenger to ask for terms of peace while his adversary is still a long way off. 33 Just so,16 anyone among you who does not surrender17 all that he has—he cannot be my disciple.

Tasteless Salt Is Worthless 

34 “Therefore I say: Salt is good. But if the salt itself18 has lost its flavor, with what shall it be seasoned? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the dunghill; and so they throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Notes

  1. Lit. eat bread
  2. Lit. they
  3. Or contradict these things
  4. Lit. recline; and so in v. 10
  5. Lit. the
  6. Lit. and
  7. Or with shame
  8. Lit. you will begin to occupy
  9. Lit. will
  10. Lit. everyone who will eat bread
  11. Or they all alike; lit. from one
  12. Lit. And (But)
  13. Or urge
  14. Lit. and
  15. Or all the onlookers
  16. Lit. In the same way therefore
  17. Or renounce; lit. separate himself from
  18. Lit. if even the salt

 

The Parable of the Lost Sheep 

15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were constantly gathering around Jesus to listen to him. But both the scribes and the Pharisees were angrily whispering among themselves, saying, “This man keeps company with sinners and eats with them!”

3 So Jesus told them this parable, saying: 4 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, doesn’t leave the ninety-nine in the open field and go in search of the lost sheep until he finds it? What’s more, once he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing; 6 and when he has returned to his house, he calls together his friends and neighbors, and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I’ve found my lost sheep!’ 7 In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who have no need of repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one of them, doesn’t light a lamp, sweep the house, and search diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, and says, ‘Rejoice with me, for I’ve found the coin I lost!’ 10 I tell you: In just the same way there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Lost Sons

11 Then Jesus said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of the two1 said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that falls to me.’ So the father divided his wealth between the two of them. 13 Now a few days later, after gathering together all that he had, the younger son went abroad to a distant land; and there he scattered his inheritance to the four winds2 through reckless and dissolute living. 14 Then, after squandering everything, a mighty famine arose throughout that land and he began to be in need. 15 So he went off and attached himself to one of the citizens of that country, a man who sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 And he longed to fill his stomach with the carob pods the pigs were eating; but no one was giving him anything at all.  

17 “When, however, he finally came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough food, and here I am, dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.”’

20 “So he got up and headed back to his own father. But while he was still a good way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; and running towards his son, he fell on his neck and kissed him again and again. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Hurry, bring out the best robe and place it on him; and put a ring on his finger3 and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it. And when we’re done eating, let us rejoice and celebrate! 24 For this son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life;4 he was lost, but now is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Now the father’s older son was out in the field; and as he came in from work and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him why these things were going on.5 27 Then the servant said to him, ‘Your brother has come home and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But the older son,6 angered by this news, refused to go inside. So his father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But in reply, the son said to his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for7 you, never neglecting a single command; yet never once did you give me a young goat so that I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours—who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes—came home, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But it was only right that we should celebrate and rejoice, for this your brother was dead, but then came back to life; and was lost, but then was found.’”

Notes

  1. Lit. them
  2. Lit. scattered; dispersed; winnowed by throwing into the air
  3. Lit. on his hand
  4. Lit. came to life
  5. Lit. what these things might mean
  6. Lit. he
  7. Or serving

 

Kingdom Shrewdness

16 Then Jesus began to address his disciples as well: “There was a certain rich man who received a report that his household steward was squandering his possessions. 2 So the rich man called him in and said to him, ‘What’s this I’m hearing about you? Give me a full account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be my steward.’ 3 Then the steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, seeing that my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I’m not strong enough to dig and I’d be ashamed to beg. 4 I know what I’ll do! This way, when I’m removed from the stewardship, people will welcome me into their homes.’ 5 So after calling for each one of his master’s debtors, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 The man replied, ‘A hundred measures of olive oil.’1 The steward said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘How much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’2 The steward said to him, ‘Take your bill and write down eighty.’ 8 So the master commended the unrighteous steward, for he had acted shrewdly. For in their dealings with their own kind,3 the sons of this age are wiser than the sons of light. 9 Therefore I say to you: Make friends for yourselves by your use of unrighteous mammon,4 so that when it finally fails5 they may welcome you into the eternal dwelling places.6

10He who is faithful in what is least will also be faithful in much; and he who is unrighteous in what is least will also be unrighteous in much. 11 If, then, you have not been faithful in your use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust you with the true riches? 12 And if you’ve not been faithful in the care of another man’s property, who will give you your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for he will either hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Exhortations to the Pharisees

14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things; and they began to scoff at him. 15 But Jesus said to them, “You are the kind7 who make8 themselves righteous in the sight men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly prized among men is detestable9 in the sight of God.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were in force10 until John. Since then the good news of God’s Kingdom is being proclaimed, and all are pressing into it.11 17 Nevertheless, it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for a single serif on a single letter12 of the Law to fall to the ground.

18 “Every man who divorces his wife and marries someone else is committing adultery; and the man who marries a woman divorced from her husband is also committing adultery.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “Now there was a certain rich man who dressed in garments made of purple fabric and soft white linen; and he feasted sumptuously13 day after day. 20 But laid at the rich man’s gate there also was a certain beggar by the name of Lazarus, whose body was covered with sores, 21 and who longed to be filled with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. And besides all this, the street dogs would come and lick his sores.

22 “Now it came about that the beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. Later on14 the rich man also died and was buried. 23 And in Hades—where the rich man was in torment15—he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham from afar, and Lazarus resting on his bosom. 24 So he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus, so that he can dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus his bad things; but now he is comforted and you are in torment. 26 And besides all this, between us and all of you a great chasm is firmly set in place, so that those who want to cross over to you from here cannot, nor can anyone cross over to us from there.’ 27 The rich man replied, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he can warn16 them, or else they too might come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 The rich man said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will surely repent.’ 31 But Abraham said to him, ‘If they are not listening to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Notes

  1. I.e. 875 gallons, worth about 1,000 denarii (three years pay)
  2. I.e. 10-12 bushels, worth about 2,750 denarii
  3. Or generation
  4. Or worldly wealth; mammon is Aramaic for riches
  5. Or runs out
  6. Lit. tents, tabernacles
  7. Lit. ones
  8. Or show
  9. Lit. an abomination
  10. Or were proclaimed; there is no verb in the Greek
  11. Lit. all are forcing themselves (or, being urged) into it
  12. Lit. one little horn (projection, stroke)
  13. Or celebrated in luxury (with ostentation)
  14. Lit. And
  15. Lit. being in torments
  16. Lit. solemnly testify to

 

Jesus Teaches on Offenses

17 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “It is unavoidable that stumbling blocks should appear; but woe to the one through whom they appear! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 Keep watch over yourselves: If your brother sins, reprove him; if he repents, forgive him. 4 Even if he sins against you seven times in a day—and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I repent’—you must forgive him.”

Mustard Seed Faith

5 Then the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 So the Lord replied, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Let Servants Understand Their Place

7 “But what man among you, if he had a servant plowing a field or tending sheep, would say to him when he came in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at the table’? Would he not say to him instead, ‘Prepare me something to eat, and then, when you’ve dressed yourself properly, serve me until I’ve finished eating and drinking; after that1 you may eat and drink’? 9 And does he thank his2 servant because he has done what he was told to do? 10 The same applies to you: When you’ve done everything you were commanded to do, you should say, ‘We are ordinary3 servants; we have only done what our duty required.’”4

The Grateful Samaritan

11 Now while Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he was passing through the region between5 Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he was entering a certain village, he came upon ten men who were lepers. Standing at a distance, 13 they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 So when he saw them, he said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” Now it came about that while they were on their way, they were cleansed of their leprosy. 15 But one of them, seeing that he was healed, turned back and began to glorify God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell face down at Jesus’ feet, thanking him again and again. (Now the man was a Samaritan.) 17 So in response, Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where then are the other nine? 18 Were none found returning to give God glory except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to the man, “Stand up and go your way; your faith has made you well.”6

How the Kingdom Comes

20 Now on a certain occasion, when the Pharisees were pressing Jesus as to when the kingdom of God was going to appear, he answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not appear with signs that can be observed;7 21 nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘See, there it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your very midst.”8

22 Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but will not see it. 23 Then people9 will say to you, ‘Look, there he is!’ or ‘See, he’s over here!’ But do not go out or follow after them. 24 For the Son of Man, on the day he comes,10 will be like a flash of lightning, lighting up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 And just as it was in the days of Noah, so too will it be in the days of the Son of Man: 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage, right up to the day when Noah entered the ark, after which the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, it will be just as it was in the days of Lot: People were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building. 29 But on the day when Lot escaped from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Things will be just the same11 on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

31 “On that day, a man whose goods are in the house will be on the roof: He must not go down to carry them off. The same holds true for a man out in the field: He must not go back for the things he left behind. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two will be sleeping in a single bed: One will be taken and the other left behind. 35 Two will be grinding in the same place: One will be taken and the other left behind.”12 37 In reply, the disciples said to him, “Where, Lord?” So he said to them, “Wherever the body13 is, there too the eagles14 will be gathered.”

Notes

  1. Lit. after these things
  2. Lit. the
  3. Lit. undeserving, unmeritorious
  4. Lit. that which it is our duty to do
  5. Or possibly traveling along the border; lit. passing
  6. Lit. saved you
  7. Lit. with observation; close inspection
  8. Or within you
  9. Lit. And they
  10. Lit. in his day (this phrase is omitted by some mss)
  11. Lit. according to the same things it will be
  12. With variations, some mss add v. 36: Two will be out in the field: One will be taken and the other left behind.”
  13. Or carcass, corpse
  14. Or vultures

 

The Parable of the Persistent Widow 

18 Then Jesus began telling them a parable to show them that they should pray at all times and never lose heart.1 2 So he said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And in that city there lived a widow who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me protection from my adversary.’ 4 Now for a time the judge was unwilling to respond; but after a while he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect man, yet because this widow keeps pestering me2 I will grant her request, so that in the end she doesn’t wear me out by constantly coming to me.’” 6 Then the Lord said, “Listen to the words of the unrighteous judge!3 7 And will not God avenge his own elect, who cry out to him day and night, though he suffers long over them?4 8 I tell you, he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9 He also told this parable to certain men who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and who held everyone else in contempt. 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood there and began praying about himself in this way:5 ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like the rest of men—extortionists,6 evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, and I give a tenth of everything I receive.’7 13 But the tax collector, standing at a great distance, was unwilling even to lift up his eyes towards heaven; instead, he just kept beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man, and not the other, went down to his house justified;8 for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Of Children and the Kingdom

15 Now the people were also bringing him their new-born children so that he might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they began to rebuke them. 16 But Jesus called for the children, saying, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child, he will never enter it at all.”

The Rich Young Ruler

18 Now a certain ruler inquired of him, saying, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except one: God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, and honor your father and your mother.’”9 21 So the young man replied, “All these things I have carefully observed from my youth up.” 22 Now when Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack: Sell everything you have, distribute the proceeds to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then10 come and follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, the young man felt great sorrow,11 for he was quite wealthy. 24 And looking at him,12 Jesus said,13 “How difficult it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For 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.” 26 Now those who heard this said, “Who then can be saved?” 27 But he replied, “Things that are impossible for men are possible with God.” 28 Then Peter said, “Look, Lord, we left everything we had14 and followed you.” 29 So he said to them, “I tell you the truth: There is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive far more in this appointed time,15 and in the age to come, eternal life.”

Jesus Again Predicts His Death and Resurrection

31 Then, taking the twelve aside, Jesus said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 For he will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked, mistreated, and spit upon. 33 And they will scourge him and kill him; but on the third day he will rise again.” 34 But they understood none of these things. Indeed, the meaning of this saying was hidden from them, so that they could not comprehend what he had said to them.16

A Blind Man Sees and Follows

35 Now as Jesus was nearing Jericho, it so happened that a certain blind man was seated beside the road, begging. 36 And when the man heard the noise of a crowd going by, he asked what this meant. 37 So they told him the news: “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by!” 38 Then he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 But the people in front of the procession began to rebuke him, telling him to be quiet; but he only cried out all the more: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 Then Jesus stood still and commanded that the beggar be brought to him. And when the man had drawn near, Jesus questioned him, 41 saying, “What is it you want me to do for you?” The beggar said, “Lord, that I might regain my sight.” 42 So Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well!”17 43 And at once the man regained his sight and began to follow him, glorifying God. And when all the people saw it, they gave God praise.

Notes

  1. Or grow weary (become discouraged; give up)
  2. Lit. beating me up (esp. beneath the eyes)
  3. Lit. Hear what the unrighteous judges says
  4. Or possibly, night? And will he put off helping them? lit. and he patiently suffers upon them
  5. Lit. began praying these things about (to) himself
  6. Or swindlers, robbers
  7. Or possess
  8. I.e. declared righteous in God’s sight
  9. Ex. 20:12-16, Deut. 5:16-20
  10. Lit. and, also
  11. Lit. But having heard these things, he became very sorrowful (distressed)
  12. Or Now when he noticed this
  13. Some mss Now when Jesus noticed him looking sad, he said
  14. Lit. left our own things (e.g. family, homes, property, etc.)
  15. Greek kairos (i.e. a divinely appointed time or season)
  16. Lit. and they were not fully knowing the things that had been spoken
  17. Lit. saved you

 

Salvation Comes to Zacchaeus’ House

19 So Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2 And behold, a man by the name of Zacchaeus was living there, a chief tax collector, and very rich. 3 Now Zacchaeus was trying to see who Jesus was; but he was unable to do so because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So after running on ahead, he climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus,1 for he was soon to pass by that place. But when Jesus got there, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must lodge at your house.” 6 So Zacchaeus hurried down and joyfully welcomed him as his guest. 7 Now when the crowd saw this, they all began to murmur, saying, “He’s gone off to be the guest of a sinful man!” But Zacchaeus, coming to a halt, said to the Lord, “See,2 I now give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord; and if I’ve cheated anyone out of anything, I will pay it back fourfold.” 9 Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, for he too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come3 to seek and to save that which was lost.”

The Parable of the Minas

11 Now as the people were listening to these things, Jesus went on to present another parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they were all assuming that the kingdom of God would immediately appear. 12 So he said, “A certain man of noble birth went on a journey to a distant land in order to receive a kingdom for himself and then return. 13 So summoning ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, saying to each of them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.14 But his own citizens hated him; and they sent a delegation4 after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man ruling over us as our king!’

15 Now when the nobleman returned from receiving the kingdom, he commanded that the servants to whom he had given the money should be summoned to him, so that he could find out what they had gained by doing business with it. 16 So the first one came before him and said, ‘Lord, your mina has gained ten more minas.’ 17 The king said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you’ve been faithful in what is least, you will have authority over ten cities.’ 18 Then the second servant came up to him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 So the king likewise said to this man, ‘And you will be ruler over five cities.’ 20 Then another servant came up, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I put away for safekeeping in a handkerchief. 21 For I was afraid of you, since you are a hard man, withdrawing what you didn’t deposit,5 and reaping you didn’t sow.’ 22 So the king said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You “knew” I was a hard man, collecting what I didn’t deposit, and reaping what I didn’t sow. 23 Why then didn’t you place my money with the bankers, so that at my return I might have had it back with interest?’ 24 So he said to those who were standing by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the man who has ten.’ 25 But they said to him, ‘Master, he already has ten minas!’ 26 But the king replied, ‘To everyone who has, more will be given; but from him who does not have, even what he does have will be taken away. 27 And as for those enemies of mine who didn’t want me to rule over them as king, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” 

The Triumphal Entry

28 Now after saying these things, Jesus resumed his journey, walking ahead of his disciples6 as he went up to Jerusalem. 29 And as he approached Bethphage and Bethany—towns near the Mount of Olives—he sent out two of his disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you. When you enter it, you will find a colt that no one has ever ridden, secured with a rope. Untie it and bring it to me. 31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ you will answer like this: ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” 32 So the men who were sent departed and found the colt, just as Jesus had told them. 33 But as they were untying it, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 So they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 Then they brought it to Jesus, draped their cloaks over the back of the colt, and had Jesus get on. 36 And as he rode along, the people were spreading out their cloaks on the road.

37 Now as soon as he came near to the path descending from the Mount of Olives, the entire multitude of his disciples began rejoicing and praising God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying, “‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’7 Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest!” 39 Then some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 But in reply he said, “I tell you, if these kept silent, the very stones would cry out!”

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 Now when he drew near and beheld the city, Jesus wept over it, 42 saying, “If only you—especially you—had known on this day the things that were meant for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will raise up an embankment around you, encircle you with armies, and hem you in on every side. 44 Then they will level you to the ground—you and your children within you—and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, for you failed to recognize the appointed time of your visitation.”

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

45 Now when Jesus finally entered the temple precincts, he began driving out the men who were selling there, 46 telling them, “It is written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer,’8 but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”9

47And he was teaching daily in the temple. Meanwhile, the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept trying to put him to death; 48 but they could find no way to do so, for all the people were hanging on his every word.10

Notes

  1. Lit. him
  2. Lit. behold
  3. Lit. came
  4. Or ambassador, embassy
  5. Or taking what you didn’t work for; lit. taking up what you didn’t lay down
  6. Or continuing on ahead
  7. Ps. 118:26
  8. Is. 56:7
  9. Jer. 7:11
  10. Lit. were hanging on him, listening

 

Jesus’ Authority Challenged 

20 Now on one of the days when Jesus was in the temple courts, teaching the people and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted him. 2 And they were speaking up, saying to him, “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” or “Who is it that gave you this authority?” 3 But in reply he said to them, “I will also ask you a question, and you must tell me: 4 The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?” 5 So they consulted with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will reply, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they’re convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered: “We don’t know where it came from.” 8 Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” 

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

9 But then he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to vine-growers, and went abroad for a long time. 10 And in due season he sent a servant to the vine-growers, so that they might give him his share1 of the fruit from the vineyard. But the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 So the man sent another servant; but after beating him and treating him with contempt, they also sent him away empty-handed. 12 So he sent a third servant; but after wounding that servant as well, they threw him out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I will send my beloved son; surely they will respect him!’ 14 But when they saw the son, the vine-growers began to reason with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him so the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 And after throwing him out of the vineyard, they put him to death. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those vine-growers and give the vineyard to someone else.” Now when they heard that, they exclaimed, “May it never be!” 17 But fixing his gaze on them, Jesus replied, “What then is the meaning of this scripture:2 ‘The stone that the builders rejected, this has become the chief cornerstone’? 18 Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and3 on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like chaf.”4

The Pharisees Inquire About Taxes

19 Now in that very hour the scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on him; but they feared the people, for they knew he had spoken this parable against them. 20 So after carefully observing him for some time, they sent along hirelings, men who pretended to be righteous, but whose purpose was to fasten on something Jesus might say in order to hand him over to the authority and power of the governor. 21 So they put a question to him, saying, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach accurately, and also that you defer to no one,5 but teach the way of God in truth. 22 Is it or is it not lawful for us Jews to pay the tribute tax6 to Caesar?” 23 But Jesus, seeing through their duplicity, said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it carry?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. 25 So Jesus said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and to God the things that belong to God.” 26 And they were powerless to trap him in his words7 in the presence of the people; and marveling at his answer, they fell silent.

The Sadducees Inquire About the Resurrection

27 Then some of the Sadducees (who assert that there is no resurrection of the body) came up and put a question to him. 28 They said, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving behind a widow but no children, that man8 must marry9 his brother’s widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife and died childless. 30 Then the second married her, 31 and the third as well, and so on until all seven had died, leaving no children behind. 32 Last of all, the woman also died. 33 Therefore, in the resurrection, which of the brothers will have the woman as his wife? For each of the seven had her as a wife.”

34 So Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of attaining that age and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 For since they are sons of the resurrection, they are no longer subject to death at all, for now they are like the angels, and are sons of God. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’10 38 God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live before11 him.” 39 Then some of the scribes declared, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to question him about anything at all.

Jesus Inquires about David 

41 But Jesus said to them, “How is it that people say the Messiah will be12 David’s Son? 42 For David himself says in the book of Psalms: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand 43 till I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’13 44 David, then, refers to him as14 ‘Lord’; so how can he be his Son?”15

Beware of Scribal Hypocrisy 

45 Then, while all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, men who purposely walk16 around in long robes; who love respectful greetings in the marketplaces, the foremost seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets; 47 men who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’ sake offer lengthy prayers. Their punishment will be all the more severe.” 

Notes

  1. Or a share
  2. Lit. this which has been written
  3. Or but
  4. Or crush, scatter like dust
  5. Lit. do not receive a face
  6. An annual property tax levied by Rome on occupied peoples
  7. Lit. to seize upon his word
  8. Lit. his brother
  9. Lit. take, receive
  10. Ex. 3:6, 15
  11. Lit. to
  12. Lit. is
  13. Ps. 110:1
  14. Lit. calls him, names him
  15. Lit. and how is he his Son?
  16. Or who are fond of walking

 

A Lesson in Giving

21 And looking up, Jesus saw the rich depositing their gifts in the offering box;1 2 but he also noticed a certain poor widow depositing two small copper coins. 3 So he said, “I tell you the truth: This poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For all these put in offerings out of their surplus; but she, out of her poverty, has put in all she had to live on.”

Signs of the End

5 Now while some of them were conversing about the temple—how it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive offerings—Jesus said, 6 As for these things you are admiring,2 the days are coming in which not one stone will remain on another; all of them will be thrown down.”3 7 So they questioned him about this, saying, “Then tell us, teacher: When will these things occur, and what will be the sign that they’re about to take place?” 8 So he said: “See to it you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and, ‘The time has arrived!’ You must not follow them. 9 Moreover, when you hear of wars and uprisings, don’t give in to fear or distress; for these things must happen first, but the consummation does not immediately follow.

10 Then he went on to tell them, “Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will also be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be fearsome sights and great signs from heaven.4 12 But before all these things take place, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and bringing you before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will present you with an opportunity to testify. 14 So settle it in your hearts that you will not plan out your defense ahead of time, 15 for I myself will give you a mouth and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 But even parents, brothers, relatives, and friends will betray you, and some of you they will put to death; 17 and because of my name you will be hated by all. 18 Yet not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will win your souls.

The Destruction of Jerusalem

20 “Now when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that her desolation is near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, those who are in the city5 must depart, and those who are in the countryside must not enter her. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, so that all that is written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe to those who are pregnant in those days, and to those who are nursing their children! For there will be great distress upon the land, and wrath towards this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge6 of the sword, and be led away captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The Coming of the Son of Man

25 “And there will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth distress among nations perplexed by the roaring of the sea and its waves; 26 men will be fainting from fear, and from foreboding over the things that keep coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things start to happen, stand up and lift your heads, for your redemption is drawing near!”

The Parable of the Fig Tree

29 Then he told them a parable: “Consider the fig tree, and all trees everywhere. 30 As soon as they start to bud, you see this for yourselves and realize that summer is now drawing near. 31 Just so with you: When you see these things taking place, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. 32 I tell you the truth: This generation will by no means pass away till all these things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.

Keep Watch!

34 “But look to yourselves, that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness, or constant fretting over the affairs of this life, so that day springs upon you unexpectedly like a trap; 35 for it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 So stay awake and watch at all times, praying7 that you may have strength to escape all these things that will soon take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

37 Now during the day Jesus would teach in the temple precincts; but come evening, he would go and spend the night on the Mount of Olives. 38 As for all the people, they would come to him early in the morning in the temple, in order to hear him teach.

Notes

  1. Likely one of many such boxes whose contents went into the temple treasury
  2. Lit. see; gaze upon; view as a spectacle
  3. Lit. another that will not be thrown down
  4. Or from (in) the sky; lit. terrors and great signs from heaven (sky)
  5. Lit. her
  6. Lit. mouth
  7. Or possibly and watch, praying at all times

 

Plotting and Betrayal  

22 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is also called the Passover, was drawing near; 2 and the chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way1 to put Jesus to death, because they feared the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot, who also was numbered among the twelve. 4 So after leaving the other disciples, Judas spoke with the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard about how he might hand Jesus over to them. 5 And they were elated, and agreed2 to give him money. 6 So Judas gave his consent; and he began looking for an opportunity to betray him when he was away from the crowds.

The Final Passover  

7 Now the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread arrived, the day on which the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus sent out Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal3 for us, so that we may partake of it together.”4 9 They said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare it?” 10 So he answered them, “Listen carefully:5 Once you have entered the city, a man carrying a jug of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters. 11 Then say to the head of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover meal with my disciples?”’ 12 Then he will show you a large, well-furnished upper room; make your preparations there.” 13 So they left and found everything just as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. 

14 Now when the hour arrived, Jesus reclined at the table together with the apostles. 15 Then he said to them, “With deep desire I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you this: Never again will I partake of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And after taking a cup and offering thanks, he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I say to you: From this time on I will by no means drink of the fruit of the vine till the kingdom of God has come.” 19 Then, when he had taken bread and given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And after they had eaten, he did the same with the cup, taking it and saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But look: The hand of him who betrays me is here with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man will indeed depart just as God has ordained;6 but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23 So the disciples began discussing among themselves7 who it might be8 who would do this.

True Greatness

24 But there was also a dispute among them as to which one should be considered the greatest. 25 So Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26 But among you it must not be so. Rather, the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the one who leads like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater: the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? Yet I am among you as the one who serves. 28 And you are the ones who have stood by me in my trials. 29 Therefore, I confer on you—even as my Father has conferred on me—a right to rule as kings,9 30 so that in my kingdom you may eat and drink with me at my table. Moreover, you will be seated on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.10

Peter Forewarned

31 “Simon, Simon, listen to me! Satan has received11 permission to sift you all like wheat. 32 But as for you, Simon, I have prayed that your faith will not fail; so when you have returned, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But Peter said to him, “Lord, I’m ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter: Today the rooster will not crow before you have denied three times that you even know me.”

Fresh Instructions for Difficult Days Ahead 

35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no money pouch, traveler’s bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?” And they replied, “Nothing.” 36 Then he said to them, “But now, he who has a money pouch, let him take it with him, and a traveler’s bag as well; and he who has no sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I say to you that this which has been written12 must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered among the transgressors.’13 For all that refers to me will surely be fulfilled.”14 38 Then the disciples said, “Look, Lord: Here are two swords!” But he said to them, “It is enough.”

Prayer, Betrayal, Arrest in Gethsemane 

39 Then, as he often did, he departed and went to the Mount of Olives; and his disciples followed him. 40 And when he arrived at his destination,15 he said to them, “Pray that you will not enter into temptation.” 41 Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, fell to his knees, and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if it be your will, take this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in agony, he began to pray all the more earnestly; and his sweat became like large drops of blood falling to the ground.16 45 Then, after rising from prayer, he went back to his disciples and found them sleeping, exhausted from grief.17 46 But he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray, so that you do not enter into temptation!” 

47 Now while Jesus was still speaking, a crowd of men suddenly arrived; and the man called Judas (one of the twelve) was leading them. Then he approached Jesus, in order to kiss him; 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 Now when those around him saw what was about to happen, they said to him, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But in response Jesus said, “Even this you must allow.”18 And he touched the servant’s ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come to take him, “Have you come out as you would19 against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you daily in the temple, you didn’t stretch out your hands against me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”20

Peter Denies His Lord  

54 Now after they had seized Jesus, they led him away and brought him into the high priest’s house; and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And after the men had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter seated himself among them. 56 But when a certain servant girl noticed him sitting by the fire, she fixed her gaze on him and said, “This man was with him too!” 57 But Peter denied it, saying, “Woman, I don’t know him!” 58 Now after a little while someone else noticed him and exclaimed, “You too are one of his disciples!”21 But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 Then, about an hour later, yet another bystander spoke up boldly, saying, “Without a doubt this man was also with him, for he too is a Galilean!” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I have no idea what you’re talking about!” Just then, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed; 61 and the Lord turned around and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Today, before a rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 62 And Peter went out and wept bitterly.

Jesus Mocked and Beaten 

63 Now the men who were keeping Jesus under guard began to mock him and beat him. 64 And after they had blindfolded him, they kept demanding a reply, saying, “Prophesy! Which one of us just hit you?” 65 And they spoke many other things against him, reviling him.22

Jesus Before the Sanhedrin 

66 Now when day arrived, the assembly of the elders of the people—both the chief priests and the scribes—gathered together and led him into their council chamber.23 And they said, 67 “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I were to tell you, you would certainly not believe me; 68 and if I were to inquire of you, you would by no means answer. 69 Nevertheless, from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 So they all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” And he said to them, “You are saying that I am.”24 71 So they declared, “What further testimony do we need, for now we’ve heard it for ourselves from his own lips?”

Notes

  1. Lit. seeking
  2. Or arranged, promised
  3. Or lamb
  4. Lit. that we may eat
  5. Lit. Behold
  6. Lit. according to that which has been ordained
  7. Or questioning one another about
  8. Lit. which one of them it might be
  9. Lit. And I appoint to you just as my Father [has] appointed to me: a right to rule as king (or to me: a kingdom)
  10. See Mt. 19:28
  11. Or asked, demanded
  12. I.e., this text of Scripture
  13. Is. 53:12
  14. Or possibly is being fulfilled; lit. for indeed that which concerns me has an end
  15. Lit. appeared at the place
  16. Verses 43-44 are not found in several older mss
  17. Or sorrow, grief
  18. Lit. permit until this
  19. Lit. as if
  20. Lit. your hour, and (even) the power (authority) of darkness
  21. Lit. one of them
  22. Or blaspheming (him)
  23. Or Sanhedrin
  24. Or you say (well) that I am; you are saying (it) because I am

 

Jesus Delivered to Pilate

23 So the entire assembly rose up and brought Jesus before Pilate. Then they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man undermining our nation, forbidding us to pay the tribute tax to Caesar, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.” 3 So Pilate questioned him, saying, “Are you the king of the Jews?” In reply Jesus declared, “You are saying it yourself.4 Then Pilate told the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no grounds for charging this man with a wrongdoing.” 5 But they grew all the more fierce, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching all throughout Judea; it began in Galilee and now has reached Jerusalem itself!”1

Jesus Before Herod

Now when Pilate heard this, he inquired as to whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that Jesus was from Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw him, he was overjoyed, for having heard about Jesus, he had long desired to see him, and was hoping to watch him perform some kind of miraculous sign. 9 So Herod questioned him at great length, but he gave no reply at all. 10 Meanwhile, the chief priests and the scribes were standing by, fiercely accusing him. 11 Then, when Herod himself, together with his soldiers, had scorned and mocked him, he sent him back to Pilate, cloaked in an elegant robe. 12 And on that day Pilate and Herod befriended one another, for prior to this there had been enmity between them.

Pilate Surrenders to the Crowd

13 Now when Pilate had assembled the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 he said to them all, “You brought me this man, representing him as someone who misleads the people; and behold, after examining him in your presence, I have not found him guilty of any of the charges you are bringing against him. 15 No, and neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; and look: he has committed no crime deserving of death. 16 So then: After warning him with a flogging,2 I will release him.3 18 But all of them together raised a great cry, saying, “Take this man away and release Barabbas to us! 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for a certain insurrection fomented in the city, and also for murder.) 20 So Pilate, desiring to release Jesus, addressed them once again; 21 but they kept on shouting, “Crucify him, crucify him!” 22 Then he spoke to them a third time, saying, “Why, what evil has he done? I have not found in him any crime deserving of death; therefore I will warn him with a flogging and let him go.” 23 But they were insistent, demanding with loud shouts that he be crucified. And their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate gave a decision for their request to be granted. 25 Then he released the man they had asked for—the man who was thrown into prison for insurrection and murder—and handed over Jesus to their will.4

A Warning from the King

26 Now as they were leading him away, they seized Simon, a man from Cyrene who was coming in from the country; and they laid the cross on him and made him carry it5 behind Jesus.

27 Now a great many of the people were following Jesus, including women who were beating their breasts and wailing over him. 28 But turning to them, Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and your children. 29 For behold, days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin saying to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’6 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will be done when it is dry?”

The King on the Cross

32 Now two other men, both criminals, were being led away with him for execution; 33 and when they arrived at the place called “the Skull,” they crucified him there, along with the criminals: one on his right, the other on his left. 34 But as they did so, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t realize what they are doing.”7 Then they divided up his garments and cast lots for them.

35 Now the people were standing about, looking on; and the rulers, along with them, were sneering,8 saying, “He saved others; if he really is the Messiah of God, the Chosen One, let him save himself!” 36 And the soldiers were mocking him as well, coming up to him, offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 Now above him there was also this inscription: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

39 Then one of the two criminals who were hanging there began to rail at Jesus, saying, “You’re the Messiah, aren’t you? Save yourself and us!” 40 But in response, the other criminal rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you even fear God, seeing that you and he are under the same sentence? 41 And in our case, justly so, since we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come again in your royal power.”9 43 But Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Jesus Dies on the Cross

44 It was now about the sixth hour;10 and darkness came over the entire land until the ninth hour, for the light of the sun had been withdrawn; 45 and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 And after crying out with a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.”11 And after saying that, he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Surely this man was innocent!”12 48 And when all the crowds which had assembled for this spectacle saw what had happened, they headed back to their homes, beating their breasts. 49 But all who knew him—including the women who had followed him from Galilee—stood at a distance, watching these things.

Jesus Laid to Rest in Joseph’s Tomb

50 Now there was13 a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, who hailed from the Jewish city of Arimathea. He was a good and righteous man 51 (he had not consented to the council’s plan and action) who was eagerly waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going in to Pilate, he asked him for the body of Jesus. 53 Then, after taking it down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a tomb hewn out of rock, a tomb where no one had ever been laid to rest. 54 Now it was the day of preparation, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 So the women who had come with Jesus out of Galilee followed Joseph; and they observed both the tomb and the way in which Jesus’ body was laid to rest. 56 After that, they went home and prepared aromatic spices and fragrant oils. Then, in accordance with the commandment, they rested on the Sabbath day.

Notes

  1. Lit. beginning from Galilee as far as here
  2. Lit. after I chastise him
  3. Many mss omit v. 17: Now he was obligated to release one prisoner to them at the feast.
  4. Or desire, decision
  5. Lit. the cross on him to carry
  6. Hos. 10:8
  7. A number of important mss omit this sentence
  8. Or but the rulers also (even) sneered (but see Matt. 27:39-40)
  9. Or in (with) your kingdom; some mss into your kingdom
  10. I.e. noon
  11. Ps. 31:5
  12. Or righteous
  13. Lit. And behold

 

Resurrection Morning

24 Now on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women arrived at the tomb carrying the aromatic spices they had prepared. But they found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb; and when they went in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 Now as they were trying to understand what this meant, two men1 clothed in shining garments suddenly stood beside them. And2 as the women grew fearful and lowered their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living3 among the dead? He isn’t here, but has been raised! Remember how he told you when he was still in Galilee 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and crucified, but rise again on the third day.” Then the women remembered Jesus’ words; 9 and when they had returned from visiting the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest of the disciples. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women who were with them, who reported these things to the apostles; 11 but to them the women’s words seemed like silly talk, and they would not believe them. 12 Peter, however, jumped up and ran to the tomb; but when he stooped down, he only saw the linen wrappings. So he went back to his home, wondering4 what had taken place.5

Hidden in Plain Sight

13 And behold, on that very day two of the disciples were traveling to a village called Emmaus, which is about seven miles from Jerusalem; 14 and they were deep in discussion about all that had just taken place. 15 Now while they were conversing and reasoning together, Jesus himself drew near and fell in beside them; 16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. 17 So he said to them, “What are you men discussing so intently6 as you walk along together?” Then they stood still, looking downcast. 18 And one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered and said to him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know about the things that recently7 happened there?” 19 Jesus said to them, “What things?” So they answered him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet, mighty in word and deed before God and all the people; 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. 21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel. And besides all this, it’s now the third day since these things took place. 22 What’s more,8 some of the women in our group astonished us, 23 for after they had gone to the tomb at dawn and failed to find his body, they came back telling us they also had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive! 24 So some of the men with our group went to the tomb and found it all exactly as the women had said; but they didn’t see Jesus.”

25 Then Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe everything the prophets said! 26 Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures.

Sorrow Turned to Joy

28 Then they drew near to the village where they were heading; and Jesus acted as if he meant to go farther. 29 But they constrained him, saying, “Stay here with us; it’s getting towards evening and the day is nearly done.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 Now as he was reclining at the table with them, it so happened that he took up the bread and blessed it; and when he had broken it, he began to hand it out to them. 31 And at this their eyes were opened and they recognized him—after which he vanished from their sight! 32 Then they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us9 as he spoke to us on the road, and as he opened the scriptures to us?” 33 So at that very hour they got up and went back to Jerusalem; and when they arrived, they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 all exclaiming, “The Lord really has been raised; and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then the two disciples began relating the things that had happened to them on the road, and how he was revealed10 to them at the breaking of the bread.

Christ in the Midst

36 Now as they were speaking about these things, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them; and he said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 But they were startled and frightened, thinking that they were seeing a spirit. 38 So he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your heart? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, and see that it is I myself! Touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I do.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 Then, while they were still in disbelief because of their joy, and while they all stood amazed, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 So they handed him a piece of broiled fish; 43 and taking it from them, he ate it before their very eyes.

Christ in the Scriptures

44 And he said to them, “This is what I told you11 when I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds12 to understand the scriptures. 46 And he said to them, “Thus it was written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You all are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am about to send the promise of my Father upon you; but wait here in the city till you are clothed with power from on high.”

The Ascension

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany; and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51 Now it came about that as he was bestowing the blessing, he departed from them and was taken up into heaven. 52 So after they had knelt down and worshiped him,13 they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they were continually in the temple courts, praising God.

Notes

  1. Lit. it happened that two men
  2. Or But
  3. Or the Living One
  4. Or marveling at
  5. Lit. departed, wondering to himself what had happened
  6. Lit. What are these matters (words) that you are exchanging with one another
  7. Lit. in these days
  8. Lit. But also
  9. Some early mss omit within us
  10. Lit. made known
  11. Lit. These are the words (things) that I spoke to you
  12. Lit. mind
  13. Lit. they had worshiped him