I. Introduction (1:1-4:16)

A. Genealogy, Birth, and Childhood of Jesus (1:1-2:23)

1. Title (1:1)

1:1 The first verse of the Gospel (sometimes termed incipit, Latin for “it begins”) serves as a title. Although most EVV regard the first phrase as the title of the genealogy of Jesus, scholars debate whether the verse serves as the title for merely the genealogy (H 1.5); the entire account of Jesus’s birth (Carson 86-87); a larger section of the Gospel, such as 1:1-4:16 (Kingsbury 9); or the entire Gospel (Jerome; D&A 1.149-56). The three descriptors of Jesus show that Jesus’s identity is the primary focus of the title.

Βίβλος, -ου, (or βύβλος) normally referred to an entire papyrus roll or a “book” in contrast to a brief document (LSJ 333a). The noun could refer to the major divisions of a work, such as the nine books of Herodotus. Greek writers used a distinct term, βιβλίον, to refer to a brief “paper” or “document” (though this noun was also occasionally used to refer to an entire book; 1 Macc 1:56; 12:9). Matthew used βιβλίον to refer to a “certificate of divorce” in 19:7. Elsewhere in the NT, the term βίβλος refers to Old Testament books, including the book (sg.) of Moses (Mark 12:26; referring to the Pentateuch), the book of Isaiah (Luke 3:4), the book of Psalms (Luke 20:42; Acts 1:20), and the book (sg.) of the Prophets (Acts 7:42; referring to the Book of the Twelve Prophets). The term also referred to books about magic (Acts 19:19) and the “book of life” (Phil 4:3; Rev 3:5; 20:15). Although βιβλίον sometimes also refers to lengthy literary works (BDAG 176b), the term βίβλος never refers to brief documents in the NT and refers to brief documents only rarely in the LXX (Gen 2:4; 5:1). Nolland (71 n. 4) claimed that the term frequently referred to less substantial pieces of writing in the LXX, but the examples he offered are actually uses of the form βιβλίον and thus do not prove his point. This poses problems for the popular view that 1:1 serves merely as a title for the genealogy, birth narrative, or first major section of the Gospel. Normal word usage suggests that 1:1 serves as the orig. title for the entire Gospel (Jerome; D&A 1.149-56).

The noun γένεσις, “origin,” may refer to the birth of a human being (Matt 1:18). On this basis many commentators conclude that the phrase βίβλος γενέσεως refers to Jesus’s genealogy or the account of his birth (e.g., Carson 86-87; H 1.5). However, the phrase βίβλος γενέσεως appears twice in the LXX (Gen 2:4; 5:1). In both instances, the phrase introduces an account of creation, first the creation of the heavens and earth and then the creation of humanity. If Matthew’s use of this phrase is influenced by the LXX, the phrase may refer to a creation account here as well. Furthermore, the word γένεσις was used by Matthew’s contemporaries as a title for the first book of the Bible in Greek, “Genesis” (Philo Post. 127; Abr. 1; Aet. 19). This title also appears in the oldest extant mss. of the Greek Bible. Thus the phrase βίβλος γενέσεως would prob. cause Matthew’s readers to recall the book of Genesis and to recognize that Matthew’s Gospel bore a title sim. to that of the first book of the Greek Bible (F 26; Evans 32).

If Matthew had merely intended 1:1 to serve as a title of the genealogy alone, he would likely have followed the LXX by introducing the genealogy with the phrase Αὗται αἱ γενέσεις (Gen 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2; Exod 6:14; Num 3:1; Ruth 4:18; 1 Chr 1:29; 4:2). Thus either Matthew introduced his genealogy of Jesus in a unique way, or he purposefully gave his Gospel a title identical to that of the first book of the Bible, a book best known for its account of God’s acts of creation.

An important feature of the structure of the Gospel may confirm the latter interpretation. It may be no accident that the Gospel begins with the noun γένεσις and ends with the phrase τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος (“end of the age”). These references stretch from the orig. of the world (by allusion to the Genesis creation account) to the consummation of the age and frame the entirety of the Gospel.

Matthew will explain the etym. significance of the name Ἰησοῦς in 1:21. One’s view of the use of the gen. Ἰησοῦ is dependent on the interpretation of the phrase βίβλος γενέσεως. If the phrase merely introduces the genealogy or birth narrative of Jesus, the gen. is subj. and refers to Jesus’s coming into being. If the phrase recalls the OT creation accounts, the gen. is likely a gen. of producer or source (W 104-6, though some also label this as a subj. gen.; D&A 1.156) and identifies Jesus as the author of a new creation, a new genesis. For an explicit ref. to the new creation brought about by the Messiah, see Matthew 19:28. For a discussion of the new creation theme in Matthew, see Quarles, Theology, 177-89. Some scholars (H 1.9; N 71) affirm that Matthew intended his readers to think of the Genesis creation accounts when they read the phrase “book of origin” but argue that he did not go so far as to present Jesus as the author of a new creation. Instead, Matthew alluded to Genesis to show his readers that he was recording events that were just as important as the creation of the world.

The title Χριστός (from the vb. χρίω, “anoint”) means “anointed one” and is thus the equivalent to the Heb. “Messiah.” The term referred to the long-awaited deliverer of God’s people whose coming the prophets had foretold. The gen. is appos. and thus serves to identify Jesus.

The gen. υἱοῦ “son” is appos. Like many Heb. names transliterated into Gk., Δαυίδ is indecl. (BDF §53). Here it serves as a gen. of relationship (W 83-84). The phrase “son of David” is usually a messianic title in Matthew (9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30, 31; 21:9, 15; cf., 22:42). The phrase identifies Jesus as the one through whom God’s covenant with David (2 Sam 7:16) will be fulfilled, the promised king.

The gen. υἱοῦ (second occurrence) is appos. Like Δαυίδ, Ἀβραάμ is indecl. and serves as a gen. of relationship. The description identifies Jesus as a descendant of Abraham and thus the one through whom God’s covenant with Abraham will be fulfilled (Gen 12:1-4).

For Further Study

1. Matthew’s Incipit

Evans, C. A. “‘The Book of the Genesis of Jesus Christ’: The Purpose of Matthew in Light of the Incipit.” Pages 61-72 in The Gospel of Matthew. Edited by T. R. Hatina. Vol. 2 of Biblical Interpretation in Early Christian Gospels. New York: T&T. Clark, 2008.

Huizenga, L. A. “Matt 1:1: ‘Son of Abraham’ as a Christological Category.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 30 (2008): 103-13.

Nolland, J. “What Kind of Genesis Do We Have in Matt 1.1?” NTS 42 (1996): 463-71.

Tatum, W. B. “The Origin of Jesus Messiah (Matt 1:1, 18a): Matthew’s Use of the Infancy Traditions.” JBL 96 (1977): 523-35.

Homiletical Suggestions

The Gospel at a Glance (1:1)

  1. Jesus is the author of a new creation
  2. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant with David
  3. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham

2. Genealogy (1:2-17)

These vv. record the genealogy of Jesus and follow a simple structure: (anar.) father + δὲ ἐγέννησεν + (art.) son. Several additional phrases disrupt this normal structure. These disruptions are likely of special importance to Matthew for various reasons. The first disruption shows that Jacob fathered Judah καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ. This addition is likely designed to remind readers that the son of Abraham fathered the twelve patriarchs, who fathered the twelve tribes. The allusion reminds readers that Jesus as the “son of Abraham” (1:1) founded a new Israel (10:1-4; 19:28). See Quarles, Theology, 97-130. The additional phrase in 1:3 καὶ τὸν Ζάρα reminds readers of the providence of God in determining which of Judah’s twin sons would be the firstborn (Gen 38:27-30).

The ordinary structure is also disrupted by the addition of the title τὸν βασιλέα to describe David in v. 6. Although several other kings are named in the genealogy, only David is granted this title. This suggests that Jesus’s identity as the “son of David” emphasizes his rightful kingship.

The additional phrase καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος in 1:11 puzzles commentators. The Old Testament only mentions one brother of Jechoniah, but Matthew refers to brothers (pl.). Gundry suggested that the “brothers” referred to Jechoniah’s “fellow Jews” (G 17). Although such an interpretation is possible lexically, the grammar of the text precludes it. The noun τοὺς ἀδελφούς is a dir. obj. of the vb. ἐγέννησεν and indicates that Josiah fathered these brothers. Thus Matthew refers to Jeconiah and all other legitimate heirs to the throne. The prep. ἐπί with the gen. obj. is temp. and indicates that Josiah fathered his sons about the time of the Babylonian captivity. Μετοικεσία, -ας, ἡ, “deportation,” removing someone from his home and native land to a foreign country (BDAG 643a). Although the head noun μετοικεσία is a verbal noun, the gen. Βαβυλῶνος does not fit in subj. or obj. categories since Babylon is the place to which Israel was deported, not the conquering people responsible for the deportation or the conquered people who suffered the deportation. Thus the gen. may be categorized as a gen. of direction (BDF §166). However, the noun Βαβυλῶνος may be an instance of metonymy in which a place name refers to the people that inhabit the place (e.g., 2:3; 8:34), “the Babylonians.” If so, this is an example of the subj. gen.

In four instances the structure is slightly disrupted by an identification of the mother that uses ἐκ + (art.), “mother,” at the end of the clause. The absence of mention of mothers in the description of the large majority of the generations suggests that the mothers are of particular importance in these four cases. Although several theories attempting to explain these references to mothers have been posed, the most convincing explanation is that all four women (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba) were regarded as Gentiles. The presence of these Gentile women in Jesus’s family tree demonstrates God’s intention to include Gentiles in his redemptive plan (3:9; 8:5-13; 12:15-21; 28:19-20).

Most importantly, the last clause of the genealogy (16b) radically disrupts the structure. Until the last clause, the cadence of the genealogy is so regular that it is almost hypnotic. The disruption in v. 16 would have startled readers with an awareness that Jesus’s birth was different from that of any of his ancestors and, in fact, different from the conception of any other person in all history. The phrase τὸν ἄνδρα is appos. and serves to identify Joseph. Although the noun ἀνήρ often means “husband” (BDAG 79b), the context suggests that it here refers to Mary’s “man” in another sense, i.e., her betrothed. Μαρίας is a gen. of relationship. The prep. phrase ἐξ ἧς functions like the phrase ἐκ + (art.) mother which was used four times in the genealogy to identify the mothers by whom fathers conceived their children (BDAG 296c).

Although the genealogy consistently used act. forms of γεννάω, Matthew shifted to the pass. vb. ἐγεννήθη, a “divine pass.” which refers to an activity of God. The grammar implies that God miraculously conceived Jesus by Mary, as the birth narrative will explicitly demonstrate. The primary purpose of the genealogy is expressed by the description of ησοῦς as ὁ λεγόμενος χριστός. The art. ptc. is subst. and in appos. to the name Jesus. Although the ptc. could be another example of the divine pass., this phrase was commonly used to explain how one was generally recognized by others (BDAG 590b; BDF §412). In such situations the ptc. and the noun expressing the name or title appear in the same case as the noun being described (e.g., 4:18; 9:9; 10:2), hence Χριστός.

The textual var. in the genealogy are not exegetically significant. Some mss. have Ἀσά rather than Ἀσάφ (1:7-8) and Ἀμών rather than Ἀμώς (1:10), but these appear to simply be different transliterations of the same Heb. names. Gundry argued that Matthew’s spellings are intended to introduce secondary allusions to the Asaph of the Psalms and Amos the prophet, but this cannot be confirmed since var. spellings are also found in mss. of the LXX and Josephus introduces still other var. spellings with even less likeness to the orig. Heb. On the var. spellings in 1:7-8 and 10, see Metzger, 1-2. On the more important var. in 1:11, 16, see Metzger, 2-6.

The primary sources for the genealogy are likely LXX 1 Chr 1:28, 34; 2:1-15; and Ruth 4:18-22.

1:17 The particle οὖν shows that the verse draws an inference from the preceding genealogy. The adj. Πᾶσαι does not necessarily indicate that Matthew has provided an exhaustive list of the generations from Abraham to David. In this context it merely refers to the sum of those in Matthew’s list. Αἱ γενεαὶ . . . γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες requires no explicit vb. The vb. εἰσί is implied. The prep. phrases ἀπό + gen. and ἕως + gen. establish the beginning point and ending point of a time period (BDAG 105d; 423b). On the phrase μετοικεσία Βαβυλῶνος, see 1:11.

For Further Study

2. The Genealogy of Jesus

Bockmuehl, M. N. A. “The Son of David and His Mother.” JTS 62 (2011): 476-93.

Freed, E. D. “The Women in Matthew’s Genealogy.” JSNT 29 (1987): 3-19.

Hood, J. B. The Messiah, His Brothers, and the Nations: Matthew 1:1-17. Library of New Testament Studies 441. London: T&T. Clark, 2011.

Hutchison, J. C. “Women, Gentiles, and the Messianic Mission in Matthew’s Genealogy.” BSac 158 (2001): 152-64.

Kennedy, R. J. The Recapitulation of Israel: Use of Israel’s History in Matthew 1:1-4:11. WUNT 257. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.

Smit, P. “Something About Mary? Remarks About the Five Women in the Matthean Genealogy.” NTS 56 (2010): 191-207.

Viviano, B. “Making Sense of the Matthean Genealogy: Matthew 1:17 and the Theology of History.” Pages 91-109 in New Perspectives on the Nativity. Edited by J. Corley. New York: T&T. Clark, 2009.

Homiletical Suggestions

From Genealogy to Theology: Lessons from Jesus’s Family Tree (1:2-17)

  1. Jesus is the Davidic Messiah
  2. Jesus is the Savior of the Gentiles
  3. Jesus is the virgin-born Son of God

3. Jesus’s Birth (1:18-25)

1:18 The noun γένεσις here means “origin, birth” (BDAG 192d) and is roughly equivalent to γέννησις, a factor which prompted a number of scribes to replace the former word with the latter in their mss. The gen. phrase τοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is an obj. gen., Jesus is the one given birth. Gen. phrases normally follow the noun they modify. The placement of τοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ before ἡ γένεσις likely emphasizes the phrase “of Jesus Christ” and highlights the uniqueness of Jesus’s birth (H 1.17). Jesus’s conception and birth are unlike that of any of his ancestors mentioned in the preceding genealogy. The vb. ἦν is 3rd sg. impf. indic. of εἰμί. as act., stative verbs technically do not have voice. Thus, this volume will not include voice when parsing forms of εἰμί. The adverb οὕτως is common in Matthew and means “as follows.” BDAG 741d–42d, 2 suggests it is the equivalent of τοιαύτη here.

Μνηστευθείσης gen. sg. fem. of aor. pass. ptc. of μνηστεύω, “become engaged for marriage.” The phrase μνηστευθείσης τῆς μητρός is gen. abs., a cstr. common in Matthew. BDF §423 refers to this example as the “harshest and at the same time the rarest” exception to the principle in classical Greek that the antecedent of a gen. abs. does not appear as the subj. of the main clause. They note that the harshness is mitigated by the inf. clause that precedes the main vb. and admit that the phenomenon is paralleled in classical authors. Like most gen. abs., the ptc. is temp. (W 655). With an aor. vb., the aor. ptc. may describe antecedent or contemp. action (W 624-25). In this case the ptc. is contemp. Τῷ Ἰωσήφ is dat. of indir. obj. Πρὶν ἤ “before” was used in Ionic Greek instead of the Attic πρίν to mark temp. precedence, and this practice was adopted in Koine (BDAG 863b; 433c). Συνελθεῖν 2nd aor. act. inf. of dep. συνέρχομαι, “come together,” refers to uniting in a sexual relationship or to the formal marriage which was followed by cohabitation and sexual relationships. Εὑρέθη 3rd sg. aor. pass. indic. of εὑρίσκω, “find.” The phrase ἐν γαστρί (dat. sing. fem. of γαστήρ, -τρος, ἡ, “stomach, womb”) with various vbs., incl. ἔχω, was used by ancient medical writers and in the LXX (18x, e.g., Exod 21:22) to describe pregnancy. Ἔχουσα nom. sing. fem. of pres. act. ptc. of ἔχω, is prob. concessive. The phrase πνεύματος ἁγίου refers to the Holy Spirit. The absence of the def. art. after preps. is common (BDF §255 [3]; R 791-92). The phrase ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου is causal and indicates that the Spirit accomplished Mary’s pregnancy. However, the discovery of the pregnancy was not accompanied by knowledge of the cause of the pregnancy. Thus, the clause likely means “(Mary) was discovered (to be pregnant), although her pregnancy was produced by the Holy Spirit.” This analysis is preferable to the claim that the prep. phrase is “a rather cryptic remark, not well integrated in the syntax of the sentence” (N 93). D&A suggest another alternative: the vb. εὑρίσκω means “it turned out to be” rather than “she was discovered” (D&A 1.200) and cite Acts 5:39; Romans 7:10; and Philippians 2:8 as examples.

On the textual var., see Metzger 6-7.

1:19 The particle δέ serves simply to connect lines of narrative. Although ὁ ἀνήρ followed by the gen. of rel. αὐτῆς could refer to Joseph as Mary’s “husband,” after the discussion of betrothal in the previous verse, the noun merely means “fiancée,” a usage that appears in the LXX (Deut 22:23). The antecedent of αὐτῆς, the gen. sg. fem. 3rd per. pron. from αὐτός, is Μαρίας. Δίκαιος ὤν uses the nom. sg. masc. of the pres. ptc. of εἰμί with the adj. δίκαιος, “righteous” (BDAG 246b–47b) and describes one who “conforms to the laws of God and people.” The ptc. clause may be adj. and offer a description of Joseph’s character or may be adv. If adv., the clause may be *causal, explaining Joseph’s motivation for breaking the engagement, or concessive, showing that despite Joseph’s fidelity to the law he showed mercy on an allegedly immoral woman. Like ὤν, θέλων (nom. sg. masc. of pres. act. ptc. of θέλω) used anar. is likely adv. (here likely causal). Δειγματίσαι aor. act. inf. of δειγματίζω, “to publicly disgrace.” The use of the conj. καί here is debated and one’s view significantly affects the meaning of the passage.

The conj. may serve simply as a coordinating conj. mng. “and.” In this view the two ptc. clauses are both causal. Both Joseph’s righteousness and his desire not to publicly disgrace Mary motivated his decision to seek a quiet divorce. The conj. introduces the result of what precedes it (BDAG 494a–96c, esp. 495a 1.b) and indicates that Joseph’s compassion toward Mary was prompted by his righteousness (NLT).

The conj. may be mildly adversative and emphasize a fact as “surprising or unexpected or noteworthy” and be tr. “and yet, and in spite of that, nevertheless” (BDAG 495b 1.b). Other examples of this usage in Matthew include 3:13; 6:26; 10:29; 12:43; 13:17; and 26:60. The first ptc. clause is concessive, and the second is causal: “although Joseph was righteous and yet because he did not desire to shame her publicly”). Thus, Joseph’s fidelity to the law, which demanded a harsh penalty for adultery (Deut 22:20-24) was cast in tension with his compassion toward Mary (D&A 204; H 18).

Most of commentators appear to support option 2 based on the claim that “righteous” in Matthew consistently refers to right behavior in accordance with the law. However, on several occasions, “righteous” refers more to character than mere behavior (5:45; 23:28, 35) and includes compassion to others (25:37). Furthermore, Jesus taught that loving and forgiving others is a critical part of having true righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees (5:43-48).

Ἐβουλήθη 3rd sg. of aor. pass. indic. of dep. βούλομαι, “desire, plan.” Note that deponents in the fut. and aor. prefer pass. forms (BDF §78-79). The adverb λάθρᾳ means “secretly” and modifies ἀπολῦσαι (aor. act. inf. of ἀπολύω, “to release, divorce”). Matthew often places adv. before the verbals they modify (with the exception of imperatives; BDF §474).

1:20 The clause ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος (gen. sg. masc. of aor. pass. ptc. of dep. ἐνθυμέομαι, “think”) is a gen. abs., used temp. to show that Joseph’s dilemma was on his mind when the angel appeared. The particle ἰδού draws attention to what follows. The phrase ἄγγελος κυρίου is drawn from the OT and often appears there without the def. art. (e.g., Gen 16:7; 22:11, 15; Exod 3:2; 4:24). The prep. κατά with ὄναρ (acc. sg. neut. of ὄναρ, “dream”) appears again in 2:12, 13, 19, 22; and 27:19. The prep. is prob. temp. and means “during a dream” (BDAG 511a–13d, esp. 2a) although CSB, NLT, and ESV use “in a dream.” Ἐφάνη 3rd sg. 2nd aor. pass. indic. of φαίνω, “appear.” The pron. αὐτῷ serves as the indir. obj. Λέγων is nom. sg. masc. of pres. act. ptc. of λέγω. The adv. ptc. may express *purpose (2:2, the angel appeared in order to communicate what follows; D&A 1.207) or attendant circumstance (8:3).

Φοβηθῇς is 2nd sg. aor. pass. subj. of φοβέω, “fear.” The neg. μή with the aor. subj. may prohibit starting an action or *may prohibit an action as a whole (W 723). Παραλαβεῖν is aor. act. inf. of παραλαμβάνω, “to take,” and serves as a complementary inf. completing the idea of the prohibition. Μαρίαν and τὴν γυναῖκα (acc. sg. fem. of γυνή, “woman, wife”) serve as a dbl. acc. of obj./complement (W 182-89) which BDF §157 refers to as an acc. of obj. and pred. acc. On the various forms of Semitic names, see BDF §53.

The conj. γάρ is causal, expressing the reason Joseph should abandon his fear. Τὸ γεννηθέν is nom. sg. neut. of aor. pass. ptc. of γεννάω, “conceive, give birth.” The art. ptc. is subst. Although the ptc. refers to a person, the neut. gender was likely used due to an implied παιδίον, “little child” (see 1:11, 13 [2x], 14, 20 [2x]). Exodus 21:22 (LXX) shows that this noun was used of children still developing in the womb. The use of the neut. ptc. in no way implies that the conceived child was not yet viewed as a person. The phrase ἐν αὐτ is unexpected since the genealogy consistently used the prep. ἐκ to identify the role of the mother in conception (1:3, 5, 6), incl. even that of Mary (1:16). This followed the well-established pattern of the LXX. The LXX used the prep. ἐν with γεννάω to mark the place or time in which a child was conceived. Although the LXX sometimes uses the bare dat. to identify the parent to whom a child was born (2 Sam 5:14; 1 Chr 3:4; Jer 16:2), it does not appear to contain any examples of the use of the prep. ἐν to portray a person’s involvement in the act of conception. This suggests that Matthew intended the prep. to be understood as loc. in order to emphasize the pass. role Mary played in the conception (H 1.19). The prep. presents Mary here more as the environ in which a conception occurred than a participant in the act of conception. Another unexpected twist is the use of στίν (3rd sg. pres. indic. of εἰμί, “be”) with an ἐκ phrase to describe the Spirit’s role. Without the vb. ἐστίν, the use of the ἐκ phrase with γεννάω would likely have led readers to conclude that the Spirit fulfilled the male role in the act of conception. The insertion of the ἐστιν precludes this interpretation by portraying the Spirit as the source of Jesus’s orig. rather than an agent in the act of conception itself. The placement of the vb. between the noun πνεύματος (gen. sg. neut. of πνεύμα, “Spirit”) and the adj. ἁγίου (gen. sg. neut. of ἁγίος, “holy”) is unusual but not unprecedented (Prov 9:10; 13:15).

1:21 The implied subj. of τέξεται (3rd sg. fut. mid. indic. of τίκτω, “give birth”) is Mary. The fut. tense is predictive (W 568). The υἱόν serves as the dir. obj. and specifies the gender of the child, which the cstr. in the previous verse left ambiguous. The καί simply joins the two clauses but has the sense “and then” rather than merely “and” since the formal naming followed birth. BDAG lists this use of καί as an example in which “more discriminating usage would call for other particles” (494a–96c 1.b.β). However, their suggested rev. is no improvement on Matthew’s clear and more emphatic style. With καλέσεις (2nd sg. fut. act. indic. of καλέω, “call, name”), Matthew shifted from the predictive fut. to the impv. fut., Of the NT writers only Matthew frequently uses the impv. fut., and this is prob. due to the influence of the LXX on Matthew’s style (BDF §362; W 569-70). The combination of καλέω with τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ anticipates the quotation of Isaiah 7:14 in 1:23. Τὸ ὄνομα and ησοῦν are dbl. acc. of obj./complement. Notice that the cstr. breaks a principle recommended for distinguishing the obj. and complement: “If one of the two is a proper name, it will be the object” (W 184). However, it follows another principle: “If one of the two is articular, it will be the object” (W 184). Αὐτοῦ is a gen. of poss.

The Heb. name Yeshua, which is transliterated Ἰησοῦς, means “Yahweh saves.” The clause introduced by γάρ shows why the name is appropriate. Pers. pron. were not used with the two previous vbs. in the verse. This suggests that the pers. pron. αὐτός is emphatic: He (and not another) will save. Σώσει (3rd sg. fut. act. indic. of σῴζω, “save”) is a predictive fut., though the fulfillment citation in the next verse shows that it expresses more of a promise about the fut. than a mere prediction. Esp. with the def. art., the noun λαός often referred to the people of Israel (BDAG 586c–87a, esp. 4) and was often used in opp. to “Gentiles.” Matthew will later show that Jesus is the founder of a new people of God, and it is to this new Israel that the angel refers. The gen. sg. αὐτοῦ can be seen as a gen. of relationship or poss. Again, Matthew will later show that Jesus is the founder, and not just member, of this people. He has already implied this by presenting Jesus as the “son of Abraham” in 1:1 (see Quarles, Theology, 97-130). Although many interpreters treat the verse as if it said that Jesus will save his people from the punishment or wrath brought on by sin, Matthew wrote instead the stark phrase ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν. The ἀπό w. the gen. object ἁμαρτιῶν denotes separation “away from.” The αὐτῶν is a subj. gen. identifying members of “his people” as those who committed the sins. The statement seems to personify “sins,” portraying them as enemy combatants who have captured people and keep them as hostages or slaves until Jesus rescues them. The statement is likely an allusion to Ezekiel 36:28-29; 37:23 and is linked to the prophet’s promise of a new Exodus and new covenant.

1:22 The antecedent of the near dem. pron. τοῦτο (nom. sg. neut. from οὗτος, “this”) is the entire episode Matthew just narrated. Matthew makes that clear by adding the adj. ὅλον. The shift to the pf. tense with γέγονεν (3rd sg. pf. act. indic. of dep. γίνομαι, “come into being, happen”) is unexpected and raises doubts that the verse contains an explanation inserted in the narrative by Matthew. “All this has happened . . .” sounds initially more like words spoken by the angel to Joseph (Carson 102). However, Matthew uses the pf. tense of γίνομαι in 21:4 and 26:56 to introduce his fulfillment citations with constructions sim. to the one here. Matthew 21:4 is clearly not a part of the preceding dir. discourse (which would require “this must happen” instead of “this has happened”) and 26:56 is prob. not either (N 99). The pf. γέγονεν has been explained as a substitution for the aor. (BDF §343) or as indicating that the event “stands recorded” (Moule 15), but the pf. prob. has its common extensive or consummative nuance emphasizing the completion of the action (in this case, necessary to fulfill the OT prophecy). The conj. ἵνα with the subjunc. πληρωθῇ (3rd sg. aor. pass. subjunc. of πληρόω, “fulfill”) introduces a purpose clause expressing the divine purpose for Jesus’s miraculous conception and the angelic command to name him Jesus. The subst. ptc. τὸ ῥηθέν (nom. sg. neut. of aor. pass. ptc. of λέγω, “speak”) is the subj. of the vb. The two prep. phrases carefully distinguish between the two kinds of agency involved in the production of inspired Scripture. Ὑπό with the gen. obj. (κυρίου) expresses ultimate agency. The noun κύριος was commonly used in the LXX as the tr. of the divine name Yahweh and referred to the God of Israel. The application of this same title to Jesus later often bears the same sense. Διά with the gen. obj. (τοῦ προφήτου) expresses intermediate agency. The cstr. indicates that God spoke through OT writers and that he is ultimately responsible for the contents of the Scriptures. The cstr. recalls OT texts such as Ezekiel 38:17 and Daniel 9:10. Λέγοντος is gen. sg. masc. of pres. act. ptc. of λέγω, “speak.” The ptc. prob. modifies the ptc. ῥηθέν and means: “what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet by saying.” Consequently, the ptc. is pleonastic (redundant) and due to Semitic idiom (W 649-50). The gen. case of the ptc. looks to the Lord or the prophet (or both) as the speaker. Alternatively, the ptc. may be adj.: “the prophet who says . . .” (R 1123 [on 21:4]). For the text-critical issues, see Metzger 7-8.

1:23 On the use of Isa 7:14, see Beale and Carson 3c–5b. Ἰδού prompts attention. The noun παρθένος refers to a “virgin,” one who has not engaged in intercourse (Quarles “Bethlehem,” 188-95). For the mng. of the phrase combining ἐν γαστρί w. forms of χω (ἕξει is 3rd sg. fut. act. indic.), see 1:18. The fut. tense is predictive. On τέξεται υἱόν, see 1:21. The conj. καί again has the sense “and then” since pregnancy obviously precedes giving birth. The second καί likely has this sense as well since the formal bestowal of a child’s name normally followed birth. Καλέσουσιν is 3rd pl. fut. act. indic. of καλέω, “call, name.”

Matthew recognized that some of his readers would not understand the etym. significance of the LXX’s Gk. transliteration Ἐμμανουήλ (from the Heb. name in Isa 7:14) so he tr. the Heb. phrase Μεθʼ ἡμῶν ὁ θεός. This statement appears to form an inclusio with the phrase ἐγὼ μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν εἰμί in 28:20 (Kingsbury 96; D&A 1.217). The inclusio suggests that Jesus’s identity as Immanuel is an important theme of the Gospel. Further, it identifies Jesus’s disciples as his people to whom he promises his presence and equates Jesus with God. M introduces his tr. with ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον. The combination of ἐστίν and μεθερμηνευόμενον (nom. sg. neut. of pres. pass. ptc. of μεθερμηνεύω, “tr., interpret”) is pres. periph. In classical Gk., periph. cstr. emphasized the aspect of the ptc., but this is seldom the case in Hellenistic Gk. or the NT in particular (W 647-49).

1:24 Ἐγερθείς is nom. sg. masc. of aor. pass. ptc. of γείρω, “raise.” The voice is likely the “divine pass.;” God woke Joseph. The ptc. is prob. temp. and indicates that immediately upon wakening, Joseph obeyed the angel’s instructions. The phrase ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕπνου expresses separation. In the LXX, the prep. ἐκ was more commonly used in sim. constructions. On the distinction between the prep. ἀπό and ἐκ, see R 574-78. In light of the emphasis on Joseph’s obedience in the birth narrative, one would expect Matthew to use the intensive comp. particle καθώς rather than ὡς. However, he prefers ὡς (40x) over καθώς (only 3x). Matthew used καθώς only to describe the perfect obedience of Jesus’s disciples to his command in 21:6, Jesus’s perfect fulfillment of OT prophecy in 26:24, and Jesus’s perfect fulfillment of his promise to rise again in 28:6. Nevertheless, he stresses Joseph’s obedience by emphasizing the immediacy of the obedience, by stating that he did ς προσέταξεν (3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of προστάσσω, “command”) αὐτῷ, and by listing each act by which Joseph fulfilled the angel’s instructions. For example, παρέλαβεν τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ (1:24) matches παραλαβεῖν . . .τὴν γυναῖκα σο (1:20), and καὶ ἐκάλεσεν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν (1:25) matches καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν (1:21). A sim. feature will occur in 1:13-14 and 1:20-21.

1:25 The καί here seems to have the sense “and yet” (see on 1:19) since sexual privileges were a marital right. Matthew clearly used ἐγίνωσκεν (3rd sg. impf. act. indic. of γινώσκω, “know”) to speak of a sexual relationship since the vb. appears in a discussion of marriage and childbearing. This nuance of the vb. was common in the LXX (e.g., Gen 4:1, 17; Judg 11:39; 21:12; 1 Sam 1:19). The impf. tense is prob. prog. and expresses Joseph’s continuing resolve to abstain from sexual relationships with Mary. A great debate centers on the precise mng. of ἕως οὗ ἔτεκεν υἱόν. Many Roman Catholic scholars have argued that even after Jesus’s birth, Joseph and Mary continued to abstain from sexual relationships. Protestant scholars often argue that ἕως οὗ implies that Joseph abstained from sexual relationship with Mary only “until” Jesus’s birth and that they had sexual relationships thereafter. However, the grammar and vocabulary of this particular cstr. cannot settle the issue conclusively. Other NT data must be examined. The ἕως οὗ seems to imply fut. sexual relationships since if Matthew had wished to affirm Mary’s perpetual virginity he would have best ended the statement with αὐτήν: Joseph did not have sexual relationships with her (ever). Most textual critics suggest that some ancient scribes viewed the text as implying later sexual relations between Joseph and Mary and that this motivated the omission of the entire cstr. οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν αὐτὴν ἕως οὗ in some texts (k and sys). However, one cannot automatically assume this omission was intentional or exhume the possible theological motivations of an ancient scribe unless they are part of a clear tendency manifested elsewhere in the ms. or version. The most that can be said confidently based on the evidence of this cstr. is that Joseph did not have relations with Mary prior to Jesus’s birth. Matthew does not explicitly state what happened afterward. For a discussion of the var., see Metzger, 8.

For Further Study

3. The Birth of Jesus

Allison, C. C., Jr. “Divorce, Celibacy and Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25 and 19:1-12).” JSNT 49 (1993): 3-10.

Brown, R. E. “The Annunciation of Joseph (Matt 1:18-25).” Worship 61 (1987): 482-92.

________. The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. 1st ed. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977.

Kingsbury, J. D. “The Birth Narrative of Matthew.” Pages 154-65 in The Gospel of Matthew in Current Study. Edited by D. E. Aune. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.

Klassen-Wiebe, S. “Matthew 1:18-25.” Int 46 (1992): 392-95.

Lincoln, A. T. “Contested Paternity and Contested Readings: Jesus’s Conception in Matthew 1.18-25.” JSNT 34 (2012): 211-31.

Nolland, J. “No Son-of-God Christology in Matthew 1.18-25.” JSNT 62 (1996): 3-12.

4. Matthew’s Use of Isaiah 7:14

Compton, R. B. “The Immanuel Prophecy in Isaiah 7:14-16 and Its Use in Matthew 1:23: Harmonizing Historical Context and Single Meaning.” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 12 (2007): 3-15.

Dennert, B. C. “A Note on Use of Isa 7:14 in Matt 1:23 Through the Interpretation of the Septuagint.” TJ 30 (2009): 97-105.

Menken, M. J. J. “The Textual Form of the Quotation From Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23.” NovT 43 (2001): 144-60.

Quarles, C. L. “Why Not ‘Beginning from Bethlehem’?: A Critique of Dunn’s Treatment of the Synoptic Birth Narratives.” Pages 173-96 in Memories of Jesus: A Critical Assessment of James D. G. Dunn’s Quest of the Historical Jesus. Edited by R. B. Stewart. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010.

Homiletical Suggestions

The Birth of the Messiah (1:18-25)

  1. Jesus is the virgin-born Immanuel
  2. Jesus is the fulfillment of the divinely inspired Scriptures
  3. Jesus is the Savior of sinners

4. The Visit of the Magi (2:1-12)

2:1 Τοῦ Ἰησοῦ γεννηθέντος is gen. abs. and temp., “after Jesus was born . . .” Γεννηθέντος gen. sg. masc. of aor. pass. ptc. of γεννάω “to conceive, give birth.” Ἐν is loc. Tῆς Ἰουδαίας “of Judea” is either a partitive or poss. gen. Ἐν ἡμέραις is temp. and marks a period of time in which an event occurs (BDAG 326c–30b, esp. 10). The gen. Ἡρῴδου is difficult to classify. The cstr. refers to the days during which Herod reigned and thus may be regarded as a gen. of time. Τοῦ βασιλέως is simple appos. The phrase means “in the days during which Herod the king reigned” Ἰδού (1:20). On μάγοι, see G. Delling, TDNT 4.356-59. A μάγος was a member of the priestly caste from Persia or Babylonia who was an expert in astrology and the interpretation of dreams. The ἀπό expresses place of orig. Ἀνατολῶν (gen. pl. fem. of ἀνατολή) referred to the place of the rising of the sun, the east. Matthew used the sg. form of the noun to refer to an act of rising and the pl. form to refer to the east. Παρεγένοντο 3rd pl. 2nd aor. mid. indic. of dep. παραγίνομαι “come, arrive, be pres.” Εἰς denotes entrance into the city. Greek writers referred to the holy city of the Jews as or τὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα or ἡ Ἰερουσαλήμ (BDAG 470c–471a; BDF §39, 56). Matthew always used the anar. form Ἱεροσόλυμα (sometimes regarded fem. sg. [2:3] and sometimes as neut. pl. [4:25 and 15:1]) except for the use of Ἰερουσαλήμ in 23:37 in a dir. quotation.

2:2 The ptc. λέγοντες may express purpose (the magi entered Jerusalem in order to pose their question) or attendant circumstance (NIV). The ptc. does not fit the pattern for attendant circumstance described in Wallace since (1) the ptc. is pres. rather than aor. tense, (2) it follows the main vb. in word order, and (3) it is not temp. antecedent to the main vb. (W 641-45). Furthermore, Matthew clearly used a ptc. of purpose (in the fut. tense) with a vb. referring to “coming” in Matthew 27:49. Given the rarity of fut. ptcs. in the NT, it is not surprising that Matthew would use pres. ptc. in a sim. way. See also 19:3; 22:35; 27:55. However, 8:3 contains an apparent example of a ptc. of attendant circumstance that does not follow Wallace’s pattern. Thus a decision is difficult. The ptc. does not merely introduce indirect discourse since the main vb. (παραγίνομαι) is not a vb. describing an act of speech (BDF §420). The use of the ptc. τεχθείς (nom. sg. masc. of aor. pass. ptc. of τίκτω “give birth”) in the 1st attrib. position prob. refers to Jesus as the “born king,” i.e., king by birthright, rather than merely a king who was born (D&A 1.233). The description may contrast Jesus, whose Davidic descent was demonstrated in the genealogy, with Herod, who had no claim to Davidic lineage. Τῶν Ἰουδαίων may be a *gen. of subord. (“king over the Jews”) or partitive gen. (“king who is one of the Jews”; G 27), which contrasts Jesus’s Jewishness as a descendant of Judah with Herod’s Idumean descent. The gen. pron. αὐτοῦ ordinarily follows the noun it modifies. Its placement here is prob. emphatic: his star. The prep. ἐν is temp., and the sg. τῇ ἀνατολῇ refers to the star’s rising (2:1). Προσκυνῆσαι is aor. act. inf. of προσκυνέω “worship” and expresses purpose.

2:3 Ἀκούσας (nom. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of ἀκούω) is causal: “because the king Herod heard” (D&A 1.237). Ἡρῴδης refers to Herod the Great. The name is in simple appos. to ὁ βασιλεύς. Ἐταράχθη 3rd sg. aor. pass. indic. of ταράσσω “disturb, unsettle.” The adj. πᾶσα shows that Ἱεροσόλυμα was regarded as fem. sg. in this context. Since the adj. πᾶς is sg. and the noun is anar., πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα refers to “Jerusalem as a whole,” i.e., the population of Jerusalem in general (BDAG 782b–84c, esp. 4a). The prep. μετά with the gen. αὐτοῦ expresses personal association and shows that most Jerusalemites shared Herod’s emotional reaction to the appearance and questions of the magi. They were “implicit sympathizers” of Herod (D&A 1.238; N 112).

2:4 Συναγαγών (nom. sg. masc. of 2nd aor. act. ptc. of συνάγω “gather”) is temp. Ἀρχιερεύς in the sg. refers to the high priest, but in the pl. refers to the current high priest along with his surviving predecessors and members of the Sanhedrin who belonged to the highest ranking priestly families (BDAG 139a–b). A γραμματεύς was an expert in matters related to the study of the Heb. Scriptures. The gen. τοῦ λαοῦ (of the [Jewish] people) prob. distinguishes these particular scribes from specialists in Roman law who advised Herod. Outside of Judaism a γραμματεύς was a clerk, secretary, or scholar (LSJ 358d–59a). Ἐπυνθάνετο 3rd sg. impf. mid. indic. of dep. πυνθάνομαι “seek to learn by inquiry.” The use of the impf. tense with a vb. of asking indicates that the action of asking was complete but that the second action (giving birth) was presumed not to have yet occurred (BDF §328). The prep. phrase παρ᾿ αὐτῶν (antecedent: chief priests and scribes) marks the source of information for the inquiry. The def. art. w. χριστός shows that the noun functions as a title rather than a name, i.e., the Messiah. The pres. tense of γεννᾶται (3rd sg. pres. pass. indic. of γεννάω, “give birth”) is prob. futuristic and adds connotations of immediacy and certainty: “Where is the Messiah about to be born?”

2:5 The def. art. οἱ may be used as a dem. or pers. pron. and this is esp. common in combination with the use of δέ to mark progression in a narrative (BDAG 686a–89c, esp. 1). Ἐν Βηθλέεμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας (2:1). Γάρ is explanatory. The adv. οὕτως may pertain to what precedes or what follows. In combination with γέγραπται, it introduces a quotation and means “as follows.” Διά with the gen. (τοῦ προφήτου) expresses intermediate agency and implies the ultimate divine agency explicitly stated in 1:22. On the var., see Metzger 8.

2:6 For a comparison of Matthew’s quotation of Micah 5:1-3 with the MT and LXX, see D&A 1.242-44. For Matthew’s use of the prophecy, see Beale and Carson 5d–7c. Οὐδαμῶς is a marker of emphatic negation (BDAG 734d) mng. “by no means.” The prep. ἐν with τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν (dat. pl. masc. of ἡγεμών “governor, leader”) marks Bethlehem’s position within members of a group (BDAG 326c–30b, esp. 1d). Ἐκ σοῦ identifies Bethlehem as the place of orig. Ἐξελεύσεται (3rd sg. fut. mid. indic. of dep. ἐξέρχομαι, “come out.” Ἡγούμενος (nom. sg. masc. of pres. mid. ptc. of dep. ἡγέομαι “lead, guide”) is subst. Although subst. ptc. are most often articular, anar. subst. ptc. are amply attested in the NT. The anar. form is prob. qualitative. Ὅστις indicates that this figure belongs to a certain class: “a leader, one who will shepherd” (BDAG 729d–30b, esp. 2a). Ποιμανεῖ (3rd sg. fut. act. indic. of ποιμαίνω “shepherd”) is a predictive fut. Μου is a gen. of relationship.

2:7 The temp. adv. τότε supports regarding the ptc. καλέσας as temp.: “then after Herod called.” Λάθρᾳ (1:19). Ἠκρίβωσεν (3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of ἀκριβόω “ascertain precisely”) emphasizes the importance of precision in assigning a date to the star’s appearance (BDAG 39a). Although it is grammatically possible to view the ptc. φαινομένου as adj., it is prob. subst. and ἀστέρος is a subj. gen. Thus the phrase τὸν χρόνον τοῦ φαινομένου ἀστέρος means “the time of the appearance of the star,” which presumably signaled the moment of the Messiah’s birth.

2:8 Πέμψας (nom. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of πέμπω “send”) is temp.: “when he sent.” Πορευθέντες (nom. pl. masc. of aor. pass. ptc. of dep. πορεύομαι “go”) is a ptc. of attendant circumstance. Wallace (642) notes “in narrative literature, in almost all of the aor. ptc. + aor. impv. constructions, the ptc. is attendant circumstance.” Used with an impv. vb., the ptc. assumes an impv. nuance. Ἐξετάσατε 2nd pl. aor. act. impv. of ἐξετάζω “scrutinize, examine, inquire.” The aor. impv. expresses urgency (W 720). Although many EVV render the clause “search diligently for the child,” the prep. περί prob. retains its normal sense “about, concerning” (BDAG 797c–97d, esp. 1b) and is used to identify the subj. about which an inquiry is made. Thus the LEB is prob. more accurate: “inquire carefully concerning the child.” Ἐπάν is a temp. conj. used with the subjunc. and mng. “when, as soon as” (BDAG 358b–c). It stresses immediacy, and this suggests that the aor. impv. ἀπαγγείλατε (2nd pl. aor. act. impv. of ἀπαγγέλλω “give an account, report”) expresses urgency.

When used with the subjunc. (προσκυνήσω 1st sg. aor. act. subjunc. of προσκυνέω, “worship”), the conj. ὅπως marks the purpose for an event (BDAG 718a–c). Herod attempted to hide his murderous intentions with pretensions of worship. Κἀγώ is a combination of καί and ἐγώ. The καί is likely adjunctive, “I too,” and indicates that Herod desired to join the magi in their worship of the Messiah (2:2). Ἐλθών (nom. sg. masc. of 2nd aor. act. ptc. of dep. ρχομαι) is prob. a temp. ptc., “when I come.” Αὐτῷ is dat. of dir. obj.

2:9 Although the οἱ may mark ἀκούσαντες as subst., the def. art. prob. functions as a dem. pron. (BDAG 686a–89c, esp. 1c). Ἀκούσαντες (nom. pl. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of ἀκούω, “hear” is prob. temp. “After they heard the king, they proceeded on their journey.” Τοῦ βασιλέως is a gen. of dir. obj. (W 131-34). Ἐπορεύθησαν 3rd pl. aor. pass. indic. of dep. πορεύομαι, “go, travel.” Ἰδού (1:20). ὁ ἀστήρ may refer to a number of different luminous astronomical phenomena (BDAG 145c–d). The prep. phrase ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ is temp., and the obj. refers to the star’s rising or appearance (2:1, 2). Προῆγεν 3rd sg. impf. act. indic. of προάγω, “lead.” Ἐλθών is prob. ptc. of attendant circumstance (W 640-45). Ἐστάθη 3rd sg. aor. pass. indic. of ἵστημι, “stand.” Παιδίον is the dimin. form of παῖς and means “little child” or “infant.”

2:10 Although most EVV treat ἰδόντες (nom. pl. masc. of 2nd aor. act. ptc. of ὁράω, “see”) as temp., the ptc. prob. is causal. Matthew’s point is not that sight of the star was antecedent or contemp. to the joy of the magi. Rather, sight of the star prompted that joy. Ἐχάρησαν (3rd pl. aor. pas. indic. of χαίρω, “rejoice”). Χαράν is a cognate acc. which emphasizes the magi’s joy. This emphasis is amplified by the adj. μεγάλην (μέγας, μεγάλη, μέγα, “large, great”) and even further by the adv. σφόδρα, “very.”

2:11 Ἐλθόντες (nom. pl. masc. of 2nd aor. act. ptc. of dep. ἔρχομαι, “go, come”) is temp., “when they went.” Tῆς μητρός is gen. of simple appos. Αὐτοῦ is gen. of relationship. Πεσόντες (nom. pl. masc. of 2nd aor. act. ptc. of πίπτω, “fall”) is a ptc. of attendant circumstance. Προσεκύνησαν 3rd pl. aor. act. indic. of προσκυνέω, “worship.” Ἀνοίξαντες (nom. pl. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of ἀνοίγω, “open, unlock”) is prob. a ptc. of attendant circumstance. The dir. obj. τοὺς θησαυρούς refers here to the repositories for one’s valuables: “treasure boxes or chests.” The three acc. nouns χρυσόν (“gold”), λίβανον (“incense”), and σμύρναν (“myrrh”) are appos. to δῶρα (“gifts”).

2:12 Although many EVV treat the ptc. χρηματισθέντες (nom. pl. masc. of aor. pass. ptc. of χρηματίζω, “warn”) as temp., it is more likely causal. The divine warning did not merely precede the magi's taking an alternative route (NIV; NASB); it prompted the detour. The divine pass. reinforces the basic sense of the lexeme, which typically means “impart a divine message/warning.” Kατ᾿ ὄναρ 1:20. Μὴ ἀνακάμψαι (aor. act. inf. of ἀνακάμπτω, “return”) is inf. of indirect discourse (W 603-5). The warning suggests that the magi fell for Herod’s deception and would have returned to him apart from divine intervention. The prep. διά w. the gen. ὁδοῦ (“road, highway”) expresses extension through an area and means “via, through.” Ἀνεχώρησαν 3rd pl. aor. act. indic. of ἀναχωρέω, “return, depart.”

For Further Study

5. The Reign of Herod the Great

Hoehner, H. W. DNTB 485-94.

________. “The Date of the Death of Herod the Great.” Pages 101-11 in Chronos, Kairos, Christos. Edited by J. Vardaman and E. Yamauchi. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1989.

Steinmann, A. E. “When Did Herod the Great Reign?” NovT 51 (2009): 1-29.

6. The Visit of the Magi

Ferrari d’Occhieppo, K. “The Star of the Magi and Babylonian Astronomy.” Pages 41-53 in Chronos, Kairos, Christos. Edited by J. Vardaman and E. Yamauchi. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1989.

Molnar, M. R. The Star of Bethlehem. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000.

Powell, M. A. “The Magi as Wise Men: Re-Examining a Basic Supposition.” NTS 46 (2000): 1-20.

Yamauchi, E. “The Episode of the Magi.” Pages 15-39 in Chronos, Kairos, Christos. Edited by J. Vardaman and E. Yamauchi. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1989.

Homiletical Suggestions

The Majesty of King Jesus (2:1-12)

  1. A Majestic Birth
    1. Jesus’s birth was announced by the star (natural revelation)
    2. Jesus’s birth was announced by the Scriptures (special revelation)
  2. A Majestic Baby
    1. Jesus is worthy of a lengthy journey
    2. Jesus is worthy of our sincere worship
    3. Jesus is worthy of our greatest treasures

5. The Flight to Egypt (2:13-15)

2:13 Ἀναχωρησάντων (gen. pl. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of ἀναχωρέω, “depart”) is a gen. abs. and temp. The antecedent of αὐτῶν is μάγοι. Ἰδού (1:20). Κατ᾿ ὄναρ (1:20). Φαίνεται is a historical pres. (comp. the use of the aor. in 1:20). Λέγων is prob. a ptc. of purpose; the angel (heavenly messenger) appeared in order to deliver a divine message (2:2). However, attendant circumstance is also possible (8:3; NIV). Ἐγερθείς (nom. sg. masc. of aor. pass. ptc. of ἐγείρω, “wake, rise”) expresses attendant circumstance (W 641). Παράλαβε (2nd sg. aor. act. impv. of παραλαμβάνω, “take”) expresses urgency. Φεῦγε (2nd sg. pres. act. impv. of φεύγω, “flee”) and ἴσθι (2nd sg. pres. impv. of εἰμί, “be”) emphasize duration, i.e., Joseph was to continue fleeing until he reached safety in Egypt (cf. 24:16-20) and then remain there. Ἕως with ἄν and the subjunc. (εἴπω) indicates that an event is contingent upon certain circumstances (BDAG 422d–24a). Μέλλει with the pres. inf. (ζητεῖν) may stress either *imminence or inevitability (BDAG 627b–28c). Ἀπολέσαι (aor. act. inf. of ἀπόλλυμι, “destroy”) with the gen. art. τοῦ expresses purpose.

2:14 The def. art. here functions as a pers. or dem. pron., and the δέ marks a new development in the narrative. Ἐγερθείς (2:13). Παρέλαβεν 3rd sg. 2nd aor. act. indic. of παραλαμβάνω, “take.” Νυκτός (gen. sg. fem. of νύξ, “night”) is a gen. of time identifying the time during which an action occurred (W 122-24). The repetition of each element from the preceding command and the use of the gen. of time stress that Joseph’s obedience was complete and immediate.

2:15 Ἦν (3rd sg. impf. indic. of εἰμί, “be”). Ἕως here serves as a prep. to indicate extent of time. The ἵνα with the subjunc. (πληρωθῇ) expresses purpose. Πληρωθῇ (3rd sg. aor. pass. subjunc. of πληρόω, “fulfill”) is a divine pass., i.e., God fulfilled his prophecy through these events. Tὸ ῥηθέν nom. sg. neut. of aor. pass. ptc. of λέγω, “say.” Ὑπό with the gen. (κυρίου) expresses ultimate agency and διά with the gen. (τοῦ προφήτου) expresses intermediate agency. The grammar attests to the divine inspiration of the words of the prophet. Λέγοντος 1:20. The quotation from Hosea 11:1 is identical to the LXX except that Matthew substituted ἐκάλεσα (1st sg. aor. act. indic. of καλέω, “call, summon”) for the LXX’s μετεκάλεσα, τὸν υἱόν for the LXX’s τὰ τέκνα, and μου for the LXX’s αὐτοῦ (referring to Israel). In its orig. context the statement described the Exodus. Matthew’s adaptation indicates that Jesus’s departure from Egypt signals the new Exodus. For Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1, see Beale and Carson 7b–8d.

6. The Slaughter of the Children of Bethlehem (2:16-18)

2:16 Τότε seems to imply that Herod’s action occurred immediately after the flight of the holy family. It may mark a subsection of the narrative (Levinsohn 95). Thus they narrowly escaped. Ἰδών (nom. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of ὁράω, “see, perceive”) is prob. causal. Ἐνεπαίχθη 3rd sg. aor. pass. indic. of ἐμπαίζω, “trick.” The phrase ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων expresses Herod’s perception that the magi tricked him. He was not aware that he was actually tricked by God, who sent warning and instructions to the magi to evade Herod’s snare. Ἐθυμώθη 3rd sg. aor. pass. indic. of θυμόω, “be angry.” Ἀποστείλας (nom. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of ἀποστέλλω, “send”) expresses means. The ptc. helps clarify the vb. ἀνεῖλεν (3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of ἀναιρέω, “take away, destroy, execute”). Herod did not personally kill the children of Bethlehem but ordered their death. The dual use of πᾶς in the phrases πάντας τοὺς παῖδας and πᾶσι τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς emphasizes the horrific extent of the slaughter. Ἀπό with the gen. διετοῦς (gen. sg. masc. of διετής, “two years old”) marks the starting point for a temp. range. The adv. κατωτέρω indicates the direction of the range, “lower, under.” Κατά with the acc. (τὸν χρόνον) identifies the standard used to determine this time frame. Ἤκρίβωσεν 3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of ἀκριβόω, “ascertain precisely.” Παρά with the gen. (τῶν μάγων) identifies the magi as the source of Herod’s information (2:7).

2:17 Τότε may mean *“at that time” or introduce what follows in time (2:7, 16). See also Levinsohn 97. On ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἰερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος, see 1:22 and 2:15. The divine pass. ῥηθέν implies divine inspiration, even without the stated ὑπὸ κυρίου.

2:18 This is a quotation of Jeremiah 31:15 (38:15 LXX). See Beale and Carson 8d–10d. The phrase ἐν Ῥαμά may modify the noun φωνή (thus the voice spoke in Ramah*; 1 Sam 10:2) or the vb. ἠκούσθη (3rd sg. aor. pass. indic. of ἀκούω, “hear”; thus the voice was heard in Ramah but did not necessarily originate there [which would be compatible with the theory that Rachel was buried in Bethlehem]). Κλαυθμός, “weeping.” Ὀδυρμός, “mourning.” The adj. πολύς expresses a high quantity or degree of intensity and describes the mourning as profuse and/or profound. Κλαίουσα (nom. sg. fem. of pres. act. ptc. of κλαίω, “weep”) is prob. epex., i.e., it identifies the voice and explains the weeping in the previous lines. When used trans., the vb. means “weep for.” Ἤθελεν 3rd sg. impf. act. indic. of θέλω, “want.” Παρακληθῆναι (aor. pass. inf. of παρακαλέω, “comfort”) is a complementary inf. On the var., see Metzger 8.

7. Herod’s Death and the Return to Israel (2:19-23)

2:19 Τελευτήσαντος (gen. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of τελευτάω, “die”) is a gen. abs., temp., and likely expresses antecedence: “after Herod died.” On the clause ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾿ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ. . . , see 2:13.

2:20 On λέγων· ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ, see 2:13. The vb. πορεύου (2nd sg. pres. mid. impv. of dep. πορεύομαι, “go, travel”) replaced the vb. φεῦγε (2:13) because the flight to Egypt was an emergency evacuation but the return to Israel was not. The angel’s words τεθνήκασιν γὰρ οἱ ζητοῦντες τὴν ψυχὴν τοῦ παιδίου clearly allude to Exodus 4:19: τεθνήκασιν γὰρ πάντες οἱ ζητοῦντές σου τὴν ψυχήν. Wallace (404) classifies the pl. number of the subst. ptc. as generalizing or categorical, but this overlooks the fact that Matthew adopted the pl. to heighten the parallel with Exodus 4:19. Τεθνήκασιν (3rd pl. pf. act. indic. of θνῄσκω, “die”) is prob. intensive. Those who would murder the child are now dead and no longer pose a threat. Ζητοῦντες (nom. pl. masc. of pres. act. ptc. of ζητέω, “seek”) is contemp. with the pf. vb.: “those who were seeking.” The prog. aspect of the ptc. in this context implies that Herod’s search for Jesus continued until his death. The angel’s application of a statement orig. made to and about Moses to Jesus identifies Jesus as the prophet like Moses promised in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.

2:21 The repetition of the elements of the command in 2:20 stresses Joseph’s complete obedience. On ὁ δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβεν τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ, see 2:14. Εἰσῆλθεν 3rd sg. 2nd aor. act. indic. of dep. εἰσέρχομαι, “enter.”

2:22 Ἀκούσας (nom. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of ἀκούω, “hear”) is causal: “Because he heard . . ., he was afraid.” Ἀρχέλαος was a son of Herod the Great and ethnarch of Judea, Idumaea, and Samaria from Herod’s death until he was deposed by Augustus in AD 6. He was notorious for his cruelty, and Joseph’s fear was reasonable. The vb. βασιλεύει is a “pres. retained in indirect discourse” (W 537-39). Τῆς Ἰουδαίας is a gen. of dir. obj. (W 131-34). In this context the prep. ἀντί clearly expresses substitution: “instead of, in the place of” (Harris 50-51). Ἐκεῖ (“there”) refers to Judea (2:22). Ἀπελθεῖν (2nd aor. act. inf. of dep. ἀπέρχομαι, “go”). Χρηματισθείς nom. sg. masc. of aor. pass. ptc. of χρηματίζω, “communicate a divine message/warning.” Κατ᾿ ὄναρ 1:20. Ἀνεχώρησεν 3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of ἀναχωρέω, “depart.” With τὰ μέρη (“parts”), the gen. τῆς Γαλιλαίας is clearly wholative (partitive).

2:23 Ἐλθών is prob. temp.: “when he came.” Κατῴκησεν 3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of κατοικέω, “settle, make a home.” The use of εἰς here seems to be an example of Matthew’s substitution of εἰς for ἐν, a phenomenon more common in other NT writers (BDF §205). Λεγομένην (acc. sg. fem. of pres. pass. ptc. of λέγω) is adj. Ναζαρέτ was a small village in Galilee not mentioned in the OT or Josephus. The spelling of this place-name in Matthew is puzzling (2:23; 4:13; 21:11). Twice before, Matthew introduced his fulfillment citation using ἵνα with πληρωθῇ (1:22; 2:15), but he now shifts to ὅπως. Although ἵνα may express purpose or result, ὅπως clearly expresses purpose. The divine pass. πληρωθῇ suggests that the purpose was God’s rather than Joseph’s. The cstr. emphasizes that God was sovereignly orchestrating these events to fulfill his promises given through the prophets. Τὸ ῥηθέν 2:17. The shift from the sg. διὰ τοῦ προφήτου (1:22; 2:5, 15, 17) to the pl. διὰ τῶν προφητῶν suggests that the event fulfills a general theme attested by several prophets rather than a single specific text. Matthew is prob. referring to the OT prophecies that describe the Messiah as a “branch.” The term used for “branch” in Isaiah 11:1 (netser) may be transliterated with the first three consonants (νζρ) that compose the nouns Ναζαρέτ and Ναζωραῖος. The Isaiah 11:1 prophecy is closely connected to other messianic prophecies such as Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15. Κληθήσεται 3rd sg. fut. pass. indic. of καλέω, “call.” Beale and Carson 10d–11d.

For Further Study

7. The Slaughter of Innocents and the Flight to Egypt

Cox, B. D., and S. Ackerman. “Rachel’s Tomb.” JBL 128 (2009): 135-48.

Hoehner, H. W. DJG 317-26.

Kalai, Z. “Rachel’s Tomb: A Historiographical Review.” Pages 215-23 in Vielseitigkeit des Alten Testaments. Edited by J. A. Loader and H. V. Kiewler. New York: P. Lang, 1999.

Park, E. C. “Rachel’s Cry for Her Children: Matthew’s Treatment of the Infanticide by Herod.” CBQ 75 (2013): 473-85.

van Henten, J. W. “Matthew 2:16 and Josephus’ Portrayal of Herod.” Pages 101-22 in Jesus, Paul, and Early Christianity. Edited by R. Buitenwerf, H. W. Hollander, and J. Tromp. Boston: Brill, 2008.

Homiletical Suggestions

Hints of Jesus’s Future (2:13-23)

  1. Jesus will lead his people on a new Exodus (2:13-15; Hos 11:1)
  2. Jesus will turn his people’s mourning into joy (2:16-18; Jeremiah 31)
  3. Jesus will rule over and restore God’s people (2:19-23; Isa 11:1-9)

B. Preparation for Jesus’s Ministry (3:1-4:16)

1. The Beginning of John’s Ministry (3:1-6)

3:1 Ἐν with the dat. obj (ταῖς ἡμέραις) is used as a marker for a period of time during which something occurs (BDAG 326c–30b, esp. 10). The remote dem. ἐκείναις suggests that the days belonged to the period in which Jesus resided in Nazareth (2:23; N 135). Παραγίνεται 3rd sg. pres. mid. indic. of dep. παραγίνομαι, “come, make a public appearance.” Ὁ βαπτιστής is nom. of simple appos. Κηρύσσων (nom. sg. masc. of pres. act. ptc. of κηρύσσω prob. expresses *purpose (2:2) or manner (YLT). See Luke 12:51, in which the vb. παραγίνομαι is followed by an inf. of purpose. See also Smyth §2065. Τῆς Ἰουδαίας is a partitive gen. Only a portion of Judea was wilderness. Jerusalem, for example, was located in this region.

3:2 After the ptc. κηρύσσων, λέγων is a pleonastic ptc. (W 649-50; BDF §420) that introduces the content of John’s preaching. Μετανοεῖτε 2nd pl. pres. act. impv. of μετανοέω, “repent.” The pres. impv. is prob. ingr.-prog.: begin and continue repenting (W 721; BDF §336). The γάρ is causal and marks the reason repentance is necessary. Ἤγγικεν 3rd sg. pf. act. indic. of ἐγγίζω, “draw near (in a temp. sense).” The pf. tense is prob. extensive (consummative), stressing completed action. This suggests the kingdom has completed its approach and is on the brink of arrival (G 43-44; H 47). The arrival of the kingdom will soon come with Jesus’s performance of messianic signs (5:3, 10; 12:28). Ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν is not merely a reverent circumlocution for the “kingdom of God” that avoids dir. ref. to God. Matthew’s preferred description of the kingdom stresses the heavenly nature of this kingdom, thereby expressing that the Messiah’s reign is not merely an earthly kingdom ruled by a political Messiah (John 18:36). The pl. τῶν οὐρανῶν refers to the abode of God. Matthew normally used the sg. form of the noun to refer to the sky and the pl. to refer to the realm in which God and the angels reside. However, a few exceptions to this general rule exist, so the interpreter must pay careful attention to the context when determining the referent of the noun. In Matthew 6:20 (comp. 19:21); 18:18 (2x); 21:25; 22:30; and possibly 5:34; 11:23; and 23:22, Matthew used the sg. form to refer to the abode of God. He possibly used the pl. form to refer to the sky (24:29). The exceptions may be explained as due to a heaven and earth pairing (explicit or implicit) or the use of different conventions for different audiences (J\. Pennington, Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007], 125-61).

3:3 The dem. pron. οὗτος is retrospective and refers to the ministry and preaching of John in the wilderness just described. The γάρ may be causal; John’s ministry occurred because Scripture had to be fulfilled (26:54). Alternatively, γάρ may be explanatory (marker of clarification; BDAG 189a–90a, esp. 2). Ἔστιν replaces ἵνα πληρωθῆ from the more common form of Matthew’s fulfillment formula (D&A 1.292 n. 13). On ὁ ῥηθεὶς διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος, see 2:17. Bοῶντος (gen. sg. masc. of pres. act. ptc. of βοάω, “shout”) is subst.: “The voice of one who shouts.” Ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ (3:1). Ἐτοιμάσατε 2nd pl. aor. act. impv. of ἐτοιμάζω, “prepare.” The aor. impv. expresses urgency. Kυρίου translates the divine name Yahweh (MT). The pres. impv. ποιεῖτε is ingr.-prog. Ἐυθείας (acc. pl. fem. of εὐθύς, “straight”) and τὰς τρίβους (τρίβος, “path”) are dbl. acc. of complement-object. Matthew’s quotation of Isaiah 40:3 is almost identical to the LXX. The one exception is that Matthew (like Mark and Luke) replaces the LXX’s τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν with αὐτοῦ. However, since the clear antecedent of the pron. is κυρίου (= Yahweh), the deity of the one for whom John prepares the way is by no means diminished.

3:4 The αὐτός is in the pred. position and functions as an intensive adj. (rather than a pron.): “John himself” or “this very John.” The impf. vbs. εἶχεν may be customary or the impf. may simply mark background material (Levinsohn 172-75; Campbell 52). The prep. ἀπό with τριχῶν (θρίξ, τριχός, , “hair”) identifies the material from which the garments were made. Καμήλου (gen. sg. masc. of κάμηλος, “camel”) is gen. of source: “hair from a camel.” Ζώνη, -ης, , “belt.” Δερμάτινος, -α, -ον, “made of leather.” Περί with the acc. means “around.” Ὀσφῦς, -ύος, ἡ, “waist.” Τροφή, -ῆς, , “food, nourishment.” Ἀκρίς, -ίδος, , “locust.” Μέλι, -ιτος, τό, “honey.” Ἄγριος, -ία, -ον, “natural, wild.”

3:5 Τότε prob. means “after John’s initial preaching ministry as described in 3:1-4” and thus introduces the next sequence in the narrative. Ἐξεπορεύετο (3rd sg. impf. act. indic. of dep. ἐκπορεύομαι, “come out”) is prob. ingr. (W 545). The place-names refer to the human inhabitants of the areas (metonymy). The repeated uses of πᾶσα with sg. articular nouns refer to the populations of those areas in general. The nuance of the gen. τοῦ Ἰορδάνου is influenced by the prep. περί in the pref. of περίχωρος. Thus the phrase means “the region surrounding the Jordan River.”

3:6 Ἐβαπτίζοντο (3rd pl. impf. pass. indic. of βαπτίζω, “immerse”) is prob. prog. Large numbers of people were being baptized one after another. The cstr. of ultimate pers. agency, ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ, shows that the vb. is pass. rather than middle. Thus, this baptism was different from the self-administered washings that were common in ancient Judaism. Ἐξομολογούμενοι (nom. pl. masc. of pres. mid. ptc. of ἐξομολογέω, “confess”) is either temp. (LEB) or a ptc. of purpose (MSG; H 1.49).

For Further Study

8. John the Baptist

Bowens, L. M. “The Role of John the Baptist in Matthew’s Gospel.” WW 30 (2010): 311-18.

Evans, C. A. “The Baptism of John in Typological Context.” Pages 45-71 in Dimensions of Baptism: Biblical and Theological Studies. Edited by S. E. Porter and A. R. Cross. New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.

Hooker, M. D. “John’s Baptism: A Prophetic Sign.” Pages 22-40 in The Holy Spirit and Christian Origins: Essays in Honor of James D. G. Dunn. Edited by G. N. Stanton, B. W. Longenecker and S. C. Barton. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004.

Kelhoffer, J. A. “‘Locusts and Wild Honey’ (Mk 1.6c and Mt 3.4c): The Status Quaestionis Concerning the Diet of John the Baptist.” Currents in Biblical Research 2 (2003): 104-27.

Meier, J. P. “John the Baptist in Matthew’s Gospel.” JBL 99 (1980): 383-405.

Witherington, B. DJG 383-91.

9. The Kingdom of Heaven

Pennington, J. Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007.

Homiletical Suggestions

John the Baptizer (3:1-6)

  1. John’s message emphasized repentance
  2. John’s ministry fulfilled prophecy (Isa 40:3)
  3. John’s mission was to prepare for the coming of God
  4. John’s manner associated him with Elijah (2 Kgs 1:8)
  5. John’s mandate was the baptism of confessing sinners

2. John’s Message (3:7-12)

3:7 Ἰδών (nom. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of ὁράω, “see”) is either temp. (most EVV) or causal. Πολλούς is subst. The gen. τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων are wholative (partitive). Although the art. shared by the two nouns prob. suggests the unity of the two distinct groups (W 279), this is not an example of the Granville Sharp rule since it pertains only to sg. pers. nouns joined by καί and sharing a def. art. Ἐρχομένους (acc. pl. masc. of pres. mid. ptc. of dep. ἔρχομαι) is adj.: “who were coming.” The prep. ἐπί with the acc. (τὸ βάπτισμα) may be *loc., hence “to the place of his baptism” (BDAG 363a–67c, 4; cf. NIV; N 142). However, vbs. of motion like ἔρχομαι with ἐπί with the acc. were often used to express opposition (Luke 14:31; Matt 23:35). Thus the cstr. here could mean “were coming against [opposing] his baptism” (BDAG 363a–67c, 12; D&A 1.304). Both of these options require John’s question to be taken as sarcasm. Finally, the ἐπί could be a marker of purpose indicating that the two groups were coming to receive John’s baptism (BDAG 363a–67c, 11; N 142). This baptism would be part of a precautionary effort to avoid God’s wrath. Ὑπέδειξεν 3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of ὑποδείκνυμι, “warn.” Φυγεῖν (aor. act. inf. of φεύγω, “flee”) is complementary. Μελλούσης (gen. sg. fem. of pres. act. ptc. of μέλλω, “future, coming”) is adj. The fut. wrath is God’s eschatological wrath.

3:8 The οὖν is inferential and seems to imply that the only way to escape the divine wrath that is coming is through repentance. Ποιήσατε (2nd pl. aor. act. impv. of ποιέω, “do, produce”) expresses urgency and intensity. Ἄξιον with the gen. τῆς μετανοίας means “correspondingly fitting or appropriate” (BDAG 93c–94b, 2).

3:9 Prohibitions using μή and the aor. subjunc. (δόξητε 2nd pl. aor. act. subjunc. of δοκέω, “think, presume”) are “categorical prohibitions” (BDF §337) that forbid the action as a whole (W 723-24): “Do not presume at all to say.” The prep. ἐν is loc. and describes the internal thoughts of each member of the group (BDAG 326c–30b, 1f). The nouns πατέρα and τὸν Ἀβραάμ are dbl. acc. of complement-obj. The γάρ introduces the reason one must not presume descent from Abraham ensures protection from the coming wrath. Δύναται 3rd sg. pres. mid. indic. of dep. δύναμαι, “be able.” Ἐκ is a marker of orig. The God who made Adam from the dust, and brought forth Israel from Sarah’s dead womb, could as easily have made Israel from stones. When serving as a dem. adj., τούτων is often in the first or second pred. position. Ἐγεῖραι (aor. act. inf. of ἐγείρω, “raise”) here means “to cause to come into existence” (BDAG 271c–72c, 5). The dat. of advantage τῷ Ἀβραάμ is used rather than the expected gen. of relationship and possibly alludes to Genesis 21:2-3, in which this same dat. is used.

3:10 The placement of the adv. ἤδη at the beginning of the sentence and far from the vb. is prob. emphatic (D&A 1.309). The adv. ἤδη intensifies the temp. element of the pres. tense (κεῖται 3rd sg. pres. mid. indic. of dep. κεῖμαι, “lay, place on”): “is already placed (at this very moment).” BDAG notes that the vb. κεῖμαι may serve as the pass. form of τίθημι. D&A (309) thus see κεῖται as a divine pass. Ἡ ἀξίνη is an ax used for felling trees and chopping wood. After κεῖται, πρός w. the acc. (τὴν ῥίζαν) is loc. and means “at, against.” The idea is prob. not that the ax rests against the root waiting for the divine axman to pick it up and begin his work but instead that the axman has gripped the ax and placed the blade against the root to ensure an accurate cut, readying himself to sever the root with a masterful swing (NLT; N 145). Because τὴν ῥίζαν is articular (par excellence) and sg., it likely refers to the taproot, which is the source of the tree’s life and stability. Οὖν is inferential, introducing a conclusion drawn from the previous statement. Πᾶν with an anar. sg. noun (δένδρον) emphasizes the individual members of a class: “every single tree” and prob. implies no exceptions exist. Ποιοῦν (nom. sg. neut. of pres. act. ptc. of ποιέω, “make, produce”) is adj. The pres. tense of the ptc. is prob. prog. Ἐκκόπτεται (3rd sg. pres. pass. indic. of ἐκκόπτω, “cut down”) and βάλλεται (3rd sg. pres. pass. indic. of βάλλω, “throw”) are either gnomic (N 145; LEB; ESV) or *futuristic, stressing immediacy and certainty (D&A 1.311; CSB; NIV).

3:11 Ἐγώ is mildly emphatic. The particle μέν marks a concessive clause and together with the particle δέ strongly contrasts two different baptisms performed by two different agents. With βαπτίζω the prep. ἐν may be loc. (“in water”; mg. of NIV, and NLT) or instr. (“with water”; most EVV). The prep. phrase εἰς μετάνοιαν denotes *purpose (“for repentance”; most EVV) or ref./respect (“with ref. to repentance;” H 1.51; BDAG 288c–91c, 5). The improper prep. ὀπίσω marks a position behind an entity in either space or time. Here the prep. has a temp. nuance (BDAG 716a–b, 2.b.). Ὀπίσω is one of only three prep. (also ἔμπροσθεν and sometimes ἐνώπιον) that use the enclitic form rather than the longer form of the 1st pers. pron. for its obj. (μου rather than ἐμοῦ; BDAG 275a–c). The Messiah appears after John. Ἰσχυρότερος is a comp. adj. (from ἰσχυρός, “strong”). Consequently, μου is clearly a gen. of comparison (W 110-12). The antecedent of the rel. pron. οὗ is “the coming One.” The gen. is prob. poss. and modifies τὰ ὑποδήματα (“sandals”). Βαστάσαι (aor. act. inf. of βαστάζω, “carry, remove”) is epex. and modifies ἱκανός clarifying the nature of John’s unworthiness. Αὐτός is mildly emphatic. Βαπτίσει is a predictive fut. The prep. ἐν has a compound obj. With πνεύματι ἁγίῳ, the prep. marks the (intermediate) pers. agent. With πυρί the prep. marks the instr. Some regard πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί as an example of hendiadys, “fiery breath” (D&A 1.317). On hendiadys, see BDAG 494a–96c, 1.a.δ; BDF §442.16; T 335. Although Hagner rejects the view, he describes it as the view of the “majority of scholars” (1.51). Nevertheless, several factors raise doubts about this widely accepted view. First, the primary purpose of hendiadys was to avoid a series of genitives. Here, however, a single adj. gen. πυρός would have been sufficient and Matthew shows no aversion to this gen. elsewhere (5:22; 13:42, 50; 18:9). Furthermore, the interpretation of πνεύματι ἁγίῳ as “breath” is unsubstantiated in Matthew. Matthew consistently used πνεῦμα in combination with the adj. ἅγιος in ref. to the Holy Spirit (1:18, 20; 12:32; 28:19). Thus the interpretation expressed by most EVV (“with the Holy Spirit and fire”) is preferable.

3:12 The antecedent of οὗ and αὐτοῦ is “the Coming One.” The three fut. vbs. διακαθαριεῖ (3rd sg. fut. act. indic. of διακαθαρίζω, “clean out”), συνάξει (3rd sg. fut. act. indic. of συνάγω, “gather”), and κατακαύσει (3rd sg. fut. act. indic. of κατακαίω, “burn”) are predictive and refer to eschatological punishment. Ἀποθήκη, -ης, , “barn, storehouse.”

For Further Study

10. The Preaching of John the Baptist

Beasley-Murray, G. R. Baptism in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.

Charles, J. D. “The ‘Coming One/Stronger One’ and His Baptism: Matt 3:11-12, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16-17.” Pneuma 11 (1989): 37-49.

Dunn, J. D. G. “Spirit-and-Fire Baptism.” NovT 14 (1972): 81-92.

Keener, C. S. “‘Brood of Vipers’ (Matthew 3.7; 12.34; 23.33).” JSNT 28 (2005): 3-11.

Lang, F. TDNT 6.928-48.

Schreiner, T. R., and S. D. Wright. Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ. NAC Studies in Bible & Theology 3. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2006.

Stählin, G. TDNT 5.435-47.

Homiletical Suggestions

The Coming Wrath (3:7-10)

  1. God’s wrath is his fierce rage against sinful rebellion that he will unleash after final judgment
  2. Sinners often vainly attempt to escape God’s wrath like snakes slithering away from a brush fire
    1. They rely on rituals to protect them from God’s wrath
    2. They rely on heritage to protect them from God’s wrath
  3. God’s destruction of unrepentant sinners is certain and imminent
  4. Sinners can escape God’s wrath by repenting and displaying the sincerity of their repentance through transformed living

One Greater than John (3:11-12)

  1. Jesus performs a more glorious baptism than John the Baptist
    1. John baptized with water to display a sinner’s repentance
    2. Jesus baptized with the Spirit to effect a sinner’s transformation (Ezek 36:25-27)
  2. Jesus displays a more awesome power than John the Baptist
    1. John warned about God’s coming wrath in his role as a prophet
    2. Jesus brings about God’s coming wrath in his role as eschatological judge

3. Jesus’s Baptism by John (3:13-17)

3:13 Τότε prob. indicates that Jesus’s arrival occurred after the event described in the preceding paragraph rather than concurrently. The preps. that indicate movement (ἀπό, πρός) suggest that παραγίνεται means “come” rather than “make an appearance” (see also 2:2; 3:1). The preps. ἀπό with the gen. (τῆς Γαλιλαίας) and ἐπί with the acc. (τὸν Ἰορδάνην) are both loc., showing the point of orig. (“from”) and destination (“to”) of Jesus’s movement. Πρός serves as a marker of movement toward someone. The gen. art. τοῦ with the inf. (βαπτισθῆναι aor. pass. inf. of βαπτίζω, “immerse”) expresses purpose. ῾Υπ᾿ with the gen. (αὐτοῦ; antecedent “John”) expresses pers. agency: “by him.”

3:14 Διεκώλυεν 3rd sg. impf. act. indic. of διακωλύω, “prevent, keep from happening.” The impf. tense is conative: John attempted to prevent (unsuccessfully). See BDF §326; H 1.55. Λέγων is a ptc. of means. Ἐγώ is mildly emphatic and stresses the contrast with σοῦ and σύ. ῾Υπό with the gen. (σοῦ) expresses ultimate agency. The inf. βαπτισθῆναι is epex., defining the nature of the χρείαν. The καί introduces a statement that is surprising, unexpected, or particularly noteworthy (BDAG 494a–96c1.b.η). This special use of καί suggests that the clause σὺ ἔρχῃ πρός με may be an exclamation rather than a question. The use of ἀποκρίνομαι to introduce Jesus’s response does not settle the issue since the vb. may introduce answers to questions or simply mark the continuation of discourse (BDAG 113c–14a, 1; Morris 64). The prep. πρός takes the longer form ἐμ as its obj. except after vbs. of motion in which case it takes the enclitic form με (11:28; 19:14).

3:15 Ἀποκριθείς (nom. sg. masc. of aor. pass. ptc. of dep. ἀποκρίνομαι, “answer”) is pleonastic, and most modern EVV either leave the ptc. or main vb. untranslated. The prep. πρός with the acc. (αὐτόν; antecedent–John) indicates that Jesus directed his statement to John. Ἄφες 2nd sg. aor. act. impv. of ἀφίημι, “permit” (BDAG 156c–57b, 5b). Ἄρτι is a temp. adv. referring to the immediate pres. Γάρ is causal and introduces the reason John should comply. The dem. adv. οὕτως refers to an action in the preceding context as a means, i.e., by John’s baptizing Jesus. Πρέπον (nom. sg. neut. of pres. act. ptc. of πρέπω, “be fitting, appropriate”) with ἐστίν forms a pres. periph. cstr. Ἡμῖν is a pers. dat. of ref. rather than an ethical dat. After forms of πρέπω accompanied by an inf., the dat. of ref. is used in place of the normally expected acc. of ref. (acc. subj. of inf.). Πληρῶσαι (aor. act. inf. of πληρόω, “fulfill, accomplish [a goal]”) is complementary. The goal for which Jesus aspires and which requires his submission to John’s baptism is πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην (δικαιοσύνη, -ης, , “righteousness”). The adj. πᾶς modifying a sg. anar. noun emphasizes the individual members of a class: “each and every act of righteousness (of which John’s baptism is one).” Τότε means “immediately after.” Ἀφίησιν (3rd sg. pres. act. indic. of ἀφίημι, “permit”) is a historical pres. and likely highlights the vb. On the textual var., see Metzger 8-9.

3:16 Βαπτισθείς (nom. sg. masc. of aor. pass. ptc. of βαπτίζω, “immerse”) is temp. This is suggested by the temp. adv. εὐθύς. Ἀνέβη (3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of ἀναβαίνω, “go up”) with the prep. ἀπό with the gen. (τοῦ ὕδατος) may refer to John’s raising Jesus from beneath the surface of the water* or Jesus’s climbing the bank of the Jordan (G 51). Some grammarians and commentators make much of Matthew’s use of ἀπό rather than Mark’s ἐκ (Mark 1:10) since ἐκ generally refers to motion from within and ἀπό refers to motion from the edge or surface of an object. G suggests that Matthew’s prep. indicated Jesus clambered up the riverbank without first confessing his sins (since he had none; G 51). Allen and Turner think Matthew changed Mark’s ἐκ to ἀπό due to an evolution in views of baptism from immersion in Mark to sprinkling or pouring in Matthew (Allen 29; Turner, Grammatical Insights 29 [Note that this is a reversal of Turner’s earlier view expressed in Syntax 259. See below.]). Both views are unlikely. First, ἀνέβη plus ἀπό in no way implies sprinkling or pouring. Second, in Koine Gk., the sense of the two preps. often overlaps (R 577-78; Harris 57-58). Matthew often has ἀπό where Mark has ἐκ with no clear difference in sense between the two (D&A 1.327; Turner, Syntax 259). Ἰδού (1:20). Ἠνεῴχθησαν (3rd pl. aor. pass. indic. of ἀνοίγω, “open”) is a divine pass (H 1.57). Εἶδεν 3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of ὁράω, “see.” Καταβαῖνον (acc. sg. neut. of pres. act. ptc. of καταβαίνω, “descend”) is adj. modifying πνεῦμα. Ὡσεί is a marker denoting comparison. Περιστεράν, “dove.” Most EVV accept the presence of the conj. καί and regard ἐρχόμενον as modifying πνεῦμα. However, the oldest extant mss. do not contain the conj. LEB translates the passage as if ἐρχόμενον modifies περιστεράν, but this is unlikely since the noun is fem. and the ptc. is neut. On the var., see Metzger 9-10.

3:17 Ἰδού (1:20). No finite vb. is stated. This may be a pred. cstr.: “There was a voice.” Alternatively, the subj. φωνή may imply a vb. of speech. The pl. τῶν οὐρανῶν refers to the abode of God rather than merely the sky (3:2). The prep. ἐκ marks the place from which the voice came. Λέγουσα is a pleonastic ptc. after the implied vb. of speech. The dem. pron. οὗτος refers to Jesus. The def. art. with υἱός is monadic. Ὁ ἀγαπητός is in the second attrib. position. Although the first attrib. position emphasizes the adj., the second attrib. position may place emphasis on both the noun and the adj. (R 776-77): “my Son, who is loved (by God).” See Genesis 22:2 (LXX), in which the phrase “whom you love” explains a sim. cstr. With the vb. εὐδόκησα (1st sg. aor. act. indic. of εὐδοκέω, “take pleasure”), ἐν with the dat. (; antecedent: Jesus) marks the pers. object.

For Further Study

11. The Baptism of Jesus

Gero, S. “Spirit as a Dove at the Baptism of Jesus.” NovT 18 (1976): 17-35.

Keck, L. E. “Spirit and the Dove.” NTS 17 (1970): 41-67.

Webb, R. L. “Jesus’s Baptism: Its Historicity and Implications.” BBR 10 (2000): 261-309.

Homiletical Suggestions

God Said It and I Believe It! (3:13-17)

  1. Jesus is superior to John
  2. Jesus was perfectly obedient to the Father
  3. Jesus bears the Spirit and has the power to baptize with the Spirit
  4. Jesus is God’s unique, loved, and pleasing Son

4. Jesus’s Temptation in the Wilderness (4:1-11)

4:1 Τότε indicates that the events of 4:1-11 occurred after Jesus’s baptism. Ἀνήχθη 3rd sg. aor. pass. indic. of ἀνάγω, “lead, bring up.” The vb. is appropriate since the Judean wilderness was at a higher elevation than the Jordan valley. The prep. ὑπό with the gen. (τοῦ πνεύματος) marks the ultimate agent who led Jesus. Πειρασθῆναι (aor. pass. inf. of πειράζω, “tempt, test”) is an inf. of purpose/result. ῾Υπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου (ultimate agency) shows that the devil acts as the tempter. Διαβόλος, “slanderer, accuser, devil.”

4:2 Νηστεύσας (nom. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of νηστεύω, “fast, go without food”) is temp. and describes antecedent action as the ὕστερον (“afterward”) with the main vb. implies. The phrase ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα καὶ νύκτας τεσσεράκοντα is an acc. of extent of time that indicates Jesus fasted without a break for the forty-day period (W 202). Ἐπείνασεν 3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of πεινάω, “be hungry.”

4:3 Προσελθών (nom. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of dep. προσέρχομαι, “approach”) is prob. temp., expressing antecedent action. Ὁ πειράζων (nom. sg. masc. of pres. act. ptc. of πειράζω, “tempt”) is subst. Εἰ with the indic. (2nd sg. pres. indic. of εἰμί, “be”) marks the prot. of a first-class cond. statement that assumes the truthfulness of the prot. for the sake of argument. The position of υἱός may indicate emphasis. The anar. cstr. does not imply that υἱός is indef. Anar. pred. nominatives that stand before the vb. are “normally qualitative, sometimes definite, and only rarely indefinite” (W 262). The statement of the Father in 3:17 (in which the pred. nom. follows the vb.) strongly suggests that the noun is def. in the pres. cstr. Εἰπέ (2nd sg. 2nd aor. act. impv. of λέγω, “say, speak”) does not seem to express any special urgency beyond what the impv. inherently conveys. All twelve impv. forms of λέγω in Matthew are in the aor. tense, so the aor. seems to be used by default. After some vbs. of speech, ἵνα may introduce a quotation (BDAG 475c–77b, 2.γδ; D&A 1.361): “Command that these stones become loaves of bread” (see LEB). Alternatively, ἵνα may introduce a purpose clause: “Speak, so that these stones become loaves of bread.” The near dem. οὗτοι suggests that the devil pointed to particular stones scattered around him. Γένωνται 3rd pl. aor. mid. subjunc. of dep. γίνομαι, “become.” By calling upon Jesus to transform stones into bread by his mere command, the devil is acknowledging Jesus’s divine power.

4:4 The cstr. δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν appears eighteen times in Matthew (4:4; 12:39, 48; 13:11, 37; 15:3, 13, 24, 26; 16:2; 17:11; 19:4; 20:13; 21:29, 30; 24:2; 25:12; 26:23; cf. 26:66) and reflects a Hebraic expression (Z §366). The δέ marks a new development in the narrative (Runge 31-32), and this is esp. true when it is preceded by an independent use of the nom. masc. def. art. (BDAG 686a–89c, 1.c.; BDF §251). The def. art. serves as a substitute for the pers. pron. αὐτός or the dem. pron. οὕτος. One could view the def. art. as modifying the ptc. in which case the ptc. ἀποκριθείς (nom. sg. masc. of aor. pass. ptc. of dep. ἀποκρίνομαι, “answer”) would be regarded as subst.: “the one who answered said.” However, in light of Matthew’s clear use of the def. art. as a pers. pron. with a vb. of speech in 2:5, the def. art. is more likely the subj. of εἶπεν and the ptc. is pleonastic. Γέγραπται (3rd sg. pf. pass. indic. of γράφω, “write”) is likely a resultative pf. that stresses the pres. existence (and by implication, continuing authority) of the Scripture (W 575-76, esp. comments on Rom 3:10). Although Wallace labels this usage “intensive perfect,” Robertson (895-96) and BDF (§342) label it “extensive” and place it in the subcategory “punctiliar-durative.” These grammarians agree that the emphasis falls on the continuing effect on the subj. or object. Nevertheless, they define the categories “intensive” and “extensive” differently. Robertson and BDF equate the intensive pf. with the “perfect with a pres. force.” Wallace appropriately distinguishes the two. The prep. phrases ἐπ᾿ ἄρτῳ (dat. sg. masc. of ἄρτος, “bread, loaf”) and ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι (dat. sg. neut. of ῥῆμα, “word”) express the basis for a state of being (BDAG 363a–67c, 6). The adj. μόνῳ (“only, alone”) followed by the adversative conj. ἀλλ᾿ clarifies that food is necessary for life, but not sufficient to sustain life. Life also requires obedience to God’s precepts (H 1.65). Ζήσεται (3rd sg. fut. mid. indic. of ζάω, “live”) is either *gnomic or predictive. Παντί (dat. sg. neut.) is adj., sg., and anar., thus emphasizing the individual components of a group: “every single word.” Ἐκπορευομένῳ (dat. sg. neut. of pres. mid. ptc. of dep. ἐκπορεύομαι, “go out, proceed”) is adj. The prep. διά with the gen. (στόματος) marks extension through an object. The gen. θεοῦ is partitive.

4:5 Τότε means “afterward.” Παραλαμβάνει is a historical pres. Τήν with ἁγίαν πόλιν is the def. art. par excellence (W 222): Jerusalem is regarded as the holiest city on earth. Matthew will later show that this reputation is not consistent with the true character of most of the city’s inhabitants. Ἔστησεν (3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of ἵστημι, “stand”) is used intrans.: “cause to be in a place.” Jesus did not voluntarily climb to the pinnacle. Τὸ πτερύγιον is difficult to identify precisely. It refers to the edge or tip of an object. The context suggests that it was a projection sticking out from the temple at a height from which a fall would normally be fatal (F 132).

4:6 Λέγει is a historical pres. Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ (4:3). Βάλε (2nd sg. aor. act. impv. of βάλλω, “throw”) may express urgency. Σεαυτόν (acc. sg. masc. of σεαυτοῦ, 2nd sg. reflex. pron.) Γάρ is causal, pointing to an alleged biblical justification for the command. Γέγραπται (4:4). The UBS5, NA28, and R-P treat the ὅτι as a discourse marker introducing the biblical quotation. However, Matthew does not elsewhere introduce a quotation of Scripture using γέγραπται and ὅτι (cf. 2:5; 4:4, 7, 10; 11:10; 21:13; 26:24). The ὅτι is prob. part of the quotation itself, since Psalm 91:11 (90:11 LXX) begins with ὅτι. The quotation is identical to the LXX except for the omission of the second line of verse 11, which was likely part of Satan’s attempt to distort the mng. of the passage. Ἐντελεῖται (3rd sg. fut. mid. indic. of ἐντέλλω, “give instructions, command”) is predictive fut. Ἀροῦσίν (3rd pl. fut. act. indic. of αἴρω, “lift up”) is predictive fut. Μήποτε is a marker of negated purpose (“lest, so . . . not”) used with the subjunc. Προσκόψῃς (2nd sg. aor. act. subjunc. of προσκόπτω, “strike against”). Πρός is spatial but should be tr. “against” rather than merely “toward” since the vb. implies actual contact with the object (most EVV).

4:7 Ἔφη 3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of φημί, “state, say.” The vb. normally introduces dir. discourse (BDAG 1053a–b). Πάλιν, “again.” Γέγραπται (4:4). Ἐκπειράσεις (2nd sg. fut. act. indic. of ἐκπειράζω, “test, tempt”) is an impv. fut. Although κύριον is anar., it is def. The noun is prob. anar. because it functioned in the LXX as the tr. of the divine name Yahweh. Proper names are normally anar. (W 245-47). The def. art. in the appos. cstr. τὸν θεόν σου is monadic (W 223) and describes Yahweh as the only true God (Deut 6:4).

4:8 Πάλιν prob. expresses repetition of an event sim. in nature to a previous event. The repetition of παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς . . . from 4:5 suggests this. The τότε in 4:5 and πάλιν of 4:8 seem to imply that Matthew has arranged the three temptations in chronological order. Luke inverts the order of the second and third temptations (H 1.62; D. Bock, Luke [2 vols.; Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994], 1:364-65). However, Luke used markers indicating narrative transitions that did not imply that the events were consecutive. Ὄρος (“mountain”) refers to a relatively high elevation of land in contrast to a βοῦνος (“hill”). The adj. ὑψηλόν (“high”), esp. with the adv. λίαν (“very”), emphasizes the height of the mountain. Δείκνυσιν (3rd sg. pres. act. indic. of δείκνυμι, “show”) is a historical pres. Δόξα, -ης, ἡ, “magnificence, splendor, or greatness.”

4:9 Δώσω (1st sg. fut. act. indic. of δίδωμι, “give”) is a predictive fut. expressing a promise. The 3rd-class cond. prot. ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς μοι expresses a cond. for the promise. The cstr. makes no assumption regarding the fulfillment of the cond. Πεσών (nom. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of πίπτω, “fall”) is prob. ptc. of attendant circumstance (most EVV).

4:10 Τότε, “afterward.” Λέγει is a historical pres. The pres. impv. ὕπαγε is prob. ingr.-prog.: “Get going and keep on going!” (W 721-22). Γέγραπται γάρ (4:6). Κύριον τὸν θεόν σου (4:7). Προσκυνήσεις (2nd sg. fut. act. indic. of προσκυνέω, “worship”) and λατρεύσεις (2nd sg. fut. act. indic. of λατρεύω, “serve [by carrying out religious duties]”) are impv. fut. Αὐτῷ is dat. of dir. obj. Mόνῳ (4:4).

4:11 Τότε, “afterward.” Ἀφίησιν (3rd sg. pres. act. indic. of ἀφίημι, “leave”) is a historical pres. Ἰδού (1:20). Προσῆλθον 3rd pl. aor. act. indic. of dep. προσέρχομαι, “approach.” Διηκόνουν (3rd pl. impf. act. indic. of διακονέω, “serve”) is prog. and prob. refers to providing food (N 169). Interestingly, two features of the temptations, angels protecting Jesus from harm (4:6) and supernatural provision of food (4:3), are granted to Jesus with divine approval (D&A 1.374).

For Further Study

12. The Temptation of Jesus

Allison, D. C., Jr. “Behind the Temptations of Jesus: Q 4:1-13 and Mark 1:12-13.” Pages 195-213 in Authenticating the Activities of Jesus. Edited by B. D. Chilton and C. A. Evans. Leiden: Brill, 1999.

Evans, C. A. “Jesus and Evil Spirits in the Light of Psalm 91.” Baptistic Theologies 1 (2009): 43-58.

Gibson, J. B. The Temptations of Jesus in Early Christianity. JSNTSup 112. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

McKinley, J. E. “Jesus Christ’s Temptation.” SBJT 16 (2012): 56-71.

Roets, J. “The Victory of Christ over the Tempter as Help to the Believers’ Fight Against Sin: A Reflection on Matthew 4:1-11.” Mid-America Journal of Theology 22 (2011): 107-27.

Schaivo, L., and L. Milton. “The Temptation of Jesus: The Eschatological Battle and the New Ethic of the First Followers of Jesus in Q.” JSNT 25 (2002): 141-64.

Slingerland, H. D. “The Transjordanian Origin of St. Matthew’s Gospel.” JSNT 3 (1979): 18-28.

Stegner, W. R. “The Use of Scripture in Two Narratives of Early Jewish Christianity (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 9:2-8).” Pages 98-120 in Early Christian Interpretation of the Scriptures of Israel. Edited by C. A. Evans and J. A. Sanders. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.

Homiletical Suggestions

Facing Temptation (4:1-11)

  1. Obedience is more important than our next meal
  2. Faithfulness is more important than our personal safety
  3. Worship is more important than wealth

5. The Beginning of Jesus’s Galilean Ministry (4:12-16)

4:12 Ἀκούσας (nom. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of ἀκούω, “hear”) is either temp. (most EVV) or *causal (G 412; D&A 1.375; see the similarities in 2:22-23). Παρεδόθη 3rd sg. aor. pass. indic. of παραδίδωμι, “hand over, place in custody.” Ἀνεχώρησεν (2:22). The vb. may connote withdrawal from a place due to concern’s for one’s safety. Of the ten occurrences in Matthew, most seem to have this connotation (2:12, 13, 14, 22; 12:15; 14:13). Although Γαλιλαία was part of the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas, who had imprisoned John, the region was likely safer than the Jordan Valley, where John had been apprehended.

4:13 Καταλιπών (nom. sg. masc. of aor. act. ptc. of καταλείπω, “leave”) is temp. (most EVV). Ναζαρά (2:23). Ἐλθών is a ptc. of attendant circumstance and thus coordinates with the main vb. This explains the absence of a conj. joining the two participles. Κατῴκησεν 3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of κατοικέω, “reside.” On εἰς with the vb. κατῴκησεν, see 2:23. Καφαρναούμ, “Capernaum.” The cstr. τὴν παραθαλασσίαν (παραθαλάσσιος, -ία, “beside the sea, lake”) is prob. subst. and appos. The fem. gender of the adj. is influenced by an implied fem. noun πόλις, “city” (2:23). Note that of the six occurrences in the LXX, most are associated with the noun πόλις (2 Chr 8:17; 1 Macc 7:1; 11:8; 2 Macc 8:11; Jer 29:7; Ezek 25:9). Although the cstr. could be an example of the second attrib. position of the adj. mng. “Capernaum, the one by the sea,” this is unlikely since ancient sources do not mention two Capernaums in Galilee. Ὁρίοις (ὅριον, -ου, τό) refers to territories assigned to the tribes of Israel. Thus, Ζαβουλών and Νεφθαλίμ are poss.

4:14 On ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος, see the identical cstr. (except for the change in the name of the prophet) in 2:17.

4:15 Γῆ Ζαβουλὼν καὶ γῆ Νεφθαλίμ refers to the land allotted to these two tribes (Josh 19:10-16, 32-39), thus the gen. express poss. The acc. case of ὁδόν is initially puzzling. However, the acc. is sometimes used in *appos. to indecl. nouns of other cases in the LXX (Conybeare and Stock §57). Alternatively, D&A (1:382) suggest that the “surprising accusative” is adv. The ὁδὸς θαλάσσης is the Via Maris, a major trade route connecting Egypt and Syria. The gen. θαλάσσης expresses direction or destination: “route to the sea” (BDAG 691a–92b, esp. 1). Πέραν with the gen. (τοῦ Ἰορδάνου) functions as a prep. mng. “across” and may refer to either the east (H 1.73) or west (N 173; D&A 1.382-83) side of the Jordan. The gen. τῶν ἐθνῶν indicates that Γαλιλαία belonged to the Gentiles (poss. gen.) in the sense that Gentiles composed the majority of the population (H 1.73).

4:16 ὁ λαός often refers in Matthew to the people of Israel. It prob. has that sense here despite the preceding ref. to the Gentiles (D&A 1.385). The ptc. phrase ὁ καθήμενος (nom. sg. masc. of pres. mid. ptc. of dep. κάθημαι, “sit”) may be appos., but more likely the def. art. functions like a rel. pron. (BDAG 687a–89c, esp. 2.c.β.). Ἐν with σκότει (darkness) expresses state or cond. Εἶδεν 3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of ὁράω, “see.” Despite its separation from φῶς by the vb., the adj. μέγα modifies φῶς. The position of φῶς prob. marks it as emphatic. Τοῖς καθημένοις (dat. pl. masc. of pres. mid. ptc.) individualizes the people viewed corporately in the first part of the verse. The phrase ἐν χώρᾳ (“region”) καὶ σκιᾷ (“shadow”) θανάτου is prob. a hendiadys mng. “in the land of death’s shadow” (NIV; G 60). However, some tr. render it as a prep. sharing two objects: “in the region and the shadow of death” (ESV; sim. LEB). Ἀνέτειλεν 3rd sg. aor. act. indic. of ἀνατέλλω, “rise.” Αὐτοῖς is a dat. of advantage.

Homiletical Suggestions

Beginning the Work (4:12-16)

  1. Jesus wisely avoided unnecessary danger (4:12-13)
  2. Jesus fulfilled messianic prophecy (4:14-16)
  3. Jesus summoned sinners to repentance (4:17)