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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 11)

11:1 {He departed thence to teach and preach} (\metebē ekeithen
tou didaskein kai kērussein\)
. In five instances (7:28; 11:1;
13:53; 19:1; 26:1)
after great discourses by Jesus "the
transition to what follows is made with the formula, 'And it came
to pass when Jesus had ended'" (McNeile). This is a wrong chapter
division, for 11:1 belongs with the preceding section.
"{Commanding}" (\diatassōn\, complementary participle with
, means giving orders in detail (\dia-\) for each of
them. Note both "teach and preach" as in 4:23. Where did Jesus
go? Did he follow behind the twelve as he did with the seventy
"whither he himself was about to come" (Lu 10:1)? Bruce holds
with Chrysostom that Jesus avoided the places where they were,
giving them room and time to do their work. But, if Jesus himself
went to the chief cities of Galilee on this tour, he would be
compelled to touch many of the same points. Jesus would naturally
follow behind at some distance. At the end of the tour the
apostles come together in Capernaum and tell Jesus all that they
had done and that they had taught (Mr 6:30). Matthew follows
the general outline of Mark, but the events are not grouped in
chronological order here.

11:2 {John heard in the prison} (\ho de Iōanēs akousas en tōi
. Probably (Lu 7:18) the raising of the son of the
widow of Nain. The word for prison here is the place where one
was kept bound (Ac 5:21,23; 16:26). See Mt 4:12. It was in
Machaerus east of the Dead Sea which at this time belonged to the
rule of Herod Antipas (Jos. _Ant_. XVIII. v.2). John's disciples
had access to him. So he sent word by (\dia\, not \duo\ as in Lu
them to Jesus.

11:3 {He that cometh} (\ho erchomenos\). This phrase refers to
the Messiah (Mr 11:9; Lu 13:35; 19:38; Heb 10:37; Ps 118:26; Da
. Some rabbis applied the phrase to some forerunner of the
kingdom (McNeile). Was there to be "another" (\heteron\) after
Jesus? John had been in prison "long enough to develop a _prison
mood_" (Bruce). It was once clear enough to him, but his
environment was depressing and Jesus had done nothing to get him
out of Machaerus (see chapter IX in my _John the Loyal_). John
longed for reassurance.

11:4 {The things which ye do hear and see} (\ha akouete kai
. This symbolical message was for John to interpret, not
for them.

11:5 {And the dead are raised up} (\kai nekroi egeirontai\). Like
that of the son of the widow of Nain. Did he raise the dead also
on this occasion? "Tell John your story over again and remind him
of these prophetic texts, Isa 35:5; 61:1" (Bruce). The items
were convincing enough and clearer than mere eschatological
symbolism. "The poor" in particular have the gospel, a climax.

11:6 {Whosoever shall find none occasion of stumbling in me}
(\hos an mē skandalisthēi en emoi\). Indefinite relative clause
with first aorist passive subjunctive. This beatitude is a rebuke
to John for his doubt even though in prison. Doubt is not a proof
of superior intellect, scholarship, or piety. John was in the fog
and that is the time not to make serious decisions. "In some way
even the Baptist had found some occasion of stumbling in Jesus"

11:7 {As these went their way} (\toutōn poreuomenōn\). Present
participle genitive absolute. The eulogy of Jesus was spoken as
the two disciples of John were going away. Is it a matter of
regret that they did not hear this wondrous praise of John that
they might cheer him with it? "It may almost be called the
funeral oration of the Baptist, for not long afterwards Herodias
compassed his death" (Plummer). {A reed shaken by the wind}
(\kalamon hupo anemou saleuomenon\). Latin _calamus_. Used of the
reeds that grew in plenty in the Jordan Valley where John
preached, of a staff made of a reed (Mt 27:29), as a measuring
rod (Re 11:1), of a writer's pen (3Jo 1:13). The reeds by the
Jordan bent with the wind, but not so John.

11:9 {And much more than a prophet} (\kai perissoteron
. Ablative of comparison after \perissoteron\ itself
comparative though meaning exceeding (surrounded by,
. John had all the great qualities of the true
prophet: "Vigorous moral conviction, integrity, strength of will,
fearless zeal for truth and righteousness" (Bruce). And then he
was the Forerunner of the Messiah (Mal 3:1).

11:11 {He that is but little} (\ho mikroteros\). The Authorized
Version here has it better, "he that is least." The article with
the comparative is a growing idiom in the vernacular _Koinē_ for
the superlative as in the modern Greek it is the only idiom for
the superlative (Robertson, _Grammar of the Greek N.T._, p. 668).
The papyri and inscriptions show the same construction. The
paradox of Jesus has puzzled many. He surely means that John is
greater (\meizōn\) than all others in character, but that the
least in the kingdom of heaven surpasses him in privilege. John
is the end of one age, "until John" (11:14), and the beginning
of the new era. All those that come after John stand upon his
shoulders. John is the mountain peak between the old and the new.

11:12 {Suffereth violence} (\biazetai\). This verb occurs only
here and in Lu 16:16 in the N.T. It seems to be middle in Luke
and Deissmann (_Bible Studies_, p. 258) quotes an inscription
"where \biazomai\ is without doubt reflexive and absolute" as in
Lu 16:16. But there are numerous papyri examples where it is
passive (Moulton and Milligan, _Vocabulary_, etc.) so that "there
seems little that promises decisive help for the difficult Logion
of Mt 11:12; Lu 16:16." So then in Mt 11:12 the form can be
either middle or passive and either makes sense, though a
different sense. The passive idea is that the kingdom is forced,
is stormed, is taken by men of violence like "men of violence
take it by force" (\biastai harpazousin autēn\) or seize it like
a conquered city. The middle voice may mean "experiences
violence" or "forces its way" like a rushing mighty wind (so Zahn
. These difficult words of Jesus mean that the preaching of
John "had led to a violent and impetuous thronging to gather
round Jesus and his disciples" (Hort, _Judaistic Christianity_,
p. 26)

11:14 {This is Elijah} (\autos estin Eleias\). Jesus here
endorses John as the promise of Malachi. The people understood
Mal 4:1 to mean the return of Elijah in person. This John
denied as to himself (Joh 1:21). But Jesus affirms that John is
the Elijah of promise who has come already (Mt 17:12). He
emphasizes the point: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

11:17 {Children sitting in the market places} (\paidiois
kathēmenois en tais agorais\)
. This parable of the children
playing in the market place is given also in Lu 7:31f. Had
Jesus as a child in Nazareth not played games with the children?
He had certainly watched them often since. The interest of Christ
in children was keen. He has really created the modern child's
world out of the indifference of the past. They would not play
wedding or funeral in a peevish fret. These metaphors in the
Gospels are vivid to those with eyes to see. The \agora\ was
originally the assembly, then the forum or public square where
the people gathered for trade or for talk as in Athens (Ac
and in many modern towns. So the Roman Forum. The
oriental bazaars today are held in streets rather than public
squares. Even today with all the automobiles children play in the
streets. In English the word "cheap" (Cheapside) meant only
barter and price, not cheap in our sense. The word for mourn
(\ekopsasthe\) means to beat the heart, direct middle, after the
fashion of eastern funeral lamentations.

11:19 {Wisdom is justified by her works} (\edikaiōthē apo tōn
ergōn autēs\)
. A timeless aorist passive (Robertson, _Grammar_,
p. 836f.)
. The word "justified" means "set right" Luke (Lu
has "by all her children" as some MSS. have here to make
Matthew like Luke. These words are difficult, but understandable.
God's wisdom has planned the different conduct of both John and
Jesus. He does not wish all to be just alike in everything. "This
generation" (verse 16) is childish, not childlike, and full of
whimsical inconsistencies in their faultfinding. They exaggerate
in each case. John did not have a demon and Jesus was not a
glutton or a winebibber. "And, worse than either, for \philos\ is
used in a sinister sense and implies that Jesus was the comrade
of the worst characters, and like them in conduct. A malicious
nickname at first, it is now a name of honour: the sinner's
lover" (Bruce). Cf. Lu 15:2. The plan of God is justified by

11:20 {Most of his mighty works} (\hai pleistai dunameis autou\).
Literally, "His very many mighty works" if elative as usual in
the papyri (Moulton, _Prolegomena_, p. 79; Robertson, _Grammar_,
p. 670)
. But the usual superlative makes sense here as the
Canterbury translation has it. This word \dunamis\ for miracle
presents the notion of _power_ like our _dynamite_. The word
\teras\ is wonder, portent, _miraculum_ (miracle) as in Ac
2:19. It occurs only in the plural and always with \sēmeia\. The
word \sēmeion\ means sign (Mt 12:38) and is very common in
John's Gospel as well as the word \ergon\ (work) as in Joh
5:36. Other words used are \paradoxon\, our word _paradox_,
strange (Lu 5:26), \endoxon\, glorious (Lu 13:17),
\thaumasion\, wonderful (Mt 21:15).

11:21 {Chorazin} (\Chorazein\). Mentioned only here and in Lu
10:13. Proof of "the meagreness of our knowledge of Judaism in
the time of Christ" (Plummer) and of the many things not told in
our Gospels (Joh 21:25). We know something of Bethsaida and
more about Capernaum as places of privilege. But (\plēn\,
neither of these cities repented, changed their conduct.
Note condition of the second class, determined as unfulfilled in
verses 21 and 23.

11:25 {At that season Jesus answered and said} (\en ekeinōi tōi
kairōi apokritheis eipen\)
. Spoke to his Father in audible voice.
The time and place we do not know. But here we catch a glimpse of
Jesus in one of his moods of worship. "It is usual to call this
golden utterance a prayer, but it is at once prayer, praise, and
self-communing in a devout spirit" (Bruce). Critics are disturbed
because this passage from the Logia of Jesus or Q of Synoptic
criticism (Mt 11:25-30; Lu 10:21-24) is so manifestly Johannine
in spirit and very language, "the Father" (\ho patēr\), "the son"
(\ho huios\), whereas the Fourth Gospel was not written till the
close of the first century and the Logia was written before the
Synoptic Gospels. The only satisfying explanation lies in the
fact that Jesus did have this strain of teaching that is
preserved in John's Gospel. Here he is in precisely the same mood
of elevated communion with the Father that we have reflected in
John 14 to 17. Even Harnack is disposed to accept this Logion as
a genuine saying of Jesus. The word "thank" (\homologoumai\) is
better rendered "praise" (Moffatt). Jesus praises the Father "not
that the \sophoi\ were ignorant, but that the \nēpioi\ knew"

11:26 {Wellpleasing in thy sight} (\eudokia emprosthen sou\).
"For such has been thy gracious will" (Weymouth).

11:27 {All things have been delivered unto me of my Father}
(\panta moi paredothē hupo tou patros mou\). This sublime claim
is not to be whittled down or away by explanations. It is the
timeless aorist like \edothē\ in 28:18 and "points back to a
moment in eternity, and implies the pre-existence of the Messiah"
(Plummer). The Messianic consciousness of Christ is here as clear
as a bell. It is a moment of high fellowship. Note \epiginōskei\
twice for "fully know." Note also \boulētai\ =wills, is willing.
The Son retains the power and the will to reveal the Father to

11:28 {Come unto me} (\deute pros me\). Verses 28 to 30 are not
in Luke and are among the special treasures of Matthew's Gospel.
No sublimer words exist than this call of Jesus to the toiling
and the burdened (\pephortismenoi\, perfect passive participle,
state of weariness)
to come to him. He towers above all men as he
challenges us. "I will refresh you" (\k'ago anapausō h–mas\). Far
more than mere rest, rejuvenation. The English slang expression
"rest up" is close to the idea of the Greek compound \ana-pauō\.
It is causative active voice.

11:29 {Take my yoke upon you and learn of me} (\arate ton zugon
mou eph'humas kai mathete ap'emou\)
. The rabbis used yoke for
school as many pupils find it now a yoke. The English word
"school" is Greek for leisure (\scholē\). But Jesus offers
refreshment (\anapausin\) in his school and promises to make the
burden light, for he is a meek and humble teacher. Humility was
not a virtue among the ancients. It was ranked with servility.
Jesus has made a virtue of this vice. He has glorified this
attitude so that Paul urges it (Php 2:3), "in lowliness of mind
each counting other better than himself." In portions of Europe
today people place yokes on the shoulders to make the burden
easier to carry. Jesus promises that we shall find the yoke
kindly and the burden lightened by his help. "Easy" is a poor
translation of \chrēstos\. Moffatt puts it "kindly." That is the
meaning in the Septuagint for persons. We have no adjective that
quite carries the notion of kind and good. The yoke of Christ is
useful, good, and kindly. Cf. So 1:10.

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 11)