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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 At that time Jesus was going through a field
of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads 2
of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
"See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the
He said to them, 3
"Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry,
how he went into the house of God and ate the
bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests
could lawfully eat?
4 Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath
the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent?
I say to you, something greater than the temple
5 If you knew what this meant, 'I desire mercy,
not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned these innocent men.
6 For the Son of Man is Lord of the
Moving on from there, he went into their
And behold, there was a man there who had a withered
hand. They questioned him, "Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?" 7
so that they might accuse him.
8 He said to them, "Which one of you who
has a sheep that falls into a pit on the sabbath will not take hold of it and
lift it out?
How much more valuable a person is than a
sheep. So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath."
Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your
hand." He stretched it out, and it was restored as sound as the other.
But the Pharisees 9 went out
and took counsel against him to put him to death.
10 11 When Jesus realized
this, he withdrew from that place. Many (people) followed him, and he cured
but he warned them not to make him known.
This was to fulfill what had been spoken
through Isaiah the prophet:
"Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my
beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my spirit upon him, and he will
proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend 12 or
cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering
wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope." 13
14 Then they brought to him a demoniac who was
blind and mute. He cured the mute person so that he could speak and see.
15 All the crowd was astounded, and said,
"Could this perhaps be the Son of David?"
16 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said,
"This man drives out demons only by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of
But he knew what they were thinking and said to
them, 17 "Every kingdom divided against itself will be
laid waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand.
And if Satan drives out Satan, he is divided
against himself; how, then, will his kingdom stand?
And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom
do your own people 18 drive them out? Therefore they will be
19 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive
out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
20 How can anyone enter a strong man's house and
steal his property, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder
21 Whoever is not with me is against me, and
whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Therefore, I say to you, every sin and
blasphemy will be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit 22
will not be forgiven.
And whoever speaks a word against the Son of
Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be
forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
"Either declare 23 the
tree good and its fruit is good, or declare the tree rotten and its fruit is
rotten, for a tree is known by its fruit.
24 You brood of vipers, how can you say good
things when you are evil? For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.
A good person brings forth good out of a store
of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil.
25 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will
render an account for every careless word they speak.
By your words you will be acquitted, and by
your words you will be condemned."
26 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to
him, "Teacher, 27 we wish to see a sign from you."
He said to them in reply, "An evil and
unfaithful 28 generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given
it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale
three days and three nights, 29 so will the Son of Man be in
the heart of the earth three days and three nights.
30 At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise
with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of
Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here.
At the judgment the queen of the south will
arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of
the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than
31 "When an unclean spirit goes out of a
person it roams through arid regions searching for rest but finds none.
Then it says, 'I will return to my home from
which I came.' But upon returning, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in
Then it goes and brings back with itself seven
other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the
last condition of that person is worse than the first. Thus it will be with
this evil generation."
32 While he was still speaking to the crowds, his
mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him.
(Someone told him, "Your mother and your
brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.") 33
But he said in reply to the one who told him,
"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?"
And stretching out his hand toward his
disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother."
1 [1-14] Matthew here returns to the
Marcan order that he left in ⇒ Matthew 9:18. The two
stories depend on ⇒ Mark 2:23-28;
⇒ 3:1-6 respectively, and are the only places in
either gospel that deal explicitly with Jesus' attitude toward sabbath
2 [1-2] The picking of the heads of
grain is here equated with reaping, which was forbidden on the sabbath
(⇒ Exodus 34:21).
3 [3-4] See ⇒ 1 Sam
21:2-7. In the Marcan parallel (⇒ Mark
2:25-26) the high priest is called Abiathar, although in 1 Sam this
action is attributed to Ahimelech. The Old Testament story is not about a
violation of the sabbath rest; its pertinence to this dispute is that a
violation of the law was permissible because of David's men being without food.
4 [5-6] This and the following
argument (⇒ Matthew 12:7) are peculiar to Matthew.
The temple service seems to be the changing of the showbread on the sabbath
(⇒ Lev 24:8) and the doubling on the sabbath of the
usual daily holocausts (⇒ Numbers 28:9-10). The
argument is that the law itself requires work that breaks the sabbath rest,
because of the higher duty of temple service. If temple duties outweigh the
sabbath law, how much more does the presence of Jesus, with his proclamation of
the kingdom (something greater than the temple), justify the conduct of his
5  See the note on
⇒ Matthew 9:13.
6  The ultimate justification for
the disciples' violation of the sabbath rest is that Jesus, the Son of Man, has
supreme authority over the law.
tradition later than the gospels allowed relief to be given to a sufferer on
the sabbath if life was in danger. This may also have been the view of Jesus'
Pharisaic contemporaries. But the case here is not about one in danger of
8  Matthew omits the question
posed by Jesus in ⇒ Mark 3:4 and substitutes one
about rescuing a sheep on the sabbath, similar to that in
⇒ Luke 14:5.
9  See ⇒ Mark
3:6. Here the
plan to bring about Jesus' death is attributed to the Pharisees only. This is
probably due to the situation of Matthew's church, when the sole opponents were
10 [15-21] Matthew follows
⇒ Mark 3:7-12 but summarizes his source in two verses
(⇒ Matthew 12:15, ⇒ 16)
that pick up the withdrawal, the healings, and the command for silence. To this
he adds a fulfillment citation from the first Servant Song (⇒ Isaiah
42:1-4) that does not correspond exactly to either the Hebrew or the
LXX of that passage. It is the longest Old Testament citation in this gospel,
emphasizing the meekness of Jesus, the Servant of the Lord, and foretelling the
extension of his mission to the Gentiles.
11  Jesus' knowledge of the
Pharisees' plot and his healing all are peculiar to Matthew.
12  The servant's not contending
is seen as fulfilled in Jesus' withdrawal from the disputes narrated in
⇒ Matthew 12:1-14.
13  Except for a minor detail,
Matthew here follows the LXX, although the meaning of the Hebrew ("the
coastlands will wait for his teaching") is similar.
14 [22-32] For the exorcism, see the
note on ⇒ Matthew 9:32-34. The long discussion
combines Marcan and Q material (⇒ Mark 3:22-30;
⇒ Luke 11:19-20, ⇒ 23;
⇒ 12:10). ⇒ Mark 3:20-21
is omitted, with a consequent lessening of the sharpness of
⇒ Matthew 12:48.
15  See the note on
⇒ Matthew 9:27.
16  See the note on
⇒ Matthew 10:25.
17 [25-26] Jesus' first response to
the Pharisees' charge is that if it were true, Satan would be destroying his
18  Besides pointing out the absurdity
of the charge, Jesus asks how the work of Jewish exorcists (your own people) is
to be interpreted. Are they, too, to be charged with collusion with Beelzebul?
For an example of Jewish exorcism see Josephus, Antiquities 8,2,5, 42-49.
19  The Q parallel
(⇒ Luke 11:20) speaks of the "finger"
rather than of the "spirit" of God. While the difference is probably
due to Matthew's editing, he retains the kingdom of God rather than changing it
to his usual "kingdom of heaven." Has come upon you: see
⇒ Matthew 4:17.
20  A short parable illustrates
what Jesus is doing. The strong man is Satan, whom Jesus has tied up and whose
house he is plundering. Jewish expectation was that Satan would be chained up
in the last days (⇒ Rev 20:2); Jesus' exorcisms
indicate that those days have begun.
21  This saying, already attached
to the preceding verses in Q (see ⇒ Luke 11:23),
warns that there can be no neutrality where Jesus is concerned. Its pertinence
in a context where Jesus is addressing not the neutral but the bitterly opposed
is not clear. The accusation of scattering, however, does fit the situation.
Jesus is the shepherd of God's people (⇒ Matthew
2:6), his mission is to the lost sheep of Israel
(⇒ Matthew 15:24); the Pharisees, who oppose him,
are guilty of scattering the sheep.
22  Blasphemy against the Spirit:
the sin of attributing to Satan (⇒ Matthew 12:24)
what is the work of the Spirit of God (⇒ Matthew
23  Declare: literally,
"make." The meaning of this verse is obscure. Possibly it is a
challenge to the Pharisees either to declare Jesus and his exorcisms good or
both of them bad. A tree is known by its fruit; if the fruit is good, so must
the tree be. If the driving out of demons is good, so must its source be.
24  The admission of Jesus'
goodness cannot be made by the Pharisees, for they are evil, and the words that
proceed from their evil hearts cannot be good.
25 [36-37] If on the day of judgment
people will be held accountable for even their careless words, the vicious
accusations of the Pharisees will surely lead to their condemnation.
26 [38-42] This section is mainly from
Q (see ⇒ Luke 11:29-32). ⇒ Mark
8:11-12, which Matthew has followed in ⇒ Matthew
16:1-4, has a similar demand for a sign. The scribes and Pharisees
refuse to accept the exorcisms of Jesus as authentication of his claims and
demand a sign that will end all possibility of doubt. Jesus' response is that
no such sign will be given. Because his opponents are evil and see him as an
agent of Satan, nothing will convince them.
27  Teacher: see the note on
⇒ Matthew 8:19. In ⇒ Matthew 16:1
the request is for a sign "from heaven" (⇒ Mark
28  Unfaithful: literally,
"adulterous." The covenant between God and Israel was portrayed as a
marriage bond, and unfaithfulness to the covenant as adultery; cf
⇒ Hosea 2:4-14; ⇒ Jeremiah
29  See ⇒ Jonah
2:1. While in Q the sign was simply Jonah's preaching to the
Ninevites (⇒ Luke 11:30,
⇒ 32), Matthew here adds Jonah's sojourn in the
belly of the whale for three days and three nights, a prefigurement of Jesus'
sojourn in the abode of the dead and, implicitly, of his resurrection.
30 [41-42] The Ninevites who repented
(see ⇒ Jonah 3:1-10) and the queen of the south
(i.e., of Sheba; see ⇒ 1 Kings 10:1-13) were pagans
who responded to lesser opportunities than have been offered to Israel in the
ministry of Jesus, something greater than Jonah or Solomon. At the final
judgment they will condemn the faithless generation that has rejected him.
Another Q passage; cf ⇒ Matthew 11:24-26. Jesus' ministry
has broken Satan's hold over Israel, but the refusal of this evil generation to
accept him will lead to a worse situation than what preceded his coming.
32 [46-50] See
⇒ Mark 3:31-35. Matthew has omitted ⇒ Mark
3:20-21 which is taken up in ⇒ Mark 3:31
(see the note on ⇒ Matthew 12:22-32), yet the point
of the story is the same in both gospels: natural kinship with Jesus counts for
nothing; only one who does the will of his heavenly Father belongs to his true
33  This
verse is omitted in some important textual witnesses, including Codex
Sinaiticus (original reading) and Codex Vaticanus.
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