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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 When Jesus 2 finished these
words, 3 he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea
across the Jordan.
Great crowds followed him, and he cured them
Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, 4
saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause
5 He said in reply, "Have you not read that
from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female'
and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave
his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one
So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate."
6 They said to him, "Then why did Moses
command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?"
He said to them, "Because of the hardness
of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning
it was not so.
I say to you, 7 whoever
divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits
[His] disciples said to him, "If that is
the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry."
He answered, "Not all can accept [this]
word, 8 but only those to whom that is granted.
Some are incapable of marriage because they
were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they
have renounced marriage 9 for the sake of the kingdom of
heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it."
10 Then children were brought to him that he
might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them,
but Jesus said, "Let the children come to
me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as
After he placed his hands on them, he went
11 12 Now someone approached him
and said, "Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?"
He answered him, "Why do you ask me about
the good? There is only One who is good. 13 If you wish to
enter into life, keep the commandments."
14 He asked him, "Which ones?" And
Jesus replied, " 'You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you
shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother'; and 'you
shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
15 The young man said to him, "All of these
I have observed. What do I still lack?"
Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be
perfect, 16 go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
When the young man heard this statement, he
went away sad, for he had many possessions.
17 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Amen,
I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of
Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to
pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom
18 When the disciples heard this, they were
greatly astonished and said, "Who then can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said, "For human
beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible."
Then Peter said to him in reply, "We have
given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?"
19 Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on
his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve
tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or
brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my
name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.
20 But many who are first will be last, and the
last will be first.
[1-⇒ 23:39] The narrative section of the fifth book
of the gospel. The first part (⇒ Matthew
19:1-⇒ 20:34) has for its setting the
journey of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem; the second
(⇒ Matthew 21:1-⇒ 23:39)
deals with Jesus' ministry in Jerusalem up to the final great discourse of the
gospel (Matthew 24-25). Matthew follows the Marcan sequence of events, though
adding material both special to this gospel and drawn from Q. The second part
ends with the denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees
(⇒ Matthew 23:1-36) followed by Jesus' lament over
Jerusalem (⇒ Matthew 23:37-39). This long and
important speech raises a problem for the view that Matthew is structured
around five other discourses of Jesus (see Introduction) and that this one has
no such function in the gospel. However, it is to be noted that this speech
lacks the customary concluding formula that follows the five discourses (see
the note on ⇒ Matthew 7:28), and that those
discourses are all addressed either exclusively (Matthew 10;18;24;25) or
primarily (Matthew 5-7;13) to the disciples, whereas this is addressed
primarily to the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 13-36). Consequently, it seems
plausible to maintain that the evangelist did not intend to give it the
structural importance of the five other discourses, and that, in spite of its
being composed of sayings-material, it belongs to the narrative section of this
book. In that regard, it is similar to the sayings-material of
⇒ Matthew 11:7-30. Some have proposed that Matthew
wished to regard it as part of the final discourse of Matthew 24-25, but the
intervening material (⇒ Matthew 24:1-4) and the
change in matter and style of those chapters do not support that view.
2  In giving Jesus' teaching on
divorce (⇒ Matthew 19:3-9), Matthew here follows his
Marcan source (⇒ Mark 10:2-12) as he does Q in
⇒ Matthew 5:31-32 (cf ⇒ Luke
16:18). ⇒ Matthew 19:10-12 are peculiar
3  When Jesus finished these
words: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 7:28-29. The
district of Judea across the Jordan: an inexact designation of the territory.
Judea did not extend across the Jordan; the territory east of the river was
Perea. The route to Jerusalem by way of Perea avoided passage through Samaria.
4  Tested him: the verb is used of
attempts of Jesus' opponents to embarrass him by challenging him to do
something they think impossible (⇒ Matthew 16:1;
⇒ Mark 8:11; ⇒ Luke
11:16) or by having him say something that they can use against him
(⇒ Matthew 22:18, ⇒ 35;
⇒ Mark 10:2; ⇒ 12:15).
For any cause whatever: this is peculiar to Matthew and has been interpreted by
some as meaning that Jesus was being asked to take sides in the dispute between
the schools of Hillel and Shammai on the reasons for divorce, the latter
holding a stricter position than the former. It is unlikely, however, that to
ask Jesus' opinion about the differing views of two Jewish schools, both highly
respected, could be described as "testing" him, for the reason
5 [4-6] Matthew recasts his Marcan
source, omitting Jesus' question about Moses' command (⇒ Mark
10:3) and having him recall at once two Genesis texts that show the
will and purpose of the Creator in making human beings male and female
(⇒ Genesis 1:27), namely, that a man may be joined
to his wife in marriage in the intimacy of one flesh
(⇒ Genesis 2:24). What God has thus joined must not
be separated by any human being. (The NAB translation of the Hebrew basar of
⇒ Genesis 2:24 as "body" rather than
"flesh" obscures the reference of Matthew to that text.)
6  See ⇒ Deut
7  Moses' concession to human
sinfulness (the hardness of your hearts, ⇒ Matthew
19:8) is repudiated by Jesus, and the original will of the Creator is
reaffirmed against that concession. (Unless the marriage is unlawful): see the
note on ⇒ Matthew 5:31-32. There is some evidence
suggesting that Jesus' absolute prohibition of divorce was paralleled in the
Qumran community (see 11QTemple 57:17-19; CD 4:12b-5:14). Matthew removes
Mark's setting of this verse as spoken to the disciples alone "in the
house" (⇒ Mark 10:10) and also his extension
of the divorce prohibition to the case of a woman's divorcing her husband
(⇒ Matthew 10:12), probably because in Palestine,
unlike the places where Roman and Greek law prevailed, the woman was not
allowed to initiate the divorce.
8  [This] word: probably the
disciples' "it is better not to marry" (⇒ Matthew
19:10). Jesus agrees but says that celibacy is not for all but only
for those to whom that is granted by God.
9  Incapable of marriage:
literally, "eunuchs." Three classes are mentioned, eunuchs from
birth, eunuchs by castration, and those who have voluntarily renounced marriage
(literally, "have made themselves eunuchs") for the sake of the
kingdom, i.e., to devote themselves entirely to its service. Some scholars take
the last class to be those who have been divorced by their spouses and have
refused to enter another marriage. But it is more likely that it is rather
those who have chosen never to marry, since that suits better the optional
nature of the decision: whoever can . . . ought to accept it.
10 [13-15] This account is understood
by some as intended to justify the practice of infant baptism. That
interpretation is based principally on the command not to prevent the children
from coming, since that word sometimes has a baptismal connotation in the New
Testament; see ⇒ Acts 8:36.
11 [16-30] Cf ⇒ Mark
story does not set up a "two-tier" morality, that of those who seek
(only) eternal life (⇒ Matthew 19:16) and that of
those who wish to be perfect (⇒ Matthew 16:21). It
speaks rather of the obstacle that riches constitute for the following of Jesus
and of the impossibility, humanly speaking, for one who has many possessions
(⇒ Matthew 16:22) to enter the kingdom
(⇒ Matthew 16:24). Actual renunciation of riches is
not demanded of all; Matthew counts the rich Joseph of Arimathea as a disciple
of Jesus (⇒ Matthew 27:57). But only the poor in
spirit (⇒ Matthew 5:3) can enter the kingdom and, as
here, such poverty may entail the sacrifice of one's possessions. The Twelve,
who have given up everything (⇒ Matthew 16:27) to
follow Jesus, will have as their reward a share in Jesus' (the Son of Man's)
judging the twelve tribes of Israel (⇒ Matthew 16:28),
and all who have similarly sacrificed family or property for his sake will
inherit eternal life (Matthew 16:29).
12  Gain eternal life: this is
equivalent to "entering into life" (⇒ Matthew
19:17) and "being saved" (⇒ Matthew
16:25); the life is that of the new age after the final judgment (see
⇒ Matthew 25:46). It probably is also equivalent
here to "entering the kingdom of heaven" (⇒ Matthew
19:23) or "the kingdom of God" (⇒ Matthew
19:24), but see the notes on ⇒ Matthew 3:2;
⇒ 4:17; ⇒ 18:1 for the
wider reference of the kingdom in Matthew.
13  By Matthew's reformulation of
the Marcan question and reply (⇒ Mark 10:17-18)
Jesus' repudiation of the term "good" for himself has been softened.
Yet the Marcan assertion that "no one is good but God alone" stands,
with only unimportant verbal modification.
14 [18-19] The first five commandments
cited are from the Decalogue (see ⇒ Exodus
20:12-16; ⇒ Deut 5:16-20). Matthew omits
Mark's "you shall not defraud" (⇒ Matthew
10:19; see ⇒ Deut 24:14) and adds
⇒ Lev 19:18. This combination of commandments of
the Decalogue with ⇒ Lev 19:18 is partially the
same as Paul's enumeration of the demands of Christian morality in
⇒ Romans 13:9.
15  Young man: in Matthew alone of
the synoptics the questioner is said to be a young man; thus the Marcan
"from my youth" (⇒ Matthew 10:20) is
16  If you wish to be perfect: to
be perfect is demanded of all Christians; see ⇒ Matthew
5:48. In the case of this man, it involves selling his possessions
and giving to the poor; only so can he follow Jesus.
17 [23-24] Riches are an obstacle to
entering the kingdom that cannot be overcome by human power. The comparison
with the impossibility of a camel's passing through the eye of a needle should
not be mitigated by such suppositions as that the eye of a needle means a low
or narrow gate. The kingdom of God: as in ⇒ Matthew
12:28; ⇒ 21:31,
⇒ 43 instead of Matthew's usual kingdom of heaven.
18 [25-26] See the note on
⇒ Mark 10:23-27.
19  This saying, directed to the
Twelve, is from Q; see ⇒ Luke 22:29-30. The new
age: the Greek word here translated "new age" occurs in the New
Testament only here and in ⇒ Titus 3:5. Literally, it
means "rebirth" or "regeneration," and is used in Titus of
spiritual rebirth through baptism. Here it means the "rebirth"
effected by the coming of the kingdom. Since that coming has various stages
(see the notes on ⇒ Matthew 3:2;
⇒ 4:17), the new age could be taken as referring to
the time after the resurrection when the Twelve will govern the true Israel,
i.e., the church of Jesus. (For "judge" in the sense of
"govern," cf ⇒ Judges 12:8,
9, ⇒ 11; ⇒ 15:20;
⇒ 16:31; ⇒ Psalm 2:10).
But since it is connected here with the time when the Son of Man will be seated
on his throne of glory, language that Matthew uses in ⇒ Matthew
25:31 for the time of final judgment, it is more likely that what the
Twelve are promised is that they will be joined with Jesus then in judging the
people of Israel.
20  Different interpretations have
been given to this saying, which comes from ⇒ Mark
10:31. In view of Matthew's associating it with the following parable
(⇒ Matthew 20:1-15) and substantially repeating it
(in reverse order) at the end of that parable (⇒ Matthew
20:16), it may be that his meaning is that all who respond to the
call of Jesus, at whatever time (first or last), will be the same in respect to
inheriting the benefits of the kingdom, which is the gift of God.
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