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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 22


1 Jesus again in reply spoke to them in parables, saying,


"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast 2 for his son.


3 He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come.


A second time he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast."'


Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.


The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.


4 The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.


Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.


Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.'


The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, 5 and the hall was filled with guests.


6 But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.


He said to him, 'My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?' But he was reduced to silence.


7 Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'


Many are invited, but few are chosen."


8 Then the Pharisees 9 went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech.


They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, 10 saying, "Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion, for you do not regard a person's status.


11 Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?"


Knowing their malice, Jesus said, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?


12 Show me the coin that pays the census tax." Then they handed him the Roman coin.


He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?"


They replied, "Caesar's." 13 At that he said to them, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."


When they heard this they were amazed, and leaving him they went away.


14 On that day Sadducees approached him, saying that there is no resurrection. 15 They put this question to him,


saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies 16 without children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up descendants for his brother.'


Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died and, having no descendants, left his wife to his brother.


The same happened with the second and the third, through all seven.


Finally the woman died.


Now at the resurrection, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had been married to her."


17 Jesus said to them in reply, "You are misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God.


At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven.


And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you 18 by God,


'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."


When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.


19 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,


and one of them [a scholar of the law] 20 tested him by asking,


"Teacher, 21 which commandment in the law is the greatest?"


He said to him, 22 "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.


This is the greatest and the first commandment.


The second is like it: 23 You shall love your neighbor as yourself.


24 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."


25 26 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus questioned them,


27 saying, "What is your opinion about the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They replied, "David's."


He said to them, "How, then, does David, inspired by the Spirit, call him 'lord,' saying:


'The Lord said to my lord, "Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet"'?


28 If David calls him 'lord,' how can he be his son?"


No one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.



1 [1-14] This parable is from Q; see Luke 14:15-24. It has been given many allegorical traits by Matthew, e.g., the burning of the city of the guests who refused the invitation ( Matthew 22:7), which corresponds to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. It has similarities with the preceding parable of the tenants: the sending of two groups of servants ( Matthew 22:3, 4), the murder of the servants ( Matthew 22:6) the punishment of the murderers ( Matthew 22:7), and the entrance of a new group into a privileged situation of which the others had proved themselves unworthy ( Matthew 22:8-10). The parable ends with a section that is peculiar to Matthew ( Matthew 22:11-14), which some take as a distinct parable. Matthew presents the kingdom in its double aspect, already present and something that can be entered here and now ( Matthew 22:1-10), and something that will be possessed only by those present members who can stand the scrutiny of the final judgment ( Matthew 22:11-14). The parable is not only a statement of God's judgment on Israel but a warning to Matthew's church.

2 [2] Wedding feast: the Old Testament's portrayal of final salvation under the image of a banquet ( Isaiah 25:6) is taken up also in Matthew 8:11; cf Luke 13:15.

3 [3-4] Servants . . . other servants: probably Christian missionaries in both instances; cf Matthew 23:34.

4 [7] See the note on Matthew 22:1-14.

5 [10] Bad and good alike: cf Matthew 13:47.

6 [11] A wedding garment: the repentance, change of heart and mind, that is the condition for entrance into the kingdom ( Matthew 3:2; 4:17) must be continued in a life of good deeds ( Matthew 7:21-23).

7 [13] Wailing and grinding of teeth: the Christian who lacks the wedding garment of good deeds will suffer the same fate as those Jews who have rejected Jesus; see the note on Matthew 8:11-12.

8 [15-22] The series of controversies between Jesus and the representatives of Judaism (see the note on Matthew 21:23-27) is resumed. As in the first ( Matthew 21:23-27), here and in the following disputes Matthew follows his Marcan source with few modifications.

9 [15] The Pharisees: while Matthew retains the Marcan union of Pharisees and Herodians in this account, he clearly emphasizes the Pharisees' part. They alone are mentioned here, and the Herodians are joined with them only in a prepositional phrase of Matthew 22:16. Entrap him in speech: the question that they will pose is intended to force Jesus to take either a position contrary to that held by the majority of the people or one that will bring him into conflict with the Roman authorities.

10 [16] Herodians: see the note on Mark 3:6. They would favor payment of the tax; the Pharisees did not.

11 [17] Is it lawful: the law to which they refer is the law of God.

12 [19] They handed him the Roman coin: their readiness in producing the money implies their use of it and their acceptance of the financial advantages of the Roman administration in Palestine.

13 [21] Caesar's: the emperor Tiberius (A.D. 14-37). Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar: those who willingly use the coin that is Caesar's should repay him in kind. The answer avoids taking sides in the question of the lawfulness of the tax. To God what belongs to God: Jesus raises the debate to a new level. Those who have hypocritically asked about tax in respect to its relation to the law of God should be concerned rather with repaying God with the good deeds that are his due; cf Matthew 21:41, 43.

14 [23-33] Here Jesus' opponents are the Sadducees, members of the powerful priestly party of his time; see the note on Matthew 3:7. Denying the resurrection of the dead, a teaching of relatively late origin in Judaism (cf Daniel 12:2), they appeal to a law of the Pentateuch ( Deut 25:5-10) and present a case based on it that would make resurrection from the dead ridiculous ( Matthew 22:24-28). Jesus chides them for knowing neither the scriptures nor the power of God ( Matthew 22:29). His argument in respect to God's power contradicts the notion, held even by many proponents as well as by opponents of the teaching, that the life of those raised from the dead would be essentially a continuation of the type of life they had had before death ( Matthew 22:30). His argument based on the scriptures ( Matthew 22:31-32) is of a sort that was accepted as valid among Jews of the time.

15 [23] Saying that there is no resurrection: in the Marcan parallel ( Matthew 22:12, 18) the Sadducees are correctly defined as those "who say there is no resurrection"; see also Luke 20:27. Matthew's rewording of Mark can mean that these particular Sadducees deny the resurrection, which would imply that he was not aware that the denial was characteristic of the party. For some scholars this is an indication of his being a Gentile Christian; see the note on Matthew 21:4-5.

16 [24] "If a man dies . . . his brother': this is known as the "law of the levirate," from the Latin levir, "brother-in-law." Its purpose was to continue the family line of the deceased brother ( Deut 25:6).

17 [29] The sexual relationships of this world will be transcended; the risen body will be the work of the creative power of God.

18 [31-32] Cf Exodus 3:6. In the Pentateuch, which the Sadducees accepted as normative for Jewish belief and practice, God speaks even now (to you) of himself as the God of the patriarchs who died centuries ago. He identifies himself in relation to them, and because of their relation to him, the living God, they too are alive. This might appear no argument for the resurrection, but simply for life after death as conceived in Wisdom 3, 1-3. But the general thought of early first-century Judaism was not influenced by that conception; for it human immortality was connected with the existence of the body.

19 [34-40] The Marcan parallel ( Mark 12:28-34) is an exchange between Jesus and a scribe who is impressed by the way in which Jesus has conducted himself in the previous controversy ( Mark 12:28), who compliments him for the answer he gives him ( Mark 12:32), and who is said by Jesus to be "not far from the kingdom of God" ( Mark 12:34). Matthew has sharpened that scene. The questioner, as the representative of other Pharisees, tests Jesus by his question ( Matthew 22:34-35), and both his reaction to Jesus' reply and Jesus' commendation of him are lacking.

20 [35] [A scholar of the law]: meaning "scribe." Although this reading is supported by the vast majority of textual witnesses, it is the only time that the Greek word so translated occurs in Matthew. It is relatively frequent in Luke, and there is reason to think that it may have been added here by a copyist since it occurs in the Lucan parallel ( Luke 10:25-28). Tested: see the note on Matthew 19:3.

21 [36] For the devout Jew all the commandments were to be kept with equal care, but there is evidence of preoccupation in Jewish sources with the question put to Jesus.

22 [37-38] Cf Deut 6:5. Matthew omits the first part of Mark's fuller quotation ( Mark 12:29; Deut 6:4-5), probably because he considered its monotheistic emphasis needless for his church. The love of God must engage the total person (heart, soul, mind).

23 [39] Jesus goes beyond the extent of the question put to him and joins to the greatest and the first commandment a second, that of love of neighbor, Lev 19:18; see the note on Matthew 19:18-19. This combination of the two commandments may already have been made in Judaism.

24 [40] The double commandment is the source from which the whole law and the prophets are derived.

25 [41-46] Having answered the questions of his opponents in the preceding three controversies, Jesus now puts a question to them about the sonship of the Messiah. Their easy response ( Matthew 22:43a) is countered by his quoting a verse of Psalm 110 that raises a problem for their response (43b-45). They are unable to solve it and from that day on their questioning of him is ended.

26 [41] The Pharisees . . . questioned them: Mark is not specific about who are questioned ( Mark 12:35).

27 [42-44] David's: this view of the Pharisees was based on such Old Testament texts as Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5; and Ezekiel 34:23; see also the extrabiblical Psalms of Solomon Psalm 17:21. How, then . . . saying: Jesus cites Psalm 110:1 accepting the Davidic authorship of the psalm, a common view of his time. The psalm was probably composed for the enthronement of a Davidic king of Judah. Matthew assumes that the Pharisees interpret it as referring to the Messiah, although there is no clear evidence that it was so interpreted in the Judaism of Jesus' time. It was widely used in the early church as referring to the exaltation of the risen Jesus. My lord: understood as the Messiah.

28 [45] Since Matthew presents Jesus both as Messiah ( Matthew 16:16) and as Son of David ( Matthew 1:1; see also the note on Matthew 9:27), the question is not meant to imply Jesus' denial of Davidic sonship. It probably means that although he is the Son of David, he is someone greater, Son of Man and Son of God, and recognized as greater by David who calls him my "lord.'

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