Matthew 21:1-17

Matthew 21:1-17
Narrative Lectionary 136


When they had come nearI JerusalemII and had reached Bethphage,III at the Mount of Olives, JesusIV sentV two disciples,VI 

Notes on verse 1

I “come near” = eggizo. From eggus (nearby or near in time). This is extremely close by – approaching, at hand, immediately imminent.
II “Jerusalem” = Hierosoluma. From Hebrew yerushalaim (probably foundation of peace); {from yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach) + shalem (to make amends, to be complete or sound)}. This is Jerusalem, dwelling of peace.
III “Bethphage” = Bethphage. 3x in NT – all in Jesus’s Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem. From Aramaic beth phagy (Bethphage, house of unripe figs). This is Bethphage, house of unripe or early figs.
IV “Jesus” = Iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone). This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
V “sent” = apostello. From apo (from, away from) + stello (to send, set, arrange, prepare, gather up); {probably from histemi (to make to stand, stand, place, set up, establish, appoint, stand firm, be steadfast)}. This is to send forth, send away, dismiss, send as a messenger. It implies one that is sent for a particular mission or purpose rather than a quick errand. This is where “apostle” comes from.
VI “disciples” = mathetes. From matheteuo (to make a disciple of); from manthano (to learn key facts, gain knowledge from experience; generally implies reflection as part of the learning process); from math– (thinking things through). This is a disciple, learner, or student. It is where we get “mathematics” from.

saying to them, “GoVII into the villageVIII ahead of you, and immediatelyIX you will findX a donkey tied,XI

Notes on verse 2a

VII “go” = poreuomai. From poros (ford, passageway). This is to go, travel, journey, or die. It refers to transporting things from one place to another and focuses on the personal significance of the destination.
VIII “village” = kome. This is a village as contrasted with a city that has a wall.
IX “immediately” = eutheos. From euthus (immediately, upright, straight and not crooked). This is directly, soon, at once.
X “find” = heurisko. This is to find, learn, or obtain. It is to discover something, which generally implies a period of searching for it. This is to find in a literal or figurative sense. This is where the word “heuristic” comes from.
XI “tied” = deo. To tie, bind, compel, put in chains. This is to bind in a literal or figurative sense. Can also mean declaring something unlawful.

and a coltXII with her; untieXIII them and bringXIV them to me. 

Notes on verse 2b

XII “colt” = polos. 12x in NT – all in Jesus’s Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem. This is foal, colt, or young donkey.
XIII “untie” = luo. This is to loose, release, or untie. Figuratively, it can mean to break, destroy, or annul. This is releasing what had been withheld.
XIV “bring” = ago. This is lead, bring, carry, guide, drive, go.

If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The LordXV needsXVI them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took placeXVII to fulfillXVIII what had been spoken through the prophet,XIX saying,

Notes on verses 3-4

XV “Lord” = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
XVI “needs” = chreia + echo. Literally “has need.” Chreia is from chraomai (to use, make use of, give what is needed, act in a specific way, request); related to chre (what is proper, fitting, or necessary). This is the is task, business, or affair. It can also be need, want, or destitution.
XVII “took place” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
XVIII “fulfill” = pleroo. From pleres (to be full, complete, abounding in, occupied with). This is to fill, make full or complete. Properly, this is filling something up to the maximum extent that it can be filled – an appropriate amount for its individual capacity. So, this is used figuratively for furnish, influence, satisfy, finish, preach, perfect, and fulfill.
XIX “prophet” = prophetes. From pro (before, in front of, earlier than) + phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view); {from phao (to shine) or phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear)}. This is a prophet or poet – one who speaks with inspiration from God.

“Tell the daughter of Zion,XX
Look,XXI your kingXXII is coming to you,
    humble,XXIII and mounted on a donkey,
        and on a colt, the foalXXIV of a donkey.”XXV

Notes on verse 5

XX “Zion” = sion. 7x in NT. From Hebrew tsiyyon (Zion – a mountain in Jerusalem as well as another name for Jerusalem itself or the people); related to tsyiyyun (signpost, monument); from tsavah (to charge someone, to command, order); from the same as tsiyyah (dryness drought); from a root meaning parched as desert, dry land. This is Zion – the mountain in Jerusalem, the city, or its people. Also used figuratively to refer to the church.
XXI “look” = idou. From eido (to be aware, see, know, remember, appreciate). This is see! Lo! Behold! Look! Used to express surprise and or draw attention to the statement.
XXII “king” = basileus. Probably from basis (step, hence foot; a pace); from baino (to walk, to go). This is king, emperor, or sovereign.
XXIII “humble” = praus. 4x in NT– same as “blessed are the meek” from the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:5). Related to praios (meek, gentle, kind); related to praotes (mildness kindness, meekness; being temperate – gentle, but strong; implies humility). This is gentle, meek, which implies humility.
XXIV “foal” = huios. This is son, descendant – a son whether natural born or adopted. It can be used figuratively for other forms of kinship.
XXV “donkey” = hupozugion. From hupo (by, under, about, one who is subordinate) + zugos (yoke, balance, scales; used metaphorically for a great burden or for that which unites people to perform work in concert; also can connote servitude or obligation); {from zeugnumi (to join, particularly joined with a yoke)}. Literally, this is an animal subject to a yoke or best of burden. So, this can refer to a donkey, mule, or other such animal.

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directedXXVI them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and putXXVII their cloaksXXVIII on them, and he sat on them. 

Notes on verses 6-7

XXVI “directed” = suntasso. 3x in NT. From sun (with together with) + tasso (to arrange, appoint, determine). This is to direct, arrange, prescribe, or instruct.
XXVII “put” = epitithemi. From epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + tithemi (to put, place, set, fix, establish in a literal or figurative sense; properly, this is placing something in a passive or horizontal position). This is to lay on or place on, whether in a friendly or aggressive way.
XXVIII “cloaks” = himation. From heima (garment) OR from ennumi (to put on). This is the outer garment, cloak, robe, or mantle. It is worn loosely over a tunic.

8 A very large crowd spreadXXIX their cloaks on the road,XXX and othersXXXI cutXXXII branchesXXXIII from the trees and spread them on the road. 

Notes on verse 8

XXIX “spread” = stronnuo. 6x in NT. This is to spread, strew, make a bed.
XXX “road” = hodos. This is way, road, path, or journey. It can imply progress along a route.
XXXI “others” = allos. This is other, another. Specifically, it is another of a similar kind or type. There is a different word in Greek that speaks of another as a different kind (heteros).
XXXII “cut” = kopto. 8x in NT. This is to cut, strike, cut off. It can also mean beating the chest to lament and so to mourn.
XXXIII “branches” = klados. 11x in NT. From klao (to break in pieces as one breaks bread). This is a branch, twig, or bough. It can also refer to descendants.

The crowds that went aheadXXXIV of him and that followedXXXV were shouting,XXXVI

Notes on verse 9a

XXXIV “went ahead” = proago. Related to “bring” in v2. From pro (before, first, in front of, earlier) + ago (see note XIV above). This is to lead, go before, bring forward, walk ahead. It can be before in location or in time.
XXXV “followed” = akoloutheo. From a (with, fellowship, union) + keleuthos (road, way). This is to accompany or follow someone, especially the way a disciple does.
XXXVI “shouting” = krazo. This is to cry out, scream, shriek. It is onomatopoeia for the sound of a raven’s call. Figuratively, this means crying out urgently without intelligible words to express something that is deeply felt.

“HosannaXXXVII to the SonXXXVIII of David!XXXIX
    Blessed isXL the one who comes in the nameXLI of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Notes on verse 9b

XXXVII “hosanna” = hosanna. Related to “Jesus” in v1. 6x in NT. From Hebrew yasha (see note IV above) + na (particle used for requests or for urging; can be we pray, now, I ask you, oh). This is Hosanna – save, we pray. It started as a call for help, but later became a cry of happiness (anticipating the help coming). It can be save now, please save, or oh, save.
XXXVIII “Son” = huios. Same as “foal” in v5. See note XXIV above.
XXXIX “David” = Dauid. From Hebrew David (David); from the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle); the root may mean to boil, which is used figuratively to describe love. So, this implies someone you love such as a friend, a lover, or a close family member like an uncle. David’s name likely means something like “beloved one.”
XL “blessed is” = eulogeo. From eu (good, well, well done, rightly) + logos (word, statement, speech, analogy; a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying; a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words; by implication, a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive; can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ); {from lego (to speak, tell, mention)}. Properly, this is speaking well of – speaking so that the other is benefited. It can mean praise, bless, thank, or call for a blessing. This is where “eulogy” comes from.
XLI “name” = onoma. May be from ginosko (know, recognize, learn from firsthand experience). This is a name, authority, cause, character, fame, reputation. The name was thought to include something of the essence of the person so it was not thought to be separate from the person.

10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole cityXLII was in turmoil,XLIII asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from NazarethXLIV in Galilee.”XLV

Notes on verses 10-11

XLII “city” = polis. This is a city or its inhabitants. It is a town of variable size, but one that has walls. This is where “metropolis” and “police” come from.
XLIII “was in turmoil” = seio. 5x in NT. This is shake, move, or quake. Properly, it is shaking back and forth. Figuratively, it can mean to agitate or to cause people to have tremors of fear or worry.
XLIV “Nazareth” = Nazareth. 12x in NT. Perhaps from netser (branch) OR from natsar (to watch, guard, protect). This is Nazareth, meaning perhaps branch or protected. It is a city in Galilee. See
XLV “Galilee” = Galilaia. From Hebrew galil (cylinder, circuit, district); from galal (to roll in a literal or figurative sense, roll away, roll down, wallow, remove, trust). This is Galilee, meaning perhaps region or cylinder.

12 Then Jesus entered the templeXLVI and drove outXLVII all who were selling and buyingXLVIII in the temple,

Notes on verse 12a

XLVI “temple” = hieron. From hieros (sacred, something sacred, temple, holy, set apart; something consecrated to a god). This is the word for temple.
XLVII “drove out” = ekballo. From ek (from, from out of) + ballo (to throw, cast, place, put, drop). This is to throw, put out, produce, expel, banish. It is eject in a literal or figurative sense.
XLVIII “buying” = agorazo. From agora (assembly, forum, marketplace, town square, thoroughfare); from ageiro (to gather). This is to go and buy something at market with a focus on goods being transferred. It can also mean to purchase or redeem.

and he overturnedXLIX the tablesL of the money changersLI and the seatsLII of those who sold doves.LIII 

Notes on verse 12b

XLIX “overturned” = katastrepho. 2x in NT – both in reference to the money changers’ tables. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + strepho (to turn, change, turn back, be converted; to turn around completely to take the opposite path or a completely different one); {from trope (turning, shifting, a revolution; figuratively, a variation); from trepo (to turn)}. This is to overturn literally or figuratively – to be upside down, overthrow or ruin.
L “tables” = trapeza. 15x in NT. Probably from tessares (four; figuratively, can mean total inclusion or universality) + peze (by foot or land) or pezos (by foot or land); {from pous (foot)}. This is a table – whether for eating or conducting business. Literally, four feet. This is where the word “trapeze” comes from.
LI “money changers” = kollubistes. 3x in NT. From kollubos (a small coin); probably related to kollourion (a salve  or poultice for the eye); see kollurion (bread roll or a poultice for the eye in that shape); {probably from kollix (bread roll) or kollao (to glue together; joining, spending time with, or being intimately connected to; can be used for marriage, joining the church, clinging, or adhering to something; can also be used medically for uniting wounds); {from kolla (glue)}}. This is one who deals in coins – a money changer who exchanged Gentile currency for Jewish.
LII “seats” = kathedra. 3x in NT. From kata (down, against, according to, among) + the same as hedraios (sitting, well-seated, immovable; figuratively, steadfast, firm, morally fixed); {from hedra (seat)}. This a seat or bench in a literal or figurative sense. This is the root of “cathedral.”
LIII “doves” = peristera. 10x in NT. This is dove or pigeon.

13 He said to them, “It is written,

‘My houseLIV shall be calledLV a house of prayer’;LVI
    but you are making it a denLVII of robbers.”LVIII

Notes on verse 13

LIV “house” = oikos. This is house – the building, the household, the family, descendants, the temple.
LV “called” = kaleo. Related to keleuo (to command, order, direct); from kelomai (to urge on). This is to call by name, invite, to name, bid, summon, call aloud.
LVI “prayer” = proseuche. From proseuchomai (to pray or pray for, to worship or supplicate; more literally exchanging one’s own wishes for God’s); {from pros (advantageous for, at, toward) + euchomai (to wish, make a request, pray)}. This is prayer, worship, or a place where one prays.
LVII “den” = spelaion. 6x in NT. From speos (cave, grotto). This is a cavern, which implies a place to hide. So, this word can also mean den or hideout. This is where the word “spelunk” comes from.
LVIII “robbers” = lestes. 15x in NT– 3x “you are making [my house] a den of robbers” when Jesus cleanses the temple, 3x of Jesus’ arrest “did you come for me…as though I were a bandit?”; 3x of bandits crucified on Jesus’ left and right; 2x of the man falling into the hands of robbers in the Good Samaritan parable; 2x of the Good Shepherd speech (anyone who doesn’t come in by the gate is a bandit) in John 10:1, 8; 1x of Barrabas as a bandit; and 1x Paul writes he is in danger from bandits. From leis (booty); from leizomai (to plunder). This is a bandit or thief – one who steals by violence/force out in the open as opposed to by stealth. These were part of armed gangs.

14 The blindLIX and the lameLX came to him in the temple, and he curedLXI them. 

Notes on verse 14

LIX “blind” = tuphlos. Derivation unclear. Perhaps from tuphoo (to be conceited, foolish, puffed up, haughty; properly, to blow smoke; figuratively being muddled or cloudy in mind; poor judgment that harms spiritual clarity; also, being covered with smoke – so filled with pride); from tuphos (smoke, vanity, arrogance); from tupho (to raise smoke, smolder, slowly consume without flame). This is blind or a blind person – perhaps in the sense of smoke making things opaque and impossible to see. This is blind literally or figuratively.
LX “lame” = cholos. 14x in NT. This is lame or limping. It can also mean missing a foot.
LXI “cured” = therapeuo. From therapon (servant, attendant, minister); perhaps from theros (properly heat and so used for summer); from thero (to heat). This is to serve, care, attend, heal, or cure. Since it means to attend to, it can be used for doctors, but also for those who serve God. So, it can mean worship. This is where the word “therapy” comes from.

15 But when the chief priestsLXII and the scribesLXIII sawLXIV the amazing thingsLXV that he did,

Notes on verse 15a

LXII “chief priests” = archiereus. Related to “temple” in v12. From archo (to rule, begin, have first rank or have political power) + hiereus (a priest literal or figurative – of any faith); {from hieros (see note XLVI above)} This is a high or chief priest.
LXIII “scribes” = grammateus. From gramma (what is drawn or written so a letter of the alphabet, correspondence, literature, learning); from grapho (to write). This is a writer, scribe, or secretary. Within Judaism, it was someone learned in the Law, a teacher. Also used in the Bible of the town-clerk of Ephesus. See Sirach 38:24-39:11 for a lengthier, positive passage about who scribes were and what they meant in society.
LXIV “saw” = horao. To see, perceive, attend to, look upon, experience. Properly, to stare at and so implying clear discernment. This, by extension, would indicate attending to what was seen and learned. This is to see, often with a metaphorical sense. Can include inward spiritual seeing.
LXV “amazing things” = thaumasios. 1x in NT. From thauma (a wonder or marvel; used abstractly for wonderment or amazement; something that evokes emotional astonishment); may be from theaomai (to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit); from thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance). This is wonderful, something remarkable. It is a miracle that moves people on a personal level – whether to wonder or being indignant.

and heard the childrenLXVI crying outLXVII in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angryLXVIII 16 and said to him, “Do you hearLXIX what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,LXX

Notes on verses 15b-16a

LXVI “children” = pais. Perhaps from paio (to strike or sting). This is child, youth, servant, or slave.
LXVII “crying out” = krazo. Same as “shouting” in v9. See note XXXVI above.
LXVIII “became angry” = aganakteo. 7x in NT. Perhaps from agan (much) + achthos (grief); {related to agkale (bent arm); from agkos (bend, ache)}. This is being greatly grieved or displeased. Generally translated angry or indignant.
LXIX “hear” = akouo. This is hear or listen, but it also means to understand by hearing. This is where the word “acoustics” comes from.
LXX “read” = anaginosko. Related to “name” in v9. From ana (upwards, up, again, back, anew) + ginosko (see note XLI above). This is literally to know again – to recognize, read, or discern.

‘Out of the mouthsLXXI of infantsLXXII and nursing babiesLXXIII
    you have preparedLXXIV praiseLXXV for yourself’?”

Notes on verse 16b

LXXI “mouths” = stoma. Perhaps from tomoteros (sharp, keener); from temno (to cut). This is mouth, speech, language, the tip of a sword, an opening in the ground.
LXXII “infants” = nepios. 15x in NT– used in 1 Corinthians 13 (“when I was a child…”). This may be from ne (not) + epos (word; by extension, to speak) {from epo (to answer, bring word, command). This is an infant, child, minor, or immature person. It can also be used figuratively for someone who is childish or unlearned.
LXXIII “nursing babies” = thelazo. 5x in NT. From thele (a nipple). This is to nurse or suckle – a nursing baby.
LXXIV “prepared” = katartizo. 13x in NT. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + artizo (get ready, prepare); {from artios (perfect, complete, ready, adequate, fitted); from arti (now, in the moment); from airo (raise, take up, lift, remove)}. This is to prepare, complete, perfect for final use. This is restoring something to a good condition, whether for the first time or one more. It is to repair in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXV “praise” = ainos. 2x in NT. Perhaps from epainos (fitting praise, fame, approval; recognizing something or someone that is deserving of praise.); {from epi (on, upon, to, what is fitting) + aineo (to praise, praise God)}. This is praise, a story praising God.

17 He leftLXXVI them, went out of the city to Bethany,LXXVII and spent the nightLXXVIII there.

Notes on verse 17

LXXVI “left” = kataleipo. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + leipo (to leave behind, remain, lack, abandon, fall behind while racing). This is to leave or leave behind, abandon, forsake, leave in reserve.
LXXVII “Bethany” = Bethania. Related to “Bethphage” in v1. 12x in NT. From Aramaic beth anya (house of affliction, misery, wretchedness). This is Bethany.
LXXVIII “spent the night” = aulizomai. 2x in NT. From aule (to inquire, question, examine precisely, test with questions); {from ek (from, from out of) + etazo (to examine)}. This is to spend the night, lodge, abide.

Image credit: “Casting out the Moneychangers from the Temple” by Johann Thorn Prikker, c.1912.

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