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Matthew 11:7-14

Context

11:7 While they were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness 1  to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 2  11:8 What 3  did you go out to see? A man dressed in fancy clothes? 4  Look, those who wear fancy clothes are in the homes of kings! 5  11:9 What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more 6  than a prophet. 11:10 This is the one about whom it is written:

Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, 7 

who will prepare your way before you. 8 

11:11 “I tell you the truth, 9  among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least 10  in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. 11:12 From 11  the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and forceful people lay hold of it. 12  11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John appeared. 13  11:14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, who is to come.

1 tn Or “desert.”

2 tn There is a debate as to whether one should read this figuratively (“to see someone who is easily blown over?”) or literally (Grk “to see the wilderness vegetation?… No, to see a prophet”). Either view makes good sense, but the following examples suggest the question should be read literally and understood to point to the fact that a prophet drew them to the desert.

3 tn Grk “But what.” Here ἀλλά (alla, a strong contrastive in Greek) produces a somewhat awkward sense in English, and has not been translated. The same situation occurs at the beginning of v. 9.

4 sn The reference to fancy clothes makes the point that John was not rich or powerful, in that he did not come from the wealthy classes.

5 tn Or “palaces.”

6 tn John the Baptist is “more” because he introduces the one (Jesus) who brings the new era. The term is neuter, but may be understood as masculine in this context (BDAG 806 s.v. περισσότερος b).

7 tn Grk “before your face” (an idiom).

8 sn The quotation is primarily from Mal 3:1 with pronouns from Exod 23:20. Here is the forerunner who points the way to the arrival of God’s salvation. His job is to prepare and guide the people, as the cloud did for Israel in the desert.

9 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

10 sn After John comes a shift of eras. The new era is so great that the lowest member of it (the one who is least in the kingdom of God) is greater than the greatest one of the previous era.

11 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

12 tn Or “the kingdom of heaven is forcibly entered and violent people take hold of it.” For a somewhat different interpretation of this passage, see the note on the phrase “urged to enter in” in Luke 16:16.

13 tn The word “appeared” is not in the Greek text, but is implied.



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