21:23 Now after Jesus 1 entered the temple courts, 2 the chief priests and elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority 3 are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 21:24 Jesus 4 answered them, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 21:25 Where did John’s baptism come from? From heaven or from people?” 5 They discussed this among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 21:26 But if we say, ‘From people,’ we fear the crowd, for they all consider John to be a prophet.” 21:27 So 6 they answered Jesus, 7 “We don’t know.” 8 Then he said to them, “Neither will I tell you 9 by what authority 10 I am doing these things.
1 tn Grk “he.”
2 tn Grk “the temple.”
3 tn On this phrase, see BDAG 844 s.v. ποῖος 2.a.γ.1
4 tn Grk “answering, Jesus said to them.” This is somewhat redundant and has been simplified in the translation. Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
5 tn The plural Greek term ἀνθρώπων (anqrwpwn) is used here (and in v. 26) in a generic sense, referring to both men and women (cf. NAB, NRSV, “of human origin”; TEV, “from human beings”; NLT, “merely human”).
sn The question is whether John’s ministry was of divine or human origin.
6 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “So” to indicate that the clause is a result of the deliberations of the leaders.
7 tn Grk “answering Jesus, they said.” This construction is somewhat awkward in English and has been simplified in the translation.
8 sn Very few questions could have so completely revealed the wicked intentions of the religious leaders. Jesus’ question revealed the motivation of the religious leaders and exposed them for what they really were – hypocrites. They indicted themselves when they cited only two options and chose neither of them (“We do not know”). The point of Matt 21:23-27 is that no matter what Jesus said in response to their question, they were not going to believe it and would in the end use it against him.
9 sn Neither will I tell you. Though Jesus gave no answer, the analogy he used to their own question makes his view clear. His authority came from heaven.