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Matthew 20:20-23

Context
A Request for James and John

20:20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling down she asked him for a favor. 1  20:21 He said to her, “What do you want?” She replied, 2  “Permit 3  these two sons of mine to sit, one at your 4  right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 20:22 Jesus 5  answered, “You don’t know what you are asking! 6  Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?” 7  They said to him, “We are able.” 8  20:23 He told them, “You will drink my cup, 9  but to sit at my right and at my left is not mine to give. Rather, it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

1 tn Grk “asked something from him.”

2 tn Grk “said to him.”

3 tn Grk “Say that.”

4 tc A majority of witnesses read σου (sou, “your”) here, perhaps for clarification. At the same time, it is possible that the pronoun dropped out through haplography or was excised because of perceived redundancy (there are two other such pronouns in the verse) by א B. Either way, the translation adds it due to the requirements of English style. NA27 includes σου here.

5 tn Grk “And answering, Jesus said.” This is somewhat redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation. Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

6 tn The verbs in Greek are plural here, indicating that Jesus is not answering the mother but has turned his attention directly to the two disciples.

7 tc Most mss (C W 33 Ï, as well as some versional and patristic authorities) in addition have “or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” But this is surely due to a recollection of the fuller version of this dominical saying found in Mark 10:38. The same mss also have the Lord’s response, “and you will be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized” in v. 23, again due to the parallel in Mark 10:39. The shorter reading, in both v. 22 and v. 23, is to be preferred both because it better explains the rise of the other reading and is found in superior witnesses (א B D L Z Θ 085 Ë1,13 pc lat, as well as other versional and patristic authorities).

8 sn No more naïve words have ever been spoken as those found here coming from James and John, “We are able.” They said it with such confidence and ease, yet they had little clue as to what they were affirming. In the next sentence Jesus confirms that they will indeed suffer for his name.

9 tc See the tc note on “about to drink” in v. 22.



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