Saint Matthew – Chapter 26

The Bible – New Testament

Saint Matthew 

Chapter 26


1 When Jesus finished all these words, 2 he said to his disciples,


«You know that in two days’ time it will be Passover, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.»


3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,


and they consulted together to arrest Jesus by treachery and put him to death.


But they said, «Not during the festival, 4 that there may not be a riot among the people.»


5 Now when Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,


a woman came up to him with an alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil, and poured it on his head while he was reclining at table.


When the disciples saw this, they were indignant and said, «Why this waste?


It could have been sold for much, and the money given to the poor.»


Since Jesus knew this, he said to them, «Why do you make trouble for the woman? She has done a good thing for me.


The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me.


6 In pouring this perfumed oil upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.


Amen, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be spoken of, in memory of her.»


Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscar iot, 7 went to the chief priests


8 and said, «What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?» They paid him thirty pieces of silver,


and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.


On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, 9 the disciples approached Jesus and said, «Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?»


10 He said, «Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, «My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.»‘»


The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.


When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve.


And while they were eating, he said, «Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.» 11


Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, «Surely it is not I, Lord?»


He said in reply, «He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me.


12 The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.»


13 Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, «Surely it is not I, Rabbi?» He answered, «You have said so.»


14 15 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, «Take and eat; this is my body.»


Then he took a cup, gave thanks, 16 and gave it to them, saying, «Drink from it, all of you,


for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.


17 I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.»


18 Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.


Then Jesus said to them, «This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken, 19 for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed’;


but after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.»


Peter said to him in reply, «Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.»


20 Jesus said to him, «Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.»


Peter said to him, «Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.» And all the disciples spoke likewise.


21 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, 22 and he said to his disciples, «Sit here while I go over there and pray.»


He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, 23 and began to feel sorrow and distress.


Then he said to them, «My soul is sorrowful even to death. 24 Remain here and keep watch with me.»


He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, «My Father, 25 if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.»


When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, «So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?


Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. 26 The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.»


27 Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, «My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!»


Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open.


He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again.


Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, «Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.


Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.»


While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests and the elders of the people.


His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying, «The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.»


Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, «Hail, Rabbi!» 28 and he kissed him.


Jesus answered him, «Friend, do what you have come for.» Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.


And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear.


Then Jesus said to him, «Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.


Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?


But then how would the scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?»


29 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, «Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me? Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me.


But all this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.» Then all the disciples left him and fled.


30 Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas 31 the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.


Peter was following him at a distance as far as the high priest’s courtyard, and going inside he sat down with the servants to see the outcome.


The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin 32 kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death,


but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two 33 came forward


who stated, «This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.'»


The high priest rose and addressed him, «Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?»


But Jesus was silent. 34 Then the high priest said to him, «I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.»


Jesus said to him in reply, «You have said so. 35 But I tell you: From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.'»


Then the high priest tore his robes and said, «He has blasphemed! 36 What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy;


what is your opinion?» They said in reply, «He deserves to die!»


37 Then they spat in his face and struck him, while some slapped him,


saying, «Prophesy for us, Messiah: who is it that struck you?»


Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, «You too were with Jesus the Galilean.»


38 But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, «I do not know what you are talking about!»


As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, «This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.»


Again he denied it with an oath, «I do not know the man!»


39 A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, «Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away.»


At that he began to curse and to swear, «I do not know the man.» And immediately a cock crowed.


Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: «Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.» He went out and began to weep bitterly.

1 [1-⇒ 28:20] The five books with alternating narrative and discourse (⇒ Matthew 3:1-⇒ 25:46) that give this gospel its distinctive structure lead up to the climactic events that are the center of Christian belief and the origin of the Christian church, the passion and resurrection of Jesus. In his passion narrative (⇒ Matthew 26:26-27) Matthew follows his Marcan source closely but with omissions (e.g., ⇒ Mark 14:51-52) and additions (e.g., ⇒ Matthew 27:3-10, ⇒ 19). Some of the additions indicate that he utilized traditions that he had received from elsewhere; others are due to his own theological insight (e.g., ⇒ Matthew 26:28 «. . . for the forgiveness of sins»; ⇒ Matthew 27:52). In his editing Matthew also altered Mark in some minor details. But there is no need to suppose that he knew any passion narrative other than Mark’s.
2 [1-2] When Jesus finished all these words: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 7:28-29. «You know . . . crucified»: Matthew turns Mark’s statement of the time (⇒ Mark 14:1) into Jesus’ final prediction of his passion. Passover: see the note on ⇒ Mark 14:1.
3 [3] Caiaphas was high priest from A.D. 18 to 36.
4 [5] Not during the festival: the plan to delay Jesus’ arrest and execution until after the festival was not carried out, for according to the synoptics he was arrested on the night of Nisan 14 and put to death the following day. No reason is given why the plan was changed.
5 [6-13] See the notes on ⇒ Mark 14:3-9 and ⇒ John 12:1-8.
6 [12] To prepare me for burial: cf ⇒ Mark 14:8. In accordance with the interpretation of this act as Jesus’ burial anointing, Matthew, more consistent than Mark, changes the purpose of the visit of the women to Jesus’ tomb; they do not go to anoint him (⇒ Mark 16:1) but «to see the tomb» (⇒ Matthew 28:1).
7 [14] Iscariot: see the note on ⇒ Luke 6:16.
8 [15] The motive of avarice is introduced by Judas’s question about the price for betrayal, which is absent in the Marcan source (⇒ Mark 14:10-11). Hand him over: the same Greek verb is used to express the saving purpose of God by which Jesus is handed over to death (cf ⇒ Matthew 17:22; ⇒ 20:18; ⇒ 26:2) and the human malice that hands him over. Thirty pieces of silver: the price of the betrayal is found only in Matthew. It is derived from ⇒ Zechariah 11:12 where it is the wages paid to the rejected shepherd, a cheap price (⇒ Zechariah 11:13). That amount is also the compensation paid to one whose slave has been gored by an ox (⇒ Exodus 21:32).
9 [17] The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread: see the note on ⇒ Mark 14:1. Matthew omits Mark’s «when they sacrificed the Passover lamb.»
10 [18] By omitting much of ⇒ Mark 14:13-15, adding My appointed time draws near, and turning the question into a statement, in your house I shall celebrate the Passover, Matthew has given this passage a solemnity and majesty greater than that of his source.
11 [21] Given Matthew’s interest in the fulfillment of the Old Testament, it is curious that he omits the Marcan designation of Jesus’ betrayer as «one who is eating with me» (⇒ Mark 14:18), since that is probably an allusion to Ps 41, 10. However, the shocking fact that the betrayer is one who shares table fellowship with Jesus is emphasized in ⇒ Matthew 26:23.
12 [24] It would be better . . . born: the enormity of the deed is such that it would be better not to exist than to do it.
13 [25] Peculiar to Matthew. You have said so: cf ⇒ Matthew 26:64; ⇒ 27:11. This is a half-affirmative. Emphasis is laid on the pronoun and the answer implies that the statement would not have been made if the question had not been asked.
14 [26] See the note on ⇒ Mark 14:22-24. The Marcan-Matthean is one of the two major New Testament traditions of the words of Jesus when instituting the Eucharist. The other (and earlier) is the Pauline-Lucan (⇒ 1 Cor 11:23-25; ⇒ Luke 22:19-20). Each shows the influence of Christian liturgical usage, but the Marcan-Matthean is more developed in that regard than the Pauline-Lucan. The words over the bread and cup succeed each other without the intervening meal mentioned in ⇒ 1 Cor 11:25; ⇒ Luke 22:20; and there is parallelism between the consecratory words (this is my body . . . this is my blood). Matthew follows Mark closely but with some changes.
15 [26] See the note on ⇒ Matthew 14:19. Said the blessing: a prayer blessing God. Take and eat: literally, Take, eat. Eat is an addition to Mark’s «take it» (literally, «take»; ⇒ Mark 14:22). This is my body: the bread is identified with Jesus himself. ⇒ Matthew 26:26-29
16 [27-28] Gave thanks: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 15:36. Gave it to them . . . all of you: cf ⇒ Mark 14:23-24. In the Marcan sequence the disciples drink and then Jesus says the interpretative words. Matthew has changed this into a command to drink followed by those words. My blood: see ⇒ Lev 17:11 for the concept that the blood is «the seat of life» and that when placed on the altar it «makes atonement.» Which will be shed: the present participle, «being shed» or «going to be shed,» is future in relation to the Last Supper. On behalf of: Greek peri; see the note on ⇒ Mark 14:24. Many: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 20:28. For the forgiveness of sins: a Matthean addition. The same phrase occurs in ⇒ Mark 1:4 in connection with John’s baptism but Matthew avoids it there (⇒ Matthew 3:11). He places it here probably because he wishes to emphasize that it is the sacrificial death of Jesus that brings forgiveness of sins.
17 [29] Although his death will interrupt the table fellowship he has had with the disciples, Jesus confidently predicts his vindication by God and a new table fellowship with them at the banquet of the kingdom.
18 [30] See the note on ⇒ Mark 14:26.
19 [31] Will have . . . shaken: literally, «will be scandalized in me»; see the note on ⇒ Matthew 24:9-12. I will strike . . . dispersed: cf ⇒ Zechariah 13:7.
20 [34] Before the cock crows: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 14:25. The third watch of the night was called «cockcrow.» Deny me: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 16:24.
21 [36-56] Cf ⇒ Mark 14:32-52. The account of Jesus in Gethsemane is divided between that of his agony (⇒ Matthew 26:36-46) and that of his betrayal and arrest (⇒ Matthew 26:47-56). Jesus’ sorrow and distress (⇒ Matthew 26:37) in face of death is unrelieved by the presence of his three disciples who, though urged to watch with him (⇒ Matthew 26:38, ⇒ 41), fall asleep (⇒ Matthew 26:40, ⇒ 43). He prays that if . . . possible his death may be avoided (⇒ Matthew 26:39) but that his Father’s will be done (⇒ Matthew 26:39, ⇒ 42, ⇒ 44). Knowing then that his death must take place, he announces to his companions that the hour for his being handed over has come (⇒ Matthew 26:45). Judas arrives with an armed band provided by the Sanhedrin and greets Jesus with a kiss, the prearranged sign for his identification (⇒ Matthew 26:47-49). After his arrest, he rebukes a disciple who has attacked the high priest’s servant with a sword (⇒ Matthew 26:51-54), and chides those who have come out to seize him with swords and clubs as if he were a robber (⇒ Matthew 26:55-56). In both rebukes Jesus declares that the treatment he is how receiving is the fulfillment of the scriptures (⇒ Matthew 26:55, ⇒ 56). How should be now the subsequent flight of all the disciples is itself the fulfillment of his own prediction (cf 31). In this episode, Matthew follows Mark with a few alterations.
22 [36] Gethsemane: the Hebrew name means «oil press» and designates an olive orchard on the western slope of the Mount of Olives; see the note on ⇒ Matthew 21:1. The name appears only in Matthew and Mark. The place is called a «garden» in ⇒ John 18:1.
23 [37] Peter and the two sons of Zebedee: cf ⇒ Matthew 17:1.
24 [38] Cf ⇒ Psalm 42:5, ⇒ 11. In the Septuagint (⇒ Psalm 41:4, ⇒ 11) the same Greek word for sorrowful is used as here. To death: i.e., «enough to die»; cf ⇒ Jonah 4:9.
25 [39] My Father: see the note on ⇒ Mark 14:36. Matthew omits the Aramaic ‘abba’ and adds the qualifier my. This cup: see the note on ⇒ Mark 10:38-40.
26 [41] Undergo the test: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 6:13. In that verse «the final test» translates the same Greek word as is here translated the test, and these are the only instances of the use of that word in Matthew. It is possible that the passion of Jesus is seen here as an anticipation of the great tribulation that will precede the parousia (see the notes on ⇒ Matthew 24:8; ⇒ 24:21) to which ⇒ Matthew 6:13 refers, and that just as Jesus prays to be delivered from death (⇒ Matthew 26:39), so he exhorts the disciples to pray that they will not have to undergo the great test that his passion would be for them. Some scholars, however, understand not undergo (literally, «not enter») the test as meaning not that the disciples may be spared the test but that they may not yield to the temptation of falling away from Jesus because of his passion even though they will have to endure it.
27 [42] Your will be done: cf ⇒ Matthew 6:10.
28 [49] Rabbi: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 23:6-7. Jesus is so addressed twice in Matthew (⇒ Matthew 26:25), both times by Judas. For the significance of the closely related address «teacher» in Matthew, see the note on ⇒ Matthew 8:19.
29 [55] Day after day . . . arrest me: cf ⇒ Mark 14:49. This suggests that Jesus had taught for a relatively long period in Jerusalem, whereas ⇒ Matthew 21:1-11 puts his coming to the city for the first time only a few days before.
30 [57-68] Following ⇒ Mark 14:53-65 Matthew presents the nighttime appearance of Jesus before the Sanhedrin as a real trial. After many false witnesses bring charges against him that do not suffice for the death sentence (Matthew 14:60), two came forward who charge him with claiming to be able to destroy the temple . . . and within three days to rebuild it (Matthew 14:60-61). Jesus makes no answer even when challenged to do so by the high priest, who then orders him to declare under oath . . . whether he is the Messiah, the Son of God (⇒ Matthew 26:62-63). Matthew changes Mark’s clear affirmative response (⇒ Mark 14:62) to the same one as that given to Judas (⇒ Matthew 26:25), but follows Mark almost verbatim in Jesus’ predicting that his judges will see him (the Son of Man) seated at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of heaven (⇒ Matthew 26:64). The high priest then charges him with blasphemy (⇒ Matthew 26:65), a charge with which the other members of the Sanhedrin agree by declaring that he deserves to die (⇒ Matthew 26:66). They then attack him (⇒ Matthew 26:67) and mockingly demand that he prophesy (⇒ Matthew 26:68). This account contains elements that are contrary to the judicial procedures prescribed in the Mishnah, the Jewish code of law that dates in written form from ca. A.D. 200, e.g., trial on a feast day, a night session of the court, pronouncement of a verdict of condemnation at the same session at which testimony was received. Consequently, some scholars regard the account entirely as a creation of the early Christians without historical value. However, it is disputable whether the norms found in the Mishnah were in force at the time of Jesus. More to the point is the question whether the Matthean-Marcan night trial derives from a combination of two separate incidents, a nighttime preliminary investigation (cf ⇒ John 18:13, ⇒ 19-24) and a formal trial on the following morning (cf ⇒ Luke 22:66-71).
31 [57] Caiaphas: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 26:3.
32 [59] Sanhedrin: see the note on ⇒ Luke 22:66.
33 [60-61] Two: cf ⇒ Deut 19:15. I can destroy . . . rebuild it: there are significant differences from the Marcan parallel (⇒ Mark 14:58). Matthew omits «made with hands» and «not made with hands» and changes Mark’s «will destroy» and «will build another» to can destroy and (can) rebuild. The charge is probably based on Jesus’ prediction of the temple’s destruction; see the notes on ⇒ Matthew 23:37-39; ⇒ 24:2; and ⇒ John 2:19. A similar prediction by Jeremiah was considered as deserving death; cf ⇒ Jeremiah 7:1-15; ⇒ 26:1-8.
34 [63] Silent: possibly an allusion to ⇒ Isaiah 53:7. I order you . . . living God: peculiar to Matthew; cf ⇒ Mark 14:61.
35 [64] + You have said so: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 26:25. From now on . . . heaven: the Son of Man who is to be crucified (cf ⇒ Matthew 20:19) will be seen in glorious majesty (cf ⇒ Psalm 110:1) and coming on the clouds of heaven (cf ⇒ Daniel 7:13). The Power: see the note on ⇒ Mark 14:61-62.
36 [65] Blasphemed: the punishment for blasphemy was death by stoning (see ⇒ Lev 24:10-16). According to the Mishnah, to be guilty of blasphemy one had to pronounce «the Name itself,» i.e. Yahweh; cf Sanhedrin 7, 4.5. Those who judge the gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial by the later Mishnah standards point out that Jesus uses the surrogate «the Power,» and hence no Jewish court would have regarded him as guilty of blasphemy; others hold that the Mishnah’s narrow understanding of blasphemy was a later development.
37 [67-68] The physical abuse, apparently done to Jesus by the members of the Sanhedrin themselves, recalls the sufferings of the Isaian Servant of the Lord; cf ⇒ Isaiah 50:6. The mocking challenge to prophesy is probably motivated by Jesus’ prediction of his future glory (⇒ Matthew 26:64).
38 [70] Denied it in front of everyone: see ⇒ Matthew 10:33. Peter’s repentance (⇒ Matthew 26:75) saves him from the fearful destiny of which Jesus speaks there.
39 [73] Your speech . . . away: Matthew explicates Mark’s «you too are a Galilean» (⇒ Mark 14:70).