The authority of the centurion (Mt 8:8-8:9)

“The centurion responded.

‘Lord!

I am not worthy

To have you

Come under my roof!

But only say the word,

Then my servant

Will be healed.

I am a man

Under authority,

With soldiers

Under me.

I say to one.

‘Go!’

Then he goes.

I say to another.

‘Come!’

Then he comes.

I say to my slave.

‘Do this!’

Then he does it.’”

 

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ἑκατόνταρχος ἔφη Κύριε, οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς ἵνα μου ὑπὸ τὴν στέγην εἰσέλθῃς· ἀλλὰ μόνον εἰπὲ λόγῳ, καὶ ἰαθήσεται ὁ παῖς μου.

καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπός εἰμι ὑπὸ ἐξουσίαν, ἔχων ὑπ’ ἐμαυτὸν στρατιώτας, καὶ λέγω τούτῳ Πορεύθητι, καὶ πορεύεται, καὶ ἄλλῳ Ἔρχου, καὶ ἔρχεται, καὶ τῷ δούλῳ μου Ποίησον τοῦτο, καὶ ποιεῖ.

 

This saying of the centurion is exactly the same as in Luke, chapter 7:6-10, perhaps indicating a Q source.  The Roman centurion responded to Jesus (ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ἑκατόνταρχος ἔφη).  Calling him “Lord” (Κύριε) again, this centurion said that he was not worthy to have such an important man as Jesus enter into his house (οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς ἵνα μου ὑπὸ τὴν στέγην εἰσέλθῃς).  He merely wanted Jesus to say the word (ἀλλὰ μόνον εἰπὲ λόγῳ), and then his servant would be healed (καὶ ἰαθήσεται ὁ παῖς μου).  He explained that he understood authority (καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπός εἰμι ὑπὸ ἐξουσίαν), since he was a Roman solider under the authority of his superiors and yet at the same time, he had soldiers under him (ἔχων ὑπ’ ἐμαυτὸν στρατιώτας).  Thus, if he said to one to go (καὶ λέγω τούτῳ Πορεύθητι, καὶ πορεύεται,) or come (καὶ ἄλλῳ Ἔρχου, καὶ ἔρχεται), they would do precisely that.  The same would be true of his slave who would do whatever he told him to do (καὶ τῷ δούλῳ μου Ποίησον τοῦτο, καὶ ποιεῖ).  This saying about not being worthy has entered into the Roman Catholic liturgy as a prayer before receiving Holy Communion.

21 thoughts on “The authority of the centurion (Mt 8:8-8:9)

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