Who is the greatest? (Lk 22:24-22:24)

“A dispute also arose

Among the apostles.

‘Which one of them

Was to be regarded

As the greatest?’”

Ἐγένετο δὲ καὶ φιλονεικία ἐν αὐτοῖς, τὸ τίς αὐτῶν δοκεῖ εἶναι μείζων.

Luke said that a dispute arose among the 12 apostles (Ἐγένετο δὲ καὶ φιλονεικία ἐν αὐτοῖς).  Once again, Luke used a Greek word φιλονεικία, that means love of strife, love of dispute, or contention, that is only found here and nowhere else in the Greek biblical literature.  Which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest (τὸ τίς αὐτῶν δοκεῖ εἶναι μείζων)?  Earlier, Luke, chapter 9:46, also had an argument among the disciples of Jesus (Εἰσῆλθεν δὲ διαλογισμὸς ἐν αὐτοῖς) as to which one of them was the greatest (τὸ τίς ἂν εἴη μείζων αὐτῶν).  This question about the greatest can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:1, and Mark, chapter 9:33-34.  Mark said that Jesus asked them what they were discussing or arguing about on the way to Jerusalem.  Jesus knew that they had been talking about something that was a little heated.  Instead of coming to Jesus, as in Matthew, Mark had Jesus go to the disciples.  They were silent when Jesus asked them what they were talking about on their travels.  In fact, they had been arguing or discussing among themselves on the way there, who was the greatest.  Mark never mentioned the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, but just the greatest in general.  The late Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) always proclaimed that he was the greatest, without indicating what he was the greatest at.  They were looking for some sort of status.  Matthew said that the disciples came to Jesus with this question, instead of arguing among themselves.  They asked him who was the greatest in the kingdom of the heaven?  They were looking for some sort of status in a gnostic concept of a higher and lower status people.  After all, they were the important disciples of Jesus.  While Matthew, chapter 20:24, and Mark, chapter 10:41, also had something similar to this, the context was completely different.  In both of them, the Zebedee brothers, James and John, wanted to know whether they would be the greatest of the apostles.  Also, it was not at the Last Supper, but earlier in the ministry of Jesus.  Both Matthew, and Mark indicated a little dissention against James and John.  Mark said that when the ten other leaders or apostles heard about this situation of the sons of Zebedee, they began to be angry, incensed, or indignant with these two brothers.  Matthew said that when the ten other leaders or apostles heard about this situation of the sons of Zebedee, James and John, they were angry, incensed, or indignant with these two brothers.  Why did they want to be prominent?  What was special about them?  Were not all the apostles equal?  What made these two so important?  The discussion in Luke was not centered around James and John, like in the other two synoptics.  Who do you think was the greatest apostle?

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