“Then Jesus said
‘Prophets are not
Except in their hometown,
Among their own relatives,
And in their own house.’”
καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι Οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τοῖς συγγενεῦσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ.
This saying about no honor for prophets in their hometown can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 13:57, and Luke, chapter 4:24, and here. Mark said that Jesus told them (καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς) that prophets are not without honor or not despised (ὅτι Οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος), except in their own country (εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ), among their own relatives (καὶ ἐν τοῖς συγγενεῦσιν αὐτοῦ), and in their own house (καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ). They would be not honored among their own hometown, relatives, and in their own house. It is always more difficult in your own home town. This was common among the Old Testament prophets, especially the Israelite prophets Jeremiah and Amos.
This Gospel of Matthew has a prologue with five parts that echo the book of Genesis. First, there was the genealogy of Jesus via Joseph that began with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then this genealogy went through the twin sons of Judah and the descendants of Perez. Then it went from Ruth to King David. Then there was the kings of Judah from Solomon to the gap and up to and including the Babylonian captivity. Finally, there were the unknown names in this genealogy that led up to Joseph and his father. Matthew then explained the genealogy of Jesus, since there were differences of this genealogy with that of the Gospel of Luke.
The second part of this prologue was the virgin birth of Jesus. First of all, there was the conception of Jesus from Joseph’s point of view, not Mary’s. Joseph wanted to divorce Mary for being pregnant until an angel in a dream told him that Jesus would be a special child that fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah. After waking up from his dream, there was the virgin birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
The third part of this prologue was the visit of the Magi. They brought their questions to Herod the Judean Roman king, who was annoyed and frightened. He found out that Bethlehem was described by the prophet Micah as the place where the Messiah would be born. Herod summoned the Magi and sent them to Bethlehem. The Magi followed the star and found Mary with the child at the so-called Epiphany. However, they went home another route so that they did not go back to King Herod.
The fourth part was the flight into Egypt, as Joseph had another dream. They went to Egypt to fulfill another prophecy that the Messiah would come out of Egypt. Meanwhile, King Herod killed all the under two-year old boys in the Bethlehem area as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah.
Finally, the fifth part of the prologue was the return of Jesus to Nazareth when Joseph had a third dream. He was told to return to Israel, or more specifically to Galilee in a place called Nazareth. Thus, this prologue gave the unique perspective of Joseph.
“You will hear
And rumors of wars.
See that you are not alarmed!
This must take place.
But the end is not yet.”
μελλήσετε δὲ ἀκούειν πολέμους καὶ ἀκοὰς πολέμων· ὁρᾶτε, μὴ θροεῖσθε· δεῖ γὰρ γενέσθαι, ἀλλ’ οὔπω ἐστὶν τὸ τέλος.
There is something similar in Mark, chapter 13:7, and in Luke, chapter 21:9, almost word for word. Jesus told them that they would hear about wars or battles (μελλήσετε δὲ ἀκούειν πολέμους) and rumors of wars (καὶ ἀκοὰς πολέμων). They should not be alarmed (ὁρᾶτε, μὴ θροεῖσθε). This was going to happen (δεῖ γὰρ γενέσθαι), but the end was not near (ἀλλ’ οὔπω ἐστὶν τὸ τέλος). The idea of strife and rumors of violence and wars was a great prophetic theme with Isaiah, chapter 19:1-4, and Jeremiah, chapter 51:46.
“Jesus said to them.
‘It is written.
Shall be called
A house of prayer.’
‘But you are making it
A den of robbers.’”
καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Γέγραπται Ὁ οἶκός μου οἶκος προσευχῆς κληθήσεται, ὑμεῖς δὲ αὐτὸν ποιεῖτε σπήλαιον λῃστῶν.
This biblical citation of Jesus in the Temple by Matthew, can be found in Mark, chapter 11:17, and Luke, chapter 19:46, almost word for word. Matthew said that Jesus told them that it was written in Scripture (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Γέγραπται) that his house shall be called a house of prayer (Ὁ οἶκός μου οἶκος προσευχῆς κληθήσεται). However, they were making it into a den or hideout of robbers or bandits (ὑμεῖς δὲ αὐτὸν ποιεῖτε σπήλαιον λῃστῶν). This first citation is from Isaiah, chapter 56:7, while the second citation is from Jeremiah, chapter 7:11.
“But Jesus answered.
‘You do not know
What you are asking.
Are you able to drink
That I am about to drink?’
They said to him.
‘We are able.’”
ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν Οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε. δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ μέλλω πίνειν; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Δυνάμεθα.
There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 10:38-39, but slightly different. Jesus answered her by asking (ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν) if she knew what she was asking (Οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε.). Were her two sons able to drink the cup (δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον) that he was about to drink (ὃ ἐγὼ μέλλω πίνειν)? They, her sons, responded themselves that they were able to do so (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Δυνάμεθα). The idea of a cup as suffering or the cup of wrath could be found among the major prophets in Isaiah, chapter 51:17, Jeremiah, chapter 25:15, and Ezekiel, chapter 23:31. There is an addition from the Greek Orthodox text where Jesus asked them if they were ready to be baptized with the baptism that he was going to under go (ἢ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθῆναι)? Of course, the brothers said that they would be able to do that as well as drink from the suffering cup.
“But Jesus looked
He said to them.
This is impossible.
But with God,
All things are possible.’”
ἐμβλέψας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Παρὰ ἀνθρώποις τοῦτο ἀδύνατόν ἐστιν, παρὰ δὲ Θεῷ πάντα δυνατά.
This saying about the power of God and the impotence of humans can be found in Mark, chapter 10:27, word for word, and Luke, chapter 18:27, but slightly different. Jesus looked at them (ἐμβλέψας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς) and told them (εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that this would be impossible for mortal men (Παρὰ ἀνθρώποις τοῦτο ἀδύνατόν ἐστιν), but with God, all things were possible (παρὰ δὲ Θεῷ πάντα δυνατά), since he could do everything. This could be an allusion to Genesis, chapter 18:14, when Sarah laughed when she was told she was going to have a son or Jeremiah, chapter 32:17, when he was talking about creation. What humans were not able to do, God was able to do.
John the Baptist!
But others say
Still others say
Or others say
One of the prophets!’”
οἱ δὲ εἶπαν Οἱ μὲν Ἰωάνην τὸν Βαπτιστήν, ἄλλοι δὲ Ἡλείαν, ἕτεροι δὲ Ἱερεμίαν ἢ ἕνα τῶν προφητῶν.
This same response can be found in Mark, chapter 8:28, and Luke, chapter 9:19, but there are slight differences. Matthew is the only one who explicitly mention Jeremiah, who was a Judean prophet active from 626 BCE to 587 BCE, around the time of the destruction of the Temple. You can find out more about him in the Book of Jeremiah, one of the 3 major prophetic books of the Old Testament. Mark and Luke only had the more generic as here, “one of the prophets.” The disciples responded (οἱ δὲ εἶπαν) that some people said John the Baptist (Οἱ μὲν Ἰωάνην τὸν Βαπτιστήν) was the Son of Man. Others said Elijah (ἄλλοι δὲ Ἡλείαν) was the Son of Man. This Elijah was a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet whose work can be found in the Old Testament Books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles. Still others said that Jeremiah (ἕτεροι δὲ Ἱερεμίαν) was the Son of Man. Finally, other people said that one of the many prophets (ἢ ἕνα τῶν προφητῶν) was the Son of Man. No one mentioned Jesus.
“They took offense
But He said to them.
‘Prophets are not without honor
Except in their own country
And in their own house.’
Jesus did not do
Many deeds of powers there,
Because of their unbelief.”
καὶ ἐσκανδαλίζοντο ἐν αὐτῷ. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ.
καὶ οὐκ ἐποίησεν ἐκεῖ δυνάμεις πολλὰς διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν.
This saying about no honor for prophets in their hometown can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 6:4-6, and Luke, chapter 4:23-30, but in a more elaborate way. Matthew said that Jesus had offended them (καὶ ἐσκανδαλίζοντο ἐν αὐτῷ). However, Jesus said to them (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that prophets are not without honor or not despised (Οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος), except in their own country (εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι) and in their own house (καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ). Jesus did not do many miracles there (καὶ οὐκ ἐποίησεν ἐκεῖ δυνάμεις πολλὰς), because of their unbelief (διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν.). It is always more difficult in your own home town. The Israelite prophets Jeremiah and Amos were also rejected by their own people.
“Beware of false prophets!
They come to you
In sheep’s clothing.
But inwardly they are
Προσέχετε ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν, οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασιν προβάτων ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσιν λύκοι ἅρπαγες.
Another great Old Testament theme was the warning against false prophets, as can be found in Jeremiah, chapters 5:6, 5:31, and 6:12-15, Ezekiel, chapter 22:27-28, Zechariah, chapter 13:2, and Micah, chapter 3:5-8. Mark, chapter 13:22 had a similar warning from Jesus. The followers of Jesus should be on guard, should pay attention, and be aware (Προσέχετε) of these false or pseudo prophets (ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν). They come to them with their sheep’s clothing (οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασιν προβάτων), but inwardly they are ravenous wolves (ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσιν λύκοι ἅρπαγες). These false prophets look like meek sheep, but they are really like veracious wolves.
The Gospel of Matthew presented the infancy story of Jesus from the perspective of Joseph, unlike the Gospel of Luke that presented the same story from the perspective of Mary. What do they have in common and what is unique. Mary and the child Jesus play a secondary role in this narration, since it was all about Joseph, the son of Jacob, the father of the child. There were certain things in common with the Luke story. Both Joseph and Mary were troubled by this pregnancy. Both had an angel come and explain that the child was from the Holy Spirit. Both were told that the name of the child would be Jesus. In both stories, the child is born in Bethlehem. Beyond that, there were some unique things to the story of Joseph in Matthew. He almost divorced Mary. He had a number of angelic dreams. He was told to go to Egypt, which he did. He then returned to Israel and settled in Nazareth in Galilee. In between, there was the strange story of King Herod and the magi. Matthew used 5 different Old Testament Hebrew prophecies to show that Jesus was truly within the Jewish prophetic tradition. Clearly, in these two opening chapters, Matthew was a Jewish scripture scholar with his use of 1 Chronicles in the genealogy and the various prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Micah, and Judges. Whatever sources he used for this unique perspective on the birth of Jesus, they were clearly Jewish based. Joseph was a righteous Jewish man. After this presentation, Joseph seemed to drift off the center stage in the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth.