Parallel Bible VersionsGreek Bible Study Tools

Matthew 21:23 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?”
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— And when he had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things; and who gave thee this authority?
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And when he came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him [as he was] teaching, saying, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— And, when he, entered, the temple, the Chief-priests and the Elders of the people, came unto him as he was teaching, saying, By what authority, these things, art thou doing? and, who, to thee, gave, this authority?
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And he having come to the temple, there came to him when teaching the chief priests and the elders of the people, saying, 'By what authority dost thou do these things? and who gave thee this authority?'
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— And when he was come into the temple, there came to him, as he was teaching, the chief priests and ancients of the people, saying: By what authority dost thou these things? And who hath given thee this authority?
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— And when he was come into the temple, the chiefe Priests and the Elders of the people came vnto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authoritie doest thou these things? and who gaue thee this authoritie?
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— And when Jeshu came to the temple, the chief priests and elders of the people approached him, while he taught, saying to him, By what authority doest thou these things, and who gave thee this authority?
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— And when Jesus came to the temple, the chief priests and the Elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said to him: By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
And 2532
{2532} Prime
καί
kai
{kahee}
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
when he 846
{0846} Prime
αὐτός
autos
{ow-tos'}
From the particle αὖ [[au]] (perhaps akin to the base of G0109 through the idea of a baffling wind; backward); the reflexive pronoun self, used (alone or in the compound of G1438) of the third person, and (with the proper personal pronoun) of the other persons.
was come 2064
{2064} Prime
ἔρχομαι
erchomai
{er'-khom-ahee}
Middle voice of a primary verb (used only in the present and imperfect tenses, the others being supplied by a kindred [middle voice] word, ἐλεύθομαι [[eleuthomai]], {el-yoo'-thom-ahee}; or [active] ἔλθω [[eltho]], {el'-tho}; which do not otherwise occur); to come or go (in a great variety of applications, literally and figuratively).
z5631
<5631> Grammar
Tense - Second Aorist (See G5780)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Participle (See G5796)
Count - 889
into 1519
{1519} Prime
εἰς
eis
{ice}
A primary preposition; to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (result, etc.); also in adverbial phrases.
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
temple, 2411
{2411} Prime
ἱερόν
hieron
{hee-er-on'}
Neuter of G2413; a sacred place, that is, the entire precincts (whereas G3485 denotes the central sanctuary itself) of the Temple (at Jerusalem or elsewhere).
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
chief priests 749
{0749} Prime
ἀρχιερεύς
archiereus
{ar-khee-er-yuce'}
From G0746 and G2409; the high priest (literally of the Jews, typically Christ); by extension a chief priest.
and 2532
{2532} Prime
καί
kai
{kahee}
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
elders 4245
{4245} Prime
πρεσβύτερος
presbuteros
{pres-boo'-ter-os}
Comparative of πρέσβυς [[presbus]] (elderly); older; as noun, a senior; specifically an Israelite Sanhedrist (also figuratively, member of the celestial council) or Christian 'presbyter'.
of the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
people 2992
{2992} Prime
λαός
laos
{lah-os'}
Apparently a primary word; a people (in general; thus differing from G1218, which denotes one's own populace).
came 4334
{4334} Prime
προσέρχομαι
proserchomai
{pros-er'-khom-ahee}
From G4314 and G2064 (including its alternate); to approach, that is, (literally) come near, visit, or (figuratively) worship, assent to.
z5656
<5656> Grammar
Tense - Aorist (See G5777)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 2319
unto him 846
{0846} Prime
αὐτός
autos
{ow-tos'}
From the particle αὖ [[au]] (perhaps akin to the base of G0109 through the idea of a baffling wind; backward); the reflexive pronoun self, used (alone or in the compound of G1438) of the third person, and (with the proper personal pronoun) of the other persons.
as he was teaching, 1321
{1321} Prime
διδάσκω
didasko
{did-as'-ko}
A prolonged (causative) form of a primary verb δάω [[dao]] (to learn); to teach (in the same broad application).
z5723
<5723> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Participle (See G5796)
Count - 2549
and said, 3004
{3004} Prime
λέγω
lego
{leg'-o}
A primary verb; properly to 'lay' forth, that is, (figuratively) relate (in words [usually of systematic or set discourse; whereas G2036 and G5346 generally refer to an individual expression or speech respectively; while G4483 is properly to break silence merely, and G2980 means an extended or random harangue]); by implication to mean.
z5723
<5723> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Participle (See G5796)
Count - 2549
By 1722
{1722} Prime
ἐν
en
{en}
A primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), that is, a relation of rest (intermediate between G1519 and G1537); 'in', at, (up-) on, by, etc.
what 4169
{4169} Prime
ποῖος
poios
{poy'-os}
From the base of G4226 and G3634; individualizing interrogitive (of character) what sort of, or (of number) which one.
authority 1849
{1849} Prime
ἐξουσία
exousia
{ex-oo-see'-ah}
From G1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, that is, (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence.
doest x4160
(4160) Complement
ποιέω
poieo
{poy-eh'-o}
Apparently a prolonged form of an obsolete primary; to make or do (in a very wide application, more or less direct).
thou y4160
[4160] Standard
ποιέω
poieo
{poy-eh'-o}
Apparently a prolonged form of an obsolete primary; to make or do (in a very wide application, more or less direct).
z5719
<5719> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 3019
these things? 5023
{5023} Prime
ταῦτα
tauta
{tow'-tah}
Nomitive or accusative neuter plural of G3778; these things.
and 2532
{2532} Prime
καί
kai
{kahee}
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
who 5101
{5101} Prime
τίς
tis
{tis}
Probably emphatic of G5100; an interrogitive pronoun, who, which or what (in direct or indirect questions).
gave 1325
{1325} Prime
δίδωμι
didomi
{did'-o-mee}
A prolonged form of a primary verb (which is used as an alternate in most of the tenses); to give (used in a very wide application, properly or by implication, literally or figuratively; greatly modified by the connection).
z5656
<5656> Grammar
Tense - Aorist (See G5777)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 2319
thee 4671
{4671} Prime
σοί
soi
{soy}
Dative case of G4771; to thee.
this 5026
{5026} Prime
ταύτῃ
taute
{tow'-tay}
Dative, accusative and genitive case respectively of the feminine singular of G3778; (towards or of) this.
authority? 1849
{1849} Prime
ἐξουσία
exousia
{ex-oo-see'-ah}
From G1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, that is, (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Matthew 21:23

_ _ Matthew 21:23-46. The authority of Jesus questioned and the reply — The parables of the two sons, and of the wicked husbandman. ( = Mark 11:27-12:12; Luke 20:1-19).

_ _ Now commences, as Alford remarks, that series of parables and discourses of our Lord with His enemies, in which He develops, more completely than ever before, His hostility to their hypocrisy and iniquity: and so they are stirred up to compass His death.

_ _ Matthew 21:23-27. The authority of Jesus questioned, and the reply.

_ _ By what authority doest thou these things! — referring particularly to the expulsion of the buyers and sellers from the temple,

_ _ and who gave thee this authority?

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Matthew 21:23-27

_ _ Our Lord Jesus (like St. Paul after him) preached his gospel with much contention; his first appearance was in a dispute with the doctors in the temple, when he was twelve years old; and here, just before he died, we have him engaged in controversy. In this sense, he was like Jeremiah, a man of contention; not striving, but striven with. The great contenders with him, were, the chief priests and the elders, the judges of two distinct courts: the chief priests presided in the ecclesiastical court, in all matters of the Lord, as they are called; the elders of the people were judges of the civil courts, in temporal matters. See an idea of both, 2 Chronicles 19:5, 2 Chronicles 19:8, 2 Chronicles 19:11. These joined to attack Christ thinking they should find or make him obnoxious either to the one or to the other. See how woefully degenerate that generation was, when the governors both in church and state, who should have been the great promoters of the Messiah's kingdom, were the great opposers of it! Here we have them disturbing him when he was preaching, Matthew 21:23. They would neither receive his instructions themselves, nor let others receive them. Observe,

_ _ I. As soon as he came into Jerusalem, he went to the temple, though he had been affronted there the day before, was there in the midst of enemies and in the mouth of danger; yet thither he went, for there he had a fairer opportunity of doing good to souls than any where else in Jerusalem. Though he came hungry to the city, and was disappointed of a breakfast at the barren fig-tree, yet, for aught that appears, he went straight to the temple, as one that esteemed the words of God's mouth, the preaching of them, more than his necessary food.

_ _ II. In the temple he was teaching; he had called it a house of prayer (Matthew 21:13), and here we have him preaching there. Note, In the solemn assemblies of Christians, praying and preaching must go together, and neither must encroach upon, or jostle out, the other. To make up communion with God, we must not only speak to him in prayer, but hear what he has to say to us by his word; ministers must give themselves both to the word and to prayer, Acts 6:4. Now that Christ taught in the temple, that scripture was fulfilled (Isaiah 2:3), Let us go up to the house of the Lord, and he will teach us his ways. The priests of old often taught there the good knowledge of the Lord; but they never had such a teacher as this.

_ _ III. When Christ was teaching the people, the priests and elders came upon him, and challenged him to produce his orders; the hand of Satan was in this, to hinder him in his work. Note, It cannot but be a trouble to a faithful minister, to be taken off, or diverted fRom. plain and practical preaching, by an unavoidable necessity of engaging in controversies, yet good was brought out of this evil, for hereby occasion was given to Christ to dispel the objections that were advanced against him, to the greater satisfaction of his followers; and, while his adversaries thought by their power to have silenced him, he by his wisdom silenced them.

_ _ Now, in this dispute with them, we may observe,

_ _ 1. How he was assaulted by their insolent demand; By what authority doest thou these things, and who gave thee this authority? Had they duly considered his miracles, and the power by which he wrought them, they needed not to have asked this question; but they must have something to say for the shelter of an obstinate infidelity. “Thou ridest in triumph into Jerusalem, receivest the hosannas of the people, controllest in the temple, drivest out such as had license to be there, from the rulers of the temple, and paid them rent; thou are here preaching a new doctrine; whence hadst thou a commission to do all this? Was it from Caesar, or from the high priest, or from God? Produce thy warrant, thy credentials. Dost not thou take too much upon thee?” Note, It is good for all that take upon them to act with authority, to put this question to themselves, “Who gave us that authority?” For, unless a man be clear in his own conscience concerning that, he cannot act with any comfort or hope of success. They who run before their warrant, run without their blessing, Jeremiah 23:21, Jeremiah 23:22.

_ _ Christ had often said it, and proved it beyond contradiction, and Nicodemus, a master in Israel, had owned it, that he was a teacher sent of God (John 3:2); yet, at this time of day, when that point had been so fully cleared and settled, they come to him with this question. (1.) In the ostentation of their own power, as chief priests and elders, which they thought authorized them to call him to an account in this manner. How haughtily do they ask, Who gave thee this authority? Intimating that he could have no authority, because he had none from them, 1 Kings 22:24; Jeremiah 20:1. Note, It is common for the greatest abusers of their power to be the most rigorous assertors of it, and to take a pride and pleasure in any thing that looks like the exercise of it. (2.) It was to ensnare and entangle him. Should he refuse to answer this question, they would enter judgment against him upon Nihil dicit — He says nothing; would condemn him as standing mute; and would insinuate to the people, that his silence was a tacit confessing of himself to be a usurper: should he plead an authority from God, they would, as formerly, demand a sign from heaven, or make his defence his offence, and accuse him of blasphemy for it.

_ _ 2. How he answered this demand with another, which would help them to answer it themselves (Matthew 21:24, Matthew 21:25); I also will ask you one thing. He declined giving them a direct answer, lest they should take advantage against him; but answers them with a question. Those that are as sheep in the midst of wolves, have need to be wise as serpents: the heart of the wise studieth to answer. We must give a reason of the hope that is in us, not only with meekness, but with fear (1 Peter 3:15), with prudent caution, lest truth be damaged, or ourselves endangered.

_ _ Now this question is concerning John's baptism, here put for his whole ministry, preaching as well as baptizing; “Was this from heaven, or of men? One of the two it must be; either what he did was of his own head, or he was sent of God to do it.” Gamaliel's argument turned upon this hinge (Acts 5:38, Acts 5:39); either this counsel is of men or of God. Though that which is manifestly bad cannot be of God, yet that which is seemingly good may be of men, nay of Satan, when he transforms himself into an angel of light. This question was not at all shuffling, to evade theirs; but,

_ _ (1.) If they answered this question, it would answer theirs: should they say, against their consciences, that John's baptism was of men, yet it would be easy to answer, John did no miracle (John 10:41), Christ did many; but should they say, as they could not but own, that John's baptism was from heaven (which was supposed in the questions sent him, John 1:21, Art thou Elias, or that prophet?) then their demand was answered, for he bare testimony to Christ. Note, Truths appear in the clearest light when they are taken in their due order; the resolving of the previous questions will be a key to the main question.

_ _ (2.) If they refused to answer it, that would be a good reason why he should not offer proofs of his authority to men that were obstinately prejudiced against the strongest conviction; it was but to cast pearls before swine. Thus he taketh the wise in their own craftiness (1 Corinthians 3:19); and those that would not be convinced of the plainest truths, shall be convicted of the vilest malice, against John first, then against Christ, and in both against God.

_ _ 3. How they were hereby baffled and run aground; they knew the truth, but would not own it, and so were taken in the snare they laid for our Lord Jesus. Observe,

_ _ (1.) How they reasoned with themselves, not concerning the merits of the cause, what proofs there were of the divine original of John's baptism; no, their care was, how to make their part good against Christ. Two things they considered and consulted, in this reasoning with themselves — their credit, and their safety; the same things which they principally aim at, who seek their own things.

_ _ [1.] They consider their own credit, which they would endanger if they should own John's baptism to be of God; for then Christ would ask them, before all the people. Why did ye not believe him? And to acknowledge that a doctrine is from God, and yet not to receive and entertain it, is the greatest absurdity and iniquity that a man can be charged with. Many that will not be kept by the fear of sin from neglecting and opposing that which they know to be true and good are kept by the fear of shame from owning that to be true and good which they neglect and oppose. Thus they reject the counsel of God against themselves, in not submitting to John's baptism, and are left without excuse.

_ _ [2.] They consider their own safety, that they would expose themselves to the resentments of the people, if they should say that John's baptism was of men; We fear the people, for all hold John as a prophet. It seems, then, First, That the people had truer sentiments of John than the chief priests and the elders had, or, at least, were more free and faithful in declaring their sentiments. This people, of whom they said in their pride that they knew not the law, and were cursed (John 7:49), it seems, knew the gospel, and were blessed. Secondly, That the chief priests and elders stood in awe of the common people, which is an evidence that things were in disorder among them, and that mutual jealousies were at a great height; that the government was become obnoxious to the hatred and scorn of the people, and the scripture was fulfilled, I have made you contemptible and base, Malachi 2:8, Malachi 2:9. If they had kept their integrity, and done their duty, they had kept up their authority, and needed not to fear the people. We find sometimes that the people feared them, and it served them for a reason why they did not confess Christ, John 9:22, John 12:42. Note, Those could not but fear the people, who studied only how to make the people fear them. Thirdly, That it is usually the temper even of common people to be zealous for the honour of that which they account sacred and divine. If they account John as a prophet, they will not endure that it should be said, His baptism was of men; hence the hottest contests have been about holy things. Fourthly, That the chief priests and elders were kept from an open denial of the truth, even against the conviction of their own minds, not by the fear of God, but purely by the fear of the people; as the fear of man may bring good people into a snare (Proverbs 29:25), so sometimes it may keep bad people from being overmuch wicked, lest they should die before their time, Ecclesiastes 7:17. Many bad people would be much worse than they are, if they durst.

_ _ (2.) How they replied to our Saviour, and so dropped the question. They fairly confessed We cannot tell; that is, “We will not;” ouk oi damenWe never knew. The more shame for them, while they pretended to be leaders of the people, and by their office were obliged to take cognizance of such things; when they would not confess their knowledge, they were constrained to confess their ignorance. And observe, by the way, when they said, We cannot tell, they told a lie, for they knew that John's baptism was of God. Note, There are many who are more afraid of the shame of lying than of the sin, and therefore scruple not to speak that which they know to be false concerning their own thoughts and apprehensions, their affections and intentions, or their remembering or forgetting of things, because in those things they know nobody can disprove them.

_ _ Thus Christ avoided the snare they laid for him, and justified himself in refusing to gratify them; Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. If they be so wicked and base as either not to believe, or not to confess, that the baptism of John was from heaven (though it obliged to repentance, that great duty, and sealed the kingdom of God at hand, that great promise), they were not fit to be discoursed with concerning Christ's authority; for men of such a disposition could not be convinced of the truth, nay, they could not but be provoked by it, and therefore he that is thus ignorant, let him be ignorant still. Note, Those that imprison the truths they know, in unrighteousness (either by not professing them, or by not practising according to them), are justly denied the further truths they enquire after, Romans 1:18, Romans 1:19. Take away the talent from him that buried it; those that will not see, shall not see.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Matthew 21:23

When he was come into the temple, the chief priests came — Who thought he violated their right: and the elders of the people — Probably, members of the sanhedrim, to whom that title most properly belonged: which is the more probable, as they were the persons under whose cognizance the late action of Christ, in purging the temple, would naturally fall. These, with the chief priests, seem purposely to have appeared in a considerable company, to give the more weight to what they said, and if need were, to bear a united testimony against him. As he was teaching — Which also they supposed he had no authority to do, being neither priest, nor Levite, nor scribe. Some of the priests (though not as priests) and all the scribes were authorized teachers. By what authority dost thou these things — Publicly teach the people! And drive out those who had our commission to traffic in the outer court? Luke 20:1; Mark 11:27.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Matthew 21:23

(6) And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what (k) authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?

(6) Against those who neglect the doctrine and bind the calling and vocation to an ordinary succession, going about by that false pretext, to stop Christ's mouth.

(k) Or by what power.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
when:

Mark 11:27-28 And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, ... And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?
Luke 19:47-48 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, ... And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.
Luke 20:1-2 And it came to pass, [that] on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon [him] with the elders, ... And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?

the chief priests:

1 Chronicles 24:1-19 Now [these are] the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. ... These [were] the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.

By what:

Exodus 2:14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.
Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
Acts 7:27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?
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Ex 2:14. 1Ch 24:1. Mk 11:27. Lk 19:47; 20:1. Ac 4:7; 7:27.

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