Matthew 26:31-45 In the Garden

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ The Redeemer Church Manhattan KS, 20 Oct 2013

Greyed-out text was edited from the 40-minute version of the sermon.


26:31 Then Jesus says to them,

“All of you will be scandalized by me during this night,

for it has been written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

26:32 but, after my resurrection, I will go ahead of y’all into Galilee.”

26:33 But Peter, in reply, said to Him,

“Probably all of them are going to be scandalized by you, but never will I myself be scandalized.”

26:34 Jesus was already informing him, “Really, I’m telling you that

during this very night, before a rooster sounds off, you will renounce allegiance to me three times.”

26:35 Peter says to him, “Even if it is necessary for me to die together with you,

there’s no way I’m going to renounce allegiance to you!”

Then all the disciples also said likewise.


26:36 Then Jesus went with them onto a farm called Gethsemane

and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go off and pray over there.”

26:37 And after taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be grieved and distraught.

26:38 Then Jesus said to them,

“My soul is surrounded by grief – it’s close to death. Remain here and keep watching with me.”

26:39 And, after going on a little ways, He fell upon His face praying and saying,

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass by me!

Nevertheless, not as I will but rather as You Yourself will.”

26:40 Then He comes up to the disciples and finds them sleeping,

and He says to Peter, “So, do y’all not have the strength to stay awake for one hour with me?

26:41 Stay awake and keep praying so that y’all might not enter into temptation,

for the spirit is eager, yet the flesh is weak.”

26:42 Again a second time He went away and prayed saying, “My Father, if it is not possible for this [cup] to pass by from me without me drinking it, let your will happen.”

26:43 And when He came again, He found them sleeping, for [the fact was] their eyes had become heavy.

26:44 So He left them and went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing.

26:45 Then He comes toward His disciples and says to them, “Are y’all going to sleep the rest [of the night away] and rest yourselves? Look, the hour has drawn near, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners!”



26:31 Then Jesus says to them, “All of you will be scandalized by me during this night, for it has been written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

Τοτε λεγει αυτοις ‘ο Ιησους Παντες ‘υμεις σκανδαλισθησεσθε εν εμοι εν τη νυκτι ταυτη γεγραπται γαρ Παταξω τον ποιμενα και διασκορπισθησεται[1] τα προβατα της ποιμνης[2]

·         Jesus quotes the gist of the prophecy of Zechariah 13:6-9 in support of His claim that all of His disciples will be offendedKJV/made to stumbleNKJ/will fall awayNAS,NIV,ESV.

o       The Greek verb translated these various ways is the word from which we get our English word “scandalized.” It includes both the ideas of harm and of trust being broken.

o       That night, professional paramilitary would capture Jesus, and it would finally sink in to the disciples’ minds that Jesus really was going to get Himself killed. All the expectations that they had of Jesus overthrowing the Roman government and the Pharisaical temple regime during their lifetime were going to go up in smoke.

o       Instead, the disciples would be running for their lives, experiencing a crisis of faith. They would be scandalized by the events to come, embarrassed that they had followed Jesus all those years. “Maybe Judas was right; maybe Jesus really wasn’t the Messiah; what now?”

·         Meanwhile, Jesus seems to be meditating on the prophecy of Zechariah in the Old Testament.

o       Zechariah was one of the priests who travelled with Ezra from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple after the Babylonians had destroyed it.

o       The prophecies of Zechariah often spoke of the Messiah to come. You may remember that it was Zechariah (11:12-13) who prophecied of the betrayal of the Messiah for 30 pieces of silver. Jesus, no doubt was remembering this too.

·         Here’s the prophecy Jesus quotes from Zechariah in its context: "And one will say to him, 'What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will say, 'Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.' ‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate,’ Declares the LORD of hosts.Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered[3]; And I will turn My hand against the little ones. It will come about in all the land,’ Declares the LORD, ‘That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, “They are My people,” And they will say, “The LORD is my God.”’”(NASB)

o       In the Bible, it is the bad shepherds that scatter the sheep (Jer. 10:21, 23:1-2), although God claims that He ultimately is the one who scatters His people through judgments like the Babylonian captivity (Jer. 9:16, 13:4, etc.) because He is the sovereign controller of all things. Thus God can say, “I will strike the Shepherd,” and then compel the Roman officials to “strike the Shepherd” so that they do the actual whipping and nailing of Jesus to the cross.

o       The elders of Israel, when they had Jesus crucified, were doing the same kind of thing that the bad shepherds were doing in Jeremiah’s day that scattered the sheep.

·         This word “strike/smite” is a theologically-significant word – don’t miss it:

o       The last time this word for “strike” occurred in the Greek Bible was in the last verse of Malachi (4:6) “…lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” The judgment for rebellion against God is that God will “strike” with a curse.

o       The next time that this word “strike” occurs in the Greek Bible is a little later on in Matthew 26:51, when Peter “strikes” somebody with a sword. Peter is jumping the gun.

o       In Rev. 19:15, God will “strike” the nations in judgment for their rebellion against Him, but at this time, God is providing a way out of this judgment. God is going to “strike” Jesus with the curses of sin, so that those who believe in Him will be saved from being “struck” down on judgment day for their sin.

·         Once again we see that Jesus knows what is happening. He is explaining the future ahead-of-time to His disciples. His crucifixion the next day was not going to be an accident. Even the scattering of the disciples upon His capture in Gethsemane would be a fulfillment of prophecy. All is going according to God’s plan. Be patient and learn what God is doing.


26:32 but, after my resurrection, I will go ahead of y’all into Galilee.”

μετα δε το εγερθηναι με προαξω ‘υμας εις την Γαλιλαιαν

·         This is the plan. Jesus expects to be raised from the dead after being crucified. He tells the disciples ahead-of-time to expect to meet Him in Galilee after His resurrection.

·         Sure enough, after the Resurrection, the angels tell Mary, “...tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and look, He is going ahead of you into Galilee; there you will see Him,” and Jesus says the same thing later, “‘…tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they’ll see me there.’ …So the eleven disciples proceeded to the mountain in Galilee” where Jesus gave them the Great Commission (Mat. 28:7-16, NAW).

·         However, this amazing bit of information about the resurrection and the rendezvous in Galilee seems to be overlooked by the disciples in the excitement caused by Jesus’ statement in v. 31 that they would all forsake Him. Let us learn from this to pay attention to all the words of God, not just to the sensational topics.


26:33 But Peter, in reply, said to Him, “Probably all of them are going to be scandalized by you, but never will I myself be scandalized.”

Αποκριθεις δε ο Πετρος ειπεν αυτω Ει [4] παντες σκανδαλισθησονται εν σοι εγω [5] ουδεποτε σκανδαλισθησομαι

·         It was quite an insult to question the loyalty of the disciples and express the sentiment that He thought they were all going to be turncoats. It really bothered the disciples that Jesus would say such a thing, and Peter lets Him know it.

·         Peter’s pride also shows up as he uses a grammatical form indicating He thinks it may be true that all the other disciples will “fall away” or “be scandalized,”[6] but he makes a very emphatic statement that it would never happen to him. (Both the subject “I” and the negative “never” are emphatic in Greek). Watch out when you think you are better than everybody else around you; remember to “…walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8c).

·         Jesus sees this coming in Peter, and the Imperfect form of the first verb here seems to indicate that Jesus started calling him down even before Peter had finished.


26:34 Jesus was already informing him, “Really, I’m telling you that during this very night, before a rooster sounds off, you will renounce allegiance to me three times.”

Εφη[7] αυτω ‘ο Ιησους Αμην λεγω σοι ‘οτι εν ταυτη τη νυκτι πριν αλεκτορα φωνησαι[8] τρις απαρνηση[9] με

·         It won’t even be tomorrow morning before Peter will have to eat his words.

·         Peter could not hold back the prophecy of Zechariah from coming true. The sheep would be scattered[10].

·         The cock crowing is an interesting bit of colorful detail to this eyewitness account.[11]

·         We’ve already encountered this word “renounce allegiance/deny/disown in Matthew 16:24, “If someone wants to come [along] behind me, he must renounce allegiance to himself and take up his cross and keep following me.” Peter would do the very opposite within a matter of hours.

·         But notice again, Jesus knows the future! His prediction comes true. This is another demonstration of His sovereign control of a situation that seems like it is terribly out-of-control.


26:35 Peter says to him, “Even if it is necessary for me to die together with you, there’s no way I’m going to renounce allegiance to you!” Then all the disciples also said likewise.

Λεγει αυτω ‘ο Πετρος Καν[12] δεη με συν σοι αποθανειν ου μη σε απαρνησομαι[13] ‘Ομοιως δε[14] και παντες ‘οι μαθηται ειπον.

·         It is around this time that we see in Luke’s account Jesus telling Simon Peter 22:31 “…Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (NASB)

·         Listen, Peter had his problems, but this is an amazing resolution he makes. Would you be willing to put your own life on the line and die? May you’ll waffle a bit like Peter did in following through, but Jesus will be there interceding for you, just as He did for Peter, that your faith will not ultimately fail[15].

·         Have you ever done what Peter did and made the resolve that, if it came right down to it, you think you really would prioritize sticking with Jesus even if it meant getting killed for it? Would it be more important for you to live another day to enjoy something else, or are you ready to be taken out now for identifying with Jesus?

·         The early church historian Eusebius recorded in his annals a report from the church in Gaul (France) which was being persecuted by the Romans in the early second century[16]. A certain man by the name of Sanctus was a deacon in the church in Vienne, and the officials arrested him. They asked his name, and he replied, “I am a Christian.” They asked who his family was, and he said, “I am a Christian.” They asked where he was from, “I am a Christian,” was all he would say. Now, of course, what they wanted was to get him to renounce his Christian faith, so they tried everything they could think of to get Sanctus to renounce Christ, but every time he just said, “I am a Christian.” They tried torture. They said, “If you don’t renounce allegiance to Christ, we will brand you with hot irons. He said, “I am a Christian.” Then they said, “If you’ll quit saying you’re a Christian, we won’t whip you.” Sanctus said, “I am a Christian.” They said, “If you’ll deny Christ, we won’t put you on the rack.” He went on the rack. For six days they tortured him until he died, and he continued to say, “I am a Christian.” What an example of faithfulness!


26:36 Then Jesus went with them onto a farm called Gethsemane and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go off and pray over there.”

Τοτε ερχεται μετ’ αυτων ‘ο Ιησους εις χωριον[17] λεγομενον Γεθσημανη[18]  και λεγει τοις μαθηταις[19] Καθισατε αυτου ‘εως οὗ[20] απελθων προσευξωμαι εκει


26:37 And after taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be grieved and distraught.

και παραλαβων τον Πετρον και τους δυο ‘υιους Ζεβεδαιου ηρξατο λυπεισθαι και αδημονειν[21]

·         So Jesus arrives at the place where they’re going to spend the night. The name “Gethsemane” means “oil press” in Hebrew, so it was probably an olive tree orchard that had presses set up in it for squeezing oil out of the olives. The Greek text of the parallel passage in John 18:1 calls it a κηπος which has been traditionally translated “garden,” thus the “Garden of Gethsemane,” but in 2 Kings 5:26, Amos 9:14, and Luke 13:19, this sort of garden was where trees were cultivated to bear olives and mustard and other fruit.

·         He tells His disciples to “Sit” – which was not permission to lie down and sleep – and walks away with Peter, James, and John, “about a stone’s throw away” (Luke 22:41).

·         Why does Jesus want to pray away from the disciples?

o       Perhaps He wanted to keep them a safe distance away from Him so that they didn’t get arrested along with Him.[22]

o       Perhaps He didn’t want the bulk of the disciples to get freaked out by seeing Him so upset. (Chrysostom)

o       “The Master wishes to be undisturbed during his prayer.” (Hendriksen)

o       Perhaps it was easier for Him to express His emotions in prayer away from all the guys[23] – it does say He “was sorrowful/grieved[24]” and He was “troubled/ distressed/ heavy-hearted/ distraught.”

o       The parallel account in Luke 22:44 says that He was in agony and literally sweating blood.

·         Why these emotions? He knew that it was going to be painful to be crucified; even more than that, He was dreading having to endure the wrath of God against sin.

·         Have you ever been stressed out? Troubled and grieved? Dreading something you knew was coming?

o       Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (NASB)

o       When you cry out to God from a stressful situation, remember that Jesus knows exactly what that feels like. He will not ignore those prayers; He will make sure you get an appropriate and timely response from heaven.

o       Luke 22:43 says that God sent angels to strengthen Jesus as He prayed, and, according to Hebrews 1:14, He can still send those “ministering spirits” to “serve” you.


26:38 Then Jesus said to them, “My soul is surrounded by grief – it’s close to death. Remain here and stay awake with me.”

Τοτε λεγει αυτοις ‘ο Ιησους[25] Περιλυπος εστιν ‘η ψυχη μου ‘εως θανατου, μεινατε ωδε και γρηγορειτε μετ’ εμου

·         This word peri-lupos, translated “exceedingly sorrowful” by the KJV and ESV, literally means “grief [all] around.”

o       It only occurs 9 times in the whole Greek Bible, and a third of those times, it occurs in a phrase repeated in Psalms 42-43 “Why are you exceedingly sorrowful, O soul? … Hope in God; He is my salvation!” (42:5, 42:11, and 43:5) It appears that Jesus is quoting from this very Psalm, using the wording of the Greek Septuagint (ἵνα τί περίλυπος εἶ, ψυχή).

o       It appears that Jesus has Psalm 42 on His mind. Later on the cross, He will utter more words from Psalm 42 in Hebrew שׁכחתני  למה “Why have you forgotten me?” (from v.9)

o       I think we have here an insight into the mind of Jesus. It is filled with remembering scripture.

o       Psalm 119 says, “Thy word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin…” This is an important spiritual discipline for a Christian. Take in something from the Bible every day, whether it’s listening to a recording of the Bible being read or reading it yourself or reading or listening to a devotional message about a Bible passage, we need to have God’s word tucked away in our brains so that the truths we need to fortify ourselves are there when we are tempted to panic or fly off the handle or act out.

·         The phrase “unto death” only occurs a handful of times in the Septuagint, so it seems likely to me that it could also be an allusion.

o       Is it possible that Jesus is picking up on yet another passage from Zechariah 5:3, which says that thieves and liars are going to be punished “unto death.” Could Jesus be battling panic over the fact that “death” is the punishment He is going to undergo to pay for the sins of thieves and liars?

o       Perhaps Jesus was acquainted with the writings of the Rabbi Ben Sirach, who wrote two hundred years previous, “Is it not a grief unto death (λύπη … ἕως θανάτου) when a companion and friend is turned enemy?” (Sirach 37:2, Brenton) Even now, Jesus was watching for Judas to arrive with the temple guard.

·         Whatever the case, it is striking that Jesus seems to have a felt need for the presence of these dear friends, not necessarily close enough to talk to them, but just to know they are there thinking of Him and there for Him[26]. Do you realize that Jesus likes having you near him and thinking of Him too?

·         He tells them to “stay/tarry/remain” and “watch,” keep a vigil - literally “stay awake” with Him.


26:39 And, after going on a little ways, He fell upon His face praying and saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass by me! But more than that, not as I will but rather as You Yourself will.”

Και προ[σ]ελθων[27] μικρον επεσεν επι προσωπον αυτου προσευχομενος και λεγων Πατερ μου ει δυνατον εστιν παρελθετω[28] απ’ εμου το ποτηριον τουτο πλην ουχ ‘ως εγω θελω αλλ’ ‘ως συ


26:40 Then He comes up to the disciples and finds them sleeping, and He says to Peter, “So, do ya’ll not have the strength to stay awake for one hour with me?

Και ερχεται προς τους μαθητας και ‘ευρισκει αυτους καθευδοντας και λεγει τω Πετρω ‘Ουτως ουκ ισχυσατε μιαν ‘ωραν γρηγορησαι μετ’ εμου;

·         Jesus had asked God earlier if He had the power to skip the crucifixion. Now Jesus is asking Peter if he could stay awake to keep a vigil for an hour – literally if he has the “strength” for it. It was late and they were tired. The state of our physical bodies affects what we can do, and, unlike God, we humans have limitations.

·         The Gospel of Luke adds that they were sleeping as a result of “grief/sorrow/heaviness of heart.” It’s possible that the emotional drain of the uncertainty of the times, the odd way Jesus was acting, and the threat of the Pharisees was too much for the disciples and, although they didn’t mean to be inconsiderate of Jesus, their minds shut down in sleep to deal with it all.

·         By the way, how does Matthew know all this if he was not there with Peter, James, and John? It is believed that Mark got most of his information for his Gospel from the Apostle Peter, and I find it interesting that at this point, the accounts of Matthew and Mark are very close. Perhaps Matthew and Mark both picked up the same story from Peter. Just a hypothesis.

·         Peter must have been awakened by Jesus’ approach and heard Jesus’ disappointed comment as well as the following exhortation:


26:41 Stay awake and keep praying so that y’all might not enter into temptation, for the spirit is eager, yet the flesh is weak.”

Γρηγορειτε και προσευχεσθε ‘ινα μη εισελθητε εις πειρασμον το μεν πνευμα προθυμον ‘η δε σαρξ ασθενης

·         Jesus had already taught His disciples in the Lord’s Prayer to pray that they would not be led into tem­p­tation. For more detail on the meaning of this phrase, please review my notes on Matthew 6:11-13.[30]

o       To recap briefly, this word “temptation” is the Greek word peirasmon, which has a basic meaning of testing or proving the genuineness of a person or thing in question.

o       We pray “lead us not into temptation” because we trust that loving hand of God who knows us better than we know ourselves to provide the way out and keep the temptations from overwhelming us, to make sin look revolting to us, and to keep drawing us in love toward Himself so that when we do encounter times of temptation we will not tumble into the pitfalls of temptation but walk on past those pits unscathed.

o       And, by God’s grace we will be kept safe, even as He promised in Rev. 3:10 “Because you kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you out of the hour of testing…” (NAW)

·         Now, Jesus was referring to a particular test and temptation that His followers would face that night.

o       Soon they would have to decide whether to run away or be captured with Christ or fight against an armed mob intent on capturing Jesus.

o       Soon they would have to decide how to respond to the execution of their leader.

o       Jesus wants them to be physically and spiritually alert when that happens so that they can make wise decisions.

·         But the principle applies to all of us:

o       Temptations to sin can come at any time: Somebody may do something irritating, a defrauding advertisement could pop up on-screen, a bitter thought could come into your head – or a desire for something or someone God has not given you.

o       If we are physically and mentally lazy we won’t be able to respond quickly to temptation. If we don’t have truth from God’s word filed away in our brains, we will end up believing some of the devil’s lies and letting Satan right in without a fight because we don’t have a sword to fight with.

o       If we aren’t practicing the presence of God and carrying on a background conversation with Him all day in thought-life prayer, we’ll quickly forget He’s there to hold us accountable for sin and to supply us with wisdom and self-discipline and joy and help in time of need.

o       So, “stay alert/be vigilant/watch and pray”!

·         Unfortunately, the NIV’s translation at the end of this verse is misleading; it’s not a contrast between mind and body; the contrast is between that part of us which is spiritual and that part of us which is fleshly[31]. The Greek word here is sarx “flesh,” not swma “body”.

o       The Greek word for “willing/eager” is prothumon[32], literally “a directed passion,” a desire in a particular direction for a particular thing.

o       It’s not like, “Sigh. O.K., I’m willing to do it if I have to…” No, it’s an excited eagerness to do something.

o       It is used of Levites in 1 Chronicles 28:21 and 2 Chronicles 29:34, who were “eager” to serve in the temple;

o       It is used of the people in 1 Chronicles 29:31 who were “eager” to offer sacrifices in the refurbished temple;

o       It is used of a hungry eagle in Habakkuk 1:8 who is “eager” to get food;

o       And then it is used in Romans 1:15 to speak of Paul’s “eagerness” to go preach in Rome.

o       Can the context of this word in all its other uses in the Bible be brought to bear on the meaning of this proverb which Jesus coined here? With the exception of the hungry eagle, all the other uses of this term prothumon in the Bible have to do with a human mind which is excited about spiritual things. Therefore, although I can’t say that this is conclusive, I’ll interpret it to mean the regenerated human spirit.

o       Let me hasten to add that our eagerness for anything spiritually good has to be first initiated by the Holy Spirit, and that’s why we must pray; we need the power of God to do what our weak flesh is powerless to do, even though our human spirit, under the influence of God’s Holy Spirit, may be eager to do it.

o       The flesh is weak, sick, and stupid. Prayer draws together our spirit and flesh under the will of God, and that’s the kind of alertness/watchfulness Jesus is looking for in His disciples.


26:42 Again a second time He went away and prayed saying, “My Father, if it is not possible for this [cup] to pass by from me without me drinking it, let your will happen.”

Παλιν εκ δευτερου απελθων προσηυξατο λεγων Πατερ μου ει ου δυναται τουτο [το ποτηριον[33]] παρελθειν απ’ εμου[34] εαν μη αυτο πιω γενηθητω το θελημα σου

·         In this prayer, Jesus seems to have settled the question. The wording connotes that it really is not a possibility for Him to refuse this cup of God’s wrath and that He has resigned Himself to His Father’s will.

·         Also notice that Jesus Himself is using the Lord’s Prayer!

o       He starts with the opening “My Father” instead of “our Father” because He is in a unique relationship to God the Father, but this is the opening of the Lord’s Prayer from Matt. 6.

o       Then the phrase “Let your will be done” is the exact wording of the third petition of the Lord’s prayer (Mt. 6:10)!

o       If the Lord’s Prayer is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for you.

o       Notice that Jesus doesn’t just recite the words like a Roman rosary or a Muslim salat; He has applied it in a customized way to the situation He is in, and He imbeds it in a very personal communication to God the Father.

o       In this way, Jesus provides an example of how we should use the Lord’s Prayer: not as a memorized incantation but as a living template which we can use to frame and organize and bring resolution to our personal communication with God.


26:43 And when He came again, He found them sleeping, for [the fact was[35]] their eyes had become heavy.

Και ‘ελθων παλιν ‘ευρεν[36] αυτους καθευδοντας ησαν γαρ αυτων ‘οι οφθαλμοι βεβαρημενοι

·         This had happened before at the mount of transfiguration, when Peter, James, and John had fallen asleep on Jesus (Luke 9:32), and they felt like they had lead weights on their eyelids, but then they had woken up to see the glorious Son of Man; now they were shaken out of sleep by a Jesus who seemed just as human as ever.


26:44 So He left them and went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing.

Και αφεις αυτους απελθων παλιν[37] προσηυξατο εκ τριτου τον αυτον λογον ειπων

·         Here the NIV (and NASB) got the last word right, as the Greek word logon for “word” or “thing” is singular, although I do not think they have adequate manuscript evidence for adding the word “again” to the end of the verse. It doesn’t hurt anything, though.

·         According to 2 Corinthians 12:8, the Apostle Paul also prayed three times that a certain problem would go away and it didn’t.

·         Why is Jesus going back and forth between His prayers to God and His sleeping disciples?

o       He’s trying to stay up until Judas arrives, and probably wants them also not to be groggy with sleep when Judas arrives, so it is a way to keep awake, but there seems to be more to it than that.

o       Is he concerned for the welfare of His disciples? Feeling the distance between God and man and wanting both?

o       Chrysostom suggested it was to show how really human He was.

o       Ambrose wrote, “He did not assume and appearance of incarnation, but a reality. He had to bear grief in order to conquer sadness…”

o       And Calvin, “Those who pretend the Son of God was immune from human passions do not truly and seriously acknowledge Him as a man.”

o       Calvin goes on to make another good application, “Christ showed by His example that our minds must not be broken or wearied with prayer if we do not immediately receive what we ask. It is no superfluous repetition of words when the experience of rejection does not damp the ardour of our prayer, but makes us ask a third and fourth time…”


26:45 Then He comes toward His disciples and says to them, “Are y’all going to sleep the rest [of the night away] and rest yourselves? Look, the hour has drawn near[38], and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners!”

Τοτε ερχεται προς τους μαθητας αυτου[39] και λεγει αυτοις Καθευδετε το[40] λοιπον και αναπαυεσθε Ιδου ηγγικεν ‘η ωρα και ‘ο ‘υιος του ανθρωπου παραδιδοται εις χειρας αμαρτωλων

·         There is some difference in the way different versions have translated the Greek word loipon.

o       The spelling of the Greek word for “sleep” can be either Imperative or Interrogative. The Imperative “Sleep on” in the KJV, however, doesn’t seem to fit with Jesus saying “Arise” in the very next verse.[41]

o       I think that the Interrogative in the NAS, NKJ, and NIV “Are you still sleeping?” works better, although it seems a bit of a stretch to translate loipon as “still” – they don’t translate it that way anywhere else in the New Testament.[42]

o       The ESV’s translation is better, in my opinion. It goes with the Imperative interpretation of “sleep” and uses a more standard meaning for loipon: “Sleep and take your rest later… let us be going.”

o       However, loipon literally means “the rest[43]” or “the remaining part,” so that’s why I translated it, “Are you going to sleep the rest of the night away?” although it requires adding the word “night.”

·         At any rate, it was a startling statement for the sleepy disciples to hear. “What are you doing sleeping? The waiting is over! I’m being betrayed now! Get up!” And so the vigil ended, the time alone in prayer was over, the itinerant ministry with the disciples was done, the plan of salvation went into high gear, and the Son of Man is the one in command.

[1] Critical editions read plural διασκορπισθησονται, probably because the Siniaticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus manuscripts all line up as plural here, with a smattering of other manuscripts throughout time following suit. However, the traditional text, which is singular, is supported by even older manuscripts (multiple papyri, including the Chester Beatty) and a strong majority of the manuscripts throughout history. The difference is immaterial, however, because Koine Greek allows for a plural neuter subject to have a singular verb or a plural verb without any difference in meaning.

[2] Rare word in the Greek Bible, only found here and Gen. 32:16; Luke 2:8; John 10:16; and 1Cor. 9:7.

[3] Definitely not the Greek Septuagint. LXX (πατάξατε τοὺς ποιμένας καὶ ἐκσπάσατε τὰ πρόβατα “Y’all start striking the shepherds and draw out the sheep”); compare with MT (את הרעה ותפוצין הצאן הך) “Awake sword…strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”) However, one can’t rule out the possibility that Jesus was conflating this with passages in chapters 1 and 11 of the Greek Septuagint of Zechariah which do use the word διασκορπ- (“scatter”).

Zech. 1:16-21 …the Lord shall yet have mercy upon Sion, and shall choose Jerusalem… And the Lord shewed me four artificers. And I said, What are these coming to do? And he said, These are the horns that scattered Juda, and they broke Israel in pieces, and none of them lifted up his head: and these are come forth to sharpen them for their hands, even the four horns, the nations that lifted up the horn against the land of the Lord to scatter it.

Zech. 11:16 For, behold, I will raise up a shepherd against the land: he shall not visit that which is perishing, and he shall not seek that which is scattered, and he shall not heal that which is bruised, nor guide that which is whole: but he shall devour the flesh of the choice ones, and shall dislocate the joints of their necks. (Brenton’s English translation of Septuagint)

[4] Textus Receptus adds και (“even”) here, but over 80% of Greek manuscripts don’t include kai, so it’s not in the Patristic or Critical editions. Interestingly, the NAS, NIV, and NKJ insert the word “even” while the KJV and ESV don’t.

[5] My 1990 Athens Patristic edition adds de (“and/but”) here, apparently following several minuscules and two 9-10th century uncials, but it’s not in my 1904 e-Sword Patristic edition or in the majority of manuscripts, and there is already a “de” imbedded in the following word, so no added meaning.

[6] The Greek grammar (ei + future indicative) indicates that the condition is true.

[7] The Imperfect of phemi seems to be used consistently in Matthew in the context of close dialogue, where an answer is immediately given, possibly even starting to answer before the question is fully out of the mouth of the person who initiated the dialogue. Compare all instances in Matthew: 4:7; 8:8; 13:28-29; 14:8; 17:26; 19:18-21; 21:27; 22:37; 25:21-23; 26:34; 26:61; 27:11; 27:23; 27:65.

[8] This word is not used exclusively of roosters crowing or even of animal noises, so I chose not to translate it with as specific a meaning as other English translations. It is used of worship-singing in 1Chron. 15:16, of trumpets in Amos 3:6, of Jesus calling the blind man in Matt. 20:32, and of Jesus speaking words from the cross in Matt. 27:47, etc.

[9] A few of the oldest-known manuscripts (P53, B, C, and Θ) read 3s Future Active Indicative “he will”, but Critical editions stick with the majority reading, which is 2s Future (or Aorist Subjunctive) (“you will/shall”).

[10] I appreciate the way Calvin hastened to add, “Let the promise which is added re-create and sustain you; God will stretch out His hand to bring back the scattered sheep to Himself.”

[11] Apart from Proverbs 30:31, which mentions in passing a “strutting rooster,” this is the only other time in the Bible that a rooster is mentioned, and it’s mentioned in all four Gospels. Mark’s account indicates that Peter’s denial occurred in the third watch of the night, which William Hendriksen explains was between midnight and 3am.

[12] Only here and 21:21 in Matthew.

[13] According to an appendix Jay Green’s Interlinear Bible comparing the Majority text to the Textus Receptus, there is actually a slim majority (over 60%) of Greek manuscripts which render this word Aorist Subjunctive (απαρνησωμαι) instead of Future Indicative. Neither the Nestle-Aland critical apparatus nor that of the UBS Greek New Testament say anything about this, and the Future form is in both of my Patristic editions, as well as in both the Scrivner and the Stevens editions of the Textus Receptus, and it’s in all of my Critical editions, so I’m wondering if there is some mistake in Green’s appendix. Even if it is correct, the difference in meaning between an Aorist Subjunctive and a Future is negligible.

[14] The de (“but”) is in the majority of Greek manuscripts (including A, W, Θ, f1 & f13), and thus is in my 1990 Athens Patristic edition, but it’s not in a few of the oldest Greek manuscripts (א, B, C, D, L) and it’s not in the early Latin or Syriac translations, so the Textus Receptus and the Critical editions of the Greek New Testament don’t include it, nor does my e-sword Patristic edition. The presence of the kai (“and”) afterward makes it redundant, so removing the de does not change the meaning.

[15] Chrysostom notes that Peter learns his lesson not to contradict Jesus and the Prophets, for after the resurrection, Peter holds his peace when Jesus tells him strange things in John 21:21, Acts 1:7, and Acts 10:15.

[16] Summary from

[17] With the exception of Deut. 28:57 (which seems to refer to the amniotic sac delivered after birth), this word chorion is consistently used to refer to a piece of farmland – here an orchard of olive trees, but in other places an open field or ranch. Here are all the other uses of the word in addition to Gethsemane: 1Chron. 27:27; John 4:5; Acts 1:18,19; 4:34; 5:3,8; 28:7. The synonym “garden” in John 18:1 is used in parallel to “vineyard” and “orchard,” perhaps as a spice- or vegetable-garden, although often it was also used to designate a graveyard.

[18] The Critical editions spell Gethsemane with the letter iota on the end instead of eta. Since the UBS and N-A Critical editions give no textual basis for this in their critical apparatus, I’m sticking with the spelling from the majority of Greek manuscripts. It’s no big deal with a proper noun to have spelling variants when transliterated from Aramaic to Greek.

[19] The textual apparatus in Nestle-Aland identifies 5 ancient Greek manuscripts (א, A, C, D, W) – as well as the bulk of ancient Latin and Syriac translations – which add the pronoun “His,” but the word is not found in Critical editions or in the T.R. or Patristic editions, so it is not considered original to Matthew. The NAS, NIV, and ESV insert the word anyway. Not that it makes any difference in meaning, because “the disciples” are, after all, “His disciples.”

[20] Greek manuscripts have a variety of readings here. The Patristic, TR, and Critical editions line up as above with the Vaticanus, but a couple of Greek manuscripts (א, C) omit the relative pronoun ou (“where”), while a couple of others (P35, A) add the particle an (“ever”), and quite a few (D, K, L, W, Δ, Θ, 074, f1, and f13) substitute an for ou, but none of these variants change the meaning.

[21] This verb is only in three places in the whole Greek Bible: here, the parallel passage in Mark 14:33, and Paul’s account of Epaphroditus’ sickness in Philippians 2:26.

[22] “By leaving the disciples at a distance, He is sparing their weakness; like a man in combat settling his wife and children in a peaceful place…” ~John Calvin

[23] Calvin seems to agree, “Led away from the sight of men, we gather our thoughts better to be more intent on what we are doing.”

[24] The parallel account in the Gospel of Luke uses the synonym εκθαμβεισθαι, which also means “distressed/troubled.”

[25] “Jesus” is in the majority of Greek manuscripts, but it’s not in the T.R. or the Critical editions. I do not have access to textual criticism to evaluate which manuscripts do not have this word. While it may lend to clarity of style, it is not necessary to make the subject explicit, since the context indicates that Jesus is the subject. This again diminishes the claim of the King-James-only crowd that because the KJV doesn’t remove the name of Jesus it is superior, because here, apparently the KJV has omitted the name of Jesus, even though it is in the majority of Greek manuscripts.

[26] “Being human himself, he stood in need not only of food, drink, clothing, shelter, and sleep, but also of human fellowship.” ~Wm. Hendriksen

[27] Over 80% of the Greek manuscripts, including a like percentage of the oldest-known manuscripts (P53, א, C, D, L, W, Θ – with f1, and f13 in lock-step) read προσελθων (“approaching”), but the editors of the T.R., Patristic, and Critical editions all opt for the reading of a few ancient manuscripts (P37, P45, and B – supported by the Vulgate) which read προελθων (“going before”) – the only difference being the absence of one letter in the middle of the word. The parallel passage in Mark has the same variance in the manuscripts, and nowhere else in the Greek Bible does mikros appear in tandem with proserchomai or procrchomai, so there are no other places in the Bible we can cross-reference for the meaning. This is a hard call for me. Why would so many of the ancient copyists see no problem with proselthwn micron when all the modern GNT editors find that it doesn’t make sense? Maybe the phrase proselthwn micron has a meaning we moderns have lost track of, such as “staying only a little bit near,” which is basically what we get with proelthwn micron. I suspect that the underlying meaning is the same and that this is not a problem.

[28] There is an alternate spelling in Critical editions, but no difference in meaning.

[29] Mark’s parallel use of the word “hour” instead of “cup” reinforces that this is a figure of speech.

[30] In this commentary, many relevant cross-references are cited, including: James 1:13-15, Gen. 22:1, John 6:6, Luke 8:13, 1 Tim. 6:9, 2 Peter 2:9, 1 Cor. 10:13-14, 1 Peter 4:12, and James 1:2.

[31] Cf. A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, “Spirit (pneuma) here is the moral life (intellect, will, emotions) as opposed to the flesh (cf. Isa. 31:3; Rom 7:25).” Also William Hendriksen, “In the present passage, ‘spirit’ indicates man’s invisible entity viewed in its relation to God.”

[32] All instances in the Greek Bible:
1Chron. 28:20-21 And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong, and play the man, and do: fear not, neither be terrified; for the Lord my God is with thee; he will not forsake thee, and will not fail thee, until thou hast finished all the work of the service of the house of the Lord. And behold the pattern of the temple, even his house, and its treasury, and the upper chambers, and the inner store-rooms, and the place of propitiation, and the plan of the house of the Lord. And see, here are the courses of the priests and Levites for all the service of the house of the Lord, and there shall be with thee men for every workmanship, and every one of ready skill in every art: also the chief men and all the people, ready for all thy commands. (Brenton, cf. 29:34)
2Chron. 29:31 Then Ezekias answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves to the Lord, bring near and offer sacrifices of praise in the house of the Lord. And the congregation brought sacrifices and thank-offerings into the house of the Lord; and every one who was ready in his heart brought whole-burnt-offerings. (Brenton)
Hab. 1:8 – an eagle eager to eat
Matt. 26:41 and Mark 14:38 – The willing spirit vs. the weak flesh
and Rom. 1:15 Thus as far as I am concerned, I am eager to share the Good News also with y’all in Rome. (NAW)

[33] The word “cup” appears to be missing from all of the older Uncial Greek manuscripts except for the 4th Century Bezae and 9th Century Koriedethi, so the Critical editions do not include the word, nor do the NASB or ESV English translations. On the other hand, the word “cup” appears to be in all but a few (f1, 33, 565, 1010) of the Greek miniscule manuscripts from the 9th to the 16th centuries, therefore it is in the Patristic and T.R. editions of the Greek New Testament, and therefore the “cup” appears in the KJV and NIV English translations. No harm done, as the context makes the referent obvious, whether or not it is explicit.

[34] Critical editions omit this phrase “from me” because some of the oldest Greek manuscripts don’t have it; it’s also missing in the Vulgate, so it’s not in the NAS, NIV, or ESV. But it’s in the Majority of Greek manuscripts, including a few of the Uncials (A, C, W, 067), and thus in the T.R. and Patristic editions – and in the KJV. Since this verse repeats v.39, and since the parallel account (Mark 14:39) explicitly says that Jesus used the “same words,” the absence of “from me” here would not amount to a change in Jesus’ discourse.

[35] This phrase is intended to reflect the emphatic placement of the verb (esan) and allow a separate verb of being to bring out the perfect tense of the final participle (bebaremenoi).

[36] Apparently, all the earliest Greek manuscripts used a Second Aorist spelling (above), but that spelling fell out of use, and most manuscripts copied after about the year 900 tended to be spelled First Aorist (‘ευρισκει), thus the spelling of the T.R. and Patristic editions, but it makes absolutely no difference in meaning.

[37] A couple of ancient Greek manuscripts (P37 and Θ) shift the “again” from here to the end of the sentence, while a couple of other ancient manuscripts (א, B, and L) put it both at the beginning and the end, therefore the Critical editions of the GNT, which tend to follow the agreement of the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, deviate from the Majority of Greek manuscripts by adding a second palin at the end. The Majority includes manuscripts A, C, D, W, 067, f1, f13, etc. – how Aland can call the Majority text an “omission” is beyond me! The omission in P37, A, D, K, and f1 of ek tritou “a third time” is rejected by the Critical editions, however. The ancient Syriac, Vulgate, Sahidic, and Coptic translations went with the Majority, as do the T.R. and Patristic editions of the GNT, and I side with the Majority here.

[38] The Greek word engus behind this has nothing to do with a “hand,” so I prefer not to use the English idiom “at hand.”

[39] Although “of Him” is in the majority of Greek manuscripts (including D, W, Γ), and therefore in the T.R. and Patristic editions of the GNT, and in the ancient translations into Latin, Syriac, and Boharic, and in the relatively-more-recent KJV translation, “of Him” is not in certain early Greek manuscripts and therefore not in Critical editions of the GNT and therefore not in the NAS, NIV, or ESV translations. This is a common variant and does not change the meaning, for “the disciples” are obviously “His disciples,” and the definite article can just as easily be translated as “his” without the autou.

[40] This definite article is not found in four ancient Greek manuscripts (B, C, L, W) and therefore was dropped from Westcott’s critical edition, but later Critical editions of the GNT retained it. It is indisputably in Mark’s parallel account. Regardless, it makes no difference in meaning because it is a figure of speech which doesn’t translate as a noun so it can’t take a definite article anyway in English.

[41] A.T. Robertson also took it in this way, and quoted Plummer and Bruce in support. William Hendriksen also took it this way, citing Grosheide in support, “λοιπον makes it impossible to regard καθευδετε, to which it belongs, as a question.” So also Calvin. Chrysostom seems to agree. The weight of so many scholars is not to be lightly cast aside.

[42] A.T. Robertson cites Goodspeed and Moffatt as having this position and admits that loipon is used commonly in papyri for “now” or “henceforth,” which speaks well for this position.

[43] William Hendriksen cites Lenski’s agreeing with him that “το λοιπον does not mean ‘still.’” Hopefully my citations of conflicting opinions among Bible scholars illustrates the reasonableness of accepting a range of different opinions on how to translate this verse.