IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 2, Number 17, April 24 to April 30, 2000


by Dr. Knox Chamblin

THE ARREST. 26:47-56.

I. JESUS AND JUDAS. 26:47-50.

A. Judas' Fulfillment of Prophecy.

1. The fulfillment of Jesus' word. Judas is here identified as "the betrayer" (ho paradidous), v. 48. By the use of this verb (paradidomi), Jesus has repeatedly predicted Judas' action (17:22; 20:18; 26:2,21,23,24), most recently just before the arresting party's arrival (26:45-46). In keeping with those prophecies, Judas has already used this word to describe his contemplated action, 26:15-16. Judas' act, far from catching Jesus off guard, happens as the direct result of Jesus' own prophecy. (Cf. Jesus' command in v. 50.) Once the betrayal has occurred, ho paradidous (or ho paradous) becomes Judas' surname forever (10:4; 27:3). Note: As paradidomi basically means "to hand over," certain of the above instances embrace God's action as well as Judas' (cf. comments on 17:22 and 26:31; see also 1 Cor 11:23).

2. The fulfillment of David's word. Judas' action fulfills OT prophecy too, namely Ps 41:9, "Even my close friend. whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me." The connection between Judas' action and this Psalm is made most explicit in Jn (13:18; 17:12; cf. Acts 1:16, with its reference to David and the Scripture). In light of those statements of Jesus in Jn, we find in Mt 26:23 an allusion to that same prophecy: "The one who has dipped his hand [which holds a piece of bread] into the bowl with me will betray me." Also note that Ps 41:9 and Mt 26:50 have in common the word "friend" in the NIV (though the LXX of the Ps uses a different expression from the Greek text of Mt).

B. Judas' Greeting. 26:49.

"Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, 'Greetings, Rabbi! [Chaire, Rabbi]' and kissed him.".

1. His words. Judas uses "rabbi." Never in Mt does Judas individually address Jesus as "Lord" (Kyrios). Note the distinction between v. 22 (words of the Twelve), "Surely not I, Lord [Kyrie]," and v. 25 (words of Judas), "Surely not I, Rabbi." Nowhere else in Mt is Jesus addressed as Rabbi (even in 23:7-8 he does not expressly approve it); but cf. Jn 1:38, 50.

2. His action. In all probability, Judas kissed Jesus on the hand or the foot (Gundry, 537; Hill, 343). Such an action might signal both affection and honor between true friends (cf. Lk 7:38; Hill, ibid.) Bruce suggests that the shift from the simple phileo ("kiss") in v. 48, to kataphileo in v. 49, expresses the intensity or the enthusiasm of Judas' actual kiss (Matthew, 86; a writer might use a compound verb for such a purpose). Not only is Judas hereby shown to be a hypocrite, whose outward action disgustingly contradicts the inner reality. His expression of friendship becomes the very device for handing the friend over to death (v. 48). Both the hypocrisy and the treachery are captured in Jesus' question according to Lk 22:48, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"

C. Jesus' Reply. 26:50.

"Friend [Hetaire], do what you came for." Hetairos occurs three other times in Mt (11:16; 20:13; and 22:12). It is "an open-hearted but not intimate greeting" (Carson, 547). It is incorrect to say that all four instances denote false disciples (Gundry, 537): this fits 22:12 and 26:50, but not 11:16 and 20:13, where the term is simply part of the verbal imagery. It may be that 26:50 recalls the intimacy of table-fellowship (see below).

It is uncertain whether the rest of Jesus' reply is a statement or a question (cf. NIV and NIV mg.). "If the clause is an imperatival statement, its force is like John 13:27 ["What you are about to do, do quickly"] and reflects Jesus' newly regained poise and his sovereignty in these events. If it is a question, it elicits no information but administers a rebuke steeped in the irony of professed ignorance that knows very well why Judas has come" (Carson, 547). Bruce suggests, in light of the appearance of such an expression on a 1st-century glass goblet (probably from Syria), that Jesus may intend "to remind Judas of their recent table- fellowship" (Matthew, 86).


A. The Rejection of Power.

As Jesus is arrested, one of his companions strikes the high priest's servant with a sword (v. 51), apparently with the intent to kill (cf. v. 52). Jn 18:10 identifies the disciple as Peter, and the servant as Malchus. Jesus' response accords with his earlier teaching. He makes peace (5:9), and commands that the sword be returned to its scabbard (v. 52; interestingly, the one Evangelist who relates that Jesus healed the ear is Luke the physician, 22:51). Jesus thus embodies the teaching of 5:38-42. "Turning the other cheek" (5:39) is significant because one has the right, the freedom, not to do so. Likewise, Jesus' submission to arrest is significant because of his freedom to refuse arrest, and his right to invoke a power easily able to prevent it (26:53). A mission of twelve legions of angels would provide Jesus and the Eleven with one legion each - no less than 6,000 angels per person! (cf. Gundry, 539). That Jesus nonetheless refuses to call upon that power, demonstrates his free determination to obey the Father and fulfill the Scripture (vv. 54, 56; cf. the comments on 26:36-46). Cf. Jn 10:18, "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord."

B. The Presence of Power.

Jesus rejects one kind of power in order to exercise another. Instead of leading a rebellion (v. 55a), Jesus expressed his power in teaching (v. 55b, where the verb "sat" witnesses to his authority; cf. comments on 5:1; 7:28-29). Moreover, just as "turning the other cheek" (5:39) is itself an expression of power - which may effectively draw or drain hostility from the other person - so Jesus here, in the garden, deliberately turns himself over to his enemies both human and demonic, allows their malice to envelop him - and by that very means conquers them (see the comments on 20:24-28 and 21:8-11; cf. Paul's argument in 1 Cor 1:18-2:8).

The close of the passage presents a dramatic contrast. The reality of Jesus' power is evident in that he stands his ground and submits to arrest. But "all the disciples deserted him and fled" (v. 56) - vivid proof that they lacked such power, and also the consequence for their having exercised the wrong kind of power (v. 51).