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Jehovah’s Witnesses

English
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

According to Luke 20:1-47

20  On one of the days while he was teaching the people in the temple and declaring the good news, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came  and said to him: “Tell us, by what authority do you do these things? Or who gave you this authority?”+  He replied to them: “I will also ask you a question, and you tell me:  Was the baptism* of John from heaven or from men?”*  Then they drew conclusions among themselves, saying: “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’  But if we say, ‘From men,’ the people one and all will stone us, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.”+  So they replied that they did not know its source.  Jesus said to them: “Neither am I telling you by what authority I do these things.”  Then he began to tell the people this illustration: “A man planted a vineyard+ and leased it to cultivators, and he traveled abroad for a considerable time.+ 10  In due season he sent a slave to the cultivators so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. The cultivators, however, sent him away empty-handed, after beating him.+ 11  But again he sent another slave. That one also they beat and humiliated* and sent away empty-handed. 12  Yet again he sent a third; this one also they wounded and threw out. 13  At this the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I will send my son, the beloved.+ They will likely respect this one.’ 14  When the cultivators caught sight of him, they reasoned with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him so that the inheritance may become ours.’ 15  So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.+ What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16  He will come and kill these cultivators and will give the vineyard to others.” On hearing this, they said: “Never may that happen!” 17  But he looked straight at them and said: “What, then, does this mean where it is written: ‘The stone that the builders rejected, this has become the chief cornerstone’?+ 18  Everyone falling on that stone will be shattered.+ As for anyone on whom it falls, it will crush him.” 19  The scribes and the chief priests then sought to get their hands on him in that very hour, but they feared the people, for they realized that he told this illustration with them in mind.+ 20  And after observing him closely, they sent men whom they had secretly hired to pretend that they were righteous in order to catch him in his speech,+ so as to turn him over to the government and to the authority of the governor. 21  And they questioned him, saying: “Teacher, we know you speak and teach correctly and show no partiality, but you teach the way of God in line with truth: 22  Is it lawful* for us to pay head tax to Caesar or not?” 23  But he detected their cunning and said to them: 24  “Show me a de·narʹi·us. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They said: “Caesar’s.” 25  He said to them: “By all means, then, pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar+ but God’s things to God.”+ 26  Well, they were not able to trap him in his speech before the people, but amazed at his answer, they became silent. 27  However, some of the Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection,+ came and asked him:+ 28  “Teacher, Moses wrote us, ‘If a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife, but he was childless, his brother should take the wife and raise up offspring for his brother.’+ 29  Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife but died childless. 30  So the second 31  and the third married her. Likewise even all seven; they died and left no children. 32  Finally the woman also died. 33  Consequently, in the resurrection, whose wife will she become? For the seven had her as a wife.” 34  Jesus said to them: “The children of this system of things marry and are given in marriage, 35  but those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.+ 36  In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection. 37  But that the dead are raised up, even Moses made known in the account about the thornbush,+ when he calls Jehovah ‘the God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob.’+ 38  He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him.”+ 39  In response some of the scribes said: “Teacher, you spoke well.” 40  For they no longer had the courage to ask him a single question. 41  In turn he asked them: “How is it they say that the Christ is David’s son?+ 42  For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 43  until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.”’+ 44  David, therefore, calls him Lord; so how is he his son?” 45  Then, while all the people were listening, he said to his disciples: 46  “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in robes and who love greetings in the marketplaces and front seats in the synagogues and the most prominent places at evening meals,+ 47  and who devour the houses* of the widows and for show* make long prayers. These will receive a more severe* judgment.”

Footnotes

Or “immersion; dipping.”
Or “of human origin.”
Or “dishonored; treated shamefully.”
Or “right.”
Or “property.”
Or “for a pretext.”
Or “a heavier.”

Study Notes

for a considerable time: Only Luke adds this expression in the illustration of the murderous vineyard cultivators.—Compare the parallel accounts at Mt 21:33 and Mr 12:1.

the chief cornerstone: Or “the most important stone.” The Hebrew expression at Ps 118:22 and the Greek expression used here literally mean “the head of the corner.” Although it has been understood in different ways, it apparently refers to the stone that was installed atop the junction of two walls to hold them firmly together. Jesus quoted and applied this prophecy to himself as “the chief cornerstone.” Just as the topmost stone of a building is conspicuous, so Jesus Christ is the crowning stone of the Christian congregation of anointed ones, which is likened to a spiritual temple.

Caesar: Or “the Emperor.” The Roman emperor during Jesus’ earthly ministry was Tiberius, but the term was not restricted to the ruling emperor. “Caesar” could refer to the Roman civil authority, or the State, and its duly appointed representatives, who are called “the superior authorities” by Paul, and “the king” and his “governors” by Peter.Ro 13:1-7; 1Pe 2:13-17; Tit 3:1; see Glossary.

image and inscription: On the front side of a common denarius of this time, there was an image of the laurel-crowned head of Roman Emperor Tiberius, who reigned from 14 to 37 C.E., and the inscription in Latin, “Tiberius Caesar Augustus, son of the deified Augustus.”—See also App. B14.

Sadducees: This is the only mention of the Sadducees in the Gospel of Luke. (See Glossary.) The name (Greek, Sad·dou·kaiʹos) is likely connected with Zadok (often spelled Sad·doukʹ in the Septuagint), who was made high priest in the days of Solomon and whose descendants evidently served as priests for centuries.—1Ki 2:35.

resurrection: The Greek word a·naʹsta·sis literally means “raising up; standing up.” It is used about 40 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures with reference to the resurrection of the dead. (Mt 22:23, 31; Lu 20:33; Ac 4:2; 24:15; 1Co 15:12, 13) In the Septuagint at Isa 26:19, the verb form of a·naʹsta·sis is used to render the Hebrew verb “to live” in the expression “Your dead will live.”—See Glossary.

system of things: The Greek word ai·onʹ, having the basic meaning “age,” can refer to a state of affairs or to features that distinguish a certain period of time, epoch, or age. Jesus is stating that blasphemy against the holy spirit will not be forgiven in the present ungodly system of things under Satan’s rule (2Co 4:4; Eph 2:2; Tit 2:12) nor in the coming system of things under God’s rule, in which “everlasting life” is promised (Lu 18:29, 30).—See Glossary.

the coming system of things: Or “the coming age.” The Greek word ai·onʹ, having the basic meaning “age,” can refer to a state of affairs or to features that distinguish a certain period of time, epoch, or age. Jesus is here referring to the coming era under God’s Kingdom rule, in which everlasting life is promised.Lu 18:29, 30; see Glossary, “System(s) of things.”

children: Or “people.” Lit., “sons.” In this context, the Greek word for “son” is used in a broader sense than merely referring to immediate male offspring. That both men and women are included is clear from the use of the Greek word for given in marriage, a term that is used about women. In this context, the whole expression, “children of this system of things” is evidently an idiom for people whose attitudes and lifestyle reflect the characteristics of this present system of things.

this system of things: The Greek word ai·onʹ, having the basic meaning “age,” can refer to a state of affairs or to features that distinguish a certain period of time, epoch, or age. In this context, it refers to the present system of things.—See study notes on Mt 12:32; Mr 10:30 and Glossary, “System(s) of things.”

system of things: The Greek word ai·onʹ, having the basic meaning “age,” can refer to a state of affairs or to features that distinguish a certain period of time, epoch, or age. Jesus is stating that blasphemy against the holy spirit will not be forgiven in the present ungodly system of things under Satan’s rule (2Co 4:4; Eph 2:2; Tit 2:12) nor in the coming system of things under God’s rule, in which “everlasting life” is promised (Lu 18:29, 30).—See Glossary.

the coming system of things: Or “the coming age.” The Greek word ai·onʹ, having the basic meaning “age,” can refer to a state of affairs or to features that distinguish a certain period of time, epoch, or age. Jesus is here referring to the coming era under God’s Kingdom rule, in which everlasting life is promised.Lu 18:29, 30; see Glossary, “System(s) of things.”

that system of things: The Greek word ai·onʹ, having the basic meaning “age,” can refer to a state of affairs or to features that distinguish a certain period of time, epoch, or age. Here it refers to the coming system of things under God’s rule, when the resurrection from the dead will take place.—See study notes on Mt 12:32; Mr 10:30 and Glossary, “System(s) of things.”

children: Or “people.” Lit., “sons.” In this context, the Greek word for “son” is used in a broader sense than merely referring to immediate male offspring. That both men and women are included is clear from the use of the Greek word for given in marriage, a term that is used about women. In this context, the whole expression, “children of this system of things” is evidently an idiom for people whose attitudes and lifestyle reflect the characteristics of this present system of things.

children: Lit., “sons.” The Greek word for “son” occurs twice in this verse. In some contexts, it is used in a broader sense than merely referring to immediate male offspring.—See study note on Lu 20:34.

even Moses made known: The Sadducees accepted only Moses’ writings as inspired. They objected to Jesus’ teaching about the resurrection, evidently thinking that there was no basis for such a teaching in the Pentateuch. Jesus could have quoted many scriptures, such as Isa 26:19, Dan 12:13, and Hos 13:14, to show that the dead would rise. But because Jesus knew which writings were accepted by the Sadducees, he proved his point by using words that Jehovah spoke to Moses.Ex 3:2, 6.

when he calls Jehovah ‘the God of Abraham’: Or “when he says: ‘Jehovah the God of Abraham.’” Although existing Greek manuscripts use the word Kyʹri·os (Lord) here, there are good reasons for using the divine name in the main text. The context shows that Kyʹri·os is used with reference to God. The quote in this verse is taken from Ex 3:6, where in the preceding verses, “Jehovah” is the one speaking. (Ex 3:4, 5) In view of this Hebrew Scripture background, the divine name has been used in the main text. In connection with Lu 20:37, scholars have noted the absence of the Greek definite article before Kyʹri·os where it would be expected according to standard grammatical usage. This is noteworthy because although the earliest copies of the Greek Septuagint contained the divine name, when later copies of the Septuagint replaced the divine name with Kyʹri·os, the definite article was in a similar way not included where standard grammatical usage would normally call for it. Therefore, the unexpected absence of the definite article here is another indication that Kyʹri·os is used as a substitute for the divine name. Also, a number of Bible translations use such renderings as Jehovah, Yahveh, Yahweh, יהוה (YHWH, or the Tetragrammaton), LORD, and ADONAI in the main text or in footnotes and marginal notes to indicate that this is a reference to Jehovah God. A number of reference works support this view.—See App. C.

for they are all living to him: Or “for they are all living from his standpoint.” The Bible shows that those who are living but who are alienated from God are dead from his standpoint. (Eph 2:1; 1Ti 5:6) Likewise, approved servants of God who die are still living from Jehovah’s standpoint, since his purpose to resurrect them is sure of fulfillment.—Ro 4:16, 17.

Jehovah: The divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text at Ps 110:1, quoted here. However, as explained in App. A5, most Bible translations do not use God’s name in what is commonly called the New Testament, not even in quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures. Most Bibles simply use “Lord.” Yet, as shown in App. C, some Bible translations do use such renderings as Jehovah, Yahveh, Yahweh, יהוה (YHWH, or the Tetragrammaton), LORD, and ADONAI in capital letters (indicating that it is a substitute for God’s name) in the main text of the Christian Greek Scriptures. Some 17th-century editions of the King James Version have the rendering “the LORD” in capital letters here and at three other places where Ps 110:1 is quoted in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (Mt 22:44; Mr 12:36; Ac 2:34) Later editions continued this practice. Since “the LORD” is used in the Hebrew Scriptures of that translation to indicate where the original Hebrew text uses the divine name, the same way of writing “the LORD” in the Christian Greek Scriptures would indicate that the translators thought that it is Jehovah who is being referred to. It is also interesting to note that the New King James Version, first published in 1979, extends this use of “the LORD” to all occurrences of that word when it refers to the divine name in quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures.

marketplaces: Or “places of assembly.” The Greek word a·go·raʹ is here used to refer to an open area that served as a center for buying and selling and as a place of public assembly in cities and towns of the ancient Near East and the Greek and Roman world.

front seats: Or “best seats.” Evidently, the presiding officers of the synagogue and distinguished guests sat near the Scripture rolls at the front of the synagogue, in full view of the congregation. These seats of honor were likely reserved for such prominent individuals.

Media

The Front Seats in the Synagogue
The Front Seats in the Synagogue

The reconstruction shown in this animation is partly based on the ruins of a first-century synagogue in Gamla, a city located about 10 km (6 mi) northeast of the Sea of Galilee. No synagogues from the first century have survived intact, so the exact features are uncertain. This depiction includes some of the features that were likely present in many synagogues of that time.

1. The front, or best, seats in the synagogue may have been located on or near the speaker’s platform.

2. The platform from which a teacher would read from the Law. The exact location of the platform may have varied from one synagogue to the next.

3. Seating along the wall may have been occupied by people with status in the community. Others might have sat on mats on the floor. The synagogue in Gamla seems to have had four rows of seats.

4. An ark, or chest, in which sacred scrolls were kept may have been located on the back wall.

The seating arrangements in the synagogue were a constant reminder to those in attendance that some had greater status than others, a topic often debated by Jesus’ disciples.Mt 18:1-4; 20:20, 21; Mr 9:33, 34; Lu 9:46-48.

Prominent Places at Evening Meals
Prominent Places at Evening Meals

In the first century, a common way of dining was to recline at the table. Each person would rest his left elbow on a cushion and eat using his right hand. According to the Greco-Roman custom, a typical dining room had three couches set around a low dining table. The Romans called this kind of dining room a triclinium (Latin from a Greek word meaning “room with three couches”). Although this arrangement traditionally accommodated nine people, three to a couch, it became common to use longer couches to accommodate even more people. Each position in the dining room was traditionally viewed as having a different degree of honor. One couch was the lowest place of honor (A), one was the middle (B), and one was the highest (C). The positions on the couch differed in importance. The person dining was considered to be above the one to his right and below the one to his left. At a formal banquet, the host typically sat at the first position (1) on the lowest couch. The place of honor was the third position (2) on the middle couch. Although it is not clear to what extent the Jews adopted this custom, it appears that Jesus alluded to it when teaching his followers the need for humility.