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Jehovah’s Witnesses

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

Matthew 11:1-30

11  When Jesus had finished giving instructions to his 12 disciples, he set out from there to teach and preach in their cities.+  But John, having heard in jail+ about the works of the Christ, sent his disciples+  to ask him: “Are you the Coming One, or are we to expect a different one?”+  In reply Jesus said to them: “Go and report to John what you are hearing and seeing:+  The blind are now seeing+ and the lame are walking, the lepers+ are being cleansed and the deaf are hearing, the dead are being raised up and the poor are being told the good news.+  Happy is the one who finds no cause for stumbling in me.”+  While these were on their way, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?+ A reed being tossed by the wind?+  What, then, did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft garments?* Why, those wearing soft garments are in the houses of kings.  Really, then, why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and far more than a prophet.+ 10  This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Look! I am sending my messenger* ahead of you,* who will prepare your way ahead of you!’+ 11  Truly I say to you, among those born of women, there has not been raised up anyone greater than John the Baptist, but a lesser person in the Kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.+ 12  From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it.+ 13  For all, the Prophets and the Law, prophesied until John;+ 14  and if you are willing to accept it, he is ‘E·liʹjah who is to come.’+ 15  Let the one who has ears listen.+ 16  “With whom will I compare this generation?+ It is like young children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to their playmates, 17  saying: ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance; we wailed, but you did not beat yourselves in grief.’ 18  Likewise, John came neither eating nor drinking,+ but people say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19  The Son of man did come eating and drinking,+ but people say, ‘Look! A man who is a glutton and is given to drinking wine, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’+ All the same, wisdom is proved righteous* by its works.”*+ 20  Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his powerful works had taken place, for they did not repent:+ 21  “Woe to you, Cho·raʹzin! Woe to you, Beth·saʹi·da! because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Tyre and Siʹdon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.+ 22  But I say to you, it will be more endurable for Tyre and Siʹdon+ on Judgment Day than for you.+ 23  And you, Ca·perʹna·um,+ will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to the Grave you will come;+ because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sodʹom, it would have remained until this very day. 24  But I say to you, it will be more endurable for the land of Sodʹom on Judgment Day than for you.”+ 25  At that time Jesus said in response: “I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children.+ 26  Yes, O Father, because this is the way you approved. 27  All things have been handed over to me by my Father,+ and no one fully knows the Son except the Father;+ neither does anyone fully know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son is willing to reveal him.+ 28  Come to me, all you who are toiling* and loaded down, and I will refresh you. 29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,* for I am mild-tempered+ and lowly in heart,+ and you will find refreshment for yourselves. 30  For my yoke is kindly,* and my load is light.”


Or “fine (luxurious) clothing.”
Or “angel.”
Lit., “before your face.”
Or “is vindicated.”
Or “by its results.”
Or “struggling hard.” Or possibly, “weary; tired.”
Or “become my disciples (learners).”
Or “easy to bear; pleasant.”

teaching . . . preaching: Teaching differs from preaching in that the teacher does more than proclaim; he instructs, explains, uses persuasive arguments, and offers proof.—See study notes on Mt 3:1; 28:20.

teach and preach: See study note on Mt 4:23.

their cities: Evidently referring to the Jewish cities of that region (Galilee).

Christ: This title is derived from the Greek word Khri·stosʹ and is equivalent to the title “Messiah” (from Hebrew Ma·shiʹach), both meaning “Anointed One.” In Bible times, rulers were ceremonially anointed with oil.

the Christ: Here the title “Christ” is preceded by the definite article in Greek, evidently as a way of emphasizing Jesus’ office as the Messiah.

the Christ: Here the title “Christ,” meaning “Anointed One,” is preceded by the definite article in Greek. This is a way of indicating that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the one who had been anointed in a special sense.—See study notes on Mt 1:1; 2:4.

the Coming One: That is, the Messiah.Ps 118:26; Mt 3:11; 21:9; 23:39.

a leper: A person suffering from a serious skin disease. The leprosy referred to in the Bible is not restricted to the disease known by that name today. Anyone diagnosed with leprosy became an outcast from society until he was cured.Le 13:2, ftn., 45, 46; see Glossary, “Leprosy; Leper.”

lepers: See study note on Mt 8:2 and Glossary, “Leprosy; Leper.”

look!: The Greek word i·douʹ, here rendered “look!,” is often used to focus attention on what follows, encouraging the reader to visualize the scene or to take note of a detail in a narrative. It is also used to add emphasis or to introduce something new or surprising. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term occurs most frequently in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the book of Revelation. A corresponding expression is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures.

the Baptist: Or “the Immerser; the Dipper”; referred to as “the Baptizer” at Mr 1:4; 6:14, 24. Evidently used as a sort of surname, indicating that baptizing by immersing in water was distinctive of John. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote of “John, surnamed the Baptist.”

Truly: Greek, a·menʹ, a transliteration of the Hebrew ʼa·menʹ, meaning “so be it,” or “surely.” Jesus frequently uses this expression to preface a statement, a promise, or a prophecy, thereby emphasizing its absolute truthfulness and reliability. Jesus’ use of “truly,” or amen, in this way is said to be unique in sacred literature. When repeated in succession (a·menʹ a·menʹ), as is the case throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus’ expression is translated “most truly.”Joh 1:51.

the Baptist: Or “the Immerser; the Dipper.”—See study note on Mt 3:1.

the goal toward which men press . . . those pressing forward: Two related Greek words used here convey the basic idea of forceful action or endeavor. Some Bible translators have understood them in a negative sense (that of acting with or suffering violence), but the context and the only other Biblical occurrence of the Greek verb, at Lu 16:16, make it reasonable to understand the terms in the positive sense of “going after something with enthusiasm; seeking fervently.” These words evidently describe the forceful actions or endeavors of those who responded to the preaching of John the Baptist, which put them in line to become prospective members of the Kingdom.

the Law . . . the Prophets: “The Law” refers to the Bible books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. “The Prophets” refers to the prophetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures. However, when these terms are mentioned together, the expression could be understood to include the entire Hebrew Scriptures.Mt 7:12; 22:40; Lu 16:16.

the Prophets and the Law: The reversal of the usual order, “the Law and the Prophets” (Mt 5:17; 7:12; 22:40; Lu 16:16), occurs only here. The general meaning is evidently the same (see study note on Mt 5:17), although the prophetic aspect of the Scriptures seems to be given more emphasis here. Even the Law is said to have prophesied, emphasizing its prophetic character.

Elijah: From the Hebrew name meaning “My God Is Jehovah.”

beat yourselves in grief: A person repeatedly beat his hands against his chest to express unusual grief or feelings of guilt and remorse.Isa 32:12; Na 2:7; Lu 23:48.

neither eating nor drinking: This evidently refers to John’s life of self-denial, which included fasting as well as adhering to the Nazirite requirement of abstaining from alcoholic beverages.Nu 6:2-4; Mt 9:14, 15; Lu 1:15; 7:33.

tax collectors: Many Jews collected taxes for the Roman authorities. People hated such Jews because they not only collaborated with a resented foreign power but also extorted more than the official tax rate. Tax collectors were generally shunned by fellow Jews, who put them on the same level as sinners and prostitutes.Mt 11:19; 21:32.

Son of man: Or “Son of a human.” This expression occurs about 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used it to refer to himself, evidently emphasizing that he was truly human, born from a woman, and that he was a fitting human counterpart to Adam, having the power to redeem humankind from sin and death. (Ro 5:12, 14-15) The same expression also identified Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ.Da 7:13, 14; see Glossary.

tax collectors: See study note on Mt 5:46.

Capernaum: From a Hebrew name meaning “Village of Nahum” or “Village of Comforting.” (Na 1:1, ftn.) A city of major importance in Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was located at the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee and was called “his own city” at Mt 9:1.

heaven: Here used metaphorically to denote a highly favored position.

the Grave: Or “Hades,” that is, the common grave of mankind. (See Glossary, “Grave.”) Here used figuratively to represent the debasement that Capernaum would experience.

to you: Here the pronoun “you” is plural in Greek.

for you: Here the pronoun “you” is singular in Greek, evidently addressing the city.

to young children: Or “to childlike ones,” that is, humble, teachable individuals.

loaded down: Those whom Jesus beckons to come were “loaded down” by anxiety and toil. Their worship of Jehovah had become burdensome because of the human traditions that had been added to the Law of Moses. (Mt 23:4) Even the Sabbath, which was meant to be a source of refreshment, had become a burden.Ex 23:12; Mr 2:23-28; Lu 6:1-11.

I will refresh you: The Greek word for “refresh” can refer both to rest (Mt 26:45; Mr 6:31) and to relief from toil in order to recover and regain strength (2Co 7:13; Phm 7). The context shows that taking on Jesus’ “yoke” (Mt 11:29) would involve service, not rest. The active Greek verb with Jesus as the subject conveys the thought of his rejuvenating and energizing weary ones so that they would desire to take up his light and kindly yoke.

mild-tempered: The inward quality of those who willingly submit to God’s will and guidance and who do not try to dominate others. The term does not imply cowardice or weakness. In the Septuagint, the word was used as an equivalent for a Hebrew word that can be translated “meek” or “humble.” It was used with reference to Moses (Nu 12:3), those who are teachable (Ps 25:9), those who will possess the earth (Ps 37:11), and the Messiah (Zec 9:9; Mt 21:5). Jesus described himself as a mild-tempered, or meek, person.Mt 11:29.

Take my yoke upon you: Jesus used “yoke” figuratively in the sense of submission to authority and direction. If he had in mind a double yoke, one that God placed upon Jesus, then he would be inviting his disciples to get under the yoke with him and he would assist them. In that case, the phrase could be rendered: “Get under my yoke with me.” If the yoke is one that Jesus himself puts on others, then the reference is to submitting oneself to Christ’s authority and direction as his disciple.—See Glossary, “Yoke.”

mild-tempered: See study note on Mt 5:5.

lowly in heart: The Greek word for “lowly” refers to the quality of being humble and unpretentious; it also occurs at Jas 4:6 and 1Pe 5:5, where it is rendered “humble ones.” The condition of a person’s figurative heart is reflected in his disposition or his attitude toward God and other people.

yourselves: Or “your souls.” See Glossary, “Soul.”


The Marketplace
The Marketplace

Some marketplaces, like the one depicted here, were located along a road. Vendors often placed so much merchandise in the street that it blocked traffic. Local residents could buy common household goods, pottery, and expensive glassware, as well as fresh produce. Because there was no refrigeration, people needed to visit the market each day to buy supplies. Here a shopper could hear news brought in by traders or other visitors, children could play, and the unemployed could wait to be hired. In the marketplace, Jesus healed the sick and Paul preached. (Ac 17:17) By contrast, the proud scribes and Pharisees loved to be noticed and greeted in these public areas.

Chorazin and Bethsaida
Chorazin and Bethsaida

The towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida were near Capernaum, the city that Jesus apparently used as a home base during his great ministry in Galilee of a two years’ duration. The Jewish inhabitants of those towns saw Jesus perform powerful works that would have moved the idolatrous inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon to repentance. For example, it was in the area of Bethsaida that Jesus miraculously fed more than 5,000 people and later cured a blind man.Mt 14:13-21; Mr 8:22; Lu 9:10-17.


One type of wooden yoke was a bar or frame fitted to a person’s shoulders, and loads were suspended from it on each side of the body. Another type of yoke was a wooden bar or frame that was placed over the necks of two draft animals when they pulled a load.