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Jehovah’s Witnesses

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

Matthew 21:1-46

21  When they got close to Jerusalem and arrived at Bethʹpha·ge on the Mount of Olives,+ then Jesus sent two disciples,+  saying to them: “Go into the village that is within sight, and you will at once find a donkey tied and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me.  If someone says anything to you, you must say, ‘The Lord needs them.’ At that he will immediately send them.”  This actually took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet, who said:  “Tell the daughter of Zion: ‘Look! Your king is coming to you,+ mild-tempered+ and mounted on a donkey, yes, on a colt, the offspring of a beast of burden.’”+  So the disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them.+  They brought the donkey and its colt, and they put their outer garments on them, and he sat on them.+  Most of the crowd spread their outer garments on the road,+ while others were cutting down branches from the trees and spreading them on the road.  Moreover, the crowds going ahead of him and those following him kept shouting: “Save, we pray, the Son of David!+ Blessed is the one who comes in Jehovah’s name!+ Save him, we pray, in the heights above!”*+ 10  And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar, saying: “Who is this?” 11  The crowds kept saying: “This is the prophet Jesus,+ from Nazʹa·reth of Galʹi·lee!” 12  Jesus entered the temple and threw out all those selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.+ 13  And he said to them: “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’+ but you are making it a cave of robbers.”+ 14  Also, blind and lame people came to him in the temple, and he cured them. 15  When the chief priests and the scribes saw the marvelous things he did and the boys who were shouting in the temple, “Save, we pray, the Son of David!”+ they became indignant+ 16  and said to him: “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them: “Yes. Did you never read this, ‘Out of the mouth of children and infants, you have brought forth praise’?”+ 17  And leaving them behind, he went out of the city to Bethʹa·ny and spent the night there.+ 18  While returning to the city early in the morning, he felt hungry.+ 19  He caught sight of a fig tree by the road and went to it, but he found nothing on it except leaves,+ and he said to it: “Let no fruit come from you ever again.”+ And the fig tree withered instantly. 20  When the disciples saw this, they were amazed and said: “How is it that the fig tree withered instantly?”+ 21  In answer Jesus said to them: “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what I did to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.+ 22  And all the things you ask in prayer, having faith, you will receive.”+ 23  After he went into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him while he was teaching and said: “By what authority do you do these things? And who gave you this authority?”+ 24  In reply Jesus said to them: “I will also ask you one thing. If you tell me, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things: 25  The baptism by John, from what source was it? From heaven or from men?”* But they began to reason among themselves, saying: “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why, then, did you not believe him?’+ 26  But if we say, ‘From men,’ we have the crowd to fear, for they all regard John as a prophet.”+ 27  So they answered Jesus: “We do not know.” He, in turn, said to them: “Neither am I telling you by what authority I do these things. 28  “What do you think? A man had two children. Going up to the first, he said, ‘Child, go work today in the vineyard.’ 29  In answer this one said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward, he felt regret and went out. 30  Approaching the second, he said the same. This one replied, ‘I will, Sir,’ but did not go out. 31  Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said: “The first.” Jesus said to them: “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going ahead of you into the Kingdom of God.+ 32  For John came to you in a way of righteousness, but you did not believe him. However, the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him,+ and even when you saw this, you did not feel regret afterward so as to believe him. 33  “Hear another illustration: There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard+ and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and erected a tower;+ then he leased it to cultivators and traveled abroad.+ 34  When the fruit season came around, he sent his slaves to the cultivators to collect his fruit. 35  However, the cultivators took his slaves, and they beat one up, another they killed, another they stoned.+ 36  Again he sent other slaves, more than the first group, but they did the same to these.+ 37  Lastly he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38  On seeing the son, the cultivators said among themselves, ‘This is the heir.+ Come, let us kill him and get his inheritance!’ 39  So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.+ 40  Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those cultivators?” 41  They said to him: “Because they are evil, he will bring a terrible destruction on them and will lease the vineyard to other cultivators, who will give him the fruits when they become due.” 42  Jesus said to them: “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone that the builders rejected, this has become the chief cornerstone.+ This has come from Jehovah, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?+ 43  This is why I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing its fruits. 44  Also, the person falling on this stone will be shattered.+ As for anyone on whom it falls, it will crush him.”+ 45  When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his illustrations, they knew that he was speaking about them.+ 46  Although they wanted to seize* him, they feared the crowds, because these regarded him as a prophet.+


Or “in the highest places.”
Or “of human origin.”
Or “arrest.”

Bethphage: The name of this village on the Mount of Olives comes from Hebrew, probably meaning “House of the Early Figs.” Tradition locates it between Jerusalem and Bethany on the SE slope of the Mount of Olives, near the peak, about 1 km (less than 1 mi) from Jerusalem.Mr 11:1; Lu 19:29; see App. A7, Map 6.

a donkey tied and a colt with her: Only Matthew’s account mentions both the donkey and its colt. (Mr 11:2-7; Lu 19:30-35; Joh 12:14, 15) Evidently, since Jesus rode only on the colt, Mark, Luke, and John mention only one animal.—See study note on Mt 21:5.

to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: The first part of the quote at Mt 21:5 is evidently taken from Isa 62:11 and the second part, from Zec 9:9.—See study note on Mt 1:22.

the daughter of Zion: Or “daughter Zion,” as some Bible translations say. In the Bible, cities are often personified as women or figuratively referred to using feminine terms. In this expression, “daughter” may refer to the city itself or to the people of the city. The name Zion was closely connected with the city of Jerusalem.

mild-tempered: Or “humble.”—See study note on Mt 5:5.

on a donkey, yes, on a colt: Although two animals are mentioned at Mt 21:2, 7, the prophecy at Zec 9:9 refers to the king as riding only one animal.—See study notes on Mt 21:2, 7.

the donkey and its colt: See study notes on Mt 21:2, 5.

sat on them: That is, on the outer garments.

Save, we pray: Lit., “Hosanna.” That Greek term comes from a Hebrew expression that means “save, we pray” or “save, please.” Here the term is used as a plea to God for salvation or victory; it could be rendered “please, grant salvation to.” In time, it became an expression of both prayer and praise. The Hebrew expression is found at Ps 118:25, which was part of the Hallel Psalms sung regularly during Passover season. Therefore, these words readily came to mind on this occasion. One way God answered this prayer to save the Son of David was by resurrecting him from the dead. At Mt 21:42, Jesus himself quotes Ps 118:22, 23 and applies it to the Messiah.

Son of David: An expression here showing recognition of Jesus’ line of descent and his role as the promised Messiah.—See study notes on Mt 1:1, 6; 15:22, 25; 20:30.

Jehovah’s: In this quote from Ps 118:25, 26, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text.—See App. C.

was in an uproar: Or “was shaken (stirred up).” The agitation felt by the residents of the city is indicated by a Greek verb that in its literal sense is used to describe the effects of an earthquake or a storm. (Mt 27:51; Re 6:13) The related Greek noun sei·smosʹ is translated “storm” or “earthquake.”Mt 8:24; 24:7; 27:54; 28:2.

temple: Probably referring to the part of the temple area known as the Court of the Gentiles.—See App. B11.

money changers: Many different types of coins were in use, but apparently only a certain type of coin could be used to pay the annual temple tax or to buy sacrificial animals. Therefore, Jews traveling to Jerusalem would have to exchange their currency for money that would be accepted at the temple. Jesus evidently felt that the fees charged by the money changers were exorbitant and that their actions amounted to extortion.

cave of robbers: Or “den of thieves.” Jesus here alludes to Jer 7:11. He likely called the merchants and money changers “robbers” because they made unjust profit from selling animals for sacrifice and charged exorbitant fees for exchanging currencies. Jesus was also indignant that Jehovah’s house of prayer, or place of worship, had been wrongly turned into a center for commercial activity.

temple: Probably referring to the Court of the Gentiles, since the blind and lame were barred from access to certain inner parts of the temple. Matthew’s account may indicate that Jesus’ zeal on this occasion was not limited to cleansing the temple but also involved curing the blind and lame who approached him there.

Save, we pray, the Son of David: See study note on Mt 21:9.

Bethany: A village on the ESE slope of the Mount of Olives at a distance of about 3 km (2 mi) from Jerusalem. (Joh 11:18, ftn.) The home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, located in this village, appears to have been Jesus’ base in Judea. (Joh 11:1) Today the site is marked by a small village with an Arabic name meaning “The Place of Lazarus.”

he found nothing on it except leaves: Although it was unusual for a fig tree to bear fruit at that time of year, the tree had leaves—normally a sign that it had produced an early crop of figs. Because the tree had borne only leaves, Jesus knew that it was not going to produce any crop and was therefore deceptive in its appearance. So he cursed it as unproductive, causing it to wither.

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.

this one said, ‘I will not’: In this parable (Mt 21:28-31), some Greek manuscripts present the two sons and their answers and actions in a different order. (See the rendering in previous editions of the New World Translation.) The overall idea is the same, but the manuscript support for the current reading is stronger.

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

illustration: Or “parable.”—See study note on Mt 13:3.

tower: Used as a vantage point to guard vineyards against thieves and animals.Isa 5:2.

leased: A common practice in first-century Israel. In this case, the owner did much preliminary work, making his expectation of a return all the more reasonable.

a terrible destruction: Or “an evil destruction.” Using a play on words, the Greek text repeats different forms of the same root word to intensify the judgment message: “Because they are evil, he will bring an evil destruction on them.”

in the Scriptures: Often used to refer to the inspired Hebrew writings as a whole.

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.

Jehovah: In this quote from Ps 118:22, 23, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text.—See App. C.



In Israel, grapes were gathered during August and September, depending on the type of grapes and the climate of the region. They were usually placed in limestone vats or troughs cut into rock. Men normally crushed the grapes barefoot, singing songs as they trod the winepress.Isa 16:10; Jer 25:30; 48:33.

1. Freshly picked grapes

2. Winepress

3. Drainage channel

4. Lower collecting basin

5. Earthenware wine jars