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Jehovah’s Witnesses

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

Matthew 26:1-75

26  Now when Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples:  “You know that two days from now the Passover takes place,+ and the Son of man will be handed over to be executed on the stake.”+  Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the courtyard of the high priest, who was named Caʹia·phas,+  and they conspired together+ to seize* Jesus by cunning* and to kill him.  However, they were saying: “Not at the festival, so that there may not be an uproar among the people.”  While Jesus was in Bethʹa·ny in the house of Simon the leper,+  a woman with an alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil approached him, and she began pouring it on his head as he was dining.*  On seeing this, the disciples became indignant and said: “Why this waste?  For this could have been sold for a great deal of money and given to the poor.” 10  Aware of this, Jesus said to them: “Why do you try to make trouble for the woman? She did a fine deed toward me. 11  For you always have the poor with you,+ but you will not always have me.+ 12  When she put this perfumed oil on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.+ 13  Truly I say to you, wherever this good news is preached in all the world, what this woman did will also be told in memory of her.”+ 14  Then one of the Twelve, the one called Judas Is·carʹi·ot,+ went to the chief priests+ 15  and said: “What will you give me to betray him to you?”+ They stipulated to him 30 silver pieces.+ 16  So from then on, he kept looking for a good opportunity to betray him. 17  On the first day of the Unleavened Bread,+ the disciples came to Jesus, saying: “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?”+ 18  He said: “Go into the city to So-and-so and say to him, ‘The Teacher says: “My appointed time is near; I will celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your home.”’” 19  So the disciples did as Jesus instructed them and prepared for the Passover. 20  When evening came,+ he was reclining at the table with the 12 disciples.+ 21  While they were eating, he said: “Truly I say to you, one of you will betray me.”+ 22  Being very much grieved at this, each and every one began to say to him: “Lord, it is not I, is it?” 23  In reply he said: “The one who dips his hand with me into the bowl is the one who will betray me.+ 24  True, the Son of man is going away, just as it is written about him, but woe+ to that man through whom the Son of man is betrayed!+ It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”+ 25  Judas, who was about to betray him, replied: “It is not I, is it, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him: “You yourself said it.” 26  As they continued eating, Jesus took a loaf, and after saying a blessing, he broke it,+ and giving it to the disciples, he said: “Take, eat. This means my body.”+ 27  And taking a cup, he offered thanks and gave it to them, saying: “Drink out of it, all of you,+ 28  for this means my ‘blood+ of the covenant,’+ which is to be poured out in behalf of many+ for forgiveness of sins.+ 29  But I say to you: I will by no means drink again any of this product of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in the Kingdom of my Father.”+ 30  Finally, after singing praises, they went out to the Mount of Olives.+ 31  Then Jesus said to them: “All of you will be stumbled in connection with me on this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered about.’+ 32  But after I have been raised up, I will go ahead of you into Galʹi·lee.”+ 33  But Peter, in response, said to him: “Although all the others are stumbled in connection with you, I will never be stumbled!”+ 34  Jesus said to him: “Truly I say to you, on this night, before a rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”+ 35  Peter said to him: “Even if I should have to die with you, I will by no means disown you.”+ All the other disciples also said the same thing. 36  Then Jesus came with them to the spot called Geth·semʹa·ne,+ and he said to the disciples: “Sit down here while I go over there and pray.”+ 37  And taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebʹe·dee,+ he began to feel grieved and to be greatly troubled.+ 38  Then he said to them: “I am deeply grieved, even to death. Stay here and keep on the watch with me.”+ 39  And going a little way forward, he fell facedown, praying:+ “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup+ pass away from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.”+ 40  He returned to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter: “Could you not so much as keep on the watch for one hour with me?+ 41  Keep on the watch+ and pray continually,+ so that you may not enter into temptation.+ The spirit, of course, is eager,* but the flesh is weak.”+ 42  Again, a second time, he went off and prayed: “My Father, if it is not possible for this to pass away unless I drink it, let your will take place.”+ 43  And he came again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44  So leaving them, he again went off and prayed for a third time, saying once more the same thing. 45  Then he returned to the disciples and said to them: “At such a time as this, you are sleeping and resting! Look! The hour has drawn near for the Son of man to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46  Get up, let us go. Look! My betrayer has drawn near.” 47  While he was still speaking, look! Judas, one of the Twelve, came and with him a large crowd with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people.+ 48  Now his betrayer had given them a sign, saying: “Whoever it is I kiss, he is the one; take him into custody.” 49  And going straight up to Jesus, he said: “Greetings, Rabbi!” and gave him a tender kiss. 50  But Jesus said to him: “Fellow, for what purpose are you present?”+ Then they came forward and seized Jesus and took him into custody. 51  But look! one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, taking off his ear.+ 52  Then Jesus said to him: “Return your sword to its place,+ for all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword.+ 53  Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than 12 legions of angels?+ 54  In that case, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must take place this way?” 55  In that hour Jesus said to the crowds: “Did you come out to arrest me with swords and clubs as against a robber? Day after day I used to sit in the temple teaching,+ and yet you did not take me into custody.+ 56  But all of this has taken place for the writings* of the prophets to be fulfilled.”+ Then all the disciples abandoned him and fled.+ 57  Those who took Jesus into custody led him away to Caʹia·phas+ the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together.+ 58  But Peter kept following him from a good distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and after going inside, he sat with the house attendants to see the outcome.+ 59  Now the chief priests and the entire Sanʹhe·drin were looking for false testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death.+ 60  But they found none, although many false witnesses came forward.+ Later two came forward 61  and said: “This man said, ‘I am able to throw down the temple of God and build it up in three days.’”+ 62  With that the high priest stood up and said to him: “Do you say nothing in reply? What is it these men are testifying against you?”+ 63  But Jesus kept silent.+ So the high priest said to him: “I put you under oath by the living God to tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God!”+ 64  Jesus said to him: “You yourself said it. But I say to you: From now on you will see the Son of man+ sitting at the right hand of power+ and coming on the clouds of heaven.”+ 65  Then the high priest ripped his outer garments, saying: “He has blasphemed!+ What further need do we have of witnesses? See! Now you have heard the blasphemy. 66  What is your opinion?” They answered: “He deserves to die.”+ 67  Then they spat in his face+ and hit him with their fists.+ Others slapped him on the face,+ 68  saying: “Prophesy to us, you Christ. Who struck you?” 69  Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant girl came up to him and said: “You too were with Jesus the Gal·i·leʹan!”+ 70  But he denied it before them all, saying: “I do not know what you are talking about.” 71  When he went out to the gatehouse, another girl noticed him and said to those there: “This man was with Jesus the Naz·a·reneʹ.”+ 72  Again he denied it, with an oath: “I do not know the man!” 73  After a little while, those standing around came up and said to Peter: “Certainly you are also one of them, for in fact, your dialect gives you away.” 74  Then he started to curse and swear: “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. 75  And Peter called to mind what Jesus had said, namely: “Before a rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”+ And he went outside and wept bitterly.


Or “arrest.”
Or “deceit; craftiness.”
Or “reclining at the table.”
Or “willing.”
Or “scriptures.”

Now when: What is described at Mt 26:1-5 happened on Nisan 12, because verse 2 states that “two days from now the Passover [on Nisan 14] takes place.”—See App. A7, B12, and study note on Mt 26:6.

Passover: This festival (Greek paʹskha from Hebrew peʹsach from the verb pa·sachʹ, meaning “to pass over; to pass by”) was instituted the evening preceding the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt. It commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and the ‘passing over’ of their firstborn when Jehovah destroyed the firstborn of Egypt.Ex 12:14, 24-47; see Glossary.

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.

to be executed on the stake: Or “to be fastened on a stake (pole).”—See study note on Mt 20:19 and Glossary, “Stake”; “Torture stake.”

chief priests: See study note on Mt 2:4 and Glossary, “Chief priest.”

elders: See study note on Mt 16:21.

high priest: When Israel functioned as an independent nation, the high priest held his office for life. (Nu 35:25) However, during the Roman occupation of Israel, the rulers assigned by Rome had authority to appoint and to depose the high priest.—See Glossary.

Caiaphas: This high priest, appointed by the Romans, was a skillful diplomat who held his office longer than any of his immediate predecessors. He was appointed about 18 C.E. and remained in office until about 36 C.E.—See App. B12 for the possible location of Caiaphas’ house.

While Jesus was in Bethany: The events described at Mt 26:6-13 evidently took place after sunset when Nisan 9 began. That timing is indicated by the parallel account in John, where Jesus is said to arrive at Bethany “six days before the Passover.” (Joh 12:1) He must have arrived before the beginning (at sunset) of the Sabbath on Nisan 8, which was the day before the meal at Simon’s place.Joh 12:2-11; see App. A7 and B12.

Simon the leper: This Simon is mentioned only here and in the parallel account at Mr 14:3. He may have been a former leper whom Jesus had healed.—See study note on Mt 8:2 and Glossary, “Leprosy; Leper.”

a woman: According to Joh 12:3, this woman is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

alabaster jar: See Glossary, “Alabaster.”

costly perfumed oil: Mark and John’s accounts specify that it was a pound of “genuine nard,” worth 300 denarii. That sum represented about a year’s wages for an ordinary laborer. (Mr 14:3-5; Joh 12:3-5) The source of such perfumed oil is generally thought to be an aromatic plant (Nardostachys jatamansi) found in the Himalayas. Nard was often adulterated, even counterfeited, but both Mark and John say that this oil was “genuine.”

pouring it on his head: According to Matthew and Mark, the woman poured the oil on Jesus’ head. (Mr 14:3) John, who wrote years later, supplied the added detail that she also poured it on his feet. (Joh 12:3) Jesus explains that this loving act was figuratively to prepare him for burial.—See study note on Mt 26:12.

the disciples: Only in John’s account is Judas Iscariot identified as the one objecting to Mary’s use of expensive oil. (Joh 12:4-7) Evidently, other apostles merely agreed to what seemed to be a valid point.

she put this perfumed oil on my body: The woman (see study note on Mt 26:7) performed this generous act out of love and appreciation for Jesus. He explained that she was unknowingly preparing his body for burial, since such perfumed oil and ointments were often applied to dead bodies.2Ch 16:14.

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.

is preached in all the world: Similar to his prophecy at Mt 24:14, Jesus here foretells that the good news would be proclaimed in all the world and would include this woman’s act of devotion. God inspired three Gospel writers to mention what she did.Mr 14:8, 9; Joh 12:7; see study note on Mt 24:14.

Then: That is, on Nisan 12, the same day as the events described at Mt 26:1-5 took place.—See App. A7, B12, and study notes on Mt 26:1, 6.

Judas Iscariot: See study note on Mt 10:4.

30 silver pieces: Matthew is the only Gospel writer to mention the amount for which Jesus was betrayed. These were possibly 30 silver shekels minted in Tyre. This sum appears to show the chief priests’ contempt for Jesus, since under the Law, it was the price of a slave. (Ex 21:32) Likewise, when Zechariah asked for his wages from unfaithful Israelites for his prophetic work among God’s people, they weighed out to him “30 pieces of silver,” suggesting that they considered him to be worth no more than a slave.Zec 11:12, 13.

On the first day of the Unleavened Bread: The Festival of Unleavened Bread began on Nisan 15, the day after the Passover (Nisan 14), and lasted for seven days. (See App. B15.) In Jesus’ time, however, the Passover had become so closely connected to this festival that all eight days, including Nisan 14, sometimes were referred to as “the Festival of the Unleavened Bread.” (Lu 22:1) In this context, the phrase “On the first day of” could be rendered “On the day before.” (Compare Joh 1:15, 30, where the Greek word for “first” [proʹtos] is rendered “before” in a similar construction, namely, “he existed before [proʹtos] me.”) So the original Greek, as well as Jewish custom, allows for the disciples’ question to have been asked of Jesus on Nisan 13. During the daytime of Nisan 13, the disciples made preparations for the Passover, which was later celebrated “after evening had fallen” at the beginning of Nisan 14.Mr 14:16, 17.

When evening came: That is, the evening marking the start of Nisan 14.—See App. A7 and B12.

dips his hand with me: People usually ate food with their fingers, or they used a piece of bread somewhat like a spoon. This expression could also be an idiom meaning “to share food together.” Eating with a person signified close fellowship. To turn against such an intimate companion was considered the vilest form of treachery.Ps 41:9; Joh 13:18.

bowl: The Greek word denotes a relatively deep bowl from which a meal was eaten.

You yourself said it: A Jewish idiom here used to affirm the truth of a statement made by a questioner. Jesus was, in effect, saying: “You have said so, and what you say is true.” Jesus’ reply evidently pointed out that Judas’ own words were an admission of responsibility for Jesus’ betrayal. At some point after this, Judas must have left the room before Jesus instituted the observance of the Lord’s Evening Meal, as shown by a comparison with the account at Joh 13:21-30. Here in Matthew’s account, Judas is next mentioned at Mt 26:47, together with the crowd in the garden of Gethsemane.

took a loaf . . . broke it: The loaves common in the ancient Near East were thin and, if unleavened, brittle. There was no spiritual significance to Jesus’ breaking the bread; this was the normal way to divide that type of loaf.—See study note on Mt 14:19.

saying a blessing: This expression evidently refers to a prayer offering praise and thanks to God.

means: The Greek word e·stinʹ (literally meaning “is”) here has the sense of “signifies; symbolizes; stands for; represents.” This meaning was evident to the apostles, since on this occasion Jesus’ perfect body was there in front of them and so was the unleavened bread that they were about to eat. Therefore, the bread could not have been his literal body. It is worth noting that the same Greek word is used at Mt 12:7, and many Bible translations render it “means.”

blood of the covenant: The new covenant, between Jehovah and anointed Christians, was made operative by Jesus’ sacrifice. (Heb 8:10) Jesus here uses the same expression Moses used when acting as mediator and inaugurating the Law covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. (Ex 24:8; Heb 9:19-21) Just as the blood of bulls and goats validated the Law covenant between God and the nation of Israel, Jesus’ blood made valid the new covenant that Jehovah would make with spiritual Israel. That covenant went into effect at Pentecost 33 C.E.Heb 9:14, 15.

drink it new: That is, the vine’s new product. In the Scriptures, wine sometimes symbolizes joy.Ps 104:15; Ec 10:19.

praises: Or “hymns; psalms.” According to one Jewish tradition, the first Hallel Psalms (113, 114) were sung, or recited, during the Passover meal; the last four (115-118) at its conclusion. The latter contain some of the prophecies that apply to the Messiah. Ps 118 begins and ends with the words: “Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good; his loyal love endures forever.” (Ps 118:1, 29) These may well have been the last words of praise that Jesus sang with his faithful apostles on the night before his death.

before a rooster crows: All four Gospels mention this statement, but only Mark’s account adds the detail that the rooster would crow twice. (Mt 26:74, 75; Mr 14:30, 72; Lu 22:34, 60, 61; Joh 13:38; 18:27) The Mishnah indicates that roosters were bred in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, lending support to the Bible account. This crowing likely occurred very early in the morning.

Gethsemane: This garden was evidently located on the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. It was probably equipped with an olive press, since its name is derived from a Hebrew or Aramaic expression (gath shema·nehʹ) meaning “oil press.” Although the exact location cannot be determined, one tradition identifies Gethsemane with a garden located at the foot of the Mount of Olives, at the fork of the road on its W slope.—See App. B12.

two sons of Zebedee: That is, the apostles James and John.Mt 4:21; 10:2.

I am: Or “My soul is.” The Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” here refers to a person’s entire being. So “my soul” can be rendered “my whole being” or simply “I.”—See Glossary, “Soul.”

keep on the watch: Lit., “stay awake.” Jesus had emphasized the need for his disciples to stay awake spiritually because of not knowing the day and hour of his coming. (See study notes on Mt 24:42; 25:13) He repeats that exhortation here and again at Mt 26:41, where he links staying awake spiritually with persevering in prayer. Similar exhortations are found throughout the Christian Greek Scriptures, showing that spiritual alertness is vital for true Christians.1Co 16:13; Col 4:2; 1Th 5:6; 1Pe 5:8; Re 16:15.

fell facedown: Or “threw himself down with his face to the ground,” perhaps resting on his hands or elbows. In the Bible, several postures for prayer are mentioned, including standing and kneeling. However, a person in fervent prayer might actually lie facedown with his body outstretched.

let this cup pass away: In the Bible, “cup” is often used figuratively of God’s will, or the “assigned portion,” for a person. (See study note on Mt 20:22.) Jesus no doubt felt great concern over the reproach that his death as one charged with blasphemy and sedition could bring on God, moving him to pray that this “cup” pass away from him.

you: Here the Greek text uses the second person plural pronoun, indicating that Jesus is addressing not only Peter but also other disciples.

spirit: Here referring to the impelling force that issues from a person’s figurative heart and causes him to say and do things in a certain way.—See Glossary.

flesh: In the Bible, the term is often used to represent man in his imperfect sinful state.

gave him a tender kiss: The Greek verb rendered “to give a tender kiss” is an intensive form of the verb for “kiss,” used at Mt 26:48. By greeting Jesus in such a warm, friendly manner, Judas showed the depth of his deceitfulness and hypocrisy.

legions: Principal units of the Roman army. In the first century C.E., one legion usually consisted of some 6,000 soldiers. Here “12 legions” apparently denotes an indefinite, large number. Jesus is saying that if he asked, his Father would send more than enough angels to protect him.

the Scriptures: An expression often used to refer to the inspired Hebrew writings as a whole.

for the writings of the prophets to be fulfilled: See study note on Mt 1:22.

Caiaphas the high priest: See study note on Mt 26:3.

chief priests: This term refers to principal men of the priesthood.—See study note on Mt 2:4 and Glossary, “Chief priest.”

Sanhedrin: That is, the Jewish high court in Jerusalem. The Greek word rendered “Sanhedrin” (sy·neʹdri·on) literally means a “sitting down with.” Although it was a general term for an assembly or a meeting, in Israel it could refer to a religious judicial body or court.—See study note on Mt 5:22 and Glossary; see also App. B12 for the possible location of the Sanhedrin Hall.

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.

You yourself said it: Jesus did not sidestep Caiaphas’ question, since he recognized the high priest’s authority to put him under oath to state the facts. (Mt 26:63) This expression was apparently a Jewish idiom affirming that a statement was true. This is supported by Mark’s parallel account, which renders Jesus’ reply “I am.”Mr 14:62; see study notes on Mt 26:25; 27:11.

the Son of man . . . coming on the clouds of heaven: Jesus here alludes to the Messianic prophecy at Da 7:13, 14, affirming that he would be the one who would gain access to God’s presence and be given rulership in heaven.—See Glossary, “Son of man.”

right hand of power: To be on a ruler’s right hand meant being second in importance to the ruler himself. (Ps 110:1; Ac 7:55, 56) The Greek word for “power” in this context may be understood to refer to God himself, and it could be rendered “the Power” or “the Powerful One.” The Greek expression for “right hand of power” also occurs in the parallel account at Lu 22:69, but with the addition of the word for “God.” It is rendered “the powerful right hand of God.” The phrase “right hand of power” may also imply that Jesus would be infused with power, or authority, because of being at the right hand of the Powerful One, God.

ripped his outer garments: Here a gesture expressing indignation. Caiaphas likely tore open the part of his garment that covered his chest to dramatize his sanctimonious outrage at Jesus’ words.

Prophesy . . . Who struck you?: Here “prophesy” does not mean to make a prediction but to identify by divine revelation who had hit him. The parallel accounts at Mr 14:65 and Lu 22:64 show that Jesus’ persecutors had covered his face, evidently explaining their taunt to identify who had hit him.

gatehouse: Lit., “gate.” Mark’s account uses a term that can mean “entryway” or “vestibule,” indicating that this was more than a simple gate. (Mr 14:68) It was evidently a structure, perhaps a passageway or a hall, leading from the courtyard to the exterior doors that opened to the street.

your dialect: Or “your accent; the way you speak.” Peter’s Galilean dialect or accent may have reflected regional vocabulary or pronunciation that differed from the Hebrew spoken in Judea. Some suggest that the distinct Galilean accent or vocabulary was due to foreign influence.

curse: Most likely, Peter is invoking a curse on himself, saying, in effect, that he ‘wishes to be cursed if he is lying and actually knows the man.’

swear: Or “swear with an oath.” Motivated by fear, Peter is trying to convince those around him that his denials are truthful. By swearing to the matter, he is taking an oath that his words are true and that a calamity might befall him if they are not.


Alabaster Jar
Alabaster Jar

These small vaselike vessels for perfume were originally made of stone found near Alabastron, Egypt. The stone itself, a form of calcium carbonate, came to be known by the name Alabastron. The jar shown here was discovered in Egypt and dates from somewhere between 150 B.C.E. and 100 C.E. A less costly material, such as gypsum, was used to make similar-looking jars; these too were called alabasters, simply because of the use to which they were put. However, cases made of genuine alabaster were used for the more costly ointments and perfumes, like those with which Jesus was anointed on two occasions—once at the house of a Pharisee in Galilee and once at the house of Simon the leper in Bethany.

The Passover Meal
The Passover Meal

Essential items at the Passover meal were: roast lamb (no bones in the animal were to be broken) (1); unleavened bread (2); and bitter greens (3). (Ex 12:5, 8; Nu 9:11) The bitter greens, which according to the Mishnah might have been lettuce, chicory, pepperwort, endive, or dandelion, evidently reminded the Israelites of their bitter slavery in Egypt. Jesus used the unleavened bread as a symbol of his perfect human body. (Mt 26:26) And the apostle Paul called Jesus “our Passover lamb.” (1Co 5:7) By the first century, wine (4) was also served as part of the Passover meal. Jesus used the wine to symbolize his blood, which would be poured out as a sacrifice.Mt 26:27, 28.