Jesus’ ‘triumphal’ entry on Palm Sunday in Matthew 21

It is always a relief when we celebrate Palm Sunday from Matthew (as we do in this Year A in the lectionary) or Mark’s account (next year). Luke 19.36 in his account talks only about the garments, and does not mention palm branches, so in those years we have to call it Garment Sunday (which doesn’t have the same ring about it). In fact it is only John, the supposed ‘spiritual’ gospel, who specifies the palms. But if you are reading or preaching from Matthew’s account, what stands out?

Matthew’s account of the events leading to the entry into Jerusalem is slightly briefer than Mark’s or Luke’s; the inclusion of the fulfilment of prophecy in Matt 21.4–5 replaces the narrative detail about the collection of the donkey(s). Matthew, and to a lesser extent Luke, omit some of the ‘eye-witness’ details found in Mark’s account—the exact question the disciples will be asked (Mark 11.3), the asking of it (Mark 11.5), the fact that the branches were ‘leafy’ (Mark 11.8; Mark uses the word stibas suggesting leafy palms, rather than Matthew’s more general klados). Matthew’s account is more ‘stream-lined’ in order to make the points that he thinks are significant.

Like Mark, but in contrast to Luke and John, Matthew includes the mention of the Mount of Olives as the location of the journey into the city. This might help remind his (largely Jewish?) readers of the story of David’s exile and return in 2 Sam 19–20, which will be referenced indirectly in the citation of Zech 9. It also has messianic connotations as expressed in Zech 14.4, and it becomes the location for the extended ‘eschatological discourse’ in Matt 24–25. From this spot, overlooking the city, we get a glimpse on the horizon of the end of all things—the climax of Jesus’ ministry, and beyond that the anticipation of his final return.

In Jesus’ instruction to the disciples, the phrase he gives them ‘The Lord has need of it’ must refer to the Lord God; Matthew nowhere uses ho kurios to refer to Jesus, even in his narrative comments (a striking contrast to Luke’s usage). And, different from Mark’s account, the second phrase must mean, ‘he [i.e. the man you ask] will let you have it immediately’ rather than ‘he [the Lord] will return it immediately’. Jesus is clear that, in this action, he is fulfilling God’s own purposes.

A striking feature is the emphasis on the impact that Jesus has. The ‘large crowd’ that has followed Jesus from Jericho in Matt 20.29 has become a ‘huge crowd’ in Matt 21.8.  (Some translations render this ‘many of the crowd’ but this is not the best translation of the unusual phrase. The word is pleistos, the superlative of polus, ‘many’. Matthew’s use here is perhaps the equivalent of the way we might say in English ‘there was the most enormous crowd’ where our use of ‘most’ doesn’t actually make literal sense since we are not actually comparing it with other crowds.) It is worth noting that, though many versions title this episode ‘The Triumphal Entry’ or some such, the acclaim happens before Jesus enters the city, not at his entrance. When he does finally come into Jerusalem, Matthew alone notes that ‘the whole city was stirred’ in verse 10. Here he highlights the divide between the Galileans, the pilgrim crowd, who acclaim Jesus, and the local Judeans who do not. I have always felt this was much more historically plausible as an explanation of what is happening.

Contrary to the hymn ‘My Song is Love Unknown‘ (Sometimes they strew His way/And His sweet praises sing…Then “Crucify!” is all their breath…) it is not the same crowd that praised him this week who call for his crucifixion the next, but different groups responding to Jesus differently. (The other gospels treat this issue in a variety of ways. Mark makes nothing much of it in this episode. Luke 19.39 describes Pharisees within the crowd as offering a dissenting voice, and in response to them Jesus talks of the fall of Jerusalem. The Fourth Gospel also mentions Pharisees in John 12.19, and goes on to talk about Greek from the north who want to meet with Jesus.) And the Galilean crowd emphasise that this king-like person is not local, but from Nazareth; whereas Judea was ruled directly by Rome through a prefect, Galilee was a separate region ruled by Herod as tetrarch. So the political threat would have been all the more obvious.

Up to this point, Jesus has walked everywhere with his disciples on foot—and it appears that the expectation was that Passover pilgrims should arrive at the city on foot. So Jesus’ riding on a donkey would have been very conspicuous amongst the crowds; he could have chosen to remain incognito by walking if he had chosen. The use of a donkey was not a sign of poverty as such; it was the most common animal at the time for a range of work roles. Its primary significance is found in the fulfilment of the conflated prophecies in Zech 9.9–10 with the opening phrase from Isaiah 62.11. The Zechariah text in turn alludes to David’s entry into the city after the defeat of Absalom in 2 Sam 19.

Matthew deploys his characteristic ‘fulfilment’ formula, ‘This was to fulfil…’ (compare Matt 1.22, 2.15, 2.17, 4.14 and so on), mentioning only the great prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah by name, with all others simply noted as ‘the prophet’. Fulfilment of Scripture is a repeated theme for Matthew, and here the citation takes the place of the explicit acclamation of Jesus as king in the other gospel accounts. The fact that he is ‘a prophet’ (Matt 21.9) has already been highlighted by Matthew’s placing him on a mountain in Matt 5.1 (rather than a ‘level place’ in Luke 6.17) and organising his teaching into five blocks.

Matthew does not follow exactly either the Greek or Hebrew versions of the text, but edits and adapts it to suit the point he is making. The context is emphatically one of peace that has come through victory:

I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zech 9.1o)

Whilst this alludes to the historical episode of David, it also picks up the way that other parts of the OT elevate the Davidic kingship to point to a future, ideal figure who will bring God’s final liberation and rule to his people. The second half of Zech 9.10 echoes Ps 72.8, set to music by Isaac Watts in his hymn ‘Jesus shall reign where’er the sun‘. But Matthew omits one key part of the verse: ‘he comes in vindication/righteousness and peace’. David had already won his victory and came to offer peace; Jesus comes to offer peace, but in Jerusalem he will win the victory and be vindicated in his cross and resurrection. God promises in Zech 9.11:

As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.

Jesus comes to offer his blood of the new covenant to proclaim new life to all.

The true king arrives, not as conquering hero but proclaiming peace, not presuming to impose his will, but hoping to be welcomed willingly. In this sense Jesus is demonstrating by his own example the teaching he has been giving in Matt 20.25–28. Though he has forbidden proclamation of his identity in Matt 16.20, his actions speak louder than their words.

There is no particular need to think of the arrangements as miraculous; we know from John 11 and John 12 that he has contacts in this area. The mention of an ass and a colt here (compared with only one animal in the other accounts) looks like Matthew’s characteristic doubling—in many of Jesus’ miracles, he deals with two people in Matthew where Mark and Luke only mention one. There is no simple explanation for this—Davies and Allison mention nine possibilities in their commentary, none of which they believe satisfactory! It is worth noting that, in many cases, it is historically plausible; those in need tend to group together. And if the colt here has never been ridden before, it would be quite natural that its mother comes with it. Matthew would know how to read Hebrew parallelism in Zech 9, so it is rather odd to suggest he has misunderstood the passage. But, like others of his day, he shows an interest in the fulfilment of the passage in its form, not just its content, and mentioning both animals helps to emphasise this.

So Jesus is presented as fulfilling the purposes of God. Having silenced those who proclaimed him earlier, he now makes no secret of who he is. Although his claims had inevitable political implications, Matthew focuses on his role as the Son of David and the prophet who was to come. His arrival draws a huge following—but it also divides people in their loyalty. Jesus is not someone who encourages sitting on fences!

For a video discussion of the issues above, join James and Ian here:

Additional note: The illustration at the head of this article is a section from a painting by James Tissot, a nineteenth-century French painter and illustrator who moved to London in 1871. He was close to the Impressionists, and was invited to be part of the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, but he declined and (in contrast to other French painters), moved to a more realistic, rather than impressionistic, style of painting. After moving to London, in 1885 he experienced a renewal of his Roman Catholic faith, and devoted himself to painting scenes from the Bible, aided by travelling to the Middle East. He created a series of 365 painting of the life and ministry of Jesus, of which this is one, and was working on a series on the Old Testament when he died. I love the depth of the painting created by the contrast of light and dark, and Jesus in his white robes rightly stands out at the centre of the image. It is also a striking composition, in that Jesus is coming straight towards us, the viewers—expressing the question that the narrative asks: with which crowd will we align ourselves, the pilgrims who acclaim Jesus as king, or the residents of Jerusalem who are disturbing by the disruption he will bring?

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24 thoughts on “Jesus’ ‘triumphal’ entry on Palm Sunday in Matthew 21”

  1. Re Garment Sunday: My church c. 2006 acted this out with a cheering crowd including five men who took their shirts off (and waved them) to reveal the letters J E S U S on their bodies. A more shocking scene than waving branches, giving weight to the Pharisees’ “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

  2. Thanks Ian, back to the lectionary – useful commentary, trying to get the main point and make it sticky.

    I particularly like “The true king arrives, not as conquering hero but proclaiming peace, not presuming to impose his will, but hoping to be welcomed willingly. ”

    Blessings Andy

  3. The central message of the Bible is that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” I must say again that the most important truth in relation to the Christian experience is the lordship of Jesus Christ. If this is true, and I do believe that it is, should it not compel us to make the preaching of this message a matter of priority and urgency? Could it be that the source of defeat, discouragement, and despair in the lives of some Christians is, in large part, the fact that they are attempting to live the Christian life in their own strength and power? They have not yet discovered the truth taught by Paul in Philippians 4:13 (NKJV): “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

    • You say, Alan :

      ” attempting to live the Christian life in their own strength and power” :

      Is this why in the “the wretched man” passage (Romans 7:14-24) there is absolutely no mention of the holy Spirit ? (contra Romans 8:2-14).

  4. I had not noticed before that ‘the whole city was stirred’ (v10). The verb is interesting: the passive of seiō, ‘to shake’. It is used twice more in Matthew: 27:51 for the earthquake which rent the temple curtain, and 28:4 for the effect on the guards at the tomb.

    The verb is used in the LXX to translate shaking of the earth and the heavens, as quoted in Heb 12:26.

    I think the video linked this to Matt 2:3 when not only Herod but “all Jerusalem with him” was troubled – a different verb but a similar concept.

    I would suggest that in both cases the ordinary people are reacting to the potential political implications of the news. In the one case, a true Son of David to rival the Roman vassal Herod, and now the arrival of someone might stir things up against the Romans. There could be trouble ahead…

    • Indeed.

      Note Cleopas :

      ” Our high priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they had him crucified. But we were hoping that he was the one who was going to rescue and restore Israel.”;
      (Luke 24:20-21a)

      Note the disciples :

      ” So when the disciples met for the last time with Jesus, they were asking him ‘lord, is this now the time when you will re-establish Israel’s national sovereignty?’ ”
      (Acts 1:6)

  5. ERROR
    Above comment was only half printed
    Surly. And I beg the question, any reportage of a crowd scene depends on the sources. Some people will see a peaceful demonstration others will notice a small group of black clad agitators etc. some see garments and some see palm leaves some will say there were thousand some a few hundred.
    The received wisdom is that it was a Messianic/King entrance and Jesus riding on a donkey as a peace king which accords with the scriptures of the time.
    God and Jesus are LORDS – Masters and as such are benign dictators which only want the best and good of all . witness the tears of Jesus over Jerusalem.
    This episode is consistent with the rest of all scripture that Jesus is first presented as a prince and a saviour/Lord and Saviour
    .Too often today Jesus is presented as a Divine Lifeguard/lifesaver without showing that salvation in all of Jesus’s and apostolic teaching requires submission and entire dependance on/in the will of God
    . He is first king and the kingdom of God is what the first preacher and Jesus proclaimed
    S.M. Zwemer makes a sobering statement about the lordship of Jesus Christ: “Unless Jesus is Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.” 2 This is a challenge to all Christians to bring every area of our lives under the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ. In our lives there should be no rivalry for His throne

    . The central message of the Bible is that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” I must say again that the most important truth in relation to the Christian experience is the lordship of Jesus Christ. If this is true, and I do believe that it is, should it not compel us to make the preaching of this message a matter of priority and urgency? Could it be that the source of defeat, discouragement, and despair in the lives of some Christians is, in large part, the fact that they are attempting to live the Christian life in their own strength and power? They have not yet discovered the truth taught by Paul in Philippians 4:13 (NKJV): “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

    • Thanks, Alan.

      However, a note of slight clarification concerning your statement,

      ” God and Jesus are LORDS ” :

      Psalm 110:1 reads :

      “The LORD says to my lord” (Psalm 110:1, NIV, RSV, NRSV, et al).

      The NIV’s “LORD” is a rendition of ‘YHWH’ [probably pronounced ‘Yahweh’] in the Hebrew (Masoretic) text of Psalm 110:1;

      The NIV’s ‘ lord ‘ is a rendition of ‘adoni’ in the Hebrew (Masoretic) text of Psalm 110:1.

      As ‘adoni’ always denotes a non-Deity superior, the meaning of Psalm 110:1 (and, as quoted in Matt. 22:44) is probably :

      ” The LORD GOD said to my Master ( the Messiah) “.

      Jesus, as the Messiah, is the faithful ‘Shaliach’ or Agent of the Father (whom Jesus called : “the only true God” ( John 17:3)).

  6. Another form of commentary: in the traditional Western lectionary, Jesus’ triumphal entry (Mt 21) is the gospel reading at the Blessing of the Palms, a “dry mass” which precedes the main mass of Palm Sunday; of which the Epistle (Phil 2:5-11) bridges (and comments upon both of) the Triumphal entry gospel and the gospel of the main mass (Matthew’s Passion narrative).

    I am aware of the Psalm 110:1 structure . However Following the resurrection, the term “Lord,” being applied to Jesus, became more than an indication of devotion or respect.
    Stating, “Jesus is Lord,” became a way of recognizing Jesus’ divine standing.
    References of Jesus as Lord started with Thomas’ declaration when Jesus arrived at the apostles after His resurrection: “Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28). From thereafter, the message of the Apostles was that Jesus is Lord, signifying that “Jesus is God.”

    Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost carried that idea: “Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36). Peter later declared this in the house of Cornelius, stating that Jesus is “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). It is important to note that in Romans 10:9 Jesus’ lordship is connected to His resurrection: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It is important to note that in Romans 10:9 Jesus’ lordship is connected to His resurrection: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
    Confession of the Lordship of Jesus as Lord precedes believing just as Repentance precedes believing or should do.
    The declaration “Jesus is Lord” indicates that Jesus is God.
    Jesus holds “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). He is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5); “our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 1:4); and “the Lord of lords” (Revelation 17:14).
    What Makes Jesus a “Lord”?
    The realm of Christ’s reign covers everything that happens in heaven and on the earth. No one—not even those who deny His existence—can be free of His rule or outside His sphere of authority.
    Although Satan tries to convince us that liberty is found in doing what we want, true freedom is acquired only through submission to Christ’s loving lordship.

    Even death cannot release anyone from the authority of God’s Son. He is Lord of both the living and the dead. All people must decide to either yield or rebel against Him, but they have the opportunity to make this choice only while they are still living. After death, they will acknowledge Christ’s lordship through accountability to Him. If we have not bowed the knee to Jesus in life, we will be forced to bend it in the judgment.

    • Thank you, Alan.

      Listen to James D.G. Dunn, a world leading Christologist :

      “.. kyrios (Lord) is not so much a way of identifying Jesus with God, but if anything, more a way of distinguishing Jesus from God.”

      p. 254, ” The Theology of the Apostle Paul”.

      Consider the explicit Scriptural facts :

      1. Jesus states that the Father is “THE ONLY TRUE GOD” (John 17:3).

      2. Jesus specifically told Thomas and Philip that the Father indwelt Him, to such an extent that to ‘see’ Jesus, was to ‘see’ the Father (John 14:4-9).

      3. The Jews misunderstood Jesus, and thought that Jesus claimed to be ‘God’. Jesus corrected them, and said he was only ‘the Son of God’. (John 10:33-36).

      4. The resurrected Jesus sent Mary to tell the disciples that He was :

      ” ascending to my Father and to your father, to MY GOD and to YOUR GOD ” (John 20:17).

      5. When Thomas achieved faith, he ‘saw’ in the lord Lord Messiah Jesus, the indwelling Father -Who is The ONLY TRUE GOD (as recorded in John 14:9; 17:3; 20:28).

      6. The whole purpose of John’s Gospel is to demonstrate, not that Jesus is God (per se), but :

      ” that YOU may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that in believing this, you may have life in his name” (John 20:31);

      Cf. 1 John 5:1 :

      ” Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Messiah is begotten of God “.

      7. The first century Christians preached Jesus as Messianic lord, and the Son of God (Acts 4:26, 5:42, 8:37, 9:22, et al). However, Jesus as God’s vice-regent, will eventually hand over his kingdom to God, and God will reign directly. (1 Cor. 15:28).

      8. For first century Christians, there was ONE GOD, WHO IS THE FATHER, and one messianic lord, Jesus (1 Cor. 8:6). There is ONE GOD, and one lord Messiah (Acts 4:26).

  8. Thank you PELLEGRINO
    When people claim as their authority or as a basis for their understanding of Scripture some writer or movement:
    I immediately go to Google and write,
    CRITIQUE e.g. E. P. Sanders, James D. G. Dunn, and N. T. Wright advocates of the New Perspective on Paul ,and Frank Viola and George Barna.
    I am just a chap on the Number 48 Omnibus but CRITIQUES both for and against show their strengths and weaknesses
    I find that they may be World Famous but not Universally acceptable.” Put not your confidence in princes”.

    I much prefer an unimpeachable source which Jesus promised
    “John 16:13 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come,
    And St. John “1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him”. I have never known these facts to fail.
    I can well understand the appeal of Frank Viola and George Barnas’Radical reading of Scripture, given the parlous state of institutional Churches, the sheep are starving!
    Some of these writers I see as those warned of by Jesus Christ. MATT. 24:23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
    24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Alas I find some of their writings as unstable as water. I don’t trust my own wisdom but take to James’s
    Maxim “ Jam 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

    • Thank you, Alan, and, God bless you.

      I take my authority for religious teaching from Jesus Christ, Himself, because Jesus is :

      “The WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.” (John 14:6);

      And, God gave Jesus the Spirit without limit (John 3:34).

      Consequently, when Jesus prays to the FATHER, and says :

      ” And eternal life means knowing you as THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and knowing Jesus your messenger as Christ” (John 17:3; Goodspeed);

      then I believe Him.

      I don’t need to enter a ‘Humpty Dumpty School of Linguistics’ , Alan, whereby the plain, simple, and emphatic words of Jesus, in John 17:3, are contradicted by Humpty’s principle :

      ” Words mean what I [not Jesus] want them to mean – neither more or less.”

      I don’t need to be like Augustine

    • PROOF READ Correction, Alan, to my last message :

      Should continue :


      I also don’t need to be like Augustine, who substantively altered the text of John 17:3, so as to read :

      ” This is eternal life, that they may know Thee and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent, as the only true God “. ( Augustine’s Tractate CV, chapter 17 )

  9. Thank you, Peter.

    Dunn’s concept of a “triune God” has nothing substantive in common with the Trinity doctrine. For example, Dunn says of the writings of Paul and John in the New Testament,

    ” The idea of God’s Spirit as a power and presence (i.e., God the Father’s)…that thought is well established…But of the Spirit as an entity in any sense independent of God, as Spirit as a divine hypostasis, there is nothing.”

    Dunn also believes that Jesus did not have a literal pre-human existence, but was instead the embodiment of God’s ‘Self-Expressive activity”, or God’s Word/Logos. Dunn writes :

    “-Pre-existence belongs only to God [the Father] because God alone is Creator, so God [the Father] alone pre-exists creation. I have absolutely no difficulty of speaking about divine Wisdom and Logos as pre-existent – because Wisdom/Logos are ways of speaking of God [the Father] in action, in creation, in revelation, in redemption. Jesus however, as John 1:14 puts it, is the Word become flesh. So one can speak of the pre-existent Logos, but one cannot speak properly of Jesus as pre-existent …”

    Dunn’s own “triune God” concept therefore, amounts to :

    God [the Father] working in the non-pre-existent Jesus, by the Spirit [i.e., the power and spiritual presence of God the Father]. This essentially, boils down to what Peter says in Acts 2:22.

  10. To PC1 and Pellegrino
    Critiques of “New Perspectives on Paul” See.
    What’s Wrong with Wright: Examining the New Perspective on Paul by Phil Johnson
    Critique of Frank Viola and George Barna, Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. Tyndale House Publishers, see@
    Hope these are helpful.

  11. My dear Pellegrino , it was not my intention to touch a nerve or to be condescending but when a person is touted as a world authority I search and find that he is not universally received.: I ask “by what authority they do these things” MARK 11 v 27 -33 when they imply that the Holy Spirit is a force emanating from God then I simply point out that Jesus called him “he” Paul tells us that he can be grieved which I don’t know how a force can be grieved.
    However, I understand there are moves abroad in the C of E to contemplate the changing the divine “genders”[already posited by “The Shack”] by whose authority? All authority has been given to Jesus Christ and He the[Holy Spirit] shall take of mine and reveal them unto you. Shalom.

    • Dear Alan;

      It would be difficult for anyone imply that they are inspired by the ‘Spirit of Truth’. and then attempt to contradict the plain words of Jesus, Who is “THE TRUTH” (John 14:6).

      The question you have to answer, Alan, is this :

      When Jesus said that the Father is “THE ONLY TRUE GOD” (John17:3), then was Jesus right, or was He wrong?

      As to your other points, a few comments :

      (1). The Old Testament reveals that there is One God; Whose personal name’s consonants are ‘YHWH’ (which probably formed the basis of an original pronunciation of ‘Yahweh’), and Who is disclosed as a ” Father ” (cf. Deut. 6:4; Isa. 63:16, Mal. 2:10). God cannot therefore be properly described by the use of feminine gender designation, or by feminine pronouns – or, indeed, by impersonal pronouns.

      (2). Jesus acknowledges that the God of the Jews, is, indeed, the Father (John 8:54).

      (3). Jesus Himself, also acknowledges that the One True God, is exclusively the Father (John 17:3).

      (This is why Paul can state that for Christians, there is ONE God, Who is the Father (1 Cor.8:6); And why this ONE God is ” The God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ ” (Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3).

      (4) In the Old Testament, the synonymous terms ‘Spirit of Yahweh’ / ‘Spirit of God’ / ‘holy Spirit’, can represent the personal presence of Yahweh God (e.g. Psalm 51: 11; 2 Sam. 23:2), and/or the power of Yahweh God (e.g. Judges 14:6; 14: 14:19; 15:14).

      (5). The ‘spirit of a man’ often represents the man himself. As a man is personal, so his spirit is personal. It frequently represents the inner core of a man’s being, or, sometimes, the man’s mind (e.g. Mark 2:8) . Similarly, ‘the Spirit of the LORD [ Yahweh]’ in the Hebrew text of Isa. 40:13, is interpreted by the translators of the Septuagint (Jewish Greek Old Testament) as ‘the mind of the Lord’ . The ‘Spirit of God’, therefore, can denote God Himself – and His personal Divine presence. As God is personal, His Spirit is also personal. We can see this clearly demonstrated in Paul’s comparison between the workings of a human spirit, and God’s Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:10-11).

      God bless you, Alan, and Shalom.

  12. Pellegreno
    I detect that you have drunk deeply at the well of Mr. Dunn [et al]
    Some of the Scriptures that you quote are taken out of their context. John 17: 3 are you sure in your assertion that the text will bear the term “exclusively”?
    A few verses later Jesus [the unimpeachable truth says
    17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
    17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
    17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world.

    Some of your quotes are quite true.
    However, you have not refuted Jesus {The Truth] statement that the Holy Spirit is “He”
    During my research I read somewhere Mr. Wright although wanting to rewrite the church’s doctrine was content that people could still affirm their “reformation “ doctrine if they wished, even though wrong. Which I thought Quite magnanimous.
    My concern is that the churches that I have been associated over several decades have not preached or contended [for] “ the faith once delivered”
    Concerning many of your Proof Texts, I find little of value in your reading of them.
    However, I am content for you to have the last word.

    • Dear Alan;

      Cordial greetings.

      Thank for your response – which was, however, entirely predictable. It appears obvious, Alan, that you cannot answer to the simple question whether Jesus was right or wrong, when He said that THE FATHER IS THE ONLY TRUE GOD (John 17:3), because if you say ‘yes’, then your personal theology is going to need something of a re-think ; However, if you say ‘no’, then you commit a sin against Christ.

      Also, Alan, I must take you gently to task, for your committal of the ‘red herring fallacy’. In your last response, you have been attempting to ignore, and divert attention away from John 17:3 (our main subject) by your introduction of irrelevant topics. Can I ask you, therefore, Alan, to refocus your attention purely upon the Scriptures, and in particular, John 17:3.

      To this end, I submit the following :

      Jesus said that the FATHER IS THE ONLY TRUE GOD (John 17:3).

      The Word ‘ONLY’ in John 17:3, is a form ( The ‘Accusative Singular Masculine’) of the Greek word ‘MONOS’.

      ‘MONOS’ means the following :


      ” SOLITARY”; “SOLE “.

      ‘MONOS’ also occurs in :

      Matthew 4:4 : “Man will not live by bread alone”,

      which means : “Man will not live EXCLUSIVELY on bread”;

      ‘MONOS’ also occurs in Matthew 24:36 : “But of that day [the return of Christ] and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but THE FATHER ONLY”,

      which means “No one knows that day … but THE FATHER, EXCLUSIVELY.”

      Similarly, with John 17:3 : the Father IS “THE ONLY TRUE GOD” (John 17:3).

      I will attend to your queries regarding pronouns for ”the Spirit’ (Greek : ‘pneuma’ = a neuter noun), later.

      God bless you, Alan, and Shalom.

  13. Small translation point. Matt 21:11 in the best mss. has the crowds say, “This is Jesus the prophet, [he] from Nazareth of Galilee” (οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς ὁ προφήτης, ὁ ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲθ τῆς Γαλιλαίας). ‘The prophet Jesus’ (ESV ) misses the fact that the semantic emphasis is on his being a prophet, not on the name (which in any case was not uncommon). Compare in the OT ‘Nathan the prophet’, ‘Ahijah the prophet’ and so on. In misplacing the comma, the NIV’s “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” is also inaccurate. There is no ambiguity in the Greek, where ὁ marks off the second clause.

    Jesus is acclaimed as the Son of David, coming Messiah-like in the name of Yahweh. But he is also identified in distinctly non-Messianic terms: a prophet not from Bethlehem or Jerusalem but from undistinguished Nazareth (cf. Matt 2:23, John 1:46).

    • Thanks, Steven.

      When Jesus visited Jerusalem for His final Passover, It would be interesting to know what percentage of Jews in Jerusalem (who were positive towards Jesus) may have put Jesus in the ‘Messiah’ category, and what percentage may have put Him just in ‘a prophet’ category? (cf. Matt. 16:14; 21:11). If Cleopas was anything to go by, then some/many of those who had previously thought Jesus was the Messiah, may have ‘downgraded’ Him to just ‘prophet’ status (cf. Luke 24:19-21). Others (perhaps like Thomas?) may have temporarily lost faith in Jesus as Messiah or prophet, altogether – before regaining it, post resurrection (Acts 2:37-41).


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