7:24 When 1 John’s messengers had gone, Jesus 2 began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness 3 to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 4 7:25 What 5 did you go out to see? A man dressed in fancy 6 clothes? 7 Look, those who wear fancy clothes and live in luxury 8 are in kings’ courts! 9 7:26 What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more 10 than a prophet. 7:27 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, 11 who will prepare your way before you.’ 12 7:28 I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater 13 than John. 14 Yet the one who is least 15 in the kingdom of God 16 is greater than he is.”
[7:24] 4 tn There is a debate as to whether one should read this figuratively (“to see someone who is easily blown over?”) or literally (Grk “to see the wilderness vegetation?…No, to see a prophet”). Either view makes good sense, but the following examples suggest the question should be read literally and understood to point to the fact that a prophet drew them to the desert.
[7:25] 5 tn Grk “But what.” Here ἀλλά (alla, a strong contrastive in Greek) produces a somewhat awkward sense in English, and has not been translated. The same situation occurs at the beginning of v. 26.
[7:26] 10 tn John the Baptist is “more” because he introduces the one (Jesus) who brings the new era. The term is neuter, but may be understood as masculine in this context (BDAG 806 s.v. περισσότερος b.).
[7:27] 12 sn The quotation is primarily from Mal 3:1 with pronouns from Exod 23:20. Here is the forerunner who points the way to the arrival of God’s salvation. His job is to prepare and guide the people, as the cloud did for Israel in the desert.
[7:28] 14 tc The earliest and best
[7:28] 16 sn The kingdom of God is a major theme of Jesus’ proclamation. It is a realm in which Jesus rules and to which those who trust him belong. See Luke 6:20; 11:20; 17:20-21. It is not strictly future, though its full manifestation is yet to come. That is why membership in it starts right after John the Baptist.