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Matius 19:16-26

The Rich Young Man

19:16 Now 1  someone came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?” 19:17 He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 19:18 “Which ones?” he asked. Jesus replied, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19:19 honor your father and mother, 2  and love your neighbor as yourself.” 3  19:20 The young man said to him, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed 4  all these laws. 5  What do I still lack?” 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money 6  to the poor, and you will have treasure 7  in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 19:22 But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich. 8 

19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, 9  it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! 19:24 Again I say, 10  it is easier for a camel 11  to go through the eye of a needle 12  than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.” 19:25 The 13  disciples were greatly astonished when they heard this and said, “Then who can be saved?” 14  19:26 Jesus 15  looked at them and replied, “This is impossible for mere humans, 16  but for God all things are possible.”

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[19:16]  1 tn Grk “And behold one came.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) has not been translated because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1). Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.

[19:19]  2 sn A quotation from Exod 20:12-16; Deut 5:16-20.

[19:19]  3 sn A quotation from Lev 19:18.

[19:20]  4 tn Grk “kept.” The implication of this verb is that the man has obeyed the commandments without fail, so the adverb “wholeheartedly” has been added to the translation to bring out this nuance.

[19:20]  5 tn Grk “these things.” The referent of the pronoun (the laws mentioned by Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[19:20]  sn While the rich man was probably being sincere when he insisted I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws, he had confined his righteousness to external obedience. The rich man’s response to Jesus’ command – to give away all he had – revealed that internally he loved money more than God.

[19:21]  6 tn The words “the money” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

[19:21]  7 sn The call for sacrifice comes with a promise of eternal reward: You will have treasure in heaven. Jesus’ call is a test to see how responsive the man is to God’s direction through him. Will he walk the path God’s agent calls him to walk? For a rich person who got it right, see Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10.

[19:22]  8 tn Grk “he had many possessions.” This term (κτῆμα, kthma) is often used for land as a possession.

[19:23]  9 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

[19:24]  10 tn Grk “I say to you.”

[19:24]  11 tc A few late witnesses (579 1424 pc) read κάμιλον (kamilon, “rope”) for κάμηλον (kamhlon, “camel”), either through accidental misreading of the text or intentionally so as to soften Jesus’ words.

[19:24]  12 sn The eye of a needle refers to a sewing needle. (The gate in Jerusalem known as “The Needle’s Eye” was built during the middle ages and was not in existence in Jesus’ day.) Jesus was saying rhetorically that it is impossible for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom, unless God (v. 26) intervenes.

[19:25]  13 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

[19:25]  14 sn The assumption is that the rich are blessed, so if they risk exclusion, who is left to be saved?

[19:26]  15 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

[19:26]  16 tn The plural Greek term ἄνθρωποις (anqrwpois) is used here in a generic sense, referring to both men and women (cf. NASB 1995 update, “people”). Because of the contrast here between mere mortals and God (“impossible for men, but for God all things are possible”) the phrase “mere humans” has been used in the translation. There may also be a slight wordplay with “the Son of Man” in v. 28.

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