Matthew 19:27–30 (LDGNT)
27Τότε ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἰδοὺ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν πάντα καὶ ἠκολουθήσαμέν σοι τί ἄρα ἔσται ἡμῖν
28ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ὑμεῖς οἱ ἀκολουθήσαντές μοι ἐν τῇ παλιγγενεσίᾳ ὅταν καθίσῃ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπὶ θρόνου δόξης αὐτοῦ καθήσεσθε καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐπὶ δώδεκα θρόνους κρίνοντες τὰς δώδεκα φυλὰς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ
29καὶ πᾶς ὅστις ἀφῆκεν οἰκίας ἢ ἀδελφοὺς ἢ ἀδελφὰς ἢ πατέρα ἢ μητέρα ἢ τέκνα ἢ ἀγροὺς ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματός μου ἑκατονταπλασίονα λήμψεται καὶ ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσει
30Πολλοὶ δὲ ἔσονται πρῶτοι ἔσχατοι καὶ ἔσχατοι πρῶτοι
Lexham English Bible–Matthew 19:27–30 (LEB)
27Then Peter answered and said to him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed you. What then will there be for us?”
28And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that in the renewal of the world, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me—you also will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields on account of my name will receive a hundred times as much, and will inherit eternal life.
30But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
The Apostles’ Reward (19:27–30)
Peter reminds Jesus that they have done like what was suggested to the rich young man in that they have forsaken everything to follow Jesus. Jesus assures them that in the renewal of the world, when he sits in authority as the Son of Man, they too will sit on thrones to help administer justice over the twelve tribes. Jesus then tells them that they will receive one hundredfold back in the kingdom what they have left behind, and eternal life.
19:27 Peter speaks on the disciples’ behalf, using the attention-getter “behold” to remind Jesus that they have followed the advice Jesus gave to the young man (19:21) and left everything behind to follow him. Jesus indicated to the rich young man that if he sold his possessions, he would have treasures in heaven (19:21). While they were not necessarily rich, they did leave things behind. They ask what treasures they will receive.
19:28 The significance of what Jesus is about to say is indicated by the phrase “truly I say to you,” which is used many times by Jesus throughout the Gospel, drawing extra attention to the importance of what is said. Jesus speaks of the eschatological kingdom when he sits on the glorious throne as the Son of Man. This is a familiar scenario from Dan 7:13–14, two thrones in heaven. Jesus now adds twelve more thrones to the heavenly scene. Jesus’ disciples will also sit on thrones and assist in his judgments over the world, specifically over the twelve tribes of Israel.
19:29 Jesus has described their future role in the kingdom of God and now explains the treasures in heaven that await them (19:21). Anyone who has left something on account of following Jesus will receive it back one hundredfold and will inherit eternal life—the very thing the rich young man was asking about (19:16).
19:30 Jesus’ final statement in this passage drives home a familiar teaching that has been taught already (11:11; 18:1–5) and will be restated again (20:16; 23:11). In the kingdom of God, there is a reversal of roles and status. This final statement introduces the idea of the “many” who are first. The following parable will clarify who the “many” are.
Mangum, D. (Ed.). (2020). Lexham Context Commentary: New Testament (Mt 19:27–30). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
UBS Handbook Matthew 19:27-30 (Deeper Dive with the text)
Lo (TEV “Look”) translates a Greek particle traditionally rendered “Behold.” Its function is to serve as an attention getter. Since the pronoun we is emphatic in the Greek text, JB translates particle plus pronoun as “What about us?” Other translations (NEB, Brc) do not render the particle by a specific word, assuming that the context itself will convey the intended impact. In GeCL the word is represented by “You know.”
Have left everything and followed you is also the translation of a number of other English versions (TEV, NJB, Phps). NEB and Brc translate “have left everything to become your followers,” thereby specifically indicating that the verb “follow” is here used of discipleship. See further comment at 4:20.
What then shall we have? means “What will we get for this?” (GeCL). This question in not found in either (Mark 10:28) or (Luke 18:28), but for Matthew it serves as a transition to Jesus’ answer of verse 28 (also absent from Mark and Luke). Peter is asking what reward they will receive for their sacrifice, and the question can be rendered “What will God give us?” or “What reward will we receive?”
Truly I say to you is repeated word for word from verse 23; see also the related form “Again I tell you” of verse 24.
New world (so also Mft, AT, Phps) translates a Greek noun which appears as “New Age” in TEV and NAB. This noun literally means “rebirth” or “regeneration,” and elsewhere in the New Testament it is used only in Titus 3:5. The Jewish historian Josephus employs it of the renewal of the land of Israel after a period of hardship, while the Jewish philosopher Philo uses it to describe the renewal of the earth following the flood. JB translates “when all is made new”; TOB “at the time of the renewal of all things”; NIV “the renewal of all things.” Brc and Lu have “at the rebirth of the world.” However, as one scholar notes, in the context of Matthew’s Gospel it is “hardly likely that it includes a conscious reference to a new creation.” Many translators have wanted to show that new world refers somehow to a coming messianic age, and have said “the new world that is to come” or “the new world God will establish.”
Son of man: see comment at 8:20.
Glorious throne (so also TEV, NIV, AT) is more literally “throne of his glory” (Mft; NJB “his throne of glory”). But this is a Hebrew idiom: in which “of glory” is the equivalent of an adjective used to modify “throne,” thus providing the basis for glorious throne. Legitimate also is “his throne in heavenly splendour” (NEB), which does not necessarily locate the throne in heaven but rather qualifies it as possessing splendor (or “glory”) of a heavenly origin or nature. In fact, if “judging” is here equated with “rule,” then Matthew definitely conceives of the place of judgment as being on earth (JB’s footnote explains it to have “the biblical sense of ‘govern’ ”).
Not all cultures will be familiar with throne. Some translators have said “king seat” or an equivalent, but another possibility is to recognize that the term is being used here as a symbol of reigning or ruling. An expression such as “sit on his glorious seat to rule,” or simply “establish his glorious rule,” will show this.
Notice how TEV has restructured this verse slightly. A similar rendering is “When the Son of Man establishes his glorious reign in the future new world.”
You who have followed me: TEV alters the verb construction to a noun construction, simultaneously shifting the numeral “twelve” from a position before “thrones” (“on twelve thrones”) to become a modifier of “followers” (“you twelve followers of mine”).
Will … sit on twelve thrones means that each of the twelve followers will sit on a separate throne. As suggested above, judging may best be taken in the sense of “govern” (JB footnote) or “rule” (TEV), similar to the manner in which the noun “judge” is used in the Old Testament of one who was “ruler” of a tribe or a group of tribes.
Translators can treat thrones as they did throne above. For example, “You twelve men who are my followers will become rulers also and rule the twelve tribes of Israel.”
The fact that the twelve tribes had been dispersed and integrated into other nations over the centuries, and that the Jews hoped for their reestablishment, cannot be rendered in the text. Therefore the twelve tribes of Israel is usually translated literally, and the historical information about them may be placed in a footnote. But translators can also say “the twelve tribes founded by our ancestor Israel.”
It is possible that the twelve tribes of Israel is here used of the New Israel (that is, the church), but this is an identity which cannot be made in the translation itself. In any case the literal meaning is the more natural one, and there is no reason to depart from this interpretation.
In this verse Jesus’ promise of reward is extended beyond the circle of the twelve to encompass all who will ever be called upon to make a sacrifice for him.
Left (so most translations) here means “left behind” or even “given up.”
NEB very effectively combines houses … or lands as “land or houses” and places the phrase following the listing of relatives: “And anyone who has left brothers or sisters, father, mother, or children, land or houses.” Land translates the same word used in 13:44. In the plural it can mean either “farm (or, farms)” or “village (or, villages).” It can be translated as “property” or “fields” (so TEV).
For my name’s sake appears as “for my sake” in a number of translations (TEV, AT, Phps, NAB, NIV, Brc). It will be similar in meaning to the formulas used in 18:5, 20; see also comment at 10:22. One may translate “for the sake of following me” or “for the sake of being my disciple.”
A hundred-fold or “a hundred times more” (see Mft, Brc, NJB, Lu, NIV) represents the wording of some Greek manuscripts; others have the equivalent of “many times as much” (NAB, NEB, AT, Phps, GeCL 1st edition, TOB). The UBS Greek New Testament prefers the wording followed by RSV and TEV (see Mark 10:30), though the other wording obviously has strong support (see Luke 18:30).
When translating a hundred-fold as “a hundred times more,” it may be necessary to indicate what it is a hundred times more than. “A hundred times more than they gave up” will do this.
Translators may also have to specify from whom people will receive, as in “will receive from God” or “God will give those people.”
Inherit eternal life differs slightly from the phrase “have eternal life” of verse 16. Inherit is the traditional verb used in the Scriptures of God’s bestowal of blessings on his people. But to translate literally may imply to some readers that God has died. Therefore TEV translates “will be given eternal life.” GeCL 1st edition expresses will receive … and inherit … by one verb: “will receive it all back many times over and in addition eternal life.” It is also possible to identify the “hidden agent” of the verb “will receive” as God: “God will give him eternal life as well.” For eternal life, see the discussion at verse 16.
This verse is repeated, only in reverse order, at the conclusion of the parable of the workers in the vineyard (20:16), and so it is probably intended to serve as a transition to the parable. The function of the words is to contrast a person’s status in this present age with his status in the coming age. One may then translate “But many people who are first now will be last in the age to come, and many who are last now will be first in the age to come.”
Some may get the wrong impression with first and last and understand these words in the sense of time. “Greatest” and “least” or “most important” and “least important” will then be better.
Newman, B. M., & Stine, P. C. (1992). A handbook on the Gospel of Matthew (pp. 608–611). New York: United Bible Societies.