Matthew 22:41–46 (LDGNT)
41Συνηγμένων δὲ τῶν Φαρισαίων ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς
42λέγων Τί ὑμῖν δοκεῖ περὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ τίνος υἱός ἐστιν λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Τοῦ Δαυίδ
43λέγει αὐτοῖς Πῶς οὖν Δαυὶδ ἐν πνεύματι καλεῖ αὐτὸν κύριον λέγων
44Εἶπεν κύριος τῷ κυρίῳ μου Κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν μου ἕως ἂν θῶ τοὺς ἐχθρούς σου ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν σου
45εἰ οὖν Δαυὶδ καλεῖ αὐτὸν κύριον πῶς υἱὸς αὐτοῦ ἐστιν
46καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐδύνατο ἀποκριθῆναι αὐτῷ λόγον οὐδὲ ἐτόλμησέν τις ἀπʼ ἐκείνης τῆς ἡμέρας ἐπερωτῆσαι αὐτὸν οὐκέτι
Matthew 22:41–46 (LEB)
41Now while the Pharisees were assembled, Jesus asked them,
42saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “David’s.”
43He said to them, “How then does David, by the Spirit, call him ‘Lord,’ saying,
44‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet” ’?
45If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how is he his son?”
46And no one was able to answer him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask him any more questions.
IVP Bible Background Commentary
By definition, the Christ, or anointed one, was the royal descendant of David (Is 9:7; 11:1; Ps 2; 89; 132). But this view of messiahship lent itself to a revolutionary view of the kingdom (see comment on 11:10) and was inadequate. The one who would reign in God’s kingdom was David’s “Lord,” not merely his descendant; he would thus be greater than the resurrected David.
When Jewish teachers challenged their hearers to resolve apparent discrepancies in Scripture, they assumed that both texts were true (in this case, Jesus knows that he is both David’s son and David’s Lord) and were simply asking how to harmonize them. Jesus’ opponents apparently have no answer to his question, perhaps because Jewish interpreters did not apply Psalm 110:1 to the Messiah.
When contemporary literature reports hearers being overawed by a wise speaker’s (usually the protagonist’s) wisdom, the readers are meant to respect the speaker’s wisdom too (e.g., 1 Esdras 4:41–42).
Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Mt 22:41–46). InterVarsity Press.
vi. The Messiah as Son of David (22:41–46)
The series of ‘discussions’ ends with Jesus taking the initiative. The question he poses is, at least on the surface, one of ‘academic’ theology—is it correct to describe the Messiah as ‘Son of David’? In this context, however, it cannot be merely academic, for Jesus himself has just been hailed as ‘Son of David’ by the crowds (21:9, 15), and the title has recurred several times in the course of his public ministry (9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30–31). It was, of course, a commonplace of Jewish expectation that a Messiah would come who was David’s son and successor on the throne of Judah (see esp. Psalm of Solomon 17), and it is in this light that Jesus’ significance has been seen by at least some of his followers. But the title will not be used again, and it is a cross, not a throne, which awaits Jesus. In what sense, then, if at all, is he David’s son?
We have seen repeatedly that for Matthew it is important to claim that Jesus is descended from David. (See p. 43 and, e.g., on 1:1, 17; 9:27.) Matthew cannot, then, have believed that Jesus here denied his Davidic lineage. And if he had done so, the early church could hardly have continued to stress the fact as it did (see Rom. 1:3 for an early Christian confession to this effect). The point here is rather that the title is inadequate, if not misleading, as a guide to the nature of Jesus’ Messianic mission. He is no mere successor or replica of David, but rather he is David’s Lord, with an authority far higher than a merely earthly national throne.
The same Old Testament text (Ps. 110:1) will be used to make the same point in 26:64. The method of argument is one familiar in Rabbinic debate, to set up two scriptural themes which are apparently in conflict (an ‘antinomy’) and to seek for a resolution. The Gospels record only the antinomy (David’s son/David’s Lord), not the resolution, but we may fairly assume that it lies in the recognition of two levels of Messiahship, much as in Romans 1:3–4 Jesus is declared ‘descended from David according to the flesh’ but also ‘Son of God in power …’. They are not mutually exclusive truths, but complementary. So Jesus is David’s son, but he is far more. And the political connotations which ‘Son of David’ carried made it, on its own, a potentially misleading title, which Jesus never claimed for himself, though he defended the right of others to apply it to him (21:14–16).
41–42. What is a monologue by Jesus in Mark and Luke appears as a question-and-answer dialogue in Matthew. The title Son of David thus appears directly in the mouths of the Pharisees; it is Jesus’ role to question this traditional language. At the same time the explicit question Whose son is he? suggests that an alternative account is needed; if he is not David’s son, then whose? If he is not ‘answerable to’ David, from whom is his authority derived? The question is left unanswered, but its implications are obvious.
43–45. The conclusion that the Messiah is David’s Lord is drawn from Psalm 110:1, a verse which became one of the key Old Testament passages for early Christian understanding of the role of Jesus. The argument depends on Jesus’ explicit view that the Psalm was written by David, and that it refers to the Messiah, neither of which is endorsed by most modern critical scholarship, but both of which were apparently universally accepted among Jesus’ contemporaries. The term my Lord (which in Hebrew is not the same as ‘the LORD’ representing the name of God) clearly implies that the one so described is in a position superior to the speaker, David. And when David used that term he was inspired by the Spirit (literally just ‘in [the] Spirit’), i.e. he spoke as a prophet. So the Messiah is divinely designated as superior to David.
- It is obvious what answer Jesus implies, but no one was able to answer him a word, because the question was not just an academic one as posed by Jesus, and to accept his argument would be to recognize him as ‘something greater than David’ (to use the formula of 12:6, 41, 42; cf. on 12:3–4). The fear of further debate suggests that their silence was itself a damaging admission, and they could not risk being manoeuvred into further admissions. Thus the whole sequence of debate which began in 21:23 leaves Jesus in possession of the field. From now on he will not debate with the authorities, but will go over their heads to the crowd.
France, R. T. (1985). Matthew: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 324–325). InterVarsity Press.