The Meaning of Matthew 20:28 Explained

Matthew 20:28

KJV: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

YLT: even as the Son of Man did not come to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.'

Darby: as indeed the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

ASV: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

What does Matthew 20:28 Mean?

Study Notes

ransom See, Isaiah 53:10 ; Isaiah 53:11 .
Matthew 20:22 "cup," margin ref: ; Exodus 14:30 ; Isaiah 59:20 ; Romans 3:24
See Scofield " Isaiah 59:20 " See Scofield " Romans 3:24 "
cup
See, Matthew 26:39 ; Matthew 27:46 ; Luke 22:41 ; Luke 22:42 ; John 18:11 ; Isaiah 53:4-6 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21 ; Galatians 3:13 ; 1 Peter 2:24 ; 1 Peter 3:18
Thus the Lord saved Israel
Redemption: (Exodus type) Summary. Exodus is the book of redemption and teaches:
(1) redemption is wholly of God Exodus 3:7 ; Exodus 3:8 ; John 3:16 .
(2) redemption is through a person. (See Scofield " Exodus 2:2 ") . John 3:16 ; John 3:17 .
(3) redemption is by blood Exodus 12:13 ; Exodus 12:23 ; Exodus 12:27 ; 1 Peter 1:18 .
(4) redemption is by power Exodus 6:6 ; Exodus 13:14 ; Romans 8:2 .
(See Scofield " Isaiah 59:20 ") . See Scofield " Romans 3:24 ".
The blood of Christ redeems the believer from the guilt and penalty of sin. 1 Peter 1:18 as the power of the Spirit delivers from the dominion of sin.; Romans 8:2 ; Ephesians 2:2 .
Son of man (See Scofield " Matthew 8:20 ") Also, Philippians 2:7
ransom See, Isaiah 53:10 ; Isaiah 53:11 .
Matthew 20:22 "cup," margin ref: ; Exodus 14:30 ; Isaiah 59:20 ; Romans 3:24
See Scofield " Isaiah 59:20 " See Scofield " Romans 3:24 "
cup
See, Matthew 26:39 ; Matthew 27:46 ; Luke 22:41 ; Luke 22:42 ; John 18:11 ; Isaiah 53:4-6 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21 ; Galatians 3:13 ; 1 Peter 2:24 ; 1 Peter 3:18
Thus the Lord saved Israel
Redemption: (Exodus type) Summary. Exodus is the book of redemption and teaches:
(1) redemption is wholly of God Exodus 3:7 ; Exodus 3:8 ; John 3:16 .
(2) redemption is through a person. (See Scofield " Exodus 2:2 ") . John 3:16 ; John 3:17 .
(3) redemption is by blood Exodus 12:13 ; Exodus 12:23 ; Exodus 12:27 ; 1 Peter 1:18 .
(4) redemption is by power Exodus 6:6 ; Exodus 13:14 ; Romans 8:2 .
(See Scofield " Isaiah 59:20 ") . See Scofield " Romans 3:24 ".
The blood of Christ redeems the believer from the guilt and penalty of sin. 1 Peter 1:18 as the power of the Spirit delivers from the dominion of sin.; Romans 8:2 ; Ephesians 2:2 .

Verse Meaning

Jesus presented Himself, the Son of Prayer of Manasseh , as the supreme example of a slave of others. He would even lay down His life in the service of others, not just to help them but in their place (cf. Isaiah 53). As Messiah, Jesus had every right to expect service from others, but instead He served others.
"To be great is to be the servant (diakonos) of many; to be first is to be the bond-servant (doulos) of many; to be supreme is to give one"s life for many." [1]
The Greek word lytron ("ransom") was a term used frequently in non-biblical Greek to describe the purchase price for freeing a slave. [2] This word connotes a purchase price whenever it occurs in the New Testament. [3] "For" (Gr. anti) indicates the substitute nature of Jesus" death. [4] The "many" for whom He would die could be the elect or all mankind (cf. Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12).
"A theology of "limited atonement" is far from the intention of the passage and would be anachronistic in this context." [5]
Other passages seem to favor the interpretation that by His death Jesus made all people savable. However only the elect experience salvation and enter the kingdom (e.g, John 3:16; Ephesians 1:4-7). Only one would die, but many would profit from His death. This is one of the great Christological and soteriological verses in the Bible. It is also the first time that Jesus explained the reason He would die to His disciples.
"The implication of the cumulative evidence is that Jesus explicitly referred to himself as Isaiah"s Suffering Servant ... and interpreted his own death in that light ..." [3]

Context Summary

Matthew 20:17-28 - Serving Nobler Than Self-Seeking
For the third time our Lord foretells His death. In Matthew 16:21, He dwelt especially on the shame of His rejection; in Matthew 17:23, He told how the gates of death would open on the Easter joy. Now He declares the method of His death, and tells how Gentiles would join with His own people in the tragedy of the Cross. He was no martyr, who went unknowing to his doom. He set His face to go to the Cross. Others die because they were born; He was born that He might die.
Many desire the power of the throne, without being prepared to pay the price of suffering. Others say glibly and easily, We can, little realizing what their choice involves, and that nothing but the grace of God can make their vow possible of fulfillment. But it is sufficient! Only claim it. God will not fail you! Notice Matthew 20:28. The Lord ministers to us all, daily, patiently, lovingly. He took on Him the form of a servant and became obedient. Serve all men for His sake! We have to go down to reach His side. [source]

Chapter Summary: Matthew 20

1  Jesus, by the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, shows that God is debtor unto no man;
17  foretells his passion;
20  by answering the mother of Zebedee's children, teaches his disciples to be humble;
29  and gives two blind men their sight

Greek Commentary for Matthew 20:28

A ransom for many [λυτρον αντι πολλων]
The Son of man is the outstanding illustration of this principle of self-abnegation in direct contrast to the self-seeking of James and John. The word translated “ransom” is the one commonly employed in the papyri as the price paid for a slave who is then set free by the one who bought him, the purchase money for manumitting slaves. See examples in Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary and Deissmann‘s Light from the Ancient East, pp. 328f. There is the notion of exchange also in the use of αντι — anti Jesus gave his own life as the price of freedom for the slaves of sin. There are those who refuse to admit that Jesus held this notion of a substitutionary death because the word in the N.T. occurs only here and the corresponding passage in Mark 10:45. But that is an easy way to get rid of passages that contradict one‘s theological opinions. Jesus here rises to the full consciousness of the significance of his death for men. [source]
A ransom for many []
Compare Sophocles, “Oed. Colossians,” 488.“For one soul working in the strength of loveIs mightier than ten thousand to atone.” [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Matthew 20:28

Matthew 26:28 Which is shed for many [περι]
A prophetic present passive participle. The act is symbolized by the ordinance. Cf. the purpose of Christ expressed in Matthew 20:28. There εις απεσιν αμαρτιων — anti and here peri remission of sins This clause is in Matthew alone but it is not to be restricted for that reason. It is the truth. This passage answers all the modern sentimentalism that finds in the teaching of Jesus only pious ethical remarks or eschatological dreamings. He had the definite conception of his death on the cross as the basis of forgiveness of sin. The purpose of the shedding of his blood of the New Covenant was precisely to remove (forgive) sins. [source]
Mark 12:30 Soul [ψυχῆς]
The word is often used in the New Testament in its original meaning of life. See Matthew 2:20; Matthew 20:28; Acts 20:10; Romans 11:3; John 10:11. Hence, as an emphatic designation of the man himself. See Matthew 12:18; Hebrews 10:38; Luke 21:19. So that the word denotes “life in the distinctness of individual existence” (Cremer). See further on ψυχικός , spiritual, 1 Corinthians 15:44. [source]
Luke 4:29 Unto the brow of the hill [ηος οπρυος του ορους]
Eyebrow Past perfect indicative, stood built.That they might throw him down headlong Neat Greek idiom with ωστε — hōste for intended result, “so as to cast him down the precipice.” The infinitive alone can convey the same meaning (Matthew 2:2; Matthew 20:28; Luke 2:23). Κρημνος — Krēmnos is an overhanging bank or precipice from κρεμαννυμι — kremannumi to hang. Κατα — Kata is down. The verb occurs in Xenophon, Demosthenes, lxx, Josephus. Here only in the N.T. At the southwest corner of the town of Nazareth such a cliff today exists overhanging the Maronite convent. Murder was in the hearts of the people. By pushing him over they hoped to escape technical guilt. [source]
Luke 4:29 That they might throw him down headlong [ωστε κατακρημνισαι αυτον]
Neat Greek idiom with ωστε — hōste for intended result, “so as to cast him down the precipice.” The infinitive alone can convey the same meaning (Matthew 2:2; Matthew 20:28; Luke 2:23). Κρημνος — Krēmnos is an overhanging bank or precipice from κρεμαννυμι — kremannumi to hang. Κατα — Kata is down. The verb occurs in Xenophon, Demosthenes, lxx, Josephus. Here only in the N.T. At the southwest corner of the town of Nazareth such a cliff today exists overhanging the Maronite convent. Murder was in the hearts of the people. By pushing him over they hoped to escape technical guilt. [source]
John 10:11 Giveth his life [τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τίθησιν]
The phrase is peculiar to John, occurring in the Gospel and First Epistle. It is explained in two ways: either (1) as laying down as a pledge, paying as a price, according to the classical usage of the word τίθημι . So Demosthenes, to pay interest or the alien tax. Or (2) according to John 13:4, as laying aside his life like a garment. The latter seems preferable. Τίθημι , in the sense of to pay down a price, does not occur in the New Testament, unless this phrase, to lay down the life, be so explained. In John 13:4, layeth aside His garments ( τίδησι τὰ ἱμάτια ) is followed, in John 13:12, by had taken His garments ( ἔλαβε τὰ ἱμάτια ). So, in this chapter, giveth ( τίδησιν ) His life (John 10:11), and I lay down ( τίδημι ) my life (John 10:17, John 10:18), are followed by λαβεῖν “to take it again.” The phrases τὴν ψυχὴν Helaid down His life, and τὰς ψυχὰς θεῖναι tolay down our lives, occur in 1 John 3:16. The verb is used in the sense of laying aside in the classics, as to lay aside war, shields, etc. Compare Matthew 20:28, δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν , to give His life. [source]
John 19:30 Had received [ελαβεν]
Second aorist active indicative of λαμβανω — lambanō Jesus took the vinegar (a stimulant), though he had refused the drugged vinegar. It is finished Same for as in John 19:28. A cry of victory in the hour of defeat like νενικηκα — nenikēka in John 16:33. Jesus knew the relation of his death to redemption for us (Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:28). Bowed his head First aorist active participle of κλινω — klinō This vivid detail only in John. Gave up his spirit With the quotation of Psalm 31:5 according to Luke 23:46, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (the last of the seven sayings of Jesus on the Cross that are preserved for us). Jesus died with the words of this Psalm upon his lips. The apostle John had come back to the Cross. [source]
John 6:51 The living bread [ο αρτος ο ζων]
“The bread the living.” Repetition of the claim in John 6:35, John 6:41, John 6:48, but with a slight change from ζωης — zōēs to ζων — zōn (present active participle of ζαω — zaō). It is alive and can give life. See John 4:10 for living water. In Revelation 1:17 Jesus calls himself the Living One For ever Eternally like αιωνιον — aiōnion with ζωην — zōēn in John 6:47. I shall give Emphasis on εγω — egō (I). Superior so to Moses. Is my flesh See note on John 1:14 for σαρχ — sarx the Incarnation. This new idea creates far more difficulty to the hearers who cannot grasp Christ‘s idea of self-sacrifice. For the life of the world Over, in behalf of, υπερ — huper means, and in some connexions instead of as in John 11:50. See John 1:30 for the Baptist‘s picture of Christ as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. See also John 3:17; John 4:42; 1 John 3:16; Matthew 20:28; Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:14.; Romans 5:8. Jesus has here presented to this Galilean multitude the central fact of his atoning death for the spiritual life of the world. [source]
Acts 7:35 Deliverer [λυτρωτὴν]
Strictly, a ransomer or redeemer. Only here in New Testament. See on ransom, Matthew 20:28; and redeemed, 1 Peter 1:18. [source]
1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye were bought with a price [ηγοραστητε γαρ τιμης]
First aorist passive indicative of αγοραζω — agorazō old verb to buy in the marketplace With genitive of price. Paul does not here state the price as Peter does in 1 Peter 1:19 (the blood of Christ) and as Jesus does in Matthew 20:28 (his life a ransom). The Corinthians understood his meaning. [source]
Galatians 1:4 Gave himself for our sins []
Comp. Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 5:25; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14. Purposely added with reference to the Galatians' falling back on the works of the law as the ground of acceptance with God. For or with reference to sins ( περὶ ) expresses the general relation of Christ's mission to sin. The special relation, to atone for, to destroy, to save and sanctify its victims, is expressed by ὑπὲρ onbehalf of. The general preposition, however, may include the special. [source]
Ephesians 5:2 An offering and a sacrifice to God [προσποραν και τυσιαν τωι τεωι]
Accusative in apposition with εαυτον — heauton (himself). Christ‘s death was an offering to God “in our behalf” (υπερ ημων — huper hēmōn) not an offering to the devil (Anselm), a ransom (λυτρον — lutron) as Christ himself said (Matthew 20:28), Christ‘s own view of his atoning death. [source]
1 Timothy 2:6 Ransom [ἀντίλυτρον]
N.T.oolxx. oClass. Λύτρον ransom Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45, applied to Christ's life given for many. But neither this nor any of its kindred words is used by Paul. He uses ἀπολύτρωσις, but that means the act not the means of redemption. [source]
1 Timothy 2:6 A ransom for all [αντιλυτρον υπερ παντων]
“A reminiscence of the Lord‘s own saying” (Lock) in Matthew 20:28 (Mark 10:45) where we have λυτρον αντι πολλων — lutron anti pollōn In the papyri υπερ — huper is the ordinary preposition for the notion of substitution where benefit is involved as in this passage. Αντι — Anti has more the idea of exchange and αντιλυτρον υπερ — antilutron huper combines both ideas. Λυτρον — Lutron is the common word for ransom for a slave or a prisoner. Paul may have coined αντιλυτρον — antilutron with the saying of Christ in mind (only one MS. of Psalm 48:9 and Orph. Litt. 588). See note on Galatians 1:4 “who gave himself for our sins.” [source]
1 Peter 1:18 Ye were redeemed [ελυτρωτητε]
First aorist passive indicative of λυτροω — lutroō old verb from λυτρον — lutron (ransom for life as of a slave, Matthew 20:28), to set free by payment of ransom, abundant examples in the papyri, in N.T. only here, Luke 24:21; Titus 2:14. The ransom is the blood of Christ. Peter here amplifies the language in Isaiah 52:3.Not with corruptible things (ου πταρτοις — ou phthartois). Instrumental case neuter plural of the late verbal adjective from πτειρω — phtheirō to destroy or to corrupt, and so perishable, in N.T. here, 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Corinthians 15:53.; Romans 1:23. Αργυριωι η χρυσιωι — Arguriōi ē chrusiōi (silver or gold) are in explanatory apposition with πταρτοις — phthartois and so in the same case. Slaves were set free by silver and gold.From your vain manner of life “Out of” This adjective, though predicate in position, is really attributive in idea, like χειροποιητου — cheiropoiētou in Ephesians 2:11 (Robertson, Grammar, p. 777), like the French idiom. This double compound verbal adjective (πατερ παρα διδωμι — paterparadidōmi), though here alone in N.T., occurs in Diodorus, Dion. Halic, and in several inscriptions (Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary; Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 266f.). The Jews made a wrong use of tradition (Matthew 15:2.), but the reference here seems mainly to Gentiles (1 Peter 2:12). [source]
1 Peter 4:10 Ministering [διακονουντες]
Present active participle plural of διακονεω — diakoneō common verb (Matthew 20:28), though εκαστος — hekastos (each) is singular.As good stewards (ως καλοι οικονομοι — hōs kaloi oikonomoi). For “steward” (οικονομος — oikonomos house-manager) see Luke 16:1; 1 Corinthians 4:1 (used by Paul of himself) and of any bishop (Titus 1:7), but here of any Christian. See καλος — kalos used with διακονος — diakonos in 1 Timothy 4:6.Of the manifold grace of God For ποικιλος — poikilos (many-colored) see note on 1 Peter 1:6 and note on James 1:2. [source]
Revelation 1:5 Washed [λούσαντι]
Read λύσαντι loosedTrench remarks on the variation of readings as having grown out of a play on the words λουτρόν , a bathing, and λύτρον aransom, both of which express the central benefits which redound to us through the sacrifice and death of Christ. He refers to this play upon words as involved in the etymology of the name Apollo as given by Plato; viz., the washer ( ὁ ἀπολούων ) and the absolver ( ὁ ἀπολύων ) from all impurities. Either reading falls in with a beautiful circle of imagery. If washed, compare Psalm 51:2; Isaiah 1:16, Isaiah 1:18; Ezekiel 36:25; Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5. If loosed, compare Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6; 1 Peter 1:18; Hebrews 9:12; Galatians 3:13; Galatians 4:5; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 14:3, Revelation 14:4. [source]

What do the individual words in Matthew 20:28 mean?

even as the Son - of Man not came to be served but to serve and to give the life of Him [as] a ransom for many
ὥσπερ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθεν διακονηθῆναι ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν

ὥσπερ  even  as 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ὥσπερ  
Sense: just as, even as.
Υἱὸς  Son 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: υἱός  
Sense: a son.
τοῦ  - 
Parse: Article, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἀνθρώπου  of  Man 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: ἄνθρωπος  
Sense: a human being, whether male or female.
ἦλθεν  came 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἔρχομαι  
Sense: to come.
διακονηθῆναι  to  be  served 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Infinitive Passive
Root: διακονέω  
Sense: to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon.
διακονῆσαι  to  serve 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Infinitive Active
Root: διακονέω  
Sense: to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon.
δοῦναι  to  give 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Infinitive Active
Root: διδῶ 
Sense: to give.
ψυχὴν  life 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: ψυχή  
Sense: breath.
αὐτοῦ  of  Him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
λύτρον  [as]  a  ransom 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: λύτρον  
Sense: the price for redeeming, ransom.
πολλῶν  many 
Parse: Adjective, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root: πολύς  
Sense: many, much, large.