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As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?(A) Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?[a] Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
    he will prepare your way before you.’(B)

11 Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.[b] 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence,[c] and the violent are taking it by force.(C) 13 All the prophets and the law[d] prophesied up to the time of John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come.(D) 15 Whoever has ears ought to hear.

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Footnotes

  1. 11:9–10 In common Jewish belief there had been no prophecy in Israel since the last of the Old Testament prophets, Malachi. The coming of a new prophet was eagerly awaited, and Jesus agrees that John was such. Yet he was more than a prophet, for he was the precursor of the one who would bring in the new and final age. The Old Testament quotation is a combination of Mal 3:1; Ex 23:20 with the significant change that the before me of Malachi becomes before you. The messenger now precedes not God, as in the original, but Jesus.
  2. 11:11 John’s preeminent greatness lies in his function of announcing the imminence of the kingdom (Mt 3:1). But to be in the kingdom is so great a privilege that the least who has it is greater than the Baptist.
  3. 11:12 The meaning of this difficult saying is probably that the opponents of Jesus are trying to prevent people from accepting the kingdom and to snatch it away from those who have received it.
  4. 11:13 All the prophets and the law: Matthew inverts the usual order, “law and prophets,” and says that both have prophesied. This emphasis on the prophetic character of the law points to its fulfillment in the teaching of Jesus and to the transitory nature of some of its commandments (see note on Mt 5:17–20).

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