Matthew 24:5

Jochen Katz (
Tue, 17 Sep 1996 21:59:24 -0400 (EDT)

I posted this to two Christian newsgroups and basically didn't get
any substantial answers. Only "feelings" about it.

In the web page

I found a most interesting way of reading Matthew 24:5 which
differs from all translations and commentaries I have seen.

Mat. 24:5

For many will come in my name,
saying I am the Christ, and will mislead many.

Most every translation I have seen inserts quotation marks in
the following way:

For many will come in my name,
saying, "I am the Christ", and will mislead many.

and this means that these false prophets are claiming to
be "the Christ", i.e. being Jesus Christ who came back
whom the Christians are waiting for. And sure enough, there
have been several people claiming things like that and the
NIV even translates "saying" [as in most translations] with
"claiming". One example would be the heretical Islamic sect
of the Ahmadiyya whose leader Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has claimed
to be Jesus, the son of Mary.

But the above mentioned web page reads this verse differently.

Since there are no quotation marks in the original Greek, he
interprets this as INDIRECT instead of direct speech, i.e.
Jesus says:

For many will come in my name,
saying (that) I am the Christ, and will mislead many.


For many will come in my name,
(even) saying (that) I (Jesus) am the Christ,
and (going on from there) will mislead many.

So, the reasoning goes, these false teachers/prophets seem to
be "orthodox" because they admit openly that Jesus is the Christ,
but then go on to deceive many with their teachings. One example
in this category would be Muhammad, who in the Qur'an does indeed
call Jesus the Messiah, but then he goes on to deny each and any
of the essential features of Jesus, like his crucifixion and any
form of atonement, his resurrection, his deity, etc etc.
And which Christian would not admit that Muhammad by doing so
has misled many?

Now my question to the Greek experts on this group.

Is this second interpretation valid from the syntax of the
Greek alone? If that *is* a valid interpretion on the syntactical
level, would you feel this is a justified interpretation from
the exegesis in its context?

Why? Why not?

I am torn since on the one hand this is Jesus' response to the
disciples' question about Jesus' return and it would be sort of
strange if he would talk about something else ... BUT it wouldn't
be the first time.

On the other hand, this unusual interpretation would make more sense
of the "many will come IN MY NAME" since if some people claim to
be Jesus himself coming back [or even only claiming to be "the Christ"
in denial of Jesus' Messiahship] then what would the 'in my name'
mean? Wouldn't that mean that these people then come "in their own
name" [when claiming to be Christ] and this would sound strange?

Okay, that is the interesting thought I found and would like to
get your input on.

Warm regards,

Jochen Katz