Matt 10:41-42

From: Don Wilkins (
Date: Sat Aug 08 1998 - 15:56:43 EDT

Fellow Greekers,
I'm usually on the answering end of questions when I have a chance to look
at them, but here's one for which I would be grateful for info and opinions.
The key phrases to explain in these verses are "in the name of" and "a
prophet's reward/a righteous man's reward". On the surface Jesus' words may
only appear a little puzzling at worst, but I'm finding that the problem is
actually quite challenging.

First, one has to examine whether "in the name of" means "representing
(another)" or "because he is (a prophet, righteous man)". I'm an NASB
translator and having the literal "in the name of" is consistent with our
policy; on the other hand, some other less literal translations simply use
"because he is" as a translation. The Greek preposition used in each case is
EIS, but here is seems to have the same force as EN. One probably has to
consider the corresponding Aramaic/Hebrew that Jesus might have been using,
which would be either a beth (my choice) or lamedh for "in" (lamedh more
basically means "to" or "for", but it is used a lot in the phrase "in the
name of YHWH") with SHEM, the simple Hebrew for "name". While I concede that
there seems to be some way in which you could understand "in the name of" as
"in the capacity of" or "because he is," I haven't been able to document
such a meaning in the BDB Hebrew lexicon nor in Jastrow (though I may have
missed it in either). Tentatively, then, it seems that "in the name of" in
these verses means "representing another"; i.e., Jesus is speaking of a
prophet that has been sent as the representative of another prophet, and
ditto for a righteous man. This might seem a little odd, but it's not
inconceivable; there are sufficient examples of emissaries in the Bible.
Plus, v. 40 certainly carries that thought, and it seems that HENA TWN
MIKRWN TOUTWN in v. 42 is a different person than the disciple, which would
also be consistent with this interpretation.

Second, what is the reward and the meaning of the genitive with it in each
verse? Is it, e.g. the reward that a prophet receives, or that he sends. My
inclination for the moment is that Jesus is speaking of a gift given by the
prophet or righteous man who sends his representative, and that it is given
in return for hospitality shown the representative. If so, the quality of
the gift probably varies with the means of the person sending it, in a
descending scale; i.e. the gift of a prophet is potentially greater than
that of a righteous man, whose gift in turn might be better than that of the
disciple giving a reward for the gift of cold water in v. 42. It can be
argued that God is ultimately or directly the source of each of these
rewards. Some have even suggested that the gift in each case is eternal
life, but I can't agree, based on two things: (1) Jesus seems to be
describing *different* gifts, and (2) this is inconsistent with his teaching
of faith in himself for salvation (granted, this is a somewhat theological

Another issue is whether these are heavenly or earthly rewards, but this
question would hinge largely on the sense of the genitives (again, does the
prophet receive or give the award, a la subjective/objective genitive).

My apologies if any of this is unclear; I will be happy to clarify further
if I can. BTW, I found comments from the engineers on our list interesting.
My favorite Greek prof was a former engineer and clearly reveled in problem
solving, which I too enjoy immensely. I even started college as an
electrical engineer, but that's a dull story. Maybe the problem-solving part
is what draws many of us to integrate computers with Greek study. Also BTW,
comments about the latter were interesting as well. I think the more
application of computer tech the better, because it helps so much to do away
with speculation. A simple example: I am continually amazed out how often a
computer search in the Engl Bible comes up empty for me, proving to me that
my memorization of a particular verse is actually flawed (I'm usually
"certain" that I have it right!).

Thanks much,
Don Wilkins

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