How did the owners of the colt perceive the Word for Lord?

And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.” (Luke 19:31-34)

Did the owners of the Colt consider it as "God has need of him."?


Did the owners of the Colt consider it as "Our master has need of him."?

  • Partial - or perhaps full - duplicate. Is this unique to Luke? I have re-tagged, but I'm not clear this is sufficiently different from the existing question.
    – Dɑvïd
    Sep 11 '14 at 10:52
  • @Davïd The question is very similar indeed, however, in this question it points out that it is the "owners of the colt" that ask about the colt. In the proposed duplicate the accepted answer "is most likely to the the animal's owner". Logically this does not make sense to me because if it is the "animal's owner" that is "the Lord", then they might as well have said "you have need of it." This could have been disagreed to because the possibility that the colt was not needed. However you want to handle it is fine with me.
    – Decrypted
    Sep 12 '14 at 1:22

The most sensible interpreters view this as a prearranged deal Jesus made with some some crypto-disciples, so they viewed it as "your master has need of him" not just the master of the apostles but theirs too.

For example, Albert Barnes' note on Matthew 21:3

The Lord hath need of them - This means no more than the “master” has need of them. The word “Lord” often means no more than “master” as opposed to servant, Matthew 10:24; Ephesians 6:5; 1 Peter 3:5-6. The word is sometimes used in the Bible as applied to God, or as a translation of the name Yahweh. Its common use is a mere title of respect given by an inferior to a superior, by a servant to a master, by a disciple to a teacher. As a title of “high respect” it was given to Christ, or the Messiah. The persons to whom these disciples were sent were probably acquainted with the miracles of Jesus and favorably disposed toward him He had attracted great notice in that region, particularly by raising Lazarus from the dead, and most of the people regarded him as the Messiah.

B.W. Johnson in the People's New Testament, has this simple note on Matthew 21:3

The Lord hath need of them. It is probable that the owner was a disciple.

They don't comment on it again in Luke.


In this case, it may be impossible to determine. Unfortunately, we simply do not know the nationality of the colt's owners. Were the owners Greek, we would assume the conversation was in greek and simply consult the text which uses the word Κύριος which means "master" or "he to whom a person or thing belongs." Therefore in Greek, it does not read that God has need of the colt. Despite this, When the Tetragrammaton is translated into Greek, Κύριος is the word used, but if translating from Greek back to Hebrew, this is not necessarily the case.

Therefore, were this conversation to have been in Hebrew and were we party to it or were the text in Hebrew, the answer could be very simple because it could read Yahweh. On the other hand, it might not be very simple as the word Elohim was often used which could indicate either the divine or an earthly lord. Were this the case, then we would have no clearer answer in the Hebrew. Simply put, if we presume the conversation was in Hebrew, but translated to and recorded in Greek, Since we are dealing with the ownership of the Colt, it is just as reasonable to conclude that the owner of the donkey has a need for it as it would be that Yahweh needs it and there is no way to know which interpretation is correct (or if both are correct.)

Finally, Jesus would have spoken Aramaic and so did his disciples, but again, we have the same problem with Aramaic as we do with the Hebrew tounge.

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