Matt. 11:19 says,(KJV)

" The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children."

The Stephanus Textus Receptus(1550) says," ἦλθεν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων καὶ λέγουσιν Ἰδού, ἄνθρωπος φάγος καὶ οἰνοπότης τελωνῶν φίλος καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς."

The text in question is,

"καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς", which translated is,

"But is justified (she) widom by children of her."

The TR also gives the parallel verse in Luke 7:35 essentially the same reading,

καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς πάντων, the only difference being πάντων(all) was added.

However, in the Nestle and NA 27 texts, it reads,

"καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῆς", which translates,

"But is justified wisdom by the deeds (of) her."

What is even more interesting is the parallel passage in Luke 7:35 says,

"καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς"

which essentially agrees with the TR and the KJV.

Question 1) How do we correctly interpret this passage? and

Question 2) Why the significant difference between the NA27 and TR in Matthew, but not in Luke?

  • NA27 vs. TR is red herring. Matt. 11:19 אB*W syr cop eth read ἔργων and everything else reads τέκνων. Luke 7:35 א reads ἔργων. The TR doesn’t play a role here, nor for that matter does NA2x. www-user.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/TC-Matthew.pdf Jun 21, 2015 at 23:21
  • @C.StirlingBartholomew I found your reference, but the variance proved inconclusive. The TR seems to have followed the Byzantine text; if you correctly understood the meaning there would have been no alternative rendering(IMO). You should attempt an answer, if you've found the solution.
    – Tau
    Jun 22, 2015 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


It is probably easier to address the questions in reverse order.

Question 2) Why the significant difference between the NA27 and TR in Matthew, but not in Luke?

Comfort and Metzger both explain that the reading τέκνων most likely originated as a scribal emendation intended to harmonize this text with the parallel in Luke 7:35.

Metzger for example states:

The Committee regarded the reading τέκνων (widely supported by B2 C D K L X Δ Θ Π and most minuscules) as having originated in scribal harmonization with the Lukan parallel (7:35). The readings with πάντων represent further assimilation to the passage in Luke.
[Metzger, B. M., United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition; a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (p. 24). London; New York: United Bible Societies.]

Most likely the reason for the difference in in Matt 11:19 between the TR and the various critical text editions is that in the Byzantine text form there was an effort to line up Matt and Luke that did not occur in the Alexandrian text type.

Question 1) How do we correctly interpret this passage?

If we just take the straightforward meaning I would suggest that we understand Jesus to be saying, "No matter how much wisdom is sneered out it is always proved correct." In Matthew the emphasis seems to be what wisdom accomplishes (her deeds) but it Luke it seems that the emphasis is upon what wisdom produces in future generations

  • The Byzantine text represented the Majority View, which is easy to see when you understand it's meaning. Jesus is drawing a comparison between children in the marketplace and the Scribes and Pharisees. They are playing a version of "Captain may I." and Jesus and John the Baptist aren't 'playing their game'. Wisdom, therefore is understood by the 'impudent' children; if you understand the game the children are playing, then you understand the Scribes and Pharisees reaction to Jesus and John the Baptist. The 'Alexandrian' text obscures the meaning, so(IMO) they used both meanings.
    – Tau
    Jun 24, 2015 at 6:36
  • @tau (1) what textual critical evidence can you bring forward to support that assertion? (2) 'This generation' is broader then just the scribes and the pharisees (3) How do you know what the game was, all we are told is that some of the children refused to join in with the others. Jun 24, 2015 at 7:24
  • This is the problem(IMO) with relying solely on textual criticism to discern the truth. The TR got it right, by understanding that the meaning of both the Matthew and Luke passages was the same, since they were recording the same incident. By going into the 'minutae' of a particular word, the total meaning of the passage is lost because it is meant to be understood in context with the rest of what Jesus has said, and not isolating a particular word which may or may not always be interpreted a particular way.
    – Tau
    Jun 24, 2015 at 8:00
  • @tau Who is relying 'solely' on Textual Criticism to discern 'the truth'?, reversing the point though you asked a textual critical question and so it seems somewhat disingenuous to relegate textual criticism as unimportant, furthermore, textual criticism is about getting to what the original documents said - no matter what difficulties that presents us with, it is not about smoothing over those differences to make life easier for us Jun 24, 2015 at 8:11
  • My question 1st asked for the meaning of the passage, then the reason for the TR texts being the same, but not the Nestle Alland. FWIW someone else(not me) put the "textual critical" tag to it. I'm not against 'Textual Criticism' per se,(I am against Modern Textual Criticism). It is a tool in your toolbox, but it isn't the only tool; furthermore, one can be led astray by it, if one uses it at the expense of all other means. On your #3, the children didn't refuse, those that had better things to do with their time, did. Wisdom is understood by understanding the children.
    – Tau
    Jun 24, 2015 at 12:30

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