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Workers for the Harvest

35 Then Jesus went throughout all the towns[a] and villages, teaching in their synagogues,[b] preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness.[c] 36 When[d] he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were bewildered and helpless,[e] like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest[f] to send out workers into his harvest-ready fields.”[g]

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  1. Matthew 9:35 tn Or “cities.”
  2. Matthew 9:35 sn See the note on synagogues in 4:23.
  3. Matthew 9:35 tn Grk “every [kind of] disease and every [kind of] sickness.” Here “every” was not repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons. Although the present translation, like several other translations (e.g., NASB, NKJV, NLT), has opted for “every kind of disease and sickness” here, understanding the Greek term πᾶς to refer to “everything belonging, in kind, to the class designated by the noun” (BDAG 784 s.v. 5), it may be possible to understand the word to mean “all” in the sense of totality (i.e., “every disease and every sickness”), given that the same Greek term occurs at the beginning of the verse in the phrase “all the towns and villages” and the phrase at the end of the verse may be intended as a contrast. Arguing against this is the evangelist’s usage of the exact same phrase “every disease and every sickness” in 4:23 referring to Jesus’ healing ministry and in 10:1 to refer to the ministry of the disciples. In the two last-mentioned passages the contrast with “all the towns and villages” does not occur.
  4. Matthew 9:36 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  5. Matthew 9:36 tn Or perhaps “because they had been bewildered and helpless.” The grammatical issue is whether the perfect participles are to be regarded as predicate adjectives or as pluperfect periphrastic constructions (i.e., εἰμί in the indicative plus a perfect participle). Wallace regards these as pluperfect periphrastics, stating: “There may be a hint in Matthew’s use of the pluperfect, esp. in collocation with the shepherd-motif, that this situation would soon disappear” (ExSyn 584).
  6. Matthew 9:38 sn The phrase Lord of the harvest recognizes God’s sovereignty over the harvest process.
  7. Matthew 9:38 tn Grk “harvest,” but by extension of meaning this refers to the crops awaiting harvest in the fields. See BDAG 453 s.v. θερισμός 2.a.