What does Matthew 26:21 mean?
ESV: And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
NIV: And while they were eating, he said, 'Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.'
NASB: And as they were eating, He said, 'Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.'
CSB: While they were eating, he said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me."
NLT: While they were eating, he said, 'I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.'
KJV: And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus and His twelve disciples are gathered in the upper room of a house (Matthew 26:17–19). They are all reclining around a low table while sitting on cushions and eating the Passover meal together (Matthew 26:20). At some point during the meal, Jesus makes an announcement that changes the course of the discussion for the rest of the dinner. Jesus declares with absolute certainty that one of these close companions will become a traitor.

Matthew has already revealed that Judas Iscariot has agreed to turn Jesus over to the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14–16). Matthew has not described Judas' other motives. We know from John that Judas has already been stealing from the group moneybag (John 12:6). These perspectives are all hindsight: at the time of this meal, Jesus is the only one who knows which person is false. It will not be until later that Matthew, John, and the rest learn the tragic details.

While Jesus is aware, the rest of the company has no idea that Judas is the betrayer. They are accustomed to hearing difficult pronouncements from Jesus. In fact, they each express fear that they will be the one to fall, despite having no plan to wrong Jesus in any way (Matthew 26:22).
Verse Context:
Matthew 26:17–35 begins with locating the room which will be used for the Passover meal. While they are eating, Jesus announces that one of His closest disciples will become a traitor. Judas discovers that Jesus knows it is him. Jesus introduces the concept of bread and wine as symbols of His sacrificial body and blood. After the meal, Jesus tells the disciples they will fall away that night and that Peter will deny Him three times. They insist that will not happen. Mark 14:10–31, Luke 22:3–23, Luke 22:31–34, and John 13:21–38 feature these events, as well.
Chapter Summary:
The Jewish religious leaders further their plots to arrest and kill Jesus, finding a willing traitor in Judas Iscariot. A woman anoints Christ with oil during a dinner at Bethany. Next, Jesus and the disciples hold the Passover meal in an upper room where Jesus predicts His arrests and introduces the sacrament of communion. Then Jesus prays in unimaginable agony in the garden of Gethsemane before being betrayed by Judas and captured. The disciples scatter. Before the high priest, Jesus explicitly claims to be divine. They convict Him of blasphemy and sentence Him to death. As this happens, Peter denies knowing Jesus and runs away in shame.
Chapter Context:
After a long series of teaching (Matthew 24—25), Matthew 26 begins with Jesus saying He will be delivered up for death. Christ is anointed at a dinner in Bethany and Judas agrees to turn Him over to the chief priests. Jesus holds a Passover meal with the disciples, predicts an act of treachery, and introduces the sacrament of communion. He tells the disciples they will run in fear and that Peter will deny Him, which happens just as prophesied. Christ prays in great sorrow in a garden and is then arrested and taken away and unfairly sentenced to death. After this, Jesus will be taken to the Roman governor, where Jewish leadership will press for Him to be executed as an insurgent.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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