§ 24 The Epilogue

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics

by Bruno Bauer

Volume 1



§ 24

The Epilogue.

Matthew 7:21-27.

From the words in verse 21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven,” we should not actually count the epilogue. For it is immediately followed by verse 22: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name (νενευκότες), and so on?” This phrase, however, still refers too specifically to the false prophets previously mentioned, and lacks the generality that the epilogue of the Sermon on the Mount should have.

Nevertheless, we will begin the epilogue with those words, because in verse 24, the transition is made to the parable of the man who built his house on a rock, assuming that the beginning of the epilogue has already been given. “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock,” can only be said if the general proposition that the words of Jesus should not only be heard but also put into practice was stated previously.

But the difficulty now reaches its peak – this proposition was not only not stated before, but verse 21 only said: “whoever does the will of the heavenly Father will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Moreover, just now in verses 22 and 23, the inadequacy of good deeds was developed, so how can this be immediately recommended and marked as a conclusion (ov) to that statement in verse 24? In the face of this difficulty, one might say that this recommendation is linked to the earlier statement in verse 21*), but how can it easily skip over such a stubborn statement that immediately precedes it? And if it dares to make this huge leap, can it really be linked to verse 21? No! Because here, not a word was spoken about hearing and doing the words of Jesus.

*) For example, Fritzsche on Matthew p. 299: “it commands us to go back to v. 24.” Fritzsche, whom we can now note, considers Matthew himself to be the author of the first gospel and says on p. 301 that Matthew composed the Sermon on the Mount from sayings, knowing Jesus as their originator, but could not form a close coherence everywhere because diverse sayings had to be communicated. “Ceterum ibi, ubi particulae arctiorem cohaerentiam portendunt, accurata eam explicatione sic manifestare studuimus, ut Matthaeum perite versatum quemvis intellecturum speremus” This hope was not fulfilled.


In Luke’s Gospel, there was already talk of the words “Lord, Lord” before the parable of the man who built his house on the rock. Here, there is coherence and the Epilogue (chapter 6, verses 46-49) forms a complete whole. Here, the Epilogue begins with the words in verse 46: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” and everything fits together perfectly when verse 47 follows immediately, saying: “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them is like a man building a house u.s.w.”

The phrase “Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you” has been worked into a general rule by Matthew in verse 21, and by recalling the exclamation “Lord, Lord!” he added a saying from the Gospel of Luke in which the formal and nominal relationship to the Lord is rejected as insufficient for the dignity of the kingdom of heaven. Just a few moments ago, Matthew had quoted the saying about the narrow gate from the Gospel of Luke, so he still has in fresh memory what follows immediately afterwards, namely the parable of the master of the house (Luke 13:25-27), in which some stand at the door and cry out “Lord, Lord, open to us” and are rejected by him, reminding him that they had a relationship with him. Matthew reworks their speech to the extent that it becomes a speech of false prophets, but he appropriates their last word, with which the Lord rejects false followers, unchanged in his own Gospel.*) 

*) Luke 13:27 : και ερει λεγω υμιν ουκ οιδα υμας ποθεν εστε αποστητε απ εμου παντες οι εργαται της αδικιας . Mattthew 7:23: και τοτε ομολογησω αυτοις οτι ουδεποτε εγνων υμας αποχωρειτε απ εμου οι εργαζομενοι την ανομιαν.


It would be too much to ask if we were to say another word about the fact that the parable of the man who built his house on a rock could only have arisen as the conclusion of a longer speech, and therefore is the free creation of the same Luke who formed the preceding speech. Matthew has done everything in his power to spare us the necessity of a lengthy epilogue. Or shall we say it again, that the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew is a free development of the germs found in the Gospel of Luke? Why dwell on this again? The proof lies in the execution of this whole section, and we will take a look back at the fourth Gospel to conclude.

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