Matthew 19:29:

And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.

Mark 10:29-30:

Jesus answering, said: Amen I say to you, there is no man who hath left house or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the gospel who shall not receive an hundred times as much, now in this time; houses, and brethren, and sisters, [Is the omission of "fathers" here significant?] and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions: and in the world to come life everlasting.

It seems the ordering is from most long-living to least long-living ties. A household (οἰκία) lasts the longest, many centuries. Brothers and sisters are longer-lasting ties than parental ties because siblings are coeval with each other; such ties are lifelong. Children are with their parents longer than with their wives. Lands are the least long-lasting ties, as some people are migratory.

Or perhaps the ordering relates to the order of charity?

Have any commentators interpreted the meaning of the ordering of these things? And what about the omission of "wife" or "fathers" in St. Mark's account?

cross-posted on Biblical Hermeneutics StackExchange


1 Answer 1


A possible explanation is found in Matthew's quotation:

Matthew 23:9

Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.

In this interpretation, Jesus might have intentionally left out "fathers" because mothers, brothers and sisters could be replaced by others in the Christian community, but since only God could be called Father, that term would be reserved for Him.

Early Christians called each other "brother" and "sister," probably also "mother" in the case of older women. But calling a member of the community "father" was apparently problematic at the time, though not later on. The difficulty with this explanation is that Mark does not contain the quote of about not calling anyone father except God. So the explanation works OK if one assumes Matthean priority, but not as well with Markan priority. Of course, Mark could have known of Jesus' teaching against calling anyone on earth "father" but did not include a quote from Jesus to that effect.

Conclusion: It is possible (though not at all certain) that Mark omitted "fathers" because members of the Christian community could be spiritually adopted to replace other family members, but only God could be called "father."

Note: "wife" is also included in the first list but not the second. The reason for that is more obvious: although a person might leave his wife [perhaps temporarily] to follow Christ in the very early days, no wife would normally replace her in the Christian community.

  • What do you mean by "no wife would normally replace her in the Christian community"? Perhaps St. Mark is including "wife" under "house[hold]".
    – Geremia
    Jan 28 at 3:25

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