Matthew 25:35, the slaying of Zacharias

That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

//In this verse, Jesus curses Jerusalem for stoning the prophets, and in the next, promises that the prophecies of bloodshed will come upon “this generation.” If you know your first-century history, you know Jesus was right. The Jewish historian Josephus describes this very act of slaying Zacharias, perhaps 35 years after Jesus made the proclamation: “So two of the boldest of them fell upon Zacharias [the son of Baruch] in the middle of the temple, and slew him.” This occurred in the court of the priests, which is between the temple proper and the altar, just as Matthew relates.

Can you imagine being poor Zacharias, hearing this prophecy? If I were him, I’d stay the heck away from the Temple for the rest of my life!

But why does Jesus make this claim in the past tense? “Whom ye slew,” rather than “whom ye will slay.” Is it because, at the time the Gospel of Matthew was written, the event had already happened? Most scholars estimate that Matthew was written around 80-85 A.D.

Which naturally begs the question: Did Jesus really utter this prophecy, or did Matthew put the words on Jesus’ lips after it had happened? As always, there are two ways to read and date the Bible; historical-critical scholars will invariably date the books of the Bible after the events they predict, and conservative believers will invariably date the books of the Bible before the events they predict. No wonder Bible scholars can never agree.


  1. Interesting post, it is of course interesting also to think of the perspective of Christ. He did know of the past and He did know of some future events just as well as the past. What is the correct tense to refer to those things together? A surprisingly close verse that I enjoyed just this Wednesday evening was Mathew 24:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings and ye would not!” for me this speaks with; I Timothy 2:4 “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”, Mathew 13:42 “And shall cast them into a funace of fire: there shall be wailing andd gnashing of teeth.” This speaks of the sadness and frustration of God at an outcome repugnant to God. This also helps me in my feelings. At the same time giving me a wealth of stuff to think on.

  2. I confess, Matthew is not my favorite Gospel. All that vengeance and damnation. This is the most Jewish of the four Gospels; many scholars wonder if this Gospel weren’t written by someone who fled Judea from the war of 70 AD, and had traumatic memories of God’s covanental destruction of Jerusalem.

  3. But, the truth in my heart is that it is not about vengeance and damnation, but taken with others as I showed in my first post, it is a book that does contain warnings. Those warnings as I posted are given in love.

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