The list of things we leave

We have written much, recently, about the passage of Matthew 19.27-30. But today a structure appeared in verse 29 that deserves attention. Here’s the verse:

And whoever has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
Matthew 19.29 NET

There are seven items in the list of things that the disciple can and must leave for Jesus’ sake. Seven is the number that represents the totality of human interests and relationships.

The list of seven is organized in inverse parallelism, with an important element in the middle. (This is called a chiasmus.) See the correspondences:

A. houses
B.     brothers
C.          sisters
X.              father
C’.         mother
B’.     children
A’. fields

Houses and fields correspond to each other, as do brothers and children. The women are represented by sisters and mother. Finally, as the middle element the father is emphasized.

The father was the source of family support. To be without a father left a person “without resources” (Psalm 10.14 NBV). Fatherless children were often “vulnerable and were frequently exploited” (NET Bible). From the father came also the inheritance.

All this emphasizes the giving up of the things of this life in order to throw oneself, by faith, upon God’s care.

I come to you, my Lord and God, with nothing, empty of all resources, so that I might enjoy your goodness and trust in all your promises.

Hold this thought: God’s blessings are far greater that our list of goods.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

9 thoughts on “The list of things we leave

  1. Good article. I will include it on my web site,, when I get to Matthew, which is a long ways away.

      1. I will jump backwards when I need to, such as something that I had missed, with the listing of sevens in the Bible, but I do not want to jump forward, because I want to continue to exploring the occurrences of seven in order.

    1. Thanks! Amazing how stuff just keeps jumping out of passages we thought we had all figured out. Not that the truth changes, but B&W starts acquiring some color. 🙂

  2. Nice. I think I would be tempted to go with fields / brothers and sisters // father /// mother // children/ farms. It gets away from matching brothers with children. Brothers AND sisters seem to go together as a group, and combined, goes better better with children. IMHO.

    Mathew probably got this little gem of a chiasmus from Mark 10. Note Mark’s repetition of the chiasmus – using it twice in a row. Going by memory: I believe the second time he leaves out ‘father’, which is not inconsistent with some other things Mark does in regard to men/fathers. Ah, kind of an lol on that. :-).

    1. Interesting arrangement there. Deserves study. Though one has to join two elements to make it work. Hmm.

      Assuming the priority of Mark, eh? Valid, I suppose. Will check what Mark does with that. I hadn’t looked at the other gospels, so that certainly deserves some attention. Thanks for the comment!

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