And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them,
Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
Read Chapter 21
Augustine of Hippo
In Joan. Tr., v. 4: John received his authority to baptize from Him, whom he afterwards baptized; and that baptism which was committed to him is here called the baptism of John. He alone received such a gift; no righteous man before orafter him was entrusted with a baptism to be called from himself. For John cameto baptize in the water of repentance, to prepare the way for the Lord, not to give inward cleansing, which mere man cannot do. This godless party therefore make answer, and by a seeming humility of speech confessing that they know not, turned to hide their insidious designs. And they answered Jesus, and said, “We know not. "In saying that they knew not, they lied; and it might have followed upon their answering thus, that the Lord also should say, I know not; but truth cannot lie, and therefore it follows, “And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. "This shows that they knew, but would not answer, and that He also knew, but would not answer...
The Priests were tormented with jealousy, because they had seen Christ entering the Temple in great glory. And not being able to master the fire of jealousy which burnt in their breasts, they break forth in speech.
Forasmuch as they could not detract from His miracles, they bring matter of blame from His forbidding to sell in the Temple. As though they had said, HastThou assumed the seat of authority? Hast Thou been anointed Priest, that Thouexertest this power?.
By that they add, “Or who gave thee this authority?” they show that there be many persons who give power to men, whether corporal or spiritual! as though they had said, Thou art not come of a priestly family; the Senate has not conferred on Thee this power, neither has Caesar granted it. But had they believed that all power is from God, they would never have asked, “Who gavethee this authority?” For every man judges of others by himself. The fornicator thinks that none are chaste; the chaste does not readily suspect any of for...
After this, because they, dealing craftily, said, We know not, He said not, neither know I, but what? Neither tell I you. Matthew 21:27 For if indeed they had been ignorant it would have been requisite for them to be instructed; but since they were dealing craftily with good reason He answers them nothing.
. Full of spite that He had expelled the peddlers from the temple, the teachers of the law approached and asked Him such things as these: "Who are you to cast out from the temple those who do business there? As a priest do you do this? But you have no priestly office. As a king, then? But neither are you a king, and even if you were, you would not have the authority to do such things. For it is not permitted for kings to do these things in the temple." They were questioning the Lord in this manner so that if He should say, "By My own authority I do them," they could accuse Him of insurrection because He said that He had His own authority. But if He said, "I do these things by divine authority," they would draw away from Him the multitudes who were praising Him as God, telling them, "Look, he is not God, but he does these things by God’s authority, as a servant." How then does Christ, Who is Himself Wisdom, respond? He seizes the sophists in their cunning, and asks them the same questio...