A reasoning (dialogismo). A dispute. The word is from dialogizomai, the verb used in Mark 9:33 about this incident. In Luke this dispute follows immediately after the words of Jesus about his death. They were afraid to ask Jesus about that subject, but Matthew 18:1 states that they came to Jesus to settle it. Which of them should be greatest (to ti an eih meizwn autwn). Note the article with the indirect question, the clause being in the accusative of general reference. The optative with an is here because it was so in the direct question (potential optative with an retained in the indirect). But Luke makes it plain that it was not an abstract problem about greatness in the kingdom of heaven as they put it to Jesus ( Matthew 18:1 ), but a personal problem in their own group. Rivalries and jealousies had already come and now sharp words. By and by James and John will be bold enough to ask for the first places for themselves in this political kingdom which they expect ( Mark 10:35 ; Matthew 20:20 ). It is a sad spectacle.