JOHN WESLEYS NOTES
ON THE WHOLE BIBLE
THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
1. For many years I have had a desire of setting down and laying
together, what has occurred to my mind, either in reading,
thinking, or conversation, which might assist serious persons, who
have not the advantage of learning, in understanding the New
Testament. But I have been continually deterred from attempting
any thing of this kind, by a deep sense of my own inability: of my
want, not only of learning for such a work, but much more, of
experience and wisdom. This has often occasioned my laying
aside the thought. And when, by much importunity, I have been
prevailed upon to resume it, still I determined to delay it as long
as possible, that (if it should please God) I might finish my work
and my life together.
2. But having lately had a loud call from God to arise and go
hence, I am convinced that if I attempt any thing of this kind at
all, I must not delay any longer. My day is far spent, and (even in
a natural way) the shadows of the evening come on apace. And I
am the rather induced to do what little I can in this way, because I
can do nothing else: being prevented, by my present weakness,
from either travelling or preaching. But, blessed be God, I can still
read, and write, and think. O that it may be to his glory!
3. It will be easily discerned, even from what I have said already,
and much more from the notes themselves, that they were not
principally designed for men of learning; who are provided with
many other helps: and much less for men of long and deep
experience in the ways and word of God. I desire to sit at their
feet, and to learn of them. But I write chiefly for plain unlettered
men, who understand only their mother tongue, and yet reverence
and love the word of God, and have a desire to save their souls.
4. In order to assist these in such a measure as I am able, I design
first to set down the text itself, for the most part, in the common
English translation, which is, in general, (so far as I can judge)
abundantly the best that I have seen. Yet I do not say it is
incapable of being brought, in several places, nearer to the
original. Neither will I affirm, that the Greek copies from which
this translation was made, are always the most correct. And
therefore I shall take the liberty, as occasion may require, to make
here and there a small alteration.
5. I am very sensible this will be liable to objections: nay, to
objections of quite opposite kinds. Some will probably think, the
text is altered too much; and others, that it is altered too little. To
the former I would observe, that I never knowingly, so much as in
one place, altered it for altering sake: but there, and there only,
where first, the sense was made better, stronger, clearer, or more
consistent with the context: secondly, where the sense being
equally good, the phrase was better or nearer the original. To the
latter, who think the alterations too few, and that the translation
might have been nearer still, I answer, this is true: I acknowledge
it might. But what valuable end would it have answered, to
multiply such trivial alterations as add neither clearness nor
strength to the text? This I could not prevail upon myself to do: so
much the less because there is, to my apprehension, I know not
what, peculiarly solemn and venerable in the old language of our
translation. And suppose this a mistaken apprehension, and an
instance of human infirmity; yet, is it not an excusable infirmity,
to be unwilling to part with what we have been long accustomed
to; and to love the very words by which God has often conveyed
strength or comfort to our souls!
6. I have endeavoured to make the notes as short as possible that
the comment may not obscure or swallow up the text: and as plain
as possible, in pursuance of my main design, to assist the
unlearned reader: for this reason I have studiously avoided, not
only all curious and critical inquiries, and all use of the learned
languages, but all such methods of reasoning and modes of
expression as people in common life are unacquainted with: for
the same reason, as I rather endeavour to obviate than to propose
and answer questions, so I purposely decline going deep into
many difficulties, lest I should leave the ordinary reader behind
7. I once designed to write down barely what occurred, to my own
mind, consulting none but the inspired writers. But no sooner was
I acquainted with that great light of the Christian world, (lately
gone to his reward, ) Bengelius, than I entirely changed my
design, being thoroughly convinced it might be of more service to
the cause of religion, were I barely to translate his Gnomon Novi
Testamenti, than to write many volumes upon it. Many of his
excellent notes I have therefore translated. Many more I have
abridged, omitting that part which was purely critical, and giving
the substance of the rest. Those various readings likewise, which
he has showed to have a vast majority of ancient copies and
translations on their side, I have without scruple incorporated with
the text; which, after his manner, I have divided all along (though
not omitting the common division into chapters and verses, which
is of use on various accounts) according to the matter it contains,
making a larger or smaller pause, just as the sense requires. And
even this is such a help in many places, as one who has not tried it
can scarcely conceive.
8. I am likewise indebted for some useful observations to Dr.
Heylin's Theological Lectures: and for many more to Dr. Guyse,
and to the Family Expositor of the late pious and learned Dr.
Doddridge It was a doubt with me for some time, whether I
should not subjoin to every note I received from them the name of
the author from whom it was taken; especially considering I had
transcribed some, and abridged many more, almost in the words
of the author. But upon farther consideration, I resolved to name
none, that nothing might divert the mind of the reader from
keeping close to the point in view, and receiving what was spoken
only according to its own intrinsic value.
9. I cannot flatter myself so far (to use the words of one of the
above-named writers) as to imagine that I have fallen into no
mistakes in a work of so great difficulty. But my own conscience
acquits me of having designedly misrepresented any single
passage of Scripture, or of having written one line with a purpose
of inflaming the hearts of Christians against each other. God
forbid that I should make the words of the most gentle and
benevolent Jesus a vehicle to convey such poison. Would to God
that all the party names, and unscriptural phrases and forms,
which have divided the Christian world, were forgot: and that we
might all agree to sit down together, as humble, loving disciples,
at the feet of our common Master, to hear his word, to imbibe his
Spirit, and to transcribe his life in our own!
10. Concerning the Scriptures in general, it may be observed, the
word of the living God, which directed the first patriarchs also,
was, in the time of Moses, committed to writing. To this were
added, in several succeeding generations, the inspired writings of
the other prophets. Afterward, what the Son of God preached, and
the Holy Ghost spake by the apostles, the apostles and evangelists
wrote. - This is what we now style the Holy Scripture: this is that
word of God which remaineth for ever: of which, though heaven
and earth pass away, one jot or tittle shall not pass away. The
Scripture therefore of the Old and New Testament, is a most solid
and precious system of Divine truth. Every part thereof is worthy
of God; and all together are one entire body, wherein is no defect,
no excess. It is the fountain of heavenly wisdom, which they who
are able to taste, prefer to all writings of men, however wise, or
learned, or holy.
11. An exact knowledge of the truth was accompanied in the
inspired writers with an exactly regular series of arguments, a
precise expression of their meaning, and a genuine vigour of
suitable affections. The chain of argument in each book is briefly
exhibited in the table prefixed to it, which contains also the sum
thereof, and may be of more use than prefixing the argument to
each chapter; the division of the New Testament into chapters
having been made in the dark ages, and very incorrectly; often
separating things that are closely joined, and joining those that are
entirely distinct from each other.
12. In the language of the sacred writings, we may observe the
utmost depth, together with the utmost ease. All the elegancies of
human composures sink into nothing before it: God speaks not as
man, but as God. His thoughts are very deep: and thence his
words are of inexhaustible virtue. And the language of his
messengers also is exact in the highest degree: for the words
which were given them accurately answered the impression made
upon their minds: and hence Luther says, "Divinity is nothing but
a grammar of the language of the Holy Ghost." To understand this
thoroughly, we should observe the emphasis which lies on every
word; the holy affections expressed thereby, and the tempers
shown by every writer. But how little are these, the latter
especially, regarded? Though they are wonderfully diffused
through the whole New Testament, and are in truth a continued
commendation of him who acts, or speaks, or writes.
13. The New Testament is all those sacred writings in which the
New Testament or covenant is described. The former part of this
contains the writings of the evangelists and apostles: the latter, the
Revelation of Jesus Christ. In the former is, first, the history of
Jesus Christ, from his coming in the flesh to his ascension into
heaven; then the institution and history of the Christian Church,
from the time of his ascension. The Revelation delivers what is to
be, with regard to Christ, the Church, and the universe, till the
consummation of all things. BRISTOL HOT-WELLS, January 4,
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW
THE Gospel (that is, good tidings) means a book containing the
good tidings of our salvation by Jesus Christ. St. Mark in his
Gospel presupposes that of St. Matthew, and supplies what is
omitted therein. St. Luke supplies what is omitted by both the
former: St. John what is omitted by all the three. St. Matthew
particularly points out the fulfilling of the prophecies for the
conviction of the Jews. St. Mark wrote a short compendium, and
yet added many remarkable circumstances omitted by St.
Matthew, particularly with regard to the apostles, immediately
after they were called. St. Luke treated principally of the office of
Christ, and mostly in a historical manner. St. John refuted those
who denied his Godhead: each choosing to treat more largely on
those things, which most suited the time when, and the persons to
whom, he wrote.
The Gospel according to St. Matthew contains,
I. The birth of Christ, and what presently followed it
a. His genealogy Chap i. 1-17
b. His birth 18-25
c. The coming of the wise men ii, 1-12
d. His flight into Egypt, and return 13-23
II. The introduction
a. John the Baptist iii, 1-12
b. The baptism of Christ 13-17
c. His temptation and victory iv, 1-11
III. The actions and words by which Jesus proved he was the
a. At Capernaum 12-16
Where we may observe
1. His preaching 17
2. Calling Andrew and Peter, James and John 18-22
3. Preaching and healing, 23-25
4. Sermon on the mount v, vi, vii
5. Healing the leper viii, 1-4
6. The centurion's servant 5-13
7. Peter's mother-in-law 14-15
8. Many that were sick 16-17
b. In his journey (wherein he admonished two that offered to
follow him) over the sea.
Here we may observe
1. His dominion over the winds and seas 18-27
2. The devils passing from the men into the swine 28-34
c. At Capernaum again Here, ix,
1. He cures the paralytic 1-8
2. Calls Matthew, and defends his conversing with publicans and
3. Answers concerning fasting 14-17
4. Raises Jairus's daughter (after curing the issue of blood). 18-26
5. Gives sight to two blind men 27-31
6. Dispossesses the demoniac 32-34
7. Goes through the cities, and directs to pray for labourers. 35-38
8. Sends and instructs labourers, and preaches himself. x, 1; xi, 1
9. Answers the message of John 2-6
10. Commends John, reproves the unbelieving cities, invites the
11. Defends the disciples' plucking the corn Chap. xii, 1-8
12. Heals the withered hand 9-13
13. Retires from the Pharisees lying in wait 14-21
14. Cures the demoniac, while the people wonder, and the
Pharisees blaspheming, are refuted 22-37
15. Reproves them that require a sign 38-45
16. Declares who are his relations, and 46-50
17. Teaches by parables xiii, 1-52
d. At Nazareth 53-58
e. In other places
1. Herod having killed John, doubts concerning Jesus.
Jesus retiring, is sought for by the people xiv, 1-13
2. He heals the sick, and feeds five thousand 14-21
3. His voyage and miracles in the land of Gennesaret 22-36
4. Unwashen hands xv, 1-20
5. The woman of Canaan 21-28
6. Many sick healed 29-31
7. Four thousand fed 32-38
8. Those who require a sign reproved xv, 39; xvi, 1-4
9. The leaven of the Pharisees 5-12
IV. Predictions of his death and resurrection
a. The first prediction
1. Preparation for it by a confirmation that he is the Christ. 13-20
2. The prediction itself, and reproof of Peter 21-28
b. The second prediction
1. The transfiguration, and silence enjoined xvii, 1-13
2. The lunatic healed 14-21
3. The prediction itself 22-23
4. The tribute paid 24-27
5. Who is greatest in Christ's kingdom xviii, 1-20
6. The duty of forgiving our brother 21-35
c. The third prediction
1. Jesus departs out of Galilee xix, 1-2
2 Of divorce and celibacy 3-12
3. His tenderness to little children 13-15
4. The rich man drawing back, and hence 16-22
Of the salvation of the rich 23-26
Of the reward of following Christ 27-30
Of the last and the first xx, 1-16
5. The prediction itself 17-19
6. The request of James and John; humility enjoined 20-28
7. The two blind men cured 29-34
V. Transactions at Jerusalem before his passion
His royal entry into Jerusalem xxi, 1-11
His purging the temple 12-17
The barren fig tree 18-22
c. Tuesday, transactions
In the temple
1. The chief priests and elders confuted
By a question concerning John's baptism 23-27
By the parables
Of the two sons 28-32
Of the vineyard 33-44
2. Seek to lay hands on him 45-46
3. The parable of the marriage feast xxii, 1-14
4. He is questioned, concerning paying tribute 15-22
The resurrection 23-33
The great commandment 34-40
5. Christ's question concerning David's Lord 41-46
Caution concerning the scribes and Pharisees xxiii, 1-12
Severe reproof of them 13-36 and of Jerusalem 37-39
Out of the temple:
1. His discourse of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the end of
the world Chap. xxiv, 1-51
2. The ten virgins, the talents; the last judgment . xxv, 1-46
VI. His passion and resurrection
A. His passion, death, and burial xxvi, 1-2
His prediction xxvi, 1-2
The consultation of the chief priests and elders 3-5
Judas bargains to betray him 6-16
1. In the day time
The passover prepared 17-19
2. In the evening
The traitor discovered 20-25
The Lord's Supper 26-29
3. In the night
1. Jesus foretells the cowardice of the apostles 33-35
2. Is in agony 36-46
3. Is apprehended, reproves
Peter and the multitude; is forsaken of all 47-56
4. Is led to Caiaphas, falsely accused, owns himself the Son of
God, is condemned, derided 57-68
5. Peter denies him and weeps 69-75
1. The height of his passion
In the morning
1. Jesus is delivered to Pilate xxvii, 1-2
2. The death of Judas 3-10
3. Jesus's kingdom and silence 11-14
4. Pilate, though warned by his wife, condemns him 15-26
5. He is mocked and led forth 27-32
The third hour
The vinegar and gall: the crucifixion; his garments divided; the
inscription on the cross; the two robbers; blasphemies 33-44
From the sixth to the ninth hour
The darkness, his last agony 45-49
2. His death 50
The veil rent, and a great earthquake 51-53
The centurion wonders; the women behold 54-56
3. His burial 57-61
The sepulchre secured 62-66
B. His resurrection
1. Testified to the women by an angel xxviii, 1-8
By our Lord himself 9-10
2. Denied by his adversaries 11-15
1. Proved to his apostles 16-20
1. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ - That is, strictly
speaking, the account of his birth and genealogy. This title
therefore properly relates to the verses that immediately follow:
but as it sometimes signifies the history of a person, in that sense
it may belong to the whole book. If there were any difficulties in
this genealogy, or that given by St. Luke, which could not easily
be removed, they would rather affect the Jewish tables, than the
credit of the evangelists: for they act only as historians setting
down these genealogies, as they stood in those public and allowed
records. Therefore they were to take them as they found them.
Nor was it needful they should correct the mistakes, if there were
any. For these accounts sufficiently answer the end for which they
are recited. They unquestionably prove the grand point in view,
that Jesus was of the family from which the promised seed was to
come. And they had more weight with the Jews for this purpose,
than if alterations had been made by inspiration itself. For such
alterations would have occasioned endless disputes between them
and the disciples of our Lord. The son of David, the son of
Abraham - He is so called, because to these he was more
peculiarly promised; and of these it was often foretold the
Messiah should spring. Luke iii, 31.
3. Of Thamar - St. Matthew adds the names of those women also,
that were remarkable in the sacred history.
4. Naasson - Who was prince of the tribe of Judah, when the
Israelites entered into Canaan.
5. Obed begat Jesse - The providence of God was peculiarly
shown in this, that Salmon, Boaz, and Obed, must each of them
have been near a hundred years old, at the birth of his son here
6. David the king - Particularly mentioned under this character,
because his throne is given to the Messiah.
8. Jehoram begat Uzziah - Jehoahaz, Joash, and Amaziah coming
between. So that he begat him mediately, as Christ is mediately
the son of David and of Abraham. So the progeny of Hezekiah,
after many generations, are called the sons that should issue from
him, which he should beget, Isaiah xxxix, 7.
11. Josiah begat Jeconiah - Mediately, Jehoiakim coming
between. And his brethren - That is, his uncles. The Jews term all
kinsmen brethren. About the time they were carried away - Which
was a little after the birth of Jeconiah.
16. The husband of Mary - Jesus was generally believed to be the
son of Joseph. It was needful for all who believed this, to know,
that Joseph was sprung from David. Otherwise they would not
allow Jesus to be the Christ. Jesus, who is called Christ - The
name Jesus respects chiefly the promise of blessing made to
Abraham: the name Christ, the promise of the Messiah's kingdom,
which was made to David. It may be farther observed, that the
word Christ in Greek, and Messiah in Hebrews, signify anointed,
and imply the prophetic, priestly, and royal characters, which
were to meet in the Messiah. Among the Jews, anointing was the
ceremony whereby prophets, priests, and kings were initiated into
those offices. And if we look into ourselves, we shall find a want
of Christ in all these respects. We are by nature at a distance from
God, alienated from him, and incapable of a free access to him.
Hence we want a mediator, an intercessor, in a word, a Christ, in
his priestly office. This regards our state with respect to God. And
with respect to ourselves, we find a total darkness, blindness,
ignorance of God, and the things of God. Now here we want
Christ in his prophetic office, to enlighten our minds, and teach us
the whole will of God. We find also within us a strange misrule of
appetites and passions. For these we want Christ in his royal
character, to reign in our hearts, and subdue all things to himself.
17. So all the generations - Observe, in order to complete the three
fourteens, David ends the first fourteen, and begins the second
(which reaches to the captivity) and Jesus ends the third fourteen.
When we survey such a series of generations, it is a natural and
obvious reflection, how like the leaves of a tree one passeth away,
and another cometh! Yet the earth still abideth. And with it the
goodness of the Lord which runs from generation to generation,
the common hope of parents and children. Of those who formerly
lived upon earth, and perhaps made the most conspicuous figure,
how many are there whose names are perished with them? How
many, of whom only the names are remaining? Thus are we
likewise passing away! And thus shall we shortly be forgotten!
Happy are we, if, while we are forgotten by men, we are
remembered by God! If our names, lost on earth, are at length
found written in the book of life!
19. A just man - A strict observer of the law: therefore not
thinking it right to keep her.
21. Jesus - That is, a Saviour. It is the same name with Joshua
(who was a type of him) which properly signifies, The Lord,
Salvation. His people - Israel. And all the Israel of God.
23. They shall call his name Emmanuel - To be called, only
means, according to the Hebrews manner of speaking, that the
person spoken of shall really and effectually be what he is called,
and actually fulfil that title. Thus, Unto us a child is born - and his
name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the
Prince of Peace - That is, he shall be all these, though not so much
nominally, as really, and in effect. And thus was he called
Emmanuel; which was no common name of Christ, but points out
his nature and office; as he is God incarnate, and dwells by his
Spirit in the hearts of his people. It is observable, the words in
Isaiah are, Thou (namely, his mother) shalt call; but here, They -
that is, all his people, shall call - shall acknowledge him to be
Emmanuel, God with us. Which being interpreted - This is a clear
proof that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Greek, and not in
Hebrew. Isaiah vii, 14.
25. He knew her not, till after she had brought forth - It cannot be
inferred from hence, that he knew her afterward: no more than it
can be inferred from that expression, 2 Sam. vi, 23, Michal had no
child till the day of her death, that she had children afterward. Nor
do the words that follow, the first-born son, alter the case. For
there are abundance of places, wherein the term first born is used,
though there were no subsequent children. Luke ii, 7.
1. Bethlehem of Judea - There was another Bethlehem in the tribe
of Zebulon. In the days of Herod - commonly called Herod the
Great, born at Ascalon. The scepter was now on the point of
departing from Judah. Among his sons were Archelaus,
mentioned ver. 22; Herod Antipas, mentioned chap. xiv, and
Philip, mentioned Luke iii, 19. Herod Agrippa, mentioned Acts
xii, 1; &c., was his grandson. Wise men - The first fruits of the
Gentiles. Probably they were Gentile philosophers, who, through
the Divine assistance, had improved their knowledge of nature, as
a means of leading to the knowledge of the one true God. Nor is it
unreasonable to suppose, that God had favoured them with some
extraordinary Revelations of himself, as he did Melchisedec, Job,
and several others, who were not of the family of Abraham; to
which he never intended absolutely to confine his favours. The
title given them in the original was anciently given to all
philosophers, or men of learning; those particularly who were
curious in examining the works of nature, and observing the
motions of the heavenly bodies. From the east - So Arabia is
frequently called in Scripture. It lay to the east of Judea, and was
famous for gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We have seen his star -
Undoubtedly they had before heard Balaam's prophecy. And
probably when they saw this unusual star, it was revealed to them
that this prophecy was fulfilled. In the east - That is, while we
were in the east.
2. To do him homage - To pay him that honour, by bowing to the
earth before him, which the eastern nations used to pay to their
4. The chief priests - That is, not only the high priest and his
deputy, with those who formerly had born that office: but also the
chief man in each of those twenty-four courses, into which the
body of priests were divided, 1 Chron. xxiv, 6-19. The scribes
were those whose peculiar business it was to explain the
Scriptures to the people. They were the public preachers, or
expounders of the law of Moses. Whence the chief of them were
called doctors of the law.
6. Thou art in nowise the least among the princes of Judah - That
is, among the cities belonging to the princes or heads of thousands
in Judah. When this and several other quotations from the Old
Testament are compared with the original, it plainly appears, the
apostles did not always think it necessary exactly to transcribe the
passages they cited, but contented themselves with giving the
general sense, though with some diversity of language. The words
of Micah, which we render, Though thou be little, may be
rendered, Art thou little? And then the difference which seems to
be here between the prophet and the evangelist vanishes away.
Micah v, 2.
8. And if ye find him, bring me word - Probably Herod did not
believe he was born; otherwise would not so suspicious a prince
have tried to make sure work at once?
10. Seeing the star - Standing over where the child was.
11. They presented to him gifts - It was customary to offer some
present to any eminent person whom they visited. And so it is, as
travelers observe, in the eastern countries to this day. Gold,
frankincense, and myrrh - Probably these were the best things
their country afforded; and the presents ordinarily made to great
persons. This was a most seasonable, providential assistance for a
long and expensive journey into Egypt, a country where they were
entirely strangers, and were to stay for a considerable time.
15. That it might be fulfilled - That is, whereby was fulfilled. The
original word frequently signifies, not the design of an action, but
barely the consequence or event of it. Which was spoken of the
Lord by the prophet - on another occasion: Out of Egypt have I
called my Son - which was now fulfilled as it were anew; Christ
being in a far higher sense the Son of God than Israel, of whom
the words were originally spoken. Hosea xi, 1.
16. Then Herod, seeing that he was deluded by the wise men - So
did his pride teach him to regard this action, as if it were intended
to expose him to the derision of his subjects. Sending forth - a
party of soldiers: In all the confines thereof - In all the
neighbouring places, of which Rama was one.
17. Then was fulfilled - A passage of Scripture, whether
prophetic, historical, or poetical, is in the language of the New
Testament fulfilled, when an event happens to which it may with
great propriety be accommodated.
18. Rachel weeping for her children - The Benjamites, who
inhabited Rama, sprung from her. She was buried near this place;
and is here beautifully represented risen, as it were out of her
grave, and bewailing her lost children. Because they are not - that
is, are dead. The preservation of Jesus from this destruction, may
be considered as a figure of God's care over his children in their
greatest danger. God does not often, as he easily could, cut off
their persecutors at a stroke. But he provides a hiding place for his
people, and by methods not less effectual, though less pompous,
preserves them from being swept away, even when the enemy
comes in like a flood. Jer. xxxi, 15.
22. He was afraid to go thither - into Judea; and so turned aside
into the region of Galilee - a part of the land of Israel not under
the jurisdiction of Archelaus.
23. He came and dwelt in Nazareth - (where he had dwelt before
he went to Bethlehem) a place contemptible to a proverb. So that
hereby was fulfilled what has been spoken in effect by several of
the prophets, (though by none of them in express words, ) He
shall be called a Nazarene - that is, he shall be despised and
rejected, shall be a mark of public contempt and reproach.
1. In those days - that is, while Jesus dwelt there. In the
wilderness of Judea - This was a wilderness properly so called, a
wild, barren, desolate place as was that also where our Lord was
tempted. But, generally speaking, a wilderness in the New
Testament means only a common, or less cultivated place, in
opposition to pasture and arable land. Mark i, 1; Luke iii, 1.
2. The kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of God, are but two
phrases for the same thing. They mean, not barely a future happy
state, in heaven, but a state to be enjoyed on earth: the proper
disposition for the glory of heaven, rather than the possession of
it. Is at hand - As if he had said, God is about to erect that
kingdom, spoken of by Daniel, Dan. ii, 44; vii, 13, 14; the
kingdom of the God of heaven. It properly signifies here, the
Gospel dispensation, in which subjects were to be gathered to God
by his Son, and a society to be formed, which was to subsist first
on earth, and afterward with God in glory. In some places of
Scripture, the phrase more particularly denotes the state of it on
earth: in, others, it signifies only the state of glory: but it generally
includes both. The Jews understood it of a temporal kingdom, the
seat of which they supposed would be Jerusalem; and the
expected sovereign of this kingdom they learned from Daniel to
call the Son of man. Both John the Baptist and Christ took up that
phrase, the kingdom of heaven, as they found it, and gradually
taught the Jews (though greatly unwilling to learn) to understand
it right. The very demand of repentance, as previous to it, showed
it was a spiritual kingdom, and that no wicked man, how politic,
brave, or learned soever, could possibly be a subject of it.
3. The way of the Lord - Of Christ. Make his paths straight - By
removing every thing which might prove a hindrance to his
gracious appearance. Isaiah xl, 3.
4. John had his raiment of camels' hair - Coarse and rough, suiting
his character and doctrine. A leathern girdle - Like Elijah, in
whose spirit and power he came. His food was locusts and wild
honey - Locusts are ranked among clean meats, Lev. xi, 22. But
these were not always to be had. So in default of those, he fed on
6. Confessing their sins - Of their own accord; freely and openly.
Such prodigious numbers could hardly be baptized by immerging
their whole bodies under water: nor can we think they were
provided with change of raiment for it, which was scarcely
practicable for such vast multitudes. And yet they could not be
immerged naked with modesty, nor in their wearing apparel with
safety. It seems, therefore, that they stood in ranks on the edge of
the river, and that John, passing along before them, cast water on
their heads or faces, by which means he might baptize many
thousands in a day. And this way most naturally signified Christ's
baptizing them with the Holy Ghost and with fire, which John
spoke of, as prefigured by his baptizing with water, and which
was eminently fulfilled, when the Holy Ghost sat upon the
disciples in the appearance of tongues, or flames of fire.
7. The Pharisees were a very ancient sect among the Jews. They
took their name from a Hebrew word, which signifies to separate,
because they separated themselves from all other men. They were
outwardly strict observers of the law, fasted often, made long
prayers, rigorously kept the Sabbath, and paid all tithe, even of
mint, anise, and cummin. Hence they were in high esteem among
the people. But inwardly, they were full of pride and hypocrisy.
The Sadducees were another sect among the Jews, only not so
considerable as the Pharisees. They denied the existence of
angels, and the immortality of the soul, and by consequence the
resurrection of the dead. Ye brood of vipers - In like manner, the
crafty Herod is styled a fox, and persons of insidious, ravenous,
profane, or sensual dispositions, are named respectively by him
who saw their hearts, serpents, dogs, wolves, and swine; terms
which are not the random language of passion, but a judicious
designation of the persons meant by them. For it was fitting such
men should be marked out, either for a caution to others, or a
warning to themselves.
8. Repentance is of two sorts; that which is termed legal, and that
which is styled evangelical repentance. The former (which is the
same that is spoken of here) is a thorough conviction of sin. The
latter is a change of heart (and consequently of life) from all sin to
9. And say not confidently - The word in the original, vulgarly
rendered, Think not, seems here, and in many places, not to
diminish, but rather add to the force of the word with which it is
joined. We have Abraham to our father - It is almost incredible,
how great the presumption of the Jews was on this their relation to
Abraham. One of their famous sayings was, "Abraham sits near
the gates of hell, and suffers no Israelite to go down into it." I say
unto you - This preface always denotes the importance of what
follows. Of these stones - Probably pointing to those which lay
10. But the axe also already lieth - That is, there is no room for
such idle pretenses. Speedy execution is determined against all
that do not repent. The comparison seems to be taken from a
woodman that has laid down his axe to put off his coat, and then
immediately goes to work to cut down the tree. This refers to the
wrath to come in verse 7. Is hewn down - Instantly, without
11. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire - He
shall fill you with the Holy Ghost, inflaming your hearts with that
fire of love, which many waters cannot quench. And this was
done, even with a visible appearance as of fire, on the day of
12. Whose fan - That is, the word of the Gospel. His floor - That
is, his Church, which is now covered with a mixture of wheat and
chaff. He will gather the wheat into the garner - Will lay up those
who are truly good in heaven.
13. Mark i, 9; Luke iii, 21
15. It becometh us to fulfil all righteousness - It becometh every
messenger of God to observe all his righteous ordinances. But the
particular meaning of our Lord seems to be, that it becometh us to
do (me to receive baptism, and you to administer it) in order to
fulfil, that is, that I may fully perform every part of the righteous
law of God, and the commission he hath given me.
16. And Jesus being baptized - Let our Lord's submitting to
baptism teach us a holy exactness in the observance of those
institutions which owe their obligation merely to a Divine
command. Surely thus it becometh all his followers to fulfil all
righteousness. Jesus had no sin to wash away. And yet he was
baptized. And God owned his ordinance, so as to make it the
season of pouring forth the Holy Spirit upon him. And where can
we expect this sacred effusion, but in an humble attendance on
Divine appointments? Lo, the heavens were opened, and he saw
the Spirit of God - St. Luke adds, in a bodily form - Probably in a
glorious appearance of fire, perhaps in the shape of a dove,
descending with a hovering motion, till it rested upon him. This
was a visible token of those secret operations of the blessed Spirit,
by which he was anointed in a peculiar manner; and abundantly
fitted for his public work.
17. And lo, a voice - We have here a glorious manifestation of the
ever - blessed Trinity: the Father speaking from heaven, the Son
spoken to, the Holy Ghost descending upon him. In whom I
delight - What an encomium is this! How poor to this are all other
kinds of praise! To be the pleasure, the delight of God, this is
praise indeed: this is true glory: this is the highest, the brightest
light, that virtue can appear in.
1. Then - After this glorious evidence of his Father's love, he was
completely armed for the combat. Thus after the clearest light and
the strongest consolation, let us expect the sharpest temptations.
By the Spirit - Probably through a strong inward impulse. Mark i,
12; Luke iv, 1.
2. Having fasted - Whereby doubtless he received more abundant
spiritual strength from God. Forty days and forty nights - As did
Moses, the giver of the law, and Elijah, the great restorer of it. He
was afterward hungry - And so prepared for the first temptation.
3. Coming to him - In a visible form; probably in a human shape,
as one that desired to inquire farther into the evidences of his
being the Messiah.
4. It is written - Thus Christ answered, and thus we may answer
all the suggestions of the devil. By every word that proceedeth out
of the mouth of God - That is, by whatever God commands to
sustain him. Therefore it is not needful I should work a miracle to
procure bread, without any intimation of my Father's will. Deut.
5. The holy city - So Jerusalem was commonly called, being the
place God had peculiarly chosen for himself. On the battlement of
the temple - Probably over the king's gallery, which was of such a
prodigious height, that no one could look down from the top of it
without making himself giddy.
6. In their hands - That is, with great care. Psalm xci, 11, 12.
7. Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God - By requiring farther
evidence of what he hath already made sufficiently plain. Deut. vi,
8. Showeth him all the kingdoms of the world - In a kind of
9. If thou wilt fall down and worship me - Here Satan clearly
shows who he was. Accordingly Christ answering this suggestion,
calls him by his own name, which he had not done before.
10. Get thee hence, Satan - Not, get thee behind me, that is, into
thy proper place; as he said on a quite different occasion to Peter,
speaking what was not expedient. Deut. vi, 13.
11. Angels came and waited upon him - Both to supply him with
food, and to congratulate his victory.
12. He retired into Galilee - This journey was not immediately
after his temptation. He first went from Judea into Galilee, John i,
43; ii, 1. Then into Judea again, and celebrated the passover at
Jerusalem, John ii, 13. He baptized in Judea while John was
baptizing at Enon, John iii, 22, 23. All this time John was at
liberty, John iii, 24. But the Pharisees being offended, John iv, 1;
and John put in prison, he then took this journey into Galilee.
Mark i, 14.
13. Leaving Nazareth - Namely, when they had wholly rejected
his word, and even attempted to kill him, Luke iv, 29.
15. Galilee of the Gentiles - That part of Galilee which lay beyond
Jordan was so called, because it was in a great measure inhabited
by Gentiles, that is, heathens. Isaiah ix, 1, 2.
16. Here is a beautiful gradation, first, they walked, then they sat
in darkness, and lastly, in the region of the shadow of death.
17. From that time Jesus began to preach - He had preached
before, both to Jews and Samaritans, John iv, 41, 45. But from
this time begin his solemn stated preaching. Repent, for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand - Although it is the peculiar
business of Christ to establish the kingdom of heaven in the hearts
of men, yet it is observable, he begins his preaching in the same
words with John the Baptist: because the repentance which John
taught still was, and ever will be, the necessary preparation for
that inward kingdom. But that phrase is not only used with regard
to individuals in whom it is to be established, but also with regard
to the Christian Church, the whole body of believers. In the
former sense it is opposed to repentance; in the latter the Mosaic
18. Mark i, 16; Luke v, 1.
23. The Gospel of the kingdom - The Gospel, that is, the joyous
message, is the proper name of our religion: as will be amply
verified in all who earnestly and perseveringly embrace it.
24. Through all Syria - The whole province, of which the Jewish
country was only a small part. And demoniacs - Men possessed
with devils: and lunatics, and paralytics - Men ill of the palsy,
whose cases were of all others most deplorable and most helpless.
25. Decapolis - A tract of land on the east side of the sea of
Galilee, in which were ten cities near each other.
1. And seeing the multitudes - At some distance, as they were
coming to him from every quarter. He went up into the mountain -
Which was near: where there was room for them all. His disciples
- not only his twelve disciples, but all who desired to learn of him.
2. And he opened his mouth - A phrase which always denotes a
set and solemn discourse; and taught them - To bless men; to
make men happy, was the great business for which our Lord came
into the world. And accordingly he here pronounces eight
blessings together, annexing them to so many steps in
Christianity. Knowing that happiness is our common aim, and that
an innate instinct continually urges us to the pursuit of it, he in the
kindest manner applies to that instinct, and directs it to its proper
object. Though all men desire, yet few attain, happiness, because
they seek it where it is not to be found. Our Lord therefore begins
his Divine institution, which is the complete art of happiness, by
laying down before all that have ears to hear, the true and only
true method of acquiring it. Observe the benevolent
condescension of our Lord. He seems, as it were, to lay aside his
supreme authority as our legislator, that he may the better act the
part of: our friend and saviour. Instead of using the lofty style, in
positive commands, he, in a more gentle and engaging way,
insinuates his will and our duty, by pronouncing those happy who
comply with it.
3. Happy are the poor - In the following discourse there is,
1. A sweet invitation to true holiness and happiness, ver. 3-12.
2. A persuasive to impart it to others, ver. 13-16.
3. A description of true Christian holiness, ver. 17; chap.vii, 12.
(in which it is easy to observe, the latter part exactly answers the
4. The conclusion: giving a sure mark of the true way, warning
against false prophets, exhorting to follow after holiness. The poor
in spirit - They who are unfeignedly penitent, they who are truly
convinced of sin; who see and feel the state they are in by nature,
being deeply sensible of their sinfulness, guiltiness, helplessness.
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven - The present inward
kingdom: righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, as
well as the eternal kingdom, if they endure to the end. Luke vi, 20.
4. They that mourn - Either for their own sins, or for other men's,
and are steadily and habitually serious. They shall be comforted -
More solidly and deeply even in this world, and eternally in
5. Happy are the meek - They that hold all their passions and
affections evenly balanced. They shall inherit the earth - They
shall have all things really necessary for life and godliness. They
shall enjoy whatever portion God hath given them here, and shall
hereafter possess the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
6. They that hunger and thirst after righteousness - After the
holiness here described. They shall be satisfied with it.
7. The merciful - The tender-hearted: they who love all men as
themselves: They shall obtain mercy - Whatever mercy therefore
we desire from God, the same let us show to our brethren. He will
repay us a thousand fold, the love we bear to any for his sake.
8. The pure in heart - The sanctified: they who love God with all
their hearts. They shall see God - In all things here; hereafter in
9. The peace makers - They that out of love to God and man do all
possible good to all men. Peace in the Scripture sense implies all
blessings temporal and eternal. They shall be called the children
of God - Shall be acknowledged such by God and man. One
would imagine a person of this amiable temper and behaviour
would be the darling of mankind. But our Lord well knew it
would not be so, as long as Satan was the prince of this world. He
therefore warns them before of the treatment all were to expect,
who were determined thus to tread in his steps, by immediately
subjoining, Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness'
sake. Through this whole discourse we cannot but observe the
most exact method which can possibly be conceived. Every
paragraph, every sentence, is closely connected both with that
which precedes, and that which follows it. And is not this the
pattern for every Christian preacher? If any then are able to follow
it without any premeditation, well: if not, let them not dare to
preach without it. No rhapsody, no incoherency, whether the
things spoken be true or false, comes of the Spirit of Christ.
10. For righteousness' sake - That is, because they have, or follow
after, the righteousness here described. He that is truly a righteous
man, he that mourns, and he that is pure in heart, yea, all that will
live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution, 2 Tim. iii, 12.
The world will always say, Away with such fellows from the
earth. They are made to reprove our thoughts. They are grievous
to us even to behold. Their lives are not like other men's; their
ways are of another fashion.
11. Revile - When present: say all evil - When you are absent.
12. Your reward - Even over and above the happiness that
naturally and directly results from holiness.
13. Ye - Not the apostles, not ministers only; but all ye who are
thus holy, are the salt of the earth - Are to season others. Mark ix,
50; Luke xiv, 34.
14. Ye are the light of the world - If ye are thus holy, you can no
more be hid than the sun in the firmament: no more than a city on
a mountain - Probably pointing to that on the brow of the opposite
15. Nay, the very design of God in giving you this light was, that
it might shine. Mark iv, 21; Luke viii, 16; xi, 33.
16. That they may see - and glorify - That is, that seeing your
good works, they may be moved to love and serve God likewise.
17. Think not - Do not imagine, fear, hope, that I am come - Like
your teachers, to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to
destroy - The moral law, but to fulfil - To establish, illustrate, and
explain its highest meaning, both by my life and doctrine.
18. Till all things shall be effected - Which it either requires or
foretells. For the law has its effect, when the rewards are given,
and the punishments annexed to it inflicted, as well as when its
precepts are obeyed. Luke xvi, 17; xxi, 33.
19. One of the least - So accounted by men; and shall teach -
Either by word or example; shall be the least - That is, shall have
no part therein.
20. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees - Described in
the sequel of this discourse.
21. Ye have heard - From the scribes reciting the law; Thou shalt
do no murder - And they interpreted this, as all the other
commandments, barely of the outward act. The judgement - The
Jews had in every city a court of twenty-three men, who could
sentence a criminal to be strangled. But the sanhedrim only (the
great council which sat at Jerusalem, consisting of seventy-two
men, ) could sentence to the more terrible death of stoning. That
was called the judgment, this the council. Exod. xx, 13.
22. But I say unto you - Which of the prophets ever spake thus?
Their language is, Thus saith the Lord. Who hath authority to use
this language, but the one lawgiver, who is able to save and to
destroy. Whosoever is angry with his brother - Some copies add,
without a cause - But this is utterly foreign to the whole scope and
tenor of our Lord's discourse. If he had only forbidden the being
angry without a cause, there was no manner of need of that
solemn declaration, I say unto you; for the scribes and Pharisees
themselves said as much as this. Even they taught, men ought not
to be angry without a cause. So that this righteousness does not
exceed theirs. But Christ teaches, that we ought not, for any cause,
to be so angry as to call any man Raca, or fool. We ought not, for
any cause, to be angry at the person of the sinner, but at his sins
only. Happy world, were this plain and necessary distinction
thoroughly understood, remembered, practiced! Raca means, a
silly man, a trifler. Whosoever shall say, Thou fool - Shall revile,
or seriously reproach any man. Our Lord specified three degrees
of murder, each liable to a sorer punishment than the other: not
indeed from men, but from God. Hell fire - In the valley of
Hinnom (whence the word in the original is taken) the children
were used to be burnt alive to Moloch. It was afterward made a
receptacle for the filth of the city, where continual fires were kept
to consume it. And it is probable, if any criminals were burnt
alive, it was in this accursed and horrible place. Therefore both as
to its former and latter state, it was a fit emblem of hell. It must
here signify a degree of future punishment, as much more
dreadful than those incurred in the two former cases, as burning
alive is more dreadful than either strangling or stoning.
23. Thy brother hath aught against thee - On any of the preceding
accounts: for any unkind thought or word: any that did not spring
24. Leaving thy gift, go - For neither thy gift nor thy prayer will
atone for thy want of love: but this will make them both an
abomination before God.
25. Agree with thine adversary - With any against whom thou hast
thus offended: while thou art in the way - Instantly, on the spot;
before you part. Lest the adversary deliver thee to the judge - Lest
he commit his cause to God. Luke xii, 58.
26. Till thou hast paid the last farthing - That is, for ever, since
thou canst never do this. What has been hitherto said refers to
meekness: what follows, to purity of heart.
27. Thou shalt not commit adultery - And this, as well as the sixth
commandment, the scribes and Pharisees interpreted barely of the
outward act. Exod. xx, 14.
29, 30. If a person as dear as a right eye, or as useful as a right
hand, cause thee thus to offend, though but in heart. Perhaps here
may be an instance of a kind of transposition which is frequently
found in the sacred writings: so that the 29th verse may refer to
27, 28; and the 30th to ver. 21, 22. As if he had said, Part with any
thing, however dear to you, or otherwise useful, if you cannot
avoid sin while you keep it. Even cut off your right hand, if you
are of so passionate a temper, that you cannot otherwise be
restrained from hurting your brother. Pull out your eyes, if you
can no otherwise be restrained from lusting after women. Chap.
xviii, 8; Mark ix, 43.
31. Let him give her a writing of divorce - Which the scribes and
Pharisees allowed men to do on any trifling occasion. Deut. xxiv,
1; Matt. xix, 7; Mark x, 2; Luke xvi, 18.
32. Causeth her to commit adultery - If she marry again.
33. Our Lord here refers to the promise made to the pure in heart
of seeing God in all things, and points out a false doctrine of the
scribes, which arose from their not thus seeing God. What he
forbids is, the swearing at all, 1, by any creature, 2, in our
ordinary conversation: both of which the scribes and Pharisees
taught to be perfectly innocent. Exod. xx, 7.
36. For thou canst not make one hair white or black - Whereby it
appears, that this also is not thine but God's.
37. Let your conversation be yea, yea; nay, nay - That is, in your
common discourse, barely affirm or deny.
38. Ye have heard - Our Lord proceeds to enforce such meekness
and love on those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake
(which he pursues to the end of the chapter) as were utterly
unknown to the scribes and Pharisees. It hath been said - In the
law, as a direction to Judges, in ease of violent and barbarous
assaults. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth - And this has
been interpreted, as encouraging bitter and rigorous revenge.
Deut. xix, 21.
39. But I say unto you, that ye resist not the evil man - Thus; the
Greek word translated resist signifies standing in battle array,
striving for victory. If a man smite thee on the right cheek -
Return not evil for evil: yea, turn to him the other - Rather than
40, 41. Where the damage is not great, choose rather to suffer it,
though possibly it may on that account be repeated, than to
demand an eye for an eye, to enter into a rigorous prosecution of
the offender. The meaning of the whole passage seems to be,
rather than return evil for evil, when the wrong is purely personal,
submit to one bodily wrong after another, give up one part of your
goods after another, submit to one instance of compulsion after
another. That the words are not literally to be understood, appears
from the behaviour of our Lord himself, John xviii, 22,
42. Thus much for your behaviour toward the violent. As for those
who use milder methods, Give to him that asketh thee - Give and
lend to any so far, (but no further, for God never contradicts
himself) as is consistent with thy engagements to thy creditors,
thy family, and the household of faith. Luke vi, 30.
43. Thou shalt love thy neighbour; And hate thy enemy - God
spoke the former part; the scribes added the latter. Lev. xix, 18.
44. Bless them that curse you - Speak all the good you can to and
of them, who speak all evil to and of you. Repay love in thought,
word, and deed, to those who hate you, and show it both in word
and deed. Luke vi, 27, 35.
45. That ye may be the children - That is, that ye may continue
and appear such before men and angels. For he maketh his sun to
rise - He gives them such blessings as they will receive at his
hands. Spiritual blessings they will not receive.
46. The publicans - were officers of the revenue, farmers, or
receivers of the public money: men employed by the Roman to
gather the taxes and customs, which they exacted of the nations
they had conquered. These were generally odious for their
extortion and oppression, and were reckoned by the Jews as the
very scum of the earth.
47. And if ye salute your friends only - Our Lord probably glances
at those prejudices, which different sects had against each other,
and intimates, that he would not have his followers imbibe that
narrow spirit. Would to God this had been more attended to
among the unhappy divisions and subdivisions, into which his
Church has been crumbled! And that we might at least advance so
far, as cordially to embrace our brethren in Christ, of whatever
party or denomination they are!
48. Therefore ye shall be perfect; as your Father who is in heaven
is perfect - So the original runs, referring to all that holiness which
is described in the foregoing verses, which our Lord in the
beginning of the chapter recommends as happiness, and in the
close of it as perfection. And how wise and gracious is this, to
sum up, and, as it were, seal all his commandments with a
promise! Even the proper promise of the Gospel! That he will put
those laws in our minds, and write them in our hearts! He well
knew how ready our unbelief would be to cry out, this is
impossible! And therefore stakes upon it all the power, truth, and
faithfulness of him to whom all things are possible.
1. In the foregoing chapter our Lord particularly described the
nature of inward holiness. In this he describes that purity of
intention without which none of our outward actions are holy.
This chapter contains four parts,
1. The right intention and manner of giving alms, ver. 1-4.
2. The right intention, manner, form, and prerequisites of prayer,
3. The right intention, and manner of fasting, ver. 16-18.
4. The necessity of a pure intention in all things, unmixed either
with the desire of riches, or worldly care, and fear of want, ver.
19-34. This verse is a general caution against vain glory, in any of
our good works: All these are here summed up together, in the
comprehensive word righteousness. This general caution our Lord
applies in the sequel to the three principal branches of it, relating
to our neighbour, ver. 2-iv, to God, ver. 5, vi, and to ourselves,
ver. 16-18. To be seen - Barely the being seen, while we are doing
any of these things, is a circumstance purely indifferent. But the
doing them with this view, to be seen and admired, this is what
our Lord condemns.
2. As the hypocrites do - Many of the scribes and Pharisees did
this, under a pretense of calling the poor together. They have their
reward - All they will have; for they shall have none from God.
3. Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth - A
proverbial expression for doing a thing secretly. Do it as secretly
as is consistent,
1. With the doing it at all.
2. With the doing it in the most effectual manner.
5. The synagogues - These were properly the places where the
people assembled for public prayer, and hearing the Scriptures
read and expounded. They were in every city from the time of the
Babylonish captivity, and had service in them thrice a day on
three days in the week. In every synagogue was a council of grave
and wise persons, over whom was a president, called the ruler of
the synagogue. But the word here, as well as in many other texts,
signifies any place of public concourse.
6. Enter into thy closet - That is, do it with as much secrecy as
7. Use not vain repetitions - To repeat any words without meaning
them, is certainly a vain repetition. Therefore we should be
extremely careful in all our prayers to mean what we say; and to
say only what we mean from the bottom of our hearts. The vain
and heathenish repetitions which we are here warned against, are
most dangerous, and yet very common; which is a principal cause
why so many, who still profess religion, are a disgrace to it.
Indeed all the words in the world are not equivalent to one holy
desire. And the very best prayers are but vain repetitions, if they
are not the language of the heart.
8. Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of - We do not
pray to inform God of our wants. Omniscient as he is, he cannot
be informed of any thing which he knew not before: and he is
always willing to relieve them. The chief thing wanting is, a fit
disposition on our part to receive his grace and blessing.
Consequently, one great office of prayer is, to produce such a
disposition in us: to exercise our dependence on God; to increase
our desire of the things we ask for; to us so sensible of our wants,
that we may never cease wrestling till we have prevailed for the
9. Thus therefore pray ye - He who best knew what we ought to
pray for, and how we ought to pray, what matter of desire, what
manner of address would most please himself, would best become
us, has here dictated to us a most perfect and universal form of
prayer, comprehending all our real wants, expressing all our
lawful desires; a complete directory and full exercise of all our
devotions. Thus - For these things; sometimes in these words, at
least in this manner, short, close, full. This prayer consists of three
parts, the preface, the petitions, and the conclusion. The preface,
Our Father, who art in heaven, lays a general foundation for
prayer, comprising what we must first know of God, before we
can pray in confidence of being heard. It likewise points out to us
our that faith, humility, love, of God and man, with which we are
to approach God in prayer.
10. Our Father - Who art good and gracious to all, our Creator,
our Preserver; the Father of our Lord, and of us in him, thy
children by adoption and grace: not my Father only, who now cry
unto thee, but the Father of the universe, of angels and men: who
art in heaven - Beholding all things, both in heaven and earth;
knowing every creature, and all the works of every creature, and
every possible event from everlasting to everlasting: the almighty
Lord and Ruler of all, superintending and disposing all things; in
heaven - Eminently there, but not there alone, seeing thou fillest
heaven and earth.
1. Hallowed be thy name - Mayest thou, O Father, he truly known
by all intelligent beings, and with affections suitable to that
knowledge: mayest thou be duly honoured, loved, feared, by all in
heaven and in earth, by all angels and all men.
2. Thy kingdom come - May thy kingdom of grace come quickly,
and swallow up all the kingdoms of the earth: may all mankind,
receiving thee, O Christ, for their king, truly believing in thy
name, be filled with righteousness, and peace, and joy; with
holiness and happiness, till they are removed hence into thy
kingdom of glory, to reign with thee for ever and ever.
3. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven - May all the
inhabitants of the earth do thy will as willingly as the holy angels:
may these do it continually even as they, without any interruption
of their willing service; yea, and perfectly as they: mayest thou, O
Spirit of grace, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
make them perfect in every good work to do thy will, and work in
them all that is well pleasing in thy sight.
4. Give us - O Father (for we claim nothing of right, but only of
thy free mercy) this day - (for we take no thought for the morrow)
our daily bread - All things needful for our souls and bodies: not
only the meat that perisheth, but the sacramental bread, and thy
grace, the food which endureth to everlasting life.
5. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors - Give
us, O Lord, redemption in thy blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
as thou enablest us freely and fully to forgive every man, so do
thou forgive all our trespasses.
6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil -
Whenever we are tempted, O thou that helpest our infirmities,
suffer us not to enter into temptation; to be overcome or suffer
loss thereby; but make a way for us to escape, so that we may be
more than conquerors, through thy love, over sin and all the
consequences of it. Now the principal desire of a Christian's heart
being the glory of God, (ver. 9, 10, ) and all he wants for himself
or his brethren being the daily bread of soul and body, (or the
support of life, animal and spiritual, ) pardon of sin, and
deliverance from the power of it and of the devil, (ver. 11, 12, 13,
) there is nothing beside that a Christian can wish for; therefore
this prayer comprehends all his desires. Eternal life is the certain
consequence, or rather completion of holiness.
III. For thine is the kingdom - The sovereign right of all things
that are or ever were created: The power - the executive power,
whereby thou governest all things in thy everlasting kingdom:
And the glory - The praise due from every creature, for thy power,
and all thy wondrous works, and the mightiness of thy kingdom,
which endureth through all ages, even for ever and ever. It is
observable, that though the doxology, as well as the petitions of
this prayer, is threefold, and is directed to the Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost distinctly, yet is the whole fully applicable both to
every person, and to the ever - blessed and undivided trinity. Luke
14. Mark xi, 25.
16. When ye fast? - Our Lord does not enjoin either fasting, alms-
deeds, or prayer: all these being duties which were before fully
established in the Church of God. Disfigure - By the dust and
ashes which they put upon their heads, as was usual at the times
of solemn humiliation.
17. Anoint thy head - So the Jews frequently did. Dress thyself as
19. Lay not up for yourselves - Our Lord here makes a transition
from religious to common actions, and warns us of another snare,
the love of money, as inconsistent with purity of intention as the
love of praise. Where rust and moth consume - Where all things
are perishable and transient. He may likewise have a farther view
in these words, even to guard us against making any thing on
earth our treasure. For then a thing properly becomes our treasure,
when we set our affections upon it. Luke xii, 33.
21. Luke xi, 34.
22. The eye is the lamp of the body - And what the eye is to the
body, the intention is to the soul. We may observe with what
exact propriety our Lord places purity of intention between
worldly desires and worldly cares, either of which directly tend to
destroy. If thine eye be single - Singly fixed on God and heaven,
thy whole soul will be full of holiness and happiness. If thine eye
be evil - Not single, aiming at any thing else.
24. Mammon - Riches, money; any thing loved or sought, without
reference to God. Luke xvi, 13.
25. And if you serve God, you need be careful for nothing.
Therefore take not thought - That is, be not anxiously careful.
Beware of worldly cares; for these are as inconsistent with the
true service of God as worldly desires. Is not the life more than
meat? - And if God give the greater gift, will he deny the smaller?
Luke xii, 22.
27. And which of you - If you are ever so careful, can even add a
moment to your own life thereby? This seems to be far the most
easy and natural sense of the words.
29. Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these -
Not in garments of so pure a white. The eastern monarchs were
often clothed in white robes.
30. The grass of the field - is a general expression, including both
herbs and flowers. Into the still - This is the natural sense of the
passage. For it can hardly be supposed that grass or flowers
should be thrown into the oven the day after they were cut down.
Neither is it the custom in the hottest countries, where they dry
fastest, to heat ovens with them. If God so clothe - The word
properly implies, the putting on a complete dress, that surrounds
the body on all sides; and beautifully expresses that external
membrane, which (like the skin in a human body) at once adorns
the tender fabric of the vegetable, and guards it from the injuries
of the weather. Every microscope in which a flower is viewed
gives a lively comment on this text.
31. Therefore take not thought - How kind are these precepts! The
substance of which is only this, Do thyself no harm! Let us not be
so ungrateful to him, nor so injurious to ourselves, as to harass
and oppress our minds with that burden of anxiety, which he has
so graciously taken off. Every verse speaks at once to the
understanding, and to the heart. We will not therefore indulge
these unnecessary, these useless, these mischievous cares. We will
not borrow the anxieties and distresses of the morrow, to
aggravate those of the present day. Rather we will cheerfully
repose ourselves on that heavenly Father, who knows we have
need of these things; who has given us the life, which is more than
meat, and the body, which is more than raiment. And thus
instructed in the philosophy of our heavenly Master, we will learn
a lesson of faith and cheer. fulness from every bird of the air, and
every flower of the field.
33. Seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness - Singly aim
at this, that God, reigning in your heart, may fill it with the
righteousness above described. And indeed whosoever seeks this
first, will soon come to seek this only.
34. The morrow shall take thought for itself - That is, he careful
for the morrow when it comes. The evil thereof - Speaking after
the manner of men. But all trouble is, upon the whole, a real good.
It is good physic which God dispenses daily to his children,
according to the need and the strength of each.
VII Our Lord now proceeds to warn us against the chief
hindrances of holiness. And how wisely does he begin with
judging? wherein all young converts are so apt to spend that zeal
which is given them for better purposes.
1. Judge not - any man without full, clear, certain knowledge,
without absolute necessity, without tender love. Luke vi, 37.
2. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you -
Awful words! So we may, as it were, choose for ourselves,
whether God shall be severe or merciful to us. God and man will
favour the candid and benevolent: but they must expect judgment
without mercy, who have showed no mercy.
3. In particular, why do you open your eyes to any fault of your
brother, while you yourself are guilty of a much greater? The
mote - The word properly signifies a splinter or shiver of wood.
This and a beam, its opposite, were proverbially used by the Jews,
to denote, the one, small infirmities, the other, gross, palpable
faults. Luke vi, 41.
4. How sayest thou - With what face?
5. Thou hypocrite - It is mere hypocrisy to pretend zeal for the
amendment of others while we have none for our own. Then -
When that which obstructed thy sight is removed.
6. Here is another instance of that transposition, where of the two
things proposed, the latter is first treated of. Give not - to dogs -
lest turning they rend you: Cast not - to swine - lest they trample
them under foot. Yet even then, when the beam is cast out of thine
own eye, Give not - That is, talk not of the deep things of God to
those whom you know to be wallowing in sin. neither declare the
great things God hath done for your soul to the profane, furious,
persecuting wretches. Talk not of perfection, for instance, to the
former; not of your experience to the latter. But our Lord does in
nowise forbid us to reprove, as occasion is, both the one and the
7. But ask - Pray for them, as well as for yourselves: in this there
can be no such danger. Seek - Add your own diligent endeavours
to your asking: and knock - Persevere importunately in that
diligence. Luke xi, 9.
8. For every one that asketh receiveth - Provided he ask aright,
and ask what is agreeable to God's will.
11. To them that ask him - But on this condition, that ye follow
the example of his goodness, by doing to all as ye would they
should do to you. For this is the law and the prophets - This is the
sum of all, exactly answering Chap. v, 17. The whole is
comprised in one word, Imitate the God of love. Thus far
proceeds the doctrinal part of the sermon. In the next verse begins
the exhortation to practice it.
12. Luke vi, 31.
13. The strait gate - The holiness described in the foregoing
chapters. And this is the narrow way. Wide is the gate, and many
there are that go in through it - They need not seek for this; they
come to it of course. Many go in through it, because strait is the
other gate - Therefore they do not care for it; they like a wider
gate. Luke xiii, 24.
15. Beware of false prophets - Who in their preaching describe a
broad way to heaven: it is their prophesying, their teaching the
broad way, rather than their walking in it themselves, that is here
chiefly spoken of. All those are false prophets, who teach any
other way than that our Lord hath here marked out. In sheep's
clothing - With outside religion and fair professions of love:
Wolves - Not feeding, but destroying souls.
16. By their fruits ye shall know them - A short, plain, easy rule,
whereby to know true from false prophets: and one that may be
applied by people of the weakest capacity, who are not
accustomed to deep reasoning. True prophets convert sinners to
God, or at least confirm and strengthen those that are converted.
False prophets do not. They also are false prophets, who though
speaking the very truth, yet are not sent by the Spirit of God, but
come in their own name, to declare it: their grand mark is, "Not
turning men from the power of Satan to God." Luke vi, 43, 44.
18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree
good fruit - But it is certain, the goodness or badness here
mentioned respects the doctrine, rather than the personal
character. For a bad man preaching the good doctrine here
delivered, is sometimes an instrument of converting sinners to
God. Yet I do not aver, that all are true prophets who speak the
truth, and thereby convert sinners. I only affirm, that none are
such who do not.
19. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and
cast into the fire - How dreadful then is the condition of that
teacher who hath brought no sinners to God!
21. Not every one - That is, no one that saith, Lord, Lord - That
makes a mere profession of me and my religion, shall enter -
Whatever their false teachers may assure them to the contrary: He
that doth the will of my Father - as I have now declared it.
Observe: every thing short of this is only saying, Lord, Lord.
Luke vi, 46.
22. We have prophesied - We have declared the mysteries of thy
kingdom, wrote books; preached excellent sermons: In thy name
done many wonderful works - So that even the working of
miracles is no proof that a man has saving faith.
23. I never knew you - There never was a time that I approved of
you: so that as many souls as they had saved, they were
themselves never saved from their sins. Lord, is it my case? Luke
24. Luke vi, 47.
29. He taught them - The multitudes, as one having authority -
With a dignity and majesty peculiar to himself as the great
Lawgiver, and with the demonstration and power of the Spirit:
and not as the scribes - Who only expounded the law of another;
and that in a lifeless, ineffectual manner.
2. A leper came - Leprosies in those countries were seldom
curable by natural means, any more than palsies or lunacy.
Probably this leper, though he might not mix with the people, had
heard our Lord at a distance. Mark i, 40; Luke v, 12.
4. See thou tell no man - Perhaps our Lord only meant here, Not
till thou hast showed thyself to the priest-who was appointed to
inquire into the case of leprosy. But many others he commanded,
absolutely, to tell none of the miracles he had wrought upon them.
And this he seems to have done, chiefly for one or more of these
1. To prevent the multitude from thronging him, in the manner
related Mark i, 45.
2. To fulfil the prophecy, Isaiah xlii, 1, that he would not be vain
or ostentatious. This reason St. Matthew assigns, chap. xii, 17,
3. To avoid the being taken by force and made a king, John vi, 15.
4. That he might not enrage the chief priests, scribes, and
Pharisees, who were the most bitter against him, any more than
was unavoidable, Matt. xvi, 20, 21. For a testimony - That I am
the Messiah; to them - The priests, who otherwise might have
pleaded want of evidence. Lev. xiv, 2.
5. There came to him a centurion - A captain of a hundred Roman
soldiers. Probably he came a little way toward him, and then went
back. He thought himself not worthy to come in person, and
therefore spoke the words that follow by his messengers. As it is
not unusual in all languages, so in the Hebrew it is peculiarly
frequent, to ascribe to a person himself the thing which is done,
and the words which are spoken by his order. And accordingly St.
Matthew relates as said by the centurion himself, what others said
by order from him. An instance of the same kind we have in the
case of Zebedee's children. From St. Matthew xx, 20, we learn it
was their mother that spoke those words, which, Mark x, 35, 37,
themselves are said to speak; because she was only their mouth.
Yet from ver. 13, Go thy way home, it appears he at length came
in person, probably on hearing that Jesus was nearer to his house
than he apprehended when he sent the second message by his
friends. Luke vii, 1.
8. The centurion answered - By his second messengers.
9. For I am a man under authority - I am only an inferior officer:
and what I command, is done even in my absence: how much
more what thou commandest, who art Lord of all!
10. I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel - For the
centurion was not an Israelite.
11. Many from the farthest parts of the earth shall embrace the
terms and enjoy the rewards of the Gospel covenant established
with Abraham. But the Jews, who have the first title to them, shall
be shut out from the feast; from grace here, and hereafter from
glory. Luke xiii, 29.
12. The outer darkness - Our Lord here alludes to the custom the
ancients had of making their feast in the night time. Probably
while he was speaking this, the centurion came in person. Matt.
xiii, 42, 50; xxii, 13; xxiv, 51; xxv, 30.
14. Peter's wife's mother - St. Peter was then a young man, as
were all the apostles. Mark i, 29; Luke iv, 38.
16. Mark i, 32; Luke iv, 40.
17. Whereby was fulfilled what was spoken by the Prophet Isaiah
- He spoke it in a more exalted sense. The evangelist here only
alludes to those words, as being capable of this lower meaning
also. Such instances are frequent in the sacred writings, and are
elegancies rather than imperfections. He fulfilled these words in
the highest sense, by bearing our sins in his own body on the tree:
in a lower sense, by sympathizing with us in our sorrows, and
healing us of the diseases which were the fruit of sin. Isaiah liii, 4.
18. He commanded to go to the other side - That both himself and
the people might have a little rest.
19. Luke ix, 57.
20. The Son of man - The expression is borrowed from Dan. vii,
13, and is the appellation which Christ generally gives himself:
which he seems to do out of humility, as having some relation to
his mean appearance in this world. Hath not where to lay his head
- Therefore do not follow me from any view of temporal
21. Another said - I will follow thee without any such view; but I
must mind my business first. It is not certain that his father was
already dead. Perhaps his son desired to stay with him, being very
old, till his death.
22. But Jesus said - When God calls, leave the business of the
world to them who are dead to God.
23. Mark iv, 35; Luke viii, 22.
24. The ship was covered - So man's extremity is God's
26. Why are ye fearful - Then he rebuked the winds - First, he
composed their spirits, and then the sea.
28. The country of the Gergesenes - Or of the Gadarenes -
Gergesa and Gadara were towns near each other. Hence the
country between them took its name, sometimes from the one,
sometimes from the other. There met him two demoniacs - St.
Mark and St. Luke mention only one, who was probably the
fiercer of the two, and the person who spoke to our Lord first. But
this is no way inconsistent with the account which St. Matthew
gives. The tombs - Doubtless those malevolent spirits love such
tokens of death and destruction. Tombs were usually in those days
in desert places, at a distance from towns, and were often made in
the sides of caves, in the rocks and mountains. No one could pass
- Safely. Mark v, 1; Luke viii, 26.
29. What have we to do with thee - This is a Hebrew phrase,
which signifies. Why do you concern yourself about us? 2 Sam.
xvi, 10. Before the time - The great day.
30. There was a herd of many swine - Which it was not lawful for
the Jews to keep. Therefore our Lord both justly and mercifully
permitted them to be destroyed.
31. He said, Go - A word of permission only, not command.
34. They besought him to depart out of their coasts - They loved
their swine so much better than their souls! How many are of the
1. His own city - Capernaum, chap. iv, 13; Mark v, 18; Luke viii,
2. Seeing their faith - Both that of the paralytic, and of them that
brought him. Son - A title of tenderness and condescension. Mark
ii, 3; Luke v, 18.
3. This man blasphemeth - Attributing to himself a power (that of
forgiving sins) which belongs to God only.
5. Which is easier - Do not both of them argue a Divine power?
Therefore if I can heal his disease, I can forgive his sins:
especially as his disease is the consequence of his sins. Therefore
these must be taken away, if that is.
6. On earth - Even in my state of humiliation.
8. So what was to the scribes an occasion of blaspheming, was to
the people an incitement to praise God.
9. He saw a man named Matthew - Modestly so called by himself.
The other evangelists call him by his more honourable name,
Levi. Sitting - In the very height of his business, at the receipt of
custom - The custom house, or place where the customs were
received. Mark ii, 14; Luke v, 27.
10. As Jesus sat at table in the house - Of Matthew, who having
invited many of his old companions, made him a feast, Mark ii,
15; and that a great one, though he does not himself mention it.
The publicans, or collectors of the taxes which the Jews paid the
Romans, were infamous for their illegal exactions: Sinners -
Open, notorious, sinners.
11. The Pharisees said to his disciples, Why eateth your Master? -
Thus they commonly ask our Lord, Why do thy disciples this?
And his disciples, Why doth your Master?
13. Go ye and learn - Ye that take upon you to teach others. I will
have mercy and not sacrifice - That is, I will have mercy rather
than sacrifice. I love acts of mercy better than sacrifice itself.
Hosea vi, 6.
14. Then - While he was at table. Mark ii, 18; Luke v, 33.
15. The children of the bride chamber - The companions of the
bridegroom. Mourn - Mourning and fasting usually go together.
As if he had said, While I am with them, it is a festival time, a
season of rejoicing, not mourning. But after I am gone, all my
disciples likewise shall be in fastings often.
16. This is one reason, - It is not a proper time for them to fast.
Another is, they are not ripe for it. New cloth - The words in the
original properly signify cloth that hath not passed through the
fuller's hands, and which is consequently much harsher than what
has been washed and worn; and therefore yielding less than that,
will tear away the edges to which it is sewed.
17. New - Fermenting wine will soon burst those bottles, the
leather of which is almost worn out. The word properly means
vessels made of goats' skins, wherein they formerly put wine, (and
do in some countries to this day) to convey it from place to place.
Put new wine into new bottles - Give harsh doctrines to such as
have strength to receive them.
18. Just dead - He had left her at the point of death, Mark v, 23.
Probably a messenger had now informed him she was dead. Mark
v, 22; Luke viii, 41.
20. Coming behind - Out of bashfulness and humility.
22. Take courage - Probably she was struck with fear, when he
turned and looked upon her, Mark v, 33; Luke viii, 47; lest she
should have offended him, by touching his garment privately; and
the more so, because she was unclean according to the law, Lev.
23. The minstrels - The musicians. The original word means flute
players. Musical instruments were used by the Jews as well as the
heathens, in their Lamentations for the dead, to soothe the
melancholy of surviving friends, by soft and solemn notes. And
there were persons who made it their business to perform this,
while others sung to their music. Flutes were used especially on
the death of children; louder instruments on the death of grown
24. Withdraw - There is no need of you now; for the maid is not
dead - Her life is not at an end; but sleepeth - This is only a
temporary suspension of sense and motion, which should rather
be termed sleep than death.
25. The maid arose - Christ raised three dead persons to life; this
child, the widow's son, and Lazarus: one newly departed, another
on the bier, the third smelling in the grave: to show us that no
degree of death is so desperate as to be past his help.
32. Luke xi, 14.
33. Even in Israel - Where so many wonders have been seen.
36. Because they were faint - In soul rather than in body. As sheep
having no shepherd - And yet they had many teachers; they had
scribes in every city. But they had none who cared for their souls,
and none that were able, if they had been willing, to have wrought
any deliverance. They had no pastors after God's own heart.
37. The harvest truly is great - When Christ came into the world,
it was properly the time of harvest; till then it was the seed time
only. But the labourers are few - Those whom God sends; who are
holy, and convert sinners. Of others there are many. Luke x, 2.
38. The Lord of the harvest - Whose peculiar work and office it is,
and who alone is able to do it: that he would thrust forth - for it is
an employ not pleasing to flesh and blood; so full of reproach,
labour, danger, temptation of every kind, that nature may well be
averse to it. Those who never felt this, never yet knew what it is to
be labourers in Christ's harvest. He sends them forth, when he
calls them by his Spirit, furnishes them with grace and gifts for
the work, and makes a way for them to be employed therein.
1. His twelve disciples - Hence it appears that he had already
chosen out of his disciples, those whom he afterward termed
apostles. The number seems to have relation to the twelve
patriarchs, and the twelve tribes of Israel. Mark iii, 14; vi, 7; Luke
vi, 13; ix, 1.
2. The first, Simon - The first who was called to a constant
attendance on Christ; although Andrew had seen him before
Simon. Acts i, 13.
3. Lebbeus - Commonly called Judas, the brother of James.
4. Iscariot - So called from Iscarioth, (the place of his birth, ) a
town of the tribe of ephraim, near the city of Samaria.
5. These twelve Jesus sent forth - Herein exercising his supreme
authority, as God over all. None but God can give men authority
to preach his word. Go not - Their commission was thus confined
now, because the calling of the Gentiles was deferred till after the
more plentiful effusion of the Holy Ghost on the day of pentecost.
Enter not - Not to preach; but they might to buy what they
wanted, John iv, 9.
8. Cast out devils - It is a great relief to the spirits of an infidel,
sinking under a dread, that possibly the Gospel may be true, to
find it observed by a learned brother, that the diseases therein
ascribed to the operation of the devil have the very same
symptoms with the natural diseases of lunacy, epilepsy, or
convulsions; whence he readily and very willingly concludes, that
the devil had no hand in them. But it were well to stop and
consider a little. Suppose God should suffer an evil spirit to usurp
the same power over a man's body, as the man himself has
naturally; and suppose him actually to exercise that power; could
we conclude the devil had no hand therein, because his body was
bent in the very same manner wherein the man himself might
have bent it naturally? And suppose God gives an evil spirit a
greater power, to effect immediately the organ of the nerves in the
brain, by irritating them to produce violent motions, or so relaxing
them that they can produce little or no motion; still the symptoms
will be those of over tense nerves, as in madness, epilepsies,
convulsions; or of relaxed nerves, as in paralytic cases. But could
we conclude thence that the devil had no hand in them? Will any
man affirm that God cannot or will not, on any occasion whatever,
give such a power to an evil spirit? Or that effects, the like of
which may be produced by natural causes, cannot possibly be
produced by preternatural? If this be possible, then he who affirms
it was so, in any particular case, cannot be justly charged with
falsehood, merely for affirming the reality of a possible thing. Yet
in this manner are the evangelists treated by those unhappy men,
who above all things dread the truth of the Gospel, because, if it is
true, they are of all men the most miserable. Freely ye have
received - All things; in particular the power of working miracles;
freely give - Exert that power wherever you come. Mark vi, 7;
Luke ix, 2.
9. Provide not - The stress seems to lie on this word: they might
use what they had ready; but they might not stay a moment to
provide any thing more, neither take any thought about it. Nor
indeed were they to take any thing with them, more than was
1. Lest it should retard them.
2. Because they were to learn hereby to trust to God in all future
10. Neither scrip - That is, a wallet, or bag to hold provisions: Nor
yet a staff - We read, Mark vi, 8, Take nothing, save a staff only.
He that had one might take it; they that had none, might not
provide any. For the workman is worthy of his maintenance - The
word includes all that is mentioned in the 9th and 10th verses; all
that they were forbidden to provide for themselves, so far as it
was needful for them. Luke x, 7.
11. Inquire who is worthy - That you should abide with him: who
is disposed to receive the Gospel. There abide - In that house, till
ye leave the town. Mark vi, 10; Luke ix, 4.
12. Salute it - In the usual Jewish form, "Peace (that is, all
blessings) be to this house."
13. If the house be worthy - of it, God shall give them the peace
you wish them. If not, he shall give you what they refuse. The
same will be the case, when we pray for them that are not worthy.
14. Shake off the dust from your feet - The Jews thought the land
of Israel so peculiarly holy, that when they came home from any
heathen country, they stopped at the borders and shook or wiped
off the dust of it from their feet, that the holy land might not be
polluted with it. Therefore the action here enjoined was a lively
intimation, that those Jews who had rejected the Gospel were holy
no longer, but were on a level with heathens and idolaters.
16. Luke x, 3.
17. But think not that all your innocence and all your wisdom will
screen you from persecution. They will scourge you in their
synagogues - In these the Jews held their courts of judicature,
about both civil and ecclesiastical affairs. Matt. xxiv, 9.
19. Take no thought - Neither at this time, on any sudden call,
need we be careful how or what to answer. Luke xii, 11.
21. Luke xxi, 16.
22. Of all men - That know not God. Matt. xxiv, 13.
23. Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel - Make what
haste ye will; till the Son of man be come - To destroy their
temple and nation.
24. Luke vi, 30; John xv, 20.
25. How much more - This cannot refer to the quantity of
reproach and persecution: (for in this the servant cannot be above
his Lord:) but only to the certainty of it. Matt. xii, 24.
26. Therefore fear them not - For ye have only the same usage
with your Lord. There is nothing covered - So that however they
may slander you now, your innocence will at length appear. Mark
iv, 22; Luke viii, 17; xii, 2.
27. Even what I now tell you secretly is not to be kept secret long,
but declared publicly. Therefore, What ye hear in the ear, publish
on the house-top - Two customs of the Jews seem to be alluded to
here. Their doctors used to whisper in the ear of their disciples
what they were to pronounce aloud to others. And as their houses
were low and flat roofed, they sometimes preached to the people
from thence. Luke xii, 3.
28. And be not afraid - of any thing which ye may suffer for
proclaiming it. Be afraid of him who is able to destroy both body
and soul in hell - It is remarkable, that our Lord commands those
who love God, still to fear him, even on this account, under this
29, 30. The particular providence of God is another reason for
your not fearing man. For this extends to the very smallest things.
And if he has such care over the most inconsiderable creatures,
how much more will he take care of you, (provided you confess
him before men, before powerful enemies of the truth, ) and that
not only in this life, but in the other also?
32. Whosoever shall confess me - Publicly acknowledge me for
the promised Messiah. But this confession implies the receiving
his whole doctrine, Mark viii, 38, and obeying all his
commandments. Luke ix, 26.
33, 34. Whosoever shall deny me before men - To which ye will
be strongly tempted. For Think not that I am come - That is, think
not that universal peace will be the immediate consequence of my
coming. Just the contrary. Both public and private divisions will
follow, wheresoever my Gospel comes with power. Ye - this is
not the design, though it be the event of his coming, through the
opposition of devils and men.
36. And the foes of a man - That loves and follows me. Micah vii,
37. He that loveth father or mother more than me - He that is not
ready to give up all these, when they stand in competition with his
38. He that taketh not his cross - That is, whatever pain or
inconvenience cannot be avoided, but by doing some evil, or
omitting some good. Matt. xvi, 24; Luke xiv, 27.
39. He that findeth his life shall lose it - He that saves his life by
denying me, shall lose it eternally; and he that loseth his life by
confessing me, shall save it eternally. And as you shall be thus
rewarded, so in proportion shall they who entertain you for my
sake. Matt. xvi, 25; John xii, 25.
40. Matt. xviii, 5; Luke x, 16; John xiii, 20.
41. He that entertaineth a prophet - That is, a preacher of the
Gospel: In the name of a prophet - That is, because he is such,
shall share in his reward.
42. One of these little ones - The very least Christian. Mark ix, 41.
1. In their cities - The other cities of Israel.
2. He sent two of his disciples - Not because he doubted himself;
but to confirm their faith. Luke vii, 18.
3. He that is to come - The Messiah.
4. Go and tell John the things that ye hear and see - Which are a
stronger proof of my being the Messiah, than any bare assertion
5. The poor have the Gospel preached to them - The greatest
mercy of all. Isaiah xxix, 18; xxxv, 5.
6. Happy is he who shall not be offended at me - Notwithstanding
all these proofs that I am the Messiah.
7. As they departed, he said concerning John - Of whom probably
he would not have said so much when they were present. A reed
shaken by the wind? - No; nothing could ever shake John in the
testimony he gave to the truth. The expression is proverbial.
8. A man clothed in soft, delicate raiment - An effeminate
courtier, accustomed to fawning and flattery? You may expect to
find persons of such a character in palaces; not in a wilderness.
9. More than a prophet - For the prophets only pointed me out afar
off; but John was my immediate forerunner.
10. Mal. iii, 1.
11. But he that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than
he - Which an ancient author explains thus: - "One perfect in the
law, as John was, is inferior to one who is baptized into the death
of Christ. For this is the kingdom of heaven, even to be buried
with Christ, and to be raised up together with him. John was
greater than all who had been then born of women, but he was cut
off before the kingdom of heaven was given." [He seems to mean,
that righteousness, peace, and joy, which constitute the present
inward kingdom of heaven.] "He was blameless as to that
righteousness which is by the law; but he fell short of those who
are perfected by the spirit of life which is in Christ. Whosoever,
therefore, is least in the kingdom of heaven, by Christian
regeneration, is greater than any who has attained only the
righteousness of the law, because the law maketh nothing
perfect." It may farther mean, the least true Christian believer has
a more perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ, of his redemption and
kingdom, than John the Baptist had, who died before the full
manifestation of the Gospel.
12. And from the days of John - That is, from the time that John
had fulfilled his ministry, men rush into my kingdom with a
violence like that of those who are taking a city by storm.
13. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John - For all
that is written in the law and the prophets only foretold as distant
what is now fulfilled. In John the old dispensation expired, and
the new began. Luke xvi, 16.
14. Mal. iv, 5.
15. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear - A kind of proverbial
expression; requiring the deepest attention to what is spoken.
16. This generation - That is, the men of this age. They are like
those froward children of whom their fellows complain, that they
will be pleased no way.
18. John came neither eating nor drinking - In a rigorous austere
way, like Elijah. And they say, He hath a devil - Is melancholy,
from the influence of an evil spirit.
19. The Son of man came eating and drinking - Conversing in a
free, familiar way. Wisdom is justified by her children - That is,
my wisdom herein is acknowledged by those who are truly wise.
20. Then began he to upbraid the cities - It is observable he had
never upbraided them before. Indeed at first they received him
with all gladness, Capernaum in particular.
21. Wo to thee, Chorazin - That is, miserable art thou. For these
are not curses or imprecations, as has been commonly supposed;
but a solemn, compassionate declaration of the misery they were
bringing on themselves. Chorazin and Bethsaida were cities of
Galilee, standing by the lake Gennesareth. Tyre and Sidon were
cities of Phenicia, lying on the sea shore. The inhabitants of them
were heathens. Luke x, 13.
22, 24. Moreover I say unto you - Beside the general denunciation
of wo to those stubborn unbelievers, the degree of their misery
will be greater than even that of Tyre and Sidon, yea, of Sodom.
23. Thou Capernaum, who hast been exalted to heaven - That is,
highly honoured by my presence and miracles.
25. Jesus answering - This word does not always imply, that
something had been spoken, to which an answer is now made. It
often means no more than the speaking in reference to some
action or circumstance preceding. The following words Christ
speaks in reference to the case of the cities above mentioned: I
thank thee - That is, I acknowledge and joyfully adore the justice
and mercy of thy dispensations: Because thou hast hid - That is,
because thou hast suffered these things to be hid from men, who
are in other respects wise and prudent, while thou hast discovered
them to those of the weakest understanding, to them who are only
wise to Godward. Luke x, 21.
27. All things are delivered to me - Our Lord, here addressing
himself to his disciples, shows why men, wise in other things, do
not know this: namely, because none can know it by natural
reason: none but those to whom he revealeth it.
28. Come to me - Here he shows to whom he is pleased to reveal
these things to the weary and heavy laden; ye that labour - After
rest in God: and are heavy laden - With the guilt and power of sin:
and I will give you rest - I alone (for none else can) will freely
give you (what ye cannot purchase) rest from the guilt of sin by
justification, and from the power of sin by sanctification.
29. Take my yoke upon you - Believe in me: receive me as your
prophet, priest, and king. For I am meek and lowly in heart -
Meek toward all men, lowly toward God: and ye shall find rest -
Whoever therefore does not find rest of soul, is not meek and
lowly. The fault is not in the yoke of Christ: but in thee, who hast
not taken it upon thee. Nor is it possible for any one to be
discontented, but through want of meekness or lowliness.
30. For my yoke is easy - Or rather gracious, sweet, benign,
delightful: and my burden - Contrary to those of men, is ease,
liberty, and honour.
1. His disciples plucked the ears of corn, and ate - Just what
sufficed for present necessity: dried corn was a common food
among the Jews. Mark ii, 23; Luke vi, 1.
3. Have ye not read what David did - And necessity was a
sufficient plea for his transgressing the law in a higher instance.
4. He entered into the house of God - Into the tabernacle. The
temple was not yet built. The show bread - So they called the
bread which the priest, who served that week, put every Sabbath
day on the golden table that was in the holy place, before the
Lord. The loaves were twelve in number, and represented the
twelve tribes of Israel: when the new were brought, the stale were
taken away, but were to be eaten by the priests only. 1 Sam. xxi,
5. The priests in the temple profane the Sabbath - That is, do their
ordinary work on this, as on a common day, cleansing all things,
and preparing the sacrifices. A greater than the temple - If
therefore the Sabbath must give way to the temple, much more
must it give way to me.
7. I will have mercy and not sacrifice - That is, when they
interfere with each other, I always prefer acts of mercy, before
matters of positive institution: yea, before all ceremonial
institutions whatever; because these being only means of religion,
are suspended of course, if circumstances occur, wherein they
clash with love, which is the end of it. Matt. ix, 13.
8. For the Son of man - Therefore they are guiltless, were it only
on this account, that they act by my authority, and attend on me in
my ministry, as the priests attended on God in the temple: is Lord
even of the Sabbath - This certainly implies, that the Sabbath was
an institution of great and distinguished importance; it may
perhaps also refer to that signal act of authority which Christ
afterward exerted over it, in changing it from the seventh to the
first day of the week. If we suppose here is a transposition of the
7th and 8th verses, then the 8th verse is a proof of the 6th. Matt.
xii, 7, 8, 6.
9. Mark iii, 1; Luke vi, 6.
12. It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day - To save a beast,
much more a man.
18. He shall show judgment to the heathens - That is, he shall
publish the merciful Gospel to them also: the Hebrew word
signifies either mercy or justice. Isaiah xlii, 1, &c.
19. He shall not strive, nor clamour; neither shall any man hear
his voice in the streets - That is, he shall not be contentious, noisy,
or ostentatious: but gentle, quiet, and lowly. We may observe each
word rises above the other, expressing a still higher degree of
humility and gentleness.
20. A bruised reed - A convinced sinner: one that is bruised with
the weight of sin: smoking flax - One that has the least good
desire, the faintest spark of grace: till he send forth judgment unto
victory - That is, till he make righteousness completely victorious
over all its enemies.
21. In his name - That is, in him.
22. A demoniac, blind and dumb - Many undoubtedly supposed
these defects to be merely natural. But the Spirit of God saw
otherwise, and gives the true account both of the disorder and the
cure. How many disorders, seemingly natural, may even now be
owing to the same cause? Luke xi, 14.
23. Is not this the son of David - That is, the Messiah.
24. Mark iii, 22.
25. Jesus knowing their thoughts - It seems they had as yet only
said it in their hearts.
26. How shall his kingdom be established - Does not that subtle
spirit know thin is not the way to establish his kingdom?
27. By whom do your children - That is, disciples, cast them out -
It seems, some of them really did this; although the sons of Sceva
could not. Therefore shall they be your judge - Ask them, if Satan
will cast out Satan: let even them be Judg. in this matter. And they
shall convict you of obstinacy and partiality, who impute that in
me to Beelzebub, which in them you impute to God. Beside, how
can I rob him of his subjects, till I have conquered him? The
kingdom of God is come upon you - Unawares; before you
expected: so the word implies.
29. How can one enter into the strong one's house, unless he first
bind the strong one - So Christ coming into the world, which was
then eminently the strong one's, Satan's house, first bound him,
and then took his spoils.
30. He that is not with me is against me - For there are no neuters
in this war. Every one must be either with Christ or against him;
either a loyal subject or a rebel. And there are none upon earth,
who neither promote nor obstruct his kingdom. For he that does
not gather souls to God, scatters them from him.
31. The blasphemy against the Spirit - How much stir has been
made about this? How many sermons, yea, volumes, have been
written concerning it? And yet there is nothing plainer in all the
Bible. It is neither more nor less than the ascribing those miracles
to the power of the devil, which Christ wrought by the power of
the Holy Ghost. Mark iii, 28; Luke xii, 10.
32. Whosoever speaketh against the Son of man - In any other
respects: It shall be forgiven him - Upon his true repentance: But
whosoever speaketh thus against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be
forgiven, neither in this world nor in the world to come - This was
a proverbial expression among the Jews, for a thing that would
never be done. It here means farther, He shall not escape the
punishment of it, either in this world, or in the world to come. The
judgment of God shall overtake him, both here and hereafter.
33. Either make the tree good and its fruit good: or make the tree
corrupt and its fruit corrupt - That is, you must allow, they are
both good, or both bad.- For if the fruit is good, so is the tree; if
the fruit is evil, so is the tree also. For the tree is known by its
fruit - As if he had said, Ye may therefore know me by my fruits.
By my converting sinners to God, you may know that God hath
sent me. Matt. vii, 16; Luke vi, 43.
34. In another kind likewise, the tree is known by its fruit -
Namely, the heart by the conversation.
36. Ye may perhaps think, God does not so much regard your
words. But I say to you - That not for blasphemous and profane
words only, but for every idle word which men shall speak - For
want of seriousness or caution; for every discourse which is not
conducive to the glory of God, they shall give account in the day
37. For by thy words (as well as thy tempers and works) thou
shalt then be either acquitted or condemned. - Your words as well
as actions shall be produced in evidence for or against you, to
prove whether you was a true believer or not. And according to
that evidence you will either be acquitted or condemned in the
38. We would see a sign - Else we will not believe this. Matt. xvi,
1; Luke xi, 16, 29.
39. An adulterous generation - Whose heart wanders from God,
though they profess him to be their husband. Such adulterers are
all those who love the world, and all who seek the friendship of it.
Seeketh a sign - After all they have had already, which were
abundantly sufficient to convince them, had not their hearts been
estranged from God, and consequently averse to the truth. The
sign of Jonah - Who was herein a type of Christ.
40. Three days and three nights - It was customary with the
eastern nations to reckon any part of a natural day of twenty-four
hours, for the whole day. Accordingly they used to say a thing
was done after three or seven days, if it was done on the third or
seventh day, from that which was last mentioned. Instances of this
may be seen, 1 Kings xx, 29; and in many other places. And as the
Hebrews had no word to express a natural day, they used night
and day, or day and night for it. So that to say a thing happened
after three days and three nights, was with them the very same, as
to say, it happened after three days, or on the third day. See Esther
iv, 16; v, 1; Gen. vii, 4, 12; Exod. xxiv, 18; xxxiv, 28. Jonah ii, 1.
42. She came from the uttermost parts of the earth - That part of
Arabia from which she came was the uttermost part of the earth
that way, being bounded by the sea. 1 Kings x, 1.
43. But how dreadful will be the consequence of their rejecting
me? When the unclean spirit goeth out - Not willingly, but being
compelled by one that is stronger than he. He walketh - Wanders
up and down; through dry places - Barren, dreary, desolate; or
places not yet watered with the Gospel: Seeking rest, and findeth
none - How can he, while he carries with him his own hell? And
is it not the case of his children too? Reader, is it thy case? Luke
44. Whence he came out - He speaks as if he had come out of his
own accord: See his pride! He findeth it empty - of God, of Christ,
of his Spirit: Swept - from love, lowliness, meekness, and all the
fruits of the Spirit: And garnished - With levity and security: so
that there is nothing to keep him out, and much to invite him in.
45. Seven other spirits - That is, a great many; a certain number
being put for an uncertain: More wicked than himself - Whence it
appears, that there are degrees of wickedness among the devils
themselves: They enter in and dwell - For ever in him who is
forsaken of God. So shall it be to this wicked generation - Yea,
and to apostates in all ages.
46. His brethren - His kinsmen: they were the sons of Mary, the
wife of Cleopas, or Alpheus, his mother's sister; and came now
seeking to take him, as one beside himself, Mark iii, 21. Mark iii,
31; Luke viii, 19.
48. And he answering, said - Our Lord's knowing why they came,
sufficiently justifies his seeming disregard of them.
49, 50. See the highest severity, and the highest goodness!
Severity to his natural, goodness to his spiritual relations! In a
manner disclaiming the former, who opposed the will of his
heavenly Father, and owning the latter, who obeyed it.
1. Mark iv, 1; Luke viii, 4.
2. He went into the vessel - Which constantly waited upon him,
while he was on the sea coast.
3. In parables - The word is here taken in its proper sense, for apt
similes or comparisons. This way of speaking, extremely common
in the eastern countries, drew and fixed the attention of many, and
occasioned the truths delivered to sink the deeper into humble and
serious hearers. At the same time, by an awful mixture of justice
and mercy, it hid them from the proud and careless. In this chapter
our Lord delivers seven parables; directing the four former (as
being of general concern) to all the people; the three latter to his
disciples. Behold the sower - How exquisitely proper is this
parable to be an introduction to all the rest! In this our Lord
answers a very obvious and a very important question. The same
sower, Christ, and the same preachers sent by him, always sow
the same seed: why has it not always the same effect? He that hath
ears to hear, let him hear!
4. And while he sowed, some seeds fell by the highway side, and
the birds came and devoured them - It is observable, that our Lord
points out the grand hindrances of our bearing fruit, in the same
order as they occur. The first danger is, that the birds will devour
the seed. If it escape this, there is then another danger, namely,
lest it be scorched, and wither away. It is long after this that the
thorns spring up and choke the good seed. A vast majority of
those who hear the word of God, receive the seed as by the
highway side. Of those who do not lose it by the birds, yet many
receive it as on stony places. Many of them who receive it in a
better soil, yet suffer the thorns to grow up, and choke it: so that
few even of these endure to the end, and bear fruit unto
perfection: yet in all these cases, it is not the will of God that
hinders, but their own voluntary perverseness.
8. Good ground - Soft, not like that by the highway side; deep, not
like the stony ground; purged, not full of thorns.
11. To you, who have, it is given to know the mysteries of the
kingdom of heaven - The deep things which flesh and blood
cannot reveal, pertaining to the inward, present kingdom of
heaven. But to them who have not, it is not given - Therefore
speak I in parables, that ye may understand, while they do not
12. Whosoever hath - That is, improves what he hath, uses the
grace given according to the design of the giver; to him shall be
given - More and more, in proportion to that improvement. But
whosoever hath not - Improves it not, from him shall be taken
even what he hath - Here is the grand rule of God's dealing with
the children of men: a rule fixed as the pillars of heaven. This is
the key to all his providential dispensations; as will appear to men
and angels in that day. Matt. xxv, 29; Mark iv, 25; Luke viii, 18;
13. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing, they
see not - In pursuance of this general rule, I do not give more
knowledge to this people, be. cause they use not that which they
have already: having all the means of seeing, hearing, and
understanding, they use none of them: they do not effectually see,
or hear, or understand any thing.
14. Hearing ye will hear, but in nowise understand - That is, Ye
will surely hear. All possible means will be given you: yet they
will profit you nothing; because your heart is sensual, stupid, and
insensible; your spiritual senses are shut up; yea, you have closed
your eyes against the light; as being unwilling to understand the
things of God, and afraid, not desirous that he should heal you.
Isaiah vi, 9; John xii, 40; Acts xxviii, 26.
16. But blessed are your eyes - For you both see and understand.
You know how to prize the light which is given you. Luke x, 23.
19. When any one heareth the word, and considereth it not - The
first and most general cause of unfruitfulness. The wicked one
cometh - Either inwardly; filling the mind with thoughts of other
things; or by his agent. Such are all they that introduce other
subjects, when men should be considering what they have heard.
20. The seed sown on stony places, therefore sprang up soon,
because it did not sink deep, ver. 5. He receiveth it with joy -
Perhaps with transport, with ecstacy: struck with the beauty of
truth, and drawn by the preventing grace of God.
21. Yet hath he not root in himself - No deep work of grace: no
change in the ground of his heart. Nay, he has no deep conviction;
and without this, good desires soon wither away. He is offended -
He finds a thousand plausible pretenses for leaving so narrow and
rugged a way.
22. He that received the seed among the thorns, is he that heareth
the word and considereth it - In spite of Satan and his agents: yea,
hath root in himself is deeply convinced, and in a great measure
inwardly changed; so that he will not draw back, even when
tribulation or persecution ariseth. And yet even in him, together
with the good seed, the thorns spring up, ver. 7. (perhaps
unperceived at first) till they gradually choke it, destroy all its life
and power, and it becometh unfruitful. Cares are thorns to the
poor: wealth to the rich; the desire of other things to all. The
deceitfulness of riches - Deceitful indeed! for they smile, and
betray: kiss, and smite into hell. They put out the eyes, harden the
heart, steal away all the life of God; fill the soul with pride, anger,
love of the world; make men enemies to the whole cross of
Christ! And all the while are eagerly desired, and vehemently
pursued, even by those who believe there is a God!
23. Some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty - That is, in
various proportions; some abundantly more than others.
24. He proposed another parable - in which he farther explains the
case of unfruitful hearers. The kingdom of heaven (as has been
observed before) sometimes signifies eternal glory: sometimes the
way to it, inward religion; sometimes, as here, the Gospel
dispensation: the phrase is likewise used for a person or thing
relating to any one of those: so in this place it means, Christ
preaching the Gospel, who is like a man sowing good seed - The
expression, is like, both here and in several other places, only
means, that the thing spoken of may be illustrated by the
following similitude. Who sowed good seed in his field - God
sowed nothing but good in his whole creation. Christ sowed only
the good seed of truth in his Church.
25. But while men slept - They ought to have watched: the Lord
of the field sleepeth not. His enemy came and sowed darnel - This
is very like wheat, and commonly grows among wheat rather than
among other grain: but tares or vetches are of the pulse kind, and
bear no resemblance to wheat.
26. When the blade was sprung up, then appeared the darnel - It
was not discerned before: it seldom appears, as soon as the good
seed is sown: all at first appears to be peace, and love, and joy.
27. Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? Whence then hath
it darnel? - Not from the parent of good. Even the heathen could
say, "No evil can from thee proceed: 'Tis only suffer'd, not
decreed: As darkness is not from the sun, Nor mount the shades,
till he is gone."
28. He said, An enemy hath done this - A plain answer to the
great question concerning the origin of evil. God made men (as he
did angels) intelligent creatures, and consequently free either to
choose good or evil: but he implanted no evil in the human soul:
An enemy (with man's concurrence) hath done this. Darnel, in the
Church, is properly outside Christians, such as have the form of
godliness, without the power. Open sinners, such as have neither
the form nor the power, are not so properly darnel, as thistles and
brambles: these ought to be rooted up without delay, and not
suffered in the Christian community. Whereas should fallible men
attempt to gather up the darnel, they would often root up the
wheat with them.
31. He proposed to them another parable - The former parables
relate chiefly to unfruitful hearers; these that follow, to those who
bear good fruit. The kingdom of heaven - Both the Gospel
dispensation, and the inward kingdom. Mark iv, 30; Luke xiii, 18.
32. The least - That is, one of the least: a way of speaking
extremely common among the Jews. It becometh a tree - In those
countries it grows exceeding large and high. So will the Christian
doctrine spread in the world, and the life of Christ in the soul.
33. Three measures - This was the quantity which they usually
baked at once: till the whole was leavened - Thus will the Gospel
leaven the world and grace the Christian. Luke xiii, 20.
34. Without a parable spake he not unto them - That is, not at that
time; at other times he did.
35. Psalm lxxviii, 2.
38. The good seed are the children of the kingdom - That is, the
children of God, the righteous.
41. They shall gather all things that offend - Whatever had
hindered or grieved the children of God; whatever things or
persons had hindered the good seed which Christ had sown from
taking root or bearing fruit. The Greek word is, All scandals.
44. The three following parables are proposed, not to the
multitude, but peculiarly to the apostles: the two former of them
relate to those who receive the Gospel; the third, both to those
who receive, and those who preach it. The kingdom of heaven is
like treasure hid in a field - The kingdom of God within us is a
treasure indeed, but a treasure hid from the world, and from the
most wise and prudent in it. He that finds this treasure, (perhaps
when he thought it far from him, ) hides it deep in his heart, and
gives up all other happiness for it.
45. The kingdom of heaven - That is, one who earnestly seeks for
it: in verse 47 it means, the Gospel preached, which is like a net
gathering of every kind: just so the Gospel, wherever it is
preached, gathers at first both good and bad, who are for a season
full of approbation and warm with good desires. But Christian
discipline, and strong, close exhortation, begin that separation in
this world, which shall be accomplished by the angels of God in
the world to come.
52. Every scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven - That is,
every duly prepared preacher of the Gospel has a treasure of
Divine knowledge, out of which he is able to bring forth all sorts
of instructions. The word treasure signifies any collection of
things whatsoever, and the places where such collections are kept.
53. He departed thence - He crossed the lake from Capernaum:
and came once more into his own country - Nazareth: but with no
better success than he had had there before.
54. Whence hath HE - Many texts are not understood, for want of
knowing the proper emphasis; and others are utterly
misunderstood, by placing the emphasis wrong. To prevent this in
some measure, the emphatical words are here printed in capital
letters. Mark vi, 1; Luke iv, 16,
55. The carpenter's son - The Greek, word means, one that works
either in wood, iron, or stone. His brethren - Our kinsmen. They
were the sons of Mary, sister to the virgin, and wife of Cleophas
or Alpheus. James - Styled by St. Paul also, the Lord's brother,
Gal. i, 19. Simon - Surnamed the Canaanite.
57. They were offended at him - They looked on him as a mean,
ignoble man, not worthy to be regarded. John iv, 44; Luke vii, 23.
58. He wrought not many mighty works, because of their unbelief
- And the reason why many mighty works are not wrought now, is
not, that the faith is not every where planted; but, that unbelief
every where prevails.
1. At that time - When our Lord had spent about a year in his
public ministry. Tetrarch - King of a fourth part of his father's
dominions. Mark vi, 14.
2. He is risen from the dead - Herod was a Sadducee: and the
Sadducees denied the resurrection of the dead. But Sadduceeism
staggers when conscience awakes.
3. His brother Philip's wife - Who was still alive. Mark vi, 17.
4. It is not lawful for thee to have her - It was not lawful indeed
for either of them to have her. For her father Aristobulus was their
own brother. John's words were rough, like his raiment. He would
not break the force of truth by using soft words, even to a king.
5. He would have put him to death - ln his fit of passion; but he
was then restrained by fear of the multitude; and afterward by the
reverence he bore him.
6. The daughter of Herodias - Afterward infamous for a life
suitable to this beginning.
8. Being before instructed by her mother - Both as to the matter
and manner of her petition: She said, Give me here - Fearing if he
had time to consider, he would not do it: John the Baptist's head in
a charger - A large dish or bowl.
9. And the king was sorry - Knowing that John was a good man.
Yet for the oath's sake - So he murdered an innocent man from
mere tenderness of conscience.
10. And he sent and beheaded John in the prison, and his head
was given to the damsel - How mysterious is the providence,
which left the life of so holy a man in such infamous hands!
which permitted it to be sacrificed to the malice of an abandoned
harlot, the petulancy of a vain girl, and the rashness of a foolish,
perhaps drunken prince, who made a prophet's head the reward of
a dance! But we are sure the Almighty will repay his servants in
another world for what ever they suffer in this.
13. Jesus withdrew into a desert place -
1. To avoid Herod:
2. Because of the multitude pressing upon him, Mark vi, xxxii,
3. To talk with his disciples, newly returned from their progress,
Luke ix, x, apart - From all but his disciples. John vi, 1.
15. The time is now past - The usual meal time. Mark vi, 35; Luke
22. He constrained his disciples - Who were unwilling to leave
him. Mark vi, 45; John vi, 15.
24. In the evening - Learned men say the Jews reckoned two
evenings; the first beginning at three in the afternoon, the second,
at sunset. If so, the latter is meant here.
25. The fourth watch - The Jews (as well as the Romans) usually
divided the night into four watches, of three hours each. The first
watch began at six, the second at nine, the third at twelve, the
fourth at three in the morning. If it be thou - It is the same as,
Since it is thou. The particle if frequently bears this meaning, both
in ours and in all languages. So it means, John xiii, 14, 17. St.
Peter was in no doubt, or he would not have quitted the ship.
30. He was afraid - Though he had been used to the sea, and was a
skilful swimmer. But so it frequently is. When grace begins to act,
the natural courage and strength are withdrawn.
33. Thou art the Son of God - They mean, the Messiah.
35. Mark vi, 45.
1. Mark vii, 1.
2. The elders - The chief doctors or, teachers among the Jews.
3. They wash not their hands when they eat bread - Food in
general is termed bread in Hebrew; so that to eat bread is the same
as to make a meal.
4. honour thy father and mother - Which implies all such relief as
they stand in need of. Exod. xx, 12; xxi, 17.
5. It is a gift by whatsoever thou mightest have been profited by
me - That is, I have given, or at least, purpose to give to the
treasury of the temple, what you might otherwise have had from
7. Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying - That is, the
description which Isaiah gave of your fathers, is exactly
applicable to you. The words therefore which were a description
of them, are a prophecy with regard to you.
8. Their heart is far from me - And without this all outward
worship is mere mockery of God. Isaiah xxix, 13.
9. Teaching the commandments of men - As equal with, nay,
superior to, those of God. What can be a more heinous sin?
13. Every plant - That is, every doctrine.
14. Let them alone - If they are indeed blind leaders of the blind;
let them alone: concern not yourselves about them: a plain
direction how to behave with regard to all such. Luke vi, 39.
17. Are ye also yet without understanding - How fair and candid
are the sacred historians? Never concealing or excusing their own
19. First evil thoughts - then murders - and the rest. Railings - The
Greek word includes all reviling, backbiting, and evil speaking.
21. Mark vii, 24.
22. A woman of Canaan - Canaan was also called Syrophenicia,
as lying between Syria properly so called, and Phenicia, by the sea
side. Cried to him - From afar, Thou Son of David - So she had
some knowledge of the promised Messiah.
23. He answered her not a word - He sometimes tries our faith in
24. I am not sent - Not primarily; not yet.
25. Then came she - Into the house where he now was.
28. Thy faith - Thy reliance on the power and goodness of God.
29. The sea of Galilee - The Jews gave the name of seas to all
large lakes. This was a hundred furlongs long, and forty broad. It
was called also, the sea of Tiberias. It lay on the borders of
Galilee, and the city of Tiberias stood on its western shore. It was
likewise styled the lake of Gennesareth: perhaps a corruption of
Cinnereth, the name by which it was anciently called, Num.
xxxiv, 11. Mark vii, 31.
32. They continue with me now three days - It was now the third
day since they came. Mark viii, 1.
36. He gave thanks, or blessed the food - That is, he praised God
for it, and prayed for a blessing upon it.
1. A sign from heaven - Such they imagined Satan could not
counterfeit. Mark viii, 11; Matt. xii, 38.
2. Luke xii, 54.
3. The signs of the times - The signs which evidently show, that
this is the time of the Messiah.
4. A wicked and adulterous generation - Ye would seek no farther
sign, did not your wickedness, your love of the world, which is
spiritual adultery, blind your understanding.
5. Mark viii, 14.
6. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees - That is, of their false
doctrine: this is elegantly so called; for it spreads in the soul, or
the Church, as leaven does in meal. Luke xii, 1.
7. They reasoned among themselves - What must we do then for
bread, since we have taken no bread with us?
8. Why reason ye - Why are you troubled about this? Am I not
able, if need so require, to supply you by a word?
11. How do ye not understand - Beside, do you not understand,
that I did not mean bread, by the leaven of the Pharisees and
13. And Jesus coming - There was a large interval of time
between what has been related, and what follows. The passages
that follow were but a short time before our Lord suffered. Mark
viii, 27; Luke ix, 18.
14. Jeremiah, or one of the prophets - There was at that time a
current tradition among the Jews, that either Jeremiah, or some
other of the ancient prophets would rise again before the Messiah
16. Peter - Who was generally the most forward to speak.
17. Flesh and blood - That is, thy own reason, or any natural
18. On this rock - Alluding to his name, which signifies a rock,
namely, the faith which thou hast now professed; I will build my
Church - But perhaps when our Lord uttered these words, he
pointed to himself, in like manner as when he said, Destroy this
temple, John ii, 19; meaning the temple of his body. And it is
certain, that as he is spoken of in Scripture, as the only foundation
of the Church, so this is that which the apostles and evangelists
laid in their preaching. It is in respect of laying this, that the
names of the twelve apostles (not of St. Peter only) were equally
inscribed on the twelve foundations of the city of God, Rev. xxi,
14. The gates of hell - As gates and walls were the strength of
cities, and as courts of judicature were held in their gates, this
phrase properly signifies the power and policy of Satan and his
instruments. Shall not prevail against it - Not against the Church
universal, so as to destroy it. And they never did. There hath been
a small remnant in all ages.
19. I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven - Indeed
not to him alone, (for they were equally given to all the apostles at
the same time, John xx, 21, 22, 23;) but to him were first given
the keys both of doctrine and discipline. He first, after our Lord's
resurrection, exercised the apostleship, Acts i, 15. And he first by
preaching opened the kingdom of heaven, both to the Jews, Acts
ii, , and to the Gentiles, Acts x, . Under the term of binding and
loosing are contained all those acts of discipline which Peter and
his brethren performed as apostles: and undoubtedly what they
thus performed on earth, God confirmed in heaven. Matt. xviii,
20. Then charged he his disciples to tell no one that he was the
Christ - Jesus himself had not said it expressly even to his
apostles, but left them tb infer it from his doctrine and miracles.
Neither was it proper the apostles should say this openly, before
that grand proof of it, his resurrection. If they had, they who
believed them would the more earnestly have sought to take and
make him a king: and they who did not believe them would the
snore vehemently have rejected and opposed such a Messiah.
21. From that time Jesus began to tell his disciples, that he must
suffer many things - Perhaps this expression, began, always
implied his entering on a set and solemn discourse. Hitherto he
had mainly taught them only one point, That he was the Christ.
From this time he taught them another, That Christ must through
sufferings and death enter into his glory. From the elders - The
most honourable and experienced men; the chief priests -
Accounted the most religious; and the scribes - The most learned
body of men in the nation. Would not one have expected, that
these should have been the very first to receive him? But not
many wise, not many noble were called. favour thyself - The
advice of the world, the flesh, and the devil, to every one of our
Lord's followers. Mark viii, 31; Luke ix, 22.
23. Get thee behind me - Out of my sight. It is not improbable,
Peter might step before him, to stop him. Satan - Our Lord is not
recorded to have given so sharp a reproof to any other of his
apostles on any occasion. He saw it was needful for the pride of
Peter's heart, puffed up with the commendation lately given him.
Perhaps the term Satan may not barely mean, Thou art my enemy,
while thou fanciest thyself most my friend; but also, Thou art
acting the very part of Satan, both by endeavouring to hinder the
redemption of mankind, and by giving me the most deadly advice
that can ever spring from the pit of hell. Thou savourest not - Dost
not relish or desire. We may learn from hence,
1. That whosoever says to us in such a case, favour thyself, is
acting the part of the devil:
2. That the proper answer to such an adviser is, Get thee behind
3. That otherwise he will be an offense to us, an occasion of our
stumbling, if not falling:
4. That this advice always proceeds from the not relishing the
things of God, but the things of men. Yea, so far is this advice,
favour thyself, from being fit for a Christian either to give or take,
that if any man will come after Christ, his very first step is to
deny, or renounce himself: in the room of his own will, to
substitute the will of God, as his one principle of action.
24. If any man be willing to come after me - None is forced; but if
any will be a Christian, it must be on these terms, Let him deny
himself, and take up his cross - A rule that can never be too much
observed: let him in all things deny his own will, however
pleasing, and do the will of God, however painful. Should we not
consider all crosses, all things grievous to flesh and blood, as what
they really are, as opportunities of embracing God's will at the
expense of our own? And consequently as so many steps by
which we may advance toward perfection? We should make a
swift progress in the spiritual life, if we were faithful in this
practice. Crosses are so frequent, that whoever makes advantage
of them, will soon be a great gainer. Great crosses are occasions
of great improvement: and the little ones, which come daily, and
even hourly, make up in number what they want in weight. We
may in these daily and hourly crosses make effectual oblations of
our will to God; which oblations, so frequently repeated, will soon
amount to a great sum. Let us remember then (what can never be
sufficiently inculcated) that God is the author of all events: that
none is so small or inconsiderable, as to escape his notice and
direction. Every event therefore declares to us the will of God, to
which thus declared we should heartily submit. We should
renounce our own to embrace it; we should approve and choose
what his choice warrants as best for us. Herein should we exercise
ourselves continually; this should be our practice all the day long.
We should in humility accept the little crosses that are dispensed
to us, as those that best suit our weakness. Let us bear these little
things, at least for God's sake, and prefer his will to our own in
matters of so small importance. And his goodness will accept
these mean oblations; for he despiseth not the day of small things.
Matt. x, 38.
25. Whosoever will save his life - At the expense of his
conscience: whosoever, in the very highest instance, that of life
itself, will not renounce himself, shall be lost eternally. But can
any man hope he should be able thus to renounce himself, if he
cannot do it in the smallest instances? And whosoever will lose
his life shall find it - What he loses on earth he shall find in
heaven. Matt. x, 39; Mark viii, 35; Luke ix, 24; xvii, 33; John xii,
27. For the Son of man shall come - For there is no way to escape
the righteous judgment of God.
28. And as an emblem of this, there are some here who shall live
to see tho Messiah coming to set up his mediatorial kingdom, with
great power and glory, by the increase of his Church, and the
destruction of the temple, city, and polity of the Jews.
1. A high mountain - Probably Mount Tabor. Mark ix, 2; Luke ix,
2. And was transfigured - Or transformed. The indwelling Deity
darted out its rays through the veil of the flesh; and that with such
transcendent splendour, that he no longer bore the form of a
servant. His face shone with Divine majesty, like the sun in its
strength; and all his body was so irradiated by it, that his clothes
could not conceal its glory, but became white and glittering as the
very light, with which he covered himself as with a garment.
3. There appeared Moses and Elijah - Here for the full
confirmation of their faith in Jesus, Moses, the giver of the law,
Elijah, the most zealous of all the prophets, and God speaking
from heaven, all bore witness to him.
4. Let us make three tents - The words of rapturous surprise. He
says three, not six: because the apostles desired to be with their
5. Hear ye him - As superior even to Moses and the prophets. See
Deut. xviii, 17.
7. Be not afraid - And doubtless the same moment he gave them
courage and strength.
9. Tell the vision to no man - Not to the rest of the disciples, lest
they should be grieved and discouraged because they were not
admitted to the sight: nor to any other persons, lest it should
enrage some the more, and his approaching sufferings shall make
others disbelieve it; till the Son of man be risen again - Till the
resurrection should make it credible, and confirm their testimony
10. Why then say the scribes, that Elijah must come first - Before
the Messiah? If no man is to know of his coming? Should we not
rather tell every man, that he is come, and that we have seen him,
witnessing to thee as the Messiah?
11. Regulate all things - In order to the coming of Christ.
12. Elijah is come already - And yet when the Jews asked John,
Art thou Elijah? He said, I am not, John i, 21. His meaning was, I
am not Elijah the Tishbite, come again into the world. But he was
the person of whom Malachi prophesied under that name.
14. Mark ix, 14; Luke xi, 37.
15. He is lunatic - This word might with great propriety he used,
though the case was mostly preternatural; as the evil spirit would
undoubtedly take advantage of the influence which the changes of
the moon have on the brain and nerves.
17. O unbelieving and perverse generation - Our Lord speaks
principally this to his disciples. How long shall I be with you? -
Before you steadfastly believe?
20. Because of your unbelief - Because in this particular they had
not faith. If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed - That is, the
least measure of it. But it is certain, the faith which is here spoken
of does not always imply saving faith. Many have had it who
thereby cast out devils, and yet will at last have their portion with
them. It is only a supernatural persuasion given a man, that God
will work thus by him at that hour. Now, though I have all this
faith so as to remove mountains, yet if I have not the faith which
worketh by love, I am nothing. To remove mountains was a
proverbial phrase among the Jews, and is still retained in their
writings, to express a thing which is very difficult, and to
appearance impossible. Matt. xxi, 21; Luke xvii, 6.
21. This kind of devils - goeth not out but by prayer and fasting -
What a testimony is here of the efficacy of fasting, when added to
fervent prayer! Some kinds of devils the apostles had cast out
before this, without fasting.
22. Mark ix, 30; Luke ix, 44.
24. When they were come to Capernaum - Where our Lord now
dwelt. This was the reason why they stayed till he came thither, to
ask him for the tribute. Doth not your Master pay tribute? - This
was a tribute or payment of a peculiar kind, being half a shekel,
(that is, about fifteen pence, ) which every master of a family used
to pay yearly to the service of the temple, to buy salt, and little
things not otherwise provided for. It seems to have been a
voluntary thing, which custom rather than any law had
25. Jesus prevented him - Just when St. Peter was going to ask
him for it. Of their own sons, or of strangers? - That is, such as are
not of their own family.
26. Then are the sons free - The sense is, This is paid for the use
of the house of God. But I am the Son of God. Therefore I am free
from any obligation of paying this to my own Father.
27. Yet that, we may not offend them - Even those unjust,
unreasonable men, who claim what they have no manner of right
to: do not contest it with them, bat rather yield to their demand,
than violate peace or love. O what would not one of a loving spirit
do for peace! Any thing which is not expressly forbidden in the
word of God. A piece of money - The original word is a stater,
which was in value two shillings and sixpence: just the sum that
was wanted. Give for me and thee - Peter had a family of his own:
the other apostles were the family of Jesus. How illustrious a
degree of knowledge and power did our Lord here discover!
Knowledge, penetrating into this animal, though beneath the
waters; and power, in directing this very fish to Peter's hook,
though he himself was at a distance! How must this have
encouraged both him and his brethren in a firm dependence on
1. Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? - Which of us
shall be thy prime minister? They still dreamed of a temporal
2. And Jesus calling to him a little child - This is supposed to have
been the great Ignatius, whom Trajan, the wise, the good Emperor
Trajan, condemned to be cast to the wild beasts at Rome! Mark ix,
36; Luke ix, 47.
3. Except ye be converted - The first step toward entering into the
kingdom of grace, is to become as little children: lowly in heart,
knowing yourselves utterly ignorant and helpless, and hanging
wholly on your Father who is in heaven, for a supply of all your
wants. We may farther assert, (though it is doubtful whether this
text implies so much, ) except ye be turned from darkness to light,
and from the power of Satan to God:, except ye be entirely,
inwardly changed, renewed in the image of God, ye cannot enter
into the kingdom of glory. Thus must every man be converted in
this life, or he can never enter into life eternal. Ye shall in no wise
enter - So far from being great in it. Matt. xix, 14.
5, 6. And all who are in this sense little children are unspeakably
dear to me. Therefore help them all you can, as if it were myself
in person, and see that ye offend them not; that is, that ye turn
them not out of the right way, neither hinder them in it. Matt. x,
40; Luke x, 16; John xiii, 20.
7. Wo to the world because of offenses - That is, unspeakable
misery will be in the world through them; for it must needs be that
offenses come - Such is the nature of things, and such the
weakness, folly, and wickedness of mankind, that it cannot be but
they will come; but wo to that man - That is, miserable is that
man, by whom the offense cometh. Offenses are, all things
whereby any one is turned out of, or hindered in the way of God.
8, 9. If thy hand, foot, eye, cause thee to offend - If the most dear
enjoyment, the most beloved and useful person, turn thee out of,
or hinder thee in the way Is not this a hard saying? Yes; if thou
take counsel with flesh and blood. Matt. v, 29; Mark ix, 43.
10. See that ye despise not one of these little ones - As if they
were beneath your notice. Be careful to receive and not to offend,
the very weakest believer in Christ: for as inconsiderable as some
of these may appear to thee, the very angels of God have a
peculiar charge over them: even those of the highest order, who
continually appear at the throne of the Most High. To behold the
face of God seems to signify the waiting near his throne; and to be
an allusion to the office of chief ministers in earthly courts, who
daily converse with their princes.
11. Another, and yet a stronger reason for your not despising them
is, that I myself came into the world to save them. Luke xix, 10.
12. Luke xv, 4.
14. So it is not the will of your Father - Neither doth my Father
despise the least of them. Observe the gradation. The angels, the
Son, the Father.
15. But how can we avoid giving offense to some? or being
offended at others! Especially suppose they are quite in the
wrong? Suppose they commit a known sin? Our Lord here teaches
us how: he lays down a sure method of avoiding all offenses.
Whosoever closely observes this threefold rule, will seldom
offend others, and never be offended himself. If any do any thing
amiss, of which thou art an eye or ear witness, thus saith the Lord,
If thy brother - Any who is a member of the same religious
community: Sin against thee,
1. Go and reprove him alone - If it may be in person; if that
cannot so well be done, by thy messenger; or in writing. Observe,
our Lord gives no liberty to omit this; or to exchange it for either
of the following steps. If this do not succeed, 2. Take with thee
one or two more - Men whom he esteems or loves, who may then
confirm and enforce what thou sayest; and afterward, if need
require, bear witness of what was spoken. If even this does not
succeed, then, and not before, 3. Tell it to the elders of the Church
- Lay the whole matter open before those who watch over yours
and his soul. If all this avail not, have no farther intercourse with
him, only such as thou hast with heathens. Can any thing be
plainer? Christ does here as expressly command all Christians
who see a brother do evil, to take this way, not another, and to
take these steps, in this order, as he does to honour their father and
mother. But if so, in what land do the Christians live? If we
proceed from the private carriage of man to man, to proceedings
of a more public nature, in what Christian nation are Church
censures conformed to this rule? Is this the form in which
ecclesiastical judgments appear, in the popish, or even the
Protestant world? Are these the methods used even by those who
boast the most loudly of the authority of Christ to confirm their
sentences? Let us earnestly pray, that this dishonour to the
Christian name may be wiped away, and that common humanity
may not, with such solemn mockery, be destroyed in the name of
the Lord! Let him be to thee as the heathen - To whom thou still
owest earnest good will, and all the offices of humanity. Luke
18. Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth - By excommunication,
pronounced in the spirit and power of Christ. Whatsoever ye shall
loose - By absolution from that sentence. In the primitive Church,
absolution meant no more than a discharge from Church censure.
Again I say - And not only your intercession for the penitent, but
all your united prayers, shall be heard. How great then is the
power of joint prayer! If two of you - Suppose a man and his wife.
Matt. xvi, 19.
20. Where two or three are gathered together in my name - That
is, to worship me. I am in the midst of them - By my Spirit, to
quicken their prayers, guide their counsels, and answer their
22. Till seventy times seven - That is, as often as there is
occasion. A certain number is put for an uncertain.
23. Therefore - In this respect.
24. One was brought who owed him ten thousand talents -
According to the usual computation, if these were talents of gold,
this would amount to seventy-two millions sterling. If they were
talents of silver, it must have been four millions, four hundred
thousand pounds. Hereby our Lord intimates the vast number and
weight of our offenses against God, and our utter incapacity of
making him any satisfaction.
25. As he had not to pay, his Lord commanded him to be sold -
Such was the power which creditors anciently had over their
insolvent debtors in several countries.
30. Went with him before a magistrate, and cast him into prison,
protesting he should lie there, till he should pay the whole debt.
34. His Lord delivered him to the tormentors - Imprisonment is a
much severer punishment in the eastern countries than in ours.
State criminals, especially when condemned to it, are not only
confined to a very mean and scanty allowance, but are frequently
loaded with clogs or heavy yokes, so that they can neither lie nor
sit at ease: and by frequent scourgings and sometimes rackings are
brought to an untimely end. Till he should pay all that was due to
him - That is, without all hope of release, for this he could never
do. How observable is this whole account; as well as the great
inference our Lord draws from it:
1. The debtor was freely and fully forgiven;
2. He wilfully and grievously offended;
3. His pardon was retracted, the whole debt required, and the
offender delivered to the tormentors for ever. And shall we still
say, but when we are once freely and fully forgiven, our pardon
can never be retracted? Verily, verily, I say unto you, So likewise
will my heavenly Father do to you, if ye from your hearts forgive
not every one his brother their trespasses.
1. He departed - and from that time walked no more in Galilee.
Mark x, 1.
2. Multitudes followed him, and he healed them there - That is,
wheresoever they followed him.
3. The Pharisees came tempting him - Trying to make him
contradict Moses. For every cause - That is, for any thing which
he dislikes in her. This the scribes allowed.
4. He said, Have ye not read - So instead of contradicting him, our
Lord confutes them by the very words of Moses. He who made
them, made them male and female from the beginning - At least
from the beginning of the Mosaic creation. And where do we read
of any other? Does it not follow, that God's making Eve was part
of his original design, and not a consequence of Adam's beginning
to fall? By making them one man and one woman, he condemned
polygamy: by making them one flesh, he condemned divorce.
5. And said - By the mouth of Adam, who uttered the words. Gen.
7. Why did Moses command - Christ replies, Moses permitted
(not commanded) it, because of the hardness of your hearts -
Because neither your fathers nor you could bear the more
excellent way. Deut. xxiv, 1; Matt. v, 31; Mark x, 2; Luke xvi, 18.
9. And I say to you - I revoke that indulgence from this day, so
that from henceforth, Whosoever, &c.
11. But he said to them - This is not universally true; it does not
hold, with regard to all men, but with regard to those only to
whom is given this excellent gift of God. Now this is given to
three sorts of persons to some by natural constitution, without
their choice: to others by violence, against their choice; and to
others by grace with their choice: who steadily withstand their
natural inclinations, that they may wait upon God without
12. There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the
kingdom of heaven's sake - Happy they! who have abstained from
marriage (though without condemning or despising it) that they
might walk more closely with God! He that is able to receive it,
let him receive it - This gracious command (for such it is
unquestionably, since to say, such a man may live single, is
saying nothing. Who ever doubted this?) is not designed for all
men: but only for those few who are able to receive it. O let these
receive it joyfully!
13. That he should lay his hands on them - This was a rite which
was very early used, in praying for a blessing on young persons.
See Gen. xlviii, 14, 20. The disciples rebuked them - That is, them
that brought them: probably thinking such an employ beneath the
dignity of their Master. Mark x, 13; Luke xviii, 15.
14. Of such is the kingdom of heaven - Little children, either in a
natural or spiritual sense, have a right to enter into my kingdom.
Matt. xviii, 3.
16. And behold one came - Many of the poor had followed him
from the beginning. One rich man came at last. Mark x, 17; Luke
17. Why callest thou me good - Whom thou supposest to be only
a man. There is none good - Supremely, originally, essentially,
but God. If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments -
From a principle of loving faith. Believe, and thence love and
obey. And this undoubtedly is the way to eternal life. Our Lord
therefore does not answer ironically, which had been utterly
beneath his character, but gives a plain, direct, serious answer to a
19. Exod. xx, 12. &c.
20. The young man saith, All these have I kept from my
childhood - So he imagined; and perhaps he had, as to the letter;
but not as to the spirit, which our Lord immediately shows.
21. If thou desirest to be perfect - That is, to be a real Christian:
Sell what thou hast - He who reads the heart saw his bosom sin
was love of the world; and knew he could not be saved from this,
but by literally renouncing it. To him therefore he gave this
particular direction, which he never designed for a general rule.
For him that was necessary to salvation: to us it is not. To sell all
was an absolute duty to him; to many of us it would be ali
absolute sin. The young man went away - Not being willing to
have salvation at so high a price.
24. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, (a
proverbial expression, ) than for a rich man to go through the
strait gate: that is, humanly speaking, it is an absolute
impossibility. Rich man! tremble! feel this impossibility; else thou
art lost for ever!
25. His disciples were amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? -
If rich men, with all their advantages, cannot? Who? A poor man;
a peasant; a beggar: ten thousand of them, sooner than one that is
26. Jesus looking upon them - To compose their hurried spirits. O
what a speaking look was there! Said to them - With the utmost
sweetness: With men this is impossible - It is observable, he does
not retract what he had said: no, nor soften it in the least degree,
but rather strengthens it, by representing the salvation of a rich
man as the utmost effort of Omnipotence.
28. In the renovation - In the final renovation of all things: Ye
shall sit - In the beginning of the judgment they shall stand, 2 Cor.
v, 10. Then being absolved, they shall sit with the Judge, 1 Cor.
vi, ii, On twelve thrones - So our Lord promised, without
expressing any condition: yet as absolute as the words are, it is
certain there is a condition implied, as in many scriptures, where
none is expressed. In consequence of this, those twelve did not sit
on those twelve thrones: for the throne of Judas another took, so
that he never sat thereon.
29. And every one - In every age and country; not you my
apostles only; That hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or wife, or
children - Either by giving any of them up, when they could not
be retained with a clear conscience or by willingly refraining from
acquiring them: Shall receive a hundred-fold - In value, though
not in kind, even in the present world.
30. But many first - Many of those who were first called, shall be
last - Shall have the lowest reward: those who came after them
being preferred before them: and yet possibly both the first and
the last may be saved, though with different degrees of glory.
Matt. xx, 16; Mark x, 31; Luke xiii, 30.
1. That some of those who were first called may yet be last, our
Lord confirms by the following parable: of which the primary
scope is, to show, That many of the Jews would be rejected, and
many of the Gentiles accepted; the secondary, That of the
Gentiles, many who were first converted would be last and lowest
in the kingdom of glory; and many of those who were last
converted would be first, and highest therein. The kingdom of
heaven is like - That is, the manner of God's proceeding in his
kingdom resembles that of a householder. In the morning - At six,
called by the Roman and Jews, the first hour. From thence
reckoning on to the evening, they called nine, the third hour;
twelve, the sixth; three in the afternoon, the ninth; and five, the
eleventh. To hire labourers into his vineyard - All who profess to
be Christians are in this sense labourers, and are supposed during
their life to be working in God's vineyard.
2. The Roman penny was about seven pence halfpenny. [About
thirteen and three quarter cents, American.] This was then the
usual price of a day's labour.
6. About the eleventh hour - That is, very late; long after the rest
8. In the evening - Of life; or of the world.
9. Who were hired about the eleventh hour - Either the Gentiles,
who were called long after the Jews into the vineyard of the
Church of Christ; or those in every age who did not hear, or at
least understand the Gospel call, till their day of life was drawing
to a period. Some circumstances of the parable seem best to suit
the former, some the latter of these senses.
10. The first supposed they should have received more - Probably
the first here may mean the Jews, who supposed they should
always be preferred before the Gentiles.
12. Thou hast made them equal to us - So St. Peter expressly, Acts
xv, 9. God-hath put no difference between us (Jews) and them,
(Gentiles, ) purifying their hearts by faith. And those who were
equally holy here, whenever they were called, will be equally
14. It is my will to give to this last called among the heathens
even as to the first called among the Jews: yea, and to the late
converted publicans and sinners, even as to those who, were
called long before.
15. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? - Yea,
doubtless, to give either to Jew or Gentile a reward infinitely
greater than he deserves. But can it be inferred from hence, that it
is lawful, or possible, for the merciful Father of spirits to
"Consign an unborn soul to hell? Or damn him from his mother's
womb?" Is thine eye evil because I am good - Art thou envious,
because I am gracious? Here is an evident reference to that
malignant aspect, which is generally the attendant of a selfish and
16. So the last shall be first, and the first last - Not only with
regard to the Jews and Gentiles, but in a thousand other instances.
For many are called - All who hear the Gospel; but few chosen -
Only those who obey it. Matt. xix, 30; xxii, 14.
17. Mark x, 32; Luke xviii, 31.
20. Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children -
Considering what he had been just speaking, was ever any thing
more unreasonable? Perhaps Zebedee himself was dead, or was
not a follower of Christ. Mark x, 35.
21. In thy kingdom - Still they expected a temporal kingdom.
22. Ye know not what is implied in being advanced in my
kingdom, and necessarily prerequired thereto. All who share in
my kingdom must first share in my sufferings. Are you able and
willing to do this? Both these expressions, The cup, the baptism,
are to be understood of his sufferings and death. The like
expressions are common among the Jews.
23. But to sit on my right hand - Christ applies to the glories of
heaven, what his disciples were so stupid as to understand of the
glories of earth. But he does not deny that this is his to give. It is
his to give in the strictest propriety, both as God, and as the Son
of man. He only asserts, that he gives it to none but those for
whom it is originally prepared; namely, those who endure to the
end in the faith that worketh by love.
25. Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles Lord it over them -
And hence you imagine, the chief in my kingdom will do as they:
but it will be quite otherwise.
26. Your minister - That is, your servant. Matt. xxiii, 11.
29. Mark x, 46; Luke xviii, 35.
30. Behold two blind men cried out - St. Mark and St. Luke
mention only one of them, blind Bartimeus. He was far the more
eminent of the two, and, as it seems, spoke for both.
31. The multitude charged them to hold their peace - And so they
will all who begin to cry after the Son of David. But let those who
feel their need of him cry the more; otherwise they will come
short of a cure.
1. Mark xi, 1; Luke xix, 29; John xii, 12.
5. The daughter of Sion - That is, the inhabitants of Jerusalem: the
first words of the passage are cited from Isaiah lxii, 11; the rest
from Zech. ix, 9. The ancient Jewish doctors were wont to apply
these prophecies to the Messiah. On an ass - The Prince of Peace
did not take a horse, a warlike animal. But he will ride on that by
and by, Rev. xix, 11. In the patriarchal ages, illustrious persons
thought it no disgrace to make use of this animal: but it by no
means appears, that this opinion prevailed, or this custom
continued, till the reign of Tiberias. Was it a mean attitude
wherein our Lord then appeared? Mean even to contempt! I grant
it: I glory in it: it is for the comfort of my soul for the honour of
his humility, and for the utter confusion of all worldly pomp and
7. They set him thereon - That is, on the clothes.
8. A great multitude spread their garments in the way - A custom
which was usual at the creation of a king, 2 Kings ix, 13.
9. The multitudes cried, saying - Probably from a Divine impulse;
for certainly most of them understood not the words they uttered.
Hoseaanna - (Lord save us) was a solemn word in frequent use
among the Jews. The meaning is, "We sing hosanna to the Son of
David. Blessed is he, the Messiah, of the Lord. Save. Thou that art
in the highest heavens." Our Lord restrained all public tokens of
honour from the people till now, lest the envy of his enemies
should interrupt his preaching before the time. But this reason
now ceasing, he suffered their acclamations, that they might be a
public testimony against their wickedness, who in four or five
days after cried out, Crucify him, crucify him. The expressions
recorded by the other evangelists are somewhat different from
these: but all of them were undoubtedly used by some or others of
11. This is Jesus from Nazareth - What a stumbling block was
this! if he was of Nazareth, he could not be the Messiah. But they
who earnestly desired to know the truth would not stumble
thereat: for upon inquiry (which such would not fail to make) they
would find, he was not of Nazareth, but Bethlehem.
12. He cast out all that sold and bought - Doves and oxen for
sacrifice. He had cast them out three years before, John ii, 14;
bidding them not make that house a house of merchandise. Upon
the repetition of the offense, he used sharper words. In the temple
- That is, in the outer court of it, where the Gentiles used to
worship. The money changers - The exchangers of foreign money
into current coin, which those who came from distant parts might
want to offer for the service of the temple. Mark xi, 11, 15; Luke
13. A den of thieves - A proverbial expression, for a harbour of
wicked men. Isaiah lvi, 7; Jer. vii, 11.
16. Psalm viii, 2.
17. Mark xi, 11, 12.
20. The disciples seeing it - As they went by, the next day.
21. Jesus answering, said, If ye have faith - Whence we may
learn, that one great end of our Lord in this miracle was to
confirm and increase their faith: another was, to warn them
against unfruitfulness. Matt. xvii, 20.
23. When he was come into the temple, the chief priests came -
Who thought he violated their right: and the elders of the people -
Probably, members of the sanhedrim, to whom that title most
properly belonged: which is the more probable, as they were the
persons under whose cognizance the late action of Christ, in
purging the temple, would naturally fall. These, with the chief
priests, seem purposely to have appeared in a considerable
company, to give the more weight to what they said, and if need
were, to bear a united testimony against him. As he was teaching -
Which also they supposed he had no authority to do, being neither
priest, nor Levite, nor scribe. Some of the priests (though not as
priests) and all the scribes were authorized teachers. By what
authority dost thou these things - Publicly teach the people! And
drive out those who had our commission to traffic in the outer
court? Luke xx, 1; Mark xi, 27.
24. I will ask you one thing - Who have asked me many: The
baptism, that is, the whole ministry of John, was it from heaven or
from men? - By what authority did he act and teach? Did man or
God give him that authority? Was it not God? But if so, the
consequence was clear. For John testified that Jesus was the
25. Why did ye not believe him - Testifying this.
27. Neither tell I you - Not again, in express terms: he had often
told them before, and they would not believe him.
30. He answered, I go, sir: but went not - Just so did the scribes
and Pharisees: they professed the greatest readiness and zeal in
the service of God: but it was bare profession, contradicted by all
32. John came in a way of righteousness - Walking in it, as well
as teaching it. The publicans and harlots - The most notorious
sinners were reformed, though at first they said, I will not. And ye
seeing the amazing change which was wrought in them, though at
first ye said, I go, sir, repented not afterward - Were no more
convinced than before. O how is this scripture fulfilled at this day!
33. A certain householder planted a vineyard - God planted the
Church in Canaan; and hedged it round about - First with the law,
then with his peculiar providence: and digged a wine press -
Perhaps it may mean Jerusalem: and built a tower - The temple:
and went into a far country - That is, left the keepers of his
vineyard, in some measure, to behave as they should see good.
Mark xii, 1; Luke xx, 9.
34. He sent his servants - His extraordinary messengers, the
prophets: to the husbandmen - The ordinary preachers or ministers
of the Jews.
41. They say - Perhaps some of the by-standers, not the chief
priests or Pharisees; who, as St. Luke relates, said, God forbid,
Luke xx, 16.
42. The builders - The scribes and priests, whose office it was to
build up the Church. Is become the head of the corner - Or the
chief corner stone: he is become the foundation of the Church, on
which the whole building rests, and is the principal corner stone,
for uniting the Gentiles to it, as the chief corner stone of a house
supports and links its two sides together. Psalm cxviii, 22.
43. Therefore - Because ye reject this corner stone. The kingdom
of God - That is, the Gospel.
44. Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken - Stumblers
at Christ shall even then receive much hurt. He is said to fall on
this stone, who hears the Gospel and does not believe. But on
whomsoever it shall fall - In vengeance, it will utterly destroy
him. It will fall on every unbeliever, when Christ cometh in the
clouds of heaven. Luke xx, 18.
1. Jesus answering, spake - That is, spake with reference to what
had just past.
2. A king, who made a marriage feast for his son - So did God,
when he brought his first - begotten into the world.
3. Them that were invited - Namely, the Jews.
4. Fatlings - Fatted beasts and fowls.
5. One to his farm, another to his merchandise - One must mind
what he has; another, gain what he wants. How many perish by
misusing lawful things!
7. The king sending forth his troops - The Roman armies
employed of God for that purpose. Destroyed those murderers -
Primarily the Jews.
8. Go into the highways - The word properly signifies, the by-
ways, or turnings of the road.
10. They gathered all - By preaching every where.
11. The guest - The members of the visible Church.
12. A wedding garment - The righteousness of Christ, first
imputed, then implanted. It may easily be observed, this has no
relation to the Lord's Supper, but to God's proceeding at the last
14. Many are called; few chosen - Many hear; few believe. Yea,
many are members of the visible, but few of the invisible Church.
Matt. xx, 16.
15. Mark xii, 13; Luke xx, 20.
16. The Herodians were a set of men peculiarly attached to Herod,
and consequently zealous for the interest of the Roman
government, which was the main support of the dignity and
royalty of his family. Thou regardest not the person of men - Thou
favourest no man for his riches or greatness.
17. Is it lawful to give tribute to Cesar? - If he had said, Yes, the
Pharisees would have accused him to the people, as a betrayer of
the liberties of his country. If he had said, No, the Herodians
would have accused him to the Roman governor.
18. Ye hypocrites - Pretending a scruple of conscience.
20. The tribute money - A Roman coin, stamped with the head of
Cesar, which was usually paid in tribute.
21. They say to him, Cesar's - Plainly acknowledging, by their
having received his coin, that they were under his government.
And indeed this is a standing rule. The current coin of every
nation shows who is the supreme governor of it. Render therefore,
ye Pharisees, to Cesar the things which ye yourselves
acknowledge to be Cesar's: and, ye Herodians, while ye are
zealous for Cesar, see that ye render to God the things that are
23. Mark xii, 18.
24. Deut. xxv, 5.
25. Now there were with us seven brethren - This story seems to
have been a kind of common-place objection, which no doubt
they brought upon all occasions.
29. Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures - Which plainly assert a
resurrection. Nor the power of God - Which is well able to effect
it. How many errors flow from the same source?
30. They are as the angels - Incorruptible and immortal. So is the
power of God shown in them! So little need had they of marriage!
31. Have ye not read - The Sadducees had a peculiar value for the
books of Moses. Out of these therefore our Lord argues with
32. I am the God of Abraham - The argument runs thus: God is
not the God of the dead, but of the living: (for that expression,
Thy God, implies both benefit from God to man, and duty from
man to God) but he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:
therefore, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not dead, but living.
Therefore, the soul does not die with the body. So indeed the
Sadducees supposed, and it was on this ground that they denied
the resurrection. Exod. iii, 6.
33. At his doctrine - At the clearness and solidity of his answers.
34. Mark xii, 28; Luke x, 25.
35. A scribe asking him a question, trying him - Not, as it seems,
with any ill design: but barely to make a farther trial of that
wisdom, which he had shown in silencing the Sadducees.
37. Deut. vi, 5.
39. Lev. xix, 18.
42. Luke xx, 41.
43. How doth David then by the Spirit - By inspiration, call him
Lord? If he be merely the son (or descendant) of David? If he be,
as you suppose, a mere man, the son of a man?
44. The Lord said to my Lord - This his dominion, to which David
himself was subject, shows both the heavenly majesty of the king,
and the nature of his kingdom. Sit thou on my right hand - That is,
remain in the highest authority and power. Psalm cx, 1.
46. Neither durst any question him any more - Not by way of
ensnaring or tempting him.
1. Then - Leaving all converse with his adversaries, whom he now
left to the hardness of their hearts.
2. The scribes sit in the chair of Moses - That is, read and
expound the law of Moses, and are their appointed teachers.
3. All things therefore - Which they read out of the law, and
4. Luke xi, 46.
5. Their phylacteries - The Jews, understanding those words
literally, It shall be as a token upon thy hand, and as frontlets
between thine eyes, Exod. xiii, 16. And thou shalt bind these
words for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets
between thine eyes, Deut. vi, 8; used to wear little scrolls of paper
or parchment, bound on their wrist and foreheads, on which
several texts of Scripture were writ. These they supposed, as a
kind of charm, would preserve them from danger. And hence they
seem to have been called phylacteries, or preservatives. The
fringes of their garments - Which God had enjoined them to wear,
to remind them of doing all the commandments, Num. xv, 38.
These, as well as their phylacteries, the Pharisees affected to wear
broader and larger than other men. Mark xii, 38.
8, 9, 10. The Jewish rabbis were also called father and master, by
their several disciples, whom they required,
1. To believe implicitly what they affirmed, without asking any
2. To obey implicitly what they enjoined, without seeking farther
authority. Our Lord, therefore, by forbidding us either to give or
receive the title of rabbi, master, or father, forbids us either to
receive any such reverence, or to pay any such to any but God.
11. Matt. xx, 26.
12. Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and he that
shall humble himself shall be exalted - It is observable that no one
sentence of our Lord's is so often repeated as this: it occurs, with
scarce any variation, at least ten times in the evangelists. Luke
xiv, 11; xviii, 14.
13. Wo to you - Our Lord pronounced eight blessings upon the
mount: he pronounces eight woes here; not as imprecations, but
solemn, compassionate declarations of the misery, which these
stubborn sinners were bringing upon themselves. Ye go not in -
For ye are not poor in spirit; and ye hinder those that would be so.
14. Mark xii, 40; Luke xx, 47.
16. Wo to you, ye blind guides - Before he had styled them
hypocrites, from their personal character: now he gives them
another title, respecting their influence upon others. Both these
appellations are severely put together in the 23rd and 25th verses;
and this severity rises to the height in the 33rd verse. The gold of
the temple - The treasure kept there. He is bound - To keep his
20. He that sweareth by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things
thereon - Not only by the gift, but by the holy fire, and the
sacrifice; and above all, by that God to whom they belong;
inasmuch as every oath by a creature is an implicit appeal to God.
23. Judgment - That is, justice: Faith - The word here means
24. Ye blind guides, who teach others to do as you do yourselves,
to strain out a gnat - From the liquor they are going to drink! and
swallow a camel - It is strange, that glaring false print, strain at a
gnat, which quite alters the sense, should run through all the
editions of our English Bibles.
25. Full of rapine and intemperance - The censure is double
(taking intemperance in the vulgar sense.) These miserable men
procured unjustly what they used intemperately. No wonder tables
so furnished prove a snare, as many find by sad experience. Thus
luxury punishes fraud while it feeds disease with the fruits of
injustice. But intemperance in the full sense takes in not only all
kinds of outward intemperance, particularly in eating and
drinking, but all intemperate or immoderate desires, whether of
honour, gain, or sensual pleasure.
26. Ye build the tombs of the prophets - And that is all, for ye
neither observe their sayings, nor imitate their actions.
30. We would not have been partakers - So ye make fair
professions, as did your fathers.
31. Wherefore ye testify against yourselves - By your smooth
words as well as devilish actions: that ye are the genuine sons of
them who killed the prophets of their own times, while they
professed the utmost veneration for those of past ages. From the
3rd to the 30th is exposed every thing that commonly passes in
the world for religion, whereby the pretenders to it keep both
themselves and others from entering into the kingdom of God;
from attaining, or even seeking after those tempers, in which
alone true Christianity consists. As,
1. Punctuality in attending on public and private prayer, ver. 4-14.
Matt. xxiii, 4-14
2. Zeal to make proselytes to our opinion or communion, though
they have less of the spirit of religion than before, ver. 15.
3. A superstitious reverence for consecrated places or things,
without any for Him to whom they are consecrated, ver. 16-22.
4. A scrupulous exactness in little observances, though with the
neglect of justice, mercy, and faith, ver. 23, 24.
5. A nice cautiousness to cleanse the outward behaviour, but
without any regard to inward purity, ver. 25, 26.
6. A specious face of virtue and piety, covering the deepest
hypocrisy and villany, ver. 27, 28.
7. A professed veneration for all good men, except those among
whom they live.
32. Fill ye up - A word of permission, not of command: as if he
had said, I contend with you no longer: I leave you to yourselves:
you have conquered: now ye may follow the devices of your own
hearts. The measure of your fathers - Wickedness: ye may now be
as wicked as they.
33. Ye serpents - Our Lord having now lost all hope of reclaiming
these, speaks so as to affright others from the like sins.
34. Wherefore - That it may appear you are the true children of
those murderers, and have a right to have their iniquities visited
on you: Behold, I send - Is not this speaking as one having
authority? Prophets - Men with supernatural credentials: Wise
men - Such as have both natural abilities and experience; and
scribes - Men of learning: but all will not avail. Luke xi, 49.
35. That upon you may come - The consequence of which will be,
that upon you will come the vengeance of all the righteous blood
shed on the earth - Zechariah the son of Barachiah - Termed
Jehoiada, 2 Chron. xxiv, 20, where the story is related: Ye slew -
Ye make that murder also of your fathers your own, by imitating
it: Between the temple - That is, the inner temple, and the altar -
Which stood in the outer court. Our Lord seems to refer to this
instance, rather than any other, because he was the last of the
prophets on record that were slain by the Jews for reproving their
wickedness: and because God's requiring this blood as well as that
of Abel, is particularly taken notice of in Scripture.
37. Luke xiii, 34.
38. Behold your house - The temple, which is now your house,
not God's: Is left unto you - Our Lord spake this as he was going
out of it for the last time: Desolate - Forsaken of God and his
Christ, and sentenced to utter destruction.
39. Ye - Jews in general; men of Jerusalem in particular: shall not
see me from this time - Which includes the short space till his
death, till, after a long interval of desolation and misery, ye say,
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord - Ye receive me
with joyful and thankful hearts. This also shall be accomplished in
1. Mark xiii, 1; Luke xxi, 5.
2. There shall not be left one stone upon another - This was most
punctually fulfilled; for after the temple was burnt, Titus, the
Roman general, ordered the very foundations of it to be dug up;
after which the ground on which it stood was ploughed up by
3. As he sat on the mount of Olives - Whence they had a full view
of the temple. When shall these things be? And what shall be the
sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? - The disciples
1. Concerning the time of the destruction of the temple;
2. Concerning the signs of Christ's coming, and of the end of the
world, as if they imagined these two were the same thing. Our
Lord answers distinctly concerning
1. The destruction of the temple and city, with the signs
preceding, ver. 4, &c., 15, &c.
2. His own coming, and the end of the world, with the signs
thereof, ver. 29-31.
3. The time of the destruction of the temple, ver. 32, &c.
4. The time of the end of the world, ver. 36.
4. Take heed that no man deceive you - The caution is more
particularly designed for the succeeding Christians, whom the
apostles then represented. The first sign of my coming is, the rise
of false prophets. But it is highly probable, many of these things
refer to more important events, which are yet to come.
5. Many shall come in my name - First, false Christs, next, false
prophets, Matt. xxiv, 11. At length, both together, ver. 24. And
indeed never did so many impostors appear in the world as a few
years before the destruction of Jerusalem; undoubtedly because
that was the time wherein the Jews in general expected the
6. Wars - Near: Rumours of wars - At a distance. All these things
must come to pass - As a foundation for lasting tranquillity. But
the end - Concerning which ye inquire, is not yet - So far from it,
that this is but the beginning sorrows.
9. Then shall they deliver you up to affliction - As if ye were the
cause of all these evils. And ye shall be hated of all nations - Even
of those who tolerate all other sects and parties; but in no nation
will the children of the devil tolerate the children of God. Matt. x,
10. Then shall many be offended - So as utterly to make
shipwreck of faith and a pure conscience. But hold ye fast faith,
ver. 11. in spite of false prophets: love, even when iniquity and
offenses abound, ver. 12. And hope, unto the end, ver. 13. He that
does so, shall be snatched out of the burning. The love of many
will wax cold - The generality of those who love God will (like
the Church at Ephesus, Rev. ii, 4, ) leave their first love.
13. Matt. x, 22; Mark xiii, 13; Luke xxi, 17.
14. This Gospel shall be preached in all the world - Not
universally: this is not done yet: but in general through the several
parts of the world, and not only in Judea And this was done by St.
Paul and the other apostles, before Jerusalem was destroyed. And
then shall the end come - Of the city and temple. Josephus's
History of the Jewish War is the best commentary on this chapter.
it is a wonderful instance of God's providence, that he, an eye
witness, and one who lived and died a Jew, should, especially in
so extraordinary a manner, be preserved, to transmit to us a
collection of important facts, which so exactly illustrate this
glorious prophecy, in almost every circumstance. Mark xiii, 10.
15. When ye see the abomination of desolation - Daniel's term is,
The abomination that maketh desolate, Dan. xi, 31; that is, the
standards of the desolating legions, on which they bear the
abominable images of their idols: Standing in the holy place - Not
only the temple and the mountain on which it stood, but the whole
city of Jerusalem, and several furlongs of land round about it,
were accounted holy; particularly the mount on which our Lord
now sat, and on which the Roman afterward planted their ensigns.
He that readeth let him understand - Whoever reads that prophecy
of Daniel, let him deeply consider it. Mark xiii, 14; Luke xxi, 20;
Dan. ix, 27.
16. Then let them who are in Judea flee to the mountains - So the
Christians did, and were preserved. It is remarkable that after the
Roman under Cestus Gallus made their first advances toward
Jerusalem, they suddenly withdrew again, in a most unexpected
and indeed impolitic manner. This the Christians took as a signal
to retire, which they did, some to Pella, and others to Mount
17. Let not him that is on the house top come down to take any
thing out of his house - It may be remembered that their stairs
used to be on the outside of their houses.
19. Wo to them that are with child, and to them that give suck -
Because they cannot so readily make their escape.
20. Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter - They did so; and
their flight was in the spring. Neither on the Sabbath - Being on
many accounts inconvenient; beside that many would have
scrupled to travel far on that day. For the Jews thought it unlawful
to walk above two thousand paces (two miles) on the Sabbath
21. Then shall be great tribulation - Have not many things spoken
in the chapter, as well as in Mark xiii, , Luke xxi, . a farther and
much more extensive meaning than has been yet fulfilled?
22. And unless those days were shortened - By the taking of
Jerusalem sooner than could be expected: No flesh would be
saved - The whole nation would be destroyed. But for the elect's
sake - That is, for the sake of the Christians.
23. Mark xiii, 21; Luke xvii, 23.
24. They would deceive, if possible, the very elect - But it is not
possible that God should suffer the body of Christians to be thus
27. For as the lightning goeth forth - For the next coming of
Christ will be as quick as lightning; so that there will not be time
for any such previous warning.
28. For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles he
gathered together - Our Lord gives this, as a farther reason, why
they should not hearken to any pretended deliverer. As if he had
said, Expect not any deliverer of the Jewish nation; for it is
devoted to destruction. It is already before God a dead carcass,
which the Roman eagles will soon devour. Luke xvii, 37.
29. Immediately after the tribulation of those days - Here our Lord
begins to speak of his last coming. But he speaks not so much in
the language of man as of God, with whom a thousand years are
as one day, one moment. Many of the primitive Christians not
observing this, thought he would come immediately, in the
common sense of the word: a mistake which St. Paul labours to
remove, in his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. The powers of
the heavens - Probably the influences of the heavenly bodies.
Mark xiii, 24; Luke xxi, 25.
30. Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven - It
seems a little before he himself descends. The sun, moon, and
stars being extinguished, (probably not those of our system only, )
the sign of the Son of man (perhaps the cross) will appear in the
glory of the Lord.
31. They shall gather together his elect - That is, all that have
endured to the end in the faith which worketh by love.
32. Learn a parable - Our Lord having spoke of the signs
preceding the two grand events, concerning which the apostles
had inquired, begins here to speak of the time of them. And to the
question proposed, ver. 3, concerning the time of the destruction
of Jerusalem, he answers ver. 34. Concerning the time of the end
of the world, he answers chap. xxiv, 36. Mark xiii, 28; Luke xxi,
34. This generation of men now living shall not pass till all these
things be done - The expression implies, that great part of that
generation would be passed away, but not the whole. Just so it
was. For the city and temple were destroyed thirty-nine or forty
36. But of that day - The day of judgment; Knoweth no man - Not
while our Lord was on earth. Yet it might be afterward revealed to
St. John consistently with this.
37. Luke xvii, 26.
40. One is taken - Into God's immediate protection: and one is left
- To share the common calamities. Our Lord speaks as having the
whole transaction present before his eyes.
41. Two women shall be grinding - Which was then a common
employment of women.
42. Ye know not what hour your Lord cometh - Either to require
your soul of you, or to avenge himself of this nation. Mark xiii,
33; Luke xii, 35; xxi, 34.
45. Who then is the faithful and wise servant - Which of you
aspires after this character? Wise - Every moment retaining the
clearest conviction, that all he now has is only intrusted to him as
a steward: Faithful - Thinking, speaking, and acting continually,
in a manner suitable to that conviction.
48. But if that evil servant - Now evil, having put away faith and a
51. And allot him his portion with the hypocrites - The worst of
sinners, as upright and sincere as he was once. If ministers are the
persons here primarily intended, there is a peculiar propriety in
the expression. For no hypocrisy can be baser, than to call
ourselves ministers of Christ, while we are the slaves of avarice,
ambition, or sensuality. Wherever such are found, may God
reform them by his grace, or disarm them of that power and
influence, which they continually abuse to his dishonour, and to
their own aggravated damnation!
XXV This chapter contains the last public discourse which our
Lord uttered before he was offered up. He had before frequently
declared what would be the portion of all the workers of iniquity.
But what will become of those who do no harm? Honest,
inoffensive, good sort of people? We have here a clear and full
answer to this important question.
1. Then shall the kingdom of heaven - That is, the candidates for
it, be like ten virgins - The bridemaids on the wedding night were
wont to go to the house where the bride was, with burning lamps
or torches in their hands, to wait for the bride groom's coming.
When he drew near, they went to meet him with their lamps, and
to conduct him to the bride.
3. The foolish took no oil with them - No more than kept them
burning just for the present. None to supply their future want, to
recruit their lamp's decay. The lamp is faith. A lamp and oil with
it, is faith working by love.
4. The wise took oil in their vessels - Love in their hearts. And
they daily sought a fresh supply of spiritual strength, till their faith
was made perfect.
5. While the bridegroom delayed - That is, before they were called
to attend him, they all slumbered and slept - Were easy and quiet,
the wise enjoying a true, the foolish a false peace.
6. At midnight - In an hour quite unthought of.
7. They trimmed their lamps - They examined themselves and
prepared to meet their God.
8. Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out - Our faith is
dead. What a time to discover this! Whether it mean the time of
death, or of judgment. Unto which of the saints wilt thou then
turn? Who can help thee at such a season?
9. But the wise answered, Lest there be not enough for us and
you! - Beginning the sentence with a beautiful abruptness; such as
showed their surprise at the state of those poor wretches, who had
so long received them, as well as their own souls. Lest there be
not enough - It is sure there is not; for no man has more than
holiness enough for himself. Go ye rather to them that sell -
Without money and without price: that is, to God, to Christ. And
buy - If ye can. O no! The time is past and returns no more!
13. Watch therefore - He that watches has not only a burning
lamp, but likewise oil in his vessel. And even when he sleepeth,
his heart waketh. He is quiet; but not secure.
14. Our Lord proceeds by a parable still plainer (if that can be) to
declare the final reward of a harmless man. May God give all such
in this their day, ears to hear and hearts to understand it! The
kingdom of heaven - That is, the King of heaven, Christ. Mark
xiii, 34; Luke xix, 12.
15. To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one
- And who knows whether (all circumstances considered) there be
a greater disproportion than this, in the talents of those who have
received the most, and those who have received the fewest?
According to his own ability - The words may be translated more
literally, according to his own mighty power. And immediately
took his journey - To heaven.
18. He that had received one - Made his having fewer talents than
others a pretense for not improving any. Went and hid his master's
money - Reader, art thou doing the same? Art thou hiding the
talent God hath lent thee?
24. I knew thou art a hard man - No. Thou knowest him not. He
never knew God, who thinks him a hard master. Reaping where
thou hast not sown - That is, requiring more of us than thou hast
given us power to perform. So does every obstinate sinner, in one
kind or other, lay the blame of his own sins on God.
25. And I was afraid - Lest if I had improved my talent, I should
have had the more to answer for. So from this fear, one will not
learn to read, another will not hear sermons!
26. Thou knewest - That I require impossibilities! This is not an
allowing, but a strong denial of the charge.
27. Thou oughtest therefore - On that very account, on thy own
supposition, to have improved my talent, as far as was possible.
29. To every one that hath shall be given - So close does God
keep to this stated rule, from the beginning to the end of the
world. Matt. xiii, 12.
30. Cast ye the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness - For
what? what had he done? It is true he had not done good. But
neither is he charged with doing any harm. Why, for this reason,
for barely doing no harm, he is consigned to outer darkness. He is
pronounced a wicked, because he was a slothful, an unprofitable
servant. So mere harmlessness, on which many build their hope of
salvation, was the cause of his damnation! There shall be the
weeping - Of the careless thoughtless sinner; and the gnashing of
teeth - Of the proud and stubborn. The same great truth, that there
is no such thing as negative goodness, is in this chapter shown
1. In the parable of the virgins;
2. In the still plainer parable of the servants, who had received the
3. In a direct unparabolical declaration of the manner wherein our
Lord will proceed at the last day. The several parts of each of
these exactly answers each other, only each rises above the
31. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy
angels with him - With what majesty and grandeur does our Lord
here speak of himself Giving us one of the noblest instances of the
true sublime. Indeed not many descriptions in the sacred writings
themselves seem to equal this. Methinks we can hardly read it
without imagining ourselves before the awful tribunal it describes.
34. Inherit the kingdom - Purchased by my blood, for all who
have believed in me with the faith which wrought by love.
Prepared for you - On purpose for you. May it not be probably
inferred from hence, that man was not created merely to fill up the
places of the fallen angels?
35. I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave
me drink - All these works of outward mercy suppose faith and
love, and must needs he accompanied with works of spiritual
mercy. But works of this kind the Judge could not mention in the
same manner. He could not say, I was in error, and ye recalled me
to the truth; I was in sin, and ye brought me to repentance. In
prison - Prisoners need to be visited above all others, as they are
commonly solitary and forsaken by the rest of the world.
37. Then shall the righteous answer - It cannot be, that either the
righteous or the wicked should answer in these very words. What
we learn herefrom is, that neither of them have the same
estimation of their own works as the Judge hath.
40. Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these my brethren,
ye did it to me - What encouragement is here to assist the
household of faith? But let us likewise remember to do good to all
41. Depart into the everlasting fire, which was prepared for the
devil and his angels - Not originally for you: you are intruders
into everlasting fire.
44. Then will they answer - So the endeavour to justify
themselves, will remain with the wicked even to that day!
46. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the
righteous into life everlasting - Either therefore the punishment is
strictly eternal, or the reward is not: the very same expression
being applied to the former as to the latter. The Judge will speak
first to the righteous, in the audience of the wicked. The wicked
shall then go away into everlasting fire, in the view of the
righteous. Thus the damned shall see nothing of the everlasting
life; but the just will see the punishment of the ungodly. It is not
only particularly observable here
1. That the punishment lasts as long as the reward; but,
2. That this punishment is so far from ceasing at the end of the
world, that it does not begin till then.
1. When Jesus had finished all these discourses - When he had
spoken all he had to speak. Till then he would not enter upon his
passion: then he would delay it no longer. Mark xiv, 1; Luke xxii,
2. After two days is the passover - The manner wherein this was
celebrated gives much light to several circumstances that follow.
The master of the family began the feast with a cup of wine,
which having solemnly blessed, he divided among the guests,
Luke xxii, 17. Then the supper began with the unleavened bread
and bitter herbs; which when they had all tasted, one of the young
persons present, according to Exod. xii, 26, asked the reason of
the solemnity. This introduced the showing forth, or declaration of
it: in allusion to which we read of showing forth the Lord's death,
1 Cor. xi, 26. Then the master rose up and took another cup,
before the lamb was tasted. After supper, he took a thin loaf or
cake, which he broke and divided to all at the table, and likewise
the cup, usually called the cup of thanksgiving, of which he drank
first, and then all the guests. It was this bread and this cup which
our Lord consecrated to be a standing memorial of his death.
3. The chief priests and the scribes and the elders of the people -
(Heads of families.) These together constituted the sanhedrim, or
great council, which had the supreme authority, both in civil and
5. But they said, Not at the feast - This was the result of human
wisdom. But when Judas came they changed their purpose. So the
counsel of God took place, and the true paschal Lamb was offered
up on the great day of the paschal solemnity.
6. Mark xiv, 3.
8. His disciples seeing it, had indignation, saying - It seems
several of them were angry, and spoke, though none so warmly as
11. Ye have the poor always with you - Such is the wise and
gracious providence of God, that we may have always
opportunities of relieving their wants, and so laying up for
ourselves treasures in heaven.
12. She hath done it for my burial - As it were for the embalming
of my body. Indeed this was not her design: but our Lord puts this
construction upon it, to confirm thereby what he had before said
to his disciples, concerning his approaching death.
13. This Gospel - That is, this part of the Gospel history.
14. Mark xiv, 10; Luke xxii, 3.
15. They bargained with him for thirty pieces of silver - (About
three pounds fifteen shillings sterling; or sixteen dollars sixty-
seven cents, ) the price of a slave, Exod. xxi, 32.
17. On the first day of unleavened bread - Being Thursday, the
fourteenth day of the first month, Exod. xii, 6, 15. Mark xiv, 12
Luke xxii, 7
18. The Master saith, My time is at hand - That is, the time of my
20. Mark xiv, 17; Luke xxii, 14.
23. He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish - Which it seems
Judas was doing at that very time. This dish was a vessel full of
vinegar, wherein they dipped their bitter herbs.
24. The Son of man goeth through sufferings to glory, as it is
written of him - Yet this is no excuse for him that betrayeth him:
miserable will that man be: it had been good for that man if he
had not been born - May not the same be said of every man that
finally perishes? But who can reconcile this, if it were true of
Judas alone, with the doctrine of universal salvation?
25. Thou hast said - That is, it is as thou hast said.
26. Jesus took the bread - the bread or cake, which the master of
the family used to divide among them, after they had eaten the
passover. The custom our Lord now transferred to a nobler use.
This bread is, that is, signifies or represents my body, according to
the style of the sacred writers. Thus Gen. xl, 12, The three
branches are three days. Thus Gal. iv, 24, St. Paul speaking of
Sarah and Hagar, says, These are the two covenants. Thus in the
grand type of our Lord, Exod. xii, 11, God says of the paschal
lamb, This is the Lord's passover. Now Christ substituting the
holy communion for the passover, follows the style of the Old
Testament, and uses the same expressions the Jews were wont to
use in celebrating the passover.
27. And he took the cup - Called by the Jews the cup of
thanksgiving; which the master of the family used likewise to give
to each after supper.
28. This is the sign of my blood, whereby the new testament or
covenant is confirmed. Which is shed for many - As many as
spring from Adam.
29. I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, till I drink
it new with you in my Father's kingdom - That is, I shall taste no
more wine, till I drink wine of quite another kind in the glorious
kingdom of my Father. And of this you shall also partake with
30. And when they had sung the hymn - Which was constantly
sung at the close of the passover. It consisteth of six psalms, from
the 113th to the 118th. The mount of Olives - Was over against
the temple, about two miles from Jerusalem. Mark xiv, 26; Luke
xxii, 39; John xviii, 1.
31. All ye will be offended at me - Something will happen to me,
which will occasion your falling into sin by forsaking me. Zech.
32. But notwithstanding this, after I am risen I will go before you
(as a shepherd before his sheep) into Galilee. Though you forsake
me, I will not for this forsake you.
34. Before cock crowing thou wilt deny me thrice - That is, before
three in the morning, the usual time of cock crowing: although
one cock was heard to crow once, after Peter's first denial of his
35. In like manner also said all the disciples - But such was the
tenderness of our Lord, that he would not aggravate their sin by
making any reply.
36. Then cometh Jesus to a place called Gethsemane - That is, the
valley of fatness. The garden probably had its name from its soil
and situation, laying in some little valley between two of those
many hills, the range of which constitutes the mount of Olives.
Mark xiv, 32; Luke xxii, 40.
37. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee - To
be witnesses of all; he began to be sorrowful and in deep anguish -
Probably from feeling the arrows of the Almighty stick fast in his
soul, while God laid on him the iniquities of us all. Who can tell
what painful and dreadful sensations were then impressed on him
by the immediate hand of God? The former word in the original
properly signifies, to be penetrated with the most exquisite
sorrow; the latter to be quite depressed, and almost overwhelmed
with the load.
39. And going a little farther - About a stone's cast, Luke xxii, 41
- So that the apostles could both see and hear him still. If it be
possible, let this cup pass from me - And it did pass from him
quickly. When he cried unto God with strong cries and tears, he
was heard in that which he feared. God did take away the terror
and severity of that inward conflict.
41. The spirit - Your spirit: ye yourselves. The flesh - Your
nature. How gentle a rebuke was this, and how kind an apology!
especially at a time when our Lord's own mind was so weighed
down with sorrow.
45. Sleep on now, if you can, and take your rest - For any farther
service you can be of to me.
47. Mark xiv, 43; Luke xxii, 47; John xviii, 2.
50. The heroic behaviour of the blessed Jesus, in the whole period
of his sufferings, will be observed by every attentive eye, and felt
by every pious heart: although the sacred historians, according to
their usual but wonderful simplicity, make no encomiums upon it.
With what composure does he go forth to meet the traitor! With
what calmness receive that malignant kiss! With what dignity
does he deliver himself into the hands of his enemies! Yet plainly
showing his superiority over them, and even then leading as it
were captivity captive!
51. And one of them striking the servant of the high priest -
Probably the person that seized Jesus first; Cut off his ear -
Aiming, it seems, to cleave his head, but that by a secret
providence interposing, he declined the blow. Mark xiv, 47; Luke
xxii, 49; John xviii, 10.
52. All they that take the sword - Without God's giving it them:
without sufficient authority.
53. He will presently give me more than twelve legions of angels -
The least of whom, it is probable, could overturn the earth and
destroy all the inhabitants of it.
55. Mark xiv, 48; Luke xxii, 52
57. They led him away to Caiaphas - From the house of Annas,
the father-in-law of Caiaphas, to whom they had carried him first.
Mark xiv, 53; Luke xxii, 54; John xviii, 12.
58. But Peter followed him afar off - Variously agitated by
conflicting passions; love constrained him to follow his Master;
fear made him follow afar off. And going in, sat with the servants
- Unfit companions as the event showed.
60. Yet found they none - On whose evidence they could
condemn him to die. At last came two false witnesses - Such they
were, although part of what they said was true; because our Lord
did not speak some of those words at all; nor any of them in this
64. Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man - He speaks in the third
person, modestly, and yet plainly; Sitting on the right hand of
power - That is, the right hand of God: And coming upon the
clouds of heaven - As he is represented by Daniel, Dan. vii, 13,
14. Our Lord looked very unlike that person now! But nothing
could be more awful, more majestic and becoming, than such an
admonition in such circumstances!
65. Then the high priest rent his clothes - Though the high priest
was forbidden to rend his clothes (that is, his upper garment) in
some cases where others were allowed to do it, Lev. xxi, 10; yet
in case of blasphemy or any public calamity, it was thought
allowable. Caiaphas hereby expressed, in the most artful manner,
his horror at hearing such grievous blasphemy.
67. Then - After he had declared he was the Son of God, the
sanhedrim doubtless ordered him to be carried out, while they
were consulting what to do. And then it was that the soldiers who
kept him began these insults upon him.
72. He denied with an oath - To which possibly he was not
unaccustomed, before our Lord called him.
73. Surely thou art also one of them, for thy speech discovereth
thee - Malchus might have brought a stronger proof than this. But
such is the overruling providence of God, that the world, in the
height of their zeal, commonly catch hold of the very weakest of
all arguments against the children of God.
74. Then began he to curse and to swear - Having now quite lost
the reins, the government of himself.
1. In the morning - As the sanhedrim used to meet in one of the
courts of the temple, which was never opened in the night, they
were forced to stay till the morning before they could proceed
regularly, in the resolution they had taken to put him to death.
Mark xv, 1; Luke xxii, 66; xxiii, 1; John xviii, 28.
2. Having bound him - They had bound him when he was first
apprehended. But they did it now afresh, to secure him from any
danger of an escape, as he passed through the streets of Jerusalem.
3. Then Judas seeing that he was condemned - Which probably he
thought Christ would have prevented by a miracle.
4. They said, what is that to us? - How easily could they digest
innocent blood! And yet they had a conscience! It is not lawful
(say they) to put it into the treasury - But very lawful to slay the
5. In that part of the temple where the sanhedrim met.
7. They bought with them the potter's field - Well known, it
seems, by that name. This was a small price for a field so near
Jerusalem. But the earth had probably been digged for potters'
vessels, so that it was now neither fit for tillage nor pasture, and
consequently of small value. Foreigners - Heathens especially, of
whom there were then great numbers in Jerusalem.
9. Then was fulfilled - What was figuratively represented of old,
was now really accomplished. What was spoken by the prophet -
The word Jeremy, which was added to the text in latter copies,
and thence received into many translations, is evidently a mistake:
for he who spoke what St. Matthew here cites (or rather
paraphrases) was not Jeremy, but Zechariah. Zech. xi, 12.
10. As the Lord commanded me - To write, to record.
11. Art thou the king of the Jews? - Jesus before Caiaphas avows
himself to be the Christ, before Pilate to be a king; clearly
showing thereby, that his answering no more, was not owing to
15. At every feast - Every year, at the feast of the passover. Mark
xv, 6; Luke xxiii, 17; John xviii, 39.
18. He knew that for envy they had delivered him - As well as
from malice and revenge; they envied him, because the people
22. They all say, Let him be crucified - The punishment which
Barabbas had deserved: and this probably made them think of it.
But in their malice they forgot with how dangerous a precedent
they furnished the Roman governor. And indeed within the
compass of a few years it turned dreadfully upon themselves.
24. Then Pilate took water and washed his hands - This was a
custom frequently used among the heathens as well as among the
Jews, in token of innocency.
25. His blood be on us and on our children - As this imprecation
was dread. fully answered in the ruin so quickly brought on the
Jewish nation, and the calamities which have ever since pursued
that wretched people, so it was peculiarly fulfilled by Titus the
Roman general, on the Jews whom he took during the siege of
Jerusalem. So many, after having been scourged in a terrible
manner, were crucified all round the city, that in a while there was
not room near the wall for the crosses to stand by each other.
Probably this befell some of those who now joined in this cry, as
it certainly did many of their children: the very finger of God thus
pointing out their crime in crucifying his Son.
26. He delivered him to be crucified - The person crucified was
nailed to the cross as it lay on the ground, through each hand
extended to the utmost stretch, and through both the feet together.
Then the cross was raised up, and the foot of it thrust with a
violent shock into a hole in the ground prepared for it. This shock
disjointed the body, whose whole weight hung upon the nails, till
the persons expired through mere dint of pain. This kind of death
was used only by the Romans, and by them inflicted only on
slaves and the vilest criminals.
27. The whole troop - or cohort. This was a body of foot
commanded by the governor, which was appointed to prevent
disorders and tumults, especially on solemn occasions. Mark xv,
16 John xix, 2.
28. They put on him a scarlet robe - Such as kings and generals
wore; probably an old tattered one.
32. Him they compelled to bear his cross - He bore it himself, till
he sunk under it, John xix, 17.
33. A place called Golgotha, that is, the place of a skull -
Golgotha in Syriac signifies a skull or head: it was probably called
so from this time; being an eminence upon Mount Calvary, not far
from the king's gardens. Mark xv, 22; Luke xxiii, 33; John xix, 17
34. They gave him vinegar mingled with gall - Out of derision:
which, however nauseous, he received and tasted of. St. Mark
mentions also a different mixture which was given him, Wine
mingled with myrrh: such as it was customary to give to dying
criminals, to make them less sensible of their sufferings: but this
our Lord refused to taste, determining to bear the full force of his
35. They parted his garments - This was the custom of the
Romams. The soldiers performed the office of executioners, and
divided among them the spoils of the criminals. My vesture - That
is, my inner garment. Psalm xxii, 18.
38. Mark xv, 27; Luke xxiii, 32.
44. Mark xv, 32; Luke xxiii, 33.
45. From the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the earth unto
the ninth hour - Insomuch, that even a heathen philosopher seeing
it, and knowing it could not be a natural eclipse, because it was at
the time of the full moon, and continued three hours together,
cried out, "Either the God of nature suffers, or the frame of the
world is dissolved." By this darkness God testified his abhorrence
of the wickedness which was then committing. It likewise
intimated Christ's sore conflicts with the Divine justice, and with
all the powers of darkness.
46. About the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice - Our
Lord's great agony probably continued these three whole hours, at
the conclusion of which be thus cried out, while he suffered from
God himself what was unutterable. My God, my God, why hast
thou forsaken me? - Our Lord hereby at once expresses his trust in
God, and a most distressing sense of his letting loose the powers
of darkness upon him, withdrawing the comfortable discoveries of
his presence, and filling his soul with a terrible sense of the wrath
due to the sins which he was bearing. Psalm xxii, 1.
48. One taking a sponge, filled it with vinegar - Vinegar and water
was the usual drink of the Roman soldiers. It does not appear, that
this was given him in derision, but rather with a friendly design,
that he might not die before Elijah came. John xix, 28.
50. After he had cried with a loud voice - To show that his life
was still whole in him. He dismissed his spirit - So the original
expression may be literally translated: an expression admirably
suited to our Lord's words, John x, xviii, No man taketh my life
from me, but I lay it down of myself. He died by a voluntary act
of his own, and in a way peculiar to himself. He alone of all men
that ever were, could have continued alive even in the greatest
tortures, as long as he pleased, or have retired from the body
whenever he had thought fit. And how does it illustrate that love
which he manifested in his death? Insomuch as he did not use his
power to quit his body, as soon as it was fastened to the cross,
leaving only an insensible corpse, to the cruelty of his murderers:
but continued his abode in it, with a steady resolution, as long as it
was proper. He then retired from it, with a majesty and dignity
never known or to be known in any other death: dying, if one may
so express it, like the Prince of life.
51. Immediately upon his death, while the sun was still darkened,
the veil of the temple, which separated the holy of holies from the
court of the priests, though made of the richest and strongest
tapestry, was rent in two from the top to the bottom: so that while
the priest was ministering at the golden altar (it being the time of
the sacrifice) the sacred oracle, by an invisible power was laid
open to full view: God thereby signifying the speedy removal of
the veil of the Jewish ceremonies the casting down the partition
wall, so that the Jews and Gentiles were now admitted to equal
privileges, and the opening a way through the veil of his flesh for
all believers into the most holy place. And the earth was shaken -
There was a general earthquake through the whole globe, though
chiefly near Jerusalem: God testifying thereby his wrath against
the Jewish nation, for the horrid impiety they were committing.
52. Some of the tombs were shattered and laid open by the
earthquake, and while they continued unclosed (and they must
have stood open all the Sabbath, seeing the law would not allow
any attempt to close them) many bodies of holy men were raised,
(perhaps Simeon, Zacharias, John the Baptist, and others who had
believed in Christ, and were known to many in Jerusalem, ) And
coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, went into the holy
city (Jerusalem) and appeared to many - Who had probably
known them before: God hereby signifying, that Christ had
conquered death, and would raise all his saints in due season.
54. The centurion - The officer who commanded the guard; and
they that were with him feared, saying, Truly this was the Son of
God - Referring to the words of the chief priests and scribes, chap.
xxvii, xliii, He said, I am the Son of God.
56. James - The less: he was so called, to distinguish him from the
other James, the brother of John; probably because he was less in
57. When the evening was come - That is, after three o'clock; the
time from three to six they termed the evening. Mark xv, 42; Luke
xxiii, 50; John xix, 38.
62. On the morrow, the day that followed the day of the
preparation - The day of preparation was the day before the
Sabbath, whereon they were to prepare for the celebration of it.
The next day then was the Sabbath according to the Jews. But the
evangelist seems to express it by this circumlocution, to show the
Jewish Sabbath was then abolished.
63. That impostor said, while he was yet alive, After three days I
will rise again - We do not find that he had ever said this to them,
unless when he spoke of the temple of his body, John ii, 19, 21.
And if they here refer to what he then said, how perverse and
iniquitous was their construction on these words, when he was on
his trial before the council? Chap. xxvi, 61. Then they seemed not
to understand them!
65. Ye have a guard - Of your own, in the tower of Antonia,
which was stationed there for the service of the temple.
66. They went and secured the sepulchre, sealing the stone, and
setting a guard - They set Pilate's signet, or the public seal of the
sanhedrim upon a fastening which they had put on the stone. And
all this uncommon caution was overruled by the providence of
God, to give the strongest proofs of Christ's ensuing resurrection;
since there could be no room for the least suspicion of deceit,
when it should be found, that his body was raised out of a new
tomb, where there was no other corpse, and this tomb hewn out of
a rock, the mouth of which was secured by a great stone, under a
seal, and a guard of soldiers.
1. Mark xvi, 1; Luke xxiv, 1; John xx, 1
2. An angel of the Lord had rolled away the stone and sat upon it -
St. Luke and St. John speak of two angels that appeared: but it
seems as if only one of them had appeared sitting on the stone
without the sepulchre, and then going into it, was seen with
another angel, sitting, one where the head, the other where the feet
of the body had lain.
6. Come, see the place where the Lord lay - Probably in speaking
he rose up, and going before the women into the sepulchre, said,
Come, see the place. This clearly reconciles what St. John relates,
John xx, 12, this being one of the two angels there mentioned.
7. There shall ye see him - In his solemn appearance to them all
together. But their gracious Lord would not be absent so long: he
appeared to them several times before then. Lo, I have told you -
A solemn confirmation of what he had said.
9. Hail - The word in its primary sense means, "Rejoice:" in its
secondary and more usual meaning, "Happiness attend you."
10. Go tell my brethren - I still own them as such, though they so
lately disowned and forsook me.
13. Say, his disciples came by night, and stole him while we slept
- Is it possible, that any man of sense should digest this poor,
shallow inconsistency? If ye were awake, why did you let the
disciples steal him? If asleep, how do you know they did?
16. To the mountain where Jesus had appointed them - This was
probably Mount Tabor, where, (it is commonly supposed, ) he had
been before transfigured. It seems to have been here also, that he
appeared to above five hundred brethren at once.
18. All power is given to me - Even as man. As God, he had all
power from eternity.
19. Disciple all nations - Make them my disciples. This includes
the whole design of Christ's commission. Baptizing and teaching
are the two great branches of that general design. And these were
to be determined by the circumstances of things; which made it
necessary in baptizing adult Jews or heathens, to teach them
before they were baptized; in discipling their children, to baptize
them before they were taught; as the Jewish children in all ages
were first circumcised, and after taught to do all God had
commanded them. Mark xvi, 15.