if they hear not Moses and the prophets; as they did not, nor regarded what they said of Christ, but disbelieved both him and them:
neither will they be persuaded: or brought to repent and believe;
though one rose from the dead; as Christ did; whose resurrection, the truth of it they endeavoured to baffle, stifle, and suppress: this was the sign Christ gave them, of the truth of his Messiahship; and yet they repented not of what they had done to him, that they might believe in him; but remained still in their impenitence and infidelity, and so died. This shows the regard that ought to be had to the written word, as read, or preached; and that it is a sad sign of a desperate condition, when men reject divine revelation. Beza's ancient copy adds, "and should go unto them".
it is impossible but that offences will come; considering the decree of God, the malice of Satan, the wickedness of men, the corruption both of their principles and practices. The Ethiopic version renders it, "temptation will come"; that which will be trying to the faith of the saints, and a stumblingblock to weak minds, as reproach and persecution, errors, and heresies, and the evil lives of professors:
but woe unto him through whom they come; See Gill on Matthew 18:7
if thy brother trespass against thee; See Gill on Matthew 18:15.
rebuke him; privately, and proceed according to the rules there directed to; lay his sin before him; endeavour not only to convince him of the fact, but of the evil of it; how contrary to the will of God; how unbecoming the Gospel of Christ, and the profession he makes; how hurtful to himself, as well as injurious to his brother; and how such evils give the enemy occasion to reproach the saints, to speak evil of the ways of God, and blaspheme the name and doctrines of Christ, and harden sinners in their sins, as well as stumble weak Christians, and sadden the hearts of the righteous.
And if he repent; if he is made sensible of his evil, and is truly sorry for it, and ingenuously acknowledges it:
forgive him; the injury committed against a man's self; and pray to God for him, for an application of his pardoning grace and mercy to him; and comfort him with the hope of forgiveness with God, by the gracious promises and declarations of pardon made to such persons; drop all resentment and anger, and behave towards him with all sweetness of temper, and affability, and respect: and this is to be done immediately, as soon as a man repents: and so say the Jews (p);
"says R. Chanina bar Papa, whoever commits a thing, and repents of it, they forgive him directly; as it is said, Malachi 3:5 "and fear not me": lo, they that fear me, forgive immediately:''
such were reckoned good men, men fearing God.
(p) T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 5. 1.
thou shalt forgive him; this seems to be occasioned by Peter's putting such a question to Christ, how often a brother might sin against him, and he forgive him; see Matthew 18:21. The Jews plead for great tenderness and readiness to forgive penitents, when they ask for forgiveness; which they insist upon should be done: they say (q),
"it is forbidden an injured person to be cruel, and not forgive; this is not the way of the seed of Israel: but when he that has done the injury asks of him, and prays him once and again, and he knows that he has returned from his sin, and hath repented of his evil, he ought to forgive him; and whoever makes haste to forgive, is praiseworthy.''
But then, they say (r),
"if he brings all the rams of Nebaioth that are in the world, he is not to have pardon, unless he asks it of him.''
And they seem also to have set times for it, as well as restrain the frequent repetition of it: they observe (s);
"if a man returns by repentance, in the intermediate time, (i.e. as the gloss explains it, between the beginning of the year, or New Year's Day, and the day of atonement,) they pardon him; but if he does not return in the intermediate time, though he brings all the rams of Nebaioth in the world, they do not pardon him.''
A man that was always forgiving, was reckoned by them an extraordinary man: it is said (t) of Mar Zutra bar Nachman, that he was , "forgiving every day"; but yet they do not seem to care to carry it to so great a length, and to repeat it so often as our Lord directs; they allow a man to forgive three times, but not a fourth; See Gill on Matthew 18:22.
(q) Maimon. Hilchot Chobel Umezik, c. 5. sect. 10. (r) T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 92. 1.((s) T. Bab. Rosh Hashama, fol. 17. 2.((t) Juchasin, fol. 90. 2.
increase our faith; both the faith of working miracles, and the grace of believing in him: by which, as they express their sense of the weakness, and imperfection of their faith; and their great desire to have it increased, which might be for their comfort, and his glory; so they acknowledge his divine power, and that he is the author and finisher of faith; and that as the beginning, so the increase of it is from him: wherefore faith is not of a man's self, or the produce of man's freewill and power, but is the gift of God; and even where it is, it is not in man to increase it, or add to it, or to draw it forth into exercise; this also is the operation of God. And if the apostles had need to put up such a petition to Christ, much more reason have other men.
if ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed; See Gill on Matthew 17:20.
ye might say unto this sycamine tree; which was near at hand; for in Galilee, where Christ now was, such trees grew, especially in lower Galilee: hence those words (u);
"from Caphar-Hananiah, and upwards, all the land which does not bear "sycamines", is upper Galilee, and from Caphar-Hananiah, and downwards, all which does bear "sycamines", is lower Galilee.''
This, by Maimonides (w), is said to be a wild fig tree; but the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions render it, the "mulberry tree": and that the sycamine and mulberry tree are the same, Beza shows from Dioscorides, Athenaeus, and Galen; though whether it is the same with the sycamore in Luke 19:4 is not certain. The first of these writers makes them to be the same; and the last asserts they are different, and so they should seem by their different names.
Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea, and it should obey you: for such a tree to be plucked up by the root at a word speaking, is very wonderful and miraculous, and beyond the power of nature; and much more for it to remove into the sea, and plant itself there, where trees grow not; and to believe this should be done, and such a word of command obeyed, one should think required very great faith; and yet, if it was but as a grain of mustard seed, which is very small, it might be done. The design is to show, what great things are done by faith, and what an increase of it they should have.
(u) Misna Sheviith, c. 9. sect. 2.((w) In Misna Demai, c. 1. sect. 1. & in Bava Bathra, c. 2. sect. 11.
Which of you having a servant ploughing, or feeding cattle; or "sheep", as the Syriac and Persic versions render it; or a "ploughman", or a "shepherd", as the Ethiopic version; which are both servile works, and done in the field: not that the disciples had any such servants under them, though the words are directed to them, for they had left all, and followed Christ; nor were they brought up to husbandry, but most of them in the fishing trade; Christ only puts this for instance, and supposes such a case:
will say unto him by and by; or straightway, immediately, directly,
when he is come from the field; and has done ploughing, and feeding his cattle, sheep, or cows, or whatever they are; as soon as ever he comes home; or "first", as the Persic version; the first thing he shall say to him, upon his return from thence,
go; to the other side of the room, and to the table there ready spread, and furnished; or "go up", as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions render it; go up to the upper room where they used to dine or sup; see Luke 22:12 or "come in", as the Persic version renders it; and which some learned men observe, is the sense of the Greek word here used; come into the house,
and sit down to meat? or fall, and lie down on the couch, as was the custom in those countries at eating.
make ready wherewith I may sup: by dressing the food, spreading the table, and putting the food on it; for it was the business of servants to prepare, as at the passover; see Gill on Matthew 26:17 so at ordinary suppers:
and gird thyself and serve me; by giving him drink, or whatsoever he called for: and as they used to wear long garments in those countries, servants girded them up about their loins, that they might be fit for service, expedite in it, and perform it more readily, and with greater ease and dispatch:
till I have eaten and drunken; finished his meal:
and afterward thou shalt eat and drink: the, Persic and Ethiopic versions read in the imperative, "then eat thou and drink". If he was an Hebrew servant, he ate and drank the same as his master did: for so one of the Jewish canons runs (x);
"every Hebrew servant, or handmaid, their master is obliged to make them equal to himself "in food and in drink", in clothing, and in dwelling, as it is said, Deuteronomy 15:16 "because he is well with thee": wherefore, thou shalt not eat fine bread, and he eat coarse bread, nor drink old wine and he drink new wine, &c.''
And even a Canaanitish servant was to be provided with proper food and drink: they say indeed (y),
"it is lawful to cause a Canaanitish servant to serve with rigour: but though the law is such, the property of mercy, and the ways of wisdom are, that a man should be merciful, and not make his yoke heavy on his servant, nor oppress him; but cause him to "eat and drink" of all sorts of food and drink; and the former wise men used to give their servants of all sorts of food that they themselves ate of;''
which was using them as they did their Hebrew servants: yea, it is added;
"and they gave their beasts, and their servants, food, before they ate their own meal;''
but this was not commonly done: it does not appear to have been the practice in Christ's time; nor was it necessary.
(x) Maimon. Hilch. Abadim, c. 1. sect. 9. Vid. T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 22. 1.((y) Maimon. ib. c. 9. sect. 8.
because he did the things that were commanded him? for, as a servant, he ought to do them, and in so doing does but his duty: he may indeed be commended for it, but not thanked:
I trow not; or "I think not"; it do not seem so to me, as if he would, or, as though it was proper and necessary he should. The Ethiopic version leaves out this last clause.
when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you; as preaching, or hearing, or reading, or praying, and every other act of divine and religious worship; or all acts of justice and benevolence among men; every duty both for matter and manner, as it should be, according to the will of God, from right principles, and to right ends, and by the assistance of the Spirit and grace of God:
say we are unprofitable servants; not in such sense as unregenerate men are, who are disobedient, and to every good work reprobate and unfit, Romans 3:12 or as the slothful servant, who did not what his Lord commanded, Matthew 25:30. Nor is this the sense, that they are unprofitable to men; for they may be, and are very useful and serviceable to men, and to the saints; but that they are so to God, by whose grace and strength they are what they are, and do what they do; and can give nothing to him but what is his own, and his due; and so can lay him under no obligation to them, nor merit any thing from him; no, not even thanks, and much less heaven and eternal life. The Persic version, quite contrary to the sense of the words reads, "we are pure or clean servants, for we have done", &c. and the Ethiopic version leaves out the word "unprofitable", and reads "we are servants"; we acknowledge ourselves to be servants:
we have done that which is our duty to do; wherefore, as diligence is highly proper, and reasonable in doing the work of the Lord, humility is necessary, that a man may not arrogate that to himself, which do not belong to him; or boast of his performances; or place any dependence on them: or have his expectations raised on account of them; since when he has done the most and best, he has done but what he should, and what he was obliged to, and in that is greatly deficient: a saying somewhat like this, is used by R. Jochanan ben Zaccai (z);
"if thou hast learned the law much, do not ascribe the good to thyself; for, for this wast thou created.''
(z) Pirke Abot. c. 2. sect. 8.
that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee; or "between Samaria and Galilee"; as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it; he steered his course through the borders of both these countries; and as he passed, Samaria was on his right hand, and Galilee on the left.
there met ten men that were lepers; who either were confined to this place, this village, for they might not be in the larger cities, and walled towns; See Gill on Matthew 8:2 or else having heard that Jesus of Nazareth was going to such a place, got together, and met him as he entered in it, in hope of being cured by him:
which stood afar off; from Christ, by reason of their uncleanness, as they were obliged to by the law, in Leviticus 13:46.
And said, Jesus, Master; or "Rabbi, Jesus", thou great Master in Israel; who art a teacher come from God, and who dost surprising miracles, and art able to cure us:
have mercy on us; and cleanse us from our leprosy; we believe thou art able, if thou wilt; show compassion to us, miserable objects, as they were; their faith was the same with that of the other leper, in Matthew 8:2.
go show yourselves unto the priests. The Ethiopic version reads in the singular number, "to the priest", as in Matthew 8:4 whose business it was to inspect into this matter, to see whether a person was healed, or not; and if he was to, pronounce him clean, when a gift was offered according to the law, in Leviticus 14:2. So careful was Christ that the ceremonial law, which was as yet in force, might be strictly observed: though these ten lepers could not be viewed and examined by the priest together, but one after another; for so is the tradition of the Jews (a),
"two leprosies are not looked upon together, whether they be in one man, or in two men; but he views one, and either shuts him up, or declares or dismisses him, and then goes to a second:''
And it came to pass that as they went, they were cleansed; before they came to the priests, whilst they were in the way, they at once found themselves entirely healed of their disease; as Christ very likely gave them reason to believe they should; whereby his power was seen in it; and it was a clear case, that it was owing to him, and not the priests, that they had their cleansing. On the nature of the disease of leprosy, and of the likeness there is between that and sin, and of the agreement between the cleansing of a leper, and the cleansing of a sinner by the blood of Christ; see Gill on Luke 5:12. Here it may be observed, that as these lepers had a cure while they were in the way of their duty, going, as Christ ordered them; so generally speaking, it is in the way of means, in an attendance on ordinances, that souls receive a spiritual cure from Christ: the man at Bethesda's pool waited long, and had healing at last; it is good to watch at Wisdom's gates, and wait at the posts of her door; faith in Christ, whereby the heart is purified, comes by hearing the word of God.
(a) Misn. Negaim, c. 3. sect. 1.
turned back; either immediately, before he went to the priests; or afterwards, came back to Jesus, when he bad been with them:
and with a loud voice glorified God; Jesus Christ, who is truly God, and whose proper divinity might be seen in this miracle; see 2 Kings 5:7 or God the Father, through Christ, and for his sake, by ascribing his cure to his power, and by returning thanks for it, and acknowledging with gratitude, Christ to be the author of it; which he did, with as loud a voice, as he cried to him for mercy; that all might know the miracle that was wrought, and join in giving glory to Christ: and it was but one of them that did so; gratitude is a rare thing, it is found but in few; unthankfulness cleaves to most persons; it is the general character of men to be unthankful and unholy; multitudes, even all men, share in the providential goodness of God, yet few take notice of, and are thankful for it; God is therefore said to be good, to the unthankful and to the evil, Luke 6:35. Few there are who are of Jacob's spirit, that judge themselves unworthy of the least of mercies, and are heartily thankful for every favour: and this the leper did, when he was sensible that he was healed; no man will seek after a cure, till he sees, or is sensible of his sickness and his wound; and when he does, he will inquire after, and make use of the proper means of healing; and when he has got a cure, he is, or at least ought to be, thankful for it: and so it is in spiritual things, the whole need not a physician, or see no need of the physician, Christ; but those who are sick, and sensible of the sickness of sin, do; and when they perceive that their diseases are healed, and their sins forgiven, then they call upon their souls, and all within them, to bless the Lord, who has done this for them: and it becomes such who are cured of the leprosy of sin, to glorify God; not only with their mouths, by bringing their offering and sacrifice of praise to him, as the leper by the law was obliged to bring his offering, at the time of his cleansing; but by deeds also, with their bodies, and with their spirits; by a holy, humble, and spiritual conversation before men, signified by the leper's washing himself, and clothes, and shaving off all his hair; and by attending on the word and ordinances, by a professed subjection to the Gospel of Christ, signified by the blood being put upon the tip of the right ear of the leper, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the great toe of his right foot, Leviticus 14:14.
giving him thanks; who had shown compassion to him, had exerted his power on him, and had favoured him with such a singular mercy, as restoring him to health:
and he was a Samaritan; this is particularly remarked by the evangelist, because the Samaritans were reckoned by the Jews, to be ignorant and irreligious persons, and no better than Heathens; and yet this man behaved as a religious good man, who had a sense of his mercy, knew his duty, and his obligations, and performed them; when the other nine, who very likely were all Jews, acted a very stupid and ungrateful part.
were there not ten cleansed? so many applied for a cure, and so many had it:
but where are the nine? or nine of them; here was one, but where were the rest? they went and showed themselves to the priests, and then returned to their several places of abode, and took no notice of their physician and Saviour, to make any returns to him. They are many, that are cleansed by the blood of Christ; his blood was shed for many, for the remission of sins; and by his righteousness, he justifies many; at least there are many who profess themselves to be cleansed by him, and yet there are but few that glorify him, by keeping close to the rule of his word, by giving up themselves to the churches of Christ, and by walking with them in the ordinances of the Gospel: Christ's flock, which is separated from the world, and walks in Gospel order, within the inclosures of it, is but a little flock; they are but a few names in Sardis, who have not defiled themselves, with corruptions in doctrine and discipline; and these few are often such, who have been the worst of men, the vilest of sinners, from whom it has been least expected, they should glorify Christ: publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel church state, embrace its doctrines, and submit to its ordinances, when the Scribes and Pharisees, self-righteous persons, do not: ingratitude is a crime many are guilty of, and it is highly resented by Christ; instances of gratitude are few, but as one in ten; now and then a single Samaritan, a stranger, one that has been a vile sinner, comes and acknowledges the grace of Christ in cleansing him; comes to the ministers of Christ, and to the churches, and tells them what God has done for his soul: but where are the rest, the many others, who have received spiritual advantages, and never come to relate them, and express by words and deeds, thankfulness for them?
to give glory to God; for inasmuch as they did not return to give thanks to Christ, and acknowledge him the author of their cure and cleansing they did not give glory to God:
save this stranger; for so the Samaritans were reckoned by the Jews, even as the Gentile, aliens from the commonwealth, of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise. Christ speaks in the language and dialect of the nation, and yet we find sometimes, that, "a Cuthite", or a Samaritan, is distinguished from, "a stranger", Or a Gentile: they might set up their beasts in the inns of the Samaritans, but not in the inns of "strangers"; and a man might let out his bath to a Samaritan, but not to a "stranger" (b); but this must be understood of them in times past, before they were found out to be idolaters; when, as Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says (c), they were as Israelites in all things, and kept the law and the precepts of it, and even more exactly than the Israelites themselves did (d); but afterwards a Samaritan was reckoned a Gentile, and so he was in the times of Christ; and therefore he calls a Samaritan a stranger: that tradition of the Jews, requires some notice and consideration (e); all are defiled
"with leprosies, except "strangers", and the proselyte of the gate.''
And yet here is a stranger among the Jews, and reckoned unclean, on account of leprosy, and sent with them to show himself to the priest.
(b) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 15. 2. & 21. 2.((c) T. Hieros Shekalim, fol. 46. 2.((d) Maimon. in Misn. Beracot, c. 8. sect. 8. & Bartenora in ib. c. 7. sect. 1.((e) Misn. Negaim, c. 3. sect. 1. Maimon. Tumaot Tzaraot, c. 9. sect. 1.
go thy way; to thine own country, town, or city, and to thy friends and relations, and about thy business:
thy faith hath made thee whole: or "saved thee", in soul, as well as body; that is, Christ, the object of faith, had saved him; for his salvation is ascribed to his faith, not as the efficient cause of it, but as that was wrought in him, and drawn forth from him, and exercised by him, in receiving this blessing from Christ, the author of it, even both corporeal and spiritual salvation.
when the kingdom of God should come; either the kingdom that God had promised, or the kingdom of the Messiah, who is truly God, that had been so often spoken of by John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles. The Ethiopic version reads, "the kingdom of heaven", which is the same with the kingdom of God; for these phrases are promiscuously used. This question they need not have asked, had they carefully attended to the writings of the Old Testament they had in their hands; and had they diligently observed the signs of the times, in which they lived; and had they seriously regarded the ministry and miracles of Christ among them; from these things, they might have concluded, not only that the time was at hand, when the kingdom of God should be set up, but that it was already come: they might have observed, that not only the harbinger of the Messiah was come, who was John the Baptist; but that the Messiah himself was among them, by the many wonderful things which he wrought among them, and by the many Scripture prophecies which were fulfilled in him; they might have seen that the sceptre was manifestly departing from Judah; that all power and authority were falling into the hands of the Romans; and that only a mere shadow and appearance of it were among them; they might have known, by calculation, that the time fixed in Daniel's prophecy, for the coming of the Messiah, was now up, and therefore he must be come; and they had very good reason to believe that Jesus was he.
He answered them and said, the kingdom of God cometh not with observation; or so as to be observed by the eye, or to be distinguished when it comes as the kingdoms of this world, by outward pomp and splendour, by temporal riches, external honours, and worldly power and grandeur; though it so far came with observation, that had they had eyes to see, they might have observed that it was come, by what they saw done by Christ, particularly the power that he showed in the dispossessing devils out of the bodies of men; see Matthew 12:28. The Syriac version reads, "with observations"; and some understand the words of the observances of the ceremonies of the law, of days, months, and years, and the difference of meats, and the like, which the kingdom of God is not in, and which were to cease upon its coming; but the former sense is best.
lo here, or lo there; in this, or that place, country or city, the kingdom of God is set up; the throne of the Messiah is there; and there are the "regalia", or ensigns of his regal power; no such thing will fall under the observations of man, not but that this would be said, and was said by some persons, as it is suggested it should, Luke 17:23 and it appears from Matthew 24:26 that some would say he was in such a wilderness, and others, that he was in some private retirement in a house, or that he was in such a town or city; as particularly it was said in Adrian's time, that he was in a place called Bither, where Bar Cochab set up himself for the Messiah: but the sense of the words is, that no such thing ought to be said; and if it was said, it would not be true; nor should it be credited: and the Cambridge copy of Beza's adds, "believe not"; as in Matthew 24:26
for behold the kingdom of God is within you: in the elect of God among the Jews, in their hearts; it being of a spiritual nature, and lying in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; in the dispossession of Satan, the strong man armed; in the putting down of the old man, sin, with its deceitful lusts, from the throne; and in setting up a principle of grace, as a governing one; and so escapes the observation of natural men, and cannot be pointed at as here, or there: hence it appears, that the work of grace is an internal thing; it is wrought in the hearts of men; it has its seat in the inward parts, and is therefore called the inner, and the hidden man: it does not lie in words, in an outward profession of religion: it is oil in the vessel of the heart, and is distinct from the lamp of a visible profession; it does not lie in external works and duties, but it is an inward principle of holiness in the soul, or spirit of man, produced there by the Spirit of God, and is therefore called by his name, John 3:6 and it also appears to be a very glorious thing, since it is signified by a kingdom: it is a rich treasure; it is gold tried in the fire, which makes rich; it is an estate, that good part, and portion, which can never be taken away; it is preferable to the greatest portion on earth men can enjoy; even the largest and richest kingdom in the world is not to be compared with it; it is a kingdom which cannot be moved; and as it is glorious in itself, it makes such glorious who are partakers of it: "the king's daughter is all glorious within", Psalm 45:13 and it is high in the esteem of God; it is the hidden man of the heart, but it is in his sight; it is in his view, and is in his sight of great price: it is likewise evident from hence, that it has great power and authority in the soul; it has the government in it; it reigns, through righteousness, unto eternal life; and by it, Christ, as king of saints, dwells and reigns in his people. Now this is not to be understood of the Scribes and Pharisees, as if they had any such internal principle in them, who were as painted sepulchres, and had nothing but rottenness and corruption in them: but the sense is, that there were some of the people of the Jews, of whom the Pharisees were a part, who had been powerfully wrought upon under the ministry of John, Christ, and his apostles; and were so many instances of efficacious grace, and of the kingdom of God, and of his Gospel coming with power to them. Though the words may be rendered,
the kingdom of God is among you; and the meaning be, that the king Messiah was already come, and was among them, and his kingdom was already set up, of which the miracles of Christ were a full proof; and if they could not discern these signs of the times, and evident appearances of the kingdom of God among them, they would never be able to make any observation of it, hereafter, or elsewhere.
the days will come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the son of man; , "the days of the Messiah", a phrase frequently used in Jewish writings; that is, when they should be glad to enjoy one such a day in the personal presence of Christ, as they now did; and instead of looking forward for happy days, in a temporal sense, they would look back upon the days they have enjoyed with Christ, when he was in person among them, and wish they had one of those days again; when besides his corporeal presence, and spiritual communion with him, and the advantage of his ministry and miracles, they bad much outward peace and comfort: whereas in those days nothing but afflictions and persecutions abode them, wherever they went; so that by these words Christ would have them to understand, that they were not to expect better times, but worse, and that they would be glad of one of the days they now had, and in vain wish for it:
and ye shall not see it, or enjoy it. Moreover, days and opportunities of public worship, of praying to the Lord, of singing his praise, of hearing his word, and of attending on his ordinances, may be called days of the son of man, or Lord's days; see Revelation 1:10 even the first days of weeks, on which days the apostles, and primitive churches, met together for religious worship: and these may very well be called days of the son of man, since, on those days, he first appeared to his disciples, after his resurrection, John 20:19 and on the same days his disciples and followers met together to preach in his name, to hear his Gospel, and to commemorate his sufferings and death, Acts 20:7 and still continue to do so; and seeing he often meets with his people at such seasons and opportunities, fills them with his Spirit, communicates his grace, and indulges them with fellowship with himself, which make those days desirable ones: but sometimes so violent has been the persecution of the saints, that they have not been able, for a long time, to enjoy one of those days openly, and with freedom, though greatly desired by them; which may be considered as a fulfilment, at least in part, of this prediction of our Lord's: and therefore, whenever this is the case, it should not be thought strange; it is no other than what Christ has foretold should be: and it may teach us to prize, make use of, and improve such days and opportunities, whilst we have them, we know not how soon our teachers may be removed into corners, when we shall wish in vain for them; and seasons of hearing them, as is here suggested: sad it is to know the worth of Gospel opportunities, by the want of them!
Go not after them nor follow them: the last clause, "nor follow them", is left out in the Syriac and Persic versions; the meaning is, give no credit to them; as if Christ was come again in person, and was in such a place, do not go along with them, where they direct, as into the desert, or into the secret chambers; for to follow them will be very dangerous, of bad consequence, as well as vain and fruitless; see Acts 5:36.
and shineth unto the other part under heaven; enlightens the earth, which is under the heaven: though the sense of the words, as they lie in the original text, seems to be, that as the lightning lightens at one end of the heavens, and shines to the other; which is done at once, in a moment, in a twinkling of the eye, and to which agrees the Ethiopic version;
so shall also the son of man be in his day: which is not to be understood of the swift progress of the Gospel, after his resurrection and ascension, and the pouring forth of his Spirit; but of his sudden coming, first to take vengeance on the Jewish nation for their rejection of him, and then at the last day, to judge both quick and dead. By his day, is meant his kingdom and glory, or his appearance with power, and great glory: Thus we read (f) for Solomon, "in his hour", that is, in his glory, in the time of his kingdom, when he was in his greatest magnificence.
(f) Misna Bava Metzia, c. 7. sect. 1. & Jarchi & Bartenora in ib. Vid. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 15. 4. & 16. 1.
and be rejected of this generation; as the Messiah, and be treated with the utmost scorn and contempt, and in the most base and ignominious manner: being put to the death of the cross, and hanged upon the accursed tree: all which were necessary, "must" be; on account of the purposes and decrees of God; the covenant engagements of Christ; the predictions of the prophets of the Old Testament, and his own; and the salvation of his people.
so shall it be also in the days of the son of man; some time before, and at his coming in power, and great glory, to destroy the Jews, their nation, city, and temple; and as then, so it will be when he shall come in person, at the last day, to destroy the world: the times of Noah's flood, of Jerusalem's destruction, and of the end of the world, bear a great resemblance to each other: and when the son of man comes in either of these senses, then will the kingdom of God come; or then will it appear that the Messiah is come, and has took to himself his great power, and reigns.
they married wives, they were given in marriage; not as should have been done by professors of religion among themselves; but the sons of God, or professors of the true religion, the posterity of Seth took them wives of the daughters of men, of the wicked, of the seed of Cain; and very likely gave their daughters in marriage to the sons of men; see Genesis 6:2 and so they went on in a secure manner, notwithstanding all the remonstrances, warnings, and threatenings of God, by his servant:
until the day that Noe entered into the ark; which he had built by divine direction, for the saving of himself and family, and the creatures that were with him, from the waters of the flood; and this was in the six hundredth year of his life, in the second month, the month of October, and in the seventeenth day of that month; Genesis 7:11
and the flood came and destroyed them all; all the inhabitants of the earth, every living substance, men, cattle, creeping things, and fowls of the heaven; all but Noah, and his wife, and his three sons, and their wives, and the creatures that were with him in the ark: the flood came not of itself, or by chance, or through the influence, or by the concurrence of second causes merely; though these were used, ordered, and directed by the first cause of all things; but it came by the power of God, according to his will; he brought it on the world of the ungodly; see 2 Peter 2:5 The mode of expression is Jewish; it is said of Cain, who is supposed by the Jews to have lived till the flood, , "the flood came", and washed him away (g).
(g) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 32. fol. 27. 2. & Shemot Rabba, sect. 31. fol. 134. 4.
they did eat, they drank; See Gill on Luke 17:27, and Ezekiel 16:49. This is to be understood of the inhabitants of Sodom, and the other cities that perished with it:
they bought, they sold: they traded among themselves, and with their neighbours; and, as it appears from the text referred to, they had no regard to the poor and needy; they made no conscience of defrauding and oppressing them:
they planted; vineyards, and fruit trees; living in a very fruitful soil, like the garden of God, Genesis 13:10
they builded; houses for themselves and posterity; and thus, as a Jewish writer (h) observes of them, in agreement with our Lord's design in all this, being filled with the increase of the earth, they lived in security, peace, and tranquillity.
(h) Pirke Eliezer, c. 25.
it rained fire and brimstone from heaven; the Syriac version reads, "the Lord rained"; so it is said in Genesis 19:24 "the Lord rained from the Lord"; Jehovah the Son, rained from Jehovah the Father; or the word of the Lord, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem render it; and which is no inconsiderable proof of the deity of Christ: and the Persic version here reads, "God rained"; and so this amazing shower of fire and brimstone, and which was a violent storm of thunder and lightning, is ascribed to God in See Gill on 2 Peter 2:6. The Hebrew word, used in Genesis 19:24 though it is rendered in the Targum of Jonathan, and by the Septuagint, both which words signify "sulphur", or brimstone; and which last word is used here, following the Greek version; yet it is observed, by some learned men, that it rather signifies "pitch", or "rosin", which proceeds from some sort of trees; and indeed, by its derivation, it seems to signify something belonging to or that comes out of the wood of Gopher, of which the ark was made, Genesis 6:14 which some think to be the pine tree, from whence comes pitch: and this, though it comes from the inside of a tree, may as well be said to be rained from heaven, as brimstone, which is taken out of the bowels of the earth: and the rather, since pitch is sometimes fluid; and especially it being combustible, may be joined with fire, as well as sulphur, or brimstone; though a shower of neither, can be accounted for in an ordinary way, but must be extraordinary and miraculous: the destruction of this city, with others, by fire from heaven, and the lake Asphaltites, being a bituminous and sulphureous one, into which the tract of land they stood upon was converted, are confirmed by the testimonies of Heathen writers; as Tacitus (k), Solinus (l), Strabo (m), Justin (n), and Pliny (o); as well as by Josephus (p), and Philo the Jew (q).
And destroyed them all; all the inhabitants of Sodom, and all of Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim; and which was an ensample of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the land of Judea. Deuteronomy 29:23 and of the burning of the world, and of the perdition of the wicked in hell, 2 Peter 2:6.
(i) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 50. fol. 45. 3.((k) Hist. l. 5. (l) Polyhistor. c. 48. (m) Geograph. l. 16. (n) Histor. l. 36. c. 3.((o) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 16. (p) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 11. sect. 4. & de Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 21. (q) De Vita Mosis, l. 2. p. 662.
(r) Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 3. c. 5.
and his stuff in the house; or "his vessels", his goods and furniture; or his utensils, and instruments of trade and business:
let him not come down; the inner way of the house, from the top:
to take it away; with him in his flight, but let him descend by the steps, or ladder, on the outside of the house, and make his escape directly to Pella, or the mountains:
and he that is in the field; at work, and has laid down his clothes in some certain part of the field, or at home:
let him likewise not return back; to fetch them, but make the best of his way as he is; See Gill on Matthew 24:17 and See Gill on Matthew 24:18.
(s) Pirke Eliezer, c. 25. (t) Baal Hatturim in Genesis 19.26. (u) Targum Jon. & Hieros. in ib. (w) Pirke Eliezer ib. (x) Aben Ezra in Genesis 19.26. (y) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 20. 2. & Menachot, fol. 21. 1.((z) Bartenora in Misna Erubin, c. 1. sect. 10. (a) T. Bab Kiddushin, fol. 62. 1.((b) Nat. Hist. l. 31. c. 7. (c) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 12. (d) Adv. Haeres. l. 4. c. 51. (f) Jarchi in Genesis 19.26. (g) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 51. fol. 46. 1.
shall lose it: there he will be in the greatest danger:
and whosoever shall lose his life; or expose it to danger, by fleeing to the mountains, or going to Pella, a small town beyond Jordan, of no strength, and where there might be thought no security;
shall preserve it; he shall be safe; See Gill on Matthew 16:25.
there shall be two men in one bed; this is said agreeably to the time, the night before mentioned, that being the time to be in bed, at rest and asleep; for they that sleep, sleep in the night; and still suggests the security the people of the Jews would be in, at the time of their destruction. The word "men" is not in the text, it is only, "there shall be two in one bed"; and may as well be understood of a man and his wife, since it is not so usual for two men to lie in one bed; and this the rather more strongly expresses the distinguishing providence of God in saving one, and suffering the other to be taken and lost: the words may be rendered, "there shall be two upon one couch": that is, sitting together at supper, which was also in the night season: it was the custom of the ancients to sit upon beds, or couches, at meals; and they had a bed, or couch, which held two persons only, and was called Biclinium (h): and so this likewise intimates, that the destruction of the Jews would be at a time when they were thoughtless of it, and were eating and drinking, as in the days of Noah and of Lot, Luke 17:27.
The one shall be taken; by the Roman soldiers:
and the other shall be left; being, by one providence or another preserved; which is mentioned, to show the distinction God will make in his providence, and to encourage believers to trust in it.
(h) Vid. Alstorph. de Lectis Veter. c. 15. p. 90, 91.
The one shall be taken and the other left; the Roman soldiers entering the mill, will lay hold on the one, and carry her away with them, and leave the other; and for which no other reason can be given, but the sovereign will and providence of God, which should overrule and dispose the minds of these men, to act in such a manner.
the one shall be taken, and the other left: the circumstances attending these several, instances show, that they cannot be considered as expressive of the use and effect of the preaching of the Gospel, that being the savour of life unto life to some, and the savour of death unto death to others, some being effectually called by it, and others being left to die in their sins; since these men and women are said to be either in a bed asleep, or on a couch feasting, or grinding in a mill, or at work in the field, and so not in proper places, and at leisure to hear the Gospel preached. The whole verse is left out in the Ethiopic version, and in some Greek copies; though it is in the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions, and in the Complutensian edition, and in some ancient copies, as Beza observes.