that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. This is the petition the disciples of Christ were put upon making to the Lord of the harvest, on consideration of the present condition multitudes of souls were in: they could not make, qualify, and send out ministers themselves; this is not man's work, but God's: he only is able to furnish with ministerial gifts, to work upon, and powerfully incline the hearts of men to this service, to call and send them forth into it, and to assist and succeed them in it. The persons desired to be sent are "labourers"; faithful, diligent, and industrious preachers of the Gospel; such as lay out themselves, their time, talents, and strength, in their master's service; and do not indulge themselves in sloth and idleness: the place they are desired to be sent into is, "into the harvest"; into the field of the world, where God's elect lie, and there labour in preaching the Gospel; hoping for a divine blessing, and an almighty power to attend their ministrations, for the conversion of sinners, and edification of saints. The request the disciples are directed to make, concerning these persons for this work, is, that the Lord of the harvest would "send", or "thrust" them "forth"; implying power and efficacy, and authority, on the part of the sender; and backwardness on the part of those that are sent, through modesty: a sense of the greatness of the work, and of their own unworthiness and unfitness for it. Very opportunely did our Lord move his disciples to put up this petition, and was done, no question, with a view to, and to prepare for, his mission of the twelve to preach the Gospel, of which there is an account in the next chapter.
he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out; or "over all devils", as Luke 9:1. It was usual with the Jews to call a demon or devil , "an unclean spirit"; especially such as frequented burying places: so in one place (l), an unclean spirit is interpreted by the gloss, , "the spirit of the demons", or devils; and in another (m) place, , "the demon of the graves"; where necromancers sought to be, that these spirits might be their familiars, and assist them in their enchantments: accordingly the devils are here called, "unclean spirits"; being in themselves, in their own nature, unclean, and being the cause and means of defiling others, and delighting in impure persons, places, and things. There were many of these spirits, who, because of the great impiety of the Jews, the prevalence of magic arts among them, and by divine permission, had at this time taken possession of great numbers of persons; whereby Christ had an opportunity of giving proof of his deity, of his being the Messiah, the seed of the woman, that should bruise the serpent's head, by his ejecting them; and of confirming the mission of his disciples, and establishing the doctrine preached by them, by giving them power and authority over them, to cast them out also: and whereas various diseases frequently followed and attended such possessions; he likewise gave them power
to heal all manner of sicknesses, and all manner of diseases, as he himself had done. The expressions are very full and strong, and include all sorts of maladies incident to human bodies, either of men or women; all distempers natural or preternatural, curable or incurable, by human methods: so that at the same time they were sent to preach the Gospel, for the cure of the souls of men, they were empowered to heal the diseases of their bodies; and which, one should think, could not fail of recommending them to men, and of ingratiating them into their affections.
(l) T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 3. 2. (m) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 65. 2.
The first, Simon, who is called Peter; his pure Hebrew name was Simeon, as he is called, Acts 15:14 but in the then Jerusalem dialect, and in Rabbinical language, this name is frequently read and pronounced "Simon", as here: we often read of R. Simon, and of R. Juda bar Simon, in both Talmuds (p). This apostle is also called Peter, to distinguish him from Simon the Canaanite, and which signifies a stone, or rock, in allusion to the object of his faith, and the steadiness of it. He is said to be the "first"; not that he was the head of the rest of the apostles, or had any primacy, dominion, and authority over them; but because he was first called, and was the first that was to open the door of faith to the Gentiles: but chiefly he is said to be so for order's sake; for, some one in the account must be named first, and he as proper as any:
and Andrew his brother; who was called at the same time with him, and therefore are put together. This name is also to be met with in the Talmudic writings; see Gill on Matthew 4:18.
James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; these two were called next and together, and therefore are placed in this order: the former is so called, to distinguish him from another James, the son of Alphaeus, after mentioned; and the latter is the beloved disciple; these were surnamed "Boanerges", that is, "sons of thunder".
(n) Misn. Yoma, c. 1. sect. 5. (o) Misn. Roshhashana, c. 1. sect. 3. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (p) T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 46. 4. Bab. Sabbath, fol. 55. 1. & Bava Kama, fol. 47. 2.
Thomas, and Matthew the publican: by the other evangelists Matthew is mentioned first; but he being the writer of this Gospel, puts Thomas first, which is an instance of his modesty; and also calls himself the "publican", which the other do not: this he mentions, to magnify the grace of God in his vocation. The Jews (s) speak of "Matthai", or "Matthew", as a disciple of Jesus. Thomas was sometimes called Didymus; the one was his Hebrew, the other his Greek name, and both signify a "twin", as it is very likely he was: mention is made of R. Thoma, or Thomas bar Papias, in a Jewish writer (t). Next follow,
James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus: the former of these is so called, to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee. This is the James, who was the brother of our Lord, Galatians 1:19 and is called "James the less", Mark 15:40. Alphaeus his father, is the same with Cleopas, Luke 24:18 or Cleophas, John 19:25. The Hebrew name, which often occurs among the Jews (u), may be pronounced either Chlophi, or Alphi, or with the Greek termination Cleopas, or Alphaeus. The latter of this pair of apostles is the same person with Jude, the writer of the epistle, which bears that name, and was the brother of James, with whom he is coupled: he was called Lebbaeus, either from the town of Lebba, a sea coast town of Galilee, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks; or from the Hebrew word "my heart", as others, either for his prudence, or through the affections of his parents to him; as the Latins call one they love, "meum corculum", "my little heart"; or from "a lion", that being the motto of the tribe of Judah. His surname Thaddaeus, is thought by some to be a deflexion of Jude; or Judas, and as coming from the same root, which signifies "to praise", or "give thanks"; or from the Syriac word, "a breast", and may be so called for the same reason as he was Lebbaeus. Frequent mention is made of this name, "Thaddai", or "Thaddaeus", among the Talmudic (w) doctors. The Jews themselves speak (x) of one "Thodah", as a disciple of Jesus, by whom no doubt they mean this same disciple. Eusebius (y) mentions one Thaddaeus, as one of the seventy disciples, who was sent to Agbarus, king of Edessa, who was healed and converted by him. This Agbarus is reported to have wrote a letter to Jesus Christ, desiring him to come and cure him of his disease; to which Christ is said to return an answer, promising to send one of his disciples, who should do it; and that accordingly, after Christ's death, Thomas sent this Thaddaeus to him.
(q) Massechet Sopherim, c. 21. sect. 7. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 71. fol. 63. 4. (r) T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 19. 1.((s) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 43. 1.((t) Juchasin, fol. 105. 2.((u) Echa Rabbati, fol. 58. 4. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 60. 4. Juchasin, fol. 92. 1.((w) T. Hieros. Celaim, fol. 27. 2. Sabbat, fol. 6. 1. Erubim, fol. 23. 3. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 123. 1. & Erubim, fol. 71. 2. Juchasin, fol. 81. 1. & 105. 2. & 108. 1.((x) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 43. l. (y) Eccl. Hist. l. 1. c. 12, 13.
who also betrayed him; that is, Christ, as the Persic version reads it; and which is mentioned, not only for further distinction's sake, but to his great reproach. We learn from hence, that in the purest society on earth there has been an impure person; nor can it therefore be expected it should be otherwise in the best of churches, in the present state of imperfection; yea, that a man may have the highest gifts and attainments, as Judas had, ministerial gifts, and power of performing miracles, and yet be a vile person.
(z) Misn. Sanhedrim, c. 9. sect. 6. & Bartenora, in ib. T. Avoda Zara, fol. 36. 2. Maimon. Issure Bia, c. 12. sect. 4, 5, 6. 14. & Sanhedrim, c. 18. sect. 6. & Obede Cochabim, c. 2. sect. 9. Philo de Monarchia, l. 1. p. 818. (a) De Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 1, 2. & 6. 1. Vid. Abot R. Nathan, c. 6. fol. 3. 2. (b) Vid. Wolfi Heb. Bibl. p. 410. (c) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 50. 2. & Avoda Zara, fol. 14. 2.((d) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 13. c. 4. (e) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 8. 1. & Sabbat, fol. 33. 1. Sota, fol. 35. 1. Pesachim, fol. 105. 1. Taanith, fol. 19. 2. & 27. 2. Yebamot, fol. 62. 2.
and he commanded them, as their Lord and Master; he gave them strict orders, which he expected them to comply with, and closely enjoined them, as they must answer it to him again,
saying, go not into the way of the Gentiles; meaning, not the customs' and manners of the Heathens, they were to avoid; but that they were not to steer their course, or take their journey towards them: they were not, as yet, to go among them, and preach the Gospel to them; the calling of the Gentiles was not a matter, as yet, so clearly revealed and known, nor was the time of their calling come: besides it was the will of God, that the Gospel should be first preached to the Jews, to take off all excuse from them, and that their obstinacy and perverseness in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, might manifestly appear; and since Christ himself was the minister of the circumcision, he would have his apostles, for the present, whilst he was on earth, act agreeably to the character he bore, that there might be an entire harmony in their conduct.
And into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: the word "any" is supplied, and that very rightly; for, not the city of Samaria, the metropolis of that country, as the Arabic version reads it, is only meant, but any, and every city of the Samaritans: not that it was strictly unlawful and criminal to go thither; for he himself went into one of their cities, and so did his apostles, John 4:4 Luke 9:52 and after his death preached the Gospel there; but he judged it not proper and expedient at this time, and as yet, to do it; that is, not before their preaching it to the Jews; for there was a very great hatred subsisting between the Jews, and the Samaritans, insomuch that they had no conversation with each other in things civil or religious. The Samaritans, though they boasted of their descent from Jacob, were a mongrel sort of people, partly Jews, and partly Gentiles, a mixture of both; and therefore are distinguished from both and though they had, and held the law, and five books of Moses, yet corrupted them in many places, to serve their purpose, and countenance their religion, particularly their worshipping at Mount Gerizim; on which account they were looked upon by the Jews as apostates, idolaters, and even as Heathens (f), and are therefore here joined with them; and to shun giving offence to the Jews, seems to be the reason of this prohibition; see Gill on John 4:20.
(f) T. Hieros. Shekelim, fol. 46. 2. Bartenora in Misn. Taharot, c. 5. sect. 8.
Preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This was to be the subject matter of their ministry, which they were to proclaim aloud in every place; and which is expressed in the same words with which John the Baptist, and Christ himself, began their ministry,
Matthew 3:2 which shows the entire harmony, and strict agreement, there were between them: for the meaning of the phrase; see Gill on Matthew 3:2. The Cambridge copy reads, "repent, for the kingdom", &c.
cleanse the lepers, of which there were many in Israel, who otherwise could not get rid of that disorder, and by the law were deprived of many privileges, and advantages, which others enjoyed: and especially to
raise the dead, which had never been done before the times of Christ, since the days of Elijah and Elisha; and which must be allowed by all men to be more than human, and to require the arm of almighty power: and lastly, to
cast out devils, the sworn enemies of mankind, and who had taken possession of the bodies, as well as souls of multitudes in the Jewish nation; all which they are ordered to do, without taking any thing of the people, for so doing:
freely ye have received, freely give; which refers both to the working of miracles, and preaching of the Gospel. As they had these miraculous gifts freely imparted to them by Christ, they had them not of themselves, nor did they procure them at any charge, or expense of their's, or purchase them with their money, as Simon Magus impiously proposed to the apostles; so they were freely to make use of these wonderful powers, they were possessed of, for the relief of the distressed, without insisting upon, or receiving any thing for the same; a practice which was formerly disapproved and condemned in Gehazi, the servant of Elisha: and with respect to the Gospel, as the knowledge of it was freely communicated to them by Christ, and gifts qualifying them for the preaching of it, were of his mere grace and goodness bestowed upon them, so they were to dispense it without making a gain of godliness, or discovering in the least an avaricious disposition. Our Lord seems to have respect to a rule frequently inculcated by the Jews concerning teaching their oral law (g); which is this;
"in the place where they teach the written law for a reward, it is lawful to teach it for a reward; but it is forbidden to teach the oral law for a reward, as it is said, "behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me", &c. Deuteronomy 4:5. As I have "freely" learned, and ye have also "freely" learnt of me; so when ye learn posterity, , "teach them freely, as ye have learnt of me".''
Now what the Jews say of their traditions, Christ applies to the Gospel: in dispensing of which he would not have his disciples come behind them; but as they had freely received the Gospel from his lips; so they would as freely, as well as faithfully, make it known to others; and which no ways contradicts the maintenance of the Gospel ministers by the people; only forbids amassing wealth and riches by it, or preaching for sordid gain, or filthy lucre's sake: for otherwise it is Christ's own ordinance, that the preachers of the Gospel should live by it; and which is confirmed in the following verses.
(g) Maimon. Talmud Tora, c. 1. sect. 7. T. Bab. Nedarim, fol. 36. 2. & 37. 1. & Becorat, fol. 29. 1. Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Nedarim, c. 4. sect. 3. & in Pirke Abot. c. 4. sect. 5.
in your purses: or, as it may be rendered, "in", or "within your girdles"; in which travellers, among the Jews, used to carry their money; and who, in their travelling dress, might not go into the temple, and are thus described (h);
"a man may not go into the mountain of the house with his staff, or with his shoes on, nor "with his girdle".''
The "phunda", Maimonides says (i), is an inner garment, wore to keep off sweat from other garments, to which were sewed hollow things like purses, in which a man put what he pleased; though other (k) interpreters say it is , "a hollow girdle, in which they put their money": and so the Romans (l) had used to do; and so do the Turks (m) to this day; to which practice the allusion is here.
(h) Misn. Beracot, c. 9. sect. 5. (i) In ib. & Celim. c. 29. 1. & Sabbat, c. 10. 3.((k) Bartenora & Yom Tob in ib. Gloss in T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 62. 2. & in Sabbat. fol. 92. 1. & 113. 1. & 120. 1. & Nedarim, fol. 55. 2.((l) Gracchus apud A. Gell. Noct. Attic. 1. 15. c. 12. Sueton. in Vita Vitellii, c. 16. (m) Bobovius de Peregr. Meccan. p. 14.
neither two coats; one to travel in, and another to put on, when they came to their quarters: they were not allowed change of raiment; either because superfluous, or too magnificent to appear in, or too troublesome to carry:
nor shoes, only sandals, as Mark says; for there was a difference between shoes and sandals, as appears from the case of the plucking off the shoe, when a man refused his brother's wife (o): if the "shoe" was plucked off it was regarded; but if the "sandal", it was not minded: this was the old tradition, though custom went against it. Sandals were made of harder leather than shoes (p), and sometimes of wood covered with leather, and stuck with nails, to make them more durable (q); though sometimes of bulrushes, and bark of palm trees, and of cork (r), which were light to walk with.
"Says R. Bar bar Chanah (s), I saw R. Eleazar of Nineveh go out on a fast day of the congregation, , "with a sandal of cork".''
Of what sort these were, the disciples were allowed to travel with, is not certain:
nor yet with staves: that is, with more than one staff, which was sufficient to assist them, and lean upon in journeying: for, according to Mark, one was allowed; as though they might take a travelling staff, yet not staves for defence, or to fight with; see Matthew 26:55. Now these several things were forbidden them, partly because they would be burdensome to them in travelling; and partly because they were not to be out any long time, but were quickly to return again; and chiefly to teach them to live and depend upon divine providence. Now, since they were to take neither money, nor provisions with them, and were also to preach the Gospel freely, they might reasonably ask how they should be provided for, and supported: when our Lord suggests, that they should not be anxiously concerned about that, he would take care that they had a suitable supply; and would so influence and dispose the minds of such, to whom they should minister, as that they should have all necessary provisions made for them, without any care or expense of their's:
for the workman is worthy of his meat; which seems to be a proverbial expression, and by which Christ intimates, that they were workmen, or labourers in his vineyard, and they, discharging their duty aright, were entitled to food and raiment, and all the necessaries of life: this to have, was their due; and it was but a piece of justice to give it to them, and on which they might depend. So that this whole context is so far from militating against a minister's maintenance by the people, that it most strongly establishes it; for if the apostles were not to take any money or provisions with them, to support themselves with, it clearly follows, that it was the will of Christ, that they should live by the Gospel, upon those to whom they preached, as the following words show: and though they were not to make gain of the Gospel, or preach it for filthy lucre's sake; yet they might expect a comfortable subsistence, at the charge of the people, to whom they ministered, and which was their duty to provide for them.
(n) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Sheviith, c. 2. sect. 8. & in Celim. c. 16. 4. & 24. 11. & Negaim. c. 11. sect. 11. (o) T. Hieros. Yebamot, fol. 12. 3. T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 102. 1. & Menachot, fol. 32. 1.((p) Gloss. in T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 101. 1. & Bartenora in Misn. Yebamot, c. 12. sect. 1.((q) Misn. Yebamot, c. 12. sect. 2. Maimon. Bartenora in Sabbat, c. 6. sect. 2. & Edayot, c. 2. sect. 8. (r) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 78. 2. Gloss. in ib. Maimon. Hilch. Shebitat. Ashur, c. 3. sect. 7. (s) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 78. 2. Juchasin, fol. 81. 1.
inquire, who in it is worthy; not of them, as the Arabic version reads, nor of the Gospel they preached, or of the grace of God, of which no man is worthy: and besides, who could answer to such a question when asked? Who in any town, or city, could tell who in it were worthy of Christ, of his Gospel, and ministers, to which they were all equally strangers before they came among them? Nor does it mean a man famous for piety and religion, or one that feared God, and was a worshipper of him, but an hospitable man; one that was very liberal; who was willing and ready to entertain strangers; for such a man they would want, having neither money nor food: and so the same word, in the Hebrew language, signifies "to be worthy", and "to give alms", because an eleemosynary man, or a man given to alms, was reckoned by the Jews a very worthy man: they thought giving of alms to be a matter of merit. Christ here speaks in the language of the masters of Israel; take an instance or two:
"saith R. Jona, blessed is the man that giveth to the poor; it is not written so, but "blessed is he that considereth the poor": he looks upon him, how he may , "give alms to him".''
And a little after,
""God hath set one against the other", that when evil comes to thy friend, thou mayest see how , "to do thine alms to him", and nourish him, so that thou mayest receive the gift of its reward.''
Again, so a man says to his neighbour, , "give alms unto me": and afterwards, in the same place, it is said, , "give alms unto that woman" (t). Now, it was such a worthy generous man, that was beneficent to the poor, and kind to strangers, that the apostles were to inquire out, wherever they came; and having found such a person, they were to continue with him:
and there abide till ye go out; of that city or town, to another city or town: for to be often changing houses would bring upon them an ill character, as if they were difficult to be pleased, not content with the provision made for them; and would look as if they sought to serve their own bellies, and gratify their appetites, more than to do good to the souls of men; and besides, moving from the house of a bountiful man, might bring some reproach upon his character, as if he had not used them well, and therefore left him. In short, Christ's meaning is, that he would not have his disciples be difficult, and dainty, or fickle, and inconstant, but be content with such things they should have provided for them; and not seek for other, and better quarters, nor fear being troublesome where they were.
(t) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 34. fol. 173. 3, 4. & 174. 4. Midrash Kohelet c. 11. 1. fol. 82. 2.
salute it; meaning the inhabitants of it; or, as the Persic version reads, those of the household, especially the master of the family. Some copies add, saying, peace be to this house, as in Luke 10:5 and so read the Vulgate Latin, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel; and is a very just, and proper explanation of saluting: for the usual form of salutation among the Jews was in such words; of which See Gill on Matthew 5:47 by which is meant all kind of happiness, and prosperity, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.
let your peace come upon it, or it shall come upon it; the imperative for the future, which is not unusual; and so read the Syriac and Vulgate Latin. The sense is, the peace the apostles wished for, in their form of salutation, should come, and abide on the family; for not the Gospel of peace, and the preaching of it, are here meant, but the salutation itself, or the things desired in it, which should be granted, and the house be blessed for their sake, and as a reward of their generosity, and hospitality:
but if it be not worthy: does not prove to be what it was said to be, and they expected; namely, to be generous, liberal, and beneficent; but, on the contrary, uncivil and churlish, should neglect their salutation, discover an unwillingness to receive them, and turn their backs upon them:
let your peace return to you, or "it shall return to you"; the happiness wished for shall not come upon them, and the prayers and good wishes of the apostles shall be void, and of none effect, with respect to that family, but should be made good to themselves; and they should be directed to another house, where they should find persons more generous and free to entertain them.
nor hear your words, slight their salutations, make no account of, but despise their good wishes for their welfare; and also treat with contempt the doctrines of the Gospel preached by them; and either would not attend on their ministry, or if they did, give no credit to what they should say, but deride and reject them.
When ye depart out of that house, or city; to another house, or to another city, being obliged to remove, through their contemptuous rejection of them:
shake off the dust of your feet. So Paul and Barnabas did at Antioch in Pisidia, when the Jews contradicted and blasphemed the Gospel preached by them, raised a persecution against them, and expelled them out of their coasts, Acts 13:51 which ceremony was ordered by Christ to be observed even to the cities of Judea, that should despise and reject the ministry of his apostles; and that either to show that they did not come to them with worldly views, with any design to amass riches and wealth to themselves, for they would not so much as carry away with them the dust on their feet, but it was purely with a view to their welfare, both spiritual and temporal; or to testify that they had been among them, and that that very dust they shook off their feet would rise up in judgment against them, and declare that the Gospel had been preached among them, and they had rejected it, which will be an aggravation of their condemnation; or rather to observe to them, that such was their wickedness, that even the dust of their country was infected thereby, and therefore they shook it off, as though it defiled them, as the dust of an Heathen country was thought by the Jews to do; so that by this action they signified that they would have nothing more to do with them, or say to them, and that they looked upon them as impure and unholy, as any Heathen city or country. There seems to be an allusion to some maxims and customs of the Jews, with respect to the dust of Heathen countries.
"On account of six doubts, they say (u), they burn the first offering, for a doubt of a field in which a grave might be, and for a doubt , "of the dust which comes from the land of the Gentiles", &c.''
On which Bartenora has this note;
"all dust which comes from the land of the Gentiles, is reckoned by us as the rottenness of a dead carcass; and of these two, "the land of the Gentiles", and a field in which is a grave, it is decreed that they "defile" by touching, and by carrying.''
"the dust of a field in which is a grave, and the dust without the land (of Israel) which comes along with an herb, are unclean.''
Upon which Maimonides makes this remark,
"that the dust of a field that has a grave in it, and the dust which is without the land of Israel, defile by touching and carrying; or if, when it hangs at the end of an herb, when they root it out of the dust of such a field, it is unclean.''
Hence they would not suffer herbs to be brought out of an Heathen country into the land of Israel, lest dust should be brought along with them.
"A Misnic doctor teaches (x), that they do not bring herbs from without the land (of Israel into it), but our Rabbins permit it; what difference is there between them? Says R. Jeremiah, they take care of their dust; that is the difference between them.''
On that clause, "they take care of their dust", the gloss is,
"lest there should be brought with it , "any of the dust of the land of the Gentiles", which defiles in the tent, and pollutes the purity of the land of Israel.''
(u) Misn. Taharot, c. 4. sect. 5. Vid. c. 5. 1. & Maimon & Bartenora in ib. (w) Misn. Oholot. c. 17. sect. 5. (x) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 12. 1.
it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha, in the day of judgment, than for that city. The inhabitants of the land of Sodom and Gomorrha are the rather mentioned, because, as they were very notorious and abominable sinners, so their temporal punishment was well known, exemplary and awful, though not that, but their future damnation is here regarded, of which the Jews made no doubt; for they say (y),
"the men of Sodom have no part in the world to come; as it is said, Genesis 13:13 "the men of Sodom were wicked, and sinners, before the Lord exceedingly": they were "wicked" in this world, and "sinners" in the world to come;''
meaning, that by this passage is designed their double punishment in this, and the other world. But though their punishment was very tremendous, and they will suffer also "the vengeance of eternal fire", as Jude says; yet, their punishment will be milder, and more tolerable, than that of the inhabitants of such a city, that rejects the Gospel of the grace of God: as there are degrees in sinning, for all sins are not alike, as the Stoics say; so there will be degrees in suffering; the sins of those that are favoured with the Gospel, are greater than those who only have had the light of nature, and so their torments will be greater. The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha, though they sinned against the light of nature, despised the advice and admonitions of Lot, and ill treated the angels, yet will be more mildly punished than the wicked Jews, who rejected Christ, and his Gospel, and despised his apostles, and ministers; because they sinned not against so much light, and such means of grace, and knowledge, as these did; see Lamentations 4:6 which is thus paraphrased by the Targumist, and may be aptly applied to the Jews in Christ's time:
"the sin of the congregation of my people is greater than the sin of Sodom, which was overturned in a moment; and there dwelt no prophets in it to prophesy, and turn it to repentance.''
The time referred to, signified by "the day of judgment", respects not the destruction of Jerusalem, which was a very severe judgment on that people, but the general judgment, at the end of the world, which is appointed and fixed by God, though unknown to angels and men. The phrase is Jewish, and often to be met with in their writings, who use it in the same sense; particularly in the book of Zohar (z), mention is made of , "the day of judgment", when there will be no pollution in the sanctuary.
(y) Misn. Sanhedrim, c. 11. sect. 3. Hieros. Sanhedrim, fol. 29. 3.((z) In Gen. fol 13. 3. & 16. 1.
be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Much such an expression as this God is represented as saying of Israel (a):
"Says R. Judah, in the name of R. Simon, the holy blessed God said, concerning Israel, with me they are , "harmless as doves"; but among the nations of the world, they are , "subtle as serpents".''
The serpent is a very sharp sighted, cunning creature, and uses various arts and stratagems for its own preservation, and especially of its head; and is so far to be imitated by the followers of Christ, as to make use of all proper methods to preserve themselves from the insults and rage of men, and not expose themselves to unnecessary dangers: and, as much as in them lies, they should be careful to give no just occasion of offence, or irritate, and provoke them to use them ill, and to avoid all snares and traps that are laid for them; and, at the same time, maintain the innocence and harmlessness of the dove, being free from all wicked cunning and craftiness, without rancour, malice, and wrath; not meditating and seeking revenge, but meek and humble in their deportment, leading inoffensive lives, and proceeding in the course of their calling, though liable to many insults, and much oppression.
(a) Shirhashirim Rabba, c. 2. 14. fol. 12. 1.
for they will deliver you up to the councils, or sanhedrim, of which there were three sorts; the greater, which consisted of seventy one persons, and was only held in Jerusalem; the lesser one, which was made up of twenty three members, and was kept in every place where there were an hundred and twenty Israelites; and the third, where there was not that number, and was a triumvirate, or a bench of three judges only (b).
And they will scourge you in their synagogues; where the triumvirate, or bench of three Judges kept their court; under whose cognizance were pecuniary judgments, and such as related to thefts, damages, restitutions, ravishing, and enticing of virgins, and defamation; also to plucking off of the shoe, and refusing a brother's wife, to the plant of the fourth year, second tithes whose price is unknown, holy things, and the estimations of goods; to these belonged also laying on of hands, the beheading of the heifer, and, among the rest, , "scourging was by the bench of three" (c). The manner of performing it was this (d):
"they bind both his hands to a pillar, here and there; and the minister of the synagogue takes hold of his clothes, and if they are rent, they are rent; and if they are ripped in the seam, they are ripped till his breast is uncovered; for he is not to beat him on his clothes, as it is said, "he shall beat him", but not his clothes: and a stone is placed behind him, on which the minister that scourges stands, and a white leather whip in his hand, doubled two and two with four, and two lashes of an ass's hide, going up and down: the breadth of the whip was an hand's breadth, and the length of it, so as to reach to the navel, and the handle of the whip, by which he took hold, was the length of an hand; and he lifts up the whip with both his hands, and strikes with one hand, with all his might; and gives him the third part of his stripes before, upon his breast, between his paps, and two thirds behind him; one third upon this shoulder, and the other upon the other shoulder. He that scourges neither stands, nor sits, but bows; as it is said, "the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face"; for the eyes of the judge shall be upon him, that he do not look upon anything else, and smite him from thence; for no two strokes are as one; the greatest of the judges reads all the time he is scourging, viz. these passages; "if thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law", &c. and "the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful", &c. and he intends to finish the verses with the stripes; but if he does not finish, he returns to the beginning of the Scripture, and reads, and returns, and reads until the whole scourging is over: and the second of the judges numbers the stripes; and the third says to the minister strike: every time he strikes, it is at his orders he strikes.''
Now, as this punishment was inflicted by the chazan, or minister of the synagogue, who was a sort of sexton, so it was done in the synagogue itself: and according to our Lord's predictions here, and in Matthew 23:34 as the former of these, delivering up to councils, had its accomplishment in part, in the apostles, Acts 4:1 so the latter, scourging in their synagogues, was fulfilled both by Paul, Acts 22:19 and upon him, 2 Corinthians 11:24. Epiphanius tells (e) us of one Joseph, a Jew, who was caught by the Jews reading the Gospels in his own house; upon which they dragged him away, and had him to the synagogue, and there "scourged" him. Now as these things did not befall the apostles till after the death of Christ, it is clear that the context refers not to their first, but to an after mission.
(b) Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrim, c. 1. sect. 3, 4. (c) Misn. Sanhedrim, c. 1. sect. 1, 2, 3.((d) Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrim, c. 16. sect. 8, 9, 10, 11. Misn. Maccot, c. 3. sect. 12, 13, 14. (e) Contra Haeres. 1. 1. Haeres. 30.
and kings for my sake; as Herod, Agrippa, Nero, Domitian, and others, before whom one or other of the apostles were brought; not as thieves, or murderers, or traitors, and seditious persons, or for having done any wrong or injury to any man's person or property; but purely for the sake of Christ, for the profession of their faith in him, and for preaching his Gospel; of all which they had no reason to be ashamed, nor were they:
for a testimony against, or "to"
them, and the Gentiles; that is, that thereby they might have an opportunity of bearing a testimony to the truths of the Gospel, which would be either to the conviction and conversion of many Gentiles, as well as Jews; or would be a testimony which would stand against them another day, both against the Jews, who charged, and accused them, and brought them before the Heathen kings and governors, to punish them with death; and against those Gentile magistrates, and others, who should join with them in rejecting the Gospel, and putting them to death for preaching it: so that they should have no pretext or excuse; since the Gospel had been faithfully and clearly preached to them, and they had despised it, and evil treated the ministers of it. This confirms what is before observed, that this passage refers to an after mission.
(f) Hieros. Sanhedrim, fol. 18. 1. & 24. 2. Juchasin, fol. 26. 2. & 51. 1. Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrim. c. 14. sect. 13.
take no thought how, or what ye shall speak; not to be anxiously concerned, neither as to the matter, or manner of what they should say in their defence: they should have no occasion, as orators do, to take pains, and rack their thoughts, to prepare a studied, elaborate oration, dressed with all the flowers of rhetoric, filled with the most moving and powerful arguments, and clothed with diction of the strictest propriety and elegance; for they should want neither words, nor things; they should have arguments put into their mouths, and helped to proper language to express them in:
for it shall be given you in the same hour, what ye shall speak; immediate assistance should be afforded them either by his father, or himself; or rather, the blessed Spirit, who would suggest unto them, at once, things, the most proper to be said, and help them to deliver them in the most proper manner: and these are the most convincing arguments, and that the best elocution, which the Spirit of God helps men to; these vastly exceed all the art of men, and strength of nature. This was greatly verified in Peter and John, two poor fishermen, when before the council, and in Stephen the protomartyr.
but the Spirit of your father, which speaketh in you, or "by you": what they should say was not to be dictated by their own spirit or natural understanding, nor by an angel, but by the Spirit of God; called the "Spirit of" their "father", because he proceeds from him, is of the same nature with him, and is the reason of his being given to them: and this character of him might serve to strengthen their faith in the expectation of him, and in the assistance promised, and to be had by him; since he was the spirit of him, who stood in the relation of a father to them, and bore a paternal affection for them.
and the father the child, and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. The father laying aside his natural affection for his child, whom he has begotten, and brought up, and has took so much care of, and delight in, and perhaps his only one, his son aud heir; and yet, professing a faith different from his, such is his blind zeal and bigotry, that, breaking through all the ties of parental relation and affection, he delivers him up into the hands of wicked magistrates, to put him to death: and, on the other hand, children, forgetting the bonds they are in, and the obligations they lie under to their aged parents, rise up against them, and either with their own hands murder them, or appear as witnesses against them, and give their hearty consent to the taking away of their lives; even of them who have been the means and instruments of bringing them into the world, and of bringing them up in it. This shows the sad corruption of human nature, its enmity to the Gospel of Christ, and the inveterate malice and hatred of Satan against Christ, and his interest. Something like this is said by the Jews themselves, as what shall be in the times of the Messiah; for a little before his coming, or in the age in which the son of David comes, they say,
"the son shall deal basely by his father, the daughter shall rise up against her mother--a man's enemies shall be of his own household; the face of that generation shall be as the face of a dog; and the son shall not reverence his father (g).''
(g) Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 15.
but he that endureth to the end, shall be saved: which words suggest, that the tribulations and persecutions of the disciples of Christ, through the hatred of wicked men against them, shall not last always; there will be an end to them; respecting either the end of time and life, or the destruction of Jerusalem, when these their enemies would be cut off, or removed, and be capable of giving them no further trouble; and that such persons are happy, who patiently endure the hatred of men, and all manner of persecution, for Christ's sake; who are not moved by the afflictions they suffer, but stand fast in the faith, hold fast the profession of it, go on in their Christian course, and hold out to the end; for such shall be saved, not only with a temporal salvation, as the Christians were at the destruction of Jerusalem, but with an eternal one.
flee ye into another; not so much for their own safety, though this, according to the circumstances of things, is lawful, but for the further spreading of the Gospel. The exhortation is not to take methods to avoid persecution, or to make an escape from it, but to perseverance under it: the sense is, they were not to be discouraged, and to leave off, because of persecution in one place, but to persist in the ministration of the Gospel, by carrying it to other cities; and it seems to be a spur to them to make haste, and fulfil their office of preaching the Gospel, in the land of Judea: nor need they fear going on too fast, lest they should have no places to preach in;
for verily I say unto you, this is a certain and indisputable truth not to be called in question, being strongly affirmed by truth itself,
ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, or "finished" them; that is, their tour through them, and their ministry, or the preaching of the Gospel in them,
till the son of man be come; which is not to be understood of his second coming to judgment, but either of his resurrection from the dead, when he was declared to be the Son of God, and when his glorification began; or of the pouring forth of the Spirit at the day of Pentecost, when his kingdom began more visibly to take place, and he was made, or manifested to be the Lord and Christ; or of his coming to take vengeance on his enemies, that would not have him to rule over them, and the persecutors of his ministers, at the destruction of Jerusalem.
nor the servant above his Lord; and both seem to be proverbial expressions. The Jews have a saying (h) much like unto them, , "no servant is worthier than his master"; and Christ might make use of such common, well known expressions, that he might be the more easily understood, and in the most familiar manner convey what he intended, into the minds of his disciples; as, that since he was their Lord, and they were his servants, if his superior character and dignity did not secure him from the obloquy and insults of men, it could not be thought by them, who were inferior to him, that they should escape them.
(h) T. Hieros. Maaser Sheni, fol. 55. 1.
and the servant as his Lord: these expressions, as before, were proverbs, or common sayings among the Jews, which our Lord chose to make use of, and adapt to his present purpose; , "vel" , "it is enough for the servant, that he be as his master", is a saying often to be met with in their writings (i); which our Lord applies, and reasons upon, in the following manner:
if they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of the household? By "the master of the household"; he means himself, who is master of the family both in heaven and in earth; who is son over his own house, the high priest over the house of God, the lord and governor of all the household of faith; who takes care of, provides for, and protects all that are of God's household: and yet, though in such an high office, and of such great usefulness, he did not escape the severest lashes of the tongues of the wicked Jews; who called him by the most opprobrious names they could think of, and among the rest Beelzebub; see Matthew 12:24. This was the god of the Ekronites, 2 Kings 1:2. The word signifies "a masterfly" or the "lord of a fly": and so the Septuagint there call him , "Baal the fly", the god of the Ekronites. And this idol was so called, either because it was in the form of a fly: or else from the abundance of flies about it, by reason of the sacrifices, which it was not able to drive away; and therefore the Jews contemptuously gave it this name. They observe (k), that in the temple, notwithstanding the multitude of sacrifices offered up there, there never was seen a fly in the slaughter house: or else this deity was so called from its being invoked to drive away flies, and the same with Myiodes, the god of flies, mentioned by Pliny (l), or Myagros, which the same author (m) speaks of; so Jupiter was called a driver away of flies; as was also Hercules (n); and were worshipped by some nations on this account. In most copies, and so in the Arabic version, it is read Beelzebul; that is, as it is commonly rendered, the "lord of dung", or a dunghill god; and it is generally thought the Jews called the god of the Ekronites so, by way of contempt; as it was usual with them to call an idol's temple "zebul", "dung", and worshipping of idols "dunging" (o): but I must own, that I should rather think, that as Beelsamin, the god of the Phoenicians, is the same with Beelzebul, the god of the Ekronites, so it signifies the same thing: now , "Beelsamin", is "the lord of the heavens", and so is Beelzebul; for "Zebul", signifies "heaven"; so the word is used in Habakkuk 3:11 "the sun and the moon stood still", "in their habitation"; by which, as a Jewish (p) writer observes, , "is meant the heavens"; for they are the habitation of the sun and moon: see also Isaiah 63:15 and so among the seven names of the heavens, reckoned up by them, this is accounted one (q). Now as the Jews looked upon all the deities of the Gentiles as demons, or devils; and since Beelzebub was the chief of them, they thought they could not fix upon a more reproachful name, to give to Christ, than this: and our Lord suggests, that since the great master of the family was called in such an abusive manner, it should be no cause of stumbling and offence, if those of a lower class in the family should be so stigmatized; if Christians are called by ever such hard names, even devils, they should not be disturbed at it; since their lord and master was called the prince of them.
(i) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 58. 2. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 43. 3. Juchasin, fol. 93. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 64. 2. Aben Ezra in Hos. i. 2.((k) Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 5. (l) Nat. Hist. 1. 29. sect. 6. (m) lb. 1. 10. c. 28. (n) Pausanias, 1. 5. p. 313. & 1. 8. p. 497. Clement. Alex. ad Gentes, p. 24. (o) T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 13. 2.((p) R. Sol. Urbinas in Ohel Moed, fol. 100. 1.((q) T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 12. 2.
for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed, and hid, that shall not be known. Men may cover their malice and wickedness, for a while, under the best of names, but ere long it will all be revealed to their great shame and reproach: the innocence of the followers of Christ may, for some time, lie out of sight, and they may be traduced as the worst of men; but in process of time things take another turn, and their characters appear in quite another light: and so it is with the Gospel preached and professed by them, which, though sometimes it is little known, lies hid, and is covered with disgrace; yet in the Lord's own time its light breaks forth, power attends it, and it is made manifest to the consciences of men.
that speak ye in light; openly and publicly in the synagogues and temple, in the high places of the city, streets, or fields, wherever there is a concourse of people; hide and conceal nothing, but speak out all clearly, distinctly, fully, without the least reserve, or throwing any obscurity on it, which may cover the true sense of it from the view of the people.
And what ye hear in the ear, or is whispered to you by me, as your master. Christ alludes to the custom of the Jewish doctors, who had each an interpreter, into whose ear he used to whisper his doctrine, and then the interpreter delivered it to the people: so it is said (s),
"Rab came to the place of R. Shilla, and he had no speaker to stand by him; wherefore Rab stood by him, and explained.''
The gloss upon it is,
"an interpreter stands before a doctor whilst he is preaching, and the doctor , "whispers to him" in the Hebrew tongue, and he interprets it to the multitude in a tongue they understand.''
"they said to Judah bar Nachmani, the interpreter of Resh Lekish, stand for a speaker for him.''
"to cause his exposition to be heard by the congregation, , "which he shall whisper to thee".''
Now it was absolutely requisite, that the speaker, or interpreter, should faithfully relate what the doctor said; sometimes, it seems, he did not: it is said (u) in commendation of the meekness of R. Aba,
"that he delivered one sense, and his speaker said another, and he was not angry.''
The gloss says,
"his speaker was, he that interpreted to the multitude what he , "whispered to him" in the time of preaching.''
Sometimes one doctor is said to whisper in the ear of another, when he instructed him, or informed him of anything. R. Jochanan (w) whispered R. Joshua "in his ear". The Jews have a notion that the law was given this way; so they interpret "the eloquent orator" in Isaiah 3:3 (x) this is he to whom it is fit to deliver the words of the law, , "which was given by whispering": and so, it seems, the Gospel was in like manner delivered by Christ to his disciples. It was reckoned a very great honour, and a token of magisterial dignity, to have one to whisper in the ear to, and speak for them. So to one that related his dream, that he saw an ass standing at his pillow, and braying, answer is made, thou shalt be a king, that is, the head of a school; and "a speaker" or "an interpreter shall stand by thee" (y). Our Lord very justly takes upon him the character of a doctor, master, and dictator, and solemnly charges his disciples, clearly, loudly, and faithfully to declare what he suggested to them.
That preach ye, says he,
upon the housetops; for the roofs of their houses were not ridged, but plain, and flat, upon which they could stand or walk; and battlements were made about them to prevent their falling off, according to the law in Deuteronomy 22:8. Here many religious actions were performed: here Peter went up to pray, Acts 10:9 and here persons sometimes sat and read: hence that passage in the Misna (z) if any one , "was reading on the top of a roof", and the book is rolled out of his hand, &c. and sometimes they made their proclamations from hence of their festivals and solemn days, and particularly of their sabbath; which was done by the sound of a trumpet, that the people might cease from work in the fields, and shut up their shops in the city, and light up their lamps. This proclamation, by the sound of a trumpet, was made six times by the chazan, or minister of the congregation, from an housetop; and, it is said, that there was, , "a peculiar roof in the highest part of the city", and from the middle of it he blew the trumpet (a). In allusion to this, our Lord orders his disciples to blow the trumpet of the everlasting Gospel; and loudly proclaim to all the truths and mysteries of grace, which he had made known to them.
(s) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 20. 2.((t) T. Bab. Sanhed. fol. 7. 2.((u) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 40. 1.((w) T. Hieros Kiddushin, fol. 65. 4. (x) T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 14. 1.((y) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 56. 1.((z) Erubin, c. 10. sect. 3.((a) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 35. 2. & Gloss. in ib.
but are not able to kill the soul; which is immortal, and cannot be touched by the sword, by fire and faggot, or any instruments of violence: it is immortal, it survives the body, and lives in a separate state, enjoying happiness and bliss, whilst the body is in a state of death:
but rather fear him, which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. This is a description of God, and of his power, who is able to do that which men are not: all that they can do, by divine permission, is to kill the body; but he is able to "destroy", that is, to torment and punish both body and soul "in hell", in everlasting burnings; for neither soul nor body will be annihilated; though this he is able to do. As the former clause expresses the immortality of the soul, this supposes the resurrection of the body; for how otherwise should it be destroyed, or punished with the soul in hell? Now this awful being which is able to hurl, and will hurl all wicked and slothful, unfaithful and unprofitable, cowardly and temporising servants and ministers, soul and body, into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, is to be feared and dreaded; yea, indeed, he only is to be feared, and to be obeyed: cruel and persecuting men are not to be feared at all; God alone should be our fear and dread; though the argument seems to be formed from the lesser to the greater; yet this, is the sense of the word "rather", that God is to be feared, not chiefly and principally only, but solely; and in some versions that word is left out, as in the Arabic, and Ethiopic, and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel.
"if of a command, which is light "as a farthing", which Bartenora explains a "very little thing", the law says, "that it may be well with thee", much more of the weighty commands in the law.''
Hence, in Munster's Hebrew Gospel, it is rendered by , "a little piece of money"; and this was the common price of two sparrows. Our Lord appeals to his disciples, for the truth of it, as a thing well known: according to the question in Luke, five sparrows were sold for two farthings, which makes them somewhat cheaper still. This shows they were of little account.
And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father: some copies add, "which is in heaven"; meaning, that one of them should not be shot, or be killed, without the knowledge, will, and pleasure of God. The design of Christ is to assert the doctrine of providence, as reaching to all creatures and things, even the most minute and worthless: he instances not in men, nor in the beasts of the field, but in the fowls of the air, and in those of the inferior sort, and more useless, in sparrows, yea in little sparrows; as the word may be rendered; whose price was so low, that two are obliged to be put together to fetch the least sum of money current: and yet the providence of God is concerned with each of these; so that not one of them is taken in a snare, or killed with a stone, or shot flying, or sitting, but by the will of God: from whence it may be strongly concluded, that nothing comes by chance; that there is no such thing as contingency with respect to God, though there is to men, with respect to second causes; that all things are firmly ordained by the purpose of God, and are wisely ordered by his providence: and our Lord's further view is, from this consideration, to animate his disciples to a free, open, and constant preaching of his Gospel, not regarding their lives for his sake; for since their heavenly Father, in his providence, takes care of the meanest, even of the most irrational creatures, so that the life of one of them is not taken away without his will, much more will he take care of them; nor could their valuable lives be lost without his will and pleasure. Much such a way of arguing is used by the Jews, who (f) say, , "a bird without God does not perish, much less a man"; or, as it is elsewhere (g) expressed,
"a bird "without God" is not hunted, or taken, how much less does the soul of a man go out of him?''
And again (h),
"a bird "without God" does not fly away, much less the soul of a man.''
Two birds, or sparrows, as the word may be rendered, in Leviticus 14:4 were used in cleansing the leper; one was killed, and the other let loose into the open field: and though it might be a contingent thing with men which was killed, and which preserved, yet not with God; and some think the allusion is here to that case.
(b) Maimon. in Misn. Peah, c. 8. sect. 1.((c) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Maaser Sheni, c. 4. sect. 3.((d) Ib. in Misn. Eracin, c. 8. sect. 1.((e) Cholin, c. 12. sect. 5. (f) T. Hieros. Sheviith, fol. 38. 4. (g) Bereshit Rabba, fol. 69. 3.((h) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 81. 2. & Midrash Esther, fol. 89. 3.
"do not I number all the hairs of every creature?''
As our Lord applies this particularly to his disciples, his sense is, that they had no reason to be afraid of men, or fear anything that should befall them, for their bearing a faithful testimony to him; for, their valuable lives were under the special and peculiar care of divine providence; not only the days, months, and years of their lives were with God, and put down in his book of purposes and decrees, which could neither be shortened nor lengthened; and not only the more principal, and even all the members of their bodies were written in his book of providence, and a singular care taken of them; but even their very excrescences, the more minute parts, and which were of no great account with them, the "hairs" of their head", even "all" of them, were not only known, but numbered", taken account of; yea, the thing was done already, it was not to be done; a very strong way of setting forth the doctrine of divine providence: a doctrine which the Jews were not unacquainted with, who say (k);
"that the events of man, and accidents which come upon him, , "are all by", or "in the hands of God";''
and (l) that
"nothing is by chance, but all things are "with design";''
or, as they elsewhere say (m),
"a man does not hurt his finger below, but they proclaim concerning it above;''
that is, as the gloss explains it, , "it is decreed" concerning it: which comes very near to the phrase here used.
(i) Pesikta, fol. 18. 4. apud Drusium in loc. (k) Piske Tosaphot ad Cetubot, art. 119. (l) Kimchi in Psalm 104.4. (m) T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 7. 2.
ye are of more value than many sparrows. Two of them were worth no more than a farthing; there must be a great multitude of them to be mentioned with any man: and indeed there is no comparison between the whole species of them and the life of a single man, and much less between them and the apostles of the Lamb. Any man is more valuable, as a man, than many sparrows, and much more a Christian man, and still more an apostle: the argument then is, that if God takes care of sparrows and is concerned for their lives, much more will he take care of his faithful ministers, and not suffer their lives to be taken away, till they have done the will and work of their Lord.
him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven: as he has a perfect knowledge of them, and bears an affectionate love to them; so he will openly own, and acknowledge them as his ministers, and speak in the praise and commendation of their works and labours; though they have been performed through the gifts, grace, and strength, which he has communicated to them: he will introduce them into his Father's presence, and recommend them to him, to be honoured, blessed, and glorified by him.
"if (say they (n)) Rabbi Jochanan, "deny" Rabbi Eleazar, his disciple, he will not "deny" Rabbi Jannai, his "master".''
Some regard may be had here to Peter's after denial of Christ; and this proviso be supposed, "except he repent", as he did. Moreover, to deny Christ, is to drop, or oppose any of those truths which regard his person, office, and grace; or to hide and conceal them from men, through fear, shame, or cowardice of mind: and even not to confess him, through fear of men, is interpreted, by Christ, a denial of him; and such who deny him in any form and shape, either by words or deeds,
him, says he,
will I also deny before my Father which is heaven; he will deny them to be disciples, or that they belong to him; he will deny that he ever knew them, loved or approved of them; he will declare in the presence of his Father, his disapprobation of them, his indignation against them, that they are workers of iniquity; yea, he will do more, he will banish them from his presence, and send them into everlasting burnings.
(n) Juchasin, fol. 80. 2.
I came, not to send peace, but a sword. By the "sword" may be meant the Gospel, which is the means of dividing and separating the people of Christ from the men of the world, and from their principles and practices, and one relation from another; as also of divisions, discords, and persecutions arising from it: not that it was the intention and design of Christ, in coming into the world, to foment and encourage such things; but this, through the malice and wickedness of men, was eventually the effect and consequence of his coming; see Luke 12:51 where, instead of a "sword", it is "division"; because the sword divides asunder, as does the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.
and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: the case is this, a father believing in Christ, embracing his Gospel, and submitting to his institutions, is contradicted, opposed, and persecuted by his own son, and a mother by her own daughter; in both which relations, natural affection knit them together; and the mother-in-law by her daughter-in-law, who before lived together in the most peaceable, kind, and tender manner: which must be imputed, not to Christ, and the doctrines of Christ, and the natural tendency of them, embraced by the father, the mother, and mother-in-law; but to the natural enmity of the son, the daughter, and the daughter-in-law, to everything divine, spiritual, and evangelical, or "vice versa".
"The government shall be turned to heresy (Sadducism), and there will be no reproof; the synagogue shall become a brothel house, Galilee shall be destroyed, and Gablan shall be laid waste, and the men of the border shall wander from city to city, and shall obtain no mercy; the wisdom of the Scribes shall stink, and they that fear to sin shall be despised, and truth shall fail; young men shall turn pale, or put to shame, the faces of old men, and old men shall stand before young men; the "son" shall deal basely "with his father, the daughter shall rise up against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and the enemies of a man shall be they of his own house": the face of that generation shall be as the face of a dog, and the son shall not reverence his father (o).''
All which characters, how exactly they agree with the generation in which Christ lived, is easy to observe.
(o) Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 15. T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 97. 1. Zohar in Num. fol. 102. 3. & Raya Mehimna in ib. in Lev. fol. 28. 2. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 11. 4. Derech Eretz Zuta, fol. 19. 4.
is not worthy of me; or, as in Munster's Hebrew Gospel, he is not , "fit for me": it is not fit and proper, that such a person should name the name of Christ, or be called by his name, and should be reckoned one of his disciples; he is not fit to be a member of the church of Christ on earth, nor for the kingdom of heaven, but deserves to be rejected by him, and everlastingly banished his presence: for otherwise no man, let him behave ever so well, is worthy of relation to Christ, and interest in him; or of his grace, righteousness, presence, kingdom and glory. The same is the sense of the following clause,
and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me: whoever, to gratify a child, drops the profession of Christ, renounces his Gospel, and neglects his commands, it is not proper and convenient that he should bear the name of Christ, be accounted one of his, or be treated as such, but all the reverse.
and followeth after me; led on by his example, to preach or profess the Gospel, submit to the ordinances of it, and cheerfully suffer for the sake of it, when called to it. If a man, who would be thought to be a disciple of Christ, is not willing to do all this, but, in order to avoid it, complies with his friends, conforms to the world, and turns his back on Christ; of such an one he may well say, he
is not worthy of me; it is not convenient that he should stand among his disciples and followers.
he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it. That man that is willing to forego the present advantages of life, to suffer reproach and persecution, and lay down his life cheerfully for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, for the profession of his name, rather than drop, deny, conceal, or neglect any truth and ordinance of his, shall find his soul possessed of eternal life, as soon as separated from his body; and shall find his corporal life again, in the resurrection morn, to great advantage; and shall live with Christ in soul and body, in the utmost happiness, to all eternity.
and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. To which agrees, what the Jews say (p) of the angel, in Exodus 23:22 "If thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I shall speak": who observe, that it is not written, "that he shall speak", but "that I shall speak"; intimating, that , "if ye receive him, it is all one as if you received me": and the whole of this accords with a common saying among (q) them, , "that a man's messenger is as himself". The Jew (r), therefore, has no reason to reproach Christ and his followers as he does, as if it was the sense of these words of Christ, and which the Christians give of them, that Christ and his twelve apostles were but one person.
(p) Shemot Rabba Parash. 32. fol. 135. 3.((q) T. Bab. Baracot, fol. 34. 2. Kiddushin, fol. 41. 2. 42. 1. & 43. 1. Bava Metzia, fol. 96. 1.((r) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par 2. sect. 14. p. 404.
shall receive a prophet's reward: either a reward from the prophet himself, who shall interpret the Scriptures to him, preach the Gospel to him, lead him more fully into the truths of it, and guide him to the true, and more clear and distinct sense of the sacred writings; which is an ample reward for his kind entertainment of him: or else, that reward which God has appointed, prepared, and promised, to them who receive his prophets; and which indeed is no other, than what the prophets themselves shall receive, even the reward of the inheritance, the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world, a reward of grace, and not of debt; since both, in their way, serve the Lord Christ.
And he that receiveth a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man. He that is kind and liberal to any good man, whether he is a minister of the Gospel or not, who appears to have the work of grace upon his soul, and is justified by the righteousness of Christ, and expects eternal life on that account; if he shows respect to him, purely because he has the image of Christ stamped on him, and the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, and not on any natural, worldly, or civil accounts,
he shall receive a righteous man's reward; either from the good man himself, who will not fail to pray for his benefactor, to wish him well, and give him all the assistance he can in his Christian course; to exhort, comfort, instruct him as much, and as far as his Christian experience will furnish him with; or else the same reward of grace the righteous man himself shall have, namely, eternal life, as God's gift, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(s) Misn. Zebachim, c. 1. sect. 1. 2, 3, 4. & 4. 6. &. 6. 7. & 7. 1, 2, 3, 4.