Matthew 12 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Matthew 12
Pulpit Commentary
At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.
Verses 1-50. - The opposition that our Lord met with

(1) from his enemies (vers. 1-45);

(2) from his relations (vers. 46-50); and the manner in which he dealt with it. Verses 1-45. -

(1) Opposition from his enemies.

(a) Conscious and wilful opposition (vers. 1-37).

(α) As regards the sabbath (vers. 1-14).

(β) An interlude. The evangelist sees in our Lord's behaviour the fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy (vers. 15-21).

(γ) The opposition carried to the extreme of accusing him of alliance with Beelzebub.

Christ shows the monstrous character of such an accusation, and the absence which it discloses of all spirituality of mind (vers. 22-37).

(b) Opposition due to lack of energy in spiritual things. Christ contrasts the behaviour of heathen mentioned in the Old Testament, and warns the Jews of the result of their present apathy (vers. 38-45). Verses 1-8. - The sabbath in relation to the preparation of food. Parallel passages: Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5. St. Matthew here returns to the Framework, which he left at Matthew 9:26 or Matthew 9:34. Verse 1. - At that time (Matthew 11:25, note) Jesus went (ἐπορεύθη). It has been suggested that he was now on his way to the synagogue spoken of in ver. 9 (but see note there). Wherever he was going, it must have been within about three quarters of a mile distance (two thousand cubits; see Dr. Lumby, on Acts 1:12, "a sabbath day's journey;" and Schurer, II. 2:102). On the sabbath day. Defined in the Received Text of Luke by the anomalous term "second-first," for the genesis of which see especially Westcott and Hort, 'App.' Through the corn; the corn-fields (Revised Version, as also Authorized Version in the parallel passages). If it was barley harvest, the time would be probably the beginning of May; if wheat harvest, as seems more likely, about the beginning of June. And his disciples were a hungred. So that it was not for his own sake that our Lord acted as he did. And began. They could therefore hardly have eaten much when the complaint was made. To pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. It was legal to pluck corn from a field through which one passed (Deuteronomy 23:25), and it is said to be allowed still; but as it was held by the scribes to be a form of reaping, and perhaps of threshing also, it was considered illegal on the sabbath (cf. Edersheim, 'Life,' 2:56).
But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
Verse 2. - But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him. The Revised Version (but the Pharisees, when they saw it, said unto him) retains the simple order of the Greek, which more vividly represents the Pharisees as a party opposed to him. Behold. They suggest that he had not noticed it. Were the disciples behind him (cf. Matthew 8:23)? Thy disciples. Notice that all the accusations brought against the disciples in this Gospel concern food: Matthew 9:14, as regards abstaining from it upon fixed days; Matthew 15:2, as regards eating it without taking extreme precautions against ceremonial pollution; in the present passage, as regards avoiding any profanation of the sabbath for its sake. Do. At this moment. That which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day (ver. 1, note).
But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
Verse 3. - But he said unto them, Have ye not read. Our Lord answers them by showing that the principle of the action of his disciples was sanctioned in the Scriptures to which they implicitly appealed. He calls their attention first (more Rabbinico; cf. on ver. 5) to the Prophets (i.e. the former prophets, according to the Hebrew division), as teaching by example that holy things are of secondary importance compared with the benefit of God's people; and afterwards to the Law, which implies that the sabbath itself is of secondary importance compared with work necessary for the sanctuary. He then affirms that in the present case there is One present who is even greater than the sanctuary. He goes on to say that their complaint, however, was really due to the lack, not so much of intellectual as of spiritual knowledge; they had no rapprochement with the God of love, or they would not have condemned those who, both because they were men and because they were disciples of the Son of man, stood above the sabbath. What David did, when he was a hungred, and they that were with him (1 Samuel 21:1-7).
How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
Verse 4. - How he entered into the house of God, and did eat; rather, and they did eat, with Revised Version margin (ἔφαγον), the simple plural verb laying the action less at David's door than does the phrase in the parallel passages - "and he gave" them to eat. Observe that the mention of ordinary people, like David's attendants, adds to the force of our Lord's illustration. The shew-bread (Exodus 25:30; Leviticus 24:5-7). Which. Which kind of food (). Was not lawful (οὐκ ἔξον η΅ν). Reminding the Pharisees of their own words in ver. 2. For him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? (Leviticus 24:9).
Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
Verse 5. - Matthew only. Or. A second example, if the first does not convince you. Have ye not read in the Law. Beyond which there is no appeal. Jewish authors often appeal to Scripture in the order of Hagio-graphs, Prophets, and, last of all, Law. He here refers to Leviticus 24:8 (cf. also 1 Chronicles 9:32), but Bengel's suggestive remark that Leviticus was read in the services at that very time of year is vitiated by the double uncertainty, first, what time of year it really was; and secondly, what is the antiquity of the present custom of reading the whole Law every year (cf. Dr. Lumby on Acts 13, 'Add. Note'). According to the express orders of the Law, the priests put in fresh shewbread on the sabbath day. How that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple. The word of wider import is used (ἱερόν, not σκηνή), because the Law still holds good. Profane the sabbath. If their work is regarded in itself, as the action of my disciples is now regarded. And are blameless? (guiltless, Revised Version, as also the Authorized Version in ver. 7); i.e. in the eyes of the Law. This you will all grant (cf. Schurer, II. 2:103). Lightfoot's ('Her. Hebr.') attractive quotation from Maimonides in ' Pesachim,' 1. (i.e. 'Hilkoth Korban Pesach,' § 1.), "There is no sabbatism at all in the temple," appears to rest on a misunderstanding.
But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
Verse 6 - Matthew only. But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple (τοῦ ἱεροῦ μειζόν ἐστιν ῶδε); "Gr. a greater thing" (Revised Version margin). A similarly difficult neuter is found in vers. 41, 45. If the neuter be insisted upon, we must understand Christ to refer to his cause, the work in which the disciples were engaged. This was greater than the temple; lunch more, therefore, was it greater than the sabbath. Probably, however, our Lord is referring to himself, to his own Person and character, but uses the neuter, either as forming a more decided contrast to ἱερόν, or as being more weighty than the masculine (cf. ch. 11:9, note). Also it was less defined and more mysterious. He could not reveal to them the secret of his presence. Observe the use, even at this stage in his ministry, of words implying the decadence of the temple service (cf. John 4:21; Acts 6:14). In this place; here (Revised Version), as in vers. 41, 42.
But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
Verse 7. - Matthew only. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I wilt have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless (on the quotation, see Matthew 9:13, note). Had you learned the simple Bible truth that God places the exercise of your moral faculties, particularly those of kindness, above merely external observances, you would not have committed this sin of taking up the position of wrong judges. He traces their error up to its true source, ignorance of the first principles of religion, ignorance of what God really desires. Condemned. Formally and officially (καταδικάζω). The guiltless. As were the very priests (ver. 5).
For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
Verse 8. - Parallel passages: Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5. For. With immediate refer-once to guiltless. The Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day; is Lord of the sabbath (Revised Version); ere, being added in the Received Text from Mark and Luke. Christ clinches the argument, and at the same time explains his phrase in ver. 6. The temple is greater than the sabbath; I am greater than the temple; these my disciples are therefore guiltless; for, to put it briefly, I, whom they are following, am greater than the sabbath and rule over it. Observe, however, that Christ does not directly say "I," but the Son of man. The reason is seen in Mark, where a connecting link is given: "The sabbath was made for man. and not man for the sabbath: so that the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath." Christ there implies that the sabbath is inferior to man, not only because it exists for his sake (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:9),but also because it falls under the lordship referred to in Genesis 1:28; and therefore that he himself is really superior to it as man, and much more as the ideal Man (Matthew 8:20, note). Our saying is very condensed, but includes the name thought, omitting even as unnecessary, after having definitely pronounced the innocence of his disciples. (For the thought of the saying, cf. 2 Macc. 5:19, "God did not choose the people for the place's sake, but the place for the people's sake," and the Midrash 'Mechilta,' on Exodus 31:13, especially the words, "The sabbath is given to you, not yon to the sabbath." So also Talm. Bab., 'Yoma,' 85 b.)
And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:
Verses 9-14. - The healing of the man with the withered hand. Parallel passages: Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11. In vers. 10, 11 there are reminiscences of a narrative, presumably belonging to the Framework, which is essentially preserved in Luke 14:2-5 (cf. Weiss). In this section the opposition of the Pharisees is turned directly against our Lord himself for breaking the sabbath. Observe, however, that he did not do this for his own benefit. It was his kindness to another that brought about the determination to kill him. Verse 9. - And when he was departed thence (καὶ μεταβὰς ἐκεῖθεν). The phrase implies more than removal from that place in the corn-fields where he had been accused by the Pharisees, and is to be understood of removal from one town to another, the words that originally preceded this narrative not being recorded (cf. infra, and Matthew 11:1, note). When. therefore, it took place we have absolutely no means of knowing, save that it was not on the same day as the event recorded in vers. 1-8 (cf. Luke, "on another sabbath"), and that it was later on in his ministry. He went into their synagogue. Whose? Hardly the Pharisees mentioned in ver. 2, as this was a different occasion. Possibly the Galilaeans, among whom he then was (cf. Matthew 4:23; Matthew 9:35), or probably the Jews generally (cf. Matthew 11:1, note). In the two last cases the subject of "they asked," in ver. 10, would be the same as that of "they watched." in Mark (Mark 3:2), namely, the frequenters of the synagogue. among whom the Pharisees naturally took a prominent place. But it is quite possible that we have here a trace of the use of a fresh source, the αὐτῶν being quite intelligible in its original context.
And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
Verse 10 - And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered; and behold a man having a withered hand (Revised Version, with Westcott and Hort). For the quotation by Jerome from "the Gospel which the Nazarenes and Ebionites use" (comp. also Introduction, p. 16.), in which this man tells our Lord, "Coementarius (a mason) eram, manibus vietum quaeritans," see especially Resch, 'Agrapha,' p. 379. And they asked him, saying. In the narrative of healing the man with the dropsy, found in Luke 14:1-6 (vide supra), a similar question is asked by our Lord. Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? The Tahnudic answer is that it is unlawful except in cases of actual danger to life (cf. Schurer, IL 2:104). but whether this distinction was really drawn as early as the time of our Lord {s not known in the present backward state of all critical investigations of Jewish literature. That they might accuse him; i.e. before the local court, Matthew 5:21 (Meyer). Observe that, recognizing his readiness to help others, they desire (according to Matthew) to get a clear statement from him whether he would follow the traditional law (as we may assume it was) or net, intending to base their accusation on his reply. Verbally, however, Christ avoids the dilemma, as in the more famous case of the tribute to Caesar (Matthew 22:21).
And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
Verse 11. - Matthew alone on this occasion, but comp. Luke 14:5. And he said unto them. Christ's answer appeals from intellectual and theoretical difficulties to the practical common sense of ordinary morality (cf. Romans 3:5-7). Their own feelings would guide them to help a brute, much more a man. According to the parallel passages, our Lord first set the man in the midst of them, wishing, perhaps, to draw out their sympathy, and only afterwards spoke this verse of censure (see Chrysostom). What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep. One only, and therefore so much the dearer (Meyer). He would feel an interest in it as an animal that he had learned to love; and he would care for it as his property. In Christ's case also there was the love of man as man, and of man as belonging to him (John 10:14; John 1:11). In Luke 14:5 ("a son or an ox") the double thought is distributed over two objects; the man Would love his son, and care for his property in the ox. And if it (this, Revised Version) fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? Lightfoot ('Hor. Hebr.') confirms this from the Jerusalem Talmud and Maimonides.
How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
Verse 12. - How much then is a man better than a sheep? (Matthew 6:26; Matthew 10:31). Wherefore it is lawful to do well (to do good, Revised Version) on the sabbath days. He answers their question about healing (ver. 10) by enunciating a general principle which would cover more. "Doing good" (perhaps merely "well-doing," Acts 10:33; 1 Corinthians 7:37; but probably "doing good to" another, cf. Luke 6:26, 27; and the parallel passages here, ἀγαθοποιῆσαι η}' κακοποιῆσαι) is to be one test by which the duty of resting or of working on the sabbath is to be determined.
Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
Verse 13. - Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. He is bid use his strength before he is told that it is given. The intellectual difficulties that might have occurred to him lose themselves fir the action. In the somewhat similar ease in Matthew 9:5, 6 there had been the preparation of forgiveness of sins. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Power is linked to obedience. Whole; i.e. sound, in complete health and vigour. The word comes more often in the account of the man healed at the pool of Bethesda than in all the rest of the New Testament.
Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
Verse 14. - Then the Pharisees went out (ἐξελθόντες δὲ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι). Probably at once, before the service was over. Note the emphatic position of ἐξελθόντες. They will no longer stay in the same building with one who does such a thing, and held a council; and tool: counsel (Revised Version, with Authorized Version margin); cf. Matthew 22:15; Matthew 27:1, 7; Matthew 28:12. Against him, how they might destroy him. We learn from Mark that the Herodians also took part in the deliberation. Professor Marshall (Expositor, June, 1891, pp. 465,466) suggests a too ingenious reconciliation of this verse and its parallels, in three details, by suggesting an Aramaic original which would explain the divergences.
But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;
Verses 15-21. - Jesus withdraws, and although many follow him and are healed by him, he charges them not to make him known, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the Ideal Israelite, who is the object of God's love and delight, and will receive his Spirit and declare the revelation of him to the Gentiles; he will not strive or exalt himself, or use harshness towards the weak; and his meekness shall last until he has succeeded in his purpose of revealing God to men; for he shall succeed, and he shall be the object of the Gentiles' hope. Verse 15. - Vers. 15, 16 are found essentially in Mark 3:7, 12; the remainder of this section, the application of prophecy. here only. But when Jesus knew it; and Jesus perceiving it (Revised Version). Whether by his own unaided powers, or by intelligence brought him, is not stated. He withdrew himself (cf. Matthew 4:12, he departed, note) from thence. We see from the next clause that this withdrawal was not into any very retired spot, but rather away front the town in which he had been. His motives may have been partly to carry on his work more quietly elsewhere (fulfilling his own injunction, Matthew 10:23), and partly to avoid stirring up the excitement of partisans like those who a little later wished to seize him by force and make him king (John 6:15, where observe "withdrew"). And great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all. Almost verbally in Matthew 19:2.
And charged them that they should not make him known:
Verse 16. - And charged them that they should not make him known. Publicity as such was rather hindering to his work than otherwise. Only those who had no spiritual affinity with him (John 7:3-5), or at most but little (Matthew 9:31), desired him to have it.
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
Verse 17. - That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying (Isaiah 42:1-4). The following quotation is not taken from the LXX., but from the Hebrew, and this it largely paraphrases.
Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
Verse 18. - Behold my servant. Primarily, as would appear, Israel in its ideal, up to which true Israelites came in measure, but only One came fully. Whom I have chosen (ο{ν ᾑρέτισα). The Hebrew denotes "lay hold of" (אתמד), i.e. for myself. Bengel has a beautiful note on the εἰς ὅν of the Received Text, "Αἰς, in, denotat perpeluam mentis paternae tendentiam erga dilectum, 2 Peter 1:17." According to the LXX. of 1 Chronicles 29:1, David's expression about Solomon affords a curious parallel, Ὁ υἱός μου εἰς ο{ν ᾑρέτικεν ἐν αὐτῷ Κύριος (edit. Dr. Swete). But Lagarde's edition of the Lucianic text punctuates and accents differently, Ὁ υἱός μου εϊς ο{ν ᾑρέτικεν ἐν αὐτῷ κύριος, and this is much nearer to the Hebrew. My beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased (Matthew 3:17, note): I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall show (declare, Revised Version) judgment to the Gentiles (καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ). Although κρίσις usually represents in the New Testament God's decision as to the character and life of men, it here must be understood, like mishpat in the original, of the Divine right as made known to them for their acceptance and imitation. It is "the true religion viewed on its practical side as a norm and standard for life in all its relations" (Delitzsch). The thought here, therefore, is not of Christ's power to punish and avenge (though he refused to use it as yet), but of his bringing a revelation which should eventually spread, not only to the Jews who now rejected him, but to the Gentiles whom they despised.
He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
Verse 19. - He shall not strive, nor cry. In Isaiah the clause is, "He shall not cry aloud nor lift up his voice (לא יצעק ולא ישא);" and so the LXX. But "strive" would represent one very frequent connotation of "cry aloud" and its synonyms, for in Eastern lands disputants use their voice much more loudly than we do. This close connexion between the two ideas is seen also in the Syriac Version of Isaiah,. where "lift up his voice" is translated narib, a word meaning primarily "he shall strive," and only secondarily "he shall lift up his voice." It is possible, but not probable, that Matthew's "strive" is taken directly from narib, adopting its primary and commoner meaning, and transposed. Neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A slight paraphrase of the original, "nor cause his voice to he heard in the street," perhaps due to different vocalization of the Hebrew.
A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
Verse 20. - A bruised reed shall he not break, and-smoking flax shall he not quench. Though what more feeble than a cracked reed or a wick just flickering? Yet he reckons neither as useless; he allows for possibilities of improvement. His treatment of the believer who is weakest, and, so to speak, least alive, is marked by long-suffering and gentleness. Observe that

(1) Matthew omits the words, "He shall not burn dimly nor be discouraged," because he is not concerned with anything else than Christ's relation to others;

(2) he combines into one the two clauses of Isaiah, "He shall bring forth judgment in truth" and "Till he have set judgment in the earth." Till he send forth (ἕως α}ν ἐκβάλῃ). This being the supreme object of Messiah's life and energy - bringing out, as from his own plans and resources, judgment unto victory; i.e. the revelation of the Divine Law (ver. 18, note) to a successful issue in human hearts. Unto victory. Apparently only a paraphrase of the thought in Isaiah.
And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
Verse 21. - And in his Name shall the Gentiles trust; hope (Revised Version). The evangelist thus completes the parallelism with the end of the first stanza (ver. 18) However Jews treat Messiah, Gentiles shall place their hope in his Name, which, in fact, sums up for man all that can be known of God (Matthew 6:9, note). In his Name. So even the LXX. But the Hebrew, "in his Law." Ὀνόματι is possibly due to a confusion with νόμῳ, but is more probably merely a paraphrase bringing out more clearly the fact that the Christian religion is emphatically trust in a Person. The Gentiles; rather, Gentiles, as such. This paraphrase for "isles" in the original is also found in the LXX. (For the whole verse, cf. Matthew 28:19, an utterance never lost sight of by the evangelist.)
Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
Verses 22-32. - The healing of a man blind and dumb, and the consequent blasphemy of the Pharisees. The miracle leads them to the extreme of spiritual opposition. (On the assimilation to our vers. 22-24, found in Matthew 9:32-34, see notes there.) The parallel passages are Luke 11:14-23 and, for the blasphemy and our Lord's consequent defence only, Mark 3:22-30. Verse 22 - Then was brought. So Westcott and Herr margin, but text, "then they brought," as in Matthew 9:32. Unto him one possessed with a devil, blind (this fact is not mentioned by Luke), and dumb. "The devil had shut up each entrance by which be might come to faith, his sight and his hearing, yet Christ opened each" (Chrysostom). And he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. The case was worse than even that of Matthew 9:32, where the man was not blind.
And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
Verse 23. - And all the people; the multitudes (Revised Version); i.e. the various concourses of people that formed themselves at different times of the day and in different parts of the town (cf. Matthew 8:1; Matthew 14:15, notes). Were amazed (ἐξίσταντο); here only in Matthew, but cf. Mark 2:12. And said, Is this (μήτι οῦτός ἐστιν). The form of the question suggests that it seemed altogether too wonderful to allow of an affirmative answer being returned. The American Committee of Revision wished to translate, "Can this be," etc.? The Son of David? (Matthew 9:27, note).
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
Verse 24. - (On the relation of this verse to Matthew 9:34, see notes there.) But when the Pharisees. Not further defined here, but in Mark 3:22 spoken of as "the scribes that had come down from Jerusalem." Heard it, they said, This fellow; man (Revised Version); οῦτος (cf. Matthew 9:3, note). Observe that οῦτος (in Matthew only) here answers to the οῦτος of ver. 23. "This man" is at once the object of hope in the minds of the multitudes, and of the deepest opposition on the part of the Pharisees. Doth not cast out devils, but. In the parallel passages there is merely a direct assertion that he does it by Beelzebub; here there is a denial of his power to do it by any other agency. Does Matthew's version express rather the process of their deliberation, and that of Mark and Luke the final result? (On the Jewish tradition that our Lord performed miracles by magic, see Matthew 2:14, note, and Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.,' here.) By; in, Revised Version, margin (Matthew 9:34, note). Beelzebub (Matthew 10:25, note). The prince. Better omit the article, ἄρχοντι giving, so to speak, his official title. Of the devils.
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
Verses 25-37. - Our Lord shows the monstrous character of their accusation, and urges the need of a complete change at heart.

(1) An a priori argument that such an action on Satan's part, as they suppose, would be self-destructive (vers. 25, 26).

(2) An argumentum ad hominem. The Pharisees cannot logically and morally acknowledge that their disciples' miracles are performed by Divine help without acknowledging that Jesus' miracles are also. But then they ought to recognize what this implies-that the kingdom of God has come (vers. 27, 28).

(3) This last alternative is true; for how otherwise can they explain the fact of Satan's captives being released (ver. 29)?

(4) An appeal to them and to the bystanders to be decided (ver. 30).

(5) Therefore he warns them solemnly against committing the sin for which there is no forgiveness (vers. 31, 32).

(6) Why be surprised at this language? Their words show that they need a complete change at heart (vers. 33-35).

(7) Is this to make too much of words? It is by words that men will be judged (vers. 36, 37). Verse 25. - Vers 25, 26, parallel passages: Mark 3:24, 25; Luke 11:17, 18. And Jesus knew their thoughts (Matthew 9:4, note), and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. According to Mark 3:23, our Lord begins with the direct retort, "How can Satan cast out Satan?" But while that gives, of course, our Lord's thought, it is very unlike his method, which is to begin his reply with a parabolic saying. And every city. Matthew only. Or house divided against itself. It is worth noticing that, apart from all metaphor, the peasants' houses in some districts of Palestine are built of such poor material as to easily give way and burst in half (cf. Thomson, 'Land and the Book,' p. 390, edit. 1887). Shall not stand. Neither kingdom, town, nor family can endure such self-destruction; no, nor an individual. There is, too, the further thought that Satan is more than a mere individual; that he is bound up with his kingdom, and his kingdom with him.
And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
Verse 26. - And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then. The transposition in the Revised Version to how then shall brings out more distinctly the fact that then is not temporal, but argumentative (οϋν.). His kingdom stand? To De Wette's objection that Satan might perhaps do such a thing once so as to gain in other ways, Meyer answers that our Lord is referring to the practice of casting out devils, which, as such, is certainly directed against Satan.
And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.
Verses 27, 28. - Parallel passage: Luke 11:19, 20, almost verbally identical. Verse 27. - And (καί). Another stage in his argument. There is a further reason why they should hesitate before making such an accusation; their own disciples claimed to be able to cast out devils. If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children; sons (Revised Version); i.e. your pupils, who will carry on your work (cf. "sons of the prophets"). Cast them out? (cf. Matthew 4:24, note). For examples of such cases by others than professed followers of Christ, see Luke 9:49; Acts 19:13. Josephus also mentions some, but they are mere impostures; he says ('Ant.,' 08:02.5), "Solomon left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return, and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the sure was this: he put a ring that had a root of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed" (cf. also Dr. Cheatham's article on "Exorcism," in 'Dict. of Christian Antiq.'). Therefore they. Emphatic (αὐτοί), and hence, presumably, the transposition in the Revised Version, shall they. Shall be your judges. Our Lord asks the preceding question, neither denying nor affirming for himself the fact that their disciples cast out devils, but only by way of argument. He implies, "You will answer that they do so by God's help. If so, then your sons shall be your judges, convicting you of insincerity. You acknowledge that they work miracles by God's help, and you do not acknowledge that I do. But you cannot stop short there. You must acknowledge that I also cast out devils by God's help."
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
Verse 28. - The argument continues: "But if this be so (I say nothing about your disciples, but speak only of my own works) - if I really cast out devils by God's help, this shows such a strange putting forth of God's strength that it can mean nothing else but the coming of the Messianic kingdom." Observe that this could not be affirmed from the success of the Pharisees' disciples, for with them expulsion of devils, even if it were real, was, as it were, accidental, standing in no close connexion with their work (cf. Matthew 7:22, note). Besides, they did not, as our Lord did, claim to be the Messiah, and to inaugurate the kingdom. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God; but if I by the Spirit of God, etc. (Revised Version). The chief emphasis lies on by the Spirit of God, and there is a secondary emphasis on J, as compared with "your sons." Observe the absence of the article in ἐν πνεύματι Θεοῦ; contrast vers. 31, 32, and comp. Matthew 1:18, note. Luke has, "by the finger of God," a term used to designate God's power as put forth upon nature (Exodus 8:19; Exodus 31:18; cf. Psalm 8:3). Then. Little as you think it (ἄρα); cf. Luke 11:48. The kingdom of God. In contrast to Satan's kingdom (ver. 26). Is come (ἔφθασαεν: praevenit, Codex Brixianus; cf. Wordsworth and White's Vulgate). This may mean

(1) it has come sooner than you expected, it has got the start of you (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:15); or

(2) it has actually come as far as you, it has arrived. This latter sense seems to be more in accordance with Hellenistic usage (cf. Philippians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:16). Unto you; upon you (Revised Version), ἐφ ὑμᾶς.
Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
Verse 29. - Parallel passages: Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21, 22. Mark is practically identical with Matthew. Luke ("the strong man armed," etc.) is more detailed and vivid, and is perhaps the original form of the saying. Or else; or (Revised Version); i.e. if this be not the case, that the kingdom of God is come upon you, how else do you explain what has happened, the fact of Satan's instruments being taken from him? How can one enter into a strong man's house; the house of the strong man (Revised Version). (For the article, cf. Matthew 1:23, note.) And spoil (ἁρπάσαι) his goods. Carry off his household tools and utensils (τὰ σκεύη αὐτοῦ). Except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. This is more than merely the conclusion. It is an emphatic statement that he will do this, yes, utterly plunder (διαρπάσει) the whole house. The interpretation of the parable is self-evident: the strong man is Satan; his vessels are those afflicted by him; the one who binds, etc., is Christ. For Christ's appearance and work, even before the Crucifixion and Resurrection, bound Satan in this respect. Observe that there is probably a tacit reference to Isaiah 49:25, which at any rate now received a fulfilment.
He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
Verse 30. - Parallel passage: Luke 11:23, omitted in Mark. The aim of this verse is doubtful.

(1) It may be addressed to the Pharisees, with the object of showing them what their words really implied. They were not due, as some might think, to mere indifferentism or to a judicial neutrality; such a relation to him was impossible. They were due to opposition of inner life and of outward energy. Thus their words denoted complete separation from him. This he brings out more clearly in the two following verses.

(2) This interpretation, however, would attribute to the Pharisees too great an ignorance of their own feelings of opposition to Christ, and it is therefore best to understand the verse as addressed to the many bystanders. Christ has do-fended himself from the accusation brought against him, and now urges these waverers not to be content with only not opposing him, but to take sides - for, in fact, they cannot help doing so. Indifference in this case is only another name for opposition; not actively to help is really to hinder. Thus understood, the lesson of this verse finds its parallel in vers. 43-45, by which, indeed, it is immediately followed in Luke. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. The first clause speaks of the inner disposition, that which forms the real being of the man; the second, of his energy. Observe that the figure of the second clause appears to be connected with that of ver. 29. If Christ's property is not collected, it is driven further from him. Christ and Christians must gather (John 11:52; cf. Bengel). For gathereth (συνάγων), cf. also Matthew 3:12; Matthew 13:30. In scattereth abroad (σκορπίζει) the thought almost leaves the simile of the σκεύη, and regards the persons signified. Notice that in John 11:52, referred to above, the two verbs συνάγειν and (δια) σκορπίζειν, also occur; the figure there, however, appears to be taken from sheep (cf. John 10:12). Further, Mark 9:40 and Luke 9:50 record the saying, "He that is not against us is for us," which was addressed to our Lord's disciples. Both sayings are necessary; earnest Christians need to remember that when outsiders do anything in Christ's name, it must, on the whole, forward his cause (Philippians 1:18); the undecided must face the fact that neutrality is impossible.
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
Verses 31, 32. - Parallel passages: Mark 3:28-30 (where the verses immediately follow our ver. 29) and Luke 12:10 (where the context is not the same, he having passed straight from our ver. 30 to our ver. 43, vide infra). It is to be observed that all three accounts differ a good deal in form, though but slightly in substance. The Apostolical Constitutions contain what is probably a mixture of these verses with 2 Peter 2:1 and other passages of the New Testament. Resch ('Agrapha,' pp. 130, 249, etc.), in accordance with his theory, thinks that the Constitutions have preserved a genuine utterance of the Lord, of which only different fragments are presented in various parts of the New Testament. A few words of introduction to these difficult verses. It has been strangely forgotten, in their interpretation, that our Lord spoke in language that he intended his hearers to understand, and that probably not a single one of those who stood by would understand by the expressions, ,, the Spirit" (ver. 31), "the Holy Spirit" (ver. 32), a Person in the Godhead distinct from the First Person or the Second (cf. Matthew 1:18, note). At most they would understand them to refer to an influence by God upon men (Psalm 51:11; cf. Luke 11:13), such as Christ had claimed to possess in a special degree (Luke 4:18). In inquiring, therefore, for an explanation of our Lord's sayings, we must not begin at the Trinitarian standpoint, and see in the words a contrast between "blasphemy" against one Person of the Trinity, and "blasphemy" against another. The contrast is between "blasphemy" against Christ as Son of man, Christ in his earthly work and under earthly conditions, the Christ whom they saw and whom they did not understand, and "blasphemy" against God as such working upon earth. "Blasphemy" against the former might be due to ignorance and prejudice, but "blasphemy" against the latter was to speak against God's work recognized as such, against God manifesting himself to their consciences (cf. vers. 27, 28); it was to reject the counsel of God towards them, to set themselves up in opposition to God, and thus to exclude from themselves forgiveness. Just as under the Law there were sacrifices for sins of ignorance and minor offences, but none for wilful disregard of and opposition to God, so must it be at all times even under the gospel itself. Observe that the "blasphemy" is understood by our Lord as showing the state of the heart (cf. Acts 7:51). What the effect of a change of heart, i.e. of repentance, would be does not enter into our Lord's utterance. All other sin is venial, but for heart-opposition there is no forgiveness. As Tyndale says ('Expositions,' p. 232, Parker Society), "Sin against the Holy Ghost is despising of the gospel and his working. Where that bideth is no remedy of sin: for it fighteth against faith, which is the forgiveness of sin. If that be put away, faith may enter in, and all sins depart." (Cf. also Dorner, ' System,' 3:73; 4:91.) Verse 31. - Wherefore (διὰ τοῦτο). Referring primarily to ver. 30, and to be joined closely to "I say unto you." Because such is the terrible effect of what you think mere indifferentism, I say this solemnly, Beware of committing the great sin. Luke's connexion of our ver. 43 with ver. 30 gives a good but a weaker sense - Become fully decided, lest the devil return to you stronger than ever. Matthew's connexion is - Become fully decided, for the legitimate outcome of want of decision is the sin that will not be forgiven. I say unto you (Matthew 6:25, note), All manner of; every (Revised Version); πᾶσα. Sin and blasphemy. Genus and species (Meyer). Blasphemy passes in this verse from its wider meaning of open slander and detraction in the first clause to its now commoner but restricted meaning of speech against God in the second clause. Shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; the Spirit (Revised Version), thus making it more possible for the English reader to see the connexion of thought with the phrase in ver. 28. Shall not be forgiven unto men. The words, unto men, must be omitted, with the Revised Version. They weaken a statement which in itself may apply to other beings than those that are on earth.
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Verse 32. - Our Lord applies the general principle of ver. 31 to "blasphemy" against himself. This might be, comparatively speaking, innocuous if it was merely defamation or detraction of him as man; but if, on the other hand, it referred to his work in such a way as to mean a real detraction of God's actions considered as Divine, it indicated a state of feeling which did not admit of forgiveness (vide supra). If it be asked whether the individual Pharisees referred to in vers. 24-28 had committed this sin, the answer depends upon whether they had recognized the hand of God as such, and had, notwithstanding, wilfully rejected it. If they had - as our Lord's tone seems to imply - then they had in fact committed it. Yet they may afterwards have repented, and so have come under a different category. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man (Matthew 8:20, note); e.g. his birth, the circumstances of his life on earth, or his decisions respecting the sabbath or meats, or his disregard of the conventionalities of his time in his treatment of "sinners" and publicans. All such things must have been included in those which St. Paul once blasphemed (1 Timothy 1:13). It shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh (such a word) against the Holy Ghost (the Holy Spirit, Revised Version), it shall not be forgiven him (οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται). The margin of Westcott and Hort, with the Vatican manuscript, represents it still more strongly (οὐ μὴ ἀφεθῇ). Neither in this world (age, Revised Version margin), neither in the world to come. "The age to come" (העולם הבא) included all that followed the coming of Messiah. Sometimes it was restricted to, or practically identified with, the reign of Messiah upon earth, but usually it included much more - eternity as well as time (see especially Weber, 'System,' pp. 354, 355; and cf. Schurer, II. 2:177). It is in its widest sense that our Lord here uses it - contrasting the present order of things with that which will be the final result of his coming, his thoughts travelling far beyond the present course of this world to that which is to be hereafter.
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
Verses 33-37. - You wonder that I make so much of words; words are not trivialities, but are really the legitimate and normal fruit of the heart, and therefore by them each man will be judged.

(1) Take your choice; half-heartedness is not enough (cf. ver. 30); the fruit tells the nature of the tree (ver. 33).

(2) Our Lord addresses the Pharisees directly, showing them their true character. They only speak according to their spiritual condition (ver. 34).

(3) Man can only bring out what is already in his heart (ver. 35).

(4) A solemn close, in which he applies the principle generally; for every idle word an account shall be given, since words are always the source of the verdict upon each man's case (vers. 36, 37). Verses 33-35. - Parallel passage: Luke 6:43-45 (cf. Matthew 7:16-18, notes). Verse 33. - Either make (η} ποιήσατε). Not "suppose" (fac, pone), still less "declare," but "make." The Lord is speaking in a parable. You would not, surely, make a tree in any other way; it would be against nature; how then imagine it can be so in your own persons? Matthew 7:18 and Luke 6:43 state as a fact that the reverse case does not take place in nature. The tree good, and his fruit good (i.e. one if the other); or else make the tree corrupt (Matthew 7:17, note), and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. "By his own fruit" (Luke).
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
Verse 34. - The first clause is in Matthew only. O generation (ye offspring, Revised Version) of vipers (Matthew 3:7, note). Observe that the figure of the tree had also been used by the Baptist (Matthew 3:10). How can ye. It is against nature. Being evil; i.e. inherently worthless (Matthew 6:13, note); cf. πονηροὶ ὄντες, Matthew 7:11. Speak good things. For out of the abundance; i.e. even to overflowing (περίσσευμα: cf. Mark 8:8, of what remained after all were filled). Of the heart the mouth speaketh. In Ephesians 4:29 there is apparently a reminiscence of this saying in connexion with our ver. 33 (cf. also James 3:10-12).
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
Verse 35. - A good man out of the good treasure of the heart; out of his good treasure (Revised Version), of the heart being added in the Received Text from Luke 6:45. Treasure (Matthew 2:11, note). "Vere thesaurus est in quovis heroine, et copia latens" (Bengel); cf. also Matthew 13:52. Bringeth forth good things: and an (the, Revised Version) evil man out of the (his, Revised Version) evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. Bringeth forth (ἐκβάλλει, but Luke προφέρει). Matthew regards the receptacle from which, Luke the outer world into which, the things are brought.
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Verses 36, 37. - Matthew only. Verse 36. - But (δέ); and (Revised Version). The adversative particle hints at the contrast of ver. 35 to their ordinary ideas about the importance of words. I say unto you, That every idle (ἀργόν); i.e. effecting nothing, morally useless; 2 Peter 1:8 (cf. καταργεῖ, Luke 13:7). Word (ῤῆμα); see ver. 37, note. That men shall speak, they shall give account thereof (ἀποδώσουσι λόγον: cf. 1 Peter 4:5) in the day of judgment (Matthew 10:15, note).
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
Verse 37. - For by (ἐκ) - referring to, as it were, the source of the verdict - thy words (τῶν λόγοι σου); thy, individualizing. Ob-nerve the change from ῤῆμα (ver. 36), which might in itself refer to the utterance of a madman, or to a parrot-like quotation. But by here using λόγοι our Lord shows that he is thinking of utterances of the reason. sentences spoken with a knowledge of their meaning, and forming parts of what are virtually, though not literally, discourses. A ῤῆμα may be the merely mechanical utterance of the lips, λόγοι imply consciousness. The presence of λόγον in the preceding clause is probably entirely accidental. Thou shalt be justified (Matthew 11:19, note) - 'Quid enim aliud sermones sancti quam tides sonans" (Calovius, in Meyer) - and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (ver. 7, note).
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
Verses 38-42. - Before entering on this difficult passage, it seems necessary to make some preliminary observations.

(1) Luke 11:29-32 is the recognized parallel.

(2) According to Luke 11:16, our Lord had been already asked for a sign, in what would be the middle of our preceding discussion, i.e. between the accusation by the Pharisees (our ver. 24) and the Lord's answer to it (our ver. 25, sqq.). This shows that either the demand was in fact made at some time during this discussion, or at least that it was such a demand as our Lord's opponents were likely to make when they were hard pressed, and such as they did in fact make on a somewhat similar occasion. Notice that in Luke 11:16 it is expressly attributed to others than those who had brought the accusation.

(3) Very similar verses are found in Matthew 16:1-4 (parallel passage: Mark 8:11-13); Luke 11:16 agrees more verbally with the demand as described there than with our ver. 38.

(4) Thus Mark and Luke relate such an incident once, but Matthew twice.

(5) The four passages (Matthew 12:38-42; Luke 11:16, 29-32; Matthew 16:1-4; Mark 8:11-13) contain so much similarity of language that we cannot suppose them to be absolutely independent of each other.

(6) Hence two hypotheses present themselves:

(a) The demand was made twice (in itself exceedingly probable), and our Lord's answers were to a great extent identical in substance (in itself not very probable), and when identical in substance were closely identical in language (distinctly less probable). Or perhaps we might suppose that this identity of language was rather due to the narrator than to our Lord himself; familiarity with one answer may in the curly Church have moulded the record of the other.

(b) The demand and the answer, as recorded, refer to one and the same occasion. But the account existed in more than one of the sources used by St. Matthew, and as each form of it had its own peculiarities (especially our ver. 24 and Matthew 16:2, 3), he retained them both. Anyhow, Matthew 16:1-4 seems to have belonged to the Framework, and our passage to the Discourses.

(7) It will be noticed that all the passages except Mark 8:11-13 speak of "the sign of Jonah." How was Jonah a sign? Our ver. 40 seems to answer the question, and to say that it was by being in the whale's belly three days and three nights. But there are serious difficulties in accepting this view as finally and alone right. For in Matthew 16:4 no explanation at all is recorded (though, indeed, it might be urged that the evangelist might fairly expect his readers to remember our ver. 40), and in Luke 11:30 apparently a different explanation is found, "for even as Jonah became a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation" - words which, taken alone, would seem to refer to Jonah being a sign by the mere fact of his preaching. Thus our Lord would mean - As Jonah preached, so I preach. The future is used in Luke 11:30 (ἔσται), as bringing out more clearly than the present would have done the final relation in which Christ should stand to his contemporaries. Godet, indeed, urges that the future excludes any present reference to Christ's work as preaching, and that the demand for a sign from heaven (Luke 11:16) can only be fully satisfied by Christ's resurrection, "in which no human agency intervenes, and in which Divine power appears alone." He, therefore, makes Luke's meaning identical with that of our ver. 40, and paraphrases thus: "It was as one who had miraculously escaped from death that Jonas presented himself before the Ninevites, summoning them to anticipate the danger which threatened them; it is as the Risen One that I (by my messengers) shall proclaim salvation to the men of this generation." But this would almost assume that Jonah told the Ninevites of his miraculous escape, though there is not a hint of his having done so. On the contrary, Jonah 3:4, sqq., implies that the call to repentance on the basis of punishment threatened was the sole and only means employed by the prophet to accomplish his mission. Jonah the preacher became, by virtue of his preaching, a sign to the Ninevites (for, quite apart from his miraculous preservation, his appearance in Nineveh and his preaching there were no small portent and sign of Divine interest in the Ninevites' affairs), and they accepted him. Matthew's addition, "the prophet," emphasizes this thought, even though he passes on to give what appears to have been the Lord's secondary interpretation of the sign of Jonah. Christ's primary object, then, in his reply was to show to his opponents that heathen Ninevites and a heathen queen accepted the truth without any such sign as that which they were now demanding, and, if possible, to shame them into doing so. Thus ver. 40 is to be considered as parenthetical rather than as the main subject. It has, indeed, been suggested that ver. 40 was in fact not spoken at all by the Lord himself, but is only the result of a very early interpretation by the Hebrew Christians of our Lord's phrase, added before the formation of our Gospel. The explanation is tempting, but, in the entire absence of corroboration, cannot be accepted (cf. note there). So far as our present evidence goes, we must attribute ver. 40 to Christ, and consider that as he was mentioning the reception of Jonah by the Ninevites, the thought occurred to him that in Jonah's history lay as it were a prefigurement of what he himself would be. Just as on another occasion he illustrated his death and resurrection by the figure of destroying and building the temple (John 2:18, 19), so now he uses the figure of Jonah in the whale's belly.

(8) This is not the place to enter upon a discussion of the question whether the event here referred to literally happened or not, much less to examine the deep and mysterious subject of the Lord's kenosis (Philippians 2:7). But it should be observed that some at least of those critics who do not believe that the narrative of Jonah being in the whale's belly is to be understood literally, consider that his preaching to the Ninevites at all is equally metaphorical (cf. C. H. H. Wright, 'Introduction to Old Testament,' p. 207, sqq.), so that not only ver. 40 but ver. 41 and Luke 11:32 are affected, and that indeed more seriously, since the Lord says that the Ninevites will stand up as witnesses. The reasons for taking the narrative as only metaphorical are far from convincing, yet even if they were overwhelming, the illustration in ver. 40 (though not ver. 41) would still remain valid, just as (with all reverence be it spoken) any one to-day might illustrate his action from that of one of Shakespeare's characters whose historical existence is more than doubtful. While, however, the frequency of the allegorical and pictorial in Hebrew poetry and prophecy must be fully allowed for, there seems to be no strong reason (apart from the miracle) to doubt the historical character of the narrative. Further, as to the miracle, Jonah 1:17; Jonah 2:10 are so closely connected with Jonah 1, 3, and 4, that it is best to understand the writer as intending to represent it (marvellous though it is) as literal history. Verses 38-45. - Some of our Lord's opponents try to defend themselves by asking for a sign of his authority to claim so much; e.g. ver. 30 (ver. 38). In his reply he refers them to their own histories for proof that such a demand is inexcusable. The Ninevites did not require one when Jonah became a sign to them - and in mentioning Jonah he refers to his being in the whale's belly three days and three nights as a symbol of what should happen to himself - and "the queen of the south" took immense trouble to satisfy her craving after wisdom (vers. 39-42). Therefore let them beware; their present state was one of extreme danger; the improvement that they showed was only negative, and if they did not take care worse would happen to them in the future than in the past (vers. 43-45). Verse 38. - Then certain. The demand is only made by a portion of those present, who, according to Luke 11:16, were not the same as those who spoke our ver. 24. Of the scribes and of the (Revised Version omits the) Pharisees. They are represented as forming but one party (Matthew 5:20, note). Answered (him, Revised Version, with the manuscripts). It is worth noticing that the insertion of the pronoun makes the passage more like Matthew 16:1 and parallels. Saying, Master (διδάσκαλε); Matthew 8:19, note. Only in this place is their request given verbally. We would see (Θέλομεν... ἰδεῖν). Observe that their language is rather brusque; they express their own wish regardless of him. But they may have intended it only as a plain statement of the difficulty they felt in believing him. They wished to see a sign first. A sign. More than a miracle of healing, however wonderful; they desired, as expressly said in Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16, a sign from heaven, presumably some portent in the sky, which should be a sign of his mission (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:22; John 4:48). From thee; i.e. happening, not accidentally, but at thy command.
But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
Verse 39. - Of the passages mentioned in the introductory note on vers. 38-42, Matthew 16:4 is verbally identical with the answer of our present verse, except the omission of the words, "the prophet," which occur nowhere else but in this passage. But he answered and said to them, An evil (πονηρά, ch. 6:13, note) and adulterous generation. However frequent the sin of adultery may then have been, the common metaphorical sense of spiritual unfaithfulness to God and the practical worship of some other than Jehovah seems the more probable here (cf. James 4:4; Revelation 2:20-23). Seeketh after (ἐπιζητεῖ); Matthew 6:32. A sign; but there shall no sign be given to it. In Mark 8:12 our Lord's reply ends here. But the sign of the Prophet Jonas; Jonah the prophet (Revised Version). In Matthew 16:4 and Luke 11:29 "the prophet" has been added in the Received Text.
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Verse 40. - Matthew only. For as Jonas (Jonah, Revised Version) was three days and three nights in the whale's belly. Verbally from the LXX. of Jonah 1:17 (2:1). So shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Since, so far as the balance of evidence goes (cf., however, Bishop Westcott, 'Introduction,' p. 344, edit. 1872), the Crucifixion was on Friday and the Resurrection on Sunday, the actual time between them was only one clear day and two parts of days (which might fairly be called three days) and two whole nights. The reckoning, therefore, here is, strictly speaking, inaccurate. The words are perhaps a mere adaptation of the phrase in Jonah, and are here used only to roughly mark the time of our Lord's stay in the grave. Observe, however, that the addition of" nights" tends to emphasize the reality of our Lord's stay there. It was a matter of days and nights; he spent both kinds of earthly time "in the heart of the earth" (cf. Matthew 4:2, note). It will be noticed that the inaccuracy of the wording would, if modern Western habits were alone to be considered, make it most unlikely that the phrase is a later addition; but in view of the early Christian and Jewish method of illustrating events by passages of Scripture which do not apply in all respects, the improbability is not so great as would at first sight appear. However, upon our present information, we must say that the phrase was spoken by our Lord himself, and that although the exact time of his stay in the grave was well known to the early believers, they continued to repeat the saying in the form in which the Lord left it. In the heart of the earth. The form of the expression is derived from Jonah 2:3 (4), "in the heart of the seas" (cf. Exodus 15:8), and would therefore appear to mean some deeper place than the rock-hewn sepulchre. Hence many commentators, beginning with Irenaeus ('Adv. Haer.,' V. 31.) and Tertullian ('De Anima,' Iv.), understand it as directly denoting the place of departed spirits. Ephesians 4:9 ("the lower parts of the earth"), on the contrary, probably refers to the earth as such in contrast to heaven.
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Verse 41. - Verbally identical with Luke 11:32. The men of Nineveh (ἄνδρες Νινευῖται). No article, because the evangelist desired to call attention to the character of the Ninevites. The men of Nineveh, heathen though they were, shall do this. Ἄνδρες (not ἄνθρωποι); hardly because of the approaching mention of a woman (cf. Luke 11:31), but because the men in the city would naturally take the lead, and not the women. So also in the LXX. of Jonah 3:5 (contrast ver. 7, of the population generally). Shall rise in judgment; shall stand up in the judgment (Revised Version); i.e. shall stand up as witnesses (Job 16:8; Mark 14:57) in the final judgment (Luke 10:14). With this generation; i.e. present before the judgment-seat with them, for what purpose is shown by the following words (cf. Winer, § 47, h). And shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas (Jonah 3:5, sqq.). Observe that this was without miracles or signs being wrought. At (εἰς). Marking the direction of their faith (Romans 4:20). And, behold, a greater than - "Gr. more than" (Revised Version margin) - Jonas is here (ver 6, note).
The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
Verse 42. - Almost verbally identical with Luke 11:31. The queen of the south (βασίλισσα νότου, anarthrous; ver. 41, note). The south here doubtless represents part of Arabia Felix (see Dr. Lumby, on 1 Kings 10:1). Shall rise up. Does ἐγερθήσεται here imply more effort than ἀναστήσονται (ver. 41)? This would at least be consistent with the energy which the mention of the Queen of Sheba always suggests. In the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts (the ends, Revised Version) of the earth. Observe the contrast; the message was brought to the Ninevites in their own homes. She marks a higher stage of inquiry and faith. To hear the wisdom of Solomon; i.e. not out of mere curiosity to see him. And, behold, a greater than Solomon is here (ver. 41, note). Observe that Christ claims for himself superiority to the one prophet that was listened to by a Gentile nation, and to the one king whose wisdom drew an inquirer from "the ends of the earth." Rightly; for the claim is confirmed by history; the Gospels have had greater influence than all the Prophets, both "former" and "later," and than all the Hekmah literature. Jesus of Nazareth has drawn all men unto him (John 12:32; cf. 19).
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
Verses 43-45. - Parallel passage: Luke 11:24-26, almost verbally, but omitting the application at the end of our ver. 45. A solemn warning against a merely negative improvement. External preparation, mechanical religion, is insufficient; a definite acceptance of my teaching is required. Our Lord's primary thought Would appear to be the relation in which those to whom he was speaking stood to himself. But he frames his words so as to include the whole of that generation of Jews (vers. 39, 45) For his present hearers truly represented their contemporaries. Observe

(1) the close of this discourse resembles that of the sermon on the mount;

(2) the connexion of thought is the same in Luke, though there the passage comes immediately after our ver. 30; i.e. if you are not with me you are really against me; you are only swept and garnished, and the evil spirit returns. Verse 43. - When; but... when (Revised Version); ὅταν δέ. St. Matthew does not bring this forward as a separate utterance; he wishes the connexion between it and the preceding to be seen. There is a contrast between the behaviour of the Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba, and that of the Jews. The unclean spirit (Matthew 10:1, note) is gone out of a (the, Revised Version) man (τὸ πνεῦμα... τοῦ ἀνθρώπου). The first article is inserted for the sake of vividness; the second points back to the spirit; he leaves the man in whom he had dwelt. The two together make the saying parabolic instead of abstract. He walketh; passeth (Revised Version); διέρχεται. Perhaps merely "goes through," with the connotation of distance traversed (John 4:15; Acts 9:38), but probably "goes about," i.e. to different spots (cf. Luke 9:6; Acts 8:4, 40; Acts 20:25, and so of a rumour being spread abroad, Luke 5:15), in restless wandering. Through dry (waterless, Revised Version; δι ἀνύδρων) places. Which supplied nothing wherewith he might refresh himself (Psalm 63:1), and which would, of course, have no houses (Psalm 107:4-7, 33-36). Seeking rest (Matthew 11:28, 29, notes), and findeth none; and findeth it not (Revised Version).
Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
Verse 44. - Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out. In the true text the emphasis lies on the words, "into my house;" i.e. the place that I have found so comfortable before, where I was so thoroughly at home; which, in fact, is still mine. Observe the curious parallel to Matthew 10:25. The Jews had called Christ Beelzebub absolutely without reason, but in their own ease it was only too possible that they had an unclean spirit as "master of the house." And when he is come, he findeth it empty, unoccupied (σχολάζοντα). Swept; "cleansed with besoms" (Wickliffe); σεσαρωμένον. And garnished; "made fair" (Wickliffe); καὶ κεκοσμημένον. It had no tenant, but it was fully prepared for one; all the rubbish had been removed, and suitable preparations been made.
Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
Verse 45. - Then. On seeing that this is the case (cf Matthew 3:5, note). Goeth he (πορεύεται). Part of the figure; the others would not be far off. And taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked (evil, πονηρότερα) than himself. Christ emphasizes the force and the malignity of a spiritual relapse. And they enter in. Into the heart, and thence into the whole body and soul. And dwell there. Permanently. And the last state of that man is worse than the first. Our Lord's words are apparently quoted in 2 Peter 2:20. Observe that the idea of pollution is found there as well as here. (For the form of the expression, comp. also Matthew 27:64.) Is; becometh (Revised Version), as the result. Even so shall it be, This is more than a warning; it is a verdict. Also unto this wicked generation. Observe Christ's solemn addition of "wicked" (evil, Revised Version; cf. ver. 340; τῇ γενέᾳ ταύτῃ τῇ πουηρᾷ The twofold use of "evil" in this verse is not accidental; this evil generation is already fit for the coming of the evil spirits.
While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.
Verses 46-50 -

(2) The opposition that our Lord met with from his relations. He shows that not natural but spiritual relationship is all-important. Parallel passages: Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21. The section belonged originally to the Framework. Verse 46. - While he yet talked; while he was yet speaking (Revised Version); i.e. on the occasion which formed the basis of the preceding discourse (vers. 22-45). To the people; to the multitudes (Revised Version). Behold, his mother and his brethren (Matthew 13:55) stood without (so that he was in a house), desiring (seeking, Revised Version, ζητοῦντες, they evidently made attempts) to speak with him.
Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
Verse 47. - Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. The verse is omitted by the Sinaitic manuscript (original hand), the Vatican, and a few others; also by the Old Syriac and some manuscripts of the Old Latin Version. It is clearly an insertion to bridge over the "seeking" of ver. 46 and "him that told him" of ver. 48.
But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
Verse 48. - But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? Who are they who are such in the truest sense? - they for whom I must therefore primarily care?
And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
Verse 49. - And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples. One of the very few signs of an eye-witness in sentences peculiar to the First Gospel (see Introduction, p. 11). And said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Verse 50. - For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same (he, Revised Version; αὐτός: ch. 1:21, note) is my brother, and sister, and mother. He is fall; he sums up in himself all such relations. Observe that our Lord does not raise the question whether or not his mother and brethren now believed on him. He is only speaking of the claims of relationship as such. From Mark 3:21, however (which seems to refer to the same occasion), we may conclude that the motive for this endeavour to interrupt him lay in unbelief. If so, Mary was either unaware of this or had herself been over-persuaded into momentary impatience (John 2:3) and distrust. If the latter alternative be adopted, she forms a parallel to the Baptist (Matthew 11:3, note).

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