Matthew 22:35 MEANING

Matthew 22:35
(35) A lawyer.--The precise distinction between the "lawyer" and the other scribes rested, probably, on technicalities that have left little or no trace behind them. The word suggests the thought of a section of the scribes who confined their attention to the Law, while the others included in their studies the writings of the Prophets also. In Luke 7:30; Luke 11:45, they appear as distinct from the Pharisees. The question asked by the "lawyer" here and in Luke 10:25 falls in with this view. So it would seem, in Titus 3:13, that Zenas the "lawyer" was sent for to settle the strivings about the Law that prevailed in Crete.

Tempting him.--There does not appear to have been in this instance any hostile purpose in the mind of the questioner; nor does the word necessarily imply it. (Comp. John 6:6; 2 Corinthians 13:5, where it is used in the sense of "trying," "examining.") It would seem, indeed, as if our Lord's refutation of the Sadducees had drawn out a certain measure of sympathy and reverence from those whose minds were not hardened in hypocrisy. They came now to test His teaching on other points. What answer would He give to the much-debated question of the schools, as to which was the great commandment of the Law? Would He fix on circumcision, or the Sabbath, or tithes, or sacrifice, as that which held the place of pre-eminence? The fact that they thus, as it were, examined Him as if they were His judges, showed an utterly imperfect recognition of His claims as a Prophet and as the Christ; but the "lawyer" who appeared as their representative was, at least, honest in his purpose, and "not far from the kingdom of God" (Mark 12:34).

Verse 35. - A lawyer; νομικός, called by St. Mark "a scribe" - a term of wider signification, which would include "lawyers." Vulgate, legis doctor, which gives the right sense; for such were teachers and expounders of the Mosaic Law. This man was put forth by the Pharisees as an expert, who would not be so easily discomfited as the Sadducees had been. Tempting him. Trying him (comp. 1 Kings 10:1); putting him to the test, not altogether maliciously, but partly from curiosity, and partly from a desire to hear Christ's opinion on a much disputed point. It is evident, from St. Mark's account, that Christ was pleased with him personally, for he said to him, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." Those who put this lawyer forward had, of course, sinister motives, and hoped to make capital from Christ's answer; but the man himself seems to have been straightforward and honest. We have had the terra "tempting" used in a hostile sense (Matthew 16:1; Matthew 19:3), but there is no necessity for so taking it; and it seems to imply here merely the renewal of the attack on Christ.

22:34-40 An interpreter of the law asked our Lord a question, to try, not so much his knowledge, as his judgment. The love of God is the first and great commandment, and the sum of all the commands of the first table. Our love of God must be sincere, not in word and tongue only. All our love is too little to bestow upon him, therefore all the powers of the soul must be engaged for him, and carried out toward him. To love our neighbour as ourselves, is the second great commandment. There is a self-love which is corrupt, and the root of the greatest sins, and it must be put off and mortified; but there is a self-love which is the rule of the greatest duty: we must have a due concern for the welfare of our own souls and bodies. And we must love our neighbour as truly and sincerely as we love ourselves; in many cases we must deny ourselves for the good of others. By these two commandments let our hearts be formed as by a mould.Then one of them, which was a lawyer,.... Or that was "learned", or "skilful in the law", as the Syriac and Persic versions, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel read. The Ethiopic version calls him, "a Scribe of the city", of the city of Jerusalem; but I do not meet with any such particular officer, or any such office peculiar to a single man any where: mention is made of "the Scribes of the people" in Matthew 2:4 and this man was one of them, one that interpreted the law to the people, either in the schools, or in the synagogues, or both; and Mark expressly calls him a "Scribe": and so the Arabic version renders the word here; and from hence it may be concluded that the lawyers and Scribes were the same sort of persons. This man was by sect a Pharisee, and by his office a Scribe; or interpreter of the law, and suitable to his office and character,

asked him a question, tempting him, and saying: he put a difficult and knotty question to him, and thereby making a trial of his knowledge and understanding of the law; and laying a snare for him, to entrap him if he could, and expose him to the people, as a very ignorant man: and delivered it in the following form.

Courtesy of Open Bible