Tag: commentaries

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 1:1-11 Antique Commentary Quotes

Cambridge Bible
Acts 1:1

The former treatise] In the original we have the superlative adjective used, but the idiom which speaks of the first of two is common to Greek with many other languages. An example is found 1Co_14:30. So Cicero, de Inventione, in his second book (chap, iii.) calls the former book primus liber.

treatise] The original (λόγος) indicates rather an inartistic narrative than a history. It is a book more like a piece of Herodotus than Thucydides.

have I made] Better, I made. The time is indefinite, and we have no warrant in the text for that closer union of the two books, in point of date, which is made by the language of the A. V.

Theophilus] Nothing is known of the person to whom St Luke addresses both his Gospel and the Acts, but the adjective “most excellent” applied to him in Luk_1:3 is the same which is used in addressing Felix in a letter and in a speech (Act_23:26; Act_24:3), and Festus (Act_26:25) in a speech; from which we are perhaps warranted in concluding that Theophilus was a person of rank, and it may be a Roman officer. Josephus uses the same word in addressing Epaphroditus, to whom he dedicates the account of his life (Vit. Josephi, ad fin.). The suggestion that Theophilus (= lover of God) is a name adopted by the writer to indicate any believer, is improbable. Such personification is unlike the rest of Scripture, and is not supported by evidence.

began] for the Gospel is not a history of all that Jesus did, but only an account of the foundations which He laid and on which the Church should afterwards be built So this book is still an account of what the Lord does and teaches from heaven.

to do and teach] As in the Gospel (Luk_24:19) the disciples call Jesus “a prophet mighty in deed and in word.” The acts and life spake first, and then the tongue.

Albert Barnes
Acts 1:2

Until the day – The 40th day after the resurrection, Act_1:3. See Luk_24:51.

In which he was taken up – In which he ascended to heaven. He was taken up into a cloud, and is represented as having been borne or carried to heaven, Act_1:9.

After that … – This passage has been variously rendered. The Syriac translates it, “After he had given commandment unto the apostles whom he had chosen by the Holy Spirit.” So also the Ethiopic version. Others have joined the words “through the Holy Spirit” to the phrase “was taken up,” making it mean that he was taken up by the Holy Spirit. But the most natural and correct translation seems to be what is in our King James Version.

Through the Holy Ghost – To understand this, it is necessary to call to mind the promise that Jesus made before his death, that after his departure, the Holy Spirit would descend to be a guide to his apostles. See Joh_16:7-11, and the notes on that place. It was to be his office to carry forward the work of redemption in applying it to the hearts of people. Whatever was done, therefore, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, was to be regarded as under the unique influence and direction of the Holy Spirit. Even the instructions of Jesus and his commission to the apostles, were to be regarded as coming within the department of the sacred Spirit, or within the province of his unique work. The instructions were given by divine authority, by infallible guidance, and as a part of the work which the Holy Spirit was sent down to accomplish. Under the direction and guidance of that Spirit the apostles were to go forth; by his aid they were to preach the gospel, to organize the church, to establish its order and its doctrines; and hence, the entire work was declared to be by his direction. Though in his larger and more mighty influences the Spirit did not descend until the day of Pentecost (Luk_24:49; compare Acts 2), yet, in some measure, his influence was imparted to the apostles before the ascension of Christ, Joh_20:22.

Had given commandments – Particularly the command to preach the gospel to all nations, Mat_28:19; Mar_16:15-19. It may be worthy of remark, that the word “commandments,” as a noun in the plural number, does not occur in the original. The single word which is translated, “had given commandments” is a participle, and means simply “having commanded.” There is no need, therefore, of supposing that there is reference here to any other command than to that great and glorious injunction to preach the gospel to every creature. That was a command of so much importance as to be worthy of a distinct record, as constituting the sum of all that the Saviour taught them after his resurrection.

The apostles – The eleven that remained after the treason and death of Judas.

Whom he had chosen – Mat_10:1-4; Luk_6:12-16.

A.T. Robertson
Acts 1:3

To whom also (hois kai). He chose them and then also manifested himself to these very same men that they might have personal witness to give.

Shewed himself alive (parestēsen heauton zōnta). To the disciples the first Sunday evening (Mar_16:14; Luk_24:36-43; Joh_20:19-25), the second Sunday evening (Joh_20:26-29), at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-23), on the mountain in Galilee (Mat_28:16-20; Mar_16:15-18; 1Co_15:6), to the disciples in Jerusalem and Olivet (Luk_24:44-53; Mar_16:19.; Act_1:1-11). Luke uses this verb paristēmi 13 times in the Acts both transitively and intransitively. It is rendered by various English words (present, furnish, provide, assist, commend). The early disciples including Paul never doubted the fact of the Resurrection, once they were convinced by personal experience. At first some doubted like Thomas (Mar_16:14; Luk_24:41; Joh_20:24.; Mat_28:17). But after that they never wavered in their testimony to their own experience with the Risen Christ, “whereof we are witnesses” Peter said (Act_3:15). They doubted at first, that we may believe, but at last they risked life itself in defence of this firm faith.

After his passion (meta to pathein auton). Neat Greek idiom, meta with the articular infinitive (second aorist active of paschō) and the accusative of general reference, “after the suffering as to him.” For pathein used absolutely of Christ’s suffering see also Act_17:3; Act_26:23.

By many proofs (en pollois tekmēriois). Literally, “in many proofs.” Tekmērion is only here in the N.T., though an old and common word in ancient Greek and occurring in the Koiné[28928]š (papyri, etc.). The verb tekmairō, to prove by sure signs, is from tekmar, a sign. Luke does not hesitate to apply the definite word “proofs” to the evidence for the Resurrection of Christ after full investigation on the part of this scientific historian. Aristotle makes a distinction between tekmērion (proof) and sēmeion (sign) as does Galen the medical writer.

Appearing (optanomenos). Present middle participle from late verb optanō, late Koiné[28928]š verb from root optō seen in opsomai, ōphthēn. In lxx, papyri of second century b.c. (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 83). Only here in the N.T. For optasia for vision, see note on Act_26:19; Luk_1:22; Luk_24:23.

By the space of forty days (di’ hēmerōn tesserakonta). At intervals (dia, between) during the forty days, ten appearances being known to us. Jesus was not with them continually now in bodily presence. The period of forty days is given here alone. The Ascension was thus ten days before Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came. Moses was in the mount forty days (Exo_24:18) and Jesus fasted forty days (Mat_4:2). In the Gospel of Luke 24 this separation of forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension is not drawn.

The things concerning the Kingdom of God (ta peri tēs basileias tou theou). This phrase appears 33 times in Luke’s Gospel, 15 times in Mark, 4 times in Matthew who elsewhere has “the kingdom of heaven,” once in John, and 6 times in Acts. No essential distinction is to be drawn between the two for the Jews often used “heaven” rather than “God” to avoid using the Tetragrammaton. But it is noticeable how the word kingdom drops out of Acts. Other words like gospel (euaggelion) take the place of “kingdom.” Jesus was fond of the word “kingdom” and Luke is fond of the idiom “the things concerning” (ta peri). Certainly with Jesus the term “kingdom” applies to the present and the future and covers so much that it is not strange that the disciples with their notions of a political Messianic kingdom (Act_1:6) were slow to comprehend the spiritual nature of the reign of God.

Adam Clarke
‘Acts 1:3

To whom – he showed himself alive – by many infallible proofs – Πολλοις τεκμηριοις; by many proofs of such a nature, and connected with such circumstances, as to render them indubitable; for this is the import of the Greek word τεκμηριον. The proofs were such as these:

1. Appearing to several different persons at different times.
2. His eating and drinking with them.
3. His meeting them in Galilee according to his own appointment.
4. His subjecting his body to be touched and handled by them.
5. His instructing them in the nature and doctrines of his kingdom.
6. His appearing to upwards of five hundred persons at once, 1Co_15:6. And,
7. Continuing these public manifestations of himself for forty days.

The several appearances of Jesus Christ, during the forty days of his sojourning with his disciples, between his resurrection and ascension, are thus enumerated by Bishop Pearce:

The first was to Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, Mat_28:1-9.

The second, to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, Luk_24:15.

The third, to Simon Peter, Luk_24:34.

The fourth, to ten of the apostles, Thomas being absent, Luk_24:36, and Joh_20:19.
(All these four appearances took place on the day of his resurrection.)

The fifth was to the eleven disciples, Thomas being then with them, Joh_20:26.

The sixth, to seven of the apostles in Galilee, at the sea of Tiberias, Joh_21:4.

The seventh, to James, 1Co_15:7, most probably in Jerusalem, and when Jesus gave an order for all his apostles to assemble together, as in Act_1:4.

The eighth, when they were assembled together, and when he led them unto Bethany, Luk_24:50, from whence he ascended to heaven. But see the note on Joh_21:14, for farther particulars.

Pertaining to the kingdom of God – Whatever concerned the doctrine, discipline, and establishment of the Christian Church.

A.T. Robertson
Acts 1:4

Being assembled together with them (sunalizomenos). Present passive participle from sunalizō, an old verb in Herodotus, Xenophon, etc., from sun, with, and halizō, from halēs, crowded. The margin of both the Authorized and the Revised Versions has “eating with them” as if from sun and hals (salt). Salt was the mark of hospitality. There is the verb halisthēte en autōi used by Ignatius Ad Magnes. X, “Be ye salted in him.” But it is more than doubtful if that is the idea here though the Vulgate does have convescens illis “eating with them,” as if that was the common habit of Jesus during the forty days (Wendt, Feine, etc.). Jesus did on occasion eat with the disciples (Luk_24:41-43; Mar_16:14).

To wait for the promise of the Father (perimenein tēn epaggelian tou patros). Note present active infinitive, to keep on waiting for (around, peri). In the Great Commission on the mountain in Galilee this item was not given (Mat_28:16-20). It is the subjective genitive, the promise given by the Father (note this Johannine use of the word), that is the Holy Spirit (“the promise of the Holy Spirit,” objective genitive).

Which ye heard from me (hēn ēkousate mou). Change from indirect discourse (command), infinitives chōrizesthai and perimenein after parēggeilen to direct discourse without any ephē (said he) as the English (Italics). Luke often does this (oratior ariata). Note also the ablative case of mou (from me). Luke continues in Act_1:5with the direct discourse giving the words of Jesus.

Henry Alford
Acts 1:5
5.] The Lord cites these words from the mouth of John himself, reff. Matt.;—and thus announces to them that, as John’s mission was accomplished in baptizing with water, so now the great end of His own mission, the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, was on the point of being accomplished. Calvin remarks, that He speaks of the Pentecostal effusion as being the Baptism with the Holy Ghost, because it was a great representation on the whole Church of the subsequent continued work of regeneration on individuals: ‘Quasi totius Ecclesiæ communis baptismus.’ I may add, also because it was the beginning of a new period of spiritual influence, totally unlike any which had preceded. See ch. Act_2:17.

A.T. Robertson
Acts 1:6

They therefore (hoi men oun). Demonstrative use of hoi with men oun without any corresponding de just as in Act_1:1 men occurs alone. The combination men oun is common in Acts (27 times). Cf. Luk_3:18. The oun is resumptive and refers to the introductory (Act_1:1-5), which served to connect the Acts with the preceding Gospel. The narrative now begins.

Asked (ērōtōn). Imperfect active, repeatedly asked before Jesus answered.

Lord (kurie). Here not in the sense of “sir” (Mat_21:30), but to Jesus as Lord and Master as often in Acts (Act_19:5, Act_19:10, etc.) and in prayer to Jesus (Act_7:59).

Dost thou restore (ei apokathistaneis). The use of ei in an indirect question is common. We have already seen its use in direct questions (Mat_12:10; Luk_13:23 which see note for discussion), possibly in imitation of the Hebrew (frequent in the lxx) or as a partial condition without conclusion. See also Act_7:1; Act_19:2; Act_21:37; Act_22:25. The form of the verb apokathistanō is late (also apokathistaō) omega form for the old and common apokathistēmi, double compound, to restore to its former state. As a matter of fact the Messianic kingdom for which they are asking is a political kingdom that would throw off the hated Roman yoke. It is a futuristic present and they are uneasy that Jesus may yet fail to fulfil their hopes. Surely here is proof that the eleven apostles needed the promise of the Father before they began to spread the message of the Risen Christ. They still yearn for a political kingdom for Israel even after faith and hope have come back. They need the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (John 14-16) and the power of the Holy Spirit (Act_1:4.).

Albert Barnes
Acts 1:7

It is not for you to know – The question of the apostles respected the time of the restoration; it was not whether he would do it. Accordingly, his answer meets precisely their inquiry; and he tells them in general that the time of the great events of God’s kingdom was not to be understood by them. They had asked a similar question on a former occasion, Mat_24:3, “Tell us when shall these things be?” Jesus had answered them then by showing them that certain signs would precede his coming, and then by saying Mat_24:36, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” God has uniformly reproved a vain curiosity on such points, 1Th_5:1-2; 2Pe_3:10; Luk_12:39-40.

The times or the seasons – The difference between these words is, that the former denotes any time or period that is indefinite or uncertain; the later denotes a fixed, definite, or appropriate time. They seem to be used here to denote the periods that would mark or determine all future events.

The Father hath put … – So entirely had the Father reserved the knowledge of these to himself, that it is said that even the Son did not know them. See Mar_3:32, and the notes on that place.

In his own power – That is, he has fixed them by his own authority, he will bring them about in his own time and way; and therefore it is not proper for people anxiously to inquire into them. All prophecy is remarkably obscure in regard to the time of its fulfillment. The reasons why it is so are such as the following:

(1) To excite people to watch for the events that are to come, as the time is uncertain, and they will come “like a thief in the night.”

(2) As they are to be brought about by human agency, they are so arranged as to call forth that agency. If people knew just when an event was to come to pass, they might be remiss, and feel that their own efforts were not needed.

(3) The knowledge of future scenes of the exact time, might alarm people, and absorb their thoughts so entirely as to prevent a proper attention to the present duties of life. Duty is ours now; God will provide for future scenes.

(4) Promises sufficiently clear and full are therefore given us to encourage us, but not so full as to excite a vain and idle curiosity. All this is eminently true of our own death, one of the most important future scenes through which we are to pass. It is certainly before us; it is near; it cannot be long delayed; it may come at any moment. God has fixed the time, but will not inform us when it shall be. He does not gratify a vain curiosity; nor does he terrify us by announcing to us the day or the hour when we are to die, as we do a man that is to be executed. This would be to make our lives like that of a criminal sentenced to die, and we should through all our life, through fear of death, be subject to bondage, Heb_2:15. He has made enough known to excite us to make preparation, and to be always ready, having our loins girt about and our lamps trimmed and burning, Luk_12:35.

Cambridge Bible
Acts 1:7

It is not for you, &c.] During the tutelage, as it may be called, of His disciples, our Lord constantly avoided giving a direct answer to enquiries which they addressed to Him. He checked in this way their tendency to speculate on the future, and drew their minds to their duty in the present. Cp. Joh_21:21-22.

in his own power] The word here rendered power is not the same as that so rendered in the following verse. The sense of this first word is “absolute disposal,” and we might well render it authority.

A.T. Robertson
Acts 1:8

Power (dunamin). Not the “power” about which they were concerned (political organization and equipments for empire on the order of Rome). Their very question was ample proof of their need of this new “power” (dunamin), to enable them (from dunamai, to be able), to grapple with the spread of the gospel in the world.

When the Holy Ghost is come upon you (epelthontos tou hagiou pneumatos eph’ humas). Genitive absolute and is simultaneous in time with the preceding verb “shall receive” (lēmpsesthe). The Holy Spirit will give them the “power” as he comes upon them. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit referred to in Act_1:5.

My witnesses (mou martures). Correct text. “Royal words of magnificent and Divine assurance” (Furneaux). Our word martyrs is this word martures. In Luk_24:48 Jesus calls the disciples “witnesses to these things” (martures toutōn, objective genitive). In Act_1:22 an apostle has to be a “witness to the Resurrection” of Christ and in Act_10:39 to the life and work of Jesus. Hence there could be no “apostles” in this sense after the first generation. But here the apostles are called “my witnesses.” “His by a direct personal relationship” (Knowling). The expanding sphere of their witness when the Holy Spirit comes upon them is “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (heōs eschatou tēs gēs). Once they had been commanded to avoid Samaria (Mat_10:5), but now it is included in the world program as already outlined on the mountain in Galilee (Mat_28:19; Mar_16:15). Jesus is on Olivet as he points to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost (last, eschatou) part of the earth. The program still beckons us on to world conquest for Christ. “The Acts themselves form the best commentary on these words, and the words themselves might be given as the best summary of the Acts” (Page). The events follow this outline (Jerusalem till the end of chapter 7, with the martyrdom of Stephen, the scattering of the saints through Judea and Samaria in chapter 8, the conversion of Saul, chapter 9, the spread of the gospel to Romans in Caesarea by Peter (chapter 10), to Greeks in Antioch (chapter 11), finally Paul’s world tours and arrest and arrival in Rome (chapter 11 to chapter 28).

Albert Barnes
Acts 1:9

While they beheld – While they saw him. It was of importance to state that circumstance, and to state it distinctly. It is not affirmed in the New Testament that they “saw him rise” from the dead, because the evidence of that fact could be better established by their seeing him after he was risen. But the truth of his “ascension to heaven” could not be confirmed in that manner. Hence, it was so arranged that he should ascend in open day, and in the presence of his apostles; and that not when they were asleep, or were inattentive to what was occurring, but when they were engaged in a conversation that’ would fix the attention, and even when they were looking upon him. Had Jesus vanished secretly, or had he disappeared in the night, the apostles would have been amazed and confounded; perhaps they would even have doubted whether they had not been deceived. But when they saw him leave them in this manner, they could not doubt that he had ascended to heaven, and that God approved his work, and would carry it forward. This event was exceedingly important:

(1) It was a confirmation of the truth of the Christian religion.

(2) It enabled the apostles to state distinctly where the Lord Jesus was, and at once directed their affections and their thoughts away from the earth, and opened their eyes on the glory of the scheme of religion they were to establish. If their Saviour was in heaven, it settled the question about the nature of his kingdom. It was clear that it was not designed to be a temporal kingdom. The reasons why it was proper that the Lord Jesus should ascend to heaven rather than remain on earth were:

(1) That he had “finished” the work which God gave him to do “on the earth” Joh_17:4; Joh_19:30, and it was proper that he should be received back to the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, Joh_17:4-5; Phi_2:6, Phi_2:9-10.

(2) It was proper that he should ascend in order that the Holy Spirit might come down and perform his part of the work of redemption. Jesus, by his personal ministry, as a man, could be but in one place; the Holy Spirit could be in all places, and could apply the work to all people. See note on Joh_16:7.

(3) A part of the work of Christ was yet to be performed in heaven. That was the work of intercession. The high priest of the Jews not only made an atonement, but also presented the blood of sacrifice before the mercy-seat, as the priest of the people, Lev_16:11-14. This was done to typify the entrance of the great high priest of our profession into the heavens, Heb_9:7-8, Heb_9:11-12. The work which he performs there is the work of intercession, Heb_7:25. This is properly the work which an advocate performs in a court for his client. As applicable to Christ, the meaning is, that he, as our great high priest, still manages our cause in heaven; secures our interests; obtains for us grace and mercy. His work, in this respect, consists in his appearing in the presence of God for us Heb_9:24; in his presenting the merits of his blood Heb_9:12, Heb_9:14; and in securing the continuance of the mercy which has been bestowed on us, and which is still needful for our welfare. The Lord Jesus also ascended that he might assume and exercise the office of King in the immediate seat of power. All worlds were made subject to him for the welfare of the church; and it was needful that he should be solemnly invested with that power in the presence of God as the reward of his earthly toils. 1Co_15:25, “he must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet.” Compare Eph_1:20-22; Phi_2:6-11.
A cloud received him – He entered into the region of the clouds, and was hid from their view. But two others of our race have been taken bodily from earth to heaven. Enoch was transported (Gen_5:24; compare Heb_11:5); and Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind, 2Ki_2:11. It is remarkable that when the return of the Saviour is mentioned, it is uniformly said that he will return in the clouds, Act_1:11; Mat_24:30; Mat_26:64; Mar_13:26; Rev_1:7; Dan_7:13. The clouds are an emblem of sublimity and grandeur, and perhaps this is all that is intended by these expressions, Deu_4:11; 2Sa_22:12; Psa_97:2; Psa_104:3.

Cambridge Bible
Acts 1:10

as he went up] The preposition is not in the Greek, which has simply, as he went.
in white apparel] They are called men, but they are evidently angels. So the two angels are clothed in white (Joh_20:12) whom Mary saw in the sepulchre after the Resurrection, and one of these is called by St Mark (Mar_16:5) “a young man clothed in a long white garment.” St Luke in the Gospel calls them “two men in shining garments” (Act_24:4). So the “man in bright clothing,” Act_10:30, is described in Act_11:13 as “an angel.” This was a common Jewish expression to signify angelic or divine messengers. Cf. Talm. Jer. Joma Act_1:2, ad fin.

“Shimeon ha-Tsaddik (i.e. the righteous) served Israel forty years in the High-priesthood, and in the last year he said to the people, ‘In this year I shall die.’ They said to him: ‘How dost thou know this?’ He said to them: ‘Every year when I was going into the Holy of Holies there was an Ancient one, clad in white garments and with a white vail, who went in with me and came out with me; but this year he went in with me and did not come out with me.’ [On this matter] they asked of Rabbi Abuhu, ‘But surely it is written: ‘Nothing of mankind shall be in the tent of meeting when he [the High-priest] goes in to make atonement until his coming out again,’ not even those concerning whom it is written [Eze_1:5] ‘They had the likeness of a man,’ even they shall not be in the tent of meeting.’ He said to them: ‘What is there [in this language of Shimeon] to tell me that it was a human being at all? I say it was the Holy One.”

Albert Barnes
Acts 1:11

Ye men of Galilee – Galilee was the place of their former residence, and they were commonly known by the name of Galileans.

Why stand ye … – There is doubtless a slight degree of censure implied in this, as well as a design to call their attention away from a vain attempt to see the departed Saviour. The impropriety may have been:

(1) In the feeling of disappointment, as if he would not restore the kingdom to Israel.

(2) Possibly they were expecting that he would again soon appear, though he had often foretold them that he would ascend to heaven.

(3) There might have been an impropriety in their earnest desire for the mere bodily presence of the Lord Jesus, when it was more important that he should be in heaven. We may see here also that it is our duty not to stand in idleness, and to gaze even toward heaven. We, as well as the apostles, have a great work to do, and we should actively engage in it without delay.

Gazing up – Looking up.

This same Jesus – This was said to comfort them. The same tried friend who had been so faithful to them would return. They ought not, therefore, to look with despondency at his departure.

Into heaven – This expression denotes into the immediate presence of God; or into the place of perpetual purity and happiness, where God especially manifests his favor. The same thing is frequently designated by his sitting on the right hand of God, as emblematic of power, honor, and favor. See the Mar_16:19; Mar_14:62 notes; Heb_1:3; Heb_8:1 notes; Act_7:55 note; Rom_8:34 note; Eph_1:20 note.
Shall so come – At the day of judgment. Joh_14:3, “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again,” etc.

In like manner … – In clouds, as he ascended. See the Act_1:9 note; 1Th_4:16 note. This address was designed to comfort the disciples. Though their master and friend was taken from them, yet he was not removed forever. He would come again with similar majesty and glory to vindicate his people, and to tread his enemies under his feet. The design for which he will come will be to judge the world, Matt. 25. There will be an evident fitness and propriety in his coming for such reasons as the following:

(1) Because his appropriate work in heaven as mediator will have been accomplished; his people will have been saved; the great enemy of God and man will have been subdued; death will have been conquered; and the gospel will have shown its power in subduing all forms of wickedness; in removing the effects of sin; in establishing the Law, and in vindicating the honor of God; and all will have been done that is necessary to establish the authority of God throughout the universe. It will be proper, therefore, that this mysterious order of things shall be wound up, and the results become a matter of record in the history of the universe. This will be better than it would be to suffer an eternal millennium on the earth, while the saints should many of them slumber, and the wicked still be in their graves.

(2) It is proper that he should come to vindicate his people, and raise them up to glory. Here they have been persecuted, oppressed, put to death. Their character is assailed; they are poor; and the world despises them. It is fit that God should show himself to be their friend; that he should do justice to their injured names and motives; that he should bring out hidden and obscure virtue, and vindicate it; that he should enter every grave and bring forth his friends to life.

(3) It is proper that he should show his hatred of sin. Here it triumphs. The wicked are rich, and honored, and mighty, and say, Where is the promise of his coming? 2Pe_3:4. It is right that he should defend his cause. Hence, the Lord Jesus will come to guard the avenues to heaven, and to see that the universe suffers no wrong by the admission of an improper person to the skies.

(4) The great transactions of redemption have been public, open, often grand. The apostasy was public, in the face of angels and of the universe. Sin has been open, public high-handed. Misery has been public, and has rolled its deep and turbid waves in the face of the universe. Death has been public; all worlds have seen the race cut down and moulder. The death of Jesus was public: the angels saw it; the heavens were clothed with mourning; the earth shook, and the dead arose. Jesus was publicly whipped, cursed, crucified; and it is proper that he should publicly triumph – that all heaven rejoicing, and all hell at length humbled, should see his public victory. Hence, he will come with clouds – with angels – with fire – and will raise the dead, and exhibit to all the universe the amazing close of the scheme of redemption.

(5) We have in these verses a description of the most grand and wonderful events that this world has ever known – the ascension and return of the Lord Jesus. Here is consolation for the Christian; and here is a source of ceaseless alarm to the sinner.

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 13:1-13 Antique Commentary Quotes

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_13:1
The same day; on that day (Revised Version). Although day is sometimes used in a metaphorical sense, so as to include what is, in fact, a long period of time, yet we are not justified in assigning this sense to it unless the context clearly requires us to do so. This is not the case here, so that we must assume that a literal day is intended. But which day? Naturally, the day that has just before been mentioned, either in the original source from which our narrative is taken or in the narrative as it now stands. Since, however, Mat_12:46-50 and our Mat_12:1-23 appear to have been already connected in the framework, these supposed alternatives really represent the same thing, the phrase probably referring to the day on which our Lord’s mother and brethren sought to speak to him (Mat_12:46).

Went Jesus out of the house. Where he had been when his mother came (Mat_12:46, note), and presumably the one to which he returned in Mat_12:36. Possibly it was St. Peter’s house at Capernaum (Mat_8:14).

And sat (Mat_5:1, note). By the seaside. Until the crowds compelled him to enter the boat.

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 13:1

1. sat] The usual position of a Jewish teacher.

by the sea side] At the N. end of the Lake of Gennesaret there are small creeks or inlets “where the ship could ride in safety only a few feet from the shore, and where the multitudes seated on both sides and before the boat could listen without distraction or fatigue. As if on purpose to furnish seats, the shore on both sides of these narrow inlets is piled up with smooth boulders of basalt.” Thomson, Land and Book, p. 356.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 13:3

Many things in parables (polla en parabolais). It was not the first time that Jesus had used parables, but the first time that he had spoken so many and some of such length. He will use a great many in the future as in Luke 12 to 18 and Matt. 24 and 25. The parables already mentioned in Matthew include the salt and the light (Mat_5:13-16), the birds and the lilies (Mat_6:26-30), the splinter and the beam in the eye (Mat_7:3-5), the two gates (Mat_7:13.), the wolves in sheep’s clothing (Mat_7:15), the good and bad trees (Mat_7:17-19), the wise and foolish builders (Mat_7:24-27), the garment and the wineskins (Mat_9:16.), the children in the market places (Mat_11:16.). It is not certain how many he spoke on this occasion. Matthew mentions eight in this chapter (the Sower, the Tares, the Mustard Seed, the Leaven, the Hid Treasure, the Pearl of Great Price, the Net, the Householder). Mark adds the Parable of the Lamp (Mar_4:21; Luk_8:16), the Parable of the Seed Growing of Itself (Mar_4:26-29), making ten of which we know. But both Mark (Mar_4:33) and Matthew (Mat_13:34) imply that there were many others. “Without a parable spake he nothing unto them” (Mat_13:34), on this occasion, we may suppose. The word parable (parabolē from paraballō, to place alongside for measurement or comparison like a yardstick) is an objective illustration for spiritual or moral truth. The word is employed in a variety of ways (a) as for sententious sayings or proverbs (Mat_15:15; Mar_3:23; Luk_4:23; Luk_5:36-39; Luk_6:39), for a figure or type (Heb_9:9; Heb_11:19); (b) a comparison in the form of a narrative, the common use in the Synoptic Gospels like the Sower; (c) “A narrative illustration not involving a comparison” (Broadus), like the Rich Fool, the Good Samaritan, etc. “The oriental genius for picturesque speech found expression in a multitude of such utterances” (McNeile). There are parables in the Old Testament, in the Talmud, in sermons in all ages. But no one has spoken such parables as these of Jesus. They hold the mirror up to nature and, as all illustrations should do, throw light on the truth presented. The fable puts things as they are not in nature, Aesop’s Fables, for instance. The parable may not be actual fact, but it could be so. It is harmony with the nature of the case. The allegory (allēgoria) is a speaking parable that is self-explanatory all along like Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. All allegories are parables, but not all parables are allegories. The Prodigal Son is an allegory, as is the story of the Vine and Branches (John 15). John does not use the word parable, but only paroimia, a saying by the way (Joh_10:6; Joh_16:25, Joh_16:29). As a rule the parables of Jesus illustrate one main point and the details are more or less incidental, though sometimes Jesus himself explains these. When he does not do so, we should be slow to interpret the minor details. Much heresy has come from fantastic interpretations of the parables. In the case of the Parable of the Sower (Mat_13:3-8) we have also the careful exposition of the story by Jesus (Mat_13:18-23) as well as the reason for the use of parables on this occasion by Jesus (Mat_13:9-17).

Behold, the sower went forth (idou ēlthen ho speirōn). Matthew is very fond of this exclamation idou. It is “the sower,” not “a sower.” Jesus expects one to see the man as he stepped forth to begin scattering with his hand. The parables of Jesus are vivid word pictures. To understand them one must see them, with the eyes of Jesus if he can. Christ drew his parables from familiar objects.

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 13:4

By the wayside
Dean Stanley, approaching the plain of Gennesareth, says: “A slight recess in the hillside, close upon the plain, disclosed at once, in detail and with a conjunction which I remember nowhere else in Palestine, every feature of the great parable. There was the undulating cornfield descending to the water’s edge. There was the trodden pathway running through the midst of it, with no fence or hedge to prevent the seed from falling here and there on either side of it or upon it; itself hard with the constant tramp of horse and mule and human feet. There was the ‘good’ rich soil which distinguishes the whole of that plain and its neighborhood from the bare hills elsewhere descending into the lake, and which, where there is no interruption, produces one vast mass of corn. There was the rocky ground of the hillside protruding here and there through the cornfields, as elsewhere through the grassy slopes. There were the large bushes of thorn – the nabk, that kind of which tradition says that the crown of thorns was woven – springing up, like the fruit-trees of the more inland parts, in the very midst of the waving wheat” (“Sinai and Palestine”).

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 13:5

stony places] Places where the underlying rock was barely covered with earth. The hot sun striking on the thin soil and warming the rock beneath would cause the corn to spring up rapidly and then as swiftly to wither.

Philip Schaff
Matthew 13:6
Mat_13:6. Scorched, or ‘burnt.’ The heat of the sun, so necessary to vegetable life, did this; but the effect must be connected with the cause: they had no root. Plants need both sunshine and moisture; they get the first from their growth above ground, the second from their growth below ground; the root however being the principal channel of nourishment (comp. Luke: ‘moisture’). Hence these withered away.

Albert Barnes
Mat_13:7

Among thorns – That is, in a part of the field where the thorns and shrubs had been imperfectly cleared away and not destroyed.

They grew with the grain, crowded it, shaded it, exhausted the earth, and thus choked it.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 13:8

Yielded fruit (edidou karpon). Change to imperfect tense of didōmi, to give, for it was continuous fruit-bearing.

Some a hundredfold (ho men hekaton). Variety, but fruit. This is the only kind that is worth while. The hundredfold is not an exaggeration (cf. Gen_26:12). Such instances are given by Wetstein for Greece, Italy, and Africa. Herodotus (i. 93) says that in Babylonia grain yielded two hundredfold and even to three hundredfold. This, of course, was due to irrigation as in the Nile Valley.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 13:9

He that hath ears let him hear (ho echōn ōta akouetō), So also in Mat_11:15 and Mat_13:43. It is comforting to teachers and preachers to observe that even Jesus had to exhort people to listen and to understand his sayings, especially his parables. They will bear the closest thought and are often enigmatical.

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 13:10
Mar_4:10-12; Luk_8:10
10. parables] The parable is suited

(1) to the uninstructed, as being attractive in form and as revealing spiritual truth exactly in proportion to the capacity of the hearer; and

(2) to the divinely wise as wrapping up a secret which he can penetrate by his spiritual insight. In this it resembles the Platonic myth; it was the form in which many philosophers clothed their deepest thoughts.

(3) It fulfils the condition of all true knowledge. He alone who seeks finds. In relation to Nature, Art, God Himself, it may be said the dull “seeing see not.” The commonest and most obvious things hide the greatest truths.

(4) The divine Wisdom has been justified in respect to this mode of teaching. The parables have struck deep into the thought and language of men (not of Christians only), as no other teaching could have done; in proof of which it is sufficient to name such words and expressions as “talents,” “dispensation,” “leaven,” “prodigal son,” “light under a bushel,” “building on sand.”

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_13:11
He answered and said unto them, Because. Omit because, with the Revised Version. The ὅτι is merely recitative. In this verse our Lord does not directly reply to their question, but only states God’s ways of dealing with the two different classes of people (cf. Mat_11:25, note).

It is given unto you (unto you it is given, Revised Version); which better represents the sharpness of the antithesis in the Greek. It is given; already (δέδοται), i.e. in the counsel of God, though now given in possession, so far as regards this parable, by the explanation that I will add.

To know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. The secrets about the establishment and development of God’s realm, which cannot be discovered by human reason, but which are made known to the initiated. Under the term “mystery,” St. Paul refers to such revealed secrets as the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles (Eph_3:3, Eph_3:4, Eph_3:9; Col_1:26), the conversion of the Jews (Rom_11:25), the relation of Christ to the Church being like that of husband and wife (Eph_5:32), and the general resurrection (1Co_15:51). (Cf. Mat_11:25, note, “revealed;” and infra, verse 35, note, and especially Bishop Lightfoot on the passage in Colossians.)

But to them it is not given. Professor Marshall suggests that the variation “the rest” (Luke), points to a slight difference in one word of the original Aramaic text, the phrase in Mark (“them that are without”) combining both readings (see Expositor IV. 4.446). The suggestion is ingenious, but seems hardly necessary.

Albert Barnes
Mat_13:12
Whosoever hath … – This is a proverbial method of speaking.
It means that a man who improves what light, grace, and opportunities he has, shall have them increased. From him that improves them not, it is proper that they should be taken away. The Jews had many opportunities of learning the truth, and some light still lingered among them; but they were gross and sensual, and misimproved them, and it was a just judgment that they should be deprived of them. Superior knowledge was given to the disciples of Christ: they improved it, however slowly, and the promise was that it should be greatly increased.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_13:13
Therefore (διὰ τοῦτο). To carry out the principle of the whole preceding verse, but with special reference to the second half of it. Because, in this case, they “have not,” therefore I speak to them thus. Speak I to them in parables because. In the parallel passages Christ says that he speaks in parables “in order that seeing,” etc.; but here, “because seeing,” etc. The difference of the thought, which is more formal than real, is that

(1) in the parallel passages their moral blindness and deafness are represented as the effect of what he says, parables being used to bring about the punishment for what was presumably earlier sloth.

(2) In Matthew their present moral blindness and deafness are represented as the reason for the use of parables. Parables are themselves the punishment; the people are fit for nothing else (thus laying stress on the “has not” of verse 12); therefore Christ speaks to them in parables.

They seeing see not (seeing they see not, Revised Version, keeping the order of the Greek, as even the Authorized Version in the next clause); and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. The participles “seeing,” “hearing,” in Matthew and Luke, probably do not represent the Hebrew infinitive in its common usage of giving intensity or continuance to the idea of the finite verb to which it is joined, but are to be taken separately, i.e.” Though they have powers of seeing and of hearing, they nevertheless do not so use these powers as to see and hear” (for the thought, cf. Jer_5:21; Eze_12:2). Thus in meaning, though not in form, as compared with the next verse, seeing is equivalent to “seeing ye shall see;” they see not, to “and shall in no wise perceive;” hearing, to “hearing ye shall hear;” they hear not, to “and shall in no wise understand.”

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 9:35-38, 10:1-8 Antique Commentary Quotes

Philip Schaff
Matthew 9:35
Mat_9:35. And Jesus went about, etc. An appropriate introduction to what follows, as well as a fitting close to this account of the leading miracles performed by our Lord; almost identical with Mat_4:23, which precedes the Sermon on the Mount, describing (as the tense in the original shows) a customary course of action. Luke indicates three journeys through Galilee, the second of which precedes the journey to Gadara, and is mentioned by him alone. If this verse refers to a journey distinct from that spoken of in Mat_4:23, it must be the third. This third circuit seems to have begun before the Apostles were sent out (chap. 10), and to have continued until their return. The verse may, however, be only a general description of Christ’s ministry, closing the group of miracles.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 9:36

Were distressed and scattered (ēsan eskulmenoi kai erimmenoi). Periphrastic past perfect indicative passive. A sad and pitiful state the crowds were in. Rent or mangled as if by wild beasts. Skullō occurs in the papyri in sense of plunder, concern, vexation. “Used here of the common people, it describes their religious condition. They were harassed, importuned, bewildered by those who should have taught them; hindered from entering into the kingdom of heaven (Mat_23:13), laden with the burdens which the Pharisees laid upon them (Mat_23:3).

Erimmenoi denotes men cast down and prostrate on the ground, whether from drunkenness, Polyb. v. 48.2, or from mortal wounds” (Allen): This perfect passive participle from rhiptō, to throw down. The masses were in a state of mental dejection. No wonder that Jesus was moved with compassion (esplagchnisthē).

Adam Clarke
Matthew 9:37

The harvest – The souls who are ready to receive the truth are very numerous; but the laborers are few. There are multitudes of scribes, Pharisees, and priests, of reverend and right reverend men; but there are few that work. Jesus wishes for laborers, not gentlemen, who are either idle drones, or slaves to pleasure and sin, and nati consumere fruges. “Born to consume the produce of the soil.”

It was customary with the Jews to call their rabbins and students reapers; and their work of instruction, the harvest. So in Idra Rabba, s. 2. “The days are few; the creditor is urgent; the crier calls out incessantly; and the reapers are few.” And in Pirkey Aboth: “The day is short, the work great, the workmen idle, the reward abundant, and the master of the household is urgent.” In all worldly concerns, if there be the prospect of much gain, most men are willing enough to labor; but if it be to save their own souls, or the souls of others, what indolence, backwardness, and carelessness! While their adversary, the devil, is going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; and a careless soul, and especially a careless minister is his especial prey.

The place of the harvest is the whole earth: it signifies little where a man works, provided it be by the appointment, in the Spirit, and with the blessing of God.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 9:38

That he send forth labourers (hopōs ekbalēi ergatas). Jesus turns from the figure of the shepherdless sheep to the harvest field ripe and ready for the reapers. The verb ekballō really means to drive out, to push out, to draw out with violence or without. Prayer is the remedy offered by Jesus in this crisis for a larger ministerial supply. How seldom do we hear prayers for more preachers. Sometimes God literally has to push or force a man into the ministry who resists his known duty.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 10:1

And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples … – This account of sending the apostles forth is recorded also in Mar_6:7-11, and Luk_9:1-6. Mark says that he sent them out two and two. This was a kind arrangement, that each one might have a companion, and that thus they might visit more places and accomplish more labor than if they were all together. These twelve were the original number of apostles. The word “apostle” means one that is “sent,” and was given to them because they were “sent forth” to preach the gospel. They were ambassadors of Christ. To this number Matthias was afterward added, to supply the place of Judas Act_1:26, and Paul was specially called to be an apostle to the Gentiles, Rom_1:1; 1Co_15:8-9; Gal_1:1. In all, therefore, there were 14 apostles.

In selecting “twelve” at first, it is probable that the Saviour was somewhat guided by the number of the tribes of Israel. Twelve was, with them, a well-known number, and it was natural that he should select one for every tribe. Their office was clearly made known. They were to heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead, preach the gospel. They were to be with him to receive his instructions, to learn the nature of his religion, be witnesses to his resurrection, and then to bear his gospel around the globe. The number twelve was the best number for these purposes that could be selected. It was sufficiently “large” to answer the purpose of testimony, and it was “so small” as not to tend to disorder, or that they could easily be divided into parties or factions. They were not learned men, and could not be supposed to spread their religion by art or talents. They were not men of wealth, and could not bribe men to follow them. They were not men of rank and office, and could not compel people to believe. They were just such men as are always found the best witnesses in courts of justice – plain men, of good sense, of fair character, of great honesty, and with favorable opportunities of ascertaining the facts to which they bore witness. Such men everybody believes, and especially when they are willing to lay down their lives to prove their sincerity.

It was important that the Saviour should choose them early in his ministry, in order that they might be fully acquainted with him; might treasure up his instructions, and observe his manner of life and his person, so that, by having been long acquainted with him, they might be able to testify to his identity and be competent witnesses of his resurrection. No witnesses were ever so well qualified to give testimony as they, and none ever gave so much evidence of their sincerity as they did. See Act_1:21-22.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 10:2

Now the names of the twelve apostles – The account of their being called is more fully given in Mar_3:13-18, and Luk_6:12-19. Each of those evangelists has recorded the circumstances of their appointment. They agree in saying it was done on a mountain; and, according to Luke, it was done before the sermon on the mount was delivered, perhaps on the same mountain, near Capernaum. Luke adds that the night previous had been spent “in prayer” to God. See the notes at Luk_6:12.

Simon, who is called Peter – The word “Peter” means a rock. He was also called Cephas, Joh_1:42; 1Co_1:12; 1Co_3:22; 1Co_15:5; Gal_2:9. This was a Syro-Chaldaic word signifying the same as Peter. This name was given probably in reference to the “resoluteness and firmness” which he was to exhibit in preaching the gospel. Before the Saviour’s death he was rash, impetuous, and unstable. Afterward, as all history affirms, he was firm, zealous, steadfast, and immovable. The tradition is that he was at last crucified at Rome with his head downward, thinking it too great an honor to die as his Master did. See the notes at Joh_21:18. There is no certain proof, however, that this occurred at Rome, and no absolute knowledge as to the place where he died.

James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother – This James was killed by Herod in a persecution, Act_12:2. The other James, the son of Alpheus, was stationed at Jerusalem, and was the author of the epistle that bears his name. See Gal_1:19; Gal_2:9; Act_15:13. A James is mentioned Gal_1:19 as “the Lord’s brother.” It has not been easy to ascertain why he was thus called. He is here called the son of “Alpheus,” that is, of Cleophas, Joh_19:25. Alpheus and Cleophas were but different ways of writing and pronouncing the same name. This Mary, called the mother of James and Joses, is called the wife of Cleophas, Joh_19:25.

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 10:3

Philip, also a Greek name prevalent at the time, partly through the influence of the Macedonian monarchy, whose real founder was Philip, father of Alexander the Great.

Lebbæus, Thaddæus, Jude the [son] of James, are all names of one and the same person. He was the son in all probability of a James or Jacob, not, as usually translated, brother of James. The name “Lebbæus” = “courageous” from a Hebrew word signifying “heart.”

This Jude or Judas must not be confused with Jude or Judas the “brother” of our Lord; nor must James the son of Alphæus be confused with James the brother of our Lord. The “brethren of the Lord” believed not on Him, and could not have been among His apostles. James and Judas were both common names, and the variety of names seems to have been small at this epoch. According to this theory there are four persons named James—(1) the son of Zebedee, (2) the son of Alphæus, (3) the father of Jude, (4) “The less” or rather “the little,” the brother of the Lord: and three named Judas—(1) the brother of the Lord, (2) the apostle, son of James, (3) Iscariot.

Matthew or Levi also was son of an Alphæus, but there is no evidence or hint that he was connected with James son of Alphæus.

Bartholomew = son of Tolmai, probably to be identified with Nathanael. (1) St John, who twice mentions the name of Nathanael, never mentions that of Bartholomew; (2) the three Synoptists mention Bartholomew but not Nathanael. (3) Philip is closely connected with Nathanael and also with Bartholomew. (4) Lastly, Nathanael is mentioned with six other disciples as if like them he belonged to the Twelve.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 10:4

Simon – He was third son of Alpheus, and brother of James and Jude, or Judas, Mat_13:55.

The Canaanite – This word is not put here to signify a particular people, as it is elsewhere used in the Sacred Writings; but it is formed from the Hebrew קנא kana, which signifies zealous, literally translated by Luke, Luk_6:15, ζηλωτης, zelotes, or the zealous, probably from his great fervency in preaching the Gospel of his Master. But see Luk_6:15.

Judas Iscariot – Probably from the Hebrew איש קריות ish kerioth, a man of Kerioth, which was a city in the tribe of Judah, Jos_15:25, where it is likely this man was born.

As אסכרא iscara, signifies the quinsy, or strangulation, and Judas hanged himself after he had betrayed our Lord, Dr. Lightfoot seems inclined to believe that he had his name from this circumstance, and that it was not given him till after his death.

Who also betrayed him – Rather, even he who betrayed him, or delivered him up; for so, I think, ο και παραδους αυτον should be translated. The common translation, who Also betrayed him, is very exceptionable, as it seems to imply, he was betrayed by some others, as well as by Judas.

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 10:4

Simon the Cananæan (not Canaanite), or Zelotes, equivalent terms. The fierce party of the Zealots professed a rigid attachment to the Mosaic law; they acknowledged no king save God. Under Judas the Gaulonite they rose in rebellion at the time of the census.

We hear of a Theudas (which is another form of Thaddæus) who rose in rebellion (Act_5:36). Is it not possible that this Lebbæus or Jude may owe his third name to this patriot, as a Galilæan might regard him? It may be observed that Simon (Joseph. Ant. xvii. 10, 5) and Judas (Ant. XVIII. 1, 1) were also names of zealous patriots who rose against the Roman government.

Iscariot] Man of Kerioth, in the tribe of Judah; accordingly (if this be the case) the only non-Galilæan among the Apostles. For other accounts of the name see Dict. of Bible.

The choice of the disciples is an instance of the winnowing of Christ, the sifting of the wheat from the chaff. In these men the new life had manifested itself. Their faith, or at least their capacity for faith, was intense, and sufficient to bear them through the dangers that confronted them by their Master’s side. [Editor’s notes on Greek text of St Luke’s Gospel.]

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 10:5

Go not into the way of the Gentiles] For the expression “way of the Gentiles” cp. ch. Mat_4:15, “the way of the sea.”

This prohibition is not laid on the Seventy (St Luk_10:1-16), they are expressly commissioned to carry tidings of the gospel to cities and places which our Lord Himself proposed to visit.

any city of the Samaritans] The Samaritans were foreigners descended from the alien population introduced by the Assyrian king (probably Sargon), 2Ki_17:24, to supply the place of the exiled Israelites. In Luk_17:18, our Lord calls a Samaritan “this stranger,” i. e. this man of alien or foreign race. The bitterest hostility existed between Jew and Samaritan, which has not died out to this day. The origin of this international ill-feeling is related Ezr_4:2-3. Their religion was a corrupt form of Judaism. For being plagued with lions, the Samaritans summoned a priest to instruct them in the religion of the Jews. Soon, however, they lapsed from a pure worship, and in consequence of their hatred to the Jews, purposely introduced certain innovations. Their rival temple on Mount Gerizim was destroyed by John Hyrcanus about 129 b. c. See Nutt’s “Sketch of the Samaritans,” p. 19.

About twenty years previous to our Lord’s ministry the Samaritans had intensified the national antipathy by a gross act of profanation. During the celebration of the Passover they stole into the Temple Courts when the doors were opened after midnight and strewed the sacred enclosure with dead men’s bones (Jos. Ant. XVIII. 2, 2). Even after the siege of Jerusalem, when the relations between Jews and Samaritans were a little less hostile, the latter were still designated by the Jews as the “Proselytes of the lions,” from the circumstance mentioned above.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 10:6

The lost sheep (ta probata ta apolōlota). The sheep, the lost ones. Mentioned here first by Matthew. Jesus uses it not in blame, but in pity (Bruce). Bengel notes that Jesus says “lost” more frequently than “led astray.” “If the Jewish nation could be brought to repentance the new age would dawn” (McNeile).

Adam Clarke
Matthew 10:7

And as ye go, preach – πορευομενοι δε κηρυσσετε, and as you proceed, proclaim like heralds – make this proclamation wherever ye go, and while ye are journeying. Preach and travel; and, as ye travel, preach – proclaim salvation to all you meet. Wherever the ministers of Christ go, they find lost, ruined souls; and, wherever they find them, they should proclaim Jesus, and his power to save. For an explanation of the word proclaim or preach, see on Mat_3:1 (note).

From this commission we learn what the grand subject of apostolic preaching was – The Kingdom Of Heaven Is At Hand! This was the great message. “They preached,” says Quesnel, “to establish the faith; the kingdom, to animate the hope; of heaven, to inspire the love of heavenly things, and the contempt of earthly; which is at hand, that men may prepare for it without delay.”

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_10:8
We have here the details of the orders summarized in Mat_10:1. The details are not given in Luk_9:1, Luk_9:2 or Luk_10:9. Heal the sick, etc. According to the true order of these commands, solely physical ills are mentioned first in their partial (sick) and in their final effect (dead); then physical and ceremonial pollution (lepers), which forms a transition to the mention of ills primarily spiritual, even though they ultimately affect the body (devils). On the good that might be expected from their performing these miracles, cf. Thomas Scott (in Ford), “Men will never believe that we really intend the good of their souls, if they do not find that we endeavour to do them good, disinterestedly, in temporal things (Joh_4:15).”

Freely (vide infra) ye have (omit “have,” with Revised Version) received. Blessings of the kingdom, but especially authority and power for this work (Luk_10:1).

Freely give. All that is needed to carry that authority into effect—whatever toil and energy in soul and body the occasion may demand. The clause comes in Matthew only, but comp. Act_20:35. Observe, Christ’s recognition of the tendency of human nature to traffic in the holiest things. Did Judas take the warning at all to heart? (For the thought, cf. Wis. 7:13; Le 25:37, 38.) Freely. Gratuitously (δωρεάν); comp. Rev_21:6; Rev_22:17; Rom_3:24 (on God’s side); 2Co_11:7; 2Th_3:8 (on man’s side).

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 8:5-13 Antique Commentary Quotes

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 8:5

a centurion] i. e. a captain or commander of a century—a company normally composed of a hundred men, the sixtieth part of a legion in the Roman army. This centurion was probably an officer in the army of Herod Antipas, which would be modelled after the Roman fashion.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_8:5

And when Jesus (Revised Version, he) was entered into Capernaum. (On Capernaum, see Mat_4:1-25. 13.)

There came unto him; i.e. by messengers, as we learn from St. Luke (vide supra).

A centurion, beseeching him. The centurion probably belonged to the soldiers of Antipas, in whose district Capernaum lay. They would naturally be organized after the Roman manner; of the forces of the Indian native states and our own. It should be observed, by the way, that even the imperial troops stationed in Palestine were drawn, not from distant lands, but from the non-Jewish inhabitants of the country, perhaps especially from Samaritans.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_8:6
Matthew only. And saying, Lord, my servant; Revised Version margin, “boy” (ὁπαῖς μου), just as in some English-speaking communities “boy” is commonly used for “manservant.” In the parallel passage of Luke, the narrative speaks of him as δοῦλος, the message as παῖς. Lieth. Perforce (βέβληται).

At home; Revised Version, in the house; i.e. of the centurion.

Sick of the palsy, grievously tormented (cf. 1 Macc. 9:55, 56). “Paralysis with contraction of the joints is accompanied with intense suffering, and, when united, as it much oftener is in the hot climates of the East and of Africa than among us, with tetanus, both ‘grievously torments,’ and rapidly brings on dissolution”. Observe that the statement of the case is itself a petition.

Cambridge Greek Testament
Matthew 8:6
6. ὁ παῖς. ‘Slave,’ not ‘son;’ the meaning is determined by the parallel passages; in Luke 7. where though the centurion himself uses the more affectionate term παῖς (Mat_8:7), the messenger (Mat_8:3) and the Evangelist (Mat_8:10) call the servant δοῦλος.

παραλυτικός. Stricken with palsy or paralysis, a disease often free from acute suffering, but when it is accompanied by contraction of the muscles, the pain, as in this case, is very grievous. St Luke does not name the nature of the disease.

δεινῶς βασανιζόμενος. ‘Terribly tortured.’ For βάσανος see ch. Mat_4:24. The invariable practice of extracting evidence from slaves by torture gives βασανίζεσθαι the secondary force ‘to torture,’ ‘to put to the question.’Possibly the actual experience of this poor slave suggested the word; by no other could he describe to his master the agony he was enduring; it was the agony of torture.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 8:7

I will come and heal him (egō elthōn therapeusō auton). Future indicative, not deliberative subjunctive in question (McNeile). The word here for heal (therapeusō) means first to serve, give medical attention, then cure, restore to health. The centurion uses the more definite word for healing (iathēsetai Mat_8:8) as Matthew does in Mat_8:13 (iathē). Luke (Luk_9:11), like a physician, says that Jesus healed (iato) those in need of treatment (therapeias), but the distinction is not always observed. In Act_28:8 Luke uses iasato of the miraculous healings in Malta by Paul while he employs etherapeuonto (Act_28:9) apparently of the practice of Luke the physician (so W. M. Ramsay). Matthew represents the centurion himself as speaking to Jesus while Luke has it that two committees from the centurion brought the messages, apparently a more detailed narrative. What one does through others he does himself as Pilate “scourged Jesus” (had him scourged).

Adam Clarke
Matthew 8:7

I will come and heal him – Εγω ελθων θεραπευσω αυτον, I am coming, and will heal him. This saying is worthy of observation. Jesus did not positively say, I will came and heal him; this could not have been strictly true, because our Lord healed him without going to the house: and the issue shows that the words ought to be taken in the most literal sense: thus understood, they contained a promise which it seems none of them distinctly comprehended. Foreseeing the exercise of the centurion’s faith, he promises that while he is coming, ere he arrives at the house, he will heal him, and this was literally done, Mat_8:13. There is much beauty in this passage.

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 8:8

The centurion answered] The argument lies in a comparison between the centurion’s command and the authority of Jesus. “If I who am under authority command others, how much more hast thou power to command who art under no authority? If I can send my soldiers or my slave to execute my orders, how much more canst thou send thy ministering spirits to do thy bidding?” The centurion was doubtless acquainted with the Jewish belief on the subject of angels, their subordination and their office as ministers of God.

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 8:9

Also (καὶ)
Omitted in A. V., but very important. “I also am a man under authority,” as well as thou. (Tynd., I also myself). The centurion compares the Lord’s position with his own. Christ had authority over disease. The centurion also was in authority over soldiers. As the centurion had only to say to a soldier “Go!” and he went, so Christ had only to say to disease “Go!” and it would obey him.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 8:10

I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel – That is, I have not found so great an instance of confidence and faith in my power, even among the Jews, as this Roman, a Gentile, has shown himself to possess.

From Luk_7:5, where it is said of this centurion, “he loved our nation, and has built us a synagogue,” we may infer that this man was like the centurion mentioned Act_10:1; a devout Gentile, a proselyte of the gate, one who believed in the God of Israel, without conforming to the Jewish ritual or receiving circumcision. Though the military life is one of the most improper nurses for the Christian religion, yet in all nations there have been found several instances of genuine humility, and faith in God, even in soldiers; and perhaps never more, in the British military, than at present, a.d. 1831.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_8:11, Mat_8:12
In Luke (Luk_13:28, Luk_13:29) not joined to this miracle, but placed after the warning about mere professors (our Mat_7:23). Also they are there given in the reverse order. Taking the other facts (verse 5, note) about this miracle into consideration, there can be little doubt but that St. Matthew does not place these verses in their historical connexion. He wishes to emphasize the teaching of the miracle, that Gentiles accept Christ, though Jews reject him. For this reason also he gives the two verses in the reverse order.

And. In contrast (δέ) to this comparative absence of belief in Israel.

Many. Not in the parallel passage in Luke, but it agrees with the aim of St. Matthew’s Gospel.

Shall come. Though not emphatic, as it is in the parallel passage in Luke, yet expressive of purpose and decision.

From the east and (Revised Version. the) west. Not only residents in Palestine, like this centurion, but from the furthest limits of the earth. The thought was well known; e.g. Mal_1:11; Isa_59:19.; also Jer_16:19; Zec_8:22.

And shall sit down; i.e. at a feast. The image, taken from Isa_25:6, is exceedingly common in Jewish Haggadic (i.e. mostly parabolic) teaching.

With Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. An early” Western” reading is, “in the bosom of Abraham,” etc. (cf. Luk_16:23). Probably a traditional form current among Jewish Christians.

But the children; sons (Revised Version). Those who ought rightfully to enjoy its privileges (Mat_5:9, note). In Mat_13:38 those so called answer fully to the appellation.

Of the kingdom. “Rather than of the king; since many are in the kingdom, whom notwithstanding the king rejects as traitors; whereas all the children of the king are adopted as co-heirs with his only begotten Son” (Beza, in Ford). This interpretation is attractive, but doubtless false. The Hebrew idiom enables the writer to suggest the idea of the Jews, who are by nature heirs of the Divine kingdom, being notwithstanding excluded (cf Act_13:46).

Shall be cast out (Revised Version, forth); ἐκβκηθήσονται (Mat_7:4, note). The “Western” reading, ἐξελεύσονται, suggests that they shall go out by their own present act of refusing blessing.

Into (Revised Version, the) outer darkness. The form of the expression, which comes only in Matthew (Mat_22:13; Mat_25:30), points to a double conception; they shall be cast into the darkness, and cast outside the palace within which the feast is going on. Such is the loss in its personal (εἰς τὸ σκότος) and in its social (τὸ ἐξώτερον) aspect.

There shall be (Revised Version, the) weeping and gnashing of teeth. The article, which should strictly be repeated before gnashing, points to a recognized conception. The phrase occurs (except in the parallel passage, Luk_13:28) only in St. Matthew (Mat_13:42, Mat_13:50; Mat_22:13; Mat_24:51; Mat_25:30), in each case contrasting the place into which the wicked are sent with that which they might have enjoyed. Observe the description of “hell”—absence of spiritual light; separation from the company of the saved; lamentation; impotent rage. The second couplet corresponds to the first.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 8:12

Shall be cast out into outer darkness – As the enjoyment of that salvation which Jesus Christ calls the kingdom of heaven is here represented under the notion of a nuptial festival, at which the guests sat down in a reclining posture, with the master of the feast; so the state of those who were excluded from the banquet is represented as deep darkness; because the nuptial solemnities took place at night. Hence, at those suppers, the house of reception was filled with lights called δαδες, λαμπαδες, λυκνεια, φανοι, torches, lamps, candles, and lanthorns, by Athenaeus and Plutarch: so they who were admitted to the banquet had the benefit of the light; but they who were shut out were in darkness, called here outer darkness, i.e. the darkness on the outside of the house in which the guests were; which must appear more abundantly gloomy, when compared with the profusion of light within the guest-chamber. And because they who were shut out were not only exposed to shame, but also to hunger and cold; therefore it is added, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 8:13

He was healed in that self-same hour – This showed decisively the goodness and power of Jesus. No miracle could be more complete. There could be no imposition or deception.

This account, or one similar to this, is found in Luk_7:1-10. There has been a difference of opinion whether the account in Luke refers to the same case as that recorded in Matthew, or whether a second centurion, encouraged by the success of the first, applied to our Saviour in a similar case and manner, and obtained the same success. In support of the supposition that they are different narratives, it is said that they disagree so far that it is impossible to reconcile them, and that it is not improbable that a similar occurrence might take place, and be attended with similar results.

To a plain reader, however, the narratives appear to be the same. They agree in the character of the person, the place, and apparently the time; in the same substantial structure of the account; in the expression of similar feelings, the same answers, and the same result. It is very difficult to believe that all these circumstances would coincide in two different stories.

They differ, however. Matthew says that the centurion “came himself.” Luke says that he at first sent elders of the Jews, and then his particular friends. He also adds that he was friendly to the Jews, and had built them a synagogue. An infidel will ask whether there is not here a palpable contradiction. In explanation of this, let it be remarked:

1. That the fact that the centurion came himself, supposing that to have been the fact, is no evidence that others did not come also. It was “in” the city. The centurion was a great favorite, and had conferred on the Jews many favors, and they would be anxious that the favor which he desired of Jesus should be granted. At his suggestion, or of their own accord, his Jewish friends might apply to Jesus, and press the subject upon him, and be anxious to represent the case as favorably as possible. All this was probably done, as it would be in any other city, in considerable haste and apparent confusion; and one observer might fix his attention strongly on one circumstance, and another on another. It is not at all improbable that the same representation and request might have been made both by the centurion and his friends. Matthew might have fixed his eye very strongly on the fact that the centurion came himself, and been particularly struck with his deportment; and Luke on the remarkable zeal shown by the friends of a pagan, the interest they took in his welfare, and the circumstance that he had done much for them. Full of these interesting circumstances, he might comparatively have overlooked the centurion himself. But,

2. It was a maxim among the Jews, as it is now in law, “that what a man does by another, he does himself.” So, in Mar_10:35, James and John are represented as coming to the Saviour with a request: in Mat_20:20, it appears that they presented their request through their mother. In Joh_4:1, Jesus is said to baptize, when, in fact, he did not do it himself, but by his disciples. In Joh_19:1, Pilate is said to have scourged Jesus; but he certainly did not do it with his own hands. In the case of the centurion, Matthew narrates what occurred very briefly; Luke goes more into detail, and states more of the circumstances. Matthew was intent on the great leading facts of the cure. He was studious of brevity. He did not choose to explain the particular circumstances. He says that the centurion “made the application” and received the answer. He does not say whether by himself or by “an agent.” Luke explains particularly “how” it was done. There is no more contradiction, therefore, than there would be if it should be said of a man in a court of law that he came and made application for a new trial, when the application was really made by his lawyer. Two men, narrating the fact, might exhibit the same variety that Matthew and Luke have done, and both be true. It should never be forgotten that “the sacred narrative of an event is what it is stated to be by all the sacred writers; as the testimony in a court in which a case is decided is what is stated by all the credible witnesses, though one may have stated one circumstance and another another.”

One thing is most clearly shown by this narrative: that this account was not invented by the evangelists for the sake of imposition. If it had been, they would have “agreed in all the circumstances.”

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 7:13-21, 24-27 Antique Commentary Quotes

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 7:13

By the narrow gate (dia tēs stenēs pulēs). The Authorized Version “at the strait gate” misled those who did not distinguish between “strait” and “straight.” The figure of the Two Ways had a wide circulation in Jewish and Christian writings (cf. Deu_30:19; Jer_21:8; Psa_1:1-6). See the Didache i-vi; Barnabas xviii-xx. “The narrow gate” is repeated in Mat_7:14 and straitened the way (tethlimmenē hē hodos) added. The way is “compressed,” narrowed as in a defile between high rocks, a tight place like stenochōria in Rom_8:35. “The way that leads to life involves straits and afflictions” (McNeile). Vincent quotes the Pinax or Tablet of Cebes, a contemporary of Socrates: “Seest thou not, then, a little door, and a way before the door, which is not much crowded, but very few travel it? This is the way that leadeth unto true culture.” “The broad way” (euruchōros) is in every city, town, village, with the glaring white lights that lure to destruction.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:13

Enter ye in at the strait gate – Our Savior seems to allude here to the distinction between the public and private ways mentioned by the Jewish lawyers. The public roads were allowed to be sixteen cubits broad, the private ways only four. The words in the original are very emphatic: Enter in (to the kingdom of heaven) through This strait gate, δια της στενης πυλης, i.e. of doing to every one as you would he should do unto you; for this alone seems to be the strait gate which our Lord alludes to.

For wide is the gate – And very broad, ευρυχωρος, from ευρυς, broad, and χωρος, a place, a spacious roomy place, that leadeth forward, απαγουσα, into That destruction, εις την απωλειαν, meaning eternal misery; intimating, that it is much more congenial, to the revengeful, covetous heart of fallen man, to take every advantage of another, and to enrich himself at his expense, rather than to walk according to the rule laid down before, by our blessed Lord, and that acting contrary to it is the way to everlasting misery. With those who say it means repentance, and forsaking sin, I can have no controversy. That is certainly a gate, and a strait one too, through which every sinner must turn to God, in order to find salvation. But the doing to every one as we would they should do unto us, is a gate extremely strait, and very difficult, to every unregenerate mind.

 

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_7:14
Because (ὅτι); for (Revised Version); “many ancient authorities read, How narrow is the gate, etc.”. The reading, “how” (τί) is much easier, as avoiding the difficulty of the connexion of this verse with the preceding, but probably ὅτι is right. The connexion is either that it is parallel to the first ὅτι, and thus gives a second reason for decision in entering through the narrow gate; or, and better, that it gives the reason for the statement in Mat_7:13—many pass along the wrong way because the right way requires at the very outset so much determination and afterwards so much self denial.

Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way; narrow is the gate, and straitened the way (Revised Version). Not only is the gate narrow, but the way itself seems compressed (τεθλιμμένη) by rocks, etc., on either side.

That leadeth unto life (εἰς τὴν ζωήν). Observe, Christ does not say, “life eternal.” He only cares to emphasize the thought of life in the fullest nature of life—life as “the fulfilment of the highest idea of being: perfect truth in perfect action” (Bishop Westcott, on 1Jn_3:14).

And few there be that; Revised Version, and few be they that (Mat_7:13, note). Our Lord here affirms more than the disciples ask in Luk_13:23; for there the question deals with those in a state of salvation (οἱσωζόμενοι), here those finally saved. Find it; i.e. the gate and all it leads to. The narrow gate is here looked at as involving life. Find. It needs a search (contrast Luk_13:13). But there is the promise of Luk_13:7, “Seek, and ye shall find.”

 

A.T.Robertson
Matthew 7:15

False prophets (tōn pseudoprophētōn). There were false prophets in the time of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus will predict “false Messiahs and false prophets” (Mat_24:24) who will lead many astray. They came in due time posing as angels of light like Satan, Judaizers (2Co_11:13.) and Gnostics (1Jo_4:1; 1Ti_4:1). Already false prophets were on hand when Jesus spoke on this occasion (cf. Act_13:6; 2Pe_2:1). In outward appearance they look like sheep in the sheep’s clothing which they wear, but within they are “ravening wolves” (lukoi harpages), greedy for power, gain, self. It is a tragedy that such men and women reappear through the ages and always find victims. Wolves are more dangerous than dogs and hogs.

 

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_7:15
Matthew only. Beware. The warning against being led from the right entrance and the right way is all the more emphatic for there being no adversative particle in the true text.

Beware of false prophets. The whole class of them (τῶν). Not, observe, “false teachers” (2Pe_2:1), as though these persons only falsely interpreted fundamental truths, but “false prophets,” as falsely claiming to bring messages from God. They claim to bring from God the true message of salvation, but their claim is false. These were doubtless found, at the time that our Lord spoke the words, especially among the Pharisees; but when St. Matthew recorded them, chiefly among Christians, either on the Jewish or on the Gnostic side (Col_2:8; 1Ti_6:20, 1Ti_6:21; cf. also 1Jn_4:1 and ‘Did.,’ § 12.).

Which; qualitative (οἵτινες); seeing that they. Come unto you in sheep’s clothing. In, as it were, the skins of sheep (ἐν ἐνδύμασι προβάτων), professing simplicity and gentleness, and (for, perhaps, this thought is also included) claiming to be members of God’s true flock. Externally they are all this, but at heart they are something very different.

But inwardly they are ravening wolves. The thought of “ravening” (ἅρπαγες) is of both violence and greed. These false prophets are not merely wicked at heart and opposed to the truth, but they wish to injure you, and that for their own gain (cf Gal_6:13). “Of the ravenousness of wolves among the Jewes, take these two examples besides others. The elders proclaimed a fast in their cities upon this occasion, because the wolves had devoured two little children beyond Jordan. More than three hundred sheep of the sons of Judah ben Shamoe were torn by wolves” (Lightfoot, ‘Hor. Hebr.;’ cf. Eze_34:4, on false shepherds).

 

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 7:16

Ye shall know them by their fruits – Fruits, in the Scripture and Jewish phraseology, are taken for works of any kind. “A man’s works,” says one, “are the tongue of his heart, and tell honestly whether he is inwardly corrupt or pure.” By these works you may distinguish (επιγνωσεσθε) these ravenous wolves from true pastors. The judgment formed of a man by his general conduct is a safe one: if the judgment be not favorable to the person, that is his fault, as you have your opinion of him from his works, i.e. the confession of his own heart.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:17

So every good tree – As the thorn can only produce thorns, not grapes; and the thistle, not figs, but prickles; so an unregenerate heart will produce fruits of degeneracy. As we perfectly know that a good tree will not produce bad fruit, and the bad tree will not, cannot produce good fruit, so we know that the profession of godliness, while the life is ungodly, is imposture, hypocrisy, and deceit. A man cannot be a saint and a sinner at the same time. Let us remember, that as the good tree means a good heart, and the good fruit, a holy life, and that every heart is naturally vicious; so there is none but God who can pluck up the vicious tree, create a good heart, plant, cultivate, water, and make it continually fruitful in righteousness and true holiness.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:18

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit – Love to God and man is the root of the good tree; and from this principle all its fruit is found. To teach, as some have done, that a state of salvation may be consistent with the greatest crimes, (such as murder and adultery in David), or that the righteous necessarily sin in all their best works, is really to make the good tree bring forth bad fruit, and to give the lie to the Author of eternal truth.

 

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_7:19
Matthew only (cf. Mat_3:10, vide infra). Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. A parenthesis expressing the terrible fate of those the general product (verse 16, note) of whose life is not good. Christ will warn his followers plainly against listening to them. Observe that the form of the sentence (πᾶν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπόν, κ.τ.λ.) implies that all trees will be cut down unless there is a reason for the contrary; that the normal event (the natural result of universal sin, apart, of course, from Christ’s atonement) is that men are condemned and perish. In Mat_3:10 this general statement is applied (οὖν) to a definite time of impending judgment.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:20

Wherefore by their fruits, etc. – This truth is often repeated, because our eternal interests depend so much upon it. Not to have good fruit is to have evil: there can be no innocent sterility in the invisible tree of the heart. He that brings forth no fruit, and he that brings forth bad fruit, are both only fit for the fire.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:21

Not every one – Ου πας, a Hebraism, say some, for no person. It is a Graecism and a Latinism too: ου παντων θεων, not All of the gods, i.e. not Any of the gods, Hom. Odyss. Z. 240. So Terence Sine omni periclo, without All danger, i.e. without Any danger. And Juvenal: Sine omni labe, without All imperfection, i.e. without Any. See more in Mr. Wakefield. The sense of this verse seems to be this: No person, by merely acknowledging my authority, believing in the Divinity of my nature, professing faith in the perfection of my righteousness, and infinite merit of my atonement, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven – shall have any part with God in glory; but he who doeth the will of my Father – he who gets the bad tree rooted up, the good tree planted, and continues to bring forth fruit to the glory and praise of God. There is a good saying among the rabbins on this subject. “A man should be as vigorous as a panther, as swift as an eagle, as fleet as a stag, and as strong as a lion, to do the will of his Creator.”

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:24

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine – That is, the excellent doctrines laid down before in this and the two preceding chapters. There are several parables or similitudes like to this in the rabbins. I shall quote but the two following:

Rabbi Eleasar said, “The man whose knowledge exceeds his works, to whom is he like? He is like a tree which had many branches, and only a few roots; and, when the stormy winds came, it was plucked up and eradicated. But he whose good works are greater than his knowledge, to what is he like? He is like a tree which had few branches, and many roots; so that all the winds of heaven could not move it from its place.” Pirke Aboth.

Elisha, the son of Abuja, said, “The man who studies much in the law, and maintains good works, is like to a man who built a house, laying stones at the foundation, and building brick upon them; and, though many waters come against it, they cannot move it from its place. But the man who studies much in the law, and does not maintain good words, is like to a man who, in building his house, put brick at the foundation, and laid stones upon them, so that even gentle waters shall overthrow that house.” Aboth Rab. Nath.

Probably our Lord had this or some parable in his eye: but how amazingly improved in passing through his hands! In our Lord’s parable there is dignity, majesty, and point, which we seek for in vain in the Jewish archetype.

I will liken him unto a wise man – To a prudent man – ανδρι φρονιμω, to a prudent man, a man of sense and understanding, who, foreseeing the evil hideth himself, who proposes to himself the best end, and makes use of the proper means to accomplish it. True wisdom consists in getting the building of our salvation completed: to this end we must build on the Rock, Christ Jesus, and make the building firm, by keeping close to the maxims of his Gospel, and having our tempers and lives conformed to its word and spirit; and when, in order to this, we lean on nothing but the grace of Christ, we then build upon a solid rock.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:25

And the rain descended – floods came – winds blew – In Judea, and in all countries in the neighborhood of the tropics, the rain sometimes falls in great torrents, producing rivers, which sweep away the soil from the rocky hills; and the houses, which are built of brick only dried in the sun, of which there are whole villages in the east, literally melt away before those rains, and the land-floods occasioned by them. There are three general kinds of trials to which the followers of God are exposed; and to which, some think, our Lord alludes here:

First, those of temporal afflictions, coming in the course of Divine Providence: these may be likened to the torrents of rain.

Secondly, those which come from the passions of men, and which may be likened to the impetuous rivers.

Thirdly, those which come from Satan and his angels, and which, like tempestuous whirlwinds, threaten to carry every thing before them. He alone, whose soul is built on the Rock of ages, stands all these shocks; and not only stands in, but profits by them.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:26

And every one that heareth – and doeth them not – Was there ever a stricter system of morality delivered by God to man, than in this sermon? He who reads or hears it, and does not look to God to conform his soul and life to it, and notwithstanding is hoping to enter into the kingdom of heaven, is like the fool who built his house on the sand. When the rain, the rivers, and the winds come, his building must fall, and his soul be crushed into the nethermost pit by its ruins. Talking about Christ, his righteousness, merits, and atonement, while the person is not conformed to his word and spirit, is no other than solemn self-deception.

Let it be observed, that it is not the man who hears or believes these sayings of Christ, whose building shall stand, when the earth and its works are burnt up; but the man who Does them.

Many suppose that the law of Moses is abolished, merely because it is too strict, and impossible to be observed; and that the Gospel was brought in to liberate us from its obligations; but let all such know, that in the whole of the old covenant nothing can be found so exceedingly strict and holy as this sermon, which Christ lays down as the rule by which we are to walk. “Then, the fulfilling of these precepts is the purchase of glory.” No, it is the Way only to that glory which has already been purchased by the blood of the Lamb. To him that believes, all things are possible.

 

Philip Schaff
Matthew 7:27
Mat_7:27. The description of a storm is repeated, but the result is different; the winds smote upon that house; and it fell. Instead of adding, ‘for it had been founded on the sand,’ our Lord closes the illustration, and at the same time the discourse, which began with the word, ‘blessed,’ by saying, and great was the fall of it. He emphasizes the completeness of the ruin. Admiration of the Sermon on the Mount, without obedience of its precepts, involves destruction, inevitable and utter. In order to do ‘these sayings,’ we must follow Christ further.

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5:17-22, 43-45 Antique Commentary Quotes

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:17

Think not that I am come to destroy the law – Do not imagine that I am come to violate the law καταλυσαι, from κατα, and λυω, I loose, violate, or dissolve – I am not come to make the law of none effect – to dissolve the connection which subsists between its several parts, or the obligation men are under to have their lives regulated by its moral precepts; nor am I come to dissolve the connecting reference it has to the good things promised. But I am come, πληρωσαι, to complete – to perfect its connection and reference, to accomplish every thing shadowed forth in the Mosaic ritual, to fill up its great design; and to give grace to all my followers, πληρωσαι, to fill up, or complete, every moral duty. In a word, Christ completed the law:

1st. In itself, it was only the shadow, the typical representation, of good things to come; and he added to it that which was necessary to make it perfect, His Own Sacrifice, without which it could neither satisfy God, nor sanctify men.

2dly. He completed it in himself by submitting to its types with an exact obedience, and verifying them by his death upon the cross.

3dly. He completes this law, and the sayings of his prophets, in his members, by giving them grace to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbor as themselves; for this is all the law and the prophets.

It is worthy of observation, that the word גמר gamar, among the rabbins, signifies not only to fulfill, but also to teach; and, consequently, we may infer that our Lord intimated, that the law and the prophets were still to be taught or inculcated by him and his disciples; and this he and they have done in the most pointed manner. See the Gospels and epistles; and see especially this sermon on the mount, the Epistle of James, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. And this meaning of the word gives the clear sense of the apostle’s words, Col_1:25. Whereof I am made a minister, πληρωσαι τον λογον του Θεου, to fulfill the word of God, i.e. to teach the doctrine of God.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:18

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven – In the very commencement of his ministry, Jesus Christ teaches the instability of all visible things. “The heaven which you see, and which is so glorious, and the earth which you inhabit and love, shall pass away; for the things which are seen are temporal, προσκαιρα, are for a time; but the things which are not seen are eternal αιωνια, ever-during,” 2Co_4:18. And the Word of the Lord endureth for ever.

One jot or one tittle – One yod, (י), the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. One tittle or point, κεραια, either meaning those points which serve for vowels in this language, if they then existed; or the seraphs, or points of certain letters, such as ר resh, or ד daleth, ה he, or ח cheth (as the change of any of these into the other would make a most essential alteration in the sense, or, as the rabbins say, destroy the world). Or our Lord may refer to the little ornaments which certain letters assume on their tops, which cause them to appear like small branches. The following letters only can assume coronal apices, ץ tsaddi – ג gimel – ז zain – נ nun – ט teth – ע ayin – ש shin. These, with the coronal apices, often appear in MSS.
That this saying, one jot or one tittle, is a proverbial mode of expression among the Jews, and that it expressed the meaning given to it above, is amply proved by the extracts in Lightfoot and Schoettgen. The reader will not be displeased to find a few of them here, if he can bear with the allegorical and strongly figurative language of the rabbins.

“The book of Deuteronomy came and prostrated itself before the Lord, and said: ‘O Lord of the world, thou hast written in me thy law; but now, a Testament defective in some parts is defective in all. Behold, Solomon endeavors to root the letter yod out of me.’ (In this text, Deu_17:5. לא ירבה נשים lo yirbeh, nashim, he shall not multiply wives). The holy blessed God answered, ‘Solomon and a thousand such as he shall perish, but the least word shall not perish out of thee.’”

In Shir Hashirim Rabba, are these words:
“Should all the inhabitants of the earth gather together, in order to whiten one feather of a crow, they could not succeed: so, if all the inhabitants of the earth should unite to abolish one י yod, which is the smallest letter in the whole law, they should not be able to effect it.”

In Vayikra Rabba, s. 19, it is said:
“Should any person in the words of Deu_6:4, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is אחד achad, One Lord, change the ד daleth into a ר resh, he would ruin the world.” [Because, in that case, the word אחר achar, would signify a strange or false God].
“Should any one, in the words of Exo_34:14, Thou shalt worship no Other, אחר achar, God, change ר resh into ד daleth, he would ruin the world.” [Because the command would then run, Thou shalt not worship the Only or true God].

“Should any one in the words of Lev_22:32, Neither shall ye Profane תחללו techelelu, my holy name, change ח cheth into ה he, he would ruin the world.” [Because the sense of the commandment would then be, Neither shall ye Praise my holy name].

“Should any one, in the words of Psa_150:6, Let every thing that hath breath Praise, תהלל tehalel, the Lord, change ה, he into ח cheth, he would ruin the world.” [Because the command would then run, Let every thing that hath breath Profane the Lord].

“Should any one, in the words of Jer_5:10, They lied Against the Lord, ביהוה beihovah, change ב beth into כ caph, he would ruin the world.” [For then the words would run, They lied Like the Lord].

“Should any one, in the words of Hosea, Hos_5:7, They have dealt treacherously, ביהוה beihovah, Against the Lord, change ב beth into כ caph, he would ruin the world.” [For then the words would run, They have dealt treacherously Like the Lord].

“Should any one, in the words of 1Sa_2:2, There is none holy As the Lord, change כ caph into ב beth, he would ruin the world.” [For then the words would mean, There is no holiness In the Lord].

These examples fully prove that the μια κεραια of our Lord, refers to the apices, points, or corners, that distinguish ב beth from כ caph; ח cheth from ה he; and ר resh from ד daleth. For the reader will at once perceive, how easily a כ caph may be turned into a ב beth; a ה he into a ח cheth; and a ר resh into a ד daleth: and he will also see of what infinite consequence it is to write and print such letters correctly.

Till all be fulfilled – Or, accomplished. Though all earth and hell should join together to hinder the accomplishment of the great designs of the Most High, yet it shall all be in vain – even the sense of a single letter shall not be lost. The words of God, which point out his designs, are as unchangeable as his nature itself. Every sinner, who perseveres in his iniquity, shall surely be punished with separation from God and the glory of his power; and every soul that turns to God, through Christ, shall as surely be saved, as that Jesus himself hath died.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:19
Matthew only. As Christ honoured the Law (verse 17) so are his disciples to honour it.

Whosoever therefore. Seeing that every part of the Law is of permanent value. In this verse our Lord once for all declares his opposition to antinomianism. Every one of the commands in the Law is, in its true and ideal meaning, still binding.

Shall break (λύσῃ). Not merely in contrast to “do” (ποιήσῃ vide infra) in the sense of “transgress” (Fritzsche), but “abrogate” (cf. Bishop Westcott, on Joh_5:18, “Not the violation of the sanctity of the day in a special case, but the abrogation of the duty of observance;” cf. also Mat_16:19; Mat_18:18; 1Jn_3:8). It expresses, indeed, a less complete abrogation than καταλῦσαι (verse 17), because, while speaking of himself, the Lord could use the strongest word possible, and that with reference to the whole Law or the Prophets; but here his expression is limited by the inability of any individual disciple to carry out an abrogation even of one command. One of these least commandments. Not necessarily such as the Pharisees reckoned least, in their enumeration of small and great, but such as our Lord himself symbolized by “jot” or “tittle;” those precepts which in reality are the least important (Meyer). Chrysostom strangely says that our Lord here refers, not to old laws, but to those which he was about to lay down; similarly Bengel thinks of verses 22-28, etc. While the Jews distinguished carefully between small and great precepts, they insisted on the importance of keeping even the smallest; cf. ‘Ab.,’ 4.5 (Taylor), “Hasten to a slight precept.., for the reward of precept is precept.”

And shall teach men so. Doing his best to abrogate it, not only in his own person by neglect or violation, but also for others by teaching them to disregard it. He shall be called the least. The Revised Version omits “he, .. the.” He is not cast out of the kingdom, but his want of moral insight (did he consider it “breadth of thought”?) leads to his being called least in the kingdom. It is the converse of the parable in Luk_19:17, etc. There faithfulness in a very little (ἐλαχίστῳ) wins much; here disregard of a very little causes a person to be reckoned (Luk_19:9, note) as very little—the principle of judgment being that of Luk_16:10, “He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much.”

In the kingdom of heaven; i.e. probably in its full and final establishment. The doctrine of grades of blessedness and of punishment hereafter is clearly taught in Scripture (e.g. Luk_12:47, Luk_12:48).

But whosoever shall do and teach them. Similarly the Revised Version; but rather supply “it,” i.e. “that which is required in the smallest commandment” (Meyer). The personal performance and conscious spreading of one of the least commandments will be found to involve so much that it gains for the person a high position.

Do and teach. For many will perform a command without taking any conscious part in spreading it. The same; Revised Version, he (οὗτος). Why inserted here and not in the previous clause? Partly because of the awkwardness of inserting οὗτος there so soon after οὕτως; partly because our Lord wished to lay stress there on the recompense, here on the person (“he and no other”) who receives recompense. On the thought, cf. ‘Test. XII. Parr.’ (Levi., § 13), “If he teach these things and practise them, he shall share the throne of the king, as also Joseph our brother.” It is worth adding Tyndale’s remark in his ‘Exposition,’ “Whosoever shall first fulfil them [these least commandments following] himself, and then teach other, and set all his study to the furtherance and maintaining of them, that doctor shall all they of the kingdom of heaven have in price, and follow him and seek him out, as doth an eagle her prey, and cleave to him as burrs.”

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:20

Except your righteousness shall exceed – περισσευση, Unless your righteousness abound more – unless it take in, not only the letter, but the spirit and design of the moral and ritual precept; the one directing you how to walk so as to please God; the other pointing out Christ, the great Atonement, through and by which a sinner is enabled to do so – more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, who only attend to the letter of the law, and had indeed made even that of no effect by their traditions – ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. This fully explains the meaning of the preceding verse. The old English word is right-wiseness, i.e. complete, thorough, excellent Wisdom. For a full explanation of this verse, see Luk_18:10, etc.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:21
Ye have heard (ἠκούσατε, frequentative aorist). Our Lord does not say, “ye have read” (cf. Mat_21:42), for he was not now speaking to the learned classes, but to a large audience many of whom were probably unable to read. “Ye have heard,” i.e. from your teachers whose teaching claims to be the substance of the Law. So, probably, even in Joh_12:34, where the multitude say that they “have heard out of the Law that the Christ abideth for ever,” which, since this is hardly expressed in so many words in the Old Testament, must mean that the instructions they have received on this subject truly represent the substance of its teaching. So here our Lord says, “You have heard from your teachers (cf. Rom_2:18) that the substance of the sixth commandment is so-and-so.” It is thus quite intelligible that in some of these utterances there should be found added to (Joh_12:21, Joh_12:43) or intermingled with (Joh_12:33) the words of a passage of Scripture, other words which are either taken from Scripture, but from another place in it (perhaps Joh_12:33), or do not occur in Scripture at all, but merely help to form a compendious statement of a definite interpretation (here and Joh_12:43). It must remain doubtful whether our Lord himself formulated these statements of the popular teaching, or quoted them verbally as current. If the latter, as is perhaps more likely, there remains the at present still more insoluble question whether they were only oral or (cf. the case of the ‘Didaehe’) had already been committed to writing.

That it was said by them of old time (ὅτι ἐῤῥέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις). By; Revised Version, to. Similarly Joh_12:33. Although “by” may be defended, “to” (Wickliffe and Tyndale downwards) is certainly right, because

(a) it is the common usage with a passive verb;

(b) it is the constant usage with ἐῤῥέθη in the New Testament (e.g. Rom_9:12, Rom_9:26);

(c) the parallelism with ἐγὼ δέ κ.τ.λ., is more exact;

(d) the popular teaching claimed to be, even in its strictest esoteric form of oral tradition, derived ultimately, not from the words of any human teachers, however primitive, but from the words of God spoken by him to them.

In the case before us our Lord accepts the popular teaching of the time as truly representing the Divine utterance in the giving of the Law, so far as that utterance was then intended to be understood.

Them of old time. This can hardly be limited to “the original founders of the Jewish Commonwealth,” to use Trench’s curiously unbiblical expression (‘Syn.,’ § 67.). It probably includes all who lived a generation or more before our Lord’s time (cf. Weiss).

Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. The substance, according to the popular teaching, of the sixth commandment (Exo_20:13; Deu_5:17). This the current form of it (based partly on Le 24:21; Num_35:1-34.; Deu_19:12) was that murder was not to be committed, and that if it was committed the murderer was to be brought up for trial. Shall be in danger of (ἔνοχος ἔσται); i.e. in legal danger—legally guilty of a charge which involves the judgment (cf. Mat_26:66).

The judgment; i.e. the local Sanhedrin (cf. Mat_10:17), of apparently seven men in a smaller, twenty-three in a larger, town. This answers to “the congregation,” or “the elders” of the town to which the murderer belonged, before whom he was to be tried (Num_35:12, Num_35:16, Num_35:24; Deu_19:12).

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:22

Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause – ὁ οργιζομενος – εικη, who is vainly incensed. “This translation is literal; and the very objectionable phrase, without a cause, is left out, εικη being more properly translated by that above.” What our Lord seems here to prohibit, is not merely that miserable facility which some have of being angry at every trifle, continually taking offense against their best friends; but that anger which leads a man to commit outrages against another, thereby subjecting himself to that punishment which was to be inflicted on those who break the peace.

Εικη, vainly, or, as in the common translation, without a cause, is wanting in the famous Vatican MS. and two others, the Ethiopic, latter Arabic, Saxon, Vulgate, two copies of the old Itala, J. Martyr, Ptolomeus, Origen, Tertullian, and by all the ancient copies quoted by St. Jerome. It was probably a marginal gloss originally, which in process of time crept into the text.

Shall be in danger of the judgment – ενοχος εϚται, shall be liable to the judgment. That is, to have the matter brought before a senate, composed of twenty-three magistrates, whose business it was to judge in cases of murder and other capital crimes. It punished criminals by strangling or beheading; but Dr. Lightfoot supposes the judgment of God to be intended. See at the end of this chapter.

Raca – ריקה from the Hebrew רק rak, to be empty. It signifies a vain, empty, worthless fellow, shallow brains, a term of great contempt. Such expressions were punished among the Gentoos by a heavy fine. See all the cases, Code of Gentoo Laws, chap. 15: sec. 2.

The council – Συνεδριον, the famous council, known among the Jews by the name of Sanhedrin. It was composed of seventy-two elders, six chosen out of each tribe. This grand Sanhedrin not only received appeals from the inferior Sanhedrins, or court of twenty-three mentioned above; but could alone take cognizance, in the first instance, of the highest crimes, and alone inflict the punishment of stoning.

Thou fool – Moreh, probably from מרה marah, to rebel, a rebel against God, apostate from all good. This term implied, among the Jews, the highest enormity, and most aggravated guilt. Among the Gentoos, such an expression was punished by cutting out the tongue, and thrusting a hot iron, of ten fingers breadth, into the mouth of the person who used it. Code of Gentoo Laws, chap. 15: sec. 2. p. 212.

Shall be in danger of hell fire – ενοχος εϚται εις την γεενναν του πυρος, shall be liable to the hell of fire. Our Lord here alludes to the valley of the son of Hinnom, גי הנם Ghi hinom. This place was near Jerusalem, and had been formerly used for those abominable sacrifices, in which the idolatrous Jews had caused their children to pass through the fire to Molech. A particular place in this valley was called Tophet, from תפת tophet, the fire stove, in which some supposed they burnt their children alive to the above idol. See 2Ki_23:10; 2Ch_28:3; Jer_7:31, Jer_7:32. From the circumstances of this valley having been the scene of those infernal sacrifices, the Jews, in our Savior’s time, used the word for hell, the place of the damned. See the word applied in this sense by the Targum, on Rth_2:12; Psa_140:12; Gen_3:24; Gen_15:17. It is very probable that our Lord means no more here than this: if a man charge another with apostasy from the Jewish religion, or rebellion against God, and cannot prove his charge, then he is exposed to that punishment (burning alive) which the other must have suffered, if the charge had been substantiated.

There are three kinds of offenses here, which exceed each other in their degrees of guilt.

1st. Anger against a man, accompanied with some injurious act.

2dly. Contempt, expressed by the opprobrious epithet raka, or shallow brains.

3dly. Hatred and mortal enmity, expressed by the term moreh, or apostate, where such apostasy could not be proved.

Now, proportioned to these three offenses were three different degrees of punishment, each exceeding the other in its severity, as the offenses exceeded each other in their different degrees of guilt.

1st. The judgment, the council of twenty-three, which could inflict the punishment of strangling.

2dly. The Sanhedrin, or great council, which could inflict the punishment of stoning. And

3dly. The being burnt alive in the valley of the son of Hinnom. This appears to be the meaning of our Lord.

Now, if the above offenses were to be so severely punished, which did not immediately affect the life of another, how much sorer must the punishment of murder be! Mat_5:21. And as there could not be a greater punishment inflicted than death, in the above terrific forms, and this was to be inflicted for minor crimes; then the punishment of murder must not only have death here, but a hell of fire in the eternal world, attached to it. It seems that these different degrees of guilt, and the punishment attached to each, had not been properly distinguished among the Jews. Our Lord here calls their attention back to them, and gives then to understand, that in the coming world there are different degrees of punishment prepared for different degrees of vice; and that not only the outward act of iniquity should be judged and punished by the Lord, but that injurious words, and evil passions, should all meet their just recompense and reward. Murder is the most punishable of all crimes, according to the written law, in respect both of our neighbors and civil society. But he who sees the heart, and judges it by the eternal law, punishes as much a word or a desire, if the hatred whence they proceed be complete and perfected. Dr. Lightfoot has some curious observations on this passage in the preface to his Harmony of the Evangelists. See his works, vol. ii., and the conclusion of this chapter.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:43

Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy – Instead of πλησιον neighbor, the Codex Graevii, a MS. of the eleventh century, reads φιλον friend. Thou shalt love thy friend, and hate thine enemy. This was certainly the meaning which the Jews put on it: for neighbor, with them, implied those of the Jewish race, and all others were, considered by them as natural enemies. Besides, it is evident that πλησιον, among the Hellenistic Jews, meant friend merely: Christ uses it precisely in this sense in Luk_10:36, in answer to the question asked by a certain lawyer, Mat_5:29. Who of the three was neighbor (πλησιον friend) to him who fell among the thieves? He who showed him mercy; i.e. he who acted the friendly part. In Hebrew, רע reâ, signifies friend, which word is translated πλησιον by the Lxx. in more than one hundred places. Among the Greeks it was a very comprehensive term, and signified every man, not even an enemy excepted, as Raphelius, on this verse, has shown from Polybius. The Jews thought themselves authorized to kill any Jew who apostatized; and, though they could not do injury to the Gentiles, in whose country they sojourned, yet they were bound to suffer them to perish, if they saw them in danger of death. Hear their own words: “A Jew sees a Gentile fall into the sea, let him by no means lift him out; for it is written, Thou shalt not rise up against the blood of thy neighbor: – but this is not thy neighbor.” Maimon. This shows that by neighbor they understood a Jew; one who was of the same blood and religion with themselves.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:45
Parallel passage: Luk_6:35, which is more full, but hardly so original in form. That ye may be the children (ὅπως γένησθε υἱοί); sons (Revised Version); cf. Luk_6:9, note. The meaning of the clause is not certain. It may be:

(1) Love to enemies is the means whereby you may become possessed of the full privileges involved in the nature of sons. These privileges are more than the mere participation in Messianic glory (Meyer), and are rather all the blessings present and future which belong to sonship.

(2) Love, in order that on each occasion you may become in fact (almost our “show yourselves”) sons of your Father, sons corresponding in ethical conduct to your position already received. Your Father. Not “the Father” (cf. Luk_6:16, note). Which is in heaven: for ὅτι The privileges generally, or the resemblance on each occasion, can only be obtained by behaviour similar to his, namely, kind treatment of those who injure you; for this is what he himself shows.

He maketh his sun to rise (ἀνατέλλει). If we may lay stress on the Greek, our Lord expresses the popular notion of the sun ascending. It must, however, be remembered that the word he himself probably used was חרז in hiph. (, Peshito), which contains no thought of motion, but rather of appearance. Sun … rain. The two great sources of maintenance. On the evil and on the good … on the just and on the unjust. The first pair connotes, as it seems, the extreme of evil (Mat_6:13, note) and good, in each ease manifesting itself according to its opportunities; the second, the life and character as tried by the standard, especially the human standard, of just dealing. Notice how, by chiasm, the emphasis is laid on the ungodly alike at the beginning and at the end. Our Lord here brings out God’s active love as seen in nature, nourishing and maintaining men, irrespective of the qualities of individuals and of their treatment of him and his laws. The thought is found elsewhere, e.g. in Seneca (vide Meyer), “Si deos imitaris, da et ingratis benelicia; ham et sceleratis sol oritur, et piratis patent maria”.

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 6:5-18 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Lightfoot
Matthew 6:5

[They love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corner of the streets.] 1. They prayed standing, Luk_18:11; Luk_18:13; Mar_11:25. “It is written, ‘And Abraham rose early in the morning at the place where he had stood before the Lord.’ But to stand was nothing else than to pray; as it is said, And Phineas stood and judged.”

“One entereth into the synagogue, and found them standing in prayer.” “Let scholar of the wise men look downwards, when he stands praying.” And to name no more, the same Maimonides asserts these things are required in prayer; that he that prayeth, stand; that he turn his face towards Jerusalem; that he cover his head; and that he fix his eyes downwards.

II. They loved to pray in the synagogues. “He goes to the synagogue to pray.”

“Why do they recite their phylacteries in the synagogue, when they are not bound to do it? R. Josi saith, They do not recite them in the synagogue for that end, that so the whole office of the phylacteries may be performed, but to persevere in prayer. For this recitation was to be said over again, when they came home.”

Rabbenu Asher hath these words: “When any returns home in the evening from the field, let him not say, ‘I will go into my house’; but first let him betake himself to the synagogue: and if he can read, let him read something; if he can recite the traditions, let him recite them. And then let him say over the phylacteries, and pray.”

But that we be not too tedious, even from this very opinion, they were wont to betake themselves to the synagogues, because they were persuaded that the prayers of the synagogue were certainly heard.

III. They prayed in the streets. So Maimonides; “They prayed in the streets on the feasts and public fasts.” “What are the rites of the fasts? They brought out the ark into the streets of the city, and sprinkled ashes upon the ark, and upon the head of the president of the Sanhedrim, and the vice-president; and every one put ashes upon his own head. One of the elders makes this exhortation; ‘It is not said, O brethren, of the Ninevites, that God saw their sackcloth, or their fastings; but, that he saw their works,’ etc. They stand praying, and they set some fit elder before the ark, and he prays four-and-twenty prayers before them.”

But doth our Saviour condemn all prayers in the synagogue? By no means. For he himself prayed in and with the synagogue. Nor did he barely reprove those public prayers in the streets, made by the whole multitude in those great solemnities, but prayers everywhere, both in the synagogues, and the streets, that were made privately, but yet publicly also, and in the sight of all, that thereby he that prayed might get some name and reputation from those that saw him.

I. While public prayers were uttered in the synagogue, it was customary also for those that hunted after vainglory, to mutter private prayers, and such as were different from those of the synagogue, whereby the eyes of all might be the more fixed upon him that prayed.

“Hath not a man prayed his morning prayers? When he goes into the synagogue, does he find them praying the additionary prayer? If he is sure he shall begin and end, so that he may answer ‘Amen’ after the angel of the church, let him say his prayers.”

II. They prayed also by themselves in the streets. “R. Jochanan said, I saw R. Jannai standing and praying in the streets of Tsippor, and going four cubits, and then praying the additionary prayer.”

Two things especially shew their hypocrisy here:

1. That so much provision is made concerning reciting the phylacteries, and the prayers added (that it might be done within the just time), that wheresoever a man had been, when the set time was come, he presently betakes himself to prayers: “A workman, or he that is upon the top of a tree, he that rides on an ass, must immediately come down, and say his prayers,” etc. These are the very instances that the canonists give, which, with more of them, you may find in the tract Beracoth. Hence, therefore, those vainglorious hypocrites got an occasion of boasting themselves. For the hour of the phylacterical prayers being come, their care and endeavour was, to be taken in the streets: whereby the canonical hour compelling them to their prayers in that place, they might be the more seen by all persons, and that the ordinary people might admire and applaud both their zeal and religion. To which hypocritical pride they often added this also, that they used very long pauses, both before they began their prayers, and after they had done them: so that very usually, for three hours together, they were seen in a praying habit and posture. See the Babylonian Talmud. So that the Canonists played the madmen with some reason, when they allowed the space, from the rising of the morning to the third hour of the day, for the phylacterical prayers; because those three-hour praying men scarcely despatched them within less space, pausing one hour before they began prayer, and as much after they were ended.

2. They addicted themselves to ejaculations, prayers, and blessings, upon the sight almost of any thing meeting them either in the streets or in the way. “When one saw a place, wherein some miracle was done for Israel; a place, from whence idolatry was rooted out; or a place, where an idol now was, a short prayer was to be used. When any saw a blackamoor, a dwarf, a crooked, a maimed person, etc. they were to bless. Let him that sees a fair tree, or a beautiful face, bless thus, Blessed be He, who created the beauty of the creature,” etc.

Johann Lange
Mat_6:6. Into thy closet, εἰς τὸ ταμεῖόν σου.—The room specially used for prayer was called ὑπερῷον, the Alijah, on the house-top. Vitringa, Syn. 151. Although this apartment is not exclusively here referred to, there is evidently an allusion to it, as being pre-eminently “the closet” of a Jew when engaged in devotional exercises. The antithesis between “the closet,” and “the synagogue and corners of streets,” is manifest. Of course, the passage is not aimed against public prayer. As Theophylact has it: ὁ τόπος οὐ βλάπτει, ἀλλ’ ὁ τρόπος, καὶ ὁ σκόπος [it is not the place which hurts, but the manner and the aim]. All display should be avoided in devotion: He who addresses God must be wholly engrossed with thoughts of his own wants, and of Him whose grace he entreats. Such abstraction will convert the most public place into a ταμεῖον. The metaphorical expression, κλείσας τὴν θύραν, also refers to the latent desire of gaining the applause of men.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 6:7

Use not vain repetitions (mē battalogēsēte). Used of stammerers who repeat the words, then mere babbling or chattering, empty repetition. The etymology is uncertain, but it is probably onomatopoetic like “babble.” The worshippers of Baal on Mount Carmel (1Ki_18:26) and of Diana in the amphitheatre at Ephesus who yelled for two hours (Act_19:34) are examples. The Mohammedans may also be cited who seem to think that they “will be heard for their much speaking” (en tēi polulogiāi). Vincent adds “and the Romanists with their paternosters and avast.” The Syriac Sinaitic has it: “Do not be saying idle things.” Certainly Jesus does not mean to condemn all repetition in prayer since he himself prayed three times in Gethsemane “saying the same words again” (Mat_26:44). “As the Gentiles do,” says Jesus. “The Pagans thought that by endless repetitions and many words they would inform their gods as to their needs and weary them (‘fatigare deos’) into granting their requests” (Bruce).

Adam Clarke
Matthew 6:8

Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of – Prayer is not designed to inform God, but to give man a sight of his misery; to humble his heart, to excite his desire, to inflame his faith, to animate his hope, to raise his soul from earth to heaven, and to put him in mind that There is his Father, his country, and inheritance.
In the preceding verses we may see three faults, which our Lord commands us to avoid in prayer: –

1st. Hypocrisy. Be not as the hypocrites. Mat_6:5.

2ndly. Dissipation. Enter into thy closet. Mat_6:6.

3rdly. Much Speaking, or Unmeaning Repetition, Be not like the heathens. Mat_6:7.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 6:9

After this manner therefore pray ye – Forms of prayer were frequent among the Jews; and every public teacher gave one to his disciples. Some forms were drawn out to a considerable length, and from these abridgments were made: to the latter sort the following prayer properly belongs, and consequently, besides its own very important use, it is a plan for a more extended devotion. What satisfaction must it be to learn from God himself, with what words, and in what manner, he would have us pray to him, so as not to pray in vain! A king, who draws up the petition which he allows to be presented to himself, has doubtless the fullest determination to grant the request. We do not sufficiently consider the value of this prayer; the respect and attention which it requires; the preference to be given to it; its fullness and perfection: the frequent use we should make of it; and the spirit which we should bring with it. “Lord, teach us how to pray!” is a prayer necessary to prayer; for unless we are divinely instructed in the manner, and influenced by the spirit of true devotion, even the prayer taught us by Jesus Christ may be repeated without profit to our souls.

Our Father – It was a maxim of the Jews, that a man should not pray alone, but join with the Church; by which they particularly meant that he should, whether alone or with the synagogue, use the plural number as comprehending all the followers of God. Hence, they say, Let none pray the short prayer, i.e. as the gloss expounds it, the prayer in the singular, but in the plural number. See Lightfoot on this place.
This prayer was evidently made in a peculiar manner for the children of God. And hence we are taught to say, not My Father, but Our Father.

The heart, says one, of a child of God, is a brotherly heart, in respect of all other Christians: it asks nothing but in the spirit of unity, fellowship, and Christian charity; desiring that for its brethren which it desires for itself.

The word Father, placed here at the beginning of this prayer, includes two grand ideas, which should serve as a foundation to all our petitions:

1st. That tender and respectful love which we should feel for God, such as that which children feel for their fathers.

2dly. That strong confidence in God’s love to us, such as fathers have for their children.

Thus all the petitions in this prayer stand in strictest reference to the word Father; the first three referring to the love we have for God; and the three last, to that confidence which we have in the love he bears to us.

The relation we stand in to this first and best of beings dictates to us reverence for his person, zeal for his honor, obedience to his will, submission to his dispensations and chastisements, and resemblance to his nature.

Which art in heaven – The phrase אבינו שבשמים, abinu sheboshemayim, our Father who art in heaven, was very common among the ancient Jews; and was used by them precisely in the same sense as it is used here by our Lord.

This phrase in the Scriptures seems used to express:

1st. His Omnipresence. The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee. 1Ki_8:27 : that is, Thou fillest immensity.

2dly. His Majesty and Dominion over his creatures. Art thou not God in heaven, and rulest thou not over all the kingdoms of the heathen? 2Ch_20:6.

3dly. His Power and Might. Art thou not God in heaven, and in thy hand is there not power and might, so that no creature is able to withstand thee! 2Ch_20:6. Our God is in heaven, and hath done whatsoever he pleased. Psa_115:3.

4thly. His Omniscience. The Lord’s throne is in heaven, his eyes behold, his eye-lids try the children of men. Psa_11:4. The Lord looketh down from heaven, he beholdeth all the sons of men. Psa_33:13-15.

5thly. His infinite Purity and Holiness. Look down from thy holy habitation, etc. Deu_26:15. Thou art the high and lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy. Isa_57:15.

Hallowed – Αγιασθητω. Αγιαζω· from α negative, and γη, the earth, a thing separated from the earth, or from earthly purposes and employments. As the word sanctified, or hallowed, in Scripture, is frequently used for the consecration of a thing or person to a holy use or office, as the Levites, first-born, tabernacle, temple, and their utensils, which were all set apart from every earthly, common, or profane use, and employed wholly in the service of God, so the Divine Majesty may be said to be sanctified by us, in analogy to those things, viz. when, we separate him from, and in our conceptions and desires exalt him above, earth and all things.

Thy name – That is, God himself, with all the attributes of his Divine nature – his power, wisdom, justice, mercy, etc.

We hallow God’s name,

1st. With our lips, when all our conversation is holy, and we speak of those things which are meet to minister grace to the hearers.

2dly. In our thoughts, when we suppress every rising evil, and have our tempers regulated by his grace and Spirit.

3dly. In our lives, when we begin, continue, and end our works to his glory. If we have an eye to God in all we perform, then every act of our common employment will be an act of religious worship.

4thly. In our families, when we endeavor to bring up our children in the discipline and admonition or the Lord; instructing also our servants in the way of righteousness.

5thly. In a particular calling or business, when we separate the falsity, deception, and lying, commonly practised, from it; buying and selling as in the sight of the holy and just God.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 6:10

Thy kingdom come – The ancient Jews scrupled not to say: He prays not at all, in whose prayers there is no mention of the kingdom of God. Hence, they were accustomed to say, “Let him cause his kingdom to reign, and his redemption to flourish: and let the Messiah speedily come and deliver his people.”

The universal sway of the scepter of Christ: – God has promised that the kingdom of Christ shall be exalted above all kingdoms. Dan_7:14-27. That it shall overcome all others, and be at last the universal empire. Isa_9:7. Connect this with the explanation given of this phrase, Mat_3:2.

Thy will be done – This petition is properly added to the preceding; for when the kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Spirit, is established in the heart, there is then an ample provision made for the fulfillment of the Divine will.

The will of God is infinitely good, wise, and holy; to have it fulfilled in and among men, is to have infinite goodness, wisdom, and holiness diffused throughout the universe; and earth made the counterpart of heaven.

As it is in heaven – The Jews maintained, that they were the angels of God upon earth, as these pure spirits were angels of God in heaven; hence they said, “As the angels sanctify the Divine name in heaven, so the Israelites sanctify the Divine name, upon earth.” See Schoettgen.

Observe,

1st. The salvation of the soul is the result of two wills conjoined: the will of God, and the will of man. If God will not the salvation of man, he cannot be saved: If, man will not the salvation God has prepared for him, he cannot be delivered from his sins.

2dly. This petition certainly points out a deliverance from all sin; for nothing that is unholy can consist with the Divine will, and if this be fulfilled in man, surely sin shall be banished from his soul.

3dly. This is farther evident from these words, as it is in heaven; i.e. as the angels do it: viz. with all zeal, diligence, love, delight, and perseverance.

4thly. Does not the petition plainly imply, we may live without sinning against God? Surely the holy angels never mingle iniquity with their loving obedience; and as our Lord teaches us to pray, that we do his will here as they do it in heaven, can it be thought he would put a petition in our mouths, the fulfillment of which was impossible?

5thly. This certainly destroys the assertion: “There is no such state of purification, to be attained here, in which it may be said, the soul is redeemed from sinful passions and desires;” for it is on Earth that we are commanded to pray that this will, which is our sanctification, may be done.

6thly. Our souls can never be truly happy, till our Wills be entirely subjected to, and become one with, the will of God.

7thly. How can any person offer this petition to his Maker, who thinks of nothing less than the performance of the will of God, and of nothing more than doing his own?

Some see the mystery of the Trinity in the three preceding petitions. The first being, addressed to the Father, as the source of all holiness. The second, to the Son, who establishes the kingdom of God upon earth. The third, to the Holy Spirit, who by his energy works in men to will and to perform.

To offer these three petitions with success at the throne of God, three graces, essential to our salvation, must be brought into exercise; and, indeed, the petitions themselves necessarily suppose them.

Faith, Our Father – for he that cometh to God, must believe that he is.

Hope, Thy kingdom come – For this grace has for its object good things to come.

Love, Thy will be done – For love is the incentive to and principle of all obedience to God, and beneficence to man.

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 6:11

this day] In Luke, “day by day.”

our daily bread] The Greek word translated “daily” occurs only in the Lord’s Prayer here and Luk_11:3, it is not found in any classical author. The rendering of the E. V. “daily” as nearly as possible represents the probable force of the word, which is strictly (bread) “for the coming day,” i. e. for the day now beginning. Others render “bread for the future,” taking bread in a spiritual sense; others, following a different etymology, translate “bread of subsistence.” Bread, primarily the bread on which we subsist (see Prof. Lightfoot in appendix to his work On a Fresh Revision of the N. T.); subsistence as distinct from luxury; but the spiritual meaning cannot be excluded, Christ the Bread of Life is the Christian’s daily food.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 6:12

Our debts (ta opheilēmata hēmōn). Luke (Luk_11:4) has “sins” (hamartias). In the ancient Greek opheilēma is common for actual legal debts as in Rom_4:4, but here it is used of moral and spiritual debts to God. “Trespasses” is a mistranslation made common by the Church of England Prayer Book. It is correct in Rom_4:14 in Christ’s argument about prayer, but it is not in the Model Prayer itself. See Mat_18:28, Mat_18:30 for sin pictured again by Christ “as debt and the sinner as a debtor” (Vincent). We are thus described as having wronged God. The word opheilē for moral obligation was once supposed to be peculiar to the New Testament. But it is common in that sense in the papyri (Deismann, Bible Studies, p. 221; Light from the Ancient East, New ed., p. 331). We ask forgiveness “in proportion as” (hōs) we also have forgiven those in debt to us, a most solemn reflection. Aphēkamen is one of the three k aorists (ethēka, edōka, hēka). It means to send away, to dismiss, to wipe off.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 6:13

And bring us not into temptation (kai mē eisenegkēis eis peirasmon). “Bring” or “lead” bothers many people. It seems to present God as an active agent in subjecting us to temptation, a thing specifically denied in Jam_1:13. The word here translated “temptation” (peirasmon) means originally “trial” or “test” as in Jam_1:2 and Vincent so takes it here. Braid Scots has it: “And lat us no be siftit.” But God does test or sift us, though he does not tempt us to evil. No one understood temptation so well as Jesus for the devil tempted him by every avenue of approach to all kinds of sin, but without success. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus will say to Peter, James, and John: “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Luk_22:40). That is the idea here. Here we have a “Permissive imperative” as grammarians term it. The idea is then: “Do not allow us to be led into temptation.” There is a way out (1Co_10:13), but it is a terrible risk.

From the evil one (apo tou ponērou). The ablative case in the Greek obscures the gender. We have no way of knowing whether it is ho ponēros (the evil one) or to ponēron (the evil thing). And if it is masculine and so ho ponēros, it can either refer to the devil as the Evil One par excellence or the evil man whoever he may be who seeks to do us ill. The word ponēros has a curious history coming from ponos (toil) and poneō (to work). It reflects the idea either that work is bad or that this particular work is bad and so the bad idea drives out the good in work or toil, an example of human depravity surely.

The Doxology is placed in the margin of the Revised Version. It is wanting in the oldest and best Greek manuscripts. The earliest forms vary very much, some shorter, some longer than the one in the Authorized Version. The use of a doxology arose when this prayer began to be used as a liturgy to be recited or to be chanted in public worship. It was not an original part of the Model Prayer as given by Jesus.

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 6:14

Trespasses (παραπτώματα)
The Lord here uses another word for sins, and still another (ἁμαρτιας) appears in Luke’s version of the prayer, though he also says, “every one that is indebted to us.” There is no difficulty in supposing that Christ, contemplating sins in general, should represent them by different terms expressive of different aspects of wrong-doing (see on Mat_1:21). This word is derived from παραπίπτω, to fall or throw one’s self beside. Thus it has a sense somewhat akin to ἁμαρτία, of going beside a mark, missing. In classical Greek the verb is often used of intentional falling, as of throwing one’s self upon an enemy; and this is the prevailing sense in biblical Greek, indicating reckless and wilful sin (see 1Ch_5:25; 1Ch_10:13; 2Ch_26:18; 2Ch_29:6, 2Ch_29:19; Eze_14:13; Eze_18:26). It does not, therefore, imply palliation or excuse. It is a conscious violation of right, involving guilt, and occurs therefore, in connection with the mention of forgiveness (Rom_4:25; Rom_5:16; Col_2:13; Eph_2:1, Eph_2:5). Unlike παράβασις (transgression), which contemplates merely the objective violation of law, it carries the thought of sin as affecting the sinner, and hence is found associated with expressions which indicate the consequences and the remedy of sin (Rom_4:25; Rom_5:15, Rom_5:17; Eph_2:1).

Adam Clarke
Matthew 6:15

But if ye forgive not – He who does not awake at the sound of so loud a voice, is not asleep but dead. A vindictive man excludes himself from all hope of eternal life, and himself seals his own damnation.
Trespasses – Παραπτωματα, from παρα and πιπτω, to fall off. What a remarkable difference there is between this word and οφειληματα, debts, in Mat_6:12! Men’s sins against us are only their stumblings, or fallings off from the duties they owe us; but our’s are debts to God’s justice, which we can never discharge. It can be no great difficulty to forgive those, especially when we consider that in many respects we have failed as much, in certain duties which we owed to others, as they have done in those which they owed us. “But I have given him no provocation.” Perhaps thou art angry, and art not a proper judge in the matter; but, however it may be, it is thy interest to forgive, if thou expectest forgiveness from God. On this important subject I will subjoin an extract from Mason’s Self-knowledge, page 248, 1755.

“Athenodorus, the philosopher by reason of his old age, begged leave to retire from the court of Augustus, which the emperor granted. In his compliments of leave, he said, ‘Remember, Caesar, whenever thou art angry, that thou say or do nothing before thou hast distinctly repeated to thyself the twenty-four letters of the alphabet.’ On which Caesar caught him by the hand, and said, ‘I have need of thy presence still:’ and kept him a year longer. This was excellent advice from a heathen; but a Christian may prescribe to himself a wiser rule. When thou art angry, answer not till thou hast repeated the fifth petition of our Lord’s prayer – Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors: and our Lord’s comment upon it – For if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly father forgive your trespasses.”

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 6:16

Of a sad countenance (skuthrōpoi). Only here and Luk_24:17 in the N.T. It is a compound of skuthros (sullen) and ops (countenance). These actors or hypocrites “put on a gloomy look” (Goodspeed) and, if necessary, even “disfigure their faces” (aphanizousin ta prosōpa autōn), that they may look like they are fasting. It is this pretence of piety that Jesus so sharply ridicules. There is a play on the Greek words aphanizousi (disfigure) and phanōsin (figure). They conceal their real looks that they may seem to be fasting, conscious and pretentious hypocrisy.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_6:17
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face. If both these were, among the Jews, done daily, Christ’s command would mean—make no external sign of fasting; dress and appear as usual. But as anointing, at least, cannot be proved to have been a daily habit (though expressly forbidden during the stricter kinds of fasts, see Schurer, II. 2.212), especially with the mixed classes whom our Lord was addressing, and as it was with the ancients rather a symbol of special joy, it is safer to take it in this sense here. Thus our Lord will mean—so far from appearing sad, let your appearance be that of special joy and gladness. “By the symbols of joy and gladness he bade us be joyful and glad when we fast” (Photius, in Suicer, 1:186).

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5:1-16 Antique Commentary Quotes

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:1
And seeing the multitudes; i.e. those spoken of in Mat_4:25—the multitudes who were at that point of time following him.

He went up. From the lower ground by the lake. Into a mountain; Revised Version, into the mountain (εἰς τὸ ὄρος); i.e. not any special mountain, but “the mountain nearest the place spoken of—the mountain near by” (Thayer); in contrast to any lower place, whether that was itself fairly high ground (as probably Luk_9:28) or the shore of the lake. The actual spot here referred to may have been far from, or, and more probably (Mat_4:18), near to, the Lake of Gennesareth. It cannot now be identified. The traditional “Mount of Beatitudes” is Karn-Hattin, “a round, rocky hill”, “a square-shaped hill with two tops”, about five miles north-west of Tiberias. This tradition, dating only from the time of the Crusades, is accepted by Stanley, especially for the reasons that

(1) τὸ ὄρος is equivalent to “the mountain” as a distinct name, and this mountain alone, with the exception of Tabor which is too distant, stands separate from the uniform barrier of hills round the lake;

(2) “the platform at the top is evidently suitable for the collection of a multitude, and corresponds precisely to the ‘level place’ (τόπου πεδινοῦ, Luk_6:17) to which our Lord would ‘come down,’ as from one of its higher horns, to address the people.” But these reasons seem insufficient.

And when he was set; Revised Version, had sat down; as his custom was when preaching.

His disciples; i.e. the twelve, and also those others out of whom they had, as it seems, just been chosen (Luk_6:12, Luk_6:20). The word is used of all those personal followers who, as still more distinctly indicated in the Fourth Gospel, attached themselves to him to learn of him, at least until the time of the crisis in Joh_6:66, when many withdrew (cf. also infra, Mat_8:21, and for an example in the end of his ministry, Luk_19:37). In English we unavoidably miss some of the meaning of μαθητής, to our loss, as may be seen from the saying of Ignatius, ‘Magn.,’ § 10, Μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ γενόμενοι μάθωμεν κατὰ Χριστιανισμὸν ζῇν

Came unto him (προσῆλθαν αὐτῷ). Came up to him, and, presumably, sat down in front of him to listen.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:1

And seeing the multitudes – Τους οχλους, these multitudes, viz. those mentioned in the preceding verse, which should make the first verse of this chapter.

He went up into a mountain – That he might have the greater advantage of speaking, so as to be heard by that great concourse of people which followed him. It is very probable that nothing more is meant here than a small hill or eminence. Had he been on a high mountain they could not have heard; and, had he been at a great distance, he would not have sat down. See the note on Mat_5:14.

And when he was set – The usual posture of public teachers among the Jews, and among many other people. Hence sitting was a synonymous term for teaching among the rabbins.

His disciples – The word μαθητης signifies literally a scholar. Those who originally followed Christ, considered him in the light of a Divine teacher; and conscious of their ignorance, and the importance of his teaching, they put themselves under his tuition, that they might be instructed in heavenly things. Having been taught the mysteries of the kingdom of God, they became closely attached to their Divine Master, imitating his life and manners; and recommending his salvation to all the circle of their acquaintance. This is still the characteristic of a genuine disciple of Christ.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:2
And he opened his mouth. Frequent in the Old Testament; e.g. Job_3:1. A Hebraism, indicating that the words spoken are not the utterance of chance, but of set will and purpose. In the Gospels (in this sense) only Mat_13:35 (from Psa_78:2, LXX.); also in Act_8:35 (Philip); Act_10:34 (Peter); Act_18:14 (Paul); Rev_13:6 (the beast); cf. 2Co_6:11, of perfect frankness of expression, and Eph_6:19, perhaps of courage in the utterance of the Divine message.

And taught them. (ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς). That which follows is represented, not as a proclamation, but as teaching, given to those who in some measure desired to follow and serve him. Some progress already made by the listeners, if only in a relation of respect and reverence, is implied in “teaching.” The discourse was therefore spoken, not simply to the multitudes, a chance audience, but with primary and special reference to those who had already made some advance in relation to him. The multitudes, however, were standing by, and were amazed at the unique character of his teaching (cf. Mat_7:28, Mat_7:29; cf. also Luk_6:20 with Luk_7:1).

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 5:3

Blessed (makarioi). The English word “blessed” is more exactly represented by the Greek verbal eulogētoi as in Luk_1:68 of God by Zacharias, or the perfect passive participle eulogēmenos as in Luk_1:42 of Mary by Elizabeth and in Mat_21:9. Both forms come from eulogeō, to speak well of (eu, logos). The Greek word here (makarioi) is an adjective that means “happy” which in English etymology goes back to hap, chance, good-luck as seen in our words haply, hapless, happily, happiness. “Blessedness is, of course, an infinitely higher and better thing than mere happiness” (Weymouth). English has thus ennobled “blessed” to a higher rank than “happy.” But “happy” is what Jesus said and the Braid Scots New Testament dares to say “Happy” each time here as does the Improved Edition of the American Bible Union Version. The Greek word is as old as Homer and Pindar and was used of the Greek gods and also of men, but largely of outward prosperity. Then it is applied to the dead who died in the Lord as in Rev_14:13. Already in the Old Testament the Septuagint uses it of moral quality. “Shaking itself loose from all thoughts of outward good, it becomes the express symbol of a happiness identified with pure character. Behind it lies the clear cognition of sin as the fountain-head of all misery, and of holiness as the final and effectual cure for every woe. For knowledge as the basis of virtue, and therefore of happiness, it substitutes faith and love” (Vincent).

Jesus takes this word “happy” and puts it in this rich environment. “This is one of the words which have been transformed and ennobled by New Testament use; by association, as in the Beatitudes, with unusual conditions, accounted by the world miserable, or with rare and difficult” (Bruce). It is a pity that we have not kept the word “happy” to the high and holy plane where Jesus placed it. “If you know these things, happy (makarioi) are you if you do them” (Joh_13:17). “Happy (makarioi) are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Joh_20:29). And Paul applies this adjective to God, “according to the gospel of the glory of the happy (makariou) God” (1Ti_1:11. Cf. also Tit_2:13). The term “Beatitudes” (Latin beatus) comes close to the meaning of Christ here by makarioi. It will repay one to make a careful study of all the “beatitudes” in the New Testament where this word is employed. It occurs nine times here (Mat_5:3-11), though the beatitudes in Mat_5:10 and Mat_5:11 are very much alike. The copula is not expressed in either of these nine beatitudes. In each case a reason is given for the beatitude, “for” (hoti), that shows the spiritual quality involved. Some of the phrases employed by Jesus here occur in the Psalms, some even in the Talmud (itself later than the New Testament, though of separate origin). That is of small moment. “The originality of Jesus lies in putting the due value on these thoughts, collecting them, and making them as prominent as the Ten Commandments. No greater service can be rendered to mankind than to rescue from obscurity neglected moral commonplaces “ (Bruce). Jesus repeated his sayings many times as all great teachers and preachers do, but this sermon has unity, progress, and consummation. It does not contain all that Jesus taught by any means, but it stands out as the greatest single sermon of all time, in its penetration, pungency, and power.

The poor in spirit (hoi ptōchoi tōi pneumati). Luke has only “the poor,” but he means the same by it as this form in Matthew, “the pious in Israel, for the most part poor, whom the worldly rich despised and persecuted” (McNeile). The word used here (ptōchoi) is applied to the beggar Lazarus in Luk_16:20, Luk_16:22 and suggests spiritual destitution (from ptōssō to crouch, to cower). The other word penēs is from penomai, to work for one’s daily bread and so means one who works for his living. The word ptōchos is more frequent in the New Testament and implies deeper poverty than penēs. “The kingdom of heaven” here means the reign of God in the heart and life. This is the summum bonum and is what matters most.

Marvin Vincent
The poor (οἱ πρωχιὸ)
Three words expressing poverty are found in the New Testament. Two of them, πὲνης and πενιχρός, are kindred terms, the latter being merely a poetic form of the other, and neither of these occurs more than once (Luk_21:2; 2Co_9:9). The word used in this verse is therefore the current word for poor, occurring thirty-four times, and covering every gradation of want; so that it is evident that the New Testament writers did not recognize any nice distinctions of meaning which called for the use of other terms. Luke, for instance (Luk_21:2, Luk_21:3), calls the widow who bestowed her two mites both πενιχρὰν and πρωχὴ. Nevertheless, there is a distinction, recognized by both classical and ecclesiastical writers. While ὁ πένης is of narrow means, one who “earns a scanty pittance,” πρωχός is allied to the verb πτώσσειν, to crouch or cringe, and therefore conveys the idea of utter destitution, which abjectly solicits and lives by alms. Hence it is applied to Lazarus (Luk_16:20, Luk_16:22), and rendered beggar. Thus distinguished, it is very graphic and appropriate here, as denoting the utter spiritual destitution, the consciousness of which precedes the entrance into the kingdom of God, and which cannot be relieved by one’s own efforts, but only by the free mercy of God. (See on 2Co_6:10; and see 2Co_8:9.)

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:3

Blessed are the poor in spirit, etc. – Or, happy, μακαριοι from μα or μη, not, and κηρ, fate, or death: intimating, that such persons were endued with immortality, and consequently were not liable to the caprices of fate. Homer, Iliad i, 330, calls the supreme gods, Θεων μακαρων, the ever happy and Immortal gods, and opposes them to θνητων ανθρωπων, mortal men.

τω δ’ αυτω μαρτυροι εστων
Προς τε Θεων μακαρων, προς τε θνητων ανθροπων
“Be ye witnesses before the immortal gods, and before mortal men.”

From this definition we may learn, that the person whom Christ terms happy is one who is not under the influence of fate or chance, but is governed by an all-wise providence, having every step directed to the attainment of immortal glory, being transformed by the power into the likeness of the ever-blessed God. Though some of the persons, whose states are mentioned in these verses, cannot be said to be as yet blessed or happy, in being made partakers of the Divine nature; yet they are termed happy by our Lord, because they are on the straight way to this blessedness.

Taken in this light the meaning is similar to that expressed by the poet when describing a happy man.

Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas: Atque metus omnes et inexorabile Fatum
Subjecit pedibus; strepitumque Acherontis avari!
Virg. Geor. ii. v. 490

Which may be thus paraphrased: –
“Happy is he who gains the knowledge of the first cause of all things; who can trample on every fear, and the doctrine of inexorable Fate; and who is not terrified by death, nor by the threatened torments of the invisible world!”

Poor in spirit – One who is deeply sensible of his spiritual poverty and wretchedness. Πτωχος, a poor man, comes from πτωσσω, to tremble, or shrink with fear. Being destitute of the true riches, he is tremblingly alive to the necessities of his soul, shrinking with fear lest he should perish without the salvation of God. Such Christ pronounces happy, because there is but a step between them and that kingdom which is here promised. Some contend, that μακαριοι should be referred to πνευματι, and the verse translated thus: Happy, or blessed in spirit, are the poor. But our Lord seems to have the humiliation of the spirit particularly in view.

Kingdom of heaven – Or, των ουρανων, of the heavens. A participation of all the blessings of the new covenant here, and the blessings of glory above. See this phrase explained, Mat_3:2 (note). Blessed are the poor! This is God’s word; but who believes it? Do we not say, Yea, rather, Blessed is the rich?

The Jewish rabbins have many good sayings relative to that poverty and humility of spirit which Christ recommends in this verse. In the treatise called Bammidbar Rabbi, s. 20, we have these words: There were three (evils) in Balaam: the evil eye, (envy), the towering spirit, (pride), and the extensive mind (avarice).

Tanchum, fol. 84. The law does not abide with those who have the extensive mind, (avarice), but with him only who has a contrite heart.

Rabbi Chanina said, “Why are the words of the law compared to water? Because as waters flow from heights, and settle in low places, so the words of the law rest only with him who is of an humble heart.” See Schoettgen.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:4

Blessed are they that mourn – This is capable of two meanings: either, that those are blessed who are afflicted with the loss of friends or possessions, or that they who mourn over sin are blessed. As Christ came to preach repentance, to induce people to mourn over their sins and to forsake them, it is probable that he had the latter particularly in view. Compare 2Co_7:10. At the same time, it is true that the gospel only can give true comfort to those in affliction, Isa_61:1-3; Luk_4:18. Other sources of consolation do not reach the deep sorrows of the soul. They may blunt the sensibilities of the mind; they may produce a sullen and reluctant submission to what we cannot help: but they do not point to the true source of comfort. In the God of mercy only; in the Saviour; in the peace that flows from the hope of a better world, and there only, is there consolation, 2Co_3:17-18; 2Co_5:1. Those that mourn thus shall be comforted. So those that grieve over sin; that sorrow that they have committed it, and are afflicted and wounded that they have offended God, shall find comfort in the gospel. Through the merciful Saviour those sins may be forgiven. In him the weary and heavy-ladened soul shall find peace Mat_11:28-30; and the presence of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, shall sustain them here Joh_14:26-27, and in heaven all their tears shall be wiped away, Rev_21:4.

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 5:5

The meek (οἱ πραεῖς)
Another word which, though never used in a bad sense, Christianity has lifted to a higher plane, and made the symbol of a higher good. Its primary meaning is mild, gentle. It was applied to inanimate things, as light, wind, sound, sickness. It was used of a horse; gentle.
As a human attribute, Aristotle defines it as the mean between stubborn anger and that negativeness of character which is inescapable of even righteous indignation: according to which it is tantamount to equanimity. Plato opposes it to fierceness or cruelty, and uses it of humanity to the condemned; but also of the conciliatory demeanor of a demagogue seeking popularity and power. Pindar applies it to a king, mild or kind to the citizens, and Herodotus uses it as opposed to anger.

These pre-Christian meanings of the word exhibit two general characteristics. 1. They express outward conduct merely. 2. They contemplate relations to men only. The Christian word, on the contrary, describes an inward quality, and that as related primarily to God. The equanimity, mildness, kindness, represented by the classical word, are founded in self-control or in natural disposition. The Christian meekness is based on humility, which is not a natural quality but an outgrowth of a renewed nature. To the pagan the word often implied condescension, to the Christian it implies submission. The Christian quality, in its manifestation, reveals all that was best in the heathen virtue – mildness, gentleness, equanimity – but these manifestations toward men are emphasized as outgrowths of a spiritual relation to God. The mildness or kindness of Plato or Pindar imply no sense of inferiority in those who exhibit them; sometimes the contrary. Plato’s demagogue is kindly from self-interest and as a means to tyranny. Pindar’s king is condescendingly kind. The meekness of the Christian springs from a sense of the inferiority of the creature to the Creator, and especially of the sinful creature to the holy God. While, therefore, the pagan quality is redolent of self-assertion, the Christian quality carries the flavor of self-abasement.

As toward God, therefore, meekness accepts his dealings without murmur or resistance as absolutely good and wise. As toward man, it accepts opposition, insult, and provocation, as God’s permitted ministers of a chastening demanded by the infirmity and corruption of sin; while, under this sense of his own sinfulness, the meek bears patiently “the contradiction of sinners against himself,” forgiving and restoring the erring in a spirit of meekness, considering himself, lest he also be tempted (see Gal_6:1-5). The ideas of forgiveness and restoration nowhere attach to the classical word. They belong exclusively to Christian meekness, which thus shows itself allied to love. As ascribed by our Lord to himself, see Mat_11:29. Wyc. renders “Blessed be mild men.”

 

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:5

The meek – Meekness is patience in the reception of injuries. It is neither meanness nor a surrender of our rights, nor cowardice; but it is the opposite of sudden anger, of malice, of long-harbored vengeance. Christ insisted on his right when he said, “If I have done evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?” Joh_18:23. Paul asserted his right when he said, “They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves, and fetch us out,” Act_16:37. And yet Christ was the very model of meekness. It was one of his characteristics, “I am meek,” Mat_11:29. So of Paul. No man endured more wrong, or endured it more patiently than he. Yet the Saviour and the apostle were not passionate. They bore all patiently. They did not press their rights through thick and thin, or trample down the rights of others to secure their own.

Meekness is the reception of injuries with a belief that God will vindicate us. “Vengeance is his; he will repay,” Rom_12:19. It little becomes us to take his place, and to do what he has promised to do.
Meekness produces peace. It is proof of true greatness of soul. It comes from a heart too great to be moved by little insults. It looks upon those who offer them with pity. He that is constantly ruffled; that suffers every little insult or injury to throw him off his guard and to raise a storm of passion within, is at the mercy of every mortal that chooses to disturb him. He is like “the troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”

They shall inherit the earth – This might have been translated the land. It is probable that here is a reference to the manner in which the Jews commonly expressed themselves to denote any great blessing. It was promised to them that they should inherit the land of Canaan. For a long time the patriarchs looked forward to this, Gen_15:7-8; Exo_32:13. They regarded it as a great blessing. It was so spoken of in the journey in the wilderness, and their hopes were crowned when they took possession of the promised land, Deu_1:38; Deu_16:20. In the time of our Saviour they were in the constant habit of using the Old Testament, where this promise perpetually occurs, and they used it “as a proverbial expression to denote any great blessing, perhaps as the sum of all blessings,” Psa_37:20; Isa_60:21. Our Saviour used it in this sense, and meant to say, not that the meek would own great property or have many lands, but that they would possess special blessings. The Jews also considered the land of Canaan as a type of heaven, and of the blessings under the Messiah. To inherit the land became, therefore, an expression denoting those blessings. When our Saviour uses this language here, he means that the meek shall be received into his kingdom, and partake of its blessings here, and of the glories of the heavenly Canaan hereafter. The value of meekness, even in regard to worldly property and success in life, is often exhibited in the Scriptures, Pro_22:24-25; Pro_15:1; Pro_25:8, Pro_25:15. It is also seen in common life that a meek, patient, mild man is the most prospered. An impatient and quarrelsome man raises up enemies; often loses property in lawsuits; spends his time in disputes and broils rather than in sober, honest industry; and is harassed, vexed, and unsuccessful in all that he does. “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” 1Ti_4:8. Compare 1Ti_6:3-6.

 

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:6

Blessed are they which do hunger … – Hunger and thirst, here, are expressive of strong desire. Nothing would better express the strong desire which we ought to feel to obtain righteousness than hunger and thirst. No needs are so keen, none so imperiously demand supply, as these. They occur daily, and when long continued, as in case of those shipwrecked, and doomed to wander months or years over burning sands, with scarcely any drink or food, nothing is more distressing. An ardent desire for anything is often represented in the Scriptures by hunger and thirst, Psa_42:1-2; Psa_63:1-2. A desire for the blessings of pardon and peace; a deep sense of sin, and want, and wretchedness, is also represented by thirsting, Isa_55:1-2.

They shall be filled – They shall be satisfied as a hungry man is when supplied with food, or a thirsty man when supplied with drink. Those who are perishing for want of righteousness; those who feel that they are lost sinners and strongly desire to be holy, shall be thus satisfied. Never was there a desire to be holy which God was not willing to gratify, and the gospel of Christ has made provision to satisfy all who truly desire to be holy. See Isa_55:1-3; Isa_65:13; Joh_4:14; Joh_6:35; Joh_7:37-38; Psa_17:15.

 

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 5:6

Shall be filled (χορτασθήσονται)
A very strong and graphic word, originally applied to the feeding and fattening of animals in a stall. In Rev_19:21, it is used of the filling of the birds with the flesh of God’s enemies. Also of the multitudes fed with the loaves and fishes (Mat_14:20; Mar_8:8; Luk_9:17). It is manifestly appropriate here as expressing the complete satisfaction of spiritual hunger and thirst. Hence Wycliffe’s rendering, fulfilled, is strictly true to the original.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:7

The merciful – The word mercy, among the Jews, signified two things: the pardon of injuries, and almsgiving. Our Lord undoubtedly takes it in its fullest latitude here. To know the nature of mercy, we have only to consult the grammatical meaning of the Latin word misericordia, from which ours is derived. It is composed of two words: miserans, pitying, and cor, the heart; or miseria cordis, pain of heart. Mercy supposes two things:

1. A distressed object: and,
2. A disposition of the heart, through which it is affected at the sight of such an object.

This virtue, therefore, is no other than a lively emotion of the heart, which is excited by the discovery of any creature’s misery; and such an emotion as manifests itself outwardly, by effects suited to its nature. The merciful man is here termed by our Lord ελεημων, from ελεος, which is generally derived from the Hebrew חיל chil, to be in pain, as a woman in travail: or from ילל galal, to cry, or lament grievously; because a merciful man enters into the miseries of his neighbor, feels for and mourns with him.

They shall obtain mercy – Mercy is not purchased but at the price of mercy itself; and even this price is a gift of the mercy of God. What mercy can those vindictive persons expect, who forgive nothing, and are always ready to improve every advantage they have of avenging themselves? Whatever mercy a man shows to another, God will take care to show the same to him. The following elegant and nervous saying of one of our best poets is worthy of the reader’s most serious attention: –

“The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed;
It blesseth him who gives, and him who takes:
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s,
When mercy seasons justice. –
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. –
Why, all the souls that are, were forfeit once:
And he who might the ’vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be,
If He who is the top of judgment should
But judge you as you are? O! think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man, new made
How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend’ring none?”

In the tract Shabbath, fol. 151, there is a saying very like this of our Lord.“He who shows mercy to men, God will show mercy to him: but to him who shows no mercy to man, God will show no mercy.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:7

Blessed are the merciful – That is, those who are so affected by the sufferings of others as to be disposed to alleviate them. This is given as an evidence of piety, and it is said that they who show mercy to others shall obtain it. The same sentiment is found in Mat_10:42; “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you he shall in no wise lose his reward.” See also Mat_25:34-40. This should be done with a wish to glorify God; that is, in obedience to his commandments, and with a desire that he should be honored, and with a feeling that we are benefiting one of his creatures. Then he will regard it as done to him, and will reward us. See the sentiment of this verse, that the merciful shall obtain mercy, more fully expressed in 2Sa_22:26-27; and in Psa_18:25-26.

Nowhere do we imitate God more than in showing mercy. In nothing does God delight more than in the exercise of mercy, Exo_34:6; Eze_33:11; 1Ti_2:4; 2Pe_3:9. To us, guilty sinners; to us, wretched, dying, and exposed to eternal woe, he has shown his mercy by giving his Son to die for us; by expressing his willingness to pardon and save us; and by sending his Spirit to renew and sanctify our hearts. Each day of our life, each hour, and each moment, we partake of his undeserved mercy. All the blessings we enjoy are proofs of his mercy. If we, then, show mercy to the poor, the wretched, the guilty, it shows that we are like God. We have his spirit, and shall not lose our reward. And we have abundant opportunity to do it. Our world is full of guilt and woe, which we may help to relieve; and every day of our lives we have opportunity, by helping the poor and wretched, and by forgiving those who injure us, to show that we are like God. See the notes at Mat_6:14-15.

 

John Calvin
Matthew 5:7

7.Happy are the merciful This paradox, too, contradicts the judgment of men. The world reckons those men to be happy, who give themselves no concern about the distresses of others, but consult their own ease. Christ says that those are happy, who are not only prepared to endure their own afflictions, but to take a share in the afflictions of others, — who assist the wretched, — who willingly take part with those who are in distress, — who clothe themselves, as it were, with the same affections, that they may be more readily disposed to render them assistance. He adds, for they shall obtain mercy, — not only with God, but also among men, whose minds God will dispose to the exercise of humanity. Though the whole world may sometimes be ungrateful, and may return the very worst reward to those who have done acts of kindness to them, it ought to be reckoned enough, that grace is laid up with God for the merciful and humane, so that they, in their turn, will find him to be gracious and merciful, (Psa_103:8.)

 

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart – That is, whose minds, motives, and principles are pure; who seek not only to have the external actions correct, but who desire to be holy in heart, and who are so. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.
They shall see God – There is a sense in which all will see God, Rev_1:7. That is, they will behold him as a Judge, not as a Friend. In this place it is spoken of as a special favor. So also in Rev_22:4,

“And they shall see his face.” To see the face of one, or to be in the presence of any one, were terms among the Jews expressive of great favor. It was regarded as a high honor to be in the presence of kings and princes, and to be permitted to see them, Pro_22:29, “He shall stand before kings.” See also 2Ki_25:19, “Those that stood in the king’s presence;” in the Hebrew, those that saw the face of the king; that is, who were his favorites and friends. So here, to see God, means to be his friends and favorites, and to dwell with him in his kingdom.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 5:10

That have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake (hoi dediōgmenoi heneken dikaiosunēs). Posing as persecuted is a favourite stunt. The kingdom of heaven belongs only to those who suffer for the sake of goodness, not who are guilty of wrong.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:10

They which are persecuted – Δεδιωγμενοι, they who are hard pressed upon and pursued with repeated acts of enmity. Parkhurst. They are happy who suffer, seems a strange saying: and that the righteous should suffer, merely because they are such, seems as strange. But such is the enmity of the human heart to every thing of God and goodness, that all those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution in one form or other. As the religion of Christ gives no quarter to vice, so the vicious will give no quarter to this religion, or to its professors.

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven – That spiritual kingdom, explained Mat_3:2, and that kingdom of glory which is its counterpart and consequence.

 

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:10

Blessed are they which are persecuted – To persecute means literally to pursue; follow after, as one does a flying enemy. Here it means to vex, or oppress one, on account of his religion. They persecute others who injure their names, reputation, property, or who endanger or take their life, on account of their religious opinions.

For righteousness’ sake – Because they are righteous, or are the friends of God. We are not to seek persecution. We are not to provoke it by strange sentiments or conduct; by violating the laws of civil society, or by modes of speech that are unnecessarily offensive to others. But if, in the honest effort to be Christians, and to live the life of Christians, others persecute and revile us, we are to consider this as a blessing. It is an evidence that we are the children of God, and that he will defend us. “All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2Ti_3:12.

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven – They have evidence that they are Christians, and that they will be brought to heaven.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:11

Blessed are ye when men shall revile you – Reproach you; call you by evil and contemptuous names; ridicule you because you are Christians. Thus, they said of Jesus that he was a Samaritan and had a devil Joh_8:48; that he was mad Joh_10:20; and thus they reviled and mocked him on the cross, Mat_27:39-44. But, being reviled, he reviled not again 1Pe_2:23; and thus being reviled, we should bless 1Co_4:12; and thus, though the contempt of the world is not in itself desirable, yet it is blessed to tread in the footsteps of Jesus, to imitate his example, and even to suffer for his sake, Phi_1:29.

All manner of evil against you falsely – An emphasis should be laid on the word falsely in this passage. It is not blessed to have evil spoken of us if we deserve it; but if we deserve it not, then we should not consider it as a calamity. We should take it patiently, and show how much the Christian, under the consciousness of innocence, can bear, 1Pe_3:13-18.

For my sake – Because you are attached to me; because you are Christians. We are not to seek such things. We are not to do things to offend others; to treat them harshly or unkindly, and. to court revilings. We are not to say or do things, though they may be on the subject of religion, designed to disgust or offend. But if, in the faithful endeavor to be Christians, we are reviled, as our Master was, then we are to take it with patience, and to remember that thousands before us have been treated in like manner. When thus reviled or persecuted, we are to be meek, patient, humble; not angry; not reviling again; but endeavoring to do good to our persecutors and slanderers, 2Ti_2:24-25. In this way many have been convinced of the power and excellence of that religion which they were persecuting and reviling. They have seen that nothing else but Christianity could impart such patience and meekness to the persecuted; and have, by this means, been constrained to submit themselves to the gospel of Jesus. Long since it became a proverb, “that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:12
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad (χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε). Our Lord uses no weaker expressions than those which describe the joy of the saints over the marriage of the Lamb (Rev_19:7). The first word expresses joy as such, the second its effect in stirring the emotions; this thought St. Luke carries still further in σκιρτήσατε. (For joy felt under persecution, cf. Act_5:41.)

For great. The order of the Greek, ὅτι ὀ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολύς, does not bear out the emphatic position assigned to “great” in the English Versions from Tyndale downwards (except Rheims), including Revised Version.

Is your reward. The doctrine of recompense, which has so large a place in Jewish thought (for a not often-sire example, cf. ‘Ab.,’ 2.19, Taylor) comes also in Christ’s teaching. In Mat_20:1-16 reward is expressly divested of its merely legal side, and exhibited as ultimately dependent on the will of the great Householder. But here it is mentioned without reference to the difficulties involved in the conception. These difficulties centre round the thought of obligation from God to man. But it may be doubted whether these difficulties are not caused by too exclusively regarding the metaphor of contracting, instead of considering the fact indicated by the metaphor. In God’s kingdom every action has a corresponding effect, and this effect is the more certain in proportion as the action is in the sphere of morality. The idea of “quantity” hardly enters into the relation of such cause and effect. It is a question of moral correspondence. But such effect may not unfitly be called by the metaphors “hire,” “reward,” because, on the one hand, it is the result of conditions of moral service, and, on the other, such terms imply a Personal Will at the back of the effect, as well as a will on the part of the human “servant.” (For the subject in other connexions, cf. Weiss, ‘Bibl. Theol.,’ § 32; cf. also verse 46; Mat_6:1, Mat_6:2, Mat_6:4, Mat_6:5, Mat_6:6.)

In heaven. Our Lord says, “your reward is great,” because the effect of your exercise of moral powers will be received in a sphere where the accidents of the surroundings will entirely correspond to moral influences. The effect of your present faithfulness, etc., will be seen in the reception Of powers of work and usefulness and enjoyment, beside which those possessed on earth will appear small. On earth the opportunities, etc., are but “few things;” hereafter they will be “many things” (Mat_25:21).

For. Not as giving a reason for the assurance of reward (apparently Meyer and Weiss), but for the command, “rejoice,” and be exceeding glad, and perhaps also for the predicate “blessed.” Rejoice if persecuted, for such persecutions prove you to be the true successors of the prophets, your predecessors in like faithfulness (cf. Jas_5:10).

So. By reproach, e.g. Elijah (1Ki_18:17), Amos (Amo_7:12, Amo_7:13); by persecution, e.g. Hanani (2Ch_16:10), Jeremiah (Jer_37:15); by saying all manner of evil, e.g. Amos (Amo_7:10), Jeremiah (Jer_37:13), Daniel (Dan_6:13). Which were before you. Added, surely, not as a mere temporal fact, but to indicate spiritual relationship (vide supra).

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 5:13

Have lost his savour (μωρανθῇ)
The kindred noun (μωρός) means dull, sluggish; applied to the mind, stupid or silly; applied to the taste, insipid, flat. The verb here used of salt, to become insipid, also means to play the fool. Our Lord refers here to the familiar fact of salt losing its pungency and becoming useless. Dr. Thompson (“The Land and the Book”) cites the following case: “A merchant of Sidon, having farmed of the government the revenue from the importation of salt, brought over a great quantity from the marshes of Cyprus – enough, in fact, to supply the whole province for many years. This he had transferred to the mountains, to cheat the government out of some small percentage of duty. Sixty-five houses were rented and filled with salt. Such houses have merely earthen floors, and the salt next the ground was in a few years entirely spoiled. I saw large quantities of it literally thrown into the road to be trodden under foot of men and beasts. It was ‘good for nothing.’”

 

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:14
Matthew only. Ye are the light of the world. After speaking of the moral tone that the disciples were to give to the world, in contrast to sin in its corrupting power, Christ refers to them as enlightening, in contrast to sin as darkness and ignorance. Our Lord further naturally exchanges the term “the earth” (which from its strong materialism had suited the figure of the salt) for “the world”—a phrase which must, indeed, as regards the disciples, be limited to this earth, but as regards the light, need not be limited to less than the solar system. In other words, the simple reason why he exchanges “earth” for “world” is that they are respectively the best suited to the figure employed. Notice that Christ never applies the former figure, of salt, to himself; but the latter, of light, once or twice, especially Joh_8:12, where, since he is speaking of himself, and not of others, he adds the thought of life being connected with light, a city, etc.; literally, a city cannot be hid when set on a mountain. It seems at first slightly awkward to introduce the figure of a city between those of the sun and the lamp, both these having to do with light. The reason is that the city is not considered as such, but only as an object which can be teen, and which cannot (οὐ δύναται, emphatic) from its physical conditions avoid being seen. There is a true gradation in the thought of influence. The sun must be seen by all; the city, by the whole neighbourhood; the lamp, by the family. Our Lord comes from the general to the particular; from what is almost theory, at best a matter of hope and faith, to hard fact and practice. The influence you are to have—if it is to be for the whole world, as indeed it is, must be felt in the neighbourhood in which you live, and a fortiori in the immediate circle of your own home.

Conjectures have been made whether any one city can reasonably be mentioned as being in sight, and so having suggested this image to our Lord. If the exact spot where he was then sitting were itself certain, such conjectures might be worth considering. But, in fact, so many “cities” in Palestine were set on hills that the inquiry seems vain. Safed, some twelve miles north-west of Capernaum, the view from which extends to Tiberias, has been accepted by many, but evidence is lacking for it having been a city at that time. Tabor, at the south-west of the lake, has also been thought of, and at all events seems to have been then a fortified town. The view from it is even more extensive than from Safed.

 

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 5:15

Under the bushel (hupo ton modion). Not a bushel. “The figure is taken from lowly cottage life. There was a projecting stone in the wall on which the lamp was set. The house consisted of a single room, so that the tiny light sufficed for all” (Bruce). It was not put under the bushel (the only one in the room) save to put it out or to hide it. The bushel was an earthenware grain measure.

“The stand” (tēn luchnian), not “candlestick.” It is “lamp-stand” in each of the twelve examples in the Bible. There was the one lamp-stand for the single room.

 

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:16
Matthew only. Let your light so shine; even so let your light shine (Revised Version); οὕτως λαμψὰτω τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν. The Revised Version (cf. Rheims) does away with the misinterpretation suggested by the Authorized Version, “so that,” for οὕτως refers solely to the method of shining spoken of in verse 15, “like a burning lamp upon its stand” (Meyer). Our Lord has here no thought of effort in shining, such as may improve the brightness of the light given, or of illuminating others, but of not concealing what light the disciples have. (For a similar οὕτως, cf. 1Co_9:24.) Yet remember, “A lamp for one is a lamp for a hundred” and “Adam was the lamp of the world” (Talm. Jeremiah, ‘Sabb.,’ 2.4—a play on Pro_20:27).

Your light. Either genitive of apposition, the light which you are (Achelis), of. verse 14; or genitive of possession, the light of which you are the trusted possessors (Meyer, Weiss). The latter is preferable, as the disciples have, in verse 15, been compared to the lamp, i.e. the light-bearer. Before men (ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων). More than ἐνώπιον, “in presence of,” for the position of the lamp “in front of” the people is what our Lord is here emphasizing (cf. Joh_12:37). That they may see your good works (ὑμῶν τὰ καλὰ ἔργα).

Your. Three times in this verse. Our Lord lays stress on personal possession of light, personal action, personal relationship and origin. Good works; i.e. of your lives generally (Weiss-Meyer), not ministerially (Mever). “Noble works, works which by their generous and attractive character win the natural admiration of men” (Bishop Westcott, on Heb_10:24).

And glorify. This is actually done in Mat_9:8; Mat_15:31. St. Peter’s language (1Pe_2:12) is probably due to a reminiscence of our Lord’s words.

Your Father which is in heaven. The Fatherhood of God is here predicated in a special sense of the disciples, in the same way as the Fatherhood of God is, in the Old Testament, always connected with his covenant relation to his people as a nation (cf. Isa_63:16; Isa_64:8; Jer_3:4; Deu_32:6). Our Lord here is not thinking of the original relation of God to being and especially to humanity, in virtue of man’s creation in the Divine image (ὁπατήρ), but of the relation into which the disciples have entered through the revelation of God in Christ; cf. further Bishop Westcott, on Joh_4:21 (Add. Note) and on 1Jn_1:2 (Add. Note); also Weiss, ‘Life,’ 2:348. The phrase, which occurs here for the first time in St. Matthew (but cf. verse 9, note), henceforth occurs frequently, becoming of great importance for this Gospel (cf. verses 45, 48; Mat_6:1, Mat_6:9, etc.).

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 2:1-12 Antique Commentary Quotes

Philip Schaff
Matthew 2:1
Mat_2:1. Now when Jesus was born. See chap. Mat_1:25. Further details are given in Luk_2:1-21. The visit of the shepherds had already taken place, the presentation in the temple was either shortly before or after this visit of the Magi.

Bethlehem of Judea. A small town situated on the crest of a small hill about six miles south of Jerusalem. The present inhabitants (about 5,000) all belong to the Greek church. The name means: house of bread, probably given on account of its great fertility. It is called Bethlehem Judah (Jdg_17:7-8; 1Sa_17:12) to distinguish it from another town in Galilee (tribe of Zebulon) of the same name; also Ephrath (Gen_35:19; Gen_48:7) and Ephrata (Mic_5:2); also ‘the city of David’ (Luk_2:4), because his birth-place (Rth_1:1-19; 1 Samuel 16). Its insignificance and its honor are contrasted in the prophecy (Mic_5:2) quoted by the scribes (Mat_2:6).

Herod the king, generally called in history Herod the Great, the son of the Edomite Antipater by an Arabian mother. Antipater, who was made procurator of Judea by Cæsar, appointed his son governor of Galilee at the age of fifteen. Herod was made tetrarch by Antony, but driven away by Antigonus, a Maccabæan prince. Fleeing to Rome, he was there crowned king of Judea by the Senate, through the favor of Antony, and by the help of the Romans actually obtained the throne. Securing the favor of Augustus he reigned thirty-seven years. A skilful ruler, fond of architectural embellishment, but extremely cruel and jealous, being charged with the murder of his wife and three sons. He died at the age of seventy, shortly after putting to death the third son, in the 750th year of Rome. This date shows that the birth of Christ must have taken place at least four years before the common era. For forty days before his death he was at Jericho and the baths of Calirrhoe, hence the events mentioned in this section must have occurred before that time. He was the first ruler of the Jews who did not acknowledge the rights of the Messiah. The Asmonean princes all did. Before the death of him who had been foisted on the throne by Roman enactment, one was ‘born King of the Jews,’ in accordance with Gen_49:10.

Magi, sages. Originally a class of priests among the Persians and Medes, who formed the king’s privy Council, and cultivated astrology, medicine, and occult natural science. They are frequently referred to by ancient authors. Afterwards the term was applied to all Eastern philosophers; and there were many in more Western countries who made astrology and the like their trade; for example, Simon Magus and Elymas the sorcerer. Hence the term ‘magician’ has a bad meaning, not implied in the word ‘magi,’ from which it is derived. The tradition that the Magi were three kings (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar) appears to have arisen from the number of their gifts, and from the prophecy in Isa_60:3. The earlier fathers speak of them as twelve and even fifteen in number. They are justly regarded as the first fruits and representatives of heathen converts to Christianity. Hence the festival of Epiphany Jan. 6), also called ‘the three kings,’ celebrating Christ’s manifestation to the Gentiles, though originally instituted for a wider purpose, was very early associated with this visit of the Magi, and celebrated as a missionary festival. The date of the visit was probably more than twelve days after the birth of Jesus.

From the east. Either: they came from the east, or: their home was in the east. The latter is the more probable meaning, and would imply the former. ‘The east’ may refer to Arabia, Persia, Chaldea, or more remote countries. In all these astrologers were found, and in all there was an expectation of some great deliverer to come about this time, derived, as is supposed, from the prophecy, Dan. 14:24. Comp. the Star of Jacob in Balaam’s prophecy, Num_24:17. Persia or Mesopotamia was probably their residence. The way was doubtless long, but they found Christ, while those nearer Him had not even looked for Him. The hope of a Saviour was given to the Jews as a chosen race, but the same hope was given to chosen individuals among the Gentiles. Comp. the many instances in Old Testament history.

To Jerusalem. At the capital they looked for the King, or for tidings of him. For a description of the city, see map and Bible dictionaries. The excavations of the Palestine Exploration Fund tend to alter the commonly received views in regard to some of the localities.

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 2:2

King of the Jews] A title unknown to the earlier history of Israel and applied to no one except the Messiah. It reappears in the inscription over the Cross (ch. Mat_27:37).

his star in the east] The simplest explanation of this is that a Star or Meteor appeared in the sky to guide the Magi on their way first to Jerusalem, then to Bethlehem. It is, however, quite possible that the Magi were divinely led to connect some calculated phenomenon with the birth of the “King of the Jews.” Among many conjectures may be mentioned one recently propounded by Prof. Lauth of Munich. It appears to be proved that the dog-star Sirius rose heliacally, i. e. appeared at sunrise, on the first of the Egyptian month Mesori, for four years in succession, viz. 5, 4, 3, 2 before our era. The rising of this star of special brilliance on the first of this special month (Mesori=birth of the prince) would have a marked significance. By the Magi it might well be connected with the prophecy of “the star of Jacob,” and become the cause of their journey to Jerusalem. This theory explains Herod’s edict, Mat_2:16, for the destruction of all male children “from two years old and under,” for, as according to the date assigned to the Nativity of Christ, the arrival of the Magi at Jerusalem would coincide with the year 3 before the Christian era, the star had appeared for two years.

The theory, supported by Alford, which identifies this “star” with a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, forces the meaning of the word “star,” is inconsistent with the latest chronological results, and is shown to be scientifically impossible by Prof. Pritchard in Dict. of the Bible, sub voc. “Star of the Magi.”

The connection of the birth of the Messiah with the appearance of a Star is illustrated by the name Barchochab (“Son of a Star”), assumed by a false Messiah who appeared in the year 120 a. d. It has also been noticed that in the Cartouche or Egyptian royal symbol of Vespasian, the word “God” is for the first time expressed by a Star. (Dr Lauth, Trans. Bib. Arch. Soc. iv. 2.)

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_2:3
When; and when, Revised Version. There is a contrast (δέ) between the eager question of the Magi and the feelings of Herod. Herod the king. In the true text the emphasis is not on the person (as in Mat_2:1, where the date was all-important), but on the office as then exercised. Tile king visibly regnant is contrasted with him who was born to be King. Heard. Through some of his many sources of information, for “there were spies set everywhere” (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 15.10. 4).

These things; it, Revised Version. Nothing is expressed in the original.

He was troubled; perplexed, agitated (ἐταράχθη). Fully in accordance with his jealous and suspicious character. For he had already slain, as actual or possible candidates for the throne, five of the Maccabean princes and princesses, including his favourite wife Mariamne (thus extirpating the direct line) and also his two sons by Mariamne. Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 17.2. 4; cf. Holtzmann) mentions a prediction of the Pharisees towards the end of Herod’s life, that “God had decreed that Herod’s government should cease, and his posterity should be deprived of it.” This seems to have a Messianic reference, though used at the time for an intrigue in favour of Pheroras, Herod’s brother.

And all Jerusalem. The feminine (here only, πᾶσα Ἰεροσόλυμα) points to a Hebrew source. The reason for the inhabitants of Jerusalem feeling troubled is generally explained, by their fear, which was in fact only too well justified by experience, that the news would excite Herod to fresh crimes. It is also possible that many would shrink from the changes which the coming of Messiah could not but bring. Present ease, though only comparative, is with the unbelieving preferable to possibilities of the highest blessedness. Mat_21:10 affords both a parallel and a contrast. With him. In this respect Jerusalem was one with Herod (Joh_1:11).

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 2:4

He inquired of them where the Christ should be born (epunthaneto par’ autōn pou ho Christos gennātai). The prophetic present (gennātai) is given, the very words of Herod retained by Matthew’s report. The imperfect tense (epunthaneto) suggests that Herod inquired repeatedly, probably of one and another of the leaders gathered together, both Sadducees (chief priests) and Pharisees (scribes). McNeile doubts, like Holtzmann, if Herod actually called together all the Sanhedrin and probably “he could easily ask the question of a single scribe,” because he had begun his reign with a massacre of the Sanhedrin (Josephus, Ant. XIV. ix. 4). But that was thirty years ago and Herod was desperately in earnest to learn what the Jews really expected about the coming of “the Messiah.” Still Herod probably got together not the Sanhedrin since “elders” are not mentioned, but leaders among the chief priests and scribes, not a formal meeting but a free assembly for conference. He had evidently heard of this expected king and he would swallow plenty of pride to be able to compass the defeat of these hopes.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 2:5

And they said unto him (hoi de eipan autōi). Whether the ecclesiastics had to search their scriptures or not, they give the answer that is in accord with the common Jewish opinion that the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem and of the seed of David (Joh_7:42). So they quote Mic_5:2, “a free paraphrase” Alford calls it, for it is not precisely like the Hebrew text or like the Septuagint. It may have come from a collection of testimonia with which J. Rendel Harris has made the world familiar. He had consulted the experts and now he has their answer. Bethlehem of Judah is the place. The use of the perfect passive indicative (gegraptai) is the common form in quoting scripture. It stands written.

Shall be shepherd (poimanei). The Authorized Version had “shall rule,” but “shepherd” is correct. “Homer calls kings ‘the shepherds of the people’”(Vincent). In Heb_13:20 Jesus is called “the great shepherd of the sheep.” Jesus calls himself “the good shepherd” (Joh_10:11). Peter calls Christ “the chief shepherd” (1Pe_2:25). “The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd” (Rev_7:17). Jesus told Peter to “shepherd” the lambs (Joh_21:16). Our word pastor means shepherd.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 2:7

Privily – Secretly, privately. He did this to ascertain the time when Jesus was born.

Diligently – Accurately, exactly. He took pains to learn the precise time when the star appeared. He did this because he naturally concluded that the star appeared just at the time of his birth, and he wished to know precisely how old the child was.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_2:7
Then Herod, when he had privily called the Wise Men. Secrecy was doubly necessary. He would not publicly commit himself to acknowledging the rights of the new King, and he would give no opportunity for others to warn the Child’s parents of the dangerous interest that Herod was taking in him. Duplicity was very characteristic of Herod; cf. his assassination of Aristobulus the high priest (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 15.3. 3), and his alluring his son Antipater home to death (ibid., 17.5. 1).

Inquired of them diligently; learned of them carefully (Revised Version); “lerned of hem bisili” (Wickliffe); ἠκρίβωσεν παρ αὐτῶν. The stress is not upon Herod’s careful questioning, but on the exact information that he obtained.

What time the star appeared. Although this is not the literal translation, it may, perhaps, represent the sense of the original (τὸν χρόνον τοῦ φαινομένου ἀστέρος) , the participle characterizing the star in its most important relation—its appearance, and the words being treated as a compound expression (cf. Joh_12:9, Joh_12:12). Herod supposed that the birth of the Babe was synchronous with the first appearance of the star. The translation, however, of the Revised Version margin, “the time of the star that appeared,” better suits the exact wording (χρόνον, not καιρόν;φαινομένου, not φανέντος) , the phrase thus including both the first appearance and also the period of continuance (cf. Grotius, “non initium, sed continuitas”). But it is difficult to see What Herod would have learned from this latter particular. Some even think that the star was still visible (Plumptre; Weiss, ‘Matthew’), but in this case the joy of the Magi in Mat_2:10 is not satisfactorily explained.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_2:8
And he sent them to Bethlehem. Thus answering their question (Mat_2:2).

And said, Go and search diligently for the young Child; and search out carefully concerning, Revised Version; ἐξετάσατε ἀκριβῶς περί. Herod bade them make precise inquiry as to all particulars about the Child. The more details he could obtain, the more easily he could make away with him.

And when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also; the Revised Version rightly joins, I also—I as well as you; I the king. It might well be at a secret conference with the Magi that Herod said this, for no Jew would have believed him. Worship; Mat_2:2, note.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_2:9
When they had heard the king. There is a slight contrast in the Greek, but they [for their part] having heard the King. They departed; went their way (Revised Version). Took their journey (ἐπορεύθησαν)

And lo, the star, which they saw in the East. They would, in accordance with Eastern custom, probably travel by night. Observe that the joy they felt at seeing the star (Mat_2:10) implies that it had not continued visible (Mat_2:7, note). They had fully used all means; now they receive fresh Divine guidance. In the East (Mat_2:2, note).

Went before them. Continuously (τροῆγεν); “taking them by the hand and drawing them on” (Chrysostom). Not to show them the way to Bethlehem, for the road was easy, but to assure them of guidance to the Babe, over whose temporary home it stayed. The road to Bethlehem is, and from the nature of the valley must always have been, so nearly straight (until the last half-mile, when there is a sudden turn up the hill) that the star need have moved but slightly. Bethlehem itself is seen soon after passing Mar Elias, a monastery rather more than half-way from Jerusalem.

Till it came and stood over where the young Child was. Does the true reading (ἐστάθη) suggest the unseen hand by which this star was itself guided and stationed (Mat_27:11)? or is it used with a kind of reflexive force, indicating that it was by no chance that it stood still there—”took its stand” (cf. σταθείς, Luk_18:11, Luk_18:40; Luk_19:8; Act_2:14, et al.; cf. also Rev_8:3; 12:18)?

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_2:11
And when they were come into the house. For after the enrolment the caravanserai would not be so crowded (Luk_2:7). But whether it was now the caravanserai or a private house, we have no evidence to show.

They saw (εἶδον, with the uncials and most of the versions). The translators in this case followed the text of the Complutensian and of Colinaeus’ edition, rejecting the false εὗρον of the Vulgate and the Received Text.

The young Child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him (Mat_2:2, note). In this latter clause Mary is not mentioned. And when they had opened. Neither the Authorized Version nor the Revised Version brings out the exact correlation of the six aorists in this verse.

Their treasures (so the Revised Version); perhaps, more strictly, treasuries, coffers. There is the same ambiguity about “treasure” in old English (cf. Jer_10:13; Jer_51:16; Eeclus. 43:14) as in the Greek.

They presented unto him gifts. Thus fulfilling in germ the predictions of offerings being made to Messiah and Messiah’s people by the Gentile nations (Isa_60:1-22.; Hag_2:7; Psa_72:10).

Presented; offered (Revised Version). The verb used (προσφέρω) seems to lay stress on the persons to whom and by whom the offering is made, the personal relation in which they stand to each other; ἀναφέρω (cf. Bishop Westcott, on Heb_7:27) and παρίστημι on the destination and use of the offering (Jas_2:21; Rom_6:13). Observe the three stages in this verse—vision, submission, consecration. Gifts; without which one does not approach an Eastern monarch (cf. 1Ki_10:2). Gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Wealth and delights, the material and the aesthetic.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 2:11

The house – The place where he was born, or the place where they lived at that time.

Fell down – This was the usual way of showing respect or homage among the Jews, Est_8:3; Job_1:20; Dan_3:7; Psa_72:11; Isa_46:6.

Worshipped him – Did him homage as King of the Jews. See the notes at Mat_2:2.

Had opened their treasures – The treasures which they had brought, or the boxes, etc., in which they had brought their gold, etc.

They presented unto him gifts – These were presented to him as King of the Jews, because they supposed he was to be a distinguished prince and conqueror. It was customary in the East to show respect for persons of distinction by making presents or offerings of this kind. See Gen_32:14; Gen_43:11; 1Sa_10:27; 1Ki_10:2; Psa_72:10-15. This custom is still common in the East, and it is everywhere there unusual to approach a person of distinguished rank without a valuable present.

Frankincense – Frankincense is a white resin or gum. It is obtained from a tree by making incisions in the bark, and suffering the gum to flow out. It is highly odoriferous or fragrant when burned, and was therefore used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God. See Exo_30:8; Lev_16:12. It is found in the East Indies, but chiefly in Arabia; and hence it has been supposed probable that the wise men came from Arabia.

Myrrh – This was also a production of Arabia, and was obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. The name denotes bitterness, and was given to it on account of its great bitterness. It was used chiefly in embalming the dead, because it had the property of preserving dead bodies from putrefaction. Compare Joh_19:39, it was much used in Egypt and in Judea. It was obtained from a thorny tree, which grows 8 or 9 feet high. It was at an early period an article of commerce Gen_37:25, and was an ingredient of the holy ointment, Exo_30:23. It was also used as an agreeable perfume, Est_2:12; Psa_45:8; Pro_7:17. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to our Saviour, when about to be crucified, as a stupefying potion, Mar_15:23; compare Mat_27:34.

The offerings here referred to were made because they were the most valuable which the country of the Magi or wise men produced. They were tokens of respect and homage which they paid to the new-born King of the Jews. They evinced their high regard for him, and their belief that he was to be an illustrious prince; and the fact that their deed is recorded with approbation shows us that we should offer our most valuable possessions, our all, to the Lord Jesus Christ. Wise men came from far to do him homage, and bowed down, and presented their best gifts and offerings. It is right that we give to him also our hearts, our property, our all.

A.T. Rpbertson
Matthew 2:12

Warned in a dream (chrēmatisthentes kat’ onar). The verb means to transact business (chrēmatizō from chrēma, and that from chraomai, to use. Then to consult, to deliberate, to make answer as of magistrates or an oracle, to instruct, to admonish. In the Septuagint and the New Testament it occurs with the idea of being warned by God and also in the papyri (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 122). Wycliff puts it here: “An answer taken in sleep.”

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 1:18-25 Antique Commentary Quotes

Albert Barnes
Matthew 1:18

Now the birth of Jesus Christ – The circumstances attending his birth.

Was on this wise – In this manner.

Espoused – Betrothed, or engaged to be married. There was commonly an interval of ten or twevle months, among the Jews, between the contract of marriage and the celebration of the nuptials (see Gen_24:55; Jdg_14:8; Deu_20:7), yet such was the nature of this engagement, that unfaithfulness to each other was deemed adultery. See Deu_22:25, Deu_22:28.

With child by the Holy Ghost – See the note at Luk_1:35.

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 1:19

being a just man] i. e. one who observed the law, and, therefore, feeling bound to divorce Mary. But two courses were open to him. He could either summon her before the law-courts to be judicially condemned and punished, or he could put her away by a bill of divorcement before witnesses, but without assigning cause. This is meant by “putting her away privily,” the more merciful course which Joseph resolved to adopt.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 1:20

He thought on these things – He did not act hastily. He did not take the course which the law would have permitted him to do, if he had been hasty, violent, or unjust. It was a case deeply affecting his happiness, his character, and the reputation and character of his chosen companion. God will guide the thoughtful and the anxious. And when we have looked patiently at a perplexed subject, and know not what to do, then God, as in the case of Joseph, will interpose to lead us and direct our way. Psa_25:9.

The angel of the Lord – The word “angel” literally means a messenger. It is applied chiefly in the Scriptures to those invisible holy beings who have not fallen into sin: who live in heaven (1Ti_5:21; compare Jud_1:6); and who are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. See the Heb_1:13-14 notes, and Dan_9:21 note. The word is sometimes applied to men, as messengers Luk_7:24; Luk_9:52; Jam_2:25; to the winds Psa_104:4; to the pestilence Psa_78:49; or to whatever is appointed to make known or to execute the will of God. It is commonly applied, however, to the unfallen, happy spirits that are in heaven, whose dignity and pleasure it is to do the will of God. Various ways were employed by them in making known the will of God, by dreams, visions, assuming a human appearance, etc.

In a dream – This was a common way of making known the will of God to the ancient prophets and people of God, Gen_20:3; Gen_30:1, Gen_30:11, Gen_30:24; Gen_37:5; Gen_41:1; 1Ki_3:5; Dan_7:1; Job_4:13-15; compare my notes at Isaiah. In what way it was ascertained that these dreams were from God cannot now be ascertained, It is sufficient for us to know that in this way many of the prophecies were communicated, and to remark that there is no evidence that we are to put reliance on our dreams. Dreams are wild, irregular movements of the mind when it is unshackled by reason, and it is mere superstition to suppose that God now makes known His will in this way.

Son of David – Descendant of David. See Mat_1:1. The angel put him in mind of his relation to David perhaps to prepare him for the intelligence that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah – the promised heir of David.

Fear not – Do not hesitate, or have any apprehensions about her virtue and purity. Do not fear that she will be unworthy of you, or will disgrace you.

To take unto thee Mary thy wife – To take her as thy wife; to recognize her as such, and to treat her as such.

For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost – Is the direct creation of divine power. A body was thus prepared pure and holy, and free from the corruption of sin, in order that he might be qualified for his great work the offering of a pure sacrifice to God. As this was necessary in order to the great work which he came to perform, Joseph is directed by an angel to receive her as pure and virtuous, and as every way worthy of his love. Compare the notes at Heb_10:5.

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 1:21

Shalt call
Thus committing the office of a father to Joseph. The naming of the unborn Messiah would accord with popular notions. The Rabbis had a saying concerning the six whose names were given before their birth: “Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Solomon, Josiah, and the name of the Messiah, whom may the Holy One, blessed be His name, bring quickly in our days.”

Jesus (Ιησοῦν)
The Greek form of a Hebrew name, which had been borne by two illustrious individuals in former periods of the Jewish history – Joshua, the successor of Moses, and Jeshua, the high-priest, who with Zerubbabel took so active a part in the re-establishment of the civil and religious polity of the Jews on their return from Babylon. Its original and full form is Jehoshua, becoming by contraction Joshua or Jeshua. Joshua, the son of Nun, the successor of Moses, was originally named Hoshea (saving), which was altered by Moses into Jehoshua (Jehovah (our) Salvation) (Num_13:16). The meaning of the name, therefore, finds expression in the title Saviour, applied to our Lord (Luk_1:47; Luk_2:11; Joh_4:42).

Joshua, the son of Nun, is a type of Christ in his office of captain and deliverer of his people, in the military aspect of his saving work (Rev_19:11-16). As God’s revelation to Moses was in the character of a law-giver, his revelation to Joshua was in that of the Lord of Hosts (Jos_5:13, Jos_5:14). Under Joshua the enemies of Israel were conquered, and the people established in the Promised Land. So Jesus leads his people in the fight with sin and temptation. He is the leader of the faith which overcomes the world (Heb_12:2). Following him, we enter into rest.

The priestly office of Jesus is foreshadowed in the high-priest Jeshua, who appears in the vision of Zechariah (Zec_3:1-10; compare Ezr_2:2) in court before God, under accusation of Satan, and clad in filthy garments. Jeshua stands not only for himself, but as the representative of sinning and suffering Israel. Satan is defeated. The Lord rebukes him, and declares that he will redeem and restore this erring people; and in token thereof he commands that the accused priest be clad in clean robes and crowned with the priestly mitre.
Thus in this priestly Jeshua we have a type of our “Great High-Priest, touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and in all points tempted and tried like as we are;” confronting Satan in the wilderness; trying conclusions with him upon the victims of his malice – the sick, the sinful, and the demon-ridden. His royal robes are left behind. He counts not “equality with God a thing to be grasped at,” but “empties himself,” taking the “form of a servant,” humbling himself and becoming “obedient even unto death” (Phi_2:6, Phi_2:7, Rev.). He assumes the stained garments of our humanity. He who “knew no sin” is “made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2Co_5:21). He is at once priest and victim. He pleads for sinful man before God’s throne. He will redeem him. He will rebuke the malice and cast down the power of Satan. He will behold him” as lightning fall from heaven” (Luk_10:18). He will raise and save and purify men of weak natures, rebellious wills, and furious passions – cowardly braggarts and deniers like Peter, persecutors like Saul of Tarsus, charred brands – and make them witnesses of his grace and preachers of his love and power. His kingdom shall be a kingdom of priests, and the song of his redeemed church shall be, “unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his own blood, and made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev_1:5, Rev_1:6, in Rev.).

It is no mere fancy which sees a suggestion and a foreshadowing of the prophetic work of Jesus in the economy of salvation, in a third name closely akin to the former. Hoshea, which we know in our English Bible as Hosea, was the original name of Joshua (compare Rom_9:25, Rev.) and means saving. He is, in a peculiar sense, the prophet of grace and salvation, placing his hope in God’s personal coming as the refuge and strength of humanity; in the purification of human life by its contact with the divine. The great truth which he has to teach is the love of Jehovah to Israel as expressed in the relation of husband, an idea which pervades his prophecy, and which is generated by his own sad domestic experience. He foreshadows Jesus in his pointed warnings against sin, his repeated offers of divine mercy, and his patient, forbearing love, as manifested in his dealing with an unfaithful and dissolute wife, whose soul he succeeded in rescuing from sin and death (Hosea 1-3). So long as he lived, he was one continual, living prophecy of the tenderness of God toward sinners; a picture of God’s love for us when alien from him, and with nothing in us to love. The faithfulness of the prophetic teacher thus blends in Hosea, as in our Lord, with the compassion and sympathy and sacrifice of the priest.

He (αὐτὸς)
Emphatic; and so rightly in Rev., “For it is He that shall save his people.”

Their sins (ἁμαρτιῶν)
Akin to ἁμαρτάνω, to miss a mark; as a warrior who throws his spear and fails to strike his adversary, or as a traveller who misses his way. In this word, therefore, one of a large group which represent sin under different phases, sin is conceived as a failing and missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is God.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 1:22

That it may be fulfilled (hina plērōthēi). Alford says that “it is impossible to interpret hina in any other sense than in order that.” That was the old notion, but modern grammarians recognize the non-final use of this particle in the Koiné and even the consecutive like the Latin ut. Some even argue for a causal use. If the context called for result, one need not hesitate to say so as in Mar_11:28; Joh_9:36; 1Jo_1:9; Rev_9:20; Rev_13:13. See discussion in my Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, pp. 997-9. All the same it is purpose here, God’s purpose, Matthew reports the angel as saying, spoken “by (hupo, immediate agent) the Lord through (dia, intermediate agent) the prophet.”

“All this has happened” (touto de holon gegonen, present perfect indicative), stands on record as historical fact. But the Virgin Birth of Jesus is not due to this interpretation of Isa_7:14. It is not necessary to maintain (Broadus) that Isaiah himself saw anything more in his prophecy than that a woman then a virgin, would bear a son and that in the course of a few years Ahaz would be delivered from the king of Syria and Israel by the coming of the Assyrians. This historical illustration finds its richest fulfilment in the birth of Jesus from Mary. “Words of themselves are empty. They are useful only as vessels to convey things from mind to mind” (Morison). The Hebrew word for young woman is translated by virgin (parthenos), but it is not necessary to conclude that Isaiah himself contemplated the supernatural birth of Jesus. We do not have to say that the idea of the Virgin Birth of Jesus came from Jewish sources. Certainly it did not come from the pagan myths so foreign to this environment, atmosphere and spirit. It is far simpler to admit the supernatural fact than try to explain the invention of the idea as a myth to justify the deification of Jesus. The birth, life, and death of Jesus throw a flood of light on the Old Testament narrative and prophecies for the early Christians. In Matthew and John in particular we often see “that the events of Christ’s life were divinely ordered for the express purpose of fulfilling the Old Testament” (McNeile). See note on Mat_2:15, Mat_2:23; Mat_4:14-17; Mat_8:17; Mat_12:17-21; Mat_13:35; Mat_21:4.; Joh_12:38.; Joh_13:18; Joh_19:24, Joh_19:28, Joh_19:36.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 1:22

Now all this was done – The prophecy here quoted is recorded in Isa_7:14. See the notes at that passage. The prophecy was delivered about 740 years before Christ, in the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah. The land of Judea was threatened with an invasion by the united armies of Syria and Israel, under the command of Rezin and Pekah. Ahaz was alarmed, and seems to have contemplated calling in aid from Assyria to defend him. Isaiah was directed, in his consternation, to go to Ahaz, and tell him to ask a sign from God Isa_7:10-11; that is, to look to God rather than to Assyria for aid. This he refused to do. He had not confidence in God, but feared that the land would be overrun by the armies of Syria Mat_1:12, and relied only on the aid which he hoped to receive from Assyria. Isaiah answered that, in these circumstances, the Lord would himself give a sign, or a pledge, that the land should be delivered. The sign was, that a virgin should have a son, and that before that son would arrive to years of discretion, the land would be forsaken by these hostile kings. The prophecy was therefore designed originally to signify to Ahaz that the land would certainly be delivered from its calamities and dangers, and that the deliverance would not be long delayed. The land of Syria and Israel, united now in confederation, would be deprived of both their kings, and thus the land of Judah would be freed from the threatening danger. This appears to be the literal fulfillment of the passage in Isaiah.
Might be fulfilled – It is more difficult to know in what sense this could be said to be fulfilled in the birth of Christ. To understand this, it may be remarked that the word “fulfilled” is used in the Scriptures and in other writings in many senses, of which the following are some:

1. When a thing is clearly predicted, and comes to pass, as the destruction of Babylon, foretold in Isa_13:19-22; and of Jerusalem, in Matt. 24.

2. When one thing is typified or shadowed forth by another, and when the event occurs, the type is said to be fulfilled. This was the case in regard to the types and sacrifices in the Old Testament, which were fulfilled by the coming of Christ. See Heb. 9.

3. When prophecies of future events are expressed in language more elevated and full than the particular thing, at first denoted, demands. Or, in other words, when the language, though it may express one event, is also so full and rich as appropriately to express other events in similar circumstances and of similar import, they may be said to be fulfilled. Thus, for example, the last chapters of Isaiah, from Isa. 40 onward, foretell the return of the Jews into Babylon, and every circumstance mentioned occurred in their return. But the language is more expanded and sublime than was necessary to express their return. It will also express appropriately a much more important and magnificent deliverance that of the redeemed under the Messiah; and the return of the people of God to him, and the universal spread of the gospel: and therefore it may be said to be fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and the spread of the gospel. So, if there were any other magnificent and glorious events, still, in similar circumstances, and of like character, it might be said also that these prophecies were fulfilled in all of them. The language is so full and rich, and the promises are so grand, that they may appropriately express all these deliverances. This may be the sense in which the prophecy now under consideration may be said to have been fulfilled.

4. Language is said to be fulfilled when, though it was used to express one event, it may be used also to express another. Thus, a fable may be said to be fulfilled when an event occurs similar to the one concerning which it was first spoken. A parable has its fulfillment in all the cases to which it is applicable; and the same remark applies to a proverb, or to a declaration respecting human nature. The statement that “there is none that doeth good” Psa_14:3 was at first spoken of a particular race of wicked men.” Yet it is applicable to others, and in this sense may be said to have been fulfilled. See Rom_3:10. In this use of the word fulfilled, it means, not that the passage was at first intended to apply to this particular thing, but that the words aptly or appropriately express the thing spoken of, and way be applied to it. We may say the same of this which was said of another thing, and thus the words express both, or are fulfilled. The writers of the New Testament seem occasionally to have used the word in this sense.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 1:23

Behold, a virgin shall be with child – Matthew clearly understands this as applying literally to a virgin. Compare Luk_1:34. It thus implies that the conception of Christ was miraculous, or that the body of the Messiah was created directly by the power of God, agreeably to the declaration in Heb_10:5; “Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.”

And they shall call his name Emmanuel – That is, his name shall be so called. See the notes at Isa_7:14. The word “Immanuel” is a Hebrew word, צמנוּאל ‛immânû’êl; cf. Ἐμμανουήλ Emmanouēl, and literally means “God with us.” Matthew doubtless understands it as denoting that the Messiah was really “God with us,” or that the divine nature was united with the human. He does not affirm that this was its meaning when used in reference to the child to whom it was first applied, but this is its signification as applicable to the Messiah. It was suitably expressive of his character; and in this sense it was fulfilled. When first used by Isaiah, it denoted simply that the birth of the child was a sign that God was with the Jews to deliver them. The Hebrews often incorporated the name of Yahweh, or God, into their proper names. Thus, Isaiah means “the salvation of Yah;” Eleazer, “help of God:” Eli, “my God,” etc. But Matthew evidently intends more than was denoted by the simple use of such names. He had just given an account of the miraculous conception of Jesus: of his being begotten by the Holy Spirit. God was therefore his Father. He was divine as well as human. His appropriate name, therefore, was “God with us.” And though the mere use of such a name would not prove that he had a divine nature, yet as Matthew uses it, and meant evidently to apply it, it does prove that Jesus was more than a man; that he was God as well as man. And it is this which gives glory to the plan of redemption. It is this which is the wonder of angels. It is this which makes the plan so vast, so grand, so full of instruction and comfort to Christians. See Phi_2:6-8. It is this which sheds such peace and joy into the sinner’s heart; which gives him such security of salvation, and which renders the condescension of God in the work of redemption so great and his character so lovely.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 1:24

Being raised from sleep – Having fully awoke.

Did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him – That is, he took Mary to wife. Probably this was done immediately, since he was now convinced of her innocence, and, by delay, he would not leave any ground of suspicion that he had not confidence in her.

Philip Schaff
Matthew 1:25
Mat_1:25. Knew her not. A Hebrew form for conjugal cohabitation; comp. Luk_1:36.

A son. The words answering to ‘her ‘and ‘first-born ‘are omitted by some of the best authorities. They may, however, have been left out to support the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. In Luk_2:7, the phrase is genuine beyond a doubt. It does not of itself prove that Mary had other children, nor does till of necessity imply this. Yet Matthew, with the whole history of Christ before him, would scarcely have used the expression, had he held the Roman Catholic notion of the perpetual virginity. It would have been easy to assert that by saying: he never knew her. Many Protestant commentators suppose that the genealogy of David found its end in Christ, and that Mary could not have given birth to children after having become the mother of the Saviour of the world. But this is a matter of sentiment rather than a conviction based on evidence. ‘The brethren of our Lord’ are frequently mentioned (four by name, besides sisters), in close connection with Mary, and apparently as members of her household. They are nowhere called his cousins, as some claim them to have been. They were probably either the children of Joseph by a former wife (the view of some Greek fathers), or the children of Joseph and Mary (as now held by many Protestant commentators). To the first view the genealogy of Joseph seems an insuperable objection; for the oldest son by the former marriage would have been his legal heir, and the genealogy out of place. The question, however, is complicated with other exegetical difficulties and doctrinal prejudices. The virginity of Mary up to the birth of Jesus is here the main point. The whole subject is fully discussed by Lange and Schaff in the English edition of Lange’s Commentary, Matthew, pp. 255-260.