1At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.
1 CHAPTER XII.
NOTES ON CHAP. XII.
Verse 1. At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath-day through
the corn] "The time is determined by Luke in these words, εν
σαββατωδευτεροπρωτω, that is, on the Sabbath from the
"1. Provision was made by the Divine law that the sheaf of
first-fruits should be offered on the second day of the pass-over
On the morrow after the Sabbath, the priest shall shake (or wave)
it. Not on the morrow after the ordinary Sabbath of the week,
but the morrow after the first of the pass-over week, which was a
Sabbatic day, ; .
Hence the seventy, επαυριοντηςπρωτης, the morrow of the first
day; the Chaldee, the morrow after the holy day. The rabbins,
Solomon and Menachen, have it, On the morrow after the first day
of the pass-over feast; of which mention had been made in the
"But now, from the second day of the pass-over solemnity,
wherein the sheaf was offered, were numbered seven weeks to
pentecost: for the day of the sheaf, and the day of pentecost did
mutually respect each other; for on this second day of the
pass-over, the offering of the sheaf was supplicatory, and by way
of prayer, beseeching a blessing upon the new corn, and leave to
eat it, and to pot in the sickle into the standing corn. Now, the
offering of the first-fruit loaves on the day of pentecost,
(,) did respect the giving of thanks for the
finishing and housing of the barley-harvest. Therefore, in regard
of this relation, these two solemnities were linked together, that
both might respect the harvest; that, the harvest beginning; this,
the harvest ended: this depended on that, and was numbered seven
weeks after it. Therefore, the computation of the time coming
between could not but carry with it the memory of that second day
of the pass-over week; and hence pentecost is called the feast of
weeks, . The true calculation of the time between
could not otherwise be retained, as to Sabbaths, but by numbering
thus: this is σαββατωνδευτεροπρωτον, the first Sabbath after
the second day of the pass-over. This is δευτεροδευρερον, the
second Sabbath after that second day. And so of the rest. In the
Jerusalem Talmud, the word shebeth protogamiya,
the Sabbath, προτογαμιας, of the first marriage, is a
composition not very unlike." Lightfoot.
His disciples were an hungered] Were hungry. The former is a
mode of expression totally obsolete. How near does the
translation of this verse come to our ancient mother-tongue, the
Anglo-Saxon!-[Anglo-Saxon]-The Healer went on rest-day over acres:
truly his learning knights hungred, and they began to pluck the
ear and eaten. We may well wonder at the extreme poverty of
Christ and his disciples. He was himself present with them, and
yet permitted them to lack bread! A man, therefore, is not
forsaken of God because he is in want. It is more honourable to
suffer the want of all temporal things in fellowship with Christ
and his followers, than to have all things in abundance in
connection with the world.
2But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
2 Verse 2. Thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do] The
Jews were so superstitious, concerning the observance of the
Sabbath, that in their wars with Antiochus Epiphanes, and the
Romans, they thought it a crime even to attempt to defend
themselves on the Sabbath: when their enemies observed this, they
deterred their operations to that day. It was through this, that
Pompey was enabled to take Jerusalem. Dion. Cass. lib. xxxvi.
Those who know not the spirit and design of the divine law are
often superstitious to inhumanity, and indulgent to impiety.
An intolerant and censorious spirit in religion is one of the
greatest curses a man can well fall under.
3But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
3 Verse 3. - 4. Have ye not read what David did] The original
history is in .
When he was an hungered] Here hearken to Kimchi, producing the
opinion of the ancients concerning this story in these words: "Our
rabbins of blessed memory say, that he gave him the shew-bread,
&c. The interpretation also of the clause, Yea, though it were
sanctified this day in the vessel, is this: It is a small thing to
say, that it is lawful for us to eat THESE LOAVES, taken from
before the Lord, when we are hungry; for it would be lawful to eat
this very loaf which is now set on, which is also sanctified in
the vessel, (for the table sanctifieth,) it would be lawful to eat
even this, when another loaf is not present with you to give us,
and we are so hunger-bitten. And a little after, There is nothing
which may hinder taking care of life, beside idolatry, adultery,
and murder. That is, a man, according to them, should do any
thing but these in order to preserve life." See Lightfoot.
He entered into the house of God] Viz. the house of Ahimelech
the priest, who dwelt at Nob, with whom the tabernacle then was,
in which the Divine presence was manifested.
And did eat the shew-bread] τουςαρτουςτνςπροθεσεως-in
Hebrew, lechem panim-bread of the presence, or faces,
because this bread was to be set continually, lipney
Yehovah, before the face of Jehovah.
See the notes on .
"Since part of the frankincense put in the bread was to be burnt
on the altar for a memorial, , and since Aaron and his
sons were to eat it in the holy place, it is evident that this
bread typified Christ, first presented as a sacrifice to, or in
the presence of, Jehovah, and then becoming spiritual food to such
as, in and through him, are spiritual priests to God.
See ; also ."
4How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shew bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
4 Verse 4. .
5Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
5 Verse 5. The priests-profane the Sabbath] Profane, i.e. put
it to what might be called a common use, by slaying and offering
up sacrifices, and by doing the services of the temple, as on
common days, ; .
6But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
6 Verse 6. In this place is one greater than the temple.] Does
not our Lord refer here to ? Compare this with .
The Jews esteemed nothing greater than the temple, except that God
who was worshipped in it. Christ, by asserting he was greater
than the temple, asserts that he was God; and this he does, in
still more direct terms, ,
The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath-is Institutor and Governor
of it. Compare this with , and see the notes there.
7But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
7 Verse 7. I will have mercy, &c.] See this explained, .
There are four ways in which positive laws may cease to oblige.
First, by the natural law of necessity.
Secondly, by a particular law, which is superior.
Thirdly, by the law of charity and mercy.
Fourthly, by the dispensation and authority of the Lawgiver.
These cases are all exemplified from .
8For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
8 Verse 8. The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath-day.] The
change of the Jewish into the Christian Sabbath, called the Lord's
shows that Christ is not only the Lord, but also the truth and
completion of it. For it seems to have been by an especial
providence that this change has been made and acknowledged all
over the Christian world.
9And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:
10 ¶ And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
10 Verse 10. A man which had his hand withered.] Probably through
a partial paralysis. The man's hand was withered; but God's mercy
had still preserved to him the use of his feet: He uses them to
bring him to the public worship of God, and Jesus meets and heals
him there. How true is the proverb-It is never so ill with us,
but it might be much worse!
11And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
11 Verse 11. If it fall into a pit on the Sabbath-day, &c.] It
was a canon among the Jews: "We must take a tender care of the
goods of an Israelite." Hence:-
"If a beast fall into a ditch, or into a pool of water, let (the
owner) bring him food in that place if he can; but, if he cannot,
let him bring clothes and litter, and bear up the beast; whence,
if he can come up, let him come up, &c."
"If a beast or its foal fall into a ditch on a holy day, R.
Lazar saith, Let him lift up the former to kill him, and let him
kill him; but let him give fodder to the other, lest he die in
that place. R. Joshua saith, Let him lift up the former with the
intention of killing him, although he kill him not; let him lift
up the other also, although it be not in his mind to kill him."
To these canons our Lord seems here very properly to appeal, in
vindication of his intention to heal the distressed man. See
Self-interest is a very decisive casuist, and removes abundance
of scruples in a moment. It is always the first consulted, and
the must readily obeyed. It is not sinful to hearken to it, but
it must not govern nor determine by itself.
12How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
12 Verse 12. How much then is a man better than a sheep?] Our
Lord's argument is what is called argumentum ad hominem; they are
taken on their own ground, and confuted on their own maxims and
conduct. There are many persons who call themselves Christians,
who do more for a beast of burden or pleasure than they do for a
man for whom Christ died! Many spend that on coursers, spaniels,
and hounds, of which multitudes of the followers of Christ are
destitute:-but this also shall come to judgment.
Wherefore, it is lawful to do well, &c.] This was allowed by a
multitude of Jewish canons. See Schoettgen.
13Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
13 Verse 13. Stretch forth thine hand.] The bare command of God
is a sufficient reason of obedience. This man might have reasoned
thus: "Lord, my hand is withered; how then can I stretch it out?
Make it whole first, and afterwards I will do as thou commandest."
This may appear reasonable, but in his case it would have been
foolishness. At the command of the Lord he made the effort, and
in making it the cure was effected! Faith disregards apparent
impossibilities, where there is a command and promise of God. The
effort to believe is, often, that faith by which the soul is
A little before ()
Jesus Christ had asserted his Godhead, in this verse he proves it.
What but the omnipotence of the living God could have, in a
moment, restored this withered hand? There could be no collusion
here; the man who had a real disease was instantaneously and
therefore miraculously cured; and the mercy and power of God were
both amply manifested in this business.
It is worthy of remark, that as the man was healed with a word,
without even a touch, the Sabbath was unbroken, even according to
their most rigid interpretation of the letter of the law.
14 ¶ Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
14 Verse 14. Held a council against him] Nothing sooner leads to
utter blindness, and hardness of heart, than envy. There are many
who abandon themselves to pleasure-taking and debauchery on the
Sabbath, who condemn a poor man whom necessity obliges to work on
what is termed a holiday, or a national fast.
15But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;
15 Verse 15. Jesus-withdrew himself from thence] It is the part
of prudence and Christian charity not to provoke, if possible, the
blind and the hardened; and to take from them the occasion of sin.
A man of God is not afraid of persecution; but, as his aim is only
to do good, by proclaiming every where the grace of the Lord
Jesus, he departs from any place when he finds the obstacles to
the accomplishment of his end are, humanly speaking, invincible,
and that he can not do good without being the means of much evil.
Yield to the stream when you cannot stem it.
Great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all] The
rejection of the Gospel in one place has often been the means of
sending it to and establishing it in another. Jesus healed all
that followed him, i.e. all who had need of healing, and who
desired to be healed; for thus the passage must be understood:-
and is he not still the same? No soul shall ever implore his
healing power in vain; but let it be remembered, that only those
who follow Christ, and apply to him, are healed of their spiritual
16And charged them that they should not make him known:
16 Verse 16. Charged them that they should not make him known]
See . Jesus Christ, as GOD, could have easily concealed
himself, but he chooses to do it as man, and to use no other than
human means, as these were quite sufficient for the purpose, to
teach us not to neglect them in our necessity. Indeed, he always
used his power less on his own account, than on that of men.
17That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
18Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
18 Verse 18. Behold my servant] This title was given to our
blessed Lord in several prophecies. See . Christ
assumes it, . Compare these with , and
God required an acceptable and perfect service from man; but man,
being sinful, could not perform it. Jesus, taking upon him the
nature of man, fully performed the whole will of God, and
communicates grace to all his followers, to enable them perfectly
to love and worthily to magnify their Maker.
And he shall show judgment to the Gentiles.] That is, He will
publish the Gospel to the heathens; for the word κρισιν here
answers to the word mishpat of the prophet, and it is used
among the Hebrews to signify laws, precepts, and a whole system or
body of doctrine. See ; .
19He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
19 Verse 19. He shall not strive, nor cry] The spirit of Christ
is not a spirit of contention, murmuring, clamour, or
litigiousness. He who loves these does not belong to him. Christ
therefore fulfilled a prophecy by withdrawing from this place, on
account of the rage of the Pharisees.
20A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
20 Verse 20. A bruised reed shall he not break] A reed is, in
Scripture, the emblem of weakness, ;
and a bruised reed must signify that state of weakness that
borders on dissolution and death.
And smoking flax shall he not quench] λινοντυφομενονλινος
means the wick of a lamp, and τυφομενον is intended to point out
its expiring state, when the oil has been all burnt away from it,
and nothing is left but a mere snuff, emitting smoke. Some
suppose the Jewish state, as to ecclesiastical matters, is here
intended, the prophecy declaring that Christ would not destroy it,
but leave it to expire of itself, as it already contained the
principles of its own destruction. Others have considered it as
implying that great tenderness with which the blessed Jesus should
treat the weak and the ignorant, whose good desires must not be
stifled, but encouraged. The bruised reed may recover itself, if
permitted to vegetate under the genial influences of heaven; and
the life and light of the expiring lamp may be supported by the
addition of fresh oil. Jesus therefore quenches not faint desires
after salvation, even in the worst and most undeserving of men;
for even such desires may lead to the fulness of the blessing of
the Gospel of peace.
Judgment unto victory.] See .
By judgment, understand the Gospel, and by victory its complete
triumph over Jewish opposition, and Gentile impiety. He will
continue by these mild and gentle means to work till the whole
world is Christianized, and the universe filled with his glory.
21And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
21 Verse 21. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.] ελπιουσι,
they shall hope. Jesus Christ is the sole hope and trust of
mankind; to trust and hope in his name, JESUS, is to expect
salvation and all things necessary from him alone, to despise,
comparatively, all earthly promises, to esteem, love, and desire
heavenly things only, and to bear with patience and tranquillity
all the losses and evils of this life, upon the prospect and hope
of that felicity which he has purchased for us.
22 ¶ Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
22 Verse 22. One possessed with a devil, blind and dumb] A person
from whom the indwelling demon took away both sight and hearing.
Satan makes himself master of the heart, the eyes, and the tongue
of the sinner. His heart he fills with the love of sin; his eyes
he blinds that he may not see his guilt, and the perdition which
awaits him; and his tongue he hinders from prayer and
supplication, though he gives it increasing liberty in
blasphemies, lies, slanders, &c. None but Jesus can redeem from
this threefold captivity.
23And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
23 Verse 23. Is not this the son of David?] Is not this the true
Messiah? Do not these miracles sufficiently prove it?
24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
24 Verse 24. Beelzebub] See .
25And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
25 Verse 25. Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to
desolation] Our Lord's argument was thus:-"The welfare of any
kingdom, city, or family, depends on its concord and unanimity;
Satan, like every other potentate, must wish to rule his empire in
peace and security; how then can he be in league with me, who
oppose his authority, and am destroying his kingdom?"
The reasoning of the Pharisees, ,
was not expressed, and Jesus, knowing their thoughts, gave them
ample proof or his omniscience. This, with our Lord's masterly
confutation of their reasonings, by a conclusion drawn from their
own premises, one would have supposed might have humbled and
convinced these men; but the most conclusive reasoning, and the
most astonishing miracles, were lost upon a people who were
obstinately determined to disbelieve every thing good, relative to
Christ. How true the saying-He came unto his own, and his own
received him not!
26And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
26 Verse 26. If Satan cast out Satan] A good cause will produce a
good effect, and an evil cause an evil effect. Were I on Satan's
side, I would act for his interest and confirm his influence among
you; but I oppose his maxims by my doctrine, and his influence by
27And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.
27 Verse 27. By whom do your children cast them out?] Children,
or sons of the prophets, means the disciples of the prophets; and
children or sons of the Pharisees, disciples of the Pharisees.
it is evident there were exorcists among the Jews, and, from our
Lord's saying here, it is also evident that the disciples of the
Pharisees did cast out demons, or, at least, those who educated
them wished to have it believed that they had such a power. Our
Lord's argument here is extremely conclusive: If the man who casts
out demons proves himself thereby to be in league with and
influenced by Satan, then your disciples, and you who taught them,
are all of you in league with the devil: ye must either give up
your assertion, that I cast out demons by Beelzebul, or else admit
this conclusion, in its fullest force and latitude, that ye are
all children of the devil, and leagued with him against God.
Envy causes persons often to condemn in one, what they approve
28我若靠 神的灵赶鬼， 神的国就已经临到你们了。
28But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
28 Verse 28. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God]
Perhaps the Spirit of God is here mentioned by way of opposition
to the magical incantations of the Jews; for it is well known that
by fumigations and magical washings, they professed to cast out
devils. See a case mentioned by Schoettgen on this verse.
Then the kingdom of God] For the destruction of the kingdom of
Satan plainly implies the setting up of the kingdom of God.
Is come unto you.] Is come unexpectedly upon you. εφθασεν,
from φθανω, to appear suddenly-unexpectedly.
They pretended to be in expectation of the kingdom of God, and
consequently of the destruction of the kingdom of Satan. But, by
being not prepared to receive Christ in these proofs of his Divine
mission, they showed that their expectation was but pretended.
They were too carnal to mind spiritual things.
29Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
29 Verse 29. Else how can one enter into a strong man's house]
Men, through sin, are become the very house and dwelling place of
Satan, having of their own accord surrendered themselves to this
unjust possessor; for whoever gives up his soul to sin gives it up
to the devil. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone, who can deliver from
the power of this bondage. When Satan is cast out, Jesus purifies
and dwells in the heart.
30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
30 Verse 30. He that is not with me is against me] In vain do men
seek for methods to reconcile God and mammon. There is no medium
between loving the Lord and being his enemy-between belonging to
Christ or to Satan. If we be on the side of the devil, we must
expect to go to the devil's hell; if we be on the side of Christ,
we may expect to go to his heaven. When Christ, his truth, and
his servants are assaulted, he who does not espouse their cause is
not on Christ's side, but incurs the guilt of deserting and
betraying him. There are many, (it is to be feared,) in the world
who are really against Christ, and scatter abroad, who flatter
themselves that they are workers together with him, and of the
number of his friends!
Scattereth abroad.] This seems to have been a proverbial form
of speech, and may be a metaphor taken from shepherds. He who
does not help the true shepherd to gather his flock into the fold
is, most likely, one who wishes to scatter them, that he may have
the opportunity of stealing and destroying them. I do not find
any parallel to this proverbial mode of speech in the Jewish
rabbins, if it be one, nor have I met with it among the Greek or
31 ¶ Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
31 Verse 31. All manner of sin and blasphemy] βλασφημια,
injurious or impious speaking. [Anglo-Saxon], mocking and
deriding speech, Anglo-Saxon. See .
But the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost] Even personal
reproaches, revilings, persecutions against Christ, were
remissible; but blasphemy, or impious speaking against the Holy
Spirit was to have no forgiveness: i.e. when the person
obstinately attributed those works to the devil, which he had the
fullest evidence could be wrought only by the Spirit of God. That
this, and nothing else, is the sin against the Holy Spirit, is
evident from the connection in this place, and more particularly
from . "All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of
men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme; but he
that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never
forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation; BECAUSE they
said, He hath an unclean spirit."
Here the matter is made clear beyond the smallest doubt-the
unpardonable sin, as some term it, is neither less nor more than
ascribing the miracles Christ wrought, by the power of God, to the
spirit of the devil. Many sincere people have been grievously
troubled with apprehensions that they had committed the
unpardonable sin; but let it be observed that no man who believes
the Divine mission of Jesus Christ, ever can commit this sin:
therefore let no man's heart fail because of it, from henceforth
and for ever, Amen. See below.
32And who soever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but who soever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
32 Verse 32. Neither in this world, neither in the world to come.]
Though I follow the common translation, yet I am fully satisfied
the meaning of the words is, neither in this dispensation, (viz.
the Jewish,) nor in that which is to come, viz. the Christian.
olam ha-bo, the world to come, is a constant phrase for
the times of the Messiah in the Jewish writers. See below. The
sin here spoken of by our Lord ranks high in the catalogue of
presumptuous sins, for which there was no forgiveness under the
Mosaic dispensation. See ; ;
. When our Lord says that such a sin hath no
forgiveness, is he not to be understood as meaning that the crime
shall be punished under the Christian dispensation as it was under
the Jewish, viz. by the destruction of the body? And is not this
the same mentioned ,
called there the sin unto death; i.e. a sin that was to be
punished by the death of the body, while mercy might be extended
to the soul? The punishment for presumptuous sins, under the
Jewish law, to which our Lord evidently alludes, certainly did not
extend to the damnation of the soul, though the body was
destroyed: therefore I think that, though there was no such
forgiveness to be extended to this crime as to absolve the man
from the punishment of temporal death, yet, on repentance, mercy
might be extended to the soul; and every sin may be repented of
under the Gospel dispensation.
Dr. Lightfoot has sufficiently vindicated this passage from all
false interpretation. "They that endeavour hence to prove the
remission of some sins after death, seem little to understand to
what Christ had respect when he spake these words. Weigh well
this common and, most known doctrine of the Jewish schools, and
"He that transgresses an affirmative precept, if he presently
repent, is not moved until the Lord pardon him; and of such it is
said, Be ye converted, O back sliding children! and I will heal
your backslidings. He that transgresses a negative precept, and
repents, his repentance suspends judgment, and the day of
expiation expiates him; as it is said, This day shall all your
uncleannesses be expiated to you. He that transgresses to cutting
off (by the stroke of God) or to death by the Sanhedrin, and
repents, repentance and the day of expiation do suspend judgment,
and the strokes that are laid upon him wipe off sin, as it is
said, And I will visit their transgression with a rod, and their
iniquity with scourges. But he by whom the name of God is
profaned (or blasphemed) repentance is of no avail to him to
suspend judgment, nor the day of expiation to expiate it, nor
scourges (or corrections inflicted) to wipe it off, but all
suspend judgment, and death wipes it off. Thus the Babylonian
Gemara writes; but the Jerusalem thus: Repentance and the day of
expiation expiate as to the third part, and corrections as to the
third part, and death wipes it off, as it is said, And your
iniquities shall not be expiated to you until ye die: behold, we
learn that death wipes off. Note this, which Christ contradicts,
concerning blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. It shall not be
forgiven, saith he, neither in this world, nor in the world to
come; that is, neither before death, nor, as you dream, by death.
Jerus. Sanhed. fol. 37. and Bab. Yoma, fol. 86.
"In the world to come.-I. Some phrases were received into common
use, by which, in common speech, they opposed the heresy of the
Sadducces, who denied immortality, Of that sort were
olam ha-ba, αιωνομελλων, The world to come. gan
aden, παραδεισος, paradise: gei hinnom,
γεεννα, hell, &c.
"At the end of all the prayers in the temple (as we observed
before) they said ad olam, for ever. But when the
heretics (i.e. the Sadducees) brake in, and said there was NO AGE
but one, then it was appointed to be said for ever and ever.
min ha-olam, vead ha-olam. Bab. Beracoth,
fol. 54. This distinction of olam hazeh, this world, and
of olam ha-ba, the world to come, you may find almost in
every page of the rabbins.
"The Lord recompense thee a good reward for this thy good work
in this world, and let thy reward be perfected in the world to
come. Targum on Ruth.
"It (that is, the history of the creation and of the Bible)
therefore begins with the letter beth, (in the word
bereshith,) because two worlds were created, this world and a
world to come. Baal Turim.
"The world to come hints two things especially, (of which see
Rambam, in Sanhed. cap. ii. Chelek.) I. The times of the Messiah:
'Be mindful of the day wherein thou camest out of Egypt, all the
days of thy life: the wise men say, by the days of thy life is
intimated this world: by all the days of thy life, the days of the
Messiah are superinduced.' In this sense the apostle seems to
speak, . II. The state after death: thus Rab.
Tancum, The world to come, is when a man has departed out of this
33Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
33 Verse 33. Either make the tree good] That is, the effect will
be always similar to the cause; a bad tree will produce bad fruit,
and a good tree, good fruit.
The works will resemble the heart: nothing good can proceed from
an evil spirit; no good fruit can proceed from a corrupt heart.
Before the heart of man can produce any good, it must be renewed
and influenced by the Spirit of God.
34O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
34 Verse 34. O generation of vipers] These are apparently severe
words; but they were extremely proper in reference to that
execrable people to whom they were addressed: the whole verse is
an inference from what was spoken before.
Out of the abundance (περισσευματος, the overflowings) of the
heart] Wicked words and sinful actions may be considered as the
overflowings of a heart that is more than full of the spirit of
wickedness; and holy words and righteous deeds may be considered
as the overflowings of a heart that is filled with the Holy
Spirit, and running over with love to God and man.
35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
35 Verse 35. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart]
τηςκαρδιας, of the heart, is omitted by upwards of one hundred
MSS., many of them of the greatest antiquity and authority; by all
the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic; by the Slavonic, Saxon, Vulgate,
and Itala, (except four,) and by several of the primitive
fathers. It seems to have been added here by some copyist, merely
to explain. The good heart is the good treasury, and the treasure
that is in it is the love of God, and of all mankind. The bad
heart is the bad treasury, and its treasure is the carnal mind,
which is enmity against God, and ill-will to man.
36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
36 Verse 36. Every idle word] ρημααργον, a word that does
nothing, that neither ministers grace nor instruction to them who
hear it. The word αργον corresponds to the Hebrew shave,
which signifies not only vain or empty, but also wicked and
injurious, such as a false testimony against a neighbour, compare
. Add to this, that Symmachus translates
piggul, polluted, , by the very Greek word in the text.
It was to explain this ambiguous meaning of the word, that ten
MSS. have changed αργον Into πονηρον, evil. Our Lord must be
understood here as condemning all false and injurious words: the
scope of the place necessarily requires this meaning.
37For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
37 Verse 37. By thy words thou shalt be justified] That is, the
whole tenor of thy conversation will be an evidence for or against
thee, in the great day. How many are there who count words for
nothing! and yet eternity often depends on them. Lord, put a
watch before the door of my lips! is a prayer proper for all men.
38 ¶ Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
38 Verse 38. We would see a sign from thee.] That is, we wish now
to see thee work a miracle. Pride, vain curiosity, and
incredulity, have never proof sufficient of the truth: for they
will not be satisfied.
39But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
39 Verse 39. An evil and adulterous generation] Or, race of
people; for so γενεα should be translated here, and in most other
places in the Gospels; for our Lord, in general, uses it to point
out the Jewish people. This translation is a key to unlock some
very obscure passages in the evangelists.
Seeketh after a sign] Or, seeketh another sign, (επιζητει,) so
I think this word should be translated. Our Lord had already
given the Jews several signs; and here they desire sign upon sign.
Our Lord terms the Jews an adulterous race. Under the old
covenant, the Jewish nation was represented as in a marriage
contract with the Lord of hosts; as believers, in the new
covenant, are represented as the spouse of Christ. All
unfaithfulness and disobedience was considered as a breach of this
marriage contract; hence the persons who were thus guilty are
denominated adulterers and adulteresses. But, independently of
this, there is the utmost proof, from their own writings, that in
the time of our Lord they were most literally an adulterous race
of people: for, at this very time, R. Jochanan ben Zacchai
abrogated the trial by the bitter waters of jealousy, because so
many were found to be thus criminal. See on .
40For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
40 Verse 40. Three days and three nights] Our Lord rose from the
grave on the day but one after his crucifixion: so that, in the
computation in this verse, the part of the day on which he was
crucified, and the part of that on which he rose again, are
severally estimated as an entire day; and this, no doubt, exactly
corresponded to the time in which Jonah was in the belly of the
fish. Our Lord says, As Jonah was, so shall the Son of man be,
&c. Evening and morning, or night and day, is the Hebrew phrase
for a natural day, which the Greeks termed νυξθημερον,
nuchthemeron. The very same quantity of time which is here termed
three days and three nights, and which, in reality, was only one
whole day, a part of two others, and two whole nights, is
termed three days and three nights, in the book of Esther: Go;
neither eat nor drink THREE DAYS, NIGHT or DAY, and so I will go
in unto the king: . Afterwards it follows, .
On the THIRD DAY, Esther stood in the inner court of the king's
house. Many examples might be produced, from both the sacred and
profane writers, in vindication of the propriety of the expression
in the text. For farther satisfaction, the reader, if he please,
may consult Whitby and Wakefield, and take the following from
"I. The Jewish writers extend that memorable station of the
unmoving sun, at Joshua's prayer, to six and thirty hours; for so
Kimchi upon that place: 'According to more exact interpretation,
the sun and moon stood still for six and thirty hours: for when
the fight was on the eve of the Sabbath, Joshua feared lest the
Israelites might break the Sabbath; therefore he spread abroad his
hands, that the sun might stand still on the sixth day, according
to the measure of the day of the Sabbath, and the moon according
to the measure of the night of the Sabbath, and of the going out
of the Sabbath, which amounts to six and thirty hours.'
"II. If you number the hours that pass from our Saviour's giving
up the ghost upon the cross to his resurrection, you shall find
almost the same number of hours; and yet that space is called by
him three days and three nights, whereas two nights only came
between, and one complete day. Nevertheless, while he speaks
these words, he is not without the consent both of the Jewish
schools and their computation. Weigh well that which is disputed
in the tract Scabbath, concerning the separation of a woman for
three days; where many things are discussed by the Gemarists,
concerning the computation of this space of three days. Among
other things these words occur: R. Ismael saith, Sometimes it
contains four onoth, sometimes five, sometimes six. But how
much is the space of an onah? R. Jochanan saith, Either a
day or a night. And so also the Jerusalem Talmud: 'R. Akiba fixed
a DAY for an onah, and a NIGHT for an onah.' But the tradition
is, that R. Eliazar ben Azariah said, A day and a night make an
onah: and a PART of an onah is as the WHOLE. And a little after,
R. Ismael computed a part of the onah for the whole." Thus, then,
three days and three nights, according to this Jewish method of
reckoning, included any part of the first day; the whole of the
following night; the next day and its night; and any part of the
succeeding or third day.
In the whale's belly] That a fish of the shark kind, and not a
whale, is here meant, Bochart has abundantly proved, vol. iii.
col. 742, &c., edit. Leyd. 1692. It is well known that the throat
of a whale is capable of admitting little more than the arm of an
ordinary man; but many of the shark species can swallow a man
whole, and men have been found whole in the stomachs of several.
Every natural history abounds with facts of this kind. Besides,
the shark is a native of the Mediterranean Sea, in which Jonah was
sailing when swallowed by what the Hebrew terms dag gadol,
a great fish; but every body knows that whales are no produce of
the Mediterranean Sea, thought some have been by accident found
there, as in most other parts of the maritime world: but, let them
be found where they may, there is none of them capable of
swallowing a man. Instead of either whale or shark, some have
translated dag gadol, , by a fishing cove, or
something of this nature; but this is merely to get rid of the
miracle: for, according to some, the whole of Divine revelation is
a forgery-or it is a system of metaphor or allegory, that has no
miraculous interferences in it. But, independently of all this,
the criticism is contemptible. Others say, that the great fish
means a vessel so called, into which Jonah went, and into the hold
of which he was thrown, where he continued three days and three
nights. In short, it must be any thing but a real miracle, the
existence of which the wise men, so called, of the present day,
cannot admit. Perhaps these very men are not aware that they have
scarcely any belief even in the existence of God himself!
41The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
41 Verse 41. The men of Nineveh shell rise in judgment] The voice
of God, threatening temporal judgments, caused a whole people to
repent, who had neither Moses nor Christ, neither the law nor the
prophets; and who perhaps never had but this one preacher among
them. What judgment may not we expect, if we continue impenitent,
after all that God has bestowed upon us?
A greater than Jonas is here.] πλειον, for τιπλειον,
something more. The evidence offered by Jonah sufficed to
convince and lead the Ninevites to repentance; but here was more
evidence, and a greater person; and yet so obstinate are the Jews
that all is ineffectual. 1. Christ, who preached to the Jews, was
infinitely greater than Jonah, in his nature, person, and mission.
2. Jonah preached repentance in Nineveh only forty days, and
Christ preached among the Jews for several years. 3. Jonah
wrought no miracles to authorize his preaching; but Christ wrought
miracles every day, in every place where he went, and of every
kind. And 4. Notwithstanding all this, the people of Judea did
not repent, though the people of Nineveh did.
42The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
42 Verse 42. The queen of the south] In , this queen is
said to be of Saba, which was a city and province of Arabia Felix,
to the south, or south-east, of Judea.
Uttermost parts of the earth] περατωντηςγης-a form of speech
which merely signifies, a great distance. See .
43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
43 Verse 43. When the unclean spirit] If there had been no
reality in demoniacal possessions, our Lord would have scarcely
appealed to a case of this kind here, to point out the real state
of the Jewish people, and the desolation which was coming upon
them. Had this been only a vulgar error, of the nonsense of which
the learned scribes and the wise Pharisees must have been
convinced, the case not being one in point, because not true, must
have been treated by that very people with contempt for whose
conviction it was alone designed.
He walketh through dry places] διανυδρωντοπων. There seems
to be a reference here to the Orphic demonology, in which evil
spirits were divided into various classes, according to the
different regions of their abode, or places in which they
delighted. These classes were five: 1. δαιμονεςουρανιοι,
Celestial demons. 2. δαιμονεςηεριοι, Aerial. 3. δαιμονες
ενυδριοι, Aquatic. 4. δαιμονεςχθονιοι, Terrestrial.
5. καιδαιμονεςυποχθονιοι, And subterranean demons. See Orph.
ad Mus. ap. Schott. The Platonists, the followers of Zoroaster,
and the primitive Jews, made nearly the same distinctions.
Seeking rest] Or refreshment. Strange! a fallen corrupt spirit
can have no rest but in the polluted human heart: the corruption
of the one is suited to the pollution of the other, and thus like
cleaves to like.
44Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
44 Verse 44. Into my house] The soul of that person from whom he
had been expelled by the power of Christ, and out of which he was
to have been kept by continual prayer, faith, and watchfulness.
He findeth it empty] Unoccupied, σχολαζοντα, empty of
the former inhabitant, and ready to receive a new one: denoting a
soul that has lost the life and power of godliness, and the
testimony of the Holy Spirit.
Swept and garnished.] As σχολαζω signifies to be idle, or
unemployed, it may refer here to the person, as well as to his
state. His affections and desires are no longer busied with the
things of God, but gad about, like an idle person, among the
vanities of a perishing world. Swept, from love, meekness, and
all the fruits of the Spirit; and garnished, or adorned,
κεκοσμημενον, decorated, with the vain showy trifles of folly
and fashion. This may comprise also smart speeches, cunning
repartees, &c., for which many who have lost the life of God are
45Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
45 Verse 45. Seven other spirits more wicked] Seven was a
favourite number with the Jews, implying frequently, with them,
something perfect, completed, filled up, for such is the proper
import of the Hebrew word sheva or shevang: nearly allied in
sound to our seven. And perhaps this meaning of it refers to the
seventh day, when God rested from his work, having filled up, or
completed the whole of his creative design. Seven demons-as many
as could occupy his soul, harassing it with pride, anger,
self-will, lust, &c., and torturing the body with disease.
The last state of that man is worse than the first.] His soul,
before influenced by the Spirit of God, dilated and expanded under
its heavenly influences, becomes more capable of refinement in
iniquity, as its powers are more capacious than formerly. Evil
habits are formed and strengthened by relapses; and relapses are
multiplied, and become more incurable, through new habits.
So shall it be also unto this wicked generation.] And so it
was: for they grew worse and worse, as if totally abandoned to
diabolic influence; till at last the besom of destruction swept
them and their privileges, national and religious, utterly away.
What a terrible description of a state of apostasy is contained in
these verses! May he who readeth understand!
46 ¶ While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.
46 Verse 46. His mother and his brethren] These are supposed to
have been the cousins of our Lord, as the word brother is
frequently used among the Hebrews in this sense. But there are
others who believe Mary had other children beside our Lord and
that these were literally his brothers, who are spoken of here.
And, although it be possible that these were the sons of Mary, the
wife of Cleopas or Alpheus, his mother's sister, called his
relations, ; yet it is as likely that they were the
children of Joseph and Mary, and brethren of our Lord, in the
strictest sense of the word. See on .
47Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
48But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
48 Verse 48. Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?] The
reason of this seeming disregard of his relatives was this: they
came to seize upon him, for they thought he was distracted. See
49And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
50For who soever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
50 Verse 50. Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, &c.] Those
are the best acknowledged relatives of Christ who are united to
him by spiritual ties, and who are become one with him by the
indwelling of his Spirit. We generally suppose that Christ's
relatives must have shared much of his affectionate attention; and
doubtless they did: but here we find that whosoever does the will
of God is equally esteemed by Christ, as his brother, sister, or
even his virgin mother. What an encouragement for fervent
attachment to God!
1. From various facts related in this chapter, we see the nature
and design of the revelation of God, and of all the ordinances and
precepts contained in it-they are all calculated to do man good:
to improve his understanding, to soften and change his nature,
that he may love his neighbour as himself. That religion that
does not inculcate and produce humanity never came from heaven.
2. We have already seen what the sin against the Holy Ghost is:
no soul that fears God can commit it: perhaps it would be
impossible for any but Jews to be guilty of it, and they only in
the circumstances mentioned in the text; and in such
circumstances, it is impossible that any person should now be