1And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;
1 CHAPTER XIX.
NOTES ON CHAP. XIX.
Verse 1. Beyond Jordan] Or, by the side of Jordan. Matthew
begins here to give an account of Christ's journey (the only one
he mentions) to Jerusalem, a little before the passover, at which
he was crucified. See Mr 10:1; Lu 9:51.
Jesus came from Galilee (which lay to the north of Judea) into
the coasts of Judea; and from thence, in his way to Jerusalem, he
went through Jericho, (Mt 20:17, 29,) which lay at the distance
of sixty furlongs, or seven miles and a half from Jordan, to the
western side of it. See Joseph. WAR, book iv. chap. 8. sect. 3.
It seems, therefore, most probable, that the course of Christ's
journey led him by the side of the river Jordan, not beyond it.
That the Greek word περαν, especially with a genitive case as
here, has sometimes this signification, see on Joh 6:22; see also
2And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.
2 Verse 2. Great multitudes followed him] Some to be
instructed-some to be healed-some through curiosity-and some to
3 ¶ The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
3 Verse 3. Tempting him] Trying what answer he would give to a
question, which, however decided by him, would expose him to
Is it lawful-for every cause?] Instead of αιτιαν, fault, cause,
reason, three MSS. and the Coptic version read αμαρτιαν, sin
or transgression: this was probably the original reading-the first
syllable being lost, αρτιαν alone would remain, which a subsequent
transcriber would suppose to be a mistake for αιτιαν, and so wrote
it; hence this various reading. What made our Lord's situation at
present so critical in respect to this question was: At this time
there were two famous divinity and philosophical schools among the
Jews, that of SHAMMAI, and that of HILLEL. On the question of
divorce, the school of Shammai maintained, that a man could not
legally put away his wife, except for whoredom. The school of
Hillel taught that a man might put away his wife for a multitude
of other causes, and when she did not find grace in his sight;
i.e. when he saw any other woman that pleased him better. See
the case of Josephus, mentioned in Clarke's note on "Mt 5:31", and
Calmet's Comment, vol. i. part ii. p. 379. By answering the
question, not from Shammai or Hillel, but from Moses, our blessed
Lord defeated their malice, and confounded their devices.
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
4 Verse 4. He which made them at the beginning] When Adam and
Eve were the first of human kind.
Made them male and female] Merely through the design of
matrimonial union, that the earth might be thus peopled. To
answer a case of conscience, a man should act as Christ does here;
pay no regard to that which the corruption of manners has
introduced into Divine ordinances, but go back to the original
will, purpose, and institution of God. Christ will never
accommodate his morality to the times, nor to the inclinations of
men. What was done at the beginning is what God judged most
worthy of his glory, most profitable for man, and most suitable to
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
5 Verse 5. For this cause] Being created for this very purpose;
that they might glorify their Maker in a matrimonial connection.
A man shall leave (καταλειψαι, wholly give up) both father and
mother-the matrimonial union being more intimate and binding than
even paternal or filial affection;-and shall be closely united,
προσκολληθησεται, shall be firmly cemented to his wife. A
beautiful metaphor, which most forcibly intimates that nothing but
death can separate them: as a well-glued board will break sooner
in the whole wood, than in the glued joint. So also the Hebrew
word debak implies.
And they twain shall be one flesh?] Not only meaning, that they
should be considered as one body, but also as two souls in one
body, with a complete union of interests, and an indissoluble
partnership of life and fortune, comfort and support, desires and
inclinations, joys and sorrows. Farther, it appears to me, that
the words in Ge 2:24,
lebasar achad, for one flesh, which our Lord literally
translates, mean also, that children, compounded as it were of
both, should be the product of the matrimonial connection. Thus,
they two (man and woman) shall be for the producing of one flesh,
the very same kind of human creature with themselves.
See the note on Ge 2:24.
6Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
6 Verse 6. What therefore God hath joined together] συνεζευξεν,
yoked together, as oxen in the plough, where each must pull
equally, in order to bring it on. Among the ancients, when
persons were newly married, they put a yoke upon their necks, or
chains upon their arms, to show that they were to be one, closely
united, and pulling equally together in all the concerns of life.
See KYPKE in loco.
The finest allegorical representation of the marriage union I
have met with, is that antique gem representing the marriage of
Cupid and Psyche, in the collection of the duke of Marlborough: it
may be seen also among Baron Stoch's gems, and casts or copies of
it in various other collections. 1. Both are represented as
winged, to show the alacrity with which the husband and wife
should help, comfort and support each ether; preventing, as much
as possible, the expressing of a wish or want on either side, by
fulfilling it before it can be expressed. 2. Both are veiled, to
show that modesty is an inseparable attendant on pure matrimonial
connections. 3. Hymen or Marriage goes before them with a lighted
torch, leading them by a chain, of which each has a hold, to show
that they are united together, and are bound to each other, and
that they are led to this by the pure flame of love, which at the
same instant both enlightens and warms them. 4. This chain is not
iron nor brass, (to intimate that the marriage union is a state of
thraldom or slavery,) but it is a chain of pearls, to show that
the union is precious, beautiful, and delightful. 5. They hold a
dove, the emblem of conjugal fidelity, which they appear to
embrace affectionately, to show that they are faithful to each
other, not merely through duty, but by affection, and that this
fidelity contributes to the happiness of their lives. 6. A winged
Cupid, or Love, is represented as having gone before them,
preparing the nuptial feast; to intimate that active affections,
warm and cordial love, are to be to them a continual source of
comfort and enjoyment; and that this is the entertainment they
are to meet with at every step of their affectionate lives. 7.
Another Cupid, or genius of love comes behind, and places on their
heads a basket of ripe fruits; to intimate that a matrimonial
union of this kind will generally be blessed with children, who
shall be as pleasing to all their senses as ripe and delicious
fruits to the smell and taste. 8. The genius of love that
follows them has his wings shrivelled up, or the feathers all
curled, so as to render them utterly unfit for flight; to intimate
that love is to abide with them, that there is to be no separation
in affection, but that they are to continue to love one another
with pure hearts fervently. Thus love begins and continues this
sacred union; as to end, there can be none, for God hath yoked
A finer or more expressive set of emblems has never, I believe,
been produced, even by modern refined taste and ingenuity. This
group of emblematical figures is engraved upon an onyx by Tryphon,
an ancient Grecian artist. A fine drawing was made of this by
Cypriani, and was engraved both by Bartolozzi and Sherwin. See
one of these plates in the second volume of Bryant's Analysis of
Ancient Mythology, page 392.
7They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
7 Verse 7. Why did Moses then command to give a writing of
divorcement?] It is not an unusual case for the impure and unholy
to seek for a justification of their conduct from the law of God
itself, and to wrest Scripture to their own destruction. I knew a
gentleman, so called, who professed deep reverence for the sacred
writings, and, strange as it may appear, was outwardly
irreproachable in every respect but one; that was, he kept more
women than his wife. This man frequently read the Bible, and was
particularly conversant with those places that spoke of or seemed
to legalize the polygamy of the patriarchs!
A writing of divorcement]
See the form of it in Clarke's note on "Mt 5:31".
8He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
8 Verse 8. Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts] It is
dangerous to tolerate the least evil, though prudence itself may
require it: because toleration, in this case, raises itself
insensibly into permission, and permission soon sets up for
command. Moses perceived that if divorce were not permitted, in
many cases, the women would be exposed to great hardships through
the cruelty of their husbands: for so the word σκληροκαρδια, is
understood in this place by some learned men.
From the beginning it was not so] The Jews named the books of
the law from the first word in each. Genesis they always term
Bereshith, , which is the first word in it, and signifies,
In the beginning. It is probable that our Lord speaks in this way
here, In Bereshith it was not so, intimating that the account
given in Genesis is widely different. There was no divorce
between Eve and Adam; nor did he or his family practise polygamy.
But our Lord, by the beginning, may mean the original intention or
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
9 Verse 9. Except it be for fornication] See on Mt 5:32. The
decision of our Lord must be very unpleasant to these men: the
reason why they wished to put away their wives was, that they
might take others whom they liked better; but our Lord here
declares that they could not be remarried while the divorced
person was alive, and that those who did marry, during the life of
the divorced, were adulterers; and heavy judgments were,
denounced, in their law, against such: and as the question was not
settled by the schools of Shammai and Hillel, so as to ground
national practice on it therefore they were obliged to abide by
the positive declaration of the law, as it was popularly
understood, till these eminent schools had proved the word had
another meaning. The grand subject of dispute between the two
schools, mentioned above, was the word in De 24:1,
When a man hath taken a wife-and she find no grace in his sight,
because of some UNCLEANNESS, eruath:-this the school of
Shammai held to mean whoredom or adultery; but the school of
Hillel maintained that it signified any corporeal defect, which
rendered the person deformed, or any bad temper which made the
husband's life uncomfortable. Any of the latter a good man might
bear with; but it appears that Moses permitted the offended
husband to put away the wife on these accounts, merely to save her
from cruel usage.
In this discourse, our Lord shows that marriage, (except in one
case,) is indissoluble, and should be so:-
1st, By Divine institution, Mt 19:4.
2dly, By express commandment, Mt 19:5.
3dly, Because the married couple become one and the same person,
4thly, By the example of the first pair, Mt 19:8; and
5thly, Because of the evil consequent on separation, Mt 19:9.
The importance of this subject will, I hope, vindicate or excuse,
the length of these notes.
10 ¶ His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
10 Verse 10. If the case of the man] τουανθρωπου, of a husband,
so I think the word should be translated here. The Codex Bezae,
Armenian, and most of the Itala, have τουανδρος, which, perhaps,
more properly signifies a husband, though both words are used in
Our word husband comes from the Anglo-Saxon, hus and band: the
bond of the house, anciently spelt housebond,-so in my old MS.
Bible. It is a lamentable case when the husband, instead of being
the bond and union of the family, scatters and ruins it by
dissipation, riot, and excess.
It is not good to marry.] That is, if a man have not the
liberty to put away his wife when she is displeasing to him. God
had said, Ge 2:18, It is not good for man to be alone, i.e.
unmarried. The disciples seem to say, that if the husband have
not the power to divorce his wife when she is displeasing to him,
it is not good for him to marry. Here was a flat contradiction to
the decision of the Creator. There are difficulties and trials in
all states; but let marriage and celibacy be weighed fairly, and I
am persuaded the former will be found to have fewer than the
latter. However, before we enter into an engagement which nothing
but death can dissolve, we had need to act cautiously, carefully
consulting the will and word of God. Where an unbridled passion,
or a base love of money, lead the way, marriage is sure to be
11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
11 Verse 11. All-cannot receive this saying] A very wise answer,
and well suited to the present circumstances of the disciples.
Neither of the states is condemned. If thou marry, thou dost
well-this is according to the order, will, and commandment of God.
But if thou do not marry, (because of the present necessity,
persecution, worldly embarrassments, or bodily infirmity,) thou
dost better. See 1Co 7:25.
12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
12 Verse 12. Eunuchs] ευνουχος, from ευνηνεχειν, to have the
care of the bed or bedchamber; this being the principal employment
of eunuchs in the eastern countries, particularly in the
apartments of queens and princesses. These are they whom our Lord
says are made eunuchs by men, merely for the above purpose.
So born from their mother's womb] Such as are naturally
incapable of marriage, and consequently should not contract any.
For the kingdom of heaven's sake.] I believe our Lord here
alludes to the case of the ESSENES, one of the most holy and pure
sects among the Jews. These abstained from all commerce with
women, hoping thereby to acquire a greater degree of purity, and
be better fitted for the kingdom of God: children they had none of
their own, but constantly adopted those of poor people, and
brought them up in their own way. PHILO, JOSEPHUS, and PLINY have
largely described this very singular sect; and Dean PRIDEAUX, with
his usual fidelity and perspicuity, has given the substance of
what each has said. CONNEX. vol. iii. p. 483, &c.; edit. 1725.
The account is very interesting, and well worthy the attention of
every Christian. Among the rabbins we find these different kinds
of eunuchs, not only mentioned, but circumstantially described,
saris chama, eunuchs of the sun, i.e. eunuchs by the
hand of God; men born impotent. saris Adam, eunuchs
of men, those who were castrated. And they add a third sort;
those who make themselves eunuchs, abstain from marriage, &c.,
that they may give themselves UP to the study of the Divine law.
See many examples in Schoettgen.
He that is able to receive] χωρεινχωρειτω. These words are
variously translated: he who can take; let him take it;
comprehend, let him comprehend it: admit, let him admit it.
The meaning seems to be, Let the man who feels himself capable of
embracing this way of life, embrace it; but none can do it but he
to whom it is given, who has it as a gift from his mother's womb.
The great ORIGEN, understanding the latter clause of this verse
(which I have applied to the Essenes) literally-O human
weakness!-went, and literally fulfilled it on himself!
13 ¶ Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
13 Verse 13. Then were there brought unto him little children]
These are termed by Luke, Lu 18:15,
ταβρεφη, infants, very young children; and it was on this
account, probably, that the disciples rebuked the parents,
thinking them too young to receive good. See on Mr 10:16.
That he should put his hands] It was a common custom among the
Jews to lay their hands on the heads of those whom they blessed,
or for whom they prayed. This seems to have been done by way of
dedication or consecration to God-the person being considered as
the sacred property of God ever after. Often God added a
testimony of his approbation, by communicating some extraordinary
influence of the Holy Spirit. This rite has been long practised
among Christians, when persons are appointed to any sacred office.
But this consecration of children to God seems to have grown out
of use. It is no wonder that the great mass of children are so
wicked, when so few, are put under the care of Christ by humble,
praying, believing parents. Let every parent that fears God bring
up his children in that fear; and, by baptism, let each be
dedicated to the holy trinity. Whatever is solemnly consecrated
to God abides under his protection and blessing.
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
14 Verse 14. Of such is the kingdom of heaven.] Or, the kingdom
of heaven is composed of such. This appears to be the best sense
of the passage, and utterly ruins the whole inhuman diabolic
system of what is called non-elect infants' damnation; a doctrine
which must have sprung from Moloch, and can only be defended by a
heart in which he dwells. A great part of God's kingdom is
composed of such literally; and those only who resemble little
children shall be received into it: see on Mt 18:3. Christ loves
little children because he loves simplicity and innocence; he has
sanctified their very age by passing through it himself-the holy
Jesus was once a little child.
15And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
16 ¶ And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
16 Verse 16. One came] Instead of εις one, several MSS., the
Slavonic version, and Hilary, read νεανισκοςτις, a certain young
Good, &c.] Much instruction may be had from seriously attending
to the conduct, spirit, and question of this person.
1. He came running, (Mr 10:17,) for he was deeply convinced of
the importance of his business, and seriously determined to seek
so as to find.
2. He kneeled, or caught him by the knees, thus evidencing his
humility, and addressing himself only to mercy. See Mt 17:14.
3. He came in the spirit of a disciple, or scholar, desiring to
be taught a matter of the utmost importance to him-Good teacher.
4. He came in the spirit of obedience; he had worked hard to no
purpose, and he is still willing to work, provided he can have a
prospect of succeeding-What good thing shall I do?
5. His question was the most interesting and important that any
soul can ask of God-How shall I be saved?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
17 Verse 17. Why callest thou me good?] Or, Why dost thou
question me concerning that good thing? τιμεερωταςπεριτου
αγαθου. This important reading is found in BDL, three others, the
Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Ethiopic, latter Syriac, Vulgate,
Saxon, all the Itala but one, Origen, Eusebius, Cyril, Dionysius
Areop., Antiochus, Novatian, Jerome, Augustin, and Juvencus.
Erasmus, Grotius, Mill, and Bengel approve of this reading. This
authority appears so decisive to Griesbach that he has received
this reading into the text of his second edition, which in the
first he had interlined. And instead of, None is good but the one
God, he goes on to read, on nearly the same respectable
authorities, ειςεστινοαγαθος. There is one who is good. Let
it be observed also that, in the 16th verse, instead of διδασκαλε
αγαθε, good teacher, διδασκαλε only is read by BDL, one other,
one Evangelistarium, the Ethiopic, three of the Itala, Origen, and
Hilary. The whole passage therefore may be read thus: O teacher!
what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? And he
said unto him, Why dost thou question me concerning that good
thing? There is one that is good. (Or he who is good is one.)
But If thou art willing to enter into that life, keep the
commandments. This passage, as it stood in the common editions,
has been considered by some writers as an incontrovertible proof
against the Divinity or Godhead of Christ. A very learned person,
in his note on this place, thus concludes concerning it:
"Therefore our Saviour cannot be GOD: and the notion of, I know
not what, a trinity in unity, THREE Gods in ONE, is here proved
beyond all controversy, by the unequivocal declaration of JESUS
CHRIST HIMSELF, to be ERRONEOUS and IMPOSSIBLE." Not so. One of
the greatest critics in Europe, not at all partial to the Godhead
of Christ, has admitted the above readings into his text, on
evidence which he judged to be unexceptionable. If they be the
true readings, they destroy the whole doctrine built on this text;
and indeed the utmost that the enemies of the trinitarian doctrine
can now expect from their formidable opponents, concerning this
text, is to leave it neuter.
Keep the commandments.] From this we may learn that God's great
design, in giving his law to the Jews, was to lead them to the
expectation and enjoyment of eternal life. But as all the law
referred to Christ, and he became the end of the law for
righteousness (justification) to all that believe, so he is to be
received, in order to have the end accomplished which the law
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
18 Verse 18. Thou shalt do no murder, &c.] But some say these
commandments are not binding on us. Vain, deceived men! Can a
murderer, an adulterer, a thief, and a liar enter into eternal
life? No. The God of purity and justice has forbidden it. But
we are not to keep these commandments in order to purchase eternal
life. Right. Neither Jesus Christ, nor his genuine messengers,
say you are. To save your souls, Christ must save you from your
sins, and enable you to walk before him in newness of life.
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
19 Verse 19. Honour thy father and thy mother] σου thy, is
omitted by almost every MS. of respectability.
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself] Self-love, as it is
generally called, has been grievously declaimed against, even by
religious people, as a most pernicious and dreadful evil. But
they have not understood the subject on which they spoke. They
have denominated that intense propensity which unregenerate men
feel to gratify their carnal appetites and vicious passions,
self-love; whereas it might be more properly termed self-hatred or
self-murder. If I am to love my neighbour as myself and this
"love worketh no ill to its neighbour," then self-love, in the
sense in which our Lord uses it, is something excellent. It is
properly a disposition essential to our nature, and inseparable
from our being, by which we desire to be happy, by which we seek
the happiness we have not, and rejoice in it when we possess it.
In a word, it is a uniform wish of the soul to avoid all evil, and
to enjoy all good. Therefore, he who is wholly governed by
self-love, properly and Scripturally speaking, will devote his
whole soul to God, and earnestly and constantly seek all his
peace, happiness, and salvation in the enjoyment of God. But
self-love cannot make me happy. I am only the subject which
receives the happiness, but am not the object that constitutes
this happiness; for it is that object, properly speaking, that I
love, and love not only for its own sake, but also for the sake of
the happiness which I enjoy through it. "No man," saith the
apostle, "ever hated his own flesh." But he that sinneth against
God wrongeth his own soul, both of present and eternal salvation,
and is so far from being governed by self-love that he is the
implacable enemy of his best and dearest interests in both worlds.
20The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
20 Verse 20. All these have I kept] I have made these precepts
the rule of my life. There is a difference worthy of notice
between this and our Lord's word. He says, Mt 19:17, τηρησον,
keep, earnestly, diligently, as with watch and ward; probably
referring not only to the letter but to the spirit. The young man
modestly says, all these (εφυλαξα) have I observed; I have paid
attention to, and endeavoured to regulate my conduct by them. I
have kept them in custody.
From my youth] Several MSS., versions, and fathers, leave out
these words. Grotius and Mill approve of the omission, and
Griesbach leaves them in the text with a note of suspicion.
Perhaps the young man meant no more than that he had in general
observed them, and considered them of continual obligation.
What lack I yet?] He felt a troubled conscience, and a mind
unassured of the approbation of God; and he clearly perceived that
something was wanting to make him truly happy.
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
21 Verse 21. If thou wilt be perfect] τελειοςειναι, To be
complete, to have the business finished, and all hinderances to
thy salvation removed, go and sell that thou hast-go and dispose
of thy possessions, to which it is evident his heart was too much
attached, and give to the poor-for thy goods will be a continual
snare to thee if thou keep them; and thou shalt have treasure in
heaven-the loss, if it can be called such, shall be made amply up
to thee in that eternal life about which thou inquirest; and come
and follow me-be my disciple, and I will appoint thee to preach
the kingdom of God to others. This was the usual call which
Christ gave to his disciples. See Mt 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; Mr 2:14;
and it is pretty evident, from this, that he intended to make him
a preacher of his salvation. How many, by their attachment to
filthy lucre, have lost the honour of becoming or continuing
ambassadors for the Most High! See on Mr 10:21.
22But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
22 Verse 22. Went away sorrowful] Men undergo great agony of mind
while they are in suspense between the love of the world and the
love of their souls. When the first absolutely predominates, then
they enjoy a factitious rest through a false peace: when the
latter has the upper hand, then they possess true tranquillity of
mind, through that peace of God that passeth knowledge.
He had great possessions.] And what were these in comparison of
peace of conscience, and mental rest? Besides, he had unequivocal
proof that these contributed nothing to his comfort, for he is now
miserable even while he possesses them! And so will every soul
be, who puts worldly goods in the place of the supreme God.
See on Mr 10:22.
23 ¶ Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
23 Verse 23. A rich man shall hardly enter] That is, into the
spirit and privileges of the Gospel in this world, and
through them into the kingdom of glory. Earthly riches are a
great obstacle to salvation; because it is almost impossible to
possess them, and not to set the heart upon them; and they who
love the world have not the love of the Father in them. 1Jo 2:15.
To be rich, therefore, is in general a great misfortune: but what
rich man can be convinced of this? It is only God himself who, by
a miracle of mercy, can do this. Christ himself affirms the
difficulty of the salvation of a rich man, with an oath, verily;
but who of the rich either hears or believes him!
24And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
24 Verse 24. A camel] Instead of καμηλον, camel, six MSS. read
καμιλον, cable, a mere gloss inserted by some who did not know
that the other was a proverb common enough among the people of the
There is an expression similar to this in the Koran. "The
impious, who in his arrogance shall accuse our doctrine of
falsity, shall find the gates of heaven shut: nor shall he enter
there till a camel shall pass through the eye of a needle. It is
thus that we shall recompense the wicked." Al KORAN. Surat vii.
It was also a mode of expression common among the Jews, and
signified a thing impossible. Hence this proverb: A camel in
Media dances in a cabe; a measure which held about three pints.
Again, No man sees a palm tree of gold, nor an elephant passing
through the eye of a needle. Because these are impossible things.
"Rabbi Shesheth answered Rabbi Amram, who had advanced an
absurdity, Perhaps thou art one of the Pembidithians who can make
an elephant pass through the eye of a needle; that is, says the
Aruch, 'who speak things impossible.'" See Lightfoot and
Schoettgen on this place.
Go through] But instead of διελθειν, about eighty MSS. with
several versions and fathers, have εισελθειν, to enter in; but the
difference is of little importance in an English translation,
though of some consequence to the elegance of the Greek text.
25When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
25 Verse 25. Who can be saved?] The question of the disciples
seemed to intimate that most people were rich, and that therefore
scarcely any could be saved. They certainly must have attached a
different meaning to what constitutes a rich man, to what we in
general do. Who is a rich man in our Lord's sense of the word?
This is a very important question, and has not, that I know of,
been explicitly answered. A rich man, in my opinion, is not one
who has so many hundreds or thousands more than some of his
neighbours; but is one who gets more than is necessary to supply
all his own wants, and those of his household, and keeps the
residue still to himself, though the poor are starving through
lack of the necessaries of life. In a word, he is a man who gets
all he can, saves all he can, and keeps all he has gotten. Speak,
reason! Speak, conscience! (for God has already spoken) Can
such a person enter into the kingdom of God? ALL, NO!!!
26But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
26 Verse 26. With men this is impossible] God alone can take the
love of the world out of the human heart. Therefore the salvation
of the rich is represented as possible only to him: and indeed the
words seem to intimate, that it requires more than common
exertions of Omnipotence to save a rich man.
27 ¶ Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
27 Verse 27. We have forsaken all] "A poor all," says one, "a
parcel of rotten nets." No matter-they were their ALL, whether
rotten or sound; besides, they were the all they got their bread
by; and such an all as was quite sufficient for that purpose: and
let it be observed, that that man forsakes much who reserves
nothing to himself, and renounces all expectations from this
world, taking God alone for his portion. See Mt 4:20.
To forsake all, without following Christ, is the virtue of a
philosopher. To follow Christ in profession, without forsaking
all, is the state of the generality of Christians. But to
follow Christ and forsake all, is the perfection of a
What shall we have therefore?] τιαραεσταιημιν, What REWARD
shall we get? This Kypke proves to be the meaning of the words
from some of the best Greek writers.
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
28 Verse 28. Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when
the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, &c.] The
punctuation which I have observed here, is that which is followed
by the most eminent critics: the regeneration is thus referred to
the time when Jesus shall sit on the throne of his glory, and
not to the time of following him, which is utterly improper.
The regeneration, παλιγγενεσια. Some refer this to the time in
which the new heavens and the new earth shall be created, and the
soul and body united. The Pythagoreans termed that παλιγγενεσια,
when, according to their doctrine of the transmigration or
metempsychosis, the soul entered into a new body, and got into a
new state of being. Clement, in his Epistle to the Corinthians,
calls the restoration of the world, after the deluge, by the same
Judging the twelve tribes] From the parallel place,
it is evident that sitting on thrones, and judging the twelve
tribes, means simply obtaining eternal salvation, and the
distinguishing privileges of the kingdom of glory, by those who
continued faithful to Christ in his sufferings and death.
Judging, κρινοντες. Kypke has shown that κρινεσθαι is to
be understood in the sense of governing, presiding, holding the
first or most distinguished place. Thus, Ge 49:16,
Dan shall JUDGE his people, i.e. shall preside in, or rule
over them; shall occupy a chief place among the tribes. It is
well known that the Judges among the Jews were moderators,
captains, chief, or head men. The sense therefore of our Lord's
words appears to be, that these disciples should have those
distinguished seats in glory which seem to belong peculiarly to
the first confessors and martyrs. See 1Th 4:14, 16, and
particularly Re 20:4-6.
The last-quoted passage brings into view the doctrine of the
Millennium, when Jesus, after having formed the new heavens and
the new earth, shall reign here gloriously among his ancients
365,000 years; for the thousand years referred to above are
certainly prophetical years, in which, it is well known, each day
stands for a year.
Others, of no mean note, are of opinion that the regeneration
means the conversion of men by the preaching of the Gospel-that
sitting on twelve thrones signifies the state of eminent dignity
to which the apostles should be raised-and that judging the twelve
tribes of Israel, means no more than exercising authority in the
Church, and dispensing laws to the people of God. But I confess I
do not see the propriety of this application of the terms, as the
following verse seems to fix the meaning mentioned above.
29And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
30But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
30 Verse 30. But many that are first, &c.] The Jews, who have
been the first and most distinguished people of God, will in
general reject the Gospel of my grace, and be consequently
rejected by me. The Gentiles, who have had no name among the
living, shall be brought to the knowledge of the truth, and become
the first, the chief, and most exalted people of God. That this
prediction of our Lord has been literally fulfilled, the present
state of the Christian and Jewish Churches sufficiently proves.
To illustrate this fully, and to demonstrate that the Jews and
Gentiles were now put on an equal footing by the Gospel, our Lord
speaks the following parable, which has been unhappily divided
from its connection by making it the beginning of a new chapter.