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Bible Commentaries

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament
Matthew 12



Verse 1

Of corn; of grain, such as barley or wheat.

Verse 4

The house of God; the tabernacle, which preceded the temple.

Verse 5

Profane the Sabbath; perform labor, which, under other circumstances, would be a profanation of the Sabbath.

Verse 7

Mercy, and not sacrifice; mercy, rather than sacrifice; that is, the spirit of piety, rather than a rigid tenaciousness in regard to its forms.

Verse 8

The Savior seems to place his defence of the act of the disciples in travelling and gathering food on the Sabbath, on the ground of a dispensation from the usual obligations of the day, made on his authority, as the Messiah.

Verse 16

Make him known; make known the place of his retreat, and thus betray him to the anger and violence of his enemies.

Verse 17

Esaias; Isaiah 42:1-4.

Verse 18

Show judgment; reveal truth.

Verse 19

During the whole of our Savior's ministry, we observe the most constant efforts to allay the popular excitement, and to avoid every scene which could lead to tumult or commotion. On the occasion on which this passage is quoted, he had retreated from a threatened disturbance (Matthew 12:15) to the solitudes of the mountains, to teach quietly there those who were disposed to come to him.

Verse 20

The bruised reed and smoking flax are emblems of helplessness, dejection, and sorrow. The images are expressive of the mildness and gentleness with which Jesus instils truth into the minds of his followers, and of the tender care which he exercises in sustaining the weak, restoring the fallen, and raising the dejected and desponding.--Till he send forth judgment unto victory; till the truth which he proclaims is victorious.

Verse 23

The son of David; the promised Messiah.

Verse 27

Your children; persons of your sect or party. It seems that there were such, who claimed the power of dispossessing evil spirits.

Verse 28

The Spirit of God; the power of God, in this case as is proved by the phraseology in Luke 11:20.

Verse 29

The argument is, that to expel evil spirits from the places where they had established themselves, evinces a power stronger than that which those spirits ordinarily obeyed.

Verse 31

Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. The sin which I the Pharisees had been committing was that of maliciously and stubbornly ascribing to Satan those works which they well knew could only be performed by divine power.

Verse 32

Against the Son of man; against Jesus, considered as the Son of man. Such were the circumstances of his lowly birth and humble condition, that the ordinary worldliness and sin of the human heart might be sufficient to blind men to his claims; and consequently, the rejection of them, at that time, was not an unpardonable sin. But maledictions against the Holy Ghost, that is, against the divine power by which these miracles were performed, (Matthew 12:28,) implied an altogether extraordinary guilt. It was a direct, deliberate, and wilful opposition to the counsels and authority of God.--Neither in this world nor in that which is to come; a phrase plainly intended to express, in the strongest possible manner, the idea of eternal and hopeless ruin.

Verse 33

They had attributed the Savior's efforts relieving the sick and the suffering, to the influence of Satan--the very personification of malice and wickedness. This was making good fruit come from a very bad tree.

Verse 36

Idle word; malicious and unjust word, such as those which they had been speaking against him.

Verse 37

By thy words; that is, as well as by actions. The meaning is that, though men express their feelings of anger and injustice only by words, they are guilty.

Verse 38

A sign, a sign from heaven; some stupendous miracle to prove his divine mission, more imposing than the miracles which he had performed upon the sick.

Verse 42

Queen of the south; the queen of Sheba. (1 Kings 10:1.)

Matthew 12:43-45. The sentiment is, that guilt and sin may be suspended from action for a time, in the human heart, while they are not destroyed. And then, after a temporary respite, the disease returns with greater violence than ever. The application of the sentiment, in this conversation, is not obvious.

Verse 46

Brethren. Compare Matthew 13:55,27:56. They were alarmed for his safety,--so great was the excitement against him,--and came, accordingly, to conduct him away (Mark 3:21,31,) but could not get in to speak to him, on account of the crowd.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Matthew 12:4". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 21st, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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