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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Mark 12

 

 

Verse 1

1. ἐν παραβολαῖς. Cf. Mark 3:23, Mark 4:2. Mk gives only one parable, but Mt. gives three. This and the Sower and the Mustard Seed are the three parables which are in all three Synoptics, and Mt. places this parable between the Two Sons, which treats of work in the vineyard, and the Marriage of the King’s Son. During the special training of the Twelve there had been few, if any, parables. In these last days of public teaching Christ began to use them again. But, although there probably were several, ἐν παραβολαῖς does not necessarily mean more than one. It is an O.T. phrase, and may be used of a single parable or dark saying, like our “You are speaking in parables.” The αὐτοῖς evidently means the deputation from the Sanhedrin; so also Mt. But Lk. says that He began πρὸς τὸν λαὸν λέγειν. If He spoke to the people, He spoke at the hierarchy, who were still present. The parable contains an indirect answer to the question which they raised. His authority is that of the Father who sent Him, as He sent the Prophets through many generations; and he warns them of the judgment which awaits them, when they have slain Him as they slew the previous messengers. This story, therefore, might be called an allegory rather than a parable, for it sets forth in a figure past, present, and future events, rather than truths for the permanent guidance of believers. As Mark 12:9 shows, the tenants of the vineyard are not the hierarchy but the nation whom they mislead, and the vineyard is not the nation, but the nation’s spiritual privileges. It is not intimated that the Jews will be handed over to other leaders, but that their privileges will be handed over to the Gentiles. The whole nation followed the lead of the hierarchy in putting the Messiah to death and shared in the guilt of that act; and it was the whole nation that was dispossessed. Christ is recalling the well-known parable in Isaiah 5:1-7, and there also the whole nation is condemned. Cf. Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15:1-6; Ezekiel 19:10-14; Hosea 10:1; Deuteronomy 32:32. The audience would understand the imagery of the parable. It is somewhat captious criticism when Loisy says that a man who plants his own vineyard is not likely to be a lord who takes a long journey, and that an owner who lives a long way off would not want to be paid in kind with fruit. It is not said that he planted the vineyard himself, or that he went a long way off, or that the messengers could not sell the fruit and bring money for it. Moreover, reasonable hearers do not expect everything in a parable to be prosaically probable: it suffices that there are no glaring impossibilities. Lk. makes the story more symmetrical; a single slave is sent thrice, and the treatment of the messengers becomes steadily worse, until it culminates in the death of the son. From Lk. comes the reading λέγειν in this verse; [2853][2854][2855][2856][2857], Latt. Syrr. have λαλεῖν.

Ἀμπελῶνα ἄνθρ. ἐφύτευσεν. Cf. Genesis 9:20; Deuteronomy 20:6; Deuteronomy 28:30; Deuteronomy 28:39, etc. The termination -ων is similar to -etum in Latin. Cf. ἐλαιών (Mark 11:1), δενδρών (Aq. Genesis 21:33; 1 Samuel 31:13), ῥοδών, etc.

φραγμόν. In Palestine, fences are commonly of stone, which is abundant (Numbers 22:24; Proverbs 24:31; Isaiah 5:5). Stanley, Sin. and Pal. p. 421.

ὑπολήνιον. The ληνός (Mt.) was the trough, cut in the solid rock or lined with masonry, in which the grapes were trodden, and out of which the juice flowed into the ὑπολήνιον. These details have no separate meaning. They show that the tenants were well treated by the owner. The vineyard was protected from wild animals (Numbers 22:24; Psalms 80:13; Song of Solomon 2:15), and there was a complete outfit for wine-making. Tristram, Eastern Customs in Bible Lands, p. 138.

πύργον. A residence for the wine-dressers and a watch-tower against robbers (Isaiah 1:8, Mark 5:2).

γεωργοῖς. A generic term including ἀμπελουργοί (Luke 13:7). In Jeremiah 52:16 the two are distinguished. As in the parable of the Unrighteous Steward, these tenants had a long lease and paid in kind. All three Gospels have ἐξέδετο (WH. App. p. 168; Blass § 23. 3), which occurs nowhere else in N.T. The verb is used in the same sense in Plato (Laws, vii. 806 D), but in LXX. of giving a daughter in marriage (Exodus 2:21; Sirach 7:25; 1 Maccabees 10:58).

ἀπεδήμησεν. Went into another country (R.V.); “far country” is more than the word means, and the parable implies that the owner was not far off. Lk. adds χρόνους ἱκανούς. Origen interprets the absence as meaning the withdrawal of the Shechinah. The cessation of the theocracy is more probable. In any case, the tenants are not forgotten. Jehovah frequently reminds them of their duty to Him. It is like the act of a father who gives his children the opportunity of right action without constant supervision.


Verses 1-12

1–12. THE WICKED HUSBANDMEN

Matthew 21:33-46. Luke 20:9-19


Verse 2

2. δοῦλον. Bondservant or slave. This designation, so degrading among men, becomes a title of nobility when the servant is in voluntary bondage to the Lord. Moses, Aaron, David, and the Prophets are all in a special sense δοῦλοι Κυρίου or Θεοῦ. St Paul was proud of being δοῦλος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Romans 1:1; cf. the greetings in Phil., Tit., Jas, 2 Pet., Jude).

ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν. The proportion, or the fixed amount, which they had covenanted to pay is not stated. They refused to pay any rent. Cf. Leviticus 19:23-25.


Verse 3

3. λαβόντεςἀπέστειλαν. He was sent to take the fruits, and the men took him and sent him off without any. This is probably a mere accident in expression; Mk is not given to playing on words. The more literary Lk. is more subtle in language; in Mark 5:25 he perhaps does mean to suggest that the man now carried what had hitherto carried him. St Paul is fond of playing on words; see on 2 Corinthians 1:13 and App. D. In LXX. δέρω, if the readings are right, means “flay” (Leviticus 1:6; 2 Chronicles 29:34; 2 Chronicles 35:11); in N.T. it means always “beat.” Cf. our colloquial “hide,” “give a hiding.” For “send empty away” see Luke 1:53; Genesis 31:42; Deuteronomy 15:13; 1 Samuel 6:3; Job 22:9.


Verse 4

4. ἐκεφαλίωσαν. The verb occurs nowhere else in Greek literature, but there is not much doubt about the meaning; in capite vulnaverunt (Vulg.). Mt. substitutes ἐλιθοβόλησαν, Lk. τραυματίσαντες. “Beheaded” would be ἀπεκεφάλισαν (Mark 6:16), but k has decollaverunt. The unnecessary conjecture ἐκολάφισαν has no authority. Syr-Sin. omits the verse.


Verse 5

5. κἀκεῖνον. If ἐκεφαλίωσαν be rendered “beheaded,” this is “him also”; otherwise “and him.” Here, as in most places, κἀκεῖνον, and not καὶ ἐκεῖνον, is found in the best MSS. See on Mark 10:1. Syr-Sin. omits this murder.

πολλοὺς ἄλλους. Loose conversational constr. The statement is true to history, in which both rulers and people are found in constant opposition to the Prophets; e.g. 1 Kings 18:13; 1 Kings 22:27; 2 Chronicles 24:20; 2 Chronicles 36:15; Nehemiah 9:26; Jeremiah 25:3-7; Jeremiah 35:15. Their number makes a telling contrast to ἕνα υἱόν. This is lost in Lk. For μὲνδὲ … cf. Mark 14:21; Mark 14:38. It is rare in Mk.


Verse 6

6. ἀγαπητόν. It is possible to take the term as a Messianic title in Mark 1:11 and Mark 9:7, but not here. Put a comma between υἱόν and ἀγαπητόν, “one son, a beloved one,” i.e. an only son (Judges 11:34). Cf. Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 1:2. In N.T. ἀγαπητός is used only of Christ or of Christians.

Ἐντραπήσονται. In all three. The meaning seems to be that of “turning towards” a person to pay respect to him (Luke 18:2; 2 Thessalonians 3:14; Hebrews 12:9). But the act. (1 Corinthians 4:14) means “I put to shame,” which may come from “I turn in,” i.e. “make a man hang his head,” either in reverence or in confusion; cf. ἐντροπή (1 Corinthians 6:5; 1 Corinthians 15:34). This meaning is found in LXX. and in late colloquial Greek, as shown in papyri. The question of “turning towards” or “turning in” is unimportant.

This is parable or allegory, not history, and the owner of the vineyard is a man (Mark 12:1), who might be mistaken about the effect of sending his son. He acts, not as God acts, but as He appears to act. God sometimes seems to repent of His own actions (Jeremiah 18:8; Jeremiah 18:10; Jeremiah 26:13; Joel 2:13; Amos 7:3; Jonah 3:9); but this is only man’s point of view (Numbers 23:13). Cf. Isaiah 5:4.


Verse 7

7. ἐκεῖνοι δέ. The pronoun places the men at a distance from the writer in abhorrence; But those wicked men, the husbandmen; cf. Mark 14:21; John 8:44; John 10:1; see on John 13:30. The scene recalls that of Joseph’s brethren plotting against him; δεῦτε ἀποκτείνωμεν αὐτόν are their words also (Genesis 37:20). The killing of the previous messengers was defiance; the killing of the son might be permanent gain. Here the parable leaves history and becomes prophecy, and (as often in prophecy) what is predicted as certain is spoken of as having taken place. Christ knew that the Jews meant to kill Him and that He would submit to being killed. The final messenger to the husbandmen had told them that he was the son. Christ did the same, at first by signs, and finally in plain words (Mark 14:62).


Verse 8

8. καὶ ἐξέβαλον αὐτόν. They flung out his corpse to the birds and beasts; a last act of defiance and insult. Mt. and Lk. make the casting out precede the slaying, possibly because Christ was crucified outside Jerusalem. Naboth was taken outside the city to be stoned (1 Kings 21:13); also Stephen (Acts 7:58).


Verse 9

9. ἐλεύσεται καὶ ἀπολέσει. Mt. says that the members of the Sanhedrin made this reply, and it may represent the presentiments of some of them; but doubtless it was our Lord who uttered it. It predicts the destruction of Jerusalem, of the Jews as a nation, and of Judaism as represented by the Temple-worship.

δώσει τὸν ἀμπελῶνα ἄλλοις. The spiritual privileges of the Jews are to pass to the new Israel, which will consist mainly of Gentiles, and they “will render Him the fruits of their seasons” (Mt.), otherwise “they also will be cut off” (Romans 11:22). Lk. says that Christ’s prediction was received by those whom He addressed with μὴ γένοιτο, which, though more probable than Mt.’s statement that they themselves uttered the prediction, is perhaps Lk.’s idea of what they must have felt.


Verse 10

10. οὐδὲ τὴν γραφὴν ταύτην ἀν. Have ye not read even this scripture? (R.V.). “Did ye never read” occurs Mark 2:25; Matthew 21:16; cf. Matthew 19:4; Matthew 22:31. Ἡ γραφή in N.T. commonly means a particular passage; the O.T. as a whole is αἱ γραρφί (Mark 12:24). See on John 2:22.

Λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν. Attraction to the relative. From the vineyard in Isaiah 5 we pass to the equally familiar builders in Psalms 118, part of which had been sung by the multitude at the triumphal entry; and the quotation is as exact from the LXX. as the LXX. from the Hebrew. Just as the vine-dressers reject the messengers, so the builders reject the stone, and with equally fatal result (Mt. and Lk.). Perhaps we ought to translate “A stone” rather than “The stone.” The builders rejected many stones, and one of the rejected stones became “head of the corner.” But “The stone” may be right, if Λίθος was a name for the Messiah (Justin, Try. 34, 36). For ἀποδοκιμάζω see on Mark 8:31. Γίνομαι εἰς occurs in Lk. and Acts, and is freq. in quotations from LXX. The change of picture from the vineyard to the builders makes allusion to the Resurrection possible; the slain son could not be revived in the story, but the rejected stone can be promoted.

κεφαλὴν γωνίας. A corner-stone uniting two walls; but whether at the base or at the top is not certain. Some think that it means the highest stone in the building; cf. Zechariah 4:7. The expression occurs nowhere but in Psalms 118 and the quotations from it here, Acts 4:11, and 1 Peter 2:7, where see Hort. The Psalm is probably connected with the dedication of the second Temple, in the building of which some such incident may have occurred. Perowne on Psalms 118.


Verse 11

11. παρὰ κυρίου ἐφένετο αὕτη. Either From Jehovah this corner-stone came, or From Jehovah this came to pass = This was from the Lord (R.V.). In the latter case αὕτη is a Hebraism, αὕτη = “this thing.” Cf. οὐκ ἐγένετο ὡς αὕτη (Judges 19:30); αὑ γέγονεν τοιαύτη (1 Samuel 4:7); αὕτη με παρεκάλεσεν (Psalms 119:50), where τὸν λόγον σου precedes. But there is no other instance of this Hebraistic fem. in N.T. For the constr. cf. Mark 12:2, Mark 14:43; John 1:6.


Verse 12

12. αὐτὸν κρατῆσαι. Cf. Mark 3:21, Mark 14:44; Mark 14:46; Mark 14:49; Mark 14:51.

καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν. We might expect ἀλλʼ ἐφοβήθησαν. Cf. Mark 6:19. The two statements, however, are put side by side, not in opposition, but in contrast. The hierarchy were continually trying to arrest Him, and, just when He had shown that He knew of their murderous plots, their fear of the people hindered them from arresting Him. Winer, p. 544 n. A similar fear had kept Antipas from putting the Baptist to death. In Mark 11:32 we have their habitual feeling of fear (imperf.); here we have its operation in a particular instance.

ἔγνωσαν γάρ. Because they recognized the reference (Luke 12:41; Luke 18:1; Romans 10:21; Hebrews 1:7-8) to themselves, they desired all the more to arrest Him.

πρὸς αὐτούς. With emphasis; that it was in reference to them, or against them (Acts 23:30), that He spake.

ἀφέντες αὐτόν. Just the opposite of their desires and endeavours. They dared not take public action against this popular Prophet, all the less so as pilgrims from Galilee were daily increasing in Jerusalem.


Verse 13

13. ἀποστέλλουσιν. Mk in his conversational style supplies no nominative, and apparently it is the baffled Sanhedrists who send another relay of insidious questioners. Mt. says that the Pharisees are the senders.

καὶ τῶν Ἡρῳδιανῶν. We had this remarkable alliance Mark 3:6. The Herodians were obnoxious to the Pharisees on political grounds, as the Sadducees were on religious grounds; but the Pharisees were willing to work with either for the destruction of Jesus. The Passover brought all parties to Jerusalem.

ἀγρεύσωσιν. A hunting metaphor, of catching wild animals. The λόγῳ includes both their question and His answer. This verb and παγιδεύω (Mt.) occur nowhere else in N.T., but both are found in LXX. in a figurative sense, as here (Proverbs 5:22; Ecclesiastes 9:12). In different ways all three Gospels call attention to the hypocrisy of these questioners. They skilfully act the part of innocent and earnest enquirers, and profess to rely upon His courage and sincerity for an answer unbiased by fear or favour.


Verses 13-17

13–17. THE PHARISEES’ QUESTION ABOUT TRIBUTE

Matthew 22:15-22. Luke 20:20-26


Verse 14

14. ἀληθὴς εἶ. They did not believe this, but they knew that Jesus professed it (John 8:14; John 8:16; John 8:18; John 8:40); and we have here indirect confirmation of the Fourth Gospel, in which ἀληθής and the cognate words are freq., whereas ἀληθής occurs nowhere in the Synoptic Gospels, except in this saying.

οὐ μέλει σοι. Cf. Mark 4:38; Luke 10:40; John 10:13.

βλέπεις εἰς πρόσωπον. In LXX. we have ὁρᾶν εἰς πρ. (1 Samuel 16:7), but more often θαυμάζειν πρ. (Leviticus 19:15; Proverbs 18:5; Job 13:10; cf. Judges 1:16) or λαμβάνειν πρ. (Malachi 1:8-9; Malachi 2:9; Sirach 4:21; Sirach 4:27; cf. Luke 20:21; Galatians 2:6).

ἐπʼ ἀληθείας. On a basis of truth, or according to truth (Luke 4:25; Luke 22:59; Acts 10:34). Cf. ἐπʼ ἀδείας, ἐπὶ σχολῆς, ἐπʼ ἴσης, sc. μοίρας.

τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ. Cf. Acts 18:26. The opposite of “evil ways,” “ways of sinners,” “false ways” (Psalms 119:101; Psalms 119:104; Psalms 119:128).

ἔξεστιν δοῦναι. “Does the Law allow it?” Cf. εἰ ἔξεστιν (Mark 10:2), οὐκ ἔξεστιν (Mark 2:24; Mark 2:26, Mark 6:18). Since the deposition of Archelaus, Judaea had paid a poll-tax to Rome, and this question about the lawfulness of paying tribute had been raised by Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37), whose rebellion, about A.D. 7, is often mentioned by Josephus (Ant. xviii. 1. 1, etc.). Like the question about authority, this was in itself a fair one to put to a public teacher; it was one about which the Pharisees (Mt.) and the partisans of Herod might feel perplexed. How could the payment of a poll-tax, which went to the fiscus of a heathen Emperor who had robbed the Jews of their freedom, be reconciled with the Law?

κῆνσον. Census from meaning the valuation of a person’s estate came to mean the tax which depended on the valuation, and then any kind of impost, which is the meaning here. The impost being a poll-tax, [2858] and some other authorities have ἐπικεφάλαιον, k capitularium.

ἢ οὔ; The alternative is not otiose; they wish to tie Him down to a plain Yes or No, either of which would land Him in difficulty.

ἢ μὴ δῶμεν; Deliberative subj. (Mark 4:30, Mark 6:24; Mark 6:37), and hence the change from οὐ to μή. This second question is omitted by Mt. and Lk., also by Syr-Sin. in Mk., as superfluous fulness, as in Mark 1:32; Mark 1:42, Mark 6:25, etc.


Verse 15

15. εἰδὼς αὐτῶν τὴν ὑπόκρισιν. All three point out that Christ saw their insidious acting, but each uses a different verb and substantive. Mt. γνοὺς πονηρίαν, while Lk. has his favourite κατανοήσας with πανουργίαν. One might have expected Mt. to prefer εἰδώς (intuitive knowledge) to γνούς (knowledge gained by experience).

Τί με πειράζετε; Christ knew why, but His question shows them that He is aware that their question is a trap.

φέρετέ μοι δηνάριον. Bring Me a denarius; φέρετε has far more point than δείξατε (Lk.) or ἐπιδείξατε (Mt.). Christ knew that no one would have heathen money about him; and, as He had banished the money-changers from the Temple, it would have to be fetched from outside. This involved a pause, during which the by-standers would speculate as to why Christ had sent for τὸ νόμισμα τοῦ κήνσου (Mt.), the coin in which the poll-tax was paid. See on Mark 6:37.

ἵνα ἴδω. Mk only, but implied in δείξατε. This is part of the acted lesson. It is unlikely that Christ had never seen a denarius. He knows that it will be stamped as Caesar’s. The copper coins of the Procurators had no “image” or other figure likely to offend the Jews. [2859][2860][2861][2862] have ἵνα εἰδῶ (Mark 2:10); “that I may know the answer to your question.”


Verse 16

16. ἐπιγραφή. Existing coins of Tiberius have round the head TI·CAESAR·DIVI·AVG·F·AVG·, and on the reverse PONTIF·MAXIM. Cf. Τίνα ἔχει χαρακτήρα τοῦτο τὸ τετρασσάριον; Τραιανοῦ (Epict. Dis. iv. 5). The question there is asked for a didactic purpose, but a different one.


Verse 17

17. Τὰ Καίσαρος ἀπόδοτε Καίσαρι. The change from δοῦναι to ἀπόδοτε gives the whole principle. It was not a question of giving what might lawfully be refused, but of paying what was lawfully claimed. The tribute was not a gift but a debt. Caesar gave them the inestimable benefit of stable government; were they to take it and decline to pay anything towards its maintenance? The discharge of this duty in no way interfered with their duty to God. The paying of the coin, with Caesar’s image upon it, to Caesar in no way hindered a man’s giving himself, made in God’s image, to God. Οὐδὲν ἐμποδίζει πρὸς θεοσέβειαν τὸ τελεῖν τῷ καίσαρι (Theoph.): indeed the one duty was included in the other. Ranke has pointed to this Saying as having had immense influence on the course of history. This is true, but largely through misunderstanding; Christ does not say anything here as to the relations between Church and State. Lightfoot, Sermons in St Paul’s, pp. 46 ff.

ἐξεθαύμαζον. All three mention the admiration of the audience. The answer was complete, and yet, as Lk. points out, there was nothing to take hold of; the Saying was ἄληπτον. The compound verb is rare; Sirach 27:23; Sirach 43:18; 4 Maccabees 17:17. Cf. ἐκθαμβέομαι (Mk only in N.T.).

Here some critics place the pericope about the Woman taken in Adultery.


Verse 18

18. Σαδδουκαῖοι. Mk mentions them nowhere else; nor does Lk., except in Acts. Jn nowhere mentions them. In Mt. they are six times coupled with the Pharisees. We may regard them as the priestly aristocracy. They were much less numerous than the Pharisees and much less popular. Josephus (Ant. XVIII. i. 4) says that Sadducees who became magistrates professed the views of the Pharisees, otherwise the people would not have tolerated them, for a belief in a resurrection had become popular (2 Maccabees 6:26; 2 Maccabees 7:9; 2 Maccabees 7:14; 2 Maccabees 12:43; 2 Maccabees 14:46). Their denial of a resurrection grew out of their attitude towards the oral tradition, which the Pharisees held to be binding, while the Sadducees said that it was not. Both agreed that the doctrine could not be proved from Scripture, for against what is said on one side (Job 19:26; Psalms 16:9-11; Psalms 17:15; Isaiah 26:19) must be set what is said on the other (Psalms 6:5; Psalms 88:11; Psalms 115:17; Ecclesiastes 9:4-10; Isaiah 38:18-19). To the Sadducees this meant that resurrection was an open question, and they refused to believe it (Acts 23:8; Joseph. Ant. XVIII. i. 4, B.J. II. viii. 4). Excepting Luke 2:34, ἀνάστασις in N.T. is always resurrection from the dead, a meaning which is very rare and late in LXX. (2 Maccabees 7:14). It is doubtful whether οἵτινες, “who are of such a class as to,” refers to the Sadducees as a whole, or to those who came to question our Lord. All Sadducees said that resurrection was not an article of faith, but some may have believed that it was true. Lk. confines the denial to those who came; τινες τῶν Σαδ. οἱ λέγοντες, not τῶν λεγόντων. In all three the denial is given as a matter of opinion, μὴ εἶναι, as in Acts 23:8. The Corinthian sceptics declared as a fact that there is no such thing as a resurrection of dead people, ὅτι ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν οὐκ ἔστιν (1 Corinthians 15:12). These Sadducees knew that Christ had discomfited their opponents the Pharisees, and they hoped to succeed where their adversaries had failed.

ἐπηρώτων. Conversational imperf. (Mark 5:9, Mark 7:17, Mark 8:23; Mark 8:27; Mark 8:29, etc.). Mt. and Lk. have the aor.


Verses 18-27

18–27. THE SADDUCEES’ QUESTION ABOUT RESURRECTION

Matthew 22:23-33. Luke 20:27-28


Verse 19

19. Ἐάν τινος ἀδελφός. The allusion is to Deuteronomy 25:5, but the exact words are not quoted; nor do the Synoptists agree in their wording.

μὴ ἀφῇ τέκνον. Deuteronomy 25:5 says “have no son,” but in LXX. σπέρμα is used, and the Talmud says that the deceased brother must have no child. Here all three say childless. Leviticus 18:16; Leviticus 20:21 forbids marriage with a brother’s wife, and this is sometimes interpreted to mean that such marriage is forbidden during the brother’s life. But would it be necessary to forbid such a union? More probably Lev. gives the rule, and Deut. states an exception to it. Driver on Deuteronomy 25:5-10. The Levirate law is still widely prevalent in certain tribes in Asia, America and Polynesia. Among the Jews it does not seem to have been liked, and Deut. allows the surviving brother to refuse to take the widow. It would be of more importance to Sadducees than to others. Those who deny individual immortality find a kind of substitute for it in the continuation of the family; but to them the dying out of the family means absolute extinction. See D.C.G. art. “Levirate Law.”


Verse 20

20. ἑπτὰ ἀδελφοὶ ἦσαν. The is example is framed so as to make resurrection appear ridiculous; πλάττουσι τὴν διήγησιν ταύτην. Mt. inserts παρʼ ἡμῖν, and [2863] has παρʼ ἡμῖν in Mk; but it is not likely that such a case had occurred. The Sadducees perhaps insinuated that the Levirate law showed that Moses did not believe in a resurrection. Christ produces evidence that Moses must have believed in it.

ἀποθνήσκων. “In dying,” “at his death.” Here again, and throughout in all three, nothing is said about a son; it is “leaving no seed,” or “being childless.”


Verse 21

21. μὴ καταλιπών. See crit. note. Without leaving seed behind him. As usual the participle has, μή, not οὐ. See on Mark 2:4, Mark 5:26, Mark 6:34, Mark 8:1.

ὡσαύτως. The adv. is amphibolous, but it is best taken with what precedes (A.V., R.V., WH.). In 1 Corinthians 11:25 and 1 Timothy 5:25, ὡσαύτως must be taken with the καί that follows. [2864] omits the third brother and continues καὶ ὡσαύτως.


Verse 22

22. ἔσχατον πάντων. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:8; Mt. has his favourite ὕστερον, which Mk nowhere uses. See crit. note.


Verse 23

23. τίνος αὐτῶν ἔσται γυνή; See crit. note and WH. App. p. 26. They put an extreme case; but less extreme cases were common without the action of the Levirate law. A woman often married twice, and to those who regarded the future life as similar to the present one, the question naturally arose, “Whose wife will she be?” The accepted answer seems to have been, “The wife of her first husband.” Christ might have adopted this answer, and it would have sufficed to rebut the Sadducean objection; but such an answer would have confirmed the current debasing views respecting the life to come.

ἔσχον αὐτὴν γυναῖκα. Got her as wife, a usual meaning of ἔσχον (John 4:18; John 4:52; Galatians 4:22; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; Philemon 1:7). J. H. Moulton, p. 145. Syr-Sin. omits γυναῖκα.


Verse 24

24. ἔφη αὐτοῖς. See crit. note, and for the rare kind of asyndeton cf. Mark 9:38, Mark 10:29. Syr-Sin. has “Our Lord answered and said.”

Οὐ διὰ τοῦτο. Is it not because of this that ye go astray, that ye know not, etc.? See on Mark 12:10 for similar questions asked by Christ. They thought that they had Scripture on their side, and what was still worse (μηδέ as in Mark 6:11), they did not realize the power of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:34). The latter kind of ignorance is corrected first. But Christ expresses no opinion of the Levirate law; He neither condemns nor confirms it. See on Mark 13:5 for πλανάω.


Verse 25

25. οὔτε γαμοῦσιν οὔτε γαμίζονται. The former, as in class. Grk, of the man, the latter of the woman, who is given in marriage by her father (1 Corinthians 7:38). The questioners did not see that God could not only grant life in another world, but also make it very different from life in this world. The Sadducees assumed that, unless the conditions of life hereafter are the same as in this life, there can be no future life at all. Marriage is necessary here to preserve the race, but where all are immortal there is no need of marriage. In Enoch (xv. 6, 7) the Lord says to the Angels, “You were spiritual, in the enjoyment of eternal immortal life, for all generations of the world. Therefore I have not appointed wives for you; for the spiritual have their dwelling in heaven.”

ὡς ἄγγελοι. Angels do not marry, because they are immortal, and those who rise from the dead are like them. This comparison is in all three, and it had special point in dealing with Sadducees, correcting another of their errors (Acts 23:8). It tells us nothing respecting the manner of the resurrection, but it tells us that those who rise will not die again, and it assures us that such beings as Angels, who live under very different conditions from those under which we live here, exist. Cf. Mark 8:38; also Mark 13:27 = Matthew 24:31; Matthew 13:32 = Matthew 24:36; Matthew 13:39; Matthew 13:41; Matthew 13:49; Matthew 18:10; Matthew 25:31; Matthew 26:53; Luke 12:8-9; Luke 15:10; Luke 16:22; John 1:51. It is unreasonable to suggest that in all these passages the Evangelists attribute their own beliefs to Christ, and that He never sanctioned the doctrine by the words which they report. See Latham, A Service of Angels, pp. 52–60.

ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. It is remarkable that Mk has this expression, while Mt. has ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ. We might have expected exactly the converse. See on εἰδώς (Mark 12:15) and cf. Mark 13:32 = Matthew 24:36.


Verse 26

26. οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε; The first-mentioned cause of error, ignorance of Scripture, is now corrected. We have had a similar question Mark 2:25 (see note and Mark 12:10).

ἐν τῇ βίβλῳ ΄ωυσέως. This tells us nothing as to the authorship of the Pentateuch or of the passage quoted. Our Lord uses “Moses” and “David” in the way in which all Jews used them at that time (Mark 1:44, Mark 7:10, Mark 10:3, Mark 12:36). It is incredible that in so doing He was deciding critical questions authoritatively.

ἐπὶ τοῦ βάτου. “At the portion of Scripture known as The Bush.” The section which contains the incident of the burning bush was so called. Similarly, ἐν Ἠλίᾳ (Romans 11:2) means in the section which contains the story of Elijah. Cf. 2 Samuel 1:18. But ἐπί (not ἐν) makes this explanation somewhat doubtful; ἐπί may be simply local, “at the bush.” This local meaning would be certain if the words ran πῶς ἐπὶ τοῦ βάτου, as A.V. takes them; but ἐπὶ τ. β. πῶς throws the probability the other way. In LXX., as here, βάτος. is masc. In Luke 20:37 and Acts 7:35 it is fem.

Christ does not appeal to Daniel 12:2. He goes to what for every Jew was the highest authority of all, the Pentateuch. That the Sadducees accepted no other books, though asserted by some Fathers, seems to be an error. In the Books of Moses, again and again the doctrine of a future life is to be found by those who have spiritual insight. In Genesis 26:24; Genesis 28:13, after the death of Abraham, God calls Himself “the God of Abraham.” In Exodus 3:6; Exodus 3:15-16; Exodus 4:5, after the death of all three, God calls Himself “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” If God is still their God, they are still alive; for “He is not a God of dead men, but of living.” Lifeless things can have a Creator, but not a God. “O ye ice and snow, bless ye the Lord” is poetical personification rather than intelligible worship. Gamaliel is said to have used a somewhat similar argument. God made promises to the patriarchs which were not fulfilled during their life on earth, and of course God’s promises to them must be fulfilled; therefore the patriarchs are still alive or will be revived. Christ’s argument is found 4 Maccabees 7:19; 4 Maccabees 16:25, but the date of that book may be later than Mk.

It will be observed that Christ’s argument, like St Paul’s, does not prove the resuscitation of the material body; it proves the survival of the soul or spirit, which will have a spiritual body suited to it (1 Corinthians 15:35-45). Christ says that the living God cannot be a God of dead persons; the continued relation of each one of them to Him as God (note the repetition of Θεός with each name) shows that the personal life of each one of them still survives. St Paul says that the continued relation of each believer to the Christ, who has been raised in a glorified Body of which believers are members, secures for each the continuance of bodily life. Death may lessen or destroy their relation to the world of sense, but it intensifies their relation to Christ and to God. Neither Christ nor St Paul tells us the connexion between the spiritual body which is immortal and the material body which is dissolved by death. Science shows us that the material particles of living organisms, in the course of ages, are used over and over again; and to ask Whose shall they be at the Resurrection? is repeating the error of the Sadducees.


Verse 27

27. πολὺ πλανᾶσθε. See crit. note. Mk alone has this. The terse abruptness is characteristic of his preservation of the original manner of utterance; ye go greatly astray. Cf. Mark 1:27, Mark 4:40, Mark 9:23, Mark 10:14; Mark 10:18. Religion, the bond between God and man, is indeed a poor ting, if man’s existence ends with death. Ceux qui ont vécu pour Dieu ne peuvent jamais être morts pour lui (Loisy).


Verse 28

28. προσελθὲν εἷς τῶν γραμματέων. When the discomfited Sadducees retired, a Scribe came forward and asked a question which was often discussed. Mk takes a favourable view of his intentions and says that his comment on Christ’s reply won from Him high commendation. Mt. does far otherwise. He says that the man was a Pharisee (therefore an enemy, according to Mt.), who, so far from being grateful to Christ for refuting the Sadducees about resurrection, put a testing question to Him, apparently to draw a vulnerable reply. The man makes no comment on Christ’s reply and receives no commendation. Lk. says that some of the Scribes praised Christ’s refutation of the Sadducees, but he does not give this conversation with one of them, perhaps because he has recorded a similar conversation earlier (Mark 10:25 f.). Note the accumulation of participles. Syr-Sin. omits the first and smooths the awkward constr. “And when one of the Scribes heard that He had answered well to those who were questioning Him.” See on Mark 1:15.

Ποία ἐστὶν ἐντολὴ πρώτη πάντων; R.V. elsewhere gives the right meaning to ποῖος (Luke 9:55; John 12:33; John 18:32; John 21:19; Romans 3:27; 1 Corinthians 15:35), but neither here nor Mark 11:28. Sometimes the distinctive meaning is faint or extinct, but here it has point. The Scribe wants to know what kind of a commandment is to be put in the highest place. The Rabbis divided the 613 precepts of the Law (248 commands and 365 prohibitions) into “weighty” and “light,” but the sorting of them caused much debate. This Scribe wants a principle of classification. The neut. πάντων looks as if πρωτ. πάντων was a colloquial expression used independently of the gender of whatever was “first.” Alford suggests that πρῶτος πάντων was treated as one word, “first-of-all”; or perhaps as meaning “first of all things” (Winer, p. 222; Blass § 36. 12). Examples from papyri are wanted; there seem to be none in Greek literature, where πρώτη πασῶν would be correct.


Verses 28-34

28–34. THE SCRIBE’S QUESTION ABOUT THE GREAT COMMANDMENT

Matthew 22:34-40. Cf. Luke 10:25-28; Luke 20:39


Verse 29

29. ἀπεκρίθη. Our Lord again shows that the answer is to be found in what is very familiar. The questioner had to recite twice daily a text which gave him the principle which he desired. That principle is the love of God, which is indicated in the Second Commandment, “showing mercy unto thousands in them that love Me,” and is set forth again and again in Deut. as that which ought to be the leading principle in human conduct (Deuteronomy 10:12, Deuteronomy 11:1; Deuteronomy 11:13; Deuteronomy 11:22, Deuteronomy 13:3, Deuteronomy 19:9, Deuteronomy 30:6; Deu_30:16; Deu_30:20). It there appears as the first commandment of all. See Driver on Deuteronomy 6:5. Praeceptum non modo maximum amplitudine, sed etiam primum natura (Beng.).

κύριος ὁ θεὸς κ.τ.λ. Of the three renderings (A.V., R.V., R.V. marg.) the first is the more approved rendering of the Hebrew; “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah” = “The Lord our God is one Lord” (R.V. in Deuteronomy 6:5 and A.V. here).


Verse 30

30. ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας σου. This use of ἐκ is classical; ἀλλʼ εἴπερ ἐκ τῆς καρδίας μʼ ὄντως φιλεῖς (Aristoph. Nub. 86). Mk follows LXX. in having ἐξ throughout, Mt. follows the Heb. with ἐν throughout, while Lk. (Luke 10:27) begins with ἐξ and changes to ἐν. The powers with which God is to be loved are thus given by each:

LXX. διάνοια, ψυχή, δύναμις,

Mt. καρδία, ψυχή, διάνοια,

Mk. καρδία, ψυχή, διάνοια, ἰσχύς,

Lk. καρδία, ψυχή, ἰσχύς, διάνοια.

Mt., as usual, prefers a triplet, but he might have made a better one, for there is as little difference between καρδία and διάνοια as between δύναμις and ἰσχύς. Except in quotations, no Evangelist uses διάνοια. Whether we have three or four terms, the meaning is that God is to be loved with all the powers which man can bring into play, whether of emotion, intellect or will. No psychological system lies at the back of the groups or is to be constructed out of them. Cf. the Testaments, ὑμεῖς δὲ φοβεῖσθε Κύριον τὸν Θεὸν ἡμῶν ἐν πάσῃ ἰσχύι ὑμῶν (Zebulon X. 5): also Apoc. of Baruch, lxi. 1, ex toto corde suo et ex tota anima sua.


Verse 31

31. Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου. In both cases it is ἀγάπη, as described 1 Corinthians 13, that is enjoined; φιλήσεις would have been less suitable, and in the case of love to God very unusual. Both in Exod. and Deut., the commandments are given in fut. indic. (οὐ ποιήσεις κ.τ.λ.), as here. See on Mark 10:19. The Scribe had asked about the πρώτη πάντων. Christ answers and goes on to show him what the “first of all” involves; see on 1 John 4:20-21. The second, which is involved in the first, is given in the exact words of LXX. (Leviticus 19:18). So also Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8, where it is called βασιλικὸς νόμος. But in none of these passages is the love of God coupled with the love of one’s neighbour; contrast Didache i. 2. The wording of Leviticus 19:18 encouraged Jews to put a very restricted meaning on τὸν πλησίον: no Gentile was a “neighbour.” Contrast John 15:12; Luke 10:36. The duty of loving one’s neighbour is more evident than that of loving God, yet the latter is prior in dignity and importance; for He is closer to us than our neighbours are, “nearer than hands and feet,” and the duty to love Him as our Father is the foundation of the duty to love them as brethren. These two commandments are found side by side in the Testaments, “Love the Lord in all your life, and one another in a true heart” (Daniel 5:3). Philo (De Septenario, p. 282 Mang.) mentions as the two ἀνωτάτω κεφάλαια, εὐσέβεια and ὁσιότης towards God, φιλανθρωπία and δικαιοσύνη towards men. See Sanday and Headlam, Romans, p. 376.


Verse 32

32. Καλῶς. The reply of the Scribe is given by Mk alone. Καλῶς is not an interjection. It may be taken either with the preceding εἶπεν, in which case it anticipates νουνεχῶς in Mark 12:34, or with the following εἶπας. In favour of the former is the fact that elsewhere Mk begins addresses with Διδάσκαλε (Mark 4:38, Mark 9:17; Mark 9:38, Mark 10:17; Mark 10:20; Mark 10:35, Mark 12:14; Mark 12:19, Mark 13:1). But the full expression in καλῶς ἐπʼ ἀληθείας is in Mk’s style, where ἐπʼ ἀλ. adds strength to καλῶς, but is otherwise pleonastic; “Verely thou hast sayde right” (Coverdale).

ὅτι Εἷς ἐστιν. That He is one (R.V.), not “for there is one God” (A.V.). The Scribe avoids using the Divine Name, and the insertion of θεός in some texts is a corruption.


Verse 33

33. τῆς συνέσεως. This takes the place of τῆς διανοίας without difference of meaning, and τῆς ψυχῆς is omitted.

περισσότερον. Much more (R.V.) rather than “more” (A.V.), which would be πλεῖον (Matthew 6:25): in Mark 12:40, A.V. and R.V. are alike defective.

ὁλοκαυτωμάτων. These are a higher species of θυσίαι, viz. those which ascend eucharistically to heaven. We have the same combination and much the same sense in 1 Samuel 15:22, which may have been in the Scribe’s mind. Cf. Psalms 49:8-10; Psalms 50:18-19; Jeremiah 7:22-23; Hosea 6:6.


Verse 34

34. νουνεχῶς. Here only in Bibl. Grk, and nowhere else in our Bible does discreetly appear. Polybius has νουνεχῶς several times, combining it with πρακτικῶς and φρονίμως. The Scribe showed νοῦς (1 Corinthians 14:14-15; Revelation 17:9) or intelligence in seeing that moral duties are far more important than ceremonial observances.

Οὐ μακρὰν εἶ. There may be an allusion to Isaiah 57:19. Cf. Acts 2:39; Ephesians 2:13; Ephesians 2:17. As in the case of the rich man (Mark 10:22), we are left in ignorance as to the ultimate issue. Did the rich man in the end follow Him to whom he had run for instruction? Did this Scribe enter the Kingdom to which he had come so near? Cf. 2 Peter 2:21.

οὐδεὶς οὐκέτι. See on Mark 1:44. The Evangelists put this remark in different places. Lk. has it after Christ had silenced the Sadducees. Mt. has it after Christ’s question about the Son of David, when all had been doubly silenced, for He had successfully answered their questions and they had failed to reply to His.


Verse 35

35. ἀποκριθείς. Syr-Sin. omits. As in Mark 9:5, Mark 11:14, Mark 15:12, we have ἀποκριθείς of responding to circumstances which elicit utterance. No words are recorded as calling for a reply; but His critics have been testing Him with questions, and now He closes the debate with a question of His own. Here the question is addressed to the people in His public teaching; Mt. says that the Pharisees gathered together and that He put the question to them. Lk. is indefinite.

Πῶς λέγουσιν. “In what sense can they make the statement?” Or “How can they maintain the statement?” This, however, may be making too much of πῶς. Perhaps “How can they say?” is all that is meant. The statement has obvious difficulty. As in the case of the Levirate law, Christ does not declare whether the statement is right or wrong; but He intimates that those who make it ought to be able to explain the difficulty. He is not asking a question for the mere purpose of baffling them (see on Mark 11:29); the answer to it would help them to understand who He was. The people had illustrated the teaching of the Scribes by hailing Him as the Messianic Son of David, and He had accepted that homage, so that His own position was clear. But how did those who resented that homage explain the Psalm?


Verses 35-37

35–37. THE LORD’S QUESTION ABOUT THE SON OF DAVID

Matthew 22:41-45. Luke 20:41-44


Verse 36

36. ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ. In the power of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. See on Mark 1:23. The fact that the Psalmist was inspired is stated with solemn fulness; and for that fact we may claim the authority of Christ. Among all the sons of men, if there be one who could give an authoritative decision as to whether a writer was inspired or not, He is that one, προφήτης ὑπάρχων (Acts 2:30). And we may perhaps claim His authority also for the belief that the Psalmist was writing of the Messiah. When we come to the question of the authorship of the Psalm, we are on different ground. We have no right to claim His authority in a matter which is not among things that are spiritually discerned, but is among those which can be decided by study and intelligence. We do not know what Christ believed about the authorship of Psalms 110. If (in the limitation of knowledge to which He submitted in becoming man) He shared the belief of those who sat on Moses’ seat, we may be sure that He had no intention of giving an authoritative decision on a question which had not been raised. “Man, who made Me a judge of such things?” So far as we can see, supernatural knowledge of the authorship of the parts of the O.T. would have hindered rather than helped His work, and it is rash to assume that He possessed it.

But it is not necessary to decide whether our Lord accepted the Davidic authorship of Psalms 110. His argument is founded on David being the speaker, and this argument “is justified if the author of the Psalm lets David appear as the spokesman” (Briggs, Psalms, II. p. 376). See Kirkpatrick on Psalms 110 in this series; Perowne, Psalms, p. 302; Sanday, Bampton Lectures, p. 419; Gore, Bamp. Lectt. p. 196; Dalman, Words, p. 285; Meyer or Weiss or Plummer on Matthew 22:43.

κάθου. This form occurs in the five quotations of this Psalm in N.T. and is freq. in LXX. See Thackeray, Gr. of the O.T. in Greek, p. 258; also Mayor on James 2:3, and cf. κάθῃ in Acts 23:3.

ὑποκάτω. So also in Mt., but Lk. agrees with LXX. and Heb. in having ὑποπόδιον. The change to ὑποκάτω avoids the tautology of ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν. See crit. note.


Verse 37

37. λέγει αὐτὸν κύριον. Cf. Mark 10:18.

καὶ πόθεν; Mt. has καὶ πῶς; We have both in Plato, Phaedr. 269 D, πῶς καὶ πόθεν ἄν τις δύναιτο πορίσασθαι;

ὁ πολὺς ὄχλος. The great multitude, “the mass of the people,” is perhaps better than “the common people” (A.V., R.V.). Field prefers the latter and gives quotations, which, however, can hardly decide in such a case, for both renderings, as here, make good sense. At the end, as at the beginning, of His Ministry, His teaching attracted masses. But with many of them ἤκουεν ἥδεως was like the same fact in Antipas with regard to the Baptist (Mark 6:20). They liked the freshness of His method and the skill with which He answered questions; they perhaps enjoyed hearing the professional teachers routed; and some may have appreciated the spiritual strength of His instruction. But, like Antipas, nearly all of them, when pressed, were ready to consent to their Teacher’s death.


Verse 38

38. ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ ἔλεγεν. As often, Mk has imperf. where Mt. and Lk. have aor. Only a brief denunciation is here common to all three; somewhat more is common to Mk and Lk.; but the greater part is in Mt. alone, who, however, has evidently strung together in one discourse denunciations which were uttered on other occasions. Lk. gives some of them in other and more probable settings. With the exception of Luke 20:45-47, none of the denunciations which are common to Mt. and Lk. are placed by Lk. as uttered on this occasion. Matthew 23 is a mosaic like the Sermon on the Mount. On the other hand, it is likely that more was said on this occasion than is placed here by Mk and Lk.; “in His teaching” almost implies that more was said than is recorded.

Βλέπετε ἀπό. See on Mark 8:15. Salmon quotes A.V. of this and Luke 20:46 as illustrating the differences which arise through independent translation of the same words. Here “love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the market-places and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts, which for a pretence make long prayers.” In Lk. the same Greek words are translated respectively, “desire, walk, robes, greetings, markets, highest, chief, show.” Vulg. also varies considerably. Mk’s conversational style is illustrated by the coupling of περιπατεῖν and ἀσπασμούς after θελόντων. This use of θέλω = “I like” is found here only (Mk, Lk.) in N.T.

στολαῖς. Robes (R.V.) rather than “clothing” (A.V.); cf. Mark 16:5. The word implies dignity, as in liturgical vestments or royal robes or festal array (Exodus 28:2; 1 Chronicles 15:27; Luke 15:22; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 7:13-14). Here and in Luke 20:46 Syr-Syn. has “in colonnades” (στοαῖς for στολαῖς).


Verses 38-40

38–40. CHRIST’S CONDEMNATION OF THE SCRIBES

Matthew 23:1-7. Luke 20:45-47


Verse 39

39. πρωτοκαθεδρίας. These seem to have been at one end of the synagogue, in the centre, facing the congregation. Cf. Luke 11:43. Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, p. 263.

πρωτοκλισίας. Chief places (R.V.), not “uppermost rooms” (A.V.). We cannot be sure which these were in our Lord’s time, when Jewish customs had been modified by Greek, Roman, and Persian influences. The Talmud says that, in a couch which held three, the middle place is for the worthiest. Greeks commonly had two on a couch, but both Greeks and Romans sometimes had four. Dict. of Ant. artt. “Cena,” “Symposium,” “Triclinium.” Becker, Charicles, Sc. vi., Gallus, Sc. ix.


Verse 40

40. κατεσθίοντες τὰς οἰκίας. Here again we have an easy conversational style; τῶν θελόντων is forgotten. These Scribes abused the hospitality and benevolence of devout women. Widows are mentioned as being those who ought least of all to have been thus treated (Exodus 22:22-24; Deuteronomy 10:18, etc.). Josephus (Ant. XVII. ii. 4) says of the Pharisees, οἷς ὑπῆκτο ἡ γυναικωνῖτις. The primitive Church seems to have suffered much from the greed of officials (1 Thessalonians 2:5; 1 Timothy 3:3; 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Peter 5:2). see on 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 8:20; 2 Corinthians 11:20.

προφάσει. Sub obtentu prolixae orationis (Vulg.), but in Lk. simulantes longam orationem. They pretended to pray for a long time in order to gain influence over religious people. There was a Rabbinical saying that long prayers make a long life.

οὗτοι. “Such people as these,” isti, who turn prayer into an instrument of wickedness, “shall receive a sentence of much greater severity.” Cf. James 3:1. They act a part in order to rob the poor and the bereaved, and they employ the most sacred actions in religion in order to do this with success. Others may rob the fatherless and the widow, but they do not make a show of piety in doing so.


Verse 41

41. καθίσας κατέναντι τοῦ γαζοφυλακίου. Some cursives and Syriac Versions say that He stood. The detail is peculiar to Mk. The incident is probably rightly recorded as taking place just after the questions; but it is possible that the Saying about “devouring widows’ houses” led to its being recorded. Mk and Lk. have both the Saying and the incident; Mt. (in the true text) has neither. In any case the narrative makes a bright contrast to the despicable avarice of the Scribes. It is not certain that there was any building called the Treasury. In the Court of the Women were thirteen chests with trumpet-shaped openings (Shoparoth) on which was inscribed the purpose for which the money put into the opening would be used. These chests, or the place where they stood, had the name of “The Treasury.” The strong-room to which the money was afterwards taken cannot be meant here. See on John 8:20. The changes of tenses are accurate and graphic; καθίας, ἐθεώρει, βάλλει, ἔβαλλον, ἐλθοῦσα ἔβαλεν.

χαλκόν. This would be literally true of the large majority; very few would give silver. The number of givers would be greatly increased by pilgrims coming up for the Passover. Cf. Mark 6:8.


Verses 41-44

41–44. THE WIDOW’S TWO MITES

Luke 21:1-4


Verse 42

42. μία χήρα πτωχή. The use of εἷς for τις, common enough in modern Greek, had begun before this period, and this may be an instance; Lk. has τινα. On the other hand, μία may point to her loneliness; it certainly contrasts her with the many wealthy givers. That she had been beggared by the Pharisees, or had been worked upon to give her last farthing, is not suggested by the narrative.

λεπτὰ δύο. The λεπτόν was a Greek coin, the smallest copper coin in use, and Mk tells those who were familiar with the Roman coinage that it was half a quadrans, and therefore the eighth of an as. Plutarch (Cic. 29) says that a quadrans is the smallest copper coin, τὸ λεπτότατον τοῦ χαλκοῦ νομίσματος. Christ knew supernaturally that what she gave was all that she possessed, and we need not ask how the amount which she gave was known. It is said that it was not lawful to give less than two perutahs or λεπτά in paying this Jewish anticipation of “Peter’s Pence.” Cf. Luke 12:59 and Matthew 5:26.

ὅ ἐστιν. The neut. is colloquial. Blass § 31. 2 gives no exact parallel; cf. Mark 3:17, Mark 15:22.


Verse 43

43. προσκαλεσάμενος. The disciples were not sitting with Him but had to be called. Cf. Mark 3:13.

Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν. “Ye would not have supposed it, but verily I say to you.” See on Mark 3:28. Lk. has ἀληθῶς.

πλεῖον πάντων. In proportion, and also in the spirit in which she gave; it was in the latter that she was richer than all of them. This principle had been recognized by philosophers; κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν δʼ ἡ ἐλευθεριότης λέγεται· οὐ γὰρ ἐν τῷ πλήθει τῶν διδομένων τὸ ἐλευθέριον, ἀλλʼ ἐν τῇ τοῦ δίδοντος ἕξει· οὐδὲν δὲ κωλύει ἐλευθεριώτερον εἶναι τὸν τὰ ἐλάττω διδόντα, ἐὰν ἀπὸ ἐλαττόνων διδῷ (Arist. Eth. Nic. IV. i. 19). Cf. Xen. Mem. I. iii. 3. The means of the giver and the motive are the measure of true generosity.


Verse 44

44. ἐκ τοῦ περισσεύοντος. see on 2 Corinthians 8:12; 2 Corinthians 8:14. Non perpendit Deus quantum in sacrificio, sed ex quanto proferatur (Bede). Vulg. here has ex eo quod abundabat illis; in Lk. ex abundanti.

ἐκ τῆς ὑστερήσεως. They had a great deal more than they needed, while she had a great deal less; it was the difference between a surplus and a deficit. There is similar irony in 1 John 3:17; “Whoso hath the world’s goods and beholdeth his brother having need.” The one possesses wealth and the other possesses the want of it. This irony is marred in R.V. by the substitution of “in need.” Vulg. here has de penuria sua; in Lk. ex eo quod deest illi. Cf. τὸ ὑστέρημα (2 Corinthians 8:14); in N.T. the difference between -σις and -μα has become blurred, e.g. βρῶσις = βρῶμα, πόσις = πόμα Syr-Sin. omits.

ὅλον τὸν βίον. Βίος occurs here only in Mk and nowhere in Mt. or Jn. It means either “the physical life of human beings” (Luke 8:14; 1 Timothy 2:2; etc.) or “means of life” (here, Luke 8:43; Luke 15:12; Luke 15:30; Luke 21:4). The words are another instance of Mk’s fulness of expression. See on Mark 12:14, where, as here, Syr-Sin. omits what is superfluous. There is a remarkable parallel to this incident in the literature of Chinese Buddhism. A widow enters a religious assembly and says, “Others give costly gifts; I in my poverty can give nothing.” Then she remembers that she has still two copper coins and she offers these to the priests. The chief priest pays no attention to the rich gifts of the others, but only to the devout spirit of the poor widow, and he sings a song in her praise. Clemen, Primitive Christianity and Non-Jewish Sources, p. 331.

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Mark 12:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/mark-12.html. 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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