corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.12.07
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Matthew 11

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1. καὶ ἐγένετο. A translation of a Hebrew transitional formula; the verb which follows [1] is sometimes connected with καί, as ch. Matthew 9:10, καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτοῦ ἀνακειμένουκαὶ ἰδού, [2] sometimes, as here, has no connecting particle; [3] sometimes the infinitive is used, as καὶ ἐγένετο παραπορεύεσθαι αὐτόν, Mark 2:23. This formula varied by ἐγένετο δὲ is especially frequent in St Luke, and does not occur in St John. The particular phrase καὶ ἐγένετο, ὅτε ἐτέλεσεν, is confined to St Matthew; see ch. Matthew 7:28 (συνετ.), Matthew 13:53, Matthew 19:1, Matthew 26:1. (Winer, p. 406 c, and p. 760 e, and note 2.)

ἐκεῖθεν. The place where Jesus delivered the charge to the Apostles is not named.


Verse 2

2. ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ. At Machærus. See note, ch. Matthew 14:3.

τὰ ἔργα, which were not the works which John might have expected from a Messiah, in whose hand was the separating fan, and at whose coming the axe was laid at the root of the trees.

διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν. See critical note supra, and cp. Luke 7:19.


Verses 2-19

2–19. CONCERNING JOHN THE BAPTIST

His message to Jesus 2–6. His position as a Prophet 7–14. His relation to Jesus and to his contemporaries 15–19.

St Luke 7:18-35


Verse 3

3. ὁ ἐρχόμενος. Hebr. Habba, one of the designations of the Messiah; in every age the prophet said ‘He cometh.’ See note ch. Matthew 1:18.

ἕτερον, another—a different Messiah, whose ‘works’ shall not be those of love and healing. προσδοκῶμεν, probably conjunctive, ‘are we to expect.’

It is often disputed whether John sent this message [1] from a sense of hope deferred and despondency in his own soul; he would ask himself: (a) Is this the Christ whom I knew and whom I baptized? (b) Are these works of which I hear, the works of the promised Messiah? or [2] to confirm the faith of his disciples, or [3] to induce Jesus to make a public confession of His Messiahship. [1] The first motive is the most natural and the most instructive. In the weary constraint and misery of the prison the faith of the strongest fails for a moment. It is not doubt, but faith wavering: ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.’ [2] The second has been suggested, and found support rather from the wish to uphold the consistency of the Baptist’s character than because it is the clearest inference from the text; note especially the words ἀπαγγείλατε, Ἰωάννῃ. [3] The third motive would have been hardly less derogatory to John’s faith than the first. And would not our Lord’s rebuke, Matthew 11:6, have taken a different form, as when he said to Mary, ‘Mine hour is not yet come?’


Verse 5

5. Comp. Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 61:1. The first passage describes the work of God, who ‘will come and save you.’

πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται. In earthly kingdoms envoys are sent to the rich and great. Compare the thought implied in the disciple’s words, ‘Who then can be saved?’ If it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom, how much more for the poor?

For the construction see Winer 287. 5, and 326.1, a. It falls under one or other of the following rules: [1] a verb governing dative of person and accusative of thing in active voice retains the accusative of the thing in the passive. Cp. πεπίστευμαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον from πιστεύω τινί τι. [2] A verb governing a genitive or dative in the active has for subject in the passive the object of the active verb.


Verse 6

6. καὶ μακάριος, κ.τ.λ. Blessed are all who see that these works of mine are truly the works of the Messiah. Some had thought only of an avenging and triumphant Christ.

μακάριος. A term that denotes spiritual insight and advance in the true life.

σκανδαλισθῇ. See note, ch. Matthew 5:29. In this passage σκανδαλίζεσθαι has the force of being entrapped or deceived by false notions.


Verse 7

7. Some editors place the interrogative after ἔρημον, but the correction seems harsh and unnecessary.

κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλ. If the first suggestion (Matthew 11:3) be adopted, the words have a corroborative force. It was no waverer that ye went out to see—his message was clear, his faith was strong then.

Others give the words a literal sense—the reeds on the banks of Jordan—and observe a climax, a reed—a man—a prophet—more than a prophet—the greatest of them.


Verses 7-14

7–14. The position of John as a prophet. The message of the Baptist must have made a deep and a mournful impression on the bystanders. It may have caused some of them to lose their faith in Christ or in John, and to ask, like John, whether this was indeed the Christ. Jesus restores their belief in John by an appeal to their own thoughts concerning him. It was no fickle waverer or courtier that they went out to see.


Verse 8

8. ἐν μαλακοῖς ἠμφιεσμένον. Prof. Plumptre (Smith’s Bib. Dic. I. 1166) suggests that there may be a historical allusion in these words. A certain Menahem, who had been a colleague of the great teacher Hillel, ‘was tempted by the growing power of Herod, and with a large number of his followers entered the king’s service … they appeared publicly in gorgeous apparel, glittering with gold.’ (See Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr., on Matthew 22:16.)


Verse 9

9. περισσότερον προφήτου. Other prophets foresaw the Messiah, the Baptist beheld Him, and ushered in His kingdom: he was the herald of the king. Further, John was himself the subject of prophecy.

περισσότερον, late for πλέον. As περισσὸς has in itself a comparative force, the form περισσότερον is due to the redundance of expression characteristic of the later stage of a language.


Verse 10

10. γέγραπται. See note ch. Matthew 2:5.

ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω κ.τ.λ., Malachi 3:1. The quotation is nearly a literal translation of the Hebrew, except that for the second person, ἔμπροσθέν σου, the Hebrew has the first person, ‘before me.’ The same change is made in the parallel passage Luke 7:27, and where the words are cited by St Mark 1:2. By such change the Lord quotes the prophecy as addressed to Himself. The σου of the N.T. represents the μου of the O.T. Possibly the reading is due to the Aramaic Version of the Scriptures familiar to the contemporaries of Christ. But in any case only the divine Son of God could apply to Himself what was spoken of Jehovah.


Verse 11

11. ὁ δὲ μικρότερος. He that is less, either [1] than John or [2] than others. Those who are in the kingdom, who are brought nearer to God and have clearer spiritual knowledge of God, have higher privileges than the greatest of those who lived before the time of Christ.


Verse 12

12. ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν κ.τ.λ. Another point shewing the greatness of John, and also the beginning of the Kingdom: it was from the time of John’s preaching that men began to press into the kingdom, and the earnest won their way in. For the preaching of John was the epoch to which all prophecy tended.

βιάζεται. Is forced, broken into, as a ship enters a harbour by breaking the boom stretched across the harbour’s mouth. Cp. βιάσασθαι τὸν ἐκπλοῦν (Thuc. VII. 72) of the Athenian fleet forcing its way out of the harbour at Syracuse. John’s preaching was the signal for men to press into the kingdom—to adopt eagerly the new rule and life heralded by John and set forth by Christ.

καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν. The invaders, those who force their way in—the eager and enthusiastic followers of Christ seize the kingdom—win it as a prize of war.

βιασταί. Here only in N.T. one other instance of its occurrence is quoted (Philo, de Agricultura, p. 314, A.D. 40). Cp. the Pindaric βιατάς.


Verse 13

13. γάρ gives the reason why the wonderful growth of the kingdom should be witnessed now.


Verse 14

14. εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι. ‘The present unhappy circumstances in which John was placed seemed inconsistent with such a view of his mission’ (Meyer).


Verse 16

16. ὁμοία ἐστὶν παιδίοις κ.τ.λ. If the grammatical form of the comparison be closely pressed, the interpretation must be that the children who complain of the others are the Jews who are satisfied neither with Jesus nor with John. The men of the existing generation appealed in turn to John and to Christ, and found no response in either. They blamed John for too great austerity, Jesus for neglect of Pharisaic exclusiveness and of ceremonial fasting.

But if the comparison be taken as applicable generally to the two terms, it may be explained by John first making an appeal, then Christ, and neither finding a response in the nation. This is the ordinary interpretation, and certainly agrees better with the facts, inasmuch as Christ and John made the appeal to the nation, not the nation to them.

It has been remarked that the joyous strain of the children, and the more genial mood of Christ, begin and end the passage, pointing to joyousness as the appropriate note of the Christian life.


Verse 18

18. μήτε ἐσθίων μήτε πίνων. μήτε not οὔτε, because it is not only that a matter of fact is stated, but the view which was taken of John’s conduct.

Demosthenes was reproached for being a water drinker, ὡς ἐγὼ μὲν ὕδωρ πίνων εἰκότως δύστροπος καὶ δύσκολός εἰμί τις ἄνθρωπος. Phil. II. 30.


Verse 19

19. For this adversative use of καί, see note ch. Matthew 1:19.

δικαιοῦν. Lit. ‘to make right,’ of a person to do him justice, give him what he deserves, either punishment (Thuc. III. 40. Herod. I. 100), or (later) acquittal: here, ‘was acquitted of folly.’ The aorist marks the result, or is the aorist of a customary act—a meaning expressed by the present tense in English.

ἡ σοφία is ‘divine wisdom,’ God regarded as the All-wise. The conception of a personified Wisdom is a growth of later Jewish thought, bringing with it many beautiful associations of Jewish literature, and hallowed by the use of the word in this sense by Christ.

ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων. See critical notes, supra. ἀπό, which strictly marks result, is used of the instrument and of the agent in later Greek. Here the sense is: ‘the results justify the plan or method of divine providence.’

If the reading of the textus receptus be taken, τέκνα τῆς σοφίας = ‘the divinely wise.’ The spiritual recognise the wisdom of God, both in the austerity of John and in the loving mercy of Jesus, who condescends to eat with publicans and sinners.


Verses 20-24

20–24. THE CITIES THAT REPENTED NOT

St Luke 10:13-15, where the words form part of the charge to the seventy disciples. It is instructive to compare the connection suggested by the two evangelists. In St Matthew the link is the rejection of Christ by the Jews—then by these favoured cities; in St Luke, the rejection of the Apostles as suggestive of the rejection of Jesus.


Verse 21

21. Χοραζείν is identified with Kerazeh, two and a half miles N. of Tell Hum. The ruins here are extensive and interesting; among them a synagogue built of hard black basalt and houses with walls still six feet high. Recovery of Jerusalem, p. 347.

Βηθσαϊδάν (House of Fish), either on the Western shore of the Lake near Capernaum (see Map); or, in case there was only one place of that name (see note, chap. Matthew 14:13), it is Bethsaida Julias, so named by Herod Philip in honour of Julia, daughter of Augustus.


Verse 22

22. πλήν. Connected probably with πλέον, πλεῖν. So ‘more than,’ ‘moreover,’ ‘further’ (Curtius, Grk. Etym.; Ellicott, Philippians 1:18; Winer, p. 552); or with πέλας, ‘besides,’ ‘apart from this,’ ‘only’ (Hartung, Lightfoot, Philippians 3:16). [1] The rendering ‘moreover’ would suit this passage. [2] In others πλὴν almost = ἀλλά, ‘notwithstanding’ (the additional fact being often adversative); or [3] ‘except,’ constructed with genitive, or ὅτι, or with . The first and last of these constructions favour the derivation from πλέον.


Verse 23

23. Καφαρναούμ. See map. Although Capernaum was truly exalted unto heaven in being our Lord’s ‘own city,’ the thought is rather of self-exaltation. The expressions recall Isaiah 14:13-15. Capernaum has exalted herself like Babylon—like Babylon she shall be brought low. The idea that Capernaum was literally on a height does not appear to be borne out by facts. Both the conjectural sites are marked low in the map published by the Palestine Exploration Fund.


Verse 25

25. ἀποκριθείς. This use of ἀποκριθείς, ‘answering,’ where no question precedes, is a Hebraism.

ἐξομολογοῦμαι. Strictly, ‘to speak forth, ‘confess,’ τὰς ἁμαρτίας, ch. Matthew 3:6; cp. Philippians 2:11, then to ‘utter aloud’ praise or thanks, as here and Romans 14:11 (quoted from Isaiah 14:23), ὅτι ἐμοὶ κάμψει πᾶν γόνυ καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσεται τῷ θεῷ.

τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς. The expression points to God as the author of law in nature and in religion.

ὅτι ἔκρυψας. ‘That thou hidest,’ not by an arbitrary and harsh will, but in accordance with a law of divine wisdom. Truth is not revealed to the philosophical theorist, but the humility that submits to observe and follow the method of nature and working of God’s laws is rewarded by the discovery of truth. For this use of the aorist see note Matthew 11:27, last clause.

ἀπὸ σοφῶν καὶ συνετῶν, for the classical construction, κρύπτειν τί τινα, or τι πρός τινα. There is a sense of separation in ‘concealment’ denoted by ἀπό. The secrets of the kingdom are not revealed to those who are wise in their own conceit, but to those who have the meekness of infants and the child-like eagerness for knowledge. In a special Jewish sense ‘the wise and prudent’ are the Scribes and Pharisees. In a purely Greek sense, σοφοὶ καὶ συνετοὶ are they to whom especially the apprehension of the highest truths belonged. σοφία is wisdom in its highest philosophic sense; it is the most exact of sciences—ἀκριβεστάτη τῶν ἐπιστημῶν, and is said μὴ μόνον τὰ ἐκ τῶν ἀρχῶν εἰδέναι ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ τὰς ἀρχὰς ἀληθεύειν (Arist. Eth. Nic. VI. 7). σύνεσις is ‘critical intelligence.’


Verses 25-27

25–27. THE REVELATION TO ‘BABES’

St Luke 10:21-22, where the words are spoken on the return of the Seventy.

The close connection between this section and that which follows has been pointed out by Dean Perowne (Expositor, Vol. VIII.). In this section two divine moral laws are set forth: [1] The revelation is made to humility. [2] The revelation is made through Christ alone. The invitation which follows (Matthew 11:28-30) is given [1] not to the self-assertion of man, but to his need and the confession of that need, by One who is ‘meek and lowly in heart;’ [2] with a promise of rest to those, and those only, who take upon them Christ’s yoke and learn of Him.


Verse 26

26. ναὶ ὁ πατήρ. ‘Yea, Father (I thank thee), that,’ &c. Not as in A.V., ‘Even so, Father, for,’ &c. For the nominative in place of vocative cp. Soph. El. 634,

ἔπαιρε δὴ σὺ θύμαθʼ ἡ παροῦσά μοι.

εὐδοκία. ‘Pleasure,’ in the sense of resolve or determination (see note, ch. Matthew 3:17). The divine plan of discovery and revelation is a subject of thankfulness.


Verse 27

27. παρεδόθη. Strictly, ‘were delivered.’ The A.V. translates the aorist by a present in this passage, by a perfect definite the similar expression, ch. Matthew 28:18, ἐδόθη μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. It is not always easy to determine the force of the aorist in the N.T. [1] In classical Greek the aorist is occasionally used where the English idiom would require the perfect definite. But in such cases it is not correct to say that the English perfect and the Greek aorist denote precisely the same temporal idea, but rather that in some instances the Greeks marked an action only as past where our idiom connects the past action with the present by the use of the perfect definite. [2] Again, when the Greek aorist seems to be used for the present, the explanation is: (α) either that the action is past, but only just past—a point of time expressed by the English present, but more accurately indicated in Greek by the use of the aorist; e. g. the Greeks said accurately τί ἔλεξας; what didst thou say? when the words have scarcely passed the speaker’s lips; in English it is natural to translate this by the less exact ‘what sayest thou?’ (β) Or the action is one of indefinite frequency. Here again the English present takes the place of the Greek aorist. But in this idiom also the aorist retains its proper force. The Greeks only cared to express a single occurrence of the act, but from that single occurrence inferred the repetition of it. It will be observed that these usages are due to the singular (α) exactness and (β) rapidity of Greek thought.

In later Greek some of this exactness was doubtless lost, the aorist coming more and more into use, being an ‘aggressive tense,’ as Buttmann calls it, till in modern Greek the synthetic perfect has disappeared.

It is, however, possible probably in every instance in the N.T. to refer the aorist to one or other of the above-named classical uses, even where [1] the perfect and aorist are used in the same clause. As in Acts 22:15, ἑώρακας = ‘hast seen’ (the image is still vividly present just now—past action connected with present time); καὶ ἤκουσας, ‘and didst hear’ (act regarded merely as past); so also in James 1:24, κατενόησεν γὰρ ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀπελήλυθεν, the aorist marks the momentary act, the perfect the continuing effect. Cp. Medea, 293, οὐ νῦν με πρῶτον ἀλλὰ πολλάκις, Κρέον, | ἔβλαψε δόξα μεγάλα τʼ εἴργασται κακά, the effects of the evil remain now. Or [2] where the relation to the present is very close, as Luke 14:18, ἀγρὸν ἠγόρασαγυναῖκα ἔγημα = ‘I have bought … married;’ see above [1]. Or [3] where νῦν or νυνὶ is joined to the aorist. Here the temporal particle denotes the present order or state of things as contrasted with the past, not the present moment; as Colossians 1:21, νυνὶ δὲ ἀποκατηλλάγητε [or ἀποκατηλλαξεν]. See Bp. Lightfoot, ad loc. Cp. 1 Peter 2:25.

In this passage and ch. Matthew 28:18, the act indicated by the aorist is placed in the eternal past, where the notion of time is lost, but as an eternal fact may be regarded as ever present, this aspect of the aorist is properly represented by the English present tense.

ἐπιγινώσκει, as distinguished from the simple verb, implies a further and therefore a more perfect and thorough knowledge. ἵνα ἐπιγνῷς, Luke 1:4, ‘that thou mayest perfectly know.’ ἐπίγνωσις is used especially of the knowledge of God and of Christ as being the perfection of knowledge. Bp. Lightfoot, Colossians 1:9.


Verse 28

28. Δεῦτε πρός με. Jesus does not give rest to all the heavy laden, but to those of them who shew their want of relief by coming to Him. For δεῦτε see note ch. Matthew 4:19.

κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι. Answering through parallelism to the last line of the stanza—ὁ γὰρ ζυγὸς κ.τ.λ. The figure is from beasts of burden which either plough or draw chariots, wagons, &c., for which κοπιῶντες and ζυγὸς are appropriate words; or else carry burdens (φορτία).


Verses 28-30

28–30. REST FOR THE HEAVY LADEN

These words of Jesus are preserved by St Matthew only. The connecting thought is, those alone shall know who desire to learn, those alone shall have rest who feel their burden. The babes are those who feel ignorant, the laden those who feel oppressed.


Verse 29

29. μάθετε ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ. i.e. ‘become my disciples;’ an idea also conveyed by the word ζυγός, which was used commonly among the Jews for the yoke of instruction. Stier quotes from the Mishna, ‘Take upon you the yoke of the holy kingdom.’ Men of Belial = ‘Men without the yoke,’ ‘the uninstructed.’

ὅτι πραΰς εἰμι καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ. The character of Jesus described by Himself: cp. 2 Corinthians 10:1, παρακαλῶ ὑμᾶς διὰ τῆς πρᾳύτητος καὶ ἐπιεικείας τοῦ Χριστοῦ. It is this character that brings rest to the soul, and therefore gives us a reason why men should become His disciples.

ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν. Cp. Jeremiah 6:16, ‘Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.’

ταῖς ψυχαῖς] Not relief from external bodily toil.


Verse 30

30. τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν. Contrast with this the burden of the Pharisees, ch. Matthew 23:4, φορτία βαρέα [καὶ δυσβάστακτα].

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Matthew 11:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/matthew-11.html. 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 7th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology