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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Matthew 13

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1. ἐκάθητο. The usual position of a Jewish teacher.

παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν. At the N. end of the Lake of Gennesaret there are small creeks or inlets ‘where the ship could ride in safety only a few feet from the shore, and where the multitudes seated on both sides and before the boat could listen without distraction or fatigue. As if on purpose to furnish seats, the shore on both sides of these narrow inlets is piled up with smooth boulders of basalt.’ Thomson, Land and Book, p. 356.


Verses 1-9

1–9. JESUS TEACHES IN PARABLES. THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER

Mark 4:1-9; Luke 8:4-9


Verse 2

2. εἰς πλοῖον. See crit. notes, and compare such expressions as ἕρχονται εἰς οἶκον, Mark 3:19.


Verse 3

3. ἐν παραβολαῖς. Up to this time Jesus had preached repentance, proclaiming the kingdom, and setting forth the laws of it in direct terms. He now indicates by parables the reception, growth, characteristics, and future of the kingdom. The reason for this manner of teaching is given below, Matthew 13:10-15.

παραβολή, from παραβάλλειν, ‘to put side by side,’ ‘compare’ (Hebr. mashal) = ‘a likeness’ or ‘comparison.’ The meaning of the Hebrew word extends to proverbial sayings: 1 Samuel 10:12; Proverbs 1:1, and to poetical narration, Psalms 78:2 (see Dean Perowne’s note). Parables differ from fables in being pictures of possible occurrences—frequently of actual daily occurrences,—and in teaching religious truths rather than moral truths. See below Matthew 13:10 and Matthew 13:33.


Verse 4

4. ἃ μὲνἄλλα δέ. For this use of the relative as a demonstrative cp. ὃν μὲν ἔδειραν ὃν δὲ ἀπέκτειναν, ch. Matthew 21:35. οὓς μὲν ἐξέβαλον τῶν πολιτῶν οὓς δὲ ἀπέσφαξαν (Dem.); and for ἄλλα δέ, following ἃ μέν, cp. οἱ μὲνἄλλοι δὲἕτεροι δὲ, ch. Matthew 16:14; Winer, p. 130. ὄς ἥ ὃ like ὁ ἡ τὸ was originally demonstrative, but the relative and the article are traced to independent originals. Clyde’s Greek Syntax, § 30. (Ed. 5.)

παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν, i.e. along the narrow footpath dividing one field from another.


Verse 5

5. τὰ πετρώδη. Places where the underlying rock was barely covered with earth. The hot sun striking on the thin soil and warming the rock beneath would cause the corn to spring up rapidly and then as swiftly to wither.


Verse 7

7. σαγήνη. A drag-net or seine (the English word comes from the Greek through sagena of the Vulgate). One end of the seine is held on the shore, the other is hauled off by a boat and then returned to the land. In this way a large number of fishes of all kinds is enclosed. Seine-fishing is still practised on the coasts of Devonshire and Cornwall.

The teaching of this parable partly coincides with that of the parable of the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30). In both are exhibited the mixture of good and evil in the visible Church, and the final separation of them. But here the thought is specially directed to the ingathering of the Church. The ministers of Christ will of necessity draw converts of diverse character, good and evil, and actuated by different motives. From the parable of the tares we learn not to reject any from within the Church, in the hope of expelling the element of evil. It is a parable of the settled Church. This is a missionary parable. It teaches that as a matter of history or of fact, no barrier or external test will serve to exclude the unworthy convert.


Verse 8

8. ὃ μὲν ἑκατόν, κ.τ.λ. Thomson, Land and Book, p. 83, ascribes the different kinds of fertility to different kinds of grain; ‘barley yields more than wheat, and white maize sown in the neighbourhood, often yields several hundred fold.’ It is however better to refer the difference of yield to differences in particular parts of the good soil. The highest in the kingdom of God differ in receptivity and fruitfulness. As to the fact, cf. Strabo, xv. p. 1063 c.: πολύσιτος δʼ ἄγαν ἔστι ὥστε ἑκατοντάχουν διʼ ὁμαλοῦ καὶ κριθὴν καὶ πυρὸν ἐκτρέφειν ἔστι δʼ ὅτε καὶ διακοσιοντάχουν.


Verse 10

10. ἐν παραβολαῖς. The parable is suited [1] to the uninstructed, as being attractive in form and as revealing spiritual truth exactly in proportion to the capacity of the hearer; and [2] to the divinely wise as wrapping up a secret which he can penetrate by his spiritual insight. In this it resembles the Platonic myth; it was the form in which many philosophers clothed their deepest thoughts. [3] It fulfils the condition of all true knowledge. He alone who seeks finds. In relation to Nature, Art, God Himself, it may be said the dull ‘seeing see not.’ The commonest and most obvious things hide the greatest truths. [4] The divine Wisdom has been justified in respect to this mode of teaching. The parables have struck deep into the thought and language of men (not of Christians only), as no other teaching could have done; in proof of which it is sufficient to name such words and expressions as ‘talents,’ ‘dispensation,’ ‘leaven,’ ‘prodigal son,’ ‘light under a bushel,’ ‘building on sand.’


Verses 10-17

10–17. THE REASON WHY JESUS TEACHES IN PARABLES

Mark 4:10-12; Luke 8:10


Verse 11

11. τὰ μυστήρια τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν. Secrets known only to the initiated—the inner teaching of the gospel. St Paul regards as ‘mysteries,’ the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles, Ephesians 3:3-4; Ephesians 3:9; the doctrine of the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:51, the conversion of the Jews, Romans 11:25; the relation of Christ to His Church; Ephesians 5:32.

To the Greek, μυστήρια would recall the associations of Eleusis and Samothrace, and so necessarily bring a part of the mystic thought into Christianity; only, however, to contrast the true Christian mysticism, which is open to all (νῦν δὲ ἐφανερώθη τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ, Colossians 1:27), with the secresy and exclusiveness of the pagan mysteries. Bp. Lightfoot on Colossians 1:21-28. The derivation is from μύειν, ‘to close the lips.’ The initiated are called μεμυημένοι or τέλειοι (fully instructed); the use of the latter word may be applied to the same conception in 1 Corinthians 2:6, σοφίαν λαλοῦμεν ἐν τοῖς τελείοιςθεοῦ σοφίαν ἐν μυστηρίῳ κεκρυμμένην. See also Philippians 3:15; Hebrews 5:14.


Verse 12

12. Cp. ch. Matthew 25:29.


Verse 13

13. διὰ τοῦτοὅτι. Jesus teaches in parables, because, as it is, the people do not understand, &c., i.e. [1] either He teaches them in the simplest and most attractive form so as by degrees to lead them on to deeper knowledge, or [2] He teaches in parables because it is not fitting that divine truths should be at once patent to the unreflective and indifferent multitude.

In the parallel passages a final clause takes the place of the causal sentence: Mark 4:11, ἐκείνοις δὲ τοῖς ἔξω ἐν παραβολαῖς τὰ πάντα γίνεται ἵνα βλέποντες βλέπωσιν κ.τ.λ. Luke 8:10, τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς ἐν παραβολαῖς ἵνα βλέποντες βλέπωσιν κ.τ.λ. The final particle ἵνα denotes intention or aim. But in regard to God’s dealing, all results are intended results, and the usual distinction between consecutive and final clauses is lost. The result of teaching by parables was that the careless and indifferent did not understand, it was the intention of God; in other words it is a spiritual law that those only who have πίστις shall learn. The form and thought of the original Hebrew corresponds with this view.


Verse 14

14., Isaiah 6:9-10. The words form part of the mission of Isaiah.


Verse 15

15. ἐπαχύνθη ἡ καρδία. The heart, regarded by the ancients as the seat of intelligence, has become gross or fat, and so closed against the perception of spiritual truth.

μήποτε ἴδωσινἰάσομαι. For the sequence of the subjunctive and future indicative co-ordinately after a final particle, cp. Revelation 22:14, μακάριοι οἱ πλύνοντες τὰς στολὰς αὐτῶν, ἵνα ἔσται ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτῶνκαὶ εἰσέλθωσιν. For the future, among other passages, cp. Galatians 2:4, where the best editors read ἵνα ἡμᾶς καταδουλώσουσιν. See Winer, p. 361. In the classics the future indicative in pure final clauses is found after ὅπως and ὄφρα, never after ἵνα or ὡς, and very seldom after the simple μή. Goodwin’s Moods and Tenses, p. 68. Elmsley, however (Eur. Bacch., p. 164) does not admit the exception of ἵνα. See Winer, loc. cit. above. In the N.T. ὅπως occurs with the future, Matt. ch. Matthew 26:59, and, on good MS. authority, Romans 3:4. As distinguished from the subjunctive in such instances the future indicative implies a more permanent condition.


Verse 16

16. ὑμῶν δὲ μακάριοι οἱ ὀφθαλμοί. The disciples have discernment to understand the explanation which would be thrown away on the unistructed multitude.


Verse 18

18. σπείραντος, for σπείροντος. 24. σπείραντι for σπείροντι. The first change is less well supported than the second, but the tendency to assimilate in the first case to ὁ σπείρων (Matthew 13:3) would be greater.


Verses 18-23

18–23. THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER IS EXPLAINED

Mark 4:14-20; Luke 8:11-15


Verse 19

19. On some the word of God makes no impression, as we say; some hearts are quite unsusceptible of good.

παντὸς ἀκούοντος. Si quis audit, quisquis est, for the classical ἐάν τις ἀκούσῃ. πᾶς here follows the usage of Hebr. kol, ‘all,’ or ‘any.’ See note ch. Matthew 24:22.


Verse 20-21

20, 21. εὐθὺςεὐθύς. The unstable and volatile nature is as quick to be attracted by the gospel at first, as it is to abandon it afterwards when the trial comes.

ὁ δὲ σπαρείς. ‘He that was sown.’ The man is compared to the seed. Comp. the more definite expression in Luke 8:14, τὸ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας πεσὸν οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἀκούσαντες. For a defence of the A.V. ‘He that receiveth the seed’ (σπαρεὶς being taken in the sense of τὴν σπειρομένην Αἴγυπτον), see McClellan, New Testament, &c., ad loc.


Verse 21

21. γενομένης δὲ θλίψεως ἢ διωγμοῦ. Jesus forecasts the persecution of Christians, and the time when ‘the love of many shall wax cold,’ ch. Matthew 24:12.

σκανδαλίζεται. ‘Falls,’ is ensnared by attempting to avoid persecution. See note, ch. Matthew 5:29.


Verse 22

22. ἡ μέριμνα τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου. St Mark adds αἱ περὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἐπιθυμίαι, St Luke ἡδονῶν τοῦ βίου. These things destroy the ‘singleness’ of the Christian life. Compare with this the threefold employment of the world as described by Christ, at the time of the Flood, at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and at the coming of the Son of man. (Luke 17:26-30.)

μέριμνα, ‘absorbing care,’ from a root that connects it with μερμηρίζω, μάρτυς, memoria, mora.


Verse 23

23. The word will be more fruitful in some hearts than in others. Even the Apostles exemplified this. The triple division in their number seems to point to differences of gifts and spiritual fruitfulness.


Verse 24

24. παρέθηκεν here and Matthew 13:31 only in this sense. Elsewhere of ‘setting meat before a guest’—the usual Homeric use of the word—Mark 6:41; Mark 8:6-7; Luke 11:6. Of committing a charge to a person, Luke 12:48; 2 Timothy 2:2. In mid. voice, of ‘proving’ by comparison, Acts 17:3. Here the word might be taken in a similar sense ‘made a similitude,’ παραβολήν regarded as cognate.

σπείραντι, not ‘which sowed,’ A.V. but when he sowed.


Verses 24-30

24–30. THE PARABLE OF THE TARES

Confined to St Matthew.


Verse 25

25. ἐν δὲ τῷ καθεύδειν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, i.e. during the night. The expression is not introduced into the Lord’s explanation of the parable.

ἐπέσπειρεν ζιζάνια. Travellers mention similar instances of spiteful conduct in the East, and elsewhere, in modern times. ἐπὶ gives the force of an after sowing or sowing over the good seed.

ζιζάνια. Probably the English ‘darnel;’ Latin, lolium; in the earlier stages of its growth this weed very closely resembles wheat, indeed can scarcely be distinguished from it. This resemblance gives an obvious point to the parable. The good and the evil are often indistinguishable in the visible church. The Day of Judgment will separate. Men have tried in every age to make the separation before-hand, but have failed. For proof of this read the history of the Essenes or the Donatists. The Lollards—as the followers of Wyckliffe were called—were sometimes by a play on the word lolium identified by their opponents with the tares of this parable. A friend suggests the reflection: ‘How strange it was that the very men who applied the word “Lollard” from this parable, acted in direct opposition to the great lesson which it taught, by being persecutors.’

The parable of the Tares has a sequence in thought on the parable of the Sower. The latter shows that the kingdom of God will not be coextensive with the world; all men have not sufficient faith to receive the word. This indicates that the kingdom of God—the true Church—is not coextensive with the visible Church. Some who seem to be subjects of the Kingdom are not really subjects.


Verse 26

26. ἐφάνη, ‘was manifest,’ when the good corn made fruit: before that they were indistinguishable.


Verse 31

31. ὃ λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔσπειρεν. ὅταν σπαρῇ, St Mark, who thus does not name an agent, the planter of the seed.

ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ αὐτοῦ. εἰς κῆπον ἑαυτοῦ (Luke), ‘his own garden,’ with special reference to the land of Israel.


Verses 31-33

31–33. [1] THE PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED. [2] THE PARABLE OF THE LEAVEN WHICH LEAVENED THE MEAL

[1] Mark 4:30-32. [1] and [2] Luke 13:18-21

The ‘mystery’ or secret of the future contained in these two parables has reference to the growth of the Church; the first regards the growth in its external aspect, the second in its inner working.

The power that plants possess of absorbing within themselves, and assimilating the various elements of the soil in which they are planted, and the surrounding gases—not by one channel but by many—the conditions too under which this is done—the need of water, of the breath of heaven and of sunlight—find a close parallel in the history and influence of the Church of Christ. It is an instance where the thought of the illustration is deepened by fresh knowledge.


Verse 32

32. μικρότερον πάντων τῶν σπερμάτων. Not absolutely the least, but least in proportion to the plant that springs from the seed. Moreover the mustard seed was used proverbially of anything excessively minute.

κατασκηνοῖν ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ, i.e. settle for the purpose of rest or shelter or to eat the seeds, of which goldfinches and linnets are very fond. (Tristram, Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 473.) κατασκηνοῖν. Literally, dwell in tents. If we think of the leafy huts constructed for the feast of tabernacles the propriety of the word will be seen. The mustard plant does not grow to a very great height, so that St Luke’s expression ἐγένετο εἰς δένδρον [μέγα] must not be pressed. Dr Thomson (Land and Book) mentions as an exceptional instance that he found it on the plain of Akkar as tall as a horse and its rider.

κατασκηνοῖν. For the infinitive termination see Winer, p. 92. Cp. the contraction χρυσόει = χρυσοῖ, though in infin. generally χρυσόειν = χρυσοῦν, also the Pindaric forms ἔχοισιν for ἔχουσιν, &c. δίδοι for δίδου. (Donaldson’s Pindar, de Stilo Pindari, p. liv) and the Thessalian genitive form is -οι for -ου (Papillon, Compar. Phil. 112 note).


Verse 33

33. ζύμῃ. Except in this one parable, leaven is used of the working of evil; cp. μικρὰ ζύμη ὅλον τὸ φύραμα ζυμοῖ, Galatians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 5:6; and ἐκκαθάρατε οὖν τὴν παλαίαν ζύμην, 1 Corinthians 5:7. So, too, in the Rabbinical writings. This thought probably arose from the prohibition of leaven during the paschal season. But the secrecy and the all-pervading character of leaven aptly symbolize the growth of Christianity, [1] as a society penetrating everywhere by a subtle and mysterious operation until in this light—as a secret brotherhood—it appeared dangerous to the Roman empire; [2] as an influence unfelt at first growing up within the human soul.

Sir Bartle Frere on Indian Missions, p. 9; speaking of the gradual change wrought by Christianity in India, says, in regard to religious innovations in general: ‘They are always subtle in operation, and generally little noticeable at the outset in comparison with the power of their ultimate operation.’

σάτα τρία, ‘three seahs.’ In Genesis 18:6, Abraham bids Sarah ‘make ready three “seahs” of fine meal, knead it and make cakes upon the hearth.’


Verse 34

34. ἐν παραβολαῖς. In reference to the teaching by parables it may be remarked, [1] that the variety in the subject-matter not only gives great vivacity and fulness to the instruction, but the several illustrations would interest specially particular classes and persons—the fisherman on the lake, the farmer and the merchant would each in turn find his own pursuit furnishing a figure for divine things, even the poor woman standing on the outskirts of the crowd learns that her daily task is fruitful in spiritual lessons. [2] As descriptive of the kingdom of heaven they set it forth as incapable of definition, as presenting many aspects, as suggested by a variety of external things, though not itself external. [3] For the general effect on the imagination and for variety comp. the series of images by which Homer describes the march of the Achæan host. Il. II. 455–484.


Verse 35

35. ὅπως πληρωθῇ, For the meaning of this formula cp. note, ch. Matthew 1:22.

διὰ τοῦ προφήτου, Asaph, the author of Psalms 78 from which this quotation is taken. He is called ‘Asaph the seer,’ 2 Chronicles 29:30.

The quotation does not agree verbally with the LXX. where the last clause is φθέγξομαι προβλήματα ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς. It is a direct translation of the Hebrew. The psalm which follows these words is a review of the history of Israel from the Exodus to the reign of David. This indicates the somewhat wide sense given to ‘parables’ and ‘dark sayings.’ Here the mashal, παραβολή, or ‘comparison,’ implies the teachings of history. Though possibly the term may apply only to the antithetical form of Hebrew poetry. See Dean Perowne ad loc.

ἐρεύγεσθαι. Ionic form for Attic ἐρυγγάνω, cp. τυγχάνω for τεύχω, λανθάνω for λήθω, Cp. ἐρεύγετο οἰνοβαρείων, Od. IX. 374. (κύματα) ἐρεύγεται ἠπειρόνδε, Od. 13:438. The word is similarly used in Pindar and Theocritus, and in the LXX. of lions roaring, Hosea 11:11; Amos 3:4; Amos 3:8; of water bursting forth, Leviticus 11:10, and in Psalms 18:2 figuratively ἡμέρα τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐρεύγεται ῥῆμα. Here only in the softened sense of ‘speaking;’ such softening of coarse and strong meanings is characteristic of Alexandrine Greek, cp. σκύλλειν.

καταβολή, foundation, beginning. So used by Pindar and Polyb. ἐκ καταβολῆς κατηγορεῖν, Polyb. XXVI. 1, 9. καταβολὴν ἐποιεῖτο καὶ θεμέλιον ὑπεβάλλετο πολυχρονίου τυραννίδος, XIII. 6, 2. Cp. μὴ πάλιν θεμέλιον καταβαλλόμενοι μετανοίας ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ἔργων. Hebrews 6:1.


Verses 36-43

36–43. EXPLANATION OF THE PARABLE OF THE TARES,

in St Matthew only


Verse 39

39. συντέλεια. In classical Greek ‘a joint subscription, or association for paying state dues,’ &c. later the ‘completion’ of a scheme opposed to ἀρχὴ or ἐπιβολή, cp. συντέλειαν ἐπιθεῖναι τοῖς ἔργοις, Polyb. XI. 33, 7.

συντέλεια αἰῶνος. ‘Completion of the Æon,’ the expression is confined to this Gospel; see below, Matthew 13:40; Matthew 13:49 and ch. Matthew 24:3, but compare Hebrews 9:26, ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων, ‘at the completion of the Æons,’ and 1 Corinthians 10:11, τὰ τέλη τῶν αἰώνων, the ends or the final result of the Æons. In the two last passages the ‘Æons’ are the successive periods previous to the advent of Christ, the ‘Æon’ of the text is the period introduced by Christ, which will not be completed till his second Advent.


Verse 40

40. There is strong support for καίεται instead of κατακαίεται which may have been influenced by Matthew 13:30.


Verse 41

41. πάντα τὰ σκάνδαλα. Everything that ensnares or tempts men to destruction; see ch. Matthew 5:29.


Verse 42

42. ὁ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων. For the force of the article see ch. Matthew 8:12. ‘The grinding of the teeth and the uttering of piercing shrieks give relief in an agony of pain.’ Darwin, Expression of the Emotions, p. 177.


Verse 43

43. τότε οἱ δίκαιοι κ.τ.λ. Cp. Daniel 12:3, ‘Then they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament.’


Verse 44

44. THE PARABLE OF THE HID TREASURE, in this Gospel only.

In ancient times, and in an unsettled country like Palestine, where there were no banks, in the modern sense, it was a common practice to conceal treasures in the ground. Even at this day the Arabs are keenly alive to the chance of finding such buried stores. The dishonesty of the purchaser must be excluded from the thought of the parable. The unexpected discovery, the consequent excitement and joy, and the eagerness to buy at any sacrifice, are the points to be observed in the interpretation.

εὑρών. Here the kingdom of heaven presents itself unexpectedly, ‘Christ is found of one who sought Him not.’ The woman of Samaria, the jailer at Philippi, the centurion by the Cross are instances,

πωλεῖ πάντα ὅσα ἔχει. This is the renunciation which is always needed for the winning of the kingdom, cp. ch. Matthew 10:38. Thus Paul gave up position, Matthew wealth, Barnabas lands.

ἀγορὰζει τὸν ἀγρὸν ἐκεῖνον. Puts himself in a position to attain the kingdom.


Verse 45-46

45, 46. THE PARABLE OF THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE,

in St Matthew only.

Here the story is of one who succeeds in getting what he strives to obtain. The Jewish or the Greek ‘seekers after God,’ possessing many pearls, but still dissatisfied, sought others yet more choice, and finding one, true to the simplicity in Christ, renounce all for that; the one his legalism, the other his philosophy. Nathaniel, Apollos, Timotheus, Justin Martyr are amongst those who thus sought and found.


Verse 46

46. πέπρακεν, ‘sells at once.’ The perfect marks the quickness of the transaction, cp. Dem. Phil. I. 19, δεδόχθαι, ‘instantly determined upon.’ Soph. Aj. 275, νῦν δʼ ὡς ἔληξε κἀπέπνευσε τῆς νόσου, | κεῖνός τε λύπη πᾶς ἐλήλαται κακῇ, and 479, ἢ καλῶς τεθνηκέναι, ‘or at once nobly die.’ See Jebb on both passages. τὸ μὴ ἐμποδὼν ἀνανταγωνίστῳ εὐνοίᾳ τετίμηται, (Thuc. II. 45) ‘is at once held in honour.’ Donaldson, Greek Grammar, p. 409, (cc.)


Verses 47-50

47–50. THE PARABLE OF THE NET,

in St Matthew only.


Verse 48

48. ἄγγη for ἀγγεῖα, on good authority. ἀγγεῖα an explanation of the rarer form ἄγγη.


Verse 50

50. εἰς τὴν κάμινον τοῦ πυρός. The article has the same force as in ὁ κλαυθμός. The figure may be generally drawn from an oriental mode of punishment, or there may be special reference to Daniel 3:6.


Verse 51

51. συνήκατε. σύνεσις, ‘intelligent apprehension,’ is used specially of spiritual intelligence, Colossians 1:9. Cp. ch. Matthew 16:12, Matthew 17:13.


Verse 51-52

51, 52. THE SCRIBES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN


Verse 52

52. μαθητευθεὶς τῇ βασιλείᾳ. The new law requires a new order of Scribes who shall be instructed in the kingdom of heaven—instructed in its mysteries, its laws, its future—as the Jewish Scribes are instructed in the observances of the Mosaic law.

καινὰ καὶ παλαιά. [1] Just as the householder brings from his stores or treasury precious things which have been heir-looms for generations, as well as newly acquired treasures; the disciples following their master’s example will exhibit the true teaching of the old law, and add thereto the new lessons of Christianity. [2] Another interpretation finds a reference to Jewish sacrificial usage by which sometimes the newly-gathered fruit or corn, sometimes the produce of a former year furnished the offering. The wise householder was ready for all emergencies. So the Christian teacher will have an apt lesson on each occasion.

As applied to the teaching of Christ Himself καινὰ points to the fresh revelation, παλαιὰ to the Law and the Prophets on which the new truths rested and from which they were evolved. Instances are, the extended and deeper meaning given to the decalogue, and to the law of forgiveness, &c., the fresh light thrown on prophecy and on Rabbinical sayings, the confirmation of the ancient dealings of God combined with the revelation of entirely new truths, as that of the resurrection,—of the Christian Church,—of the Sacraments,—of the extension of the Gospel to the Gentiles.


Verse 53

53. μετῆρεν. Only here and ch. Matthew 19:1 in N.T. The seemingly intransitive use of αἴρειν comes from the familiar phrase αἴρειν στόλον, ‘to start an expedition,’ then, the object being omitted, as in many English nautical phrases, ‘to start.’ This use of the compound μεταίρειν however does not appear to be classical.


Verses 53-58

53–58. THE PROPHET IN HIS OWN COUNTRY

Mark 6:1-6; Luke 4:16-30

In Mark the incident is placed between the cure of Jairus’ daughter and the mission of the Twelve; in Luke our Lord’s discourse in the synagogue is given at length. But many commentators hold with great probability that St Luke’s narrative refers to a different and earlier visit to Nazareth.


Verse 54

54. τὴν πατρίδα αὐτοῦ. Nazareth and the neighbourhood.


Verse 55

55. οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τοῦ τέκτονος υἱός; In Mark 6:3, ὁ υἱὸς ΄αρίας καὶ ἀδελφὸς Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωσῆτος καὶ Ἰούδα καὶ Σίμωνος; No allusion being made to the father, as in the other synoptists, possibly Joseph was no longer living. For ὁ τέκτονος υἱὸς Mark has ὁ τέκτων. As every Jew was taught a trade there would be no improbability in the carpenter’s son becoming a scribe. But it was known that Jesus had not had the ordinary education of a scribe.

οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ. Probably the sons of Joseph and Mary. It is certain that no other view would ever have been propounded except for the assumption that the blessed Virgin remained ever-virgin.

Two theories have been mooted in support of this assumption. [1] The ‘brethren of the Lord’ were His cousins, being sons of Cleophas (or Alphæus), and Mary, a sister of the Virgin Mary. [2] They were sons of Joseph by a former marriage.

Neither of these theories derives any support from the direct words of Scripture, and some facts tend to disprove either. The second theory is the least open to objection on the ground of language, and of the facts of the gospel.

The brethren of the Lord were probably not in the number of the Twelve. This seems to be rendered nearly certain by St John’s assertion (Matthew 7:5) οὐδὲ γὰρ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπίστευον εἰς αὐτόν, and is strengthened by the way in which the brethren’s names are introduced, as though they were more familiar than Jesus to the men of Nazareth; it seems to be implied that they were still living there.

James afterwards became president or bishop of the Church at Jerusalem: he presided at the first Council and pronounced the decision: διὸ ἐγὼ κρίνω κ.τ.λ. (Acts 15:19). The authorship of the Epistle is generally ascribed to him. His manner of life and his death are described by Hegesippus (Eus. H. E. II. 23, p. 58, 59, Bright’s ed.). Of Joses nothing further is known. Jude is most probably to be identified with the author of the Epistle bearing his name. Tradition has an interesting story concerning his two grandsons, who being arrested as descendants of the royal house and therefore possible leaders of sedition, and brought before the Emperor Domitian, described their poverty, and shewed him their hands, rough and horny from personal toil, and so dispelled the idea of danger and regained their freedom (Eus. H. E. III. 21). Of Simeon tradition has nothing certain or trustworthy to report.

For the many difficult and intricate questions involved in the controversy as to the ‘brethren of the Lord,’ see the various articles in Dict. of the Bible, and Bp. Lightfoot’s dissertation in his edition of the Epistle to the Galatians.

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Matthew 13:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/matthew-13.html. 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, September 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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