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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary for Schools and Colleges

Matthew 22

Verses 1-99

Ch. 22: 1 14 . The Parable of the Royal Marriage Feast. Peculiar to St Matthew

The parable recorded by St Luke (14:16 24), though similar to this in some respects, differs in its context and special teaching and in many details.

As of the other parables of the Passion, the primary intention of this regards the present and the immediate future. The parable falls into two divisions, (1) vv. 1 7; (2) vv. 8 14. In the first (1) the servants are John Baptist and the first disciples of Christ; the feast is the Kingdom of God, or the Christian Church; the invited guests, who refuse to come, are the Jews; the vengeance taken was literally fulfilled at the siege of Jerusalem, a. d. 70. (2) This division relates to the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles. As in the Net (ch. 13:47) or in the Corn-field (ch. 13:24), worthy and unworthy are mingled until the King separates.

2 . which made a marriage for his son ] Rather, a marriage feast for his son .

3 . sent forth his servants ] This was in accordance with Eastern custom. Cp. Esther 5:8 , and 6:14.

servants ] Or slaves . In v. 13 a different Greek word is used for “servants.”

7 . he was wroth ] For a subject to scorn the summons to the royal feast implied disloyalty and rebellion.

sent forth his armies ] The soldiers of Titus literally achieved the purposes of God.

10 . So those servants went out into the highways ] Strictly, into the places where different roads branch off . The “servants” are the earliest Christian missionaries, Paul, Silas, Barnabas and others, who went in their journeys to such meeting-places of the nations at Rome, Antioch and Corinth.

bad and good ] Who will always co-exist in the Church on earth.

11 . which had not on a wedding garment ] The festive robe which the master of the feast himself provided, so that there was no excuse. This man is the representative of a class the bad ( v. 10), who are not clothed in righteousness.

12 . was speechless ] See v. 34.

13 . and take him away ] Omit, on the best MS. authority.

outer darkness ] The dark dungeon outside the brightness of the banqueting-hall.

15 22 . The Temptation of the Herodians. The Tribute Money

Mark 12:13-17 ; Luke 20:20-25 .

15 . how they might entangle him ] Literally, ensnare, as a fowler ensnares birds. The Greek word is used here only in N.T.

All the previous attempts had been to discredit Jesus as a religious teacher; the present is an attempt to expose Him to the hostility of the Roman government. Will He follow Judas the Gaulonite, in disowning all human authority? or will He acquiesce in the Roman rule? In the one case He would incur the condemnation of Pilate, in the other the scorn of His Galilæan followers.

16 . their disciples with the Herodians ] An unnatural coalition, for the Pharisees represented the patriotic resistance to all foreign power; whereas the Herodians, as their name implies, supported the Herodian dynasty, and, as the context shews, acquiesced in the Roman rule. The Herodians are not named except in the first two Gospels; nor does Josephus include them in his account of Jewish sects. They were probably numerically insignificant, and may indeed have consisted merely of a few renegade Jews, who belonged to Herod’s court. See ch. 11:8.

we know that thou art true ] Nothing could exceed the insidious hypocrisy of this attack on Jesus. His enemies approach Him as a teacher whom they trust.

regardest not the person of men ] i. e. Thou art not moved by external appearance; neither wealth, power, nor prestige will influence thy decision.

17 . Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cesar, or not? ] The injunction, “thou mayest not set a stranger over thee” (Deuteronomy 17:15 ), was interpreted to mean that the Jews should pay tribute to no foreign power. But their history exhibits them as tributary in turn to Assyria, Babylon, Egypt and Persia.

The question was an attempt to see whether Jesus would adopt the watchword of the Zealots. This special tribute, the poll-tax levied on each individual, was particularly offensive to the patriotic party among the Jews.

19 . they brought unto him a penny ] A Denarius , bearing probably the image of Tiberius. The Jewish coins were not impressed with the effigy of their kings. Herod Philip, alone of his family, out of flattery to the Emperor, had caused his coins to be stamped with the likeness of Cæsar.

20 . superscription ] Rather, inscription or effigy .

21 . Render therefore unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s ] The Jewish doctors laid down the principle that “He is king whose coin passes current.” St Paul expands this principle, which underlies our Lord’s answer (Romans 13:1 foll. Cp. also 1 Peter 2:13-17 ). Render = “pay back as due.”

and unto God the things that are God’s ] The claim of the kingdom of Heaven is equally cogent. As the subjects and “husbandmen” of God, the Jews owe Him service and fruit. Neither in regard to Cæsar nor to God do the facts of the case leave any doubt as to what is due, and to whom, nor does obedience to the one of necessity clash with obedience to the other.

23 33 . The Sadducees tempt Jesus. The Condition of the Future Life

Mark 12:18-27 ; Luke 20:27-38

23 . the Sadducees ] See note ch. 3:7. This is the only direct contact of the Sadducees with Jesus.

24 . his brother shall marry his wife ] This is sometimes called the “levirate law,” from Lat. levir , a brother-in-law; see Deuteronomy 25:5 . “The law on this subject is not peculiar to the Jews, but is found amongst various Oriental nations, ancient and modern.” Speaker’s Comment. , Deuteronomy 25:5 .

29 . not knowing ] i. e. “because ye do not know” (1) the Scriptures , which affirm the doctrine; nor (2) the power of God , which is able to effect the resurrection, and after the resurrection to create a new order of things in the new world.

30 . in the resurrection ] i. e. in that world or that phase of existence which begins with the resurrection.

The logical difficulty vanishes; for in this respect the analogy between the present world and the next does not hold good. The danger of the argument from analogy always lies in the fallacy that the things compared are alike at each point.

32 . Jesus appeals to the Pentateuch when arguing with the Sadducees, with whom the books of Moses had the greatest authority.

Stated in a logical form the argument is: God is a God of the living only , but He is the God of Abraham, therefore Abraham is living. The same deduction from the words was made by the later Rabbinical writers.

The principle on which the proposition “God is the God of the living” rests, lies deeper. It depends upon the close relation between the life of God and the life of His children. The best illustration of the truth is the parable of the Vine (John 15:1-8 ). The connection between the living God and the patriarchs, whose God He is, is as close as that between the vine and its branches. If the vine lives its branches live. If God is living and immortal the patriarchs are living and immortal. If the branches die they cease to belong to the vine; if the patriarchs were dead they would have ceased to have any relation to God, or God to them.

So far there has been proof of immortality.

The argument for the Resurrection is inferred. For if the patriarchs are living, they are living in Sheôl , or Hades, and therefore they are awaiting a resurrection; cp. Hebrews 11:16 . For this thought see Meyer ad loc.

33 . doctrine ] Rather, teaching .

34 40 . The Greatest Commandment

Mark 12:28-34 ; Luke 10:25-28

In St Luke the question is asked at an earlier period of the ministry, after the return of the Seventy; and the meaning of “neighbour” is illustrated by the parable of the “Good Samaritan.”

34 . had put … to silence ] Literally, gagged ; hence silenced completely, not only for the moment. The same Greek work is used ( v. 12) of the guest; Mark 1:25 and Luke 4:35 , of silencing a demon; Mark 4:39 , of silencing a storm; 1 Corinthians 9:9 and 1 Timothy 5:18 , of muzzling an ox.

35 . one of them, which was a lawyer] i. e. an interpreter of the written law, as distinguished from the “traditions” or unwritten law.

37 . See Deuteronomy 6:5 .

heart … soul … mind ] St Mark and St Luke add “strength.” In Deut. the words are heart … soul … might. Heart includes the emotions, will, purpose; soul , the spiritual faculties; mind , the intellect, the thinking faculty. This greatest commandment was written on the phylactery which the “lawyer” was probably wearing. See ch. 23:5.

St Mark ( vv. 32 34) adds the lawyer’s rejoinder and the commendation of Jesus, “thou art not far from the Kingdom of God.”

41 46 . The Son of David

Mark 12:35-37 ; Luke 20:41-44

44 . The Lord said unto my Lord ] Psalms 110:1 . According to the Hebrew, “Jehovah said to Adoni,” i. e. to my sovereign Lord, the Messiah, the Son of David.

said ] The Hebrew word translated “said” implies divine inspiration, hence “in spirit” ( v. 43). Canon Perowne translates, “the oracle of Jehovah unto my lord.”

Sit thou on my right hand ] As My co-regent, having power equal to Mine. This verse is quoted in 1 Corinthians 15:25 ; Hebrews 1:13 , and 10:12, 13. (Cp. for the expression ch. 20:21.)

46 . The Psalm was always regarded by the Jews as Messianic, hence their silence and inability to answer without acknowledging the divinity of Jesus.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 22". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.