1–14. THE PARABLE OF THE ROYAL MARRIAGE FEAST
Peculiar to St Matthew
The parable recorded by St Luke (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,  Matthew 22:1-7;  Matthew 22:8-14. In the first  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.  This division relates to the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles. As in the Net (ch. Matthew 13:47) or in the Corn-field (ch. Matthew 13:24), worthy and unworthy are mingled until the King separates.
2. γάμους, ‘a marriage feast.’ εἰλαπίνη ἠὲ γάμος; ἐπεὶ οὐκ ἔρανος τάδε γʼ ἐστίν, Od. I. 226.
3. ἀπέστειλεν τοὺς δούλους. This was in accordance with Eastern custom. Cp. Esther 5:8; Esther 6:14.
οὐκ ἤθελον, ‘refused,’ the imperfect expresses the successive refusals: cp. singuli introducebantur, Livy X. 38.
7. ὠργίσθη. For a subject to scorn the summons to the royal feast implied disloyalty and rebellion.
τὰ στρατεύματα, ‘troops.’ Cp. Luke 23:11, where the word is used of Herod’s soldiers, σὺν τοῖς στρατεύμασιν αὐτοῦ, and Revelation 9:16. The soldiers of Titus literally achieved the purposes of God.
9. τὰς διεξόδους τῶν ὁδῶν. διεξ. here only in N.T. Either  the outlets of the streets, i.e. the central place into which the streets converge. This has the authority of Chrysostom. Hom. 69, in Matt. (see Trench, Parables, p. 230, and cp. Schleusner). Or  roads leading out of the city into the country. Cp. αἱ διέξοδοι τοῦ θανάτου (Psalms 68:20), ‘the means of escape from death.’  Crossroads or through passages connecting the main streets. Hdt. I. 199, διέξοδοι πάντα τρόπον ὁδῶν. Cp. Eur. Andr. 1086, φαεννὰς ἠλίου διεξόδους, ‘the sun’s path across the sky,’ and Psalms 1:3, τὰς διεξ. τῶν ὑδάτων, ‘streams branching out in several directions.’  and  are perhaps most suggestive in the interpretation of the parable. The gospel should pass into the regions beyond the city of the king, or be preached in such meeting places of the nations as Rome, Antioch and Corinth.
10. ἐξελθόντες οἱ δοῦλοι. The ‘servants’ are the earliest Christian missionaries, Paul, Silas, Barnabas and others.
εἰς τὰς ὁδούς. Cp. this with εἰς τὰς διεξόδους above. The servants’ performance did not rise to the thoroughness of the Master’s command. See Bp Lightfoot, On a Fresh Revision of the N.T., p. 68.
πονηρούς τε καὶ ἀγαθούς. Who will always co-exist in the Church on earth.
11. ἔνδυμα γάμου. The festive robe (χλανὶς γαμική, Arist. Av. 1693) which in this instance it is supposed the master of the feast himself provided, so that there was no excuse. The supposition is required by the conditions of the parable, and gifts of robes were, and still are, too common in the East to make this a difficulty, though no clear evidence of this practice appears in books of Eastern travel. This man is the representative of a class—the bad (Matthew 22:10), who are not clothed in righteousness.
12. ἑταῖρε. See note, ch. Matthew 20:13.
πῶς εἰσῆλθες. ‘How didst thou presume to enter’.
ἐφιμώθη. See Matthew 22:34.
13. τὸ σκότος τὸ ἐξώτερον. The dark wild night without moon or stars, the cold and gloom of which would contrast terribly with the warmth and light within; or perhaps the dark dungeon outside the brightness of the banqueting-hall.
ὁ κλαυθμὁς κ.τ.λ. See note ch. Matthew 8:12.
15. παγιδεύειν, ‘to ensnare,’ as a fowler ensnares birds: 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.
15–22. THE TEMPTATION OF THE HERODIANS. THE TRIBUTE MONEY
Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26
16. τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτῶν μετὰ τῶν Ἡρωδ. 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. With the form of the name cp. Cassiani, Sertoriani, the partisans of Cassius, Sertorius; so also Christiani. 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. Matthew 11:8.
οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἀληθὴς εἶ. Nothing could exceed the insidious hypocrisy of this attack on Jesus. His enemies approach Him as a teacher whom they trust.
οὐ γὰρ βλέπεις εἰς πρόσωπον, i.e. ‘Thou art not moved by external appearance; neither wealth, power, nor prestige will influence thy decision.’ In the parallel passage St Luke has οὐ λαμβάνεις πρόσωπον, a rendering of a Hebrew expression meaning literally ‘to raise the face,’ or ‘to accept the face.’ So in O.T., in a good sense, ‘to receive kindly;’ in N.T., always in a bad sense, ‘to look on the outside of things,’ external condition, or ‘to shew partiality.’
17. ἔξεστιν δουναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ; 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—‘there is no king but God.’ This special tribute, the poll-tax levied on each individual, was particularly offensive to the patriotic party among the Jews. The foreign word (censum) would in itself have a hateful sound to Jewish ears, and was probably purposely used by the Pharisees and Herodians for that reason. The translator of the Aramaic gospel (see Introd. ch. 2) does not suffer the point to be lost by giving a Greek equivalent for censum.
18. γνούς, ‘having recognised.’
19. τὸ νόμισμα τοῦ κήνσου. The current coin of the census, i.e. the coin in which the tax is paid.
δηνάριον. 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. ἐπιγραφή. ‘Inscription’ or ‘legend.’
21. ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι. ‘Pay back therefore.’ 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.). The claim of earthly rulers to obedience rests on the delegated authority of God. Cæsar has a claim to tribute because his ἐξουσία is of God—he is God’s viceroy. In the providence of God the Jews had become subject to Cæsar, therefore the lower duty of tribute was due to Cæsar, the higher duty of obedience was due to God. ‘Cæsar and God’ are not therefore opposed terms, as they are often taken to be. Submission is due to Cæsar because submission is due to God. It is the Suzerain enjoining proper submission to his vassal-prince, ‘the powers that be are ordained of God.’
καὶ τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τῷ θεῷ. 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.
The deep importance of the words consists in this. They define the nature of the Kingdom of God. It is not a Jewish theocracy excluding Rome, but a divine supreme kingdom existing side by side with the Roman empire, or any other empire or kingdom, not an imperium in imperio, but an imperium supra imperium.
23. Σαδδουκαῖοι. See note ch. Matthew 3:7. This is the only direct contact of the Sadducees with Jesus.
λέγοντες. ‘Then came Sadducees saying,’ i.e. with their argument that, &c. For the omission of article before λέγοντες see Crit. Notes supra; its absence before Σαδδουκαῖοι implies that they did not come as a class. Cp. οἱ Φαρισαῖοι, Matthew 22:15.
23–33. THE SADDUCEES TEMPT JESUS. THE CONDITION OF THE FUTURE LIFE
Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-39
24. ἐπιγαμβρεύσει ὁ ἀδελφὸς κ.τ.λ. 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.
25. γήμας replaces the unclassical γαμήσας, probably an insertion when the latter form became the usual one.
29. μὴ εἰδότες, i.e. ‘because ye do not know’ (μὴ states the ground or reason of the mistake)  the Scriptures, which affirm the doctrine; nor  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. ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει, 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. Cp. John 14:19, ὅτι ἐγὼ ζῶ καὶ ὑμεῖς ζήσετε, and Romans 5:10, σωθησόμεθα ἐν τῇ ζωῇ αὐτοῦ. Hence in a deep sense God is termed ὁ ζῶν, ‘the living One,’ in whom all live.
So far there has been proof of immortality.
The communion of saints in and with God carries with it immortality.
The resurrection of the body is not expressly proved. But as Maldonatus observes ad loc. those only denied the resurrection of the body who denied immortality; therefore one argument proved both. In Jewish thought to raise the dead implied reunion of soul and body. This appears from Hebrews 11:19 λογισάμενος ὂτι καὶ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγείρειν δυνατὸς ὁ θεός, ὅθεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἐν παραβολῇ ἐκομίσατο. Bengel adds the thought that God is God not of Abraham’s spirit only, but also of his body on which the seal of the promise was set, … ‘ergo ii qui Deum habent vivere debent et qua parte vivere intermiserant reviviscere in perpetuum.’
33. διδαχῇ. Teaching.
ἐξεπλήσσοντο. The imperfect well expresses the thrill of amazement passing through the crowd from one to another.
34. ἐφίμωσεν. Literally ‘gagged’ or ‘muzzled,’ hence silenced completely, not only for the moment. φιμὸς is a muzzle for dogs, or a nose-band in a horse’s bridle: φιμοὶ δὲ συρίζουσι βάρβαρον τρόπον. Æsch. Sep. c. Th. 463. The verb is rare in the classics, ἢν … φιμώσητε τούτου τῷ ξύλῳ τὸν αὐχένα, Arist. Nubes 592, ‘fasten in the stocks.’ The figurative sense is Hellenistic. φιμοῦν is used (Matthew 22:12) 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.
34–40. THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
Mark 12:28-34; comp. Luke 10:25-28
In 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.’
35. εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν νομικός, i.e. an interpreter of the written law, as distinguished from the ‘traditions’ or unwritten law.
37. See Deuteronomy 6:5.
καρδίᾳ … ψυχῇ … διανοία. St Mark and St Luke add ἰσχύς. In Deut. the words are heart … soul … might. καρδία includes the emotions, will, purpose; ψυχή, the spiritual faculties; διάνοια the intellect, the thinking faculty. This greatest commandment was written on the phylactery which the ‘lawyer’ was probably wearing. See ch. Matthew 23:5.
St Mark (Mark 12:32-34) adds the lawyer’s rejoinder and the commendation of Jesus, ‘thou art not far from the Kingdom of God.’
38. The article before μεγάλη is a gain to the sense. It is strongly supported.
40. ἐν ταύταις κρέμαται. The classical expression would be ἐκ τοῦτων κρέμανται.
41–46. THE SON OF DAVID
Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44
44. κύριος τῷ κυρίῳ μου., Psalms 110:1. According to the Hebrew, ‘Jehovah said to Adoni,’ i.e. to my sovereign Lord, the Messiah, the Son of David. The repeated κύριος … κυρίῳ seems to be an indication of what must certainly have been the fact, that Jesus avoided (as all Jews do now) the pronunciation of the name Jehovah, using instead Adonai, which is represented by Κύριος.
εἶπεν. The Hebrew word translated ‘said’ implies divine inspiration, hence ‘in spirit’ (Matthew 22:43). Dean Perowne translates, ‘the oracle of Jehovah unto my Lord.’
Κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν μου. As My co-regent, having power equal to Mine. This verse is quoted in 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 10:12-13. (Cp. for the expression ch. Matthew 20:21.) The Psalm was always regarded by the Jews as Messianic, hence their silence and inability to answer without acknowledging the divinity of Jesus.
κάθου for κάθησο in late prose and in comedy, see Veitch, sub voc. κάθημαι, and Winer, p. 98, with Dr Moulton’s note. The same form occurs Luke 20:42; Acts 2:34; James 2:3; and in LXX.
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the Third Sunday after Epiphany