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Bible Commentaries

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Matthew 22

Verses 1-14

1 14. ] PARABLE OF THE MARRIAGE OF THE KING’S SON. Peculiar to Matthew . A parable resembling this in several particulars occurs in Luke 14:15-24 , yet we must not hastily set it down as the same. Many circumstances are entirely different: the locality and occasion of delivery different, and in both cases stated with precision. And the difference in the style of the parables is correspondent to the two periods of their utterance. That in Luke is delivered earlier in our Lord’s ministry, when the enmity of the Pharisees had yet not fully manifested itself: the refusal of the guests is more courteous, their only penalty, exclusion ; here they maltreat the servants , and are utterly destroyed . This binds the parable in close connexion with that of the wicked husbandmen in the last chapter, and with this period of our Lord’s course.

Verse 2

2. ] The householder of the former parable is the KING here, who ποιεῖ γάμους for his Son. γάμοι are not always necessarily ‘a marriage,’ but any great celebration, as accession to the throne, or coming of age, &c. See Esther 1:5 , LXX. Meyer (in loc.) denies this, but does not refer to the passage of Esther just cited, which to my mind is decisive. Est 9:22 is not satisfactorily explained on his interpretation, viz. that the LXX translate freely and exegetically, but is another instance in point. Here however the notion of a marriage is certainly included ; and the interpretation is, the great marriage supper ( Rev 19:9 ) of the Son of God : i.e. His full and complete union to His Bride the Church in glory: which would be to the guests the ultimate result of accepting the invitation. See Ephesians 5:25-27 . The difficulty, of the totality of the guests in this case constituting the Bride , may be lessened by regarding the ceremony as an enthronization, in which the people are regarded as being espoused to their prince. On the whole imagery, cf. Psalms 45:1-17 .

Verse 3

3. ] These δοῦλοι are not the Prophets, not the same as the servants in ch. Matthew 21:34 , as generally interpreted: the parable takes up its ground nearly from the conclusion of that former, and is altogether a New Testament parable . The office of these δοῦλοι (“ κλήτορες , δειπνοκλήτορες , vocatores, invitatores,” Webst. and Wilk.) was καλέσαι τοὺς κεκλημένους , to summon those who had been invited, as was customary (see Esther 5:8 ; Est 6:14 ); these being the Jewish people , who had been before, by their prophets and covenant, invited. These first δοῦλοι are then the first messengers of the Gospel , John the Baptist, the Twelve, and the Seventy, who preached, saying ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ And even our Lord Himself must in some sort be here included, inasmuch as He μορφὴν δοὺλου ἔλαβεν , and preached this same truth, with however the weighty addition of δεῦτε πρός με .

Verse 4

4. ] We now come to a different period of the Evangelic announcement. Now, all is ready: the sacrifice , or the meat for the feast, is slain . We can hardly help connecting this with the declarations of our Lord in John 6:51-59 , and supposing that this second invitation is the preaching of the Apostles and Evangelists after the great sacrifice was offered . That thus the slaying of the Lord is not the doing of the invited , but is mentioned as done for the Feast , is no real difficulty. Both sides of the truth may be included in the parable, as they are in Acts 2:23 , and indeed wherever it is set forth. The discourse of Peter in that chapter is the best commentary on πάντα ἕτοιμα · δεῦτε εἰς τοὺς γ .

Meyer well remarks that ‘ ἄριστον is not = δεῖπνον , but is the meal at noon with which the course of marriage festivities began .’ This will give even greater precision to the meaning of the parable as applying to these preparatory foretastes of the great feast, which the Church of God now enjoys. As the former parable had an O.T. foundation, so this: viz. Proverbs 9:1 ff.

Verses 5-6

5, 6. ] Two classes are here represented: the irreligious and careless people (notice τὸν ἴδιον ἀγρόν , bringing out the selfish spirit), and the rulers , who persecuted and slew God’s messengers . Stephen, James the brother of John, James the Just, and doubtless other of the Apostles of whose end we have no certain account, perished by the hands or instigation of the Jews: they persecuted Paul all through his life, and most probably brought him to his death at last: and the guilt of the death of the Lord abode upon them (ch. Mat 27:25 ). They repeatedly insulted and scourged the Apostles (see Acts 4:3 ; Acts 5:18 ; Act 5:40 ).

Verse 7

7. ] The occurrence of this verse before the opening of the Feast to the Gentiles has perplexed some interpreters: but it is strictly exact: for although the Gospel was preached to the Gentiles forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, yet the final rejection of the Jews and the substitution of the Gentiles did not take place till that event.

τὰ στρατ . αὐτοῦ ] The Roman armies; a similar expression for the unconscious instruments of God’s anger is used Isaiah 10:5 ; Isaiah 13:5 ; Jeremiah 25:9 ; Joel 2:25 .

τὴν πόλιν αὐ . ] no longer His , but their city. Compare ὁ οἶκος ὑμῶν ch. Matthew 23:38 . This is a startling introduction of the interpretation into the parable ; we knew not before that they had a city .

Verses 8-10

8 10. ] On οὐκ ἄξιοι see Acts 13:46 . ἦσαν , as Bengel, “ præteritum indignos eo magis prætermittit .”

διέξοδοι are the places of resort at the meetings of streets, the squares, or confluences of ways. De Wette and Meyer are wrong in saying that they are not in the city, ‘for that was destroyed:’ it is not the city of the murderers, but that in which the feast is supposed to be held , which is spoken of: not Jerusalem, but God’s world.

πονηρ . τε κ . ἀγαθ . ] Both the open sinners and the morally good together. See ch. Matthew 13:47 , where the net collects ἐκ παντὸς γένους . Stier remarks that we might expect, from ch. Matthew 21:31 , to find the guest who by and by is expelled, among the ἀγαθοί .

γάμος is here the feast, not the place where it was held .

Here, so to speak, the first act of the parable closes; and here is the situation of the Church at this day; collected out of all the earth, and containing both bad and good. ἐπλήσθη , as Meyer well remarks, is emphatic.

Verses 11-12

11, 12. ] This second part of the parable is in direct reference to the word of prophecy, Zephaniah 1:7-8 ; cf. especially Matthew 22:8 , καὶ ἔσται ἐν ἡμέρᾳ θυσίας κυρίου καὶ ἐκδικήσω .… ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς ἐνδεδυμένους ἐνδύματα ἀλλότρια . The coming of the King to see his guests is the final and separating Judgment of the Church, see ch. Matthew 25:19 , when that distinction shall be made, which God’s ministers have no power nor right to make in admissions into the visible Church. Yet as Trench remarks (Parables, p. 207), this coming of the King is not exclusively the final one, but every trying and sifting judgment adumbrates it in some measure. With regard to the ἔνδυμα γάμου , we must not, I think, make too much of the usually cited Oriental custom of presenting the guests with such garments at feasts. For (1) it is not distinctly proved that such a custom existed; the passages usually quoted (Genesis 45:22 ; Judges 14:12 ; 2Ki 5:22 ) are nothing to the purpose; 2Ki 10:22 shews that the worshippers of Baal were provided with vestments, and at a feast : and at the present day those who are admitted to the presence of Royalty in the East are clothed with a caftan : but all this does not make good the assumption: and (2) even granting it, it is not to be pressed, as being manifestly not the punctum saliens of this part of the parable. The guest was bound to provide himself with this proper habit, out of respect to the feast and its Author: how this was to be provided, does not here appear, but does elsewhere . The garment is the imputed and inherent righteousness of the Lord Jesus , put on symbolically in Baptism ( Gal 3:27 ), and really by a true and living faith (ib. Gal 3:26 ), without which none can appear before God in His Kingdom of Glory; Hebrews 12:14 ; Philippians 3:7-8 ; Ephesians 4:24 ; Colossians 3:10 ; Romans 8:14 : which truth could not be put forward here , but at its subsequent manifestation threw its great light over this and other such similitudes and expressions. This guest imagines his own garment will be as acceptable, and therefore neglects to provide himself. See 1 John 5:10 ; Isaiah 64:6 ; Isaiah 61:10 ; Revelation 19:8 .

ἑταῖρε ] see note on ch. Matthew 20:13 : and, as a curiosity of exegetical application, Wordsw.’s note here.

Verses 13-14

13, 14. ] The διάκονοι are not the same as the δοῦλοι above, but the angels , see ch. Matthew 13:41 ; Matthew 13:49 . The ‘binding of his feet and hands’ has been interpreted of his being now in the night, in which no man can work; but I doubt whether this be not too fanciful. Rather should we say, with Meyer, that it is to render his escape from the outer darkness impossible. On τὸ σκ . τὸ ἐξ . see reff.

In Mat 22:14 our Lord shews us that this guest, thus single in the parable, is, alas, to be the representative of a numerous class in the visible Church, who, although sitting down as guests before His coming, have not on the ἔνδνμα γάμου .

Verses 15-22

15 22. ] REPLY CONCERNING THE LAWFULNESS OF TRIBUTE TO CÆSAR. Mark 12:13-17 . Luke 20:20-26 . On the Herodians , see above, ch. Matthew 16:6 . By the union of these two hostile parties they perhaps thought that the ἐγκάθετοι (Luke), who were to feign themselves honest men, Luke 20:20 , would be more likely to deceive our Lord . For this also is their flattery here designed. ‘The devil never lies so foully, as when he speaks the truth.’ Meyer compares that other οἴδαμεν ὅτι , John 3:2 . The application may have been as if to settle a dispute which had sprung up between the Pharisees, the strong theocratic repudiators of Roman rule, and the Herodians, the hangerson of a dynasty created by Cæsar. In case the answer were negative , these last would be witnesses against Him to the governor ( Luk 20:20 ); as indeed they became, with false testimony, when they could not get true, Luke 23:2 ; in case it were affirmative , He would be compromised with the Roman conquerors, and could not be the people’s deliverer, their expected Messias; which would furnish them with a pretext for stirring up the multitudes against Him (see Deu 17:15 ).

Verse 17

17. ] κῆνσος = φόρος , Luke 20:22 ; = ἐπικεφάλαιον : a poll tax, which had been levied since Judæa became a province of Rome.

Verses 18-22

18 22. ] Our Lord not only detects their plot, but answers their question; and in answering it, teaches them each a deep lesson.

The νόμισμα κήνσου was a denarius. It was a saying of the Rabbis, quoted by Lightfoot and Wetstein, that ‘wherever any king’s money is current, there that king is lord.’ The Lord’s answer convicts them, by the matter of fact that this money was current among them, of subjection to (Tiberius) Cæsar, and recognition of that subjection: Pay therefore, He says, that which is Cæsar’s to Cæsar, and (not perhaps without reference to the Herodians, but with much deeper reference) that which is God’s, to God. These weighty words, so much misunderstood, bind together, instead of separating, the political and religious duties of the followers of Christ. See Jeremiah 27:4-18 ; Romans 13:1 ; 1 Peter 2:13-14 ; John 19:11 . The second clause comprehends the first, and gives its true foundation: q. d. ‘this obedience to Cæsar is but an application of the general principle of obedience to God, of Whom is all power.’ The latter clause thus reaches infinitely deeper than the former: just as our Lord in Luk 10:41-42 declares a truth reaching far beyond the occasion of the meal. Man is the coinage , and bears the image , of God ( Gen 1:27 ): and this image is not lost by the fall (Genesis 9:6 ; Acts 17:29 ; James 3:9 . See also notes on Luke 15:8-9 ; and compare Tertull. contr. Marc. iv. 38, vol. ii. p. 453, “Quæ erunt Dei? quæ similia sunt denario Cæsaris, imago scilicet et similitudo ejus. Hominem igitur reddi jubet Creatori, in cujus imagine et similitudine et nomine et materia expressus est”). We owe then ourselves to God: and this solemn duty is implied, of giving ourselves to Him, with all that we have and are. The answer also gives them the real reason why they were now under subjection to Cæsar : viz. because they had fallen from their allegiance to God . ‘The question was as if an adulterer were to ask, whether it were lawful for him to pay the penalty of his adultery.’ (Claudius, cited by Stier ii. 388.) They had again and again rejected their theocratic inheritance; they refused it in the wilderness; they would not have God to reign over them, but a king; therefore were they subjected to foreigners (see 2Ch 12:8 ).

Verse 23

23. λέγ . ] In Luke, οἱ ἀντιλέγ . = οἵτινες λέγουσιν Mark. Here, the art. being absent, we must understand that they came, saying that there was no resurrection: i.e. either, in pursuance of their well-known denial of that doctrine, or, which is more probable, actually saying, maintaining it against our Lord: viz., in shape and manner following.

Verses 23-33

23 33. ] REPLY TO THE SADDUCEES RESPECTING THE RESURRECTION. Mark 12:18-27 . Luke 20:27-40 . From Acts 23:8 , the Sadducees denied resurrection, angel, and spirit ; consequently the immortality of the soul, as well as the resurrection of the body . This should be borne in mind, as our Lord’s answer is directed against both errors. It is a mistake into which many Commentators (including Wordsw. on the authority of Jerome) have fallen, to suppose that the Sadducees recognized only the Pentateuch: they acknowledged the prophets also , and rejected tradition only (see this abundantly proved by Winer, Realwörterbuch, Sadducäer).

Verse 24

24. ἀναστ . σπέρ . ] The first-born son of a leviratical marriage was reckoned and registered as the son of the deceased brother, Michaelis, Mos. R. ii. 98 (Meyer).

Verse 28

28. ] γυνή is the predicate.

Verses 29-30

29, 30. ] τὰς γρ . μ . τ . δ . τ . θ ., not = τὴν δ . τ . θ . τήν ἐν ταῖς γρ ., but to be rendered literally; ye do not understand the Scriptures, which imply the resurrection ( Mat 22:31 ), nor the power of God, before which all these obstacles vanish ( Mat 22:30 ). See Acts 26:8 ; Romans 4:17 ; Romans 8:11 :1 Corinthians 6:14 .

γαμοῦσιν , of males; γαμίζ ., of females. Our Lord also asserts here against them the existence of angels , and reveals to us the similarity of our glorified state to their present one. Not ἐν τῷ οὐρ . εἰσιν , ὡς ἄγ . [ θεοῦ ], but εἰσιν , ὡς ἄγ . [ θεοῦ ] ἐν τῷ οὐ . (see note on Luke 20:35 , and 1Co 15:44 ); the risen are not in heaven , but on earth .

Wetstein quotes the Rabbinical decision of a similar question ‘Mulier illa quæ duobus nupsit in hoc mundo, priori restituitur in mundo futuro.’

Verses 31-33

31 33. ] Our Lord does not cite the strong testimonies of the Prophets, as Isaiah 26:19 ; Ezekiel 37:1-14 ; Daniel 12:2 , but says, as in Luke ( Luk 20:37 ), ‘ even Moses has shewn,’ &c., leaving those other witnesses to be supplied. The books of Moses were the great and ultimate appeal for all doctrine: and thus the assertion of the Resurrection comes from the very source whence their difficulty had been constructed. On the passage itself, and our Lord’s interpretation of it, much has been written. Certain it is that our Lord brings out in this answer a depth of meaning in the words, which without it we could not discover. Meyer, in reply to Strauss and Hase, finely says, “Our Lord here testifies of the conscious intent of God in speaking the words. God uttered them, He tells us, to Moses, in the consciousness of the still enduring existence of his peculiar relation to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

The groundwork of His argument seems to me to be this: the words ‘I am thy God’ imply a covenant ; there is another side to them: “Thou art Mine” follows upon “I am thine.” When God therefore declares that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He declares their continuance , as the other parties in this covenant. It is an assertion which could not be made of an annihilated being of the past . And notice also (with Bengel), that Abraham’s (&c.) body , having had upon it the seal of the covenant , is included in this. Stier (after Lavater) remarks that this is a weighty testimony against the so-called ‘sleep of the soul’ in the intermediate state. Compare πάντες γὰρ αὐτῷ ζῶσιν Luke 20:38 , and ζῶσι τῷ θεῷ 4Ma 7:19 ; [Matthew 16:25 ,] spoken of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Thus the burden of the Law, ‘I AM THE LORD THY GOD,’ contains in it the seed of immortality and the hope of the resurrection.

Verse 34

34. ] ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό is local ; not of their purpose .

Verses 34-40

34 40. ] REPLY CONCERNING THE GREAT COMMANDMENT. Mark 12:28-34 . In the more detailed account of Mark (Luke has a similar incident in another place, Luk 10:25 ), this question does not appear as that of one maliciously tempting our Lord: and his seems to me the view to be taken, as there could not be any evil consequences to our Lord, whichever way He had answered the question. See the notes there.

Verse 35

35. νομικός ] These were Mosaic jurists, whose special province was the interpretation of the Law. γραμματεύς is a wider term, including them.

πειράζων ] see above.

Verse 36

36. ποία ἐντ . μεγ . ] Not, ‘ which is the great commandment ,’ but which ( what kind of a ) commandment is great in the law? In Mark, otherwise.

Verse 37

37. κύρ . τ . θ . σου ] Not, ‘ The LORD as thy God ,’ but the LORD thy God.

Verse 40

40. ὁ ν . κ . οἱ πρ . ] in the sense of ch. Matthew 5:17 ; Mat 7:12 all the details of God’s ancient revelation of His will, by whomsoever made.

Verses 41-46

41 46. ] THE PHARISEES BAFFLED BY A QUESTION RESPECTING CHRIST AND DAVID. Mark 12:35-37 . Luke 20:41-44 . (See also Acts 2:34 .) Our Lord now questions his adversaries (according to Matt.: in Mark and Luke He asks the question not to , but concerning the Scribes or interpreters of the law), and again convicts them of ignorance of the Scriptures. From the universally recognized title of the Messiah as the Son of David, which by His question He elicits from them, He takes occasion to shew them, who understood this title in a mere worldly political sense, the difficulty arising from David’s own reverence for this his Son: the solution lying in the incarnate Godhead of the Christ, of which they were ignorant.

Verse 43

43. ἐν πνεύμ . ] by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: = ἐν πν . ἁγίῳ Mark. This is a weighty declaration by our Lord of the inspiration of the prophetic Scriptures. The expression was a Rabbinical one: see Schöttgen in loc. Mark ( Mar 12:37 ) adds to this “the common people heard him gladly.” Here then end the endeavours of His adversaries to entrap Him by questions: they now betake themselves to other means. ‘Nova dehinc quasi scena se pandit.’ Bengel.

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Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Matthew 22". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.