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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 12

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Matthew 12:3 . ἐπείνασε ] Elz. and Fritzsche insert αὐτός , against decisive testimony. From Mark 2:25 ; Luke 6:3 .

Matthew 12:4 . ἔφαγεν ] Tisch. 8 : ἔφαγον , only according to B א . Altered to suit what follows.

οὕς ] Lach. Tisch.: ὅ , after B D 13, 124, Cant. 12 :Harl.* Correctly; the Received text is a correction in accordance with Mark and Luke.

Matthew 12:6 .

μείζων ] B D E G K M S U V Γ Π , Curss. and Fathers: μεῖζον . So Fritzsche, Scholz, Lachm. Tisch. Authority and exegesis favour the neuter, by way of explaining which the masculine would readily suggest itself.

Matthew 12:8 . Before τοῦ σαββάτου Elz. inserts καί , which has been deleted in accordance with decisive testimony. From Mark and Luke.

Matthew 12:10 . ἦν τήν ] is certainly wanting in B C א , while Vulg. and Codd. of the It. Copt. leave it doubtful whether they did not read simple ἦν . Ἦν τήν is deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. Correctly. The brevity of Matthew’s statement was supplemented from Mark 3:1 , and hence ἐκεῖ came to be inserted between ἦν and τήν (by others at a different place).

Matthew 12:11 . Lachm., following inadequate testimony, reads ἐγείρει instead of ἐγερεῖ . An error on the part of the transcriber.

Matthew 12:14 . The following arrangement, ἐξελθόντες δὲ οἱ Φαρ . συμβ . ἔλ . κατ . αὐτοῦ (B C D A א , Curss. Syr. Copt. It. Vulg. Eus. Chrys. Fritzsche, Gersd. Lachm. Tisch.), is to be preferred to that of the Received text ( οἱ δ . Φ . ς . ἔλ . κ . ἀ . ἐξ .), as being simpler and more in keeping with Matthew’s style.

Matthew 12:15 . ὄχλοι ] omitted in B א , Vulg. It. Eus., deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. Homoeoteleuton.

Matthew 12:17 . With Lachm. and Tisch. we ought to adopt ἵνα instead of ὅπως , in accordance with B C D א , 1, 33, Or. Eus.; ὅπως was introduced for sake of variety.

Matthew 12:18 . εἰς ὅν ] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 (see note of the latter): ὅν , after B א * and several Curss. On inadequate testimony, for εἰς would be readily dropped out, from a mechanical effort to conform the construction to ὃν ᾑρέτισα ; ἐν ᾧ in D is a gloss.

Matthew 12:21 . τῷ ὀνόματι ] Elz. Fritzsche: ἐν τῷ ὀνόμ ., against decisive testimony. ἐν is an interpolation, as is also ἐπί in Eus. and several Curss.

Matthew 12:22 . τὸν τυφλὸν καὶ κωφόν ] Lachm. and Tisch. have merely τὸν κωφόν (B D א , Copt. Syr cur Cant. Corb. 1, Germ. 1). But λαλεῖν coming first in what follows gave rise partly to the omission of τυφλόν , partly to the inverted arrangement: κωφὸν καὶ τυφλόν (L X Δ , Curss. Syr. Arm.).

Matthew 12:28 . The order ἐν πνεύμ . θεοῦ ἐγώ , as against that of the Received text, ἐγὼ ἐν πνεύμ ., is supported by decisive testimony (less adequately the arrangement of Lachm. and Tisch.: κριταὶ ἔσονται ὑμῶν , in Matthew 12:27 ).

Matthew 12:29 . In accordance with B C* X, Curss., Lachm. and Tisch. have ἁρπάσαι instead of διαρπάσει . The reading of the Received text is adopted from Mark. In what follows Lachm. has ἁρπάσει instead of διαρπάσει ; so also Tisch. 7; but according to testimony that is far too inadequate. Tisch. 8, following D G K Π א , Curss., reads διαρπάσῃ . But still the evidence in favour of διαρπάσει remains so strong, that there is but the more reason to look upon διαρπάσῃ as a supposed grammatical correction.

Matthew 12:31 . Tisch. 8, following Lachm., has indeed also deleted the second τοῖς ἀνθρώποις (after B א , Curss. Verss. and a few Fathers); it is, however, to be preserved as a solemn yet superfluous repetition.

Matthew 12:35 . Elz., against decisive testimony, inserts τῆς καρδίας after the first θησαυροῦ . A gloss. But with Tisch. 8, and on the strength of sufficient testimony, τά before ἀγαθά is to be maintained, in opposition to Griesb. Lachm. Tisch. 7. The article came to be omitted from a desire to conform to the second clause.

Matthew 12:36 . The reading λαλήσουσιν , adopted by Tisch. (B C א ), is to be traced to the futures which follow.

Matthew 12:38 . With Lachm. and Tisch. αὐτῷ should be inserted after ἀπεκρίθ ., in accordance with B C D L M א , Curss. and most Verss. and Chrys. Perhaps it was omitted from being considered unnecessary.

καὶ Φαρις .] is deleted by Lachm. on too inadequate testimony.

Matthew 12:44 . The arrangement: εἰς τ . οἶκ . μ . ἐπιστρ . (Lachm. Tisch.), as opposed to that of the Received text ( ἐπιστρ . ἐ . τ . ὀ . μ .), finds testimony sufficiently strong in B D Z א . Comp. Luke.

ἐλθόν ] D F G X Γ , Curss.: ἐλθών . So Fritzsche and Tisch. Correctly; the reading of the Received text is here and in Luke 11:25 a grammatical correction.

Matthew 12:46 . δέ ] omitted in B א , Curss. Vulg. It. Deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. 8. But how easily may it have been omitted at the beginning of the new section (one reading even begins with αὐτοῦ )!

Matthew 12:48 . εἰπόντι ] Fritzsche, Lachm. Tisch.: λέγοντι , after B D Z Π א , Curss. Correctly. The former has crept in mechanically, in conformity with Matthew 12:47 .

Verse 1

Matthew 12:1 ff. Comp. Mark 2:23 ff.; Luke 6:1 ff. Any one was allowed to pluck ( τίλλειν , Blomfield, ad Aesch. Pers. Gloss. 214) ears of corn in another man’s field till he was satisfied. Deuteronomy 23:25 . It is customary and allowable even, at the present day. Robinson, II. p. 419. But according to Exodus 16:22 ff., it might seem as if it were unlawful on the Sabbath , and it appears from tradition (Schabb. c. 8; Lightfoot and Schoettgen on this passage) that it was actually so regarded. That the disciples did not hold themselves bound by this view, is an evidence of their more liberal spirit. Comp. Weizsäcker, p. 390.

ἤρξαντο ] After this plucking had begun , there came the remonstrance on the part of the Pharisees, Matthew 12:2 .

Luke, in accordance with the historical arrangement which he observes, places this incident somewhat earlier; Mark and Luke introduce it after the question about fasting. Both of them, however, mention only the first of the two proof-texts quoted by Jesus. Matthew, following a tradition that is more original as far as this matter is concerned, supplements the account in Mark, from whom, however, he essentially differs in regard to the object in plucking the corn (see on Mark, and Holtzmann, p. 73).

Verses 3-4

Matthew 12:3-4 . Ἀνέγνωτε ] 1 Samuel 21:0

The spurious αὐτός is unnecessary; καὶ οἱ μετʼ αὐτοῦ is connected with τί ἐποίησεν Δαυείδ . Comp. Thuc. i. 47. 2 : ἔλεγε δὲ ὁ Στύφων καὶ οἱ μετʼ αὐτοῦ , and Poppo’s note.

οἶκος τοῦ θεοῦ ] in this instance the tabernacle , which was then at Nob. Comp. Exodus 23:19 . For the twelve pieces of shew-bread , on this occasion called ἄρτοι τῆς προθέσεως , i.e. לֶחֶם הַמַּעֲרֶכֶת , loaves of the pile (1 Chronicles 23:29 ; Exodus 40:23 ), elsewhere named ἄρτοι τοῦ προσώπου , לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים , loaves of the presence (of God), 1 Samuel 21:7 , which, as a meat-offering, stood in the holy place, arranged in two rows upon a golden table, and were renewed every Sabbath, those of the previous week being given to the priests, see Leviticus 24:5 ff.; Lund, Jüd. Heiligth., ed. Wolf, p. 134 ff.; Ewald, Alterth. pp. 37, 153; Keil, Arch. I. p. 91.

εἰ μή ] only appears to stand for ἀλλά , and retains its usual meaning of nisi. The language, however, assumes the tone of absolute negation: which it was not lawful for Him to eat, nor for those who were with Him, not lawful except for the priests alone. The neuter ὅ (see the critical remarks) indicates the category: what, i.e. which kind of food. See Matthiae, p. 987; Kühner, II. 1, p. 55. Comp. note on Galatians 1:7 ; Galatians 2:16 ; Luke 4:26 f.; Dindorf in Steph. Thes. III. p. 190 C; Fritzsche, ad Rom. III. p. 195.

Verse 5

Matthew 12:5 . Ἀνέγνωτε ] Numbers 28:9 .

βεβηλοῦσι ] that is, if one were consistently to judge according to your precepts, which forbid every sort of work on the Sabbath as being a desecration of that day. For βεβηλ ., profanant , comp. Acts 24:6 , and see Schleusner, Thes. I. p. 558.

Verse 6

Matthew 12:6 . As in Matthew 12:3 f. Jesus had reasoned a majori (from the fact of David, when hungry, being allowed to eat the shew-bread ) ad minus (to the fact of the hungry disciples being allowed to pluck the corn on the Sabbath), so in Matthew 12:5 He reasons a minori (viz. from the temple , where the Sabbath is subordinated to the sacrificial arrangements) ad majus , viz. to His own authority, which transcends the sanctity of the temple, and from acting under which the disciples might well be the less disposed to be bound to keep the Sabbath. The key to this argument is to be found in Matthew 12:6 , which contains the minor proposition of the conclusion: what is allowable in the case of the servants of the temple, namely, to work on the Sabbath, must be conceded to the servants of Him who is greater than the temple; I am greater than the temple; therefore, and so on.

In all the elevation and truth of His self-consciousness Jesus points with τοῦ ἱεροῦ μεῖζόν ἐστιν ὧδε to His own person and character as surpassing the temple in sanctity and greatness; not to the Messianic work (Fritzsche, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius), with which the plucking of the corn had nothing to do; nor, again, to the interests of the, disciples! (Paulus, Kuinoel); nor, finally, to the ἔλεος in Matthew 12:7 (Baur). The neuter μεῖζον , a greater thing , is more weighty than the masculine. Dissen, ad Dem. de cor . p. 396. Comp. Matthew 11:9 .

ὧδε ] demonstrative, as in Matthew 12:41-42 . Notice how sublimely great is the consciousness that God is dwelling in Him in a higher sense than in the temple; comp. note on John 2:19 .

Verse 7

Matthew 12:7 . After this defence of His disciples, He shows the Pharisees that in judging them as they had done they were animated by a perverse disposition . He shows how they were destitute of the compassionate love which God requires in Hosea 6:6 , while their thoughts were exclusively directed to sacrifice and ceremonial religion generally. From want of ἔλεος , which would have disposed them to regard the conduct of the hungry ones in a totally different light, they, i.e. those ceremonialists, had condemned the disciples. See, besides, note on Matthew 9:13 .

Verse 8

Matthew 12:8 . Γάρ ] τοὺς ἀναιτίους , I say, for, and so on. “Majestate Christi nititur discipulorum innocentia et libertas,” Bengel. The authority of the Messiah (under which His disciples have acted) is superior to the law of the Sabbath; the latter is subject to His disposal, and must yield to His will. Bertholdt, Christol. p. 162 f. For the idea, comp. John 5:18 ; Holtzmann, p. 458. Others (Grotius, Kuinoel) interpret thus: Man may set aside the laws regarding the Sabbath , whenever it is for his advantage to do so. In opposition to the regular use of ὁ υἱὸς τ . ἀνθρ ., the argument is different in Mark 1:27 .

Verse 9

Matthew 12:9 ff. Comp. Mark 3:1 ff.; Luke 6:6 ff.

Καὶ μεταβὰς ἐκεῖθεν , κ . τ . λ .] therefore on the same Sabbath day. Different from Luke, who has ἐν ἑτέρῳ σαββάτῳ , to which further division of time Mark likewise fails to make any reference whatever.

αὐτῶν ] the Pharisees , whom He had just sent away. It is impossible to say where the synagogue was to which those Pharisees belonged. But to take αὐτῶν without any definite reference, as in Matthew 11:1 (“of the people of the place,” de Wette, Bleek), is precluded by ἐπηρώτησαν , etc., of which the Pharisees mentioned in Matthew 12:14 are to be regarded as the subject.

Verse 10

Matthew 12:10 . The nature of the affection of the withered hand, in which there was a defective circulation (1 Kings 13:4 ; Zechariah 11:17 ; John 5:3 ), cannot be further defined. It is certain, however, that what was wrong was not merely a deficiency in the power of moving the hand, in which case the cure would be sufficiently explained by our Lord’s acting upon the will and the muscular force (Keim).

The traditions forbade healing on the Sabbath, except in cases where life was in danger. Wetstein and Schoettgen on this passage.

εἰ ] in the New Testament (Winer, p. 474 [E. T. 639]; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 214 [E. T. 249]) is so applied, in opposition to classical usage (see Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 202 f.; Klotz, ad Devar. pp. 508, 511), that it directly introduces the words containing the question. Comp. Matthew 19:3 ; Luke 13:22 ; Luke 22:49 ; Acts 1:6 ; occurring also in the LXX., not in the Apocrypha. However, in the order of ideas in the mind of the questioner is to be found the logical connection, which has occasioned and which will explain the indirectly interrogative use of εἰ ( I would like to know , or some such expression), just as we Germans are also in the habit of asking at once: ob das erlaubt ist ? The character of the questions introduced by εἰ is that of uncertainty and hesitation (Hartung, 1. 1; Kühner, II. 2, p. 1032), which in this instance is quite in keeping with the tempting which the questioners had in view. Fritzsche’s purely indirect interpretation (“interrogarunt eum hoc modo, an liceret ,” etc.) is precluded by λέγοντες , and the passages where the question is preceded by some form of address such as κύριε in Acts 1:6 ; Luke 22:49 .

ἵνα κατηγορ . αὐτοῦ ] before the local court ( κρίσις , Matthew 5:21 ) in the town, and that on the charge of teaching to violate the law of the Sabbath.

Verse 11

Matthew 12:11 . The construction, like that of Matthew 7:9 , is a case of anacoluthon.

The futures indicate the supposed possible case; see Kühner, II. 1, p. 147: what man may there be from among you , and so on.

πρόβατον ἕν ] one , which on that account is all the dearer to him.

καὶ ἐὰν ἐμπέσῃ , κ . τ . λ .] There must have been no doubt as to whether such a thing was allowable, for Jesus argues ex concesso . The Talmud ( Gemara ) contains no such concession, but answers the question partly in a negative way, and partly by making casuistical stipulations. See the passages in Othonis, Lex Rabb. p. 527; Wetstein, and Buxtorf, Synag . c. 16.

κρατήσει αὐτὸ κ . ἐγερεῖ ] descriptive. He lays hold of the sheep that has fallen into a ditch ( βόθυνον , Xen. Oec. xix. 3, not exclusively a well, but any kind of hole, like βόθρος ), and, lifting out the animal lying bruised in the pit, he sets it upon its feet .

Verse 12

Matthew 12:12 . Οὖν ] Inference founded on the value which, according to Matthew 12:11 , is no doubt set upon an animal in such circumstances, notwithstanding the laws of Sabbath observance: Of how much greater consequence, then, is a man than a sheep ? The answer is already involved in the question itself ( is of far more consequence , and so on); but the final conclusion is: therefore it is allowable to do what is right on the Sabbath . By means of the general expression καλῶς ποιεῖν , which does not mean to be beneficent (Kuinoel, de Wette, Bleek), but recte agere (Acts 10:33 ; 1 Corinthians 7:38 f.; Philippians 4:14 ; James 2:8 ; James 2:19 ; 2 Peter 1:19 ; 3 John 1:6 ), the θεραπεύειν is ranked under the category of duty , and the moral absurdity of the question in Matthew 12:10 is thereby exposed. So, by this adroit handling of the argument, the inference of Jesus is secured against all contradiction; de Wette’s objection, to the effect that it might have been asked whether the healing did not admit of delay, is founded on a misunderstanding of the καλῶς ποιεῖν . This latter is the moral rule by which resting or working on the Sabbath is to be determined.

Verses 13-14

Matthew 12:13-14 . Ἀπεκατεστ .] just as he was stretching it out, and at the bidding of Jesus. For the double augment, see Winer, p. 69 f. [E. T. 84].

ὑγιής ] result of the ἀπεκατεστ . See Winer, pp. 491, 580 [E. T. 663, 779]; Lübcker, grammat. Stud . p. 33 f.; Pflugk, ad. Hec. 690. Mark’s version of the incident is more animated, fresher, and more original (Keim’s opinion is different), and likewise free from the amplification contained in what is said about the animal falling into the well. This saying is introduced by Luke in another form, and in connection with a different incident (Luke 14:5 ), which, however, would not justify us in holding, with Strauss, that the different narratives are only different settings for the saying in question, while supposing at the same time that there is even an allusion here to 1 Kings 13:4 ; 1 Kings 13:6 . According to the Evang. s. Hebr. (Hilgenfeld, N. T. extra can . IV. 16, 23), the man with the withered hand was a mason , who begged to be healed, that he might not be under the necessity of begging.

ἐξελθόντες ] from the synagogue, Matthew 12:9 .

σνμβούλ . ἔλαβ . κατ . αὐτ ., ὅπως ] they devised measures for the purpose of crushing Him (see on Matthew 22:15 ); the opposition to Him had now assumed this very decided character.

Verse 15

Matthew 12:15 ff. Matthew 12:17-21 are peculiar to Matthew.

αὐτοὺς πάντας ] all the sick who were among the multitudes. Indefinite expression. On the condensed style of Matthew , 15 f., comp. Mark 3:7 ff.; Luke 6:17 ff.

Matthew 12:16 . He gave them strict injunctions , in order that, and so on (Matthew 16:20 , Matthew 20:31 ); for He did not wish, by creating too great a sensation, to provoke His enemies to proceed to extremities before the time. Comp. on Matthew 8:4 .

Matthew 12:17 . This ἐπετίμ . αὐτοῖς was designed, in accordance with the divine order in history, to fulfil the prophecy that the Messiah was to act without anything like ostentatious display in His proceedings. On the silent majesty of Jesus, comp. Dorner, Jesu sündlose Vollkommenh . p. 28 ff.

Verse 18

Matthew 12:18 . Isaiah 40:1 ff., a very free rendering of the original Hebrew text, yet not without some reminiscences of the LXX. For the עֶבֶר יְהֹוָה , which the LXX. ( Ἰακὼβ ὁ παῖς μου ) and modern expositors interpret as applying to Israel as a nation, or the ideal Israel of the prophets, see, besides, the commentaries on Isaiah; Drechsler and Delitzsch in Rudelbach’s Zeitschr. 1852, 2, p. 258 ff.; Tholuck, d. Propheten u. ihre Weissag. p. 158 ff.; Kleinert in the Stud. u. Krit. 1862, p. 699 ff.; F. Philippi in the Mecklenb. Zeitschr. 1864, 5, and 6. Matthew understands it as referring to the Messiah. Similarly the Chaldee paraphrasts and Kimchi, in which they are justified by the Messianic idea, as fulfilled in Christ, running through the whole passage. See Acts 3:13 ; Acts 3:26 ; Acts 4:27 ; Acts 4:30 ; Hengstenberg, Christol. II. p. 216 ff., compared with Kleinert, l.c.

εἰς ὅν ] in regard to whom. Direction of the approbation. Comp. 2 Peter 1:17 . The aorists, as in Matthew 3:17 .

θήσω τὸ πνεῦμα ] i.e. I will make Him the possessor and the bearer of my Holy Spirit, by whose power He is to work, Isaiah 11:2 ; Isaiah 61:1 ; Matthew 3:16 ; Acts 4:27 .

κρίσιν ] not: quod fieri par est (Fritzsche); not: justice and righteousness (Bleek); the good cause (Schegg); or the cause of God (Baumgarten-Crusius); not: recta cultus divini ratio (Gerhard); nor: doctrina divina (Kuinoel), which interpretations have been given in view of the משׁפט of the original (where it denotes the right, i.e. what is right and matter of duty in the true theocracy. Comp. Ewald on Isaiah, l.c.; Hengstenberg, p. 233; and see in general, Gesenius, Thes. III. p. 1464). But in the New Testament κρίσις has no other meaning but that of final sentence, judgment (also in Matthew 23:23 ); and this, in fact, is the sense in which the Hebrew was understood by the LXX. Matthew’s Greek expression is doubtless to be understood no less in the sense of a judicial sentence, i.e. the Messianic judgment, for which the Messiah is preparing the way through His whole ministry, and which is to be consummated at the last day.

τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ] not: the nations, generally, but the heathen. Similarly also in Matthew 12:21 . The point of fulfilment in the prediction here quoted lies simply in its serving to describe, as it does in Matthew 12:19 f., the unostentatious, meek, and gentle nature of Christ’s ministry (Matthew 12:16 ), so that it is unnecessary to look to what precedes in order to find something corresponding to τοῖς ἔθνεσι (some finding it in the multitudes that followed Jesus). Jesus did not preach to the heathen till He did it through the apostles, Ephesians 2:17 , a matter altogether beyond the scope of the present passage. It should be observed generally, and especially in the case of somewhat lengthened quotations from the Old Testament, that it is not intended that every detail is to find its corresponding fulfilment, but that such fulfilment is to be looked for only in connection with that which the connection shows to be the main subject under consideration.

Verses 19-20

Matthew 12:19-20 . Contrast to the conduct of the Jewish teachers. He will not wrangle nor cry (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 337), and so on.

The bruised reed and smoking wick represent those who are spiritually miserable and helpless (Matthew 11:5 ), whom Christ does not reduce to utter hoplessness and despair, but (Matthew 11:28 ) to whom He rather gives comfort, and whose moral life He revives and strengthens. And seeing that Matthew 12:17 refers to Matthew 12:16 , they cannot be taken to represent the sick , whom Jesus heals (Hengstenberg). For those figures, comp. Isaiah 36:6 ; Isaiah 58:6 ; Isaiah 43:17 .

ἕως ἂν ἐκβάλῃ κ . τ . λ .] until He shall have led forth to victory the judgment announced by Him, i.e. until He shall have finally accomplished it at the last day. For with this holding of the assize is associated the subjection to it of every hostile power. The final holding of it is the victory of the judgment.

In ἐκβάλῃ , forced out , is implied the idea of violent effort, overcoming the resistance offered. The words, however, do not correspond to the לֶאֱמֶת יוֹעִיא מִשְׁפָּט , Isaiah 42:3 , but to the עַד־יָשִׂים בָּאָרֶץ מִשְׁפָּט , Matthew 12:4 , as is evident from ἕως , and from the words καὶ τῷ ὀνόματι , etc., which follow. But this is a very free quotation made from memory, with which, however, the expression in Matthew 12:3 ( יוציא ) is at the same time blended.

Verse 21

Matthew 12:21 . Τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ ] In Hebrew, לְתוֹרָתוֹ ; LXX., ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόμ . αὐτοῦ . Matthew and the LXX. had a different reading before them ( לִשְׁמוֹ ). This is the only passage in the New Testament in which ἐλπίζω is used with the dative (elsewhere and in the LXX. with ἐν , εἰς , or ἐπί ); it is proved, however, to be good Greek from the fact of its occurring in Thuc. iii. 97. 2, and it is meant to indicate the object on which, as its cause, the hope (of salvation) is resting. On the ground of His name, i.e. on account (Krüger’s note on Thucydides, as above) of that which the name Messiah imports, the Gentiles will cherish hope.

Verse 22

Matthew 12:22 . In Luke (Matthew 11:14 ff.) this incident comes in at a later stage, while he reports less of what was spoken on the occasion, and arranges it to some extent in a different, though not the original, order; Mark 3:22 ff., who omits the incident in question, introduces the discourse which follows in a peculiar connection of his own.

The resemblance of the narrative to that contained in Matthew 9:32 is not due to a mixing together of different incidents, viz. the healing of the blind man on the one hand, and of the man who was dumb on the other, Matthew 9:27 ; Matthew 9:32 (Schneckenburger, Hilgenfeld), nor to the way in which incidents often assume a twofold form in the course of tradition (Strauss, de Wette, Keim), but is founded upon two different events: the former demoniac was dumb, the present one is blind as well, a circumstance, however, which is not recorded by Luke, who follows a less accurate version. The term Beelzebul, used in this connection as in Matthew 9:34 , is one, however, which may have been found often enough upon the lips of the Pharisees. Its recurrence can no more prove that a later hand has been at work (Baur, Hilgenfeld), than the circumstance that we find ourselves back again into the heart of the contest, although from Matthew 12:14 it seemed to have reached its utmost extremity; for the measures which in Matthew 12:14 the Pharisees are said to have taken, have just led to further and no less bitter hostility, a hostility in keeping with the spirit of the purpose they have in view.

λαλ . κ . βλέβ .] the thing as it actually takes place . Casaubon and Fritzsche, without sufficient grounds, assume the existence of a Chiasmus here.

Verse 23

Matthew 12:23 ff. Μήτι οὗτος , κ . τ . λ .] Question of imperfect yet growing faith, with emphasis upon οὗτος : May this (who, however, does not possess the qualities looked for in the Messiah) not possibly be the Messiah? John 4:29 . To this corresponds the emphatic οὗτος in Matthew 12:24 .

ἀκούσαντες ] that question μήτι οὗτος , etc.

εἶπον ] to the multitude, not to Jesus; for see Matthew 12:25 . They desire at once to put a stop to such dangerous language, and that, too, in a very demonstrative way.

ἐν τῷ Βεελζεβοὺλ , ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμ .] See on Matthew 9:34 . ἄρχοντι τ . δ . is not to be rendered: the ruler of the demons (which would have required τῷ ἄρχ .), but: as ruler over the demons . Pragmatic addition. Mark 3:22 , comp. John 7:20 ; John 10:20 , states the accusation in more specific terms.

εἰδώς ] comp. Matthew 9:4 . The charge urged by the Pharisees is a foolish and desperate expedient proceeding from their hostility to Jesus, the absurdity of which He exposes.

μερισθεῖσα καθʼ ἑαυτῆς ] i.e. divided into parties, which contend with each other to its own destruction. In such a state of matters, a kingdom comes to ruin, and a town or a family must cease to exist; σταθῆναι means the same as στῆναι , see Bornemann, ad Xen. Cyr. II. 1, 11; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 851.

Matthew 12:26 . καί ] the and subjoining the application.

εἰ ὁ σατανᾶς τὸν σατανᾶν ἐκβάλλει ] not: the one Satan, the other Satan (Fritzsche, de Wette), but: if Satan cast out Satan , if Satan is at once the subject and the object of the casting out, being the latter, inasmuch as the expelled demons are the servants and representatives of Satan. This is the only correct interpretation of an expression so selected as to be in keeping with the preposterous nature of the charge, for there is only the one Satan; there are many demons , but only one Satan , who is their head. This explanation is an answer to de Wette, who takes exception to the reasoning of Jesus on the ground that Satan may have helped Christ to cast out demons, that by this means he might accomplish his own ends. No, the question is not as to one or two occasional instances of such casting out, in which it might be quite conceivable that “for the nonce Satan should be faithless to his own spirits,” but as to exorcism regarded in the light of a systematic practice, which, as such, is directed against Satan , and which therefore cannot be attributed to Satan himself, for otherwise he would be destroying his own kingdom.

Verse 27

Matthew 12:27 . A second way of rebutting the charge.

Notice the emphatic antithesis: ἐγώ and οἱ υἱοὶ ὑμῶν . The latter ( people of your own school; see, in general, note on Matthew 8:12 ) are exorcists who have even pretended actually to cast out demons (Acts 19:13 ; Josephus, Antt. viii. 2. 5, Bell. vii. 6. 3; Justin, c. Tryph. p. 311), who have emanated from the schools of the Pharisees, not the disciples of Jesus , as the majority of the Fathers have supposed. “Quod discipuli vestri daemonia ejiciunt, vos Beelzebuli non attribuitis; illi ergo possunt hac in re judices vestri esse, vos ex virulentia haec de actionibus meis pronuntiare,” Lightfoot. Jesus reasons ex concessis .

αὐτοὶ ( ipsi ) ὑμῶν are placed together for sake of emphasis.

Verse 28

Matthew 12:28 . Previously it was ἐγώ that was emphatic in the antecedent clause; but here it is ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ : but if it is by THE POWER OF GOD’S SPIRIT that I, on the other hand, cast out the demons, then it follows that the KINGDOM OF GOD has come to you; in the consequent clause (the apodosis) the emphasis is on the words: the kingdom of God has come , etc. The reasoning is founded on the axiom, that such deeds, wrought as they are by the power of God’s Spirit , go to prove that He who performs them is no other than He who brings in the kingdom the Messiah. Where the Messiah is present and working, there, too, is the kingdom; not yet, of course, as completely.established, but preparing to become so through its preliminary development in the world. See on Luke 17:20 f. For φθάνειν (used by classical writers as meaning to anticipate , 1 Thessalonians 4:15 ), in the simple sense of to reach, arrive at , see on Philippians 3:16 ; Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 356; Lünemann’s note on 1 Thessalonians 2:16 .

Notice, in the form of the reasoning in Matthew 12:27-28 , the real dilemma ( tertium non datur ): εἰ δέ , etc.

Verse 29

Matthew 12:29 . Ἤ ] Transition by way of proceeding to give further proof of the actual state of the case.

τοῦ ἰσχυροῦ ] The article indicates the particular strong man (hero) with whom the τίς has to do.

The thought embodied in this illustration is as follows: Or if you still hesitate to admit the inference in Matthew 12:28 how is it possible for me to despoil Satan of his servants and instruments ( τὰ σκεύη αὐτοῦ corresponding to the demons in the application ) withdraw them from his control without having first of all conquered him? Does my casting out of demons not prove that I have subdued Satan, have deprived him of his power, just as it is necessary to bind a strong man before plundering his house? For ἤ , when serving to introduce a question by way of rejoinder, see Bäumlein, Partik . p. 132. The σκεύη in the illustration are the furniture of the house (not the weapons), as is evident from τ . οἰκίαν αὐτοῦ below. Mark 3:27 .

The figurative language may have been suggested by a recollection of Isaiah 49:24 f.

Verse 30

Matthew 12:30 . Jesus is speaking neither of the Jewish exorcists (Bengel, Schleiermacher, Neander), nor of the uncertain, fickle multitude (Elwert in the Stud. d. Wirtemb. Geistl . IX. 1, p. 111 ff.; Ullmann in the Deutsch. Zeitschr . 1851, p. 21 ff.; Bleek), neither of which would suit the context; but as little is He expressing Himself in general terms; so that μετʼ ἐμοῦ must be applied to Satan , while Jesus is understood to be representing Himself as Satan’s enemy (Jerome, Beza, Grotius, Wetstein, Kuinoel, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius); for the truth is, He, previously as well as subsequently, speaks of Himself in the first person (vv, 28, 31), and He could not be supposed, He who is the Messiah, to represent Himself as taking up a neutral attitude toward Satan. On the contrary, He is speaking of the Pharisees and their bearing toward Him , which must necessarily be of a hostile character, since they had refused to make common cause with Him as it behoved them to have done: He that is not with me is , as is seen in your case, my enemy , and so on.

συνάγων ] illustration borrowed from harvest operations; Matthew 3:12 , Matthew 6:26 ; John 4:36 .

Verse 31

Matthew 12:31 . Διὰ τοῦτο ] refers back to all that has been said since Matthew 12:25 : On this account because, in bringing such an accusation against me, Matthew 12:24 , you have as my enemies (Matthew 12:30 ) resisted the most undoubted evidence of the contrary (Matthew 12:25 ff.), on this account I must tell you, and so on.

ἁμαρτ . κ . βλασφ .] Genus and species: every sin and (in particular) blaspheming (of sacred things, as of the Messiah Himself, Matthew 12:32 ).

ἡ τοῦ πν . βλασφ .] Blaspheming of the Spirit (Mark 3:29 ; Luke 12:10 ) is the sin in question, and of which that allegation on the part of the Pharisees, Matthew 12:24 , is an instance, so that it is probably too much to say, as though the new birth must be presumed, that it can only occur in the case of a Christian , a view which was held by Huther, Quenstedt, and others. As, then, in the present instance the Pharisees had hardened themselves against an unmistakeable revelation of the Spirit of God, as seen in the life and works of Jesus, had in fact taken up an attitude of avowed hostility to this Spirit; so much so that they spoke of His agency as that of the devil: so in general the βλασφημία τοῦ πνεύματος may be defined to be the sin which a man commits when he rejects the undoubted revelation of the Holy Spirit, and that not merely with a contemptuous moral indifference (Gurlitt; see, on the other hand, Müller, Lehre v. d. Sünde , II. p. 598, Exodus 5:0 ), but with the evil will struggling to shut out the light of that revelation; and even goes the length of expressing in hostile language his deliberate and conscious opposition to this divine principle, thereby avowing his adherence to his anti-spiritual confession . This sin is not forgiven , because in the utterly hardened condition which it presupposes, and in which it appears as the extreme point of sinful development, the receptivity for the influences of the Holy Spirit is lost, and nothing remains but conscious and avowed hatred toward this holy agency. In the case of the Christian, every conscious sin, and in particular all immoral speech, is also sin against the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30 ); but what is meant by blaspheming the Spirit in the passage before us, is to go to the utmost extremity in apostasy from Christ and πρὸς θάνατον (1 John 5:16 , and Huther’s note). See Grashoff in the Stud. u. Krit. 1833, p. 935 ff.; Gurlitt, ibid. 1834, p. 599 ff.; Tholuck, ibid. 1836, p. 401 ff.; Schaf, d. Sünde wider d. heil. G. 1841; Jul. Müller, l.c.; Alex, ab Oettingen, de pecc. in Sp. s. 1856, where the older literature may also be found, and where the different views are criticised. [444] For the way in which the blaspheming against the Spirit is supposed to coincide, as far as the Christian is concerned, with the falling away mentioned in Hebrews 6:4-6 , see Delitzsch On the Hebrews , p. 231 ff.; Lünemann, p. 205 ff.

οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται ] should not have its meaning twisted by supplying “ as a rule ,” or such like; nor, with Grotius, is οὐκ to be taken comparatively ( more heinous than all other sins ). The simple impossibility of forgiveness is just to be sought in the man’s own state of heart, which has become one of extreme hostility to God.

[444] At p. 87, Oettingen defines the sin thus: “Impoenitentia perpetua atque incredulitas usque ad finem, quae ex rebellante et obstinatissima repudiatione testimonii Sp. s. evangelio sese manifestantis et in hominum cordibus operantis profecta blasphemando in Sp. s. per verbum et facinus in lucem prodit.”

Verse 32

Matthew 12:32 . Κατὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ τ . ἀνθρ .] against the Son of man , such as Daniel promised that the Messiah should be. In this case also (comp. on Matthew 9:6 , Matthew 8:20 ) this select expression indicates the majesty of the Messiah in His human manifestation, in contrast to the hostile terms with which it has been assailed. Grotius and Fritzsche erroneously understand it as in contrast to man in general.

ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ ] For if the hostile expressions are directed only against the person of the Messiah as such, not against the Holy Spirit who may be recognised in that person, even without our ascribing to it a Messianic character, it is possible that fuller knowledge, change, of disposition, faith, may be created by the Spirit’s own influence, whereupon the man will be forgiven. Comp. Luke 23:34 .

ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος is the period previous to the coming of the Messiah, עוֹלָם הַזֶּה , as Jesus understood it: the time before the second coming. Ὁ αἰὼν μέλλων , the period that succeeds the coming of the Messiah, עוֹלָם הַבָּא , as Jesus understood it: the time that follows the second coming. Bertholdt, Christol. p. 38; Koppe, Exc. 1, ad Ep. ad Eph. p. 289 ff.

οὔτε ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι ] where it would be granted in the shape of acquittal in the judgment, combined with the eternal consequences of such acquittal (everlasting felicity). The threatening of a very different fate that is to say, the thought of endless punishment must not be in any way softened down (Chrysostom, de Wette). Schmid, bibl. Theol. I. p. 358 (comp. Olshausen and Stirm in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol. 1861, p. 300), is quite mistaken in thinking that the period referred to is that between death and judgment, which, in fact, does not belong to the αἰὼν μέλλων at all.

Verse 33

Matthew 12:33 . Euth. Zigabenus says correctly (comp. Hilary, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Erasmus, Beza, Jansen, Raphel, Kypke, Kuinoel, Schegg, Grimm): ποιήσατε ἀντὶ τοῦ εἴπατε . Καταισχύνει δὲ πάλιν ἑτέρως αὐτοὺς , ὡς ἀνακόλουθα καὶ παρὰ φύσιν κατηγοροῦντας . Ἐπεὶ γὰρ τὸ μὲν ἀπελαύνεσθαι τοὺς δαίμονας οὐκ ἐκάκιζον … τὸν δὲ ἀπελαύνοντα τούτους διέβαλλον , παραδειγματικῶς αὐτοὺς ἐλέγχει , τὸ μὲν ἔργον παλὸν κρίνοντας , τὸν δὲ ἐργαζόμενον κακόν , ὅτερ ἐστὶν ἐναντιότητος καὶ ἀναισχυντίας . Either make the tree good ( i.e. judge it to be good), and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad (see on Matthew 7:17 ), do not proceed in the same absurd way as you did when you pronounced an unfavourable judgment upon me, when you made the tree bad (declared me to be an instrument of the devil), and gave him credit for good fruit (the casting out of demons), ποιεῖν , similarly to our make , is used to denote the expression of a judgment or opinion, therefore in a declarative sense. John 5:18 ; John 8:53 ; John 10:33 ; 1Jn 1:10 ; 1 John 5:10 ; Xen. Hist. vi. 3. 5 : ποιεῖσθε δὲ πολεμίους , you declare them, to be enemies. Stephanus, Thesaurus , ed. Paris, VI. p. 1292, and the passages in Raphel, Herod . p. 154; Kypke, I. p. 66; among Attic writers usually in the middle voice, τὸ δένδρον denotes the tree on which you pronounce a judgment, and nothing is to be supplied after τὸν καρπὸν αὐτοῦ . Some (Grotius, Fritzsche), who, however, attach substantially the same meaning to the figurative terms, take ποιεῖν in the sense of to suppose, assume, animo fingere (Xen. Anab. v. 7. 9; Ast, Lex. Plat . III. p. 136 f.), though the imperative is not so well suited to the second clauses, καὶ τὸν καρπόν , etc. Others , understanding ποιεῖν as meaning, partly to judge , as well as partly to assume , refer it to the evil disposition of the Pharisees, which can be detected in the kind of language they indulge in. So Munster, Castalio, [445] Maldonatus, and others; also de Wette, Neander, Bleek (comp. Olshausen). But in that case the imperative is no longer appropriate to the second clauses. According to Ewald (comp. Baumgarten-Crusius, and Holtzmann, p. 187), the connection and meaning may be thus stated: “Let it not be supposed that these are but mere words! It is exactly the words … that spring from the deepest source, and proceed as it were from the root of a man; like tree, like fruit.” ΠΟΙΉΣΑΤΕ is a bold expression in reference not only to the fruit, as has been supposed, but also to the tree itself (“cultivate the tree well, and thus make the tree good”). But ΠΟΙΕῖΝ is not used in this sense (which would have required ΦΎΕΙΝ instead); and, once more, the imperative expression would scarcely have suited the second clauses, for an alternative so imperious might, with much more propriety, be addressed to persons who were undecided, neutral . Similarly Keim, though without any further grammatical elucidation (“man either makes himself good a tree which bears good fruit or makes himself evil”).

[445] “Hoc pro certo habere necesse esse, quae arbor sit bona, ejus fractum esse bonum.… Atqui ista vestra verba malus fructus est: ex quo consequens est vos stirpem esse malam.”

Verse 34

Matthew 12:34 . Οὐκ ἔστιν θαυμαστὸν , εἰ τοιαῦτα (the preposterous nature of which Jesus has just exposed, Matthew 12:33 ) βλασφημεῖτε , πονηροὶ γὰρ ὄντες οὐ δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν . Εἶτα καὶ φυσιολογικῶς ἀποδείκνυσι πῶς οὐ δύνανται , Euth. Zigabenus. For γεννήμ . ἐχιδν . comp. Matthew 3:7 .

πῶς δύνασθε ] moral impossibility founded upon the wickedness of the heart, although not denying that one may still be open to conversion, and that with conversion the impossibility in question must cease to exist.

ἐκ γ . τ . περισσεύμ . τ . καρδ .] out of that with which the heart is overflowing , so that with the speaking a partial emptying, outflow, takes place. Beck, bibl. Seelenl. p. 68.

Verse 35

Matthew 12:35 . Θησαυρός , here the inward treasure house ( receptaculum ) of the heart’s thoughts (Luke 6:45 ) which are revealed in words, through which latter they take outward shape, are thrown out , as it were, from the heart of the speaker through the channel of the mouth.

πονηροῦ θησαυροῦ ] θησαυρ . of wickedness , also in Eur. Ion. 923.

Verse 36

Matthew 12:36 f. Nominative absolute, as in Matthew 10:14 ; Matthew 10:32 .

ἀργόν ] meaning, according to the context, morally useless , which negative expression brings out the idea more pointedly than πονηρόν , the reading of several Curss., would have done. Comp. λόγοι ἄκαρποι in Plato, Phaedr . p. 277 A.

ἐκ γὰρ τῶν λόγων σου , κ . τ . λ .] For on thy words will be founded thine acquittal, on thy words will be founded thy condemnation in the Messianic judgment. The connection required that this matter of a man’s accountability for his words should be prominently noticed; and, seeing that the words are to be regarded as the natural outcome of the disposition , such accountability is quite consistent with justice; nor does it exclude responsibility for his actions as well, though this does not come into view in connection with the subject now under consideration. With reference to the bearing of this saying on justification by faith, Calovius appropriately observes: “Quid enim aliud sermones sancti, quam fides sonans? ” and vice versâ .

Verse 38

Matthew 12:38 . The narrative is more original than that in Luke 11:16 .

σημεῖον ] a manifestation of miraculous power that, by appealing to the senses, will serve to confirm thy divine mission . In such a light they had not regarded the cure of the demoniacs, Matthew 12:24 . In thus insisting as they did upon yet further proof, they were actuated by a malicious desire to put Him to the test and reduce Him to silence.

ἀπὸ σοῦ ] from Thee Thy sign .

In deference to Mark 8:11 , Luke 11:16 , many erroneously suppose that in this instance it is specially a σημεῖον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ that is meant. In Matthew 16:1 , however, the sign is being requested for the second time.

Verse 39

Matthew 12:39 . Μοιχαλίς ] ὡς ἀφιστάμενοι ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ , Theophylact. The Hebrew (Psalms 73:27 ; Isaiah 57:3 ff.; Ezekiel 23:27 , al. ) conceived his sacred relation to God as represented by the figure of marriage, hence idolatry and intercourse with Gentiles were spoken of as adultery. Gesenius, Thes. I. p. 422. On this occasion Jesus transfers the figure to moral unfaithfulness to God , James 4:4 ; Revelation 2:20 ff.

γενεά ] generation; the representatives of which had certainly made the request, while the multitude, Matthew 12:46 , was likewise present.

ἐπιζητεῖ ] See on Matthew 6:32 .

σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ ] Seeing that the demand of the Pharisees had manifestly pointed to a sign of a higher order than any with which Jesus had hitherto favoured them, that is to say, some wonderful manifestation, by which He might now prove, as He had never done before, that He was unquestionably the Messiah for they would not admit that the miracles they had already seen were possessed of the evidential force of the actual σημεῖον ; it is certain that, in this His reply, Jesus must likewise have used σημεῖον as meaning pre-eminently a confirmatory sign of a very special and convincing nature. Consequently there is no need to say that we are here precluded from looking upon the miracles in the light of signs, and that, according to our passage, they were not performed with any such object in view (de Wette); rather let us maintain, that they were certainly performed for such a purpose (John 11:41 f., with which John 4:48 is not at variance, comp. the note following Matthew 8:4 ), though, in the present instance, it is not these that are referred to, but a sign κατʼ ἐξοχήν , such as the Pharisees contemplated in their demand. Euth. Zigabenus (comp. Chrysostom) inaptly observes: τί οὖν ; οὐκ ἐποίησεν ἔκτοτε σημεῖον ; ἐποίησεν ἀλλʼ οὐ διʼ αὐτούς , πεπωρωμένοι γὰρ ἦσαν · ἀλλὰ διὰ τὴν τῶν ἄλλων ὠφέλειαν .

τὸ σημ . Ἰωνᾶ ] which was given in the person of Jonah , John 2:1 . Jesus thus indicates His resurrection , διὰ τὴν ὁμοιότητα , Euth. Zigabenus. Notice the emphasis in the thrice repeated σημεῖον .

Verse 40

Matthew 12:40 . Τοῦ κήτους ] the monster of the deep , Hom. Il. v. 148; Od. iv. 446; Buttmann, Lexil. II. p. 95. The allusion is to the well-known story in Jonah 2:1 .

Jesus was dead only a day and two nights. But, in accordance with the popular method of computation (1 Samuel 30:12 f.; Matthew 27:63 ), the parts of the first and third day are counted as whole days, as would be further suggested by the parallel that is drawn between the fate of the antitype and that of Jonah. [446]

The sign of Jonah has nothing to do with the withered rod that budded, Numbers 17:0 (in answer to Delitzsch); Jonah is the type.

[446] But the question as to what Jesus meant by ἔσται … ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ τῆς γῆς , whether His lying in the grave (so the greater number of expositors), or His abode in Hades (Tertullian, Irenaeus, Theophylact, Bellarmin, Maldonatus, Olshausen, König, Lehre von Christi Höllenfahrt , Frankf. 1842, p. 54; Kahnis, Dogmat . I. p. 508), is determined by καρδία τἥς γῆς , to which expression the resting in the grave does not sufficiently correspond; for the heart of the earth can only indicate its lowest depths , just as καρδία τῆς θαλάσσης means the depths of the sea in Jonah 2:4 , from which the biblical expression καρδία in our present passage seems to have been derived. Again, the parallel in the κοιλία τοῦ κήτους is, in any case, better suited to the idea of Hades than it is to that of a grave cut out of the rock on the surface of the earth. If, on the other hand, Jesus Himself has very distinctly intimated that His dying was to be regarded as a descending into Hades (Luke 23:43 ), then ἔσται … ἐν τῇ καρδ . τ . γ . must be referred to His sojourn there. There is nothing to warrant Güder ( Erschein. Chr. unter d. Todten , p. 18) in disputing this reference by pointing to such passages as Exo 15:8 ; 2 Samuel 18:14 . We should mistake the plastic nature of the style in such passages as those, if we did not take לֵכ as referring to the inmost depth.


Luke (Matthew 11:30 ) gives no explanation of the sign of Jonah (Matthew 5:40 ), as is also the case with regard to Matthew 16:4 (where, indeed, according to Holtzmann, we have only a duplicate of the present narrative). Modern critics (Paulus, Eckermann, Schleiermacher, Dav. Schulz, Strauss, Neander, Krabbe, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ammon, Bleek, Weizsäcker, Schenkel) have maintained that what Jesus meant by the sign of Jonah was not His resurrection at all, but His preaching and His whole manifestation , so that Matthew 12:40 is supposed to be an “ awkward interpolation ,” belonging to a later period (Keim), an interpolation in which it is alleged that an erroneous interpretation is put into Jesus’ mouth. But (1) if in Matthew 12:41 it is only the preaching of Jonah that is mentioned, it is worthy of notice that what is said regarding the sign is entirely brought to a close in Matthew 12:40 , whereupon, by way of threatening the hearers and putting them to shame, Matthew 12:41 proceeds to state, not what the Ninevites did in consequence of the sign , but what they did in consequence of the preaching of Jonah; and therefore (2) it is by no means presupposed in Matthew 12:41 that the Ninevites had been made aware of the prophet’s fate. (3) Of course, according to the historical sense of the narrative, this fate consisted in the prophet’s being punished, and then pardoned again; but according to its typical reference, it at the same time constituted a σημεῖον , deriving its significance for after times from its antitype as realized in Christ’s resurrection ; that it had been a sign for the Ninevites, is nowhere said. (4) If Jesus is ranked above Jonah in respect of His person or preaching, not in respect of the sign, this, according to what has been said under observation 1, in no way affects the interpretation of the sign . (5) The resurrection of Jesus was a sign not merely for believers, but also for unbelievers, who either accepted Him as the Risen One, or became only the more confirmed in their hostility toward him. (6) Matthew 12:40 savours entirely of the mode and manner in which Jesus elsewhere alludes to His resurrection. Of course, in any case, he is found to predict it only in an obscure sort of way (see on Matthew 14:21 ), not plainly and in so many words; and accordingly we do not find it more directly intimated in Matthew 12:40 , which certainly it would have been if it had been an interpretation of the sign put into the Lord’s mouth ex eventu . The expression is a remarkable parallel to John 2:21 , where John’s explanation of it as referring to the resurrection has been erroneously rejected. It follows from all this that, so far as the subject-matter is concerned, the version of Luke 11:30 is not to be regarded as differing from that of Matthew, but only as less complete, though evidently proceeding on the understanding that the interpretation of the Jonah-sign is to be taken for granted (Matthew 16:4 ).

Verse 41

Matthew 12:41 f. Ἀναστήσονται ] Men of Nineveh will come forward , that is to say, as witnesses . Similarly קוּם , Job 16:8 ; Mark 14:57 ; Plat. Legg. xi. p. 937 A; Plut. Marcell. 27. Precisely similar is the use of ἐγερθήσεται below (comp. Matthew 11:11 , Matthew 24:11 ). Others (Augustine, Beza, Elsner, Fritzsche) interpret: in vitam redibunt. This is flat and insipid, and inconsistent with ἐν τῇ κρίσει .

μετά ] with, not: against. Both parties are supposed to be standing alongside of each other, or opposite each other, in the judgment.

κατακρ .] by their conduct, ὅτι μετενόησαν , etc. “Ex ipsorum comparatione isti merito damnabuntur,” Augustine. Comp. Romans 2:27 .

ὧδε ] like Matthew 12:6 , refers to the person of Jesus, which is a grander phenomenon than Jonah. For πλεῖον , comp. Matthew 12:6 .

βασίλισσα νότου ] a queen from the South, i.e. from Sheba in Southern Arabia, 1 Kings 10:1 ff.; 2 Chronicles 9:1 ff.

Verses 43-45

Matthew 12:43-45 . Having foretold that the existing generation would be condemned on the judgment day by the Ninevites and that queen from the South, Jesus now proceeds according to the account in Matthew, which is undoubtedly original (comp. Weiss, 1864, p. 84 f.) to explain in an allegorical way the condition of things on which this melancholy certainty is founded. The case of this generation, He says, will be very much like that of a demoniac, into whom the demon that has been expelled from him is ever seeking to return. The demon finds his former abode ready for his reception, and, reinforced by seven others still more wicked than himself, he again enters the demoniac, making his latter condition worse than the former. So will it be with this generation, which, though it should happen to undergo a temporary amendment, will relapse into its old state of confirmed wickedness, and become worse than before. The reason of this is to be found in the fact that the people in question have never entered into true fellowship with Christ, so that their amendment has not proved of a radical kind, has not been of the nature of a new birth. Comp. Luke 11:23-24 ff., where the words are connected with what is said in Matthew 12:30 , and are equally allegorical, and not intended literally to describe a case in which demons have actually returned after their expulsion.

δέ ] the explanatory autem . It is quite gratuitous to suppose that in our present Matthew something has dropped out before Matthew 12:43 (Ewald).

ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ] in whom he had had his abode.

διʼ ἀνύδρων τόπων ] because deserts ( ἡ ἄνυδρος , the desert , in Herod. iii. 4) were reputed to be the dwelling-place of the demons. Tob 8:3 ; Bar 4:35 ; Revelation 18:2 .

ἐλθών , Matthew 12:44 (see the critical remarks), is due to the fact that the πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον is viewed in the light of a δαίμων , in accordance with a construction, κατὰ σύνεσιν , of which classical writers also make a similar use; see Kühner, II. 1, p. 48 f.; Bornemann in the Sächs. Stud . 1846, p. 40.

σχολάζοντα , σεσαρωμ . κ . κεκοσμ .] empty (unpossessed), swept and garnished , a climax by way of describing the man’s condition as one that is calculated to induce re-possession, not to indicate (Bengel, de Wette, Bleek) that healthy state of the soul which forms such an obstacle to the demon in his efforts to regain admission, that he is led to call in the assistance of others. This would be to represent the state of the case in such a way as to make it appear that the demon had found the house barred against him ; but it would likewise be at variance with the whole scope of the allegory, which is designed to exhibit the hopeless incorrigibility of the γενεά , so that what is pragmatically assumed is not the idea of moral soundness, but merely that of a readiness to welcome the return of evil influence after a temporary amendment. The reinforcement by seven other spirits is not to be ascribed to the need of greater strength in order to regain possession, but rather (hence πονηρότερα , not ἰσχυρότερα ) to the fiendish desire now to torment the man much more than before; and so, according to our interpretation, it is no more necessary to impute the calling in of those others to the noble motive of sympathetic friendship (de Wette’s objection) than it would be in the case of the legion with its association of demons.

τὰ ἔσχατα ] the last, i.e . the condition in which he finds himself under the latter possession; τὰ πρῶτα : when there was only one demon within him. 2 Peter 2:20 ; Matthew 27:64 .

Verses 46-50

Matthew 12:46-50 . The same incident is given in Luke 8:19 ff. in a different but extremely loose connection, and, as there recorded, compares unfavourably with Matthew’s version (in answer to Schleiermacher, Keim). The occasion of the incident as given in Mark 3:20 ff. is altogether peculiar and no doubt historical.

οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ ] even if nothing more were said, these words would naturally be understood to refer to the brothers according to the flesh , sons of Joseph and Mary, born after Jesus; but this reference is placed beyond all doubt by the fact that the mother is mentioned at the same time (Mark 3:31 ; Luke 8:19 ; John 2:12 ; Acts 1:14 ), just as in Matthew 13:55 the father and the sisters are likewise mentioned along with him. The expressions in Matthew 1:25 , Luke 2:7 , find their explanation in the fact of the existence of those literal brothers of Jesus. Comp. note on Matthew 1:25 ; 1 Corinthians 9:4 . The interpretations which make them sons of Mary’s sister , or half brothers, sons of Joseph by a previous marriage , were wrung from the words even at a very early period (the latter already to be found as a legend in Origen; the former, especially in Jerome, since whose time it has come to be generally adopted in the West), in consequence of the dogmatic assumption of Mary’s perpetual virginity (nay, even of a corresponding state of things on the part of her husband as well), and owing to the extravagant notions which were entertained regarding the superhuman holiness that attached to her person as called to be the mother of Jesus. The same line of interpretation is, for similar reasons, still adopted in the present day by Olshausen, Arnoldi, Friedlieb, L. J . § 36; Lange, apost. Zeitalt . p. 189 ff.; and in Herzog’s Encykl . VI. p. 415 ff.; Lichtenstein, L. J . p. 100 ff.; Hengstenberg on John 2:12 ; Schegg, and others; also Döllinger, Christenth. u. Kirche , p. 103 f., who take the brothers and sisters for sons and daughters of Alphaeus; while Hofmann, on the other hand, has abandoned this view, which he had previously maintained ( Erlang. Zeitschr . 1851, Aug., p. 117), in favour of the correct interpretation ( Schriftbew . II. 2, p. 405 f.). See, besides, Clemen in Winer’s Zeitschr . 1829, 3, p. 329 ff.; Blom, de τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς κυρίου , 1839; Wieseler in the Stud. u. Krit . 1842, p. 71 ff., and note on Galatians 1:19 ; Schaf, ueber d. Verh. des Jak. Bruders des Herrn zu Jakob. Alphäi , 1842; Neander, Gesch. d. Pflanzung u. s. w . p. 554 ff.; Hilgenfeld on Gal . p. 138 ff.; Wijbelingh, Diss. quis sit epistolae Jacobi scriptor , 1854, p. 1 ff.; Riggenbach, Vorles. üb. d. Leb. d. Herrn , p. 286 ff.; Huther on Jas. Einl . § 1; Kahnis, Dogm . I. p. 426 f.; Wiesinger, z. Br. Judä Einl .; Laurent, neut. Stud . p. 153 ff.; Keim, I. p. 422 ff. For the various interpretations of the Fathers, see Thilo, Cod. Apocr . I. p. 262 ff.

ἔξω ] The former incident (Matthew 12:22 ff.) must therefore have occurred in some house. Mark 3:20 ; Luke 8:20 .

ἐπὶ τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ] not his hearers generally ( τοὺς ὄχλους ), and yet not merely the Twelve (Matthew 12:50 ), but those who followed Him in the character of disciples; these He indicated by pointing to them with the finger.

ἰδοὺ ἡ μήτηρ μου , κ . τ . λ .] my nearest relations in the true ideal sense of the word. Comp. Hom. Il . vi. 429; Dem. 237. 11; Xen. Anab . i. 3. 6, and Kühner’s note; Eur. Hec . 280 f., and Pflugk’s note. True kinship with Jesus is established not by physical, but by spiritual relationship; John 1:12 f., Matthew 3:3 ; Romans 8:29 . In reference to the seeming harshness of the reply, Bengel appropriately observes: “Non spernit matrem, sed anteponit Patrem; Matthew 12:50 , et nunc non agnoscit matrem et fratres sub hoc formali.” Comp. Jesus’ own requirement in Matthew 10:37 . He is not to be understood as avowing a sharp determination to break off His connection with them (Weizsäcker, p. 400), a view, again, which the account in Mark is equally inadequate to support. Besides, it is evident from our passage, compared with Mark 3:20 f., John 7:3 , that the mother of Jesus, who is placed by the latter in the same category with the brothers, and ranked below the μαθηταί , cannot as yet be fairly classed among the number of His believers, strange as this may seem when viewed in the light of the early gospel narrative (Olshausen has recourse to the fiction of a brief struggle to believe). Again, judging from the whole repelling tendency of His answer, it would appear to be more probable that He declined the interview with His relations altogether , than that He afterwards still afforded them an opportunity of speaking with Him, as is supposed by Ebrard and Schegg. Be this as it may, there is nothing to justify Chrysostom and Theophylact in charging the mother and the brothers with ostentation , inasmuch as they had requested Jesus to come out to them , instead of their going in to Him.

ὅστις γὰρ , κ . τ . λ .] spoken in the full consciousness of His being the Son of God, who has duties incumbent upon Him in virtue of His mission .

αὐτός ] He , no other.

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 12". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/matthew-12.html. 1832.
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