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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 12

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Verses 1-99

C. (6) Hostility of the Pharisees, 12:1-45

12. The editor now wishes to illustrate the grounds of the hostility of the Pharisees to the Messiah and His work. For material for this he goes back to the earlier point at which he left Mk.’s narrative, i.e. 2:23. He borrows Mark 2:23-28 = Matthew 12:1-8, and also the next section, Mark 3:1-6 = Matthew 12:9-14. In vv. 15-21 he summarises Mark 3:7-12, and adds a reference to the Old Testament. As he has already inserted Mark 3:13-19a, this brings him to 3:19b-21. For this he substitutes Matthew 12:22-23, thus completing a series of three incidents illustrative of Pharisaic hostility. For arrangement in threes, see Introduction, p. lxv.


(M) 1. At that time, Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the cornfields. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck ears of corn, and to eat.] Mk. has: “And it came to pass that He was going on the Sabbath day through the cornfields; and His disciples began as they went to pluck the ears of corn.”—ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ ἐπορεύθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς] Mk. has καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτὸν—διαπορεύεσθαι. The editor avoids καὶ ἐγένετο as a connecting link except in a special formula; see on 3:13. ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ occurs three times, here, 11:25, and 14:1, in this Gospel; never in Mk. or Lk. We have just had it in 11:5. Formulas have a way of appearing in close connection in this Gospel; cf. εἰς ὅλην τήν γῆν ἐκείνην, 9:26; ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ γῇ ἐκείνῃ, 9:31; the construction�

(M) 4. How he entered into the house of God, and ate the bread of the setting forth, which was not lawful for him to eat, nor those who were with him, but for the priests alone?] Mk. has: “How He entered into the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the setting forth, which it is not lawful to eat save for priests, and gave also to those who were with him.” In clause a Mk. has ἐπὶ Ἀβιάθαρ�2 Chronicles 4:19. Other renderings are ἄρτοι ἐνώπιοι, Exodus 25:29; οἱ ἄρτοι οἱ προκείμενοι, of Exodus 39:18; ἄρτοι τοῦ προσώπου, 1 K 21:6 For its meaning, see Deissm. Bib. Stud. p. 157.—ὃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἦν αὐτῷ φαγεῖν οὐδὲ τοῖς μετʼ αὐτοῦ εἰ μὴ τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν μόνοις] Mk. has: οὓς οὐκ ἐξεστιν φαγεῖν εἰ μὴ τοὺς ἱερεῖς καὶ ἔδωκεν τοῖς σὺν αὐτῷ οὖσιν. Mt. assimilates τοῖς σὺν αὐτῷ οὖσιν to οἱ μετʼ αὐτοῦ of v. 3, and substitutes the easier dative for τοὺς ἱερεῖς.

Christ meets the complaint that His disciples work on the Sabbath by pleading necessity, and by quoting an analogous instance sanctioned by Scripture. The charge was based on the Rabbinical exposition of the law of the Sabbath. “Plucking the ears” was not in itself an offence, cf. Deuteronomy 23:25, but it came under the category of work forbidden on the Sabbath by scribal tradition. Against this tradition Christ appealed to Scripture. David ate the shewbread. That was an illegal act. But he was impelled by necessity. In the same way the action of His disciples was sanctioned by their need.

(L) 5. The second point in Christ’s answer in Mk. is the statement that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” with the inference that “the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” It is clear that this last statement in the form given by Mk. does not very well suit the context. It is the disciples who were blamed, not Christ Himself. Very possibly ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ�Hosea 6:6, and ends with Mark 2:28. The argument in these verses is not easy to follow. The action of the disciples is in no sense parallel to that of the priests in the temple; nor could the fact that the priests obeyed the injunctions of the law, by working on the Sabbath, justify the disciples for disobeying the scribal expositions of the law which prohibited work on the Sabbath. The appeal to Hosea 6:6 is more suitable in such a context as 9:13, where the editor has again inserted it, than it is here.


It seems probable, therefore, that the editor here, as elsewhere, adds to a particular incident sayings spoken on other similar occasions. He is also, probably, influenced here by the difficulty of the present text of Mk vv. 27-28. “The Sabbath was made for man—so that the son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath,” seems to have no bearing upon the disciples and their plucking the ears of corn. If ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ�

(L) 5. Or did you not read in the law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are without guilt?]ἐν τῷ νόμῳ] Cf. Numbers 28:9, Numbers 28:10.—βεβηλοῦσιν] i.e. by performing the actions necessary to the offering of the sacrifices.


(L) 6. But I say to you, That more than the temple is here.] The “more than the temple” is the Son of Man = the Messiah. If the temple was not subservient to Sabbath rules, how much less the Messiah!

(L) 7. But if you had known what is “Mercy I wish, and not sacrifice,” ye would not have condemned the guiltless.] See on 9:13. The words are of the nature of a parenthesis. The γάρ of the next verse continues the thought of v. 6.

(M) 8. For the Lord of the Sabbath is the Son of Man.] Mk. has: ὥστε κύριός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ�

(M) 14. And the Pharisees went out, and took counsel against Him, how they might destroy Him.] Mk. has: “And the Pharisees straightway, with the Herodians, went out and gave counsel against Him, how they might destroy Him.”—ἐξελθόντες δέ] as often for Mk.’s καὶ ἐξελθόντες. After Φαρισαῖοι, Mk. has εὐθὺς μετὰ τῶν Ἡρῳδιανῶν. For the omission of εὐθύς, see on 3:16. The editor omits the Herodians here, but retains them in 22:16 = Mark 12:13.—συμβούλιον ἔλαβον] Mk. has ἐδίδουν or ἐποίουν. συμβούλιον λαμβάνειν occurs 5 times in Mt., here and in 22:15, 27:1, 7, 28:12. συμβούλιον occurs in Plutarch, Rom_14, Lucull. 26; and in Dittenberger, Syll. 316. 11 (second cent. b.c.), 328. 7. 8, 334. 7., 29, 39, 55, 57 (73 b.c.); and twice in Egyptian Papyri of the second century. See Deissm. Bib. Stud. p. 238.

(M) 15, 16. And Jesus perceived it, and departed thence: and there followed Him many, and He healed them all; and He charged them that they should not make Him known.] The editor summarises Mark 3:7-12, which he might have omitted as not congruous to this chapter of controversy. But Mark 3:7-12 suggested to him a contrast between the Lord’s quiet work of healing and His avoidance of publicity, and the hostile clamour of the Pharisees. He adds the quotation from Isaiah to emphasise the contrast.—ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς] as often for Mk.’s καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς. γνούς is not in Mk. ἐκεῖθεν added by Mt.; see on 4:21.—ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ πολλοί] Mk. has πολὺ πλῆθος—ἠκολούθησεν.—πάντας] Mk. has πολλούς. For a similar change, see on 8:16. Lk. also has πάντας.—ἐπετίμησεν] Mk. has πολλὰ ἐπετίμα. Mk.’s adverbial πολλά (13 times) is generally omitted by Mt. He retains it twice, 13:3, 16:21; and has it once besides, 27:19. For the substitution of the aorist for the imperfect, see Introduction, p. xx.


The editor here adds a fulfilment of prophecy.

(O) 17-21. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, Behold My Son,whom I adopted; My Beloved, in whom My soul was well pleased: I will put My spirit upon Him,and He shall announce judgement to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry out; nor shall any one hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He shall not break, and smoking flax He shall not quench, until He bring forth judgement to victory. And in His name shall Gentiles hope.]

ὅπως πληρωθῇ, κ.τ.λ.] For the formula, see on 1:22. The quotation is from Isaiah 42:1-4. The only trace of the LXX. seems to be in the last clause, where the Hebrew has “His law” for “His name.” The editor may be translating from the Hebrew, but more probably is using an existing Greek version which is already presupposed in Mark 1:11. The passage had probably been adapted in Christian circles in order to bring out the conception that the Messiah, the Son of God, accomplished the career that had been foretold of the idealised nation. We should expect to find υἱός here or παῖς in Mark 1:11 = Matthew 3:17. But υἱός as more applicable to the Messiah may have been substituted for παῖς either by the author of the Greek second Gospel, or at some stage between his time and the first appearance of the quotation in this Greek form. παῖς in Mt. is either a return to the original form of the quotation in Greek, or a reminiscence of the LXX.—ὂν ᾑρέτισα] αἱρετίζειν is a late word common in the LXX. It is used as = equivalent to “adopt” in 1 Chronicles 28:6 ὅτι ᾑρέτικα ἐν αὐτῷ εἶναί μου υἱόν; Malachi 3:17 ὃν τρόπον αἱρετίζει ἄνθρωπος τὸν υἱόν; Kaibel, Epigrammata, 252: αἱρετίσας δὲ πατὴρ στοργαῖ φύσιν ἐπροτέρησεν. The aorist here and in εὐδόκησεν may simply be due to imitation of the Hebrew tenses, but in the mind of the Christian translator probably imply the eternal pre-temporal act of God in the election of the Messiah. ὁ�Ephesians 1:4-6, and see Bacon, Am. Journ. Theol. ix. 458 ff.:—ἀπαγγελεῖ] Heb. is יוציא, LXX. ἐξοίσει.�Genesis 18:24, Joshua 24:19, Isaiah 1:14, Isaiah 2:9, Isaiah 46:4).—κραυγάζειν] only here in Mt., is used once in Acts 22:23, and 4 times in Jn. of a multitude of people, and once John 11:43 of Christ at the tomb of Lazarus. By earlier writers it is used of discordant forms of utterance—of a dog, Plat. Rep. x. 607; of a drunken man, Demosth. Con. 1258; of a raven, Epict. Diss. iii. I. 37; of shouting in a theatre, ib. iii. 4. 4.—κατεάξει] For the augmented fut., cf. Blass, p. 52; Moulton, Class. Rev. 1901, p. 36.—εἰς νῖκος] Heb. לאמת, LXX. εἰς�Habakkuk 1:4 לא יצא לנצח משפט. After κρίσιν, Isaiah 42:4a is omitted, the translator’s eye passing from משפט to the second occurrence of the same word.

22. The editor here omits Mark 3:19-21. He elsewhere omits Mk.’s references to a house, see on 15:15; and also elesewhere omits the descriptions of the thronging of the multitude; cf. the omissions of Mark 1:33 from Matthew 8:16, Mark 1:45 of at Matthew 8:4, Mark 2:2 from Matthew 9:1, Mark 3:9 from Matthew 12:15. And he has probably felt objection to Mark 3:21, especially ἔλεγον γὰρ ὅτι ἐξέστη. The copyists of Mk. have felt the same difficulty. D has ἐξέσταται αὐτούς; a b d ff i q exsentiat eos. But a reminiscence of this verse betrays itself in the ἐξίσταντο of Matthew 12:23. There follows in Mk. the statement that “the scribes … said that he hath Beezeboul,” and this is followed by a short rebutting discourse of Christ. Mt. has here a short introductory miracle followed by a much longer discourse, in which are verses parallel to the discourse of Mk. Thus:

Matthew 12:22-23. Introductory miracle.

24-26 = Mark 3:22-26.


27-28.

29 = 3:27.

30.

31, 32b = 3:28-30.

33-37.


Here follows the statement that some of the scribes asked for a sign, v. 38, and a discourse in answer, vv. 39-45. The question of relationship is complicated by the parallels in Lk. Lk. omits Mark 3:22-30 in its order. It should come at Luke 6:19 or 8:4. But later in his Gospel he has a discourse which is very similar to that in Mt. Thus:

Matthew 12:22-23 = Luke 11:14.

24-26 = Mark 3:22-26 = 15, 17-18.




Lk. has here combined the request for a sign which in Mt. comes later with the charge of demoniac agency.

Matthew 12:38 = Luke 11:16.


27-28 = 19-20.

29 = Mark 3:27 = 21-22.


30 = 23.

43-45 = 24-26.



Lk vv.27-28 have no parallel in Mt.

Mt vv.31-37 have no parallel in this discourse in Lk.

Matthew 12:39-42 = Luke 11:29-32.




It will be seen that both Mt. and Lk. prefix an introductory miracle. Both have parallels to Mk 23-26, but in this section Mt. and Lk. have verbal agreements against Mk. E.g.:

εἰδὼς δὲ τὰς ἐνθυμήσεις αὐτῶν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Mat_25 = αὐτὸς δὲ εἰδὼς αὐτῶν τὰ διανοήματα εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Luk_17.


πᾶσα βασιλεία μερισθεῖσα, Mat_25 = πᾶσα βασιλεία—διαμερισθεῖσα, Luk_17. Mk. has καὶ ἐὰν βασιλεία—μερισθῇ.


ἐρημοῦται, Mat_25, Luk_17. Mk. has δύναται σταθῆναι ἡ βασιλεία ἐκείνη.


πῶς—σταθήσεται ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ, Mat_26, Luk_18. Mk. has οὐ δύναται στῆναι�

Both have parallels to Mk 27, but here Mt. agrees closely with Mk., whilst Lk. considerably diverges. Mt. embodies Mk 28-30. Lk. omits. Further, in Mt. the whole discourse falls into two portions, one an answer to the charge of demoniac agency, the second an answer to a request for a sign. In Lk. the charge and the request are combined, but the discourse is divided by vv. 27-28, which have no parallel in Mt. And, lastly, Mt. has a section, 31-37, which has no parallel in the discourse in Lk. It is not easy to explain adequately this complex relationship. The fact that Lk. omits Mk.’s paragraph at the place where it would naturally occur in his Gospel, and gives instead a longer discourse later in his Gospel, would naturally suggest the explanation that he had before him a second source containing this longer discourse at a later period in Christ’s life, and that he abandoned Mk. to follow this source. Cf. his omission of Mark 1:16-20 at Luke 4:15, because he proposes to insert a little later, 5:1-11, a similar narrative from another source. Cf. his omission at 8:56 of Mark 6:1-6, because he has inserted a similar account in 4:16-30. It seems, therefore, necessary to suppose that Lk. had a second narrative before him containing matter parailel to Mark 3:22-30. That being so, it is natural to suppose that Mt. also had a discourse longer than Mark 3:22-30, and containing many features parallel to Lk.Their divergence in many points makes it unlikely that they were copying from the same document. More probably they had before them different sources containing discourses in many respects parallel to one another. To some extent their agreement may be due to Lk.’s reminiscence of Mt. Mt.’s source is probably the Logia.

(E) 22. Then there was brought to Him a demoniac, blind, and dumb: and He healed him, so that the dumb spake and saw.] Lk. has: “And He was casting out a dumb devil. And it came to pass when the devil was gone forth the dumb spake.” Mt. has already inserted in 9:32-33 a similarly worded miracle: “Behold, they brought to Him a dumb demoniac. And when the devil was cast forth, the dumb spake.” It is striking that Luke 11:14 is not, as we should expect, so nearly agreed with Matthew 12:22 as with Matthew 9:32-33. It must remain doubtful whether this miracle was in the sources used by Mt. and Lk. It is quite possible that in 9:32-34 Mt., wishing to add another miracle, described as shortly as possible the healing of a deaf demoniac (see on 9:32), the fact of such a healing being current in Christian tradition. At 12:21 he wants a suitable introduction to the following discourse, and rewrites shortly a similar account. But it is curious that he should not have specially mentioned, as in 9:33, the “casting out” of the devil in order to prepare for the ἐκβάλλει of 12:24. Lk., when inserting in 11:14ff. the discourse which follows, has felt the same need of an introductory miracle. His choice of a deaf demoniac may be due to reminiscence of the two passages in Mt., or may be accidental, and due simply to the fact that both Evangelists inserted in this same connection the story of a deaf demoniac, known to them as an incident current in Christian tradition, of which no details had been preserved. Given the fact of the healing of a dumb demoniac, the agreement in language between Matthew 9:32-33 and Luke 11:14 is not very remarkable. It would be difficult to describe the bare fact of such a healing without some verbal agreement.


τότε προσηνέχθη αὐτῷ] For τότε, see on 2:7. For προσφέρειν as characteristic of Mt., see Introduction, p. lxxxvi. προσηνέχθη is the reading of א C D al latt. B S1 S2 have προσήνεγκαν, as in 9:32. For the passive, cf. 18:24, 19:13.

(E) 23. And all the multitudes were astonished, and said, Is this indeed the Son of David?] ἐξίσταντο only here in this Gospel. It is a reminiscence of Mark 3:21. For “Son of David” as a title of the Messiah, see Dalm. Words, 319 ff.


(M) 24. But the Pharisees heard it, and said, This man doth not cast out devils, except by Beelzeboul, chief of the devils.] Mk. has: “And the scribes who had come down from. Jerusalem were saying that He hath Beelzeboul, and that by the chief of the devils He casts out devils.” Mt. and Lk. independently, or Lk. by reminiscence of Mt., fuse together the two clauses of Mk 22, and wrongly make Beelzeboul equivalent to the chief of the devils and Satan. In 10:25 βεελζεβούλ is a name of reproach. Here in Mk. it seems to be the name of a demon by whom Christ was regarded as possessed. But it is not equivalent to Satan, the ἄρχων τῶν δαιμονίων from whom Mk. distinguishes Beelzeboul. For Beelzeboul,1 see on 10:25.

(M) 25. And knowing their thoughts, He said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is made desolate; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.] Mk. has: “And having called them, He was saying to them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against (ἐπί) itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house shall not be able to stand.” Lk. agrees closely with Mt. in omitting the summoning of the disciples, in substituting the knowledge of the thoughts of the Pharisees, and in combining Mk.’s two analogies into one clause. “But He (αὐτός), knowing their thoughts (διανοήματα), said to them, Every kingdom divided (διαμερισθεῖσα) against itself (ἐφʼ ἑαυτήν as in Mk., Mt. has καθʼ ἑαυτῆς) is made desolate, and house falls on house,” or “a house (divided) against a house falls.”—οἶκος] Mt. and Mk. have οἰκία. Wellhausen argues that “house” in Aramaic, and so here, means “a political territory,” as in “house of Lysanias.” This would give an appropriate meaning in Mt. No kingdom torn by internal dissension can escape devastation. And no city or State so divided can long maintain its independent existence. Lk.’s source seems to have differed here from Mt.’s.

(M) 26. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how therefore shall his kingdom stand?] Mk. has: “And if Satan rise up against himself and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.” Lk. agrees closely with Mt.: “And if Satan be divided (διεμερίσθη) against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?” Lk. adds here: “because you say that by Beelzeboul I cast out devils”; cf. Mk v. 30.

(L) 27-28. And if I by Beelzeboul cast out devils, your sons by whom do they cast (them) out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, then the kingdom of God came upon you.] These verses are not in Mk. Lk. has them in verbal agreement with Mt., except that he has δακτύλῳ for πνεύματι. Christ, after urging the absurdity of the charge brought against Him (25-26), now throws back the accusation upon the Jews. They, too, practised exorcism. Were they also the agents of Beelzeboul?—οἱ υἱοὶ ὑμῶν] means “people of your own race and religion,” i.e. Jews. It is here an Oriental circumlocution for “you.” For an example of Jewish exorcism, cf. Jos. Ant. viii. 46, 47 (quoted on 8:29), and Acts 19:13.—διὰ τοῦτο] occurs 11 times in Mt., 3 in Mk., 4 in Lk.—κριταὶ ὑμῶν] “shall convict you of hypocrisy in accusing Me of employing diabolical arts whilst you yourselves practice exorcism.”—πνεύματι θεοῦ] Lk. has the striking δακτύλῳ θεοῦ; cf. Exodus 8:19 (15) where it is applied to a miraculous event, and Deuteronomy 9:10.—ἔφθασεν] φθάνειν occurs here in the Synoptic Gospels. with prepositions it means to “arrive at,” “reach to,” “come upon”; cf. Judges 20:34 οὐκ ἔγνωσαν ὅτι φθάνει ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς ἡ κακία. The aorist is difficult, and we should expect the perfect. The same unexpected aor. occurs in 1 Thessalonians 2:16 ἔφθασε δὲ ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς ἡ ὀργή. “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, then when I began my work, or when I came, the kingdom of God came to and amongst you, though you were not aware of it.” βας. τοῦ θεοῦ occurs 4 times in Mt, here and in 19:24, 21:31, 43. The kingdom is here regarded as something present. But only by anticipation. Where the Messiah was, there must be the kingdom in some sense. But in a fuller sense it was still future, to be inaugurated when He came on the clouds of heaven. ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ here is certainly due to the source used by the editor, in this case probably the Logia, which therefore contained sayings about “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of the heavens.” The reason why the editor did not here substitute the latter for the former no doubt is that he always uses ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν in an eschatological sense, which would here be out of place; cf. Introduction, p. lxvii f.

(M) 29. Or how can any one enter into the house of “the strong man,” and spoil his goods? unless first he bind “the strong man,” and then he will spoil his house.] Mk. has: “But no one can, having entered into,” etc. Lk. has a different version of the saying.—ἢ πῶς] In Mk. the saying is loosely appended to the preceding with�Song of Solomon 5:4 οὐ γὰρ λήψεται σκῦλα ἄνθρωπος παρὰ�Isaiah 49:24 μὴ λήμψεταί τις παρὰ γίγαντος σκῦλα.


So far from acting as a subordinate of Beelzeboul, Christ had invaded his territory, and by ejecting devils from the possessed, was spoiling his goods. This implied a previous victory over him.

(L) 30. He that is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.] So Lk v. 23.

In this war against Satan’s strongholds there are only two sides: for Christ or against Him, gathering with Him or scattering with Satan.

(M) 31. Therefore I say to you, Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.] Mk. has: “Verily I say to you that all things shall be forgiven to the sons of men,1 the sins and the blasphemies where with soever they shall blaspheme. But whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit hath not forgiveness for ever, but is guilty of an eternal sin. Because they were saying that He hath an unclean spirit.” Lk. has no parallel in this discourse, but in 12:10 has “He who blasphemed against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven.”

In Mt. the meaning seems to be: “You have taken sides against Me in the war against Satan. In so doing you have committed an unpardonable sin, because in charging Me with being an agent of Satan you have hardened yourselves against a revelation of God’s Spirit working in Me.”

(M) 32. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the coming.] This verse seems to repeat the thought of the last, the difference being that as a contrast to speaking against or blasphemy against the Spirit, we have here speaking against the Son of Man in particular, instead of all sin and blasphemy in general. The two verses seem to be different recensions of the same saying. Mt. has probably conflated Mk. and his other source, or Mk. = the other source and another form of the saying known to him. Lk. in 12:10 has: καὶ πᾶς ὃς ἐρεῖ λόγον εἰς τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ�Mark 2:28 is probably another instance. The general drift of vv. 31, 32 seems to be: “You accuse Me of Satanic methods in casting out devils. In reality I cast them out by the power of God’s Spirit. In substituting Satan for the Holy Spirit you are guilty of blasphemy. And this is an unpardonable sin. It is the lie in the soul.”—οὔτε ἐν τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι οὔτε ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι] Mark 10:30 has: ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τῷ ἐρχομένω. So Lk.; but Mt. omits. Lk. also has: τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, 16:8, 20:34, and τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐκείνου, 20:35. These phrases are connected with the distinction which is common in apocalyptic literature of the first cent. a.d. between the present and the future age. See Dalm. Words, pp. 147-156; Volz, Jüd. Eschat. p. 57; and cf. 2 Es 7:50 “the Most High hath not made one world, but two”; 7:47 “the world to come”; Apoc. Bar 15:7., 8, 44:15 “the world to come.” The distinction is also found in Rabbinical literature; cf. Aboth 2:8. Hillel said: “He who acquires for himself the words of the law, acquires for himself the life of the age which is coming.” Dalman says of this, “if genuine.” Ber. R. 44 (Wünsche, p. 209): According to Jochanan ben Zaccai, c. 80 a.d., God revealed to Abraham “this age, but not that age.” According to Akiba, “He revealed to him both ages.” “The currency of these expressions ‘this age,’ the future age,” says Dalman, “is at all events established by the end of the first Christian century.” Mt. has also 5 times the expression συντέλεια τοῦ αἰῶνος. See on V. 39.—οὐκ�


33-35. The editor here inserts a paragraph which is similar to one which he has already recorded in the Sermon on the Mount, 7:17-20. Lk. in his Sermon, 6:43-45, also has a similar sections, which, however, is more closely in agreement with Mat_12 than with Mat_7; that is to say, Luke 6:43 and 44b = Matthew 7:18, Matthew 7:16, whilst Luke 6:44a, Luke 6:45 = Mat 12:33c, 34b, 35. Lk. is here perhaps conflating the words of his source for the Sermon with reminiscences of Mat_12.

(L) 33. Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree rotten, and its fruit rotten: for by the fruit the tree is known.] Cf. 7:17, 18, Luke 6:43. The meaning here is “Be consistent. Either allow My acts of casting out devils to be good in result, and attribute the power to do such good acts to the Holy Spirit; or condemn them as evil in result, and attribute them to Satanic agency.”


(L) 34. Ye offspring of vipers, how can you speak good things, being evil?] This has no parallel in Lk. The meaning is: “The reason why you utter judgements which directly gainsay plain facts is to be found in your evil nature.”

(L) 34. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.]

(L) 35. The good man from the good treasure brings forth good things: and the evil man from the evil treasure brings forth evil things.] Cf. Luke 6:45 “The good man from the good treasure of (his) heart brings forth (προφέπει) the good. And the evil man from the evil brings forth the evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”


The meaning is: “Your malicious judgements come from the treasure-house of your malicious nature.”

36-37. These verses have no parallel in Lk.

(L) But I say to you, that every idle utterance that men shall speak, they shall give account concerning it in the day of judgement. For from thy words shalt thou be acquitted, and from thy words shalt thou be condemned.]

36. πᾶν ῥῆμα�Psalms 50:6 ὅπως ἂν δικαιωθῇς ἐν τοῖς λόγοις σου. For ὃ ἐάν, see on 11:27.

(L) 38. Then answered Him certain of the scribes and Pharisees, saying, Teacher, we wish to see a sign from Thee.] In Luke 11:16 this request is combined with the accusation at the head of the discourse. “But others tempting (Him), were seeking a sign from heaven from Him.”


τότε] see on 2:7.

(L) 39. And He answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; and a sign shall not be given to it, save the sign of Jonah the prophet.] Lk. has: “And when the multitudes were crowding together, He began to say, This generation is an evil generation: it seeks a sign, and a sign shall not be given to it, save the sign of Jonah.”—μοιχαλίς] means apostate, disobedient, and unfaithful to God.

(E?L) 40. For as Jonah was in the belly of the monster three days and three nights; so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.] Lk. has: “For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so shall be also the Son of Man to this generation.”

It is probable that Mt. (or the writer of his source) has paraphrased the saying as recorded by Lk., in order to explain the parallelism between Jonah as a sign and the Son of Man as a sign. “As Jonah was a sign.” But how was he a sign? Certainly not simply because he preached. His message of warning could in no true sense be called a sign. He was a sign because of his remarkable experience recorded in Jon 1-2. “So shall the Son of Man be a sign,” in virtue of His remarkable life’s history from beginning to end. The writer of the saying as recorded in Mt. has wished to make this parallelism clear. He has done so by illustrating it from one particular event in the life history of Jonah and of the Son of Man, in connection with which there was, as it seemed to him, a striking coincidence. The Son of Man ( = Christ) foretold, as tradition recorded, that He would rise again after three days; cf. Mark 8:31, Mark 9:31, Mark 10:34, Matthew 27:63. (This was traditionally interpreted as equivalent to “on the third day,” cf. Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:23, Matthew 20:19, Luke 9:22, Luke 9:18:33, Luke 9:24:7, Luke 9:46, Acts 10:40). It might, therefore, be said that He lay in the grave for three days. Mt. turned to the Book of Jonah, and found in 2:1 the words: καὶ ἦν Ἰωνᾶς ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ τοῦ κήτους τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας. Here was material for a comparison. Jonah’s wonderful story of guidance and preservation culminated in his sojourn in the belly of the sea monster followed by his miraculous deliverance. This, as illustrating his whole unique experience, made him a sign to the Ninevites. He preached to them as one miraculously accredited. The life history of the Son of Man culminated in His sojourn in the grave, followed by His miraculous resurrection. This, as illustrating His whole life of wonder and marvel, constituted Him a sign to the men of that generation. Mt. has, of course, rather forced his analogy.1 Putting aside the fact that according to Christian tradition Christ lay in the grave only one whole day and parts of two others, he has tried to increase the parallelism by adding τρεῖς νύκτας, when at the most there were only two.

The words ἦν Ἰωνᾶς—νύκτας are borrowed from Jonah 2:1.—τῇ καρδίᾳ τῆς γῆς] cf. Deuteronomy 4:11 Heb. “the heart of heaven,” and cor maris, 4 Es ( = 2 Es R. V.) 13:25, 51.


(L) 41. The men of Nineveh shall rise up at the judgement with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the message of Jonah; and, behold, more than Jonah is here.] Lk. transposes this and the next verse, probably simply in order to secure a chronological sequence. He has this verse in verbal agreement with Mt.

ἀναστήσονται ἐν τῇ κρίσει] shall stand or rise up at the judgement. Except in this and the next verse, Mt. uses ἡμέρα κρίσεως in this sense; cf. 10:15, 11:22, 24, 12:36. For ἡ κρίσις = the last judgement, cf. Luke 10:14. The idea is that at the final judgement the men of Nineveh will indict the men of this generation for not having repented at the preaching of Christ, who had been a greater sign to them than Jonah had been to the Ninevites. Wellhausen urges that in Aramaic “stand or rise up in judgement with” means “to accuse.” That is true; but even so the implied period of accusation must have been the final judgement day. The Greek translator, who rendered the Aramaic original by�


(L) 42. The queen of the South shall rise up at the judgement with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, more than Solomon is here.] So Lk. with τῶν�

(L) 43. But when the unclean spirit is gone forth from the man, he passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and finds none.] So Lk. with μὴ εὑρίσκον for οὐχ εὑρίσκει.—ἀνύδρων τόπων] Demons were thought to dwell in deserted places. Cf. Isaiah 13:21, Isaiah 34:14, Bar 4:35, Revelation 18:2, Mark 5:10. For the waterless place, cf. the incantation given in Thompson, Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia, i. pp. 61, 167:


“Neither with sea water, nor with sweet water,

Nor with bad water, nor with Tigris water,

Nor with Euphrates water, nor with pond water,

Nor with river water, shalt thou be covered.”

And for desert places as the abode of demons, cf. the same work:

p. 123: “O evil spirit—to the desert.

O evil demon—to the desert.

O evil ghost—to the desert.

O evil devil—to the desert.

p. 139: O evil spirit, get thee forth to distant places.

O evil demon, hie thee unto the ruins.

. . . . . . . .

A ruined desolate house is thy home.”



(L) 44. Then he saith, I will return to my house whence I came out; and having come, he finds it vacant, swept, and adorned.] So Lk. with ὑποστρέψω εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου for εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου ἐπιστρέψω; but א* A D al S1 S2 omit σχολάζοντα in Lk.—σχολάζοντα] Rare in this sense; cf. Plut. Cai Grœc. 12; and of uncultivated land, Plut. Timol. ch. 22 end.—σαρόω] A late form of σαίρω, Artem. ii. 33.

(L) 45. Then he goeth, and taketh with himself seven other spirits worse than himself, and entering in they dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.] So Lk. without μεθʼ ἑαυτοῦ, and with ἑπτά after ἑαυτοῦ.—ἑπτά] For the seven evil spirits of Babylonian demonology, cf. Thompson, pp. xlii ff.

So shall it be to this evil generation.] These words are not found in Lk.



C. (7) His relations seek Him.

46. The editor now goes back to Mark 3:31-35. In Mk. Christ is in a house (3:19b), where the preceding discourse was presumably uttered. But in Mt. the last place mentioned is the synagogue of 12:9. In 12:15 He leaves the synagogue, and in 12:22 a blind and deaf demoniac is brought to Him; but no detail of place is given.


(M) While He was still speaking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brethren had taken their stand without, seeking to speak to Him.] Mk. has: “And His mother and His brethren come, and, having taken their stand outside, sent to Him, calling Him.” The outside here means outside the house in which He was (3:19). In Mt. the outside must be interpreted as on the outskirts of the crowd. The editor is obliged to rewrite Mk.’s opening words, ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος] Cf. the insertion of a similar formula, ταῦτα αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος, as a connecting link, in 9:18.—τοῖς ὄσλοις] cf. v. 23.—ἰδού] See on 1:20.—ζητοῦντες αὐτῷ λαλῆσαι] Mk.’s�2Ti_3 p.m. (darkness = night), Friday night, and Saturday night.


Plut. Plutarch.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Matthew 12". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/matthew-12.html. 1896-1924.
 
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