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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 21

Broadus' Commentary on MatthewBroadus on Matthew

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Verses 1-11

Matthew 21:1-11 . The Triumphal Entry

Found also in Mark 11:1-11 ; Luke 19:29-44 ; John 12:12-19 . John has heretofore been parallel to Matt. and Mark only at the early departure from Judea to Galilee, (Matthew 4:12 ; John 4:1-4 ) and at the feeding of the Five Thousand. (Matthew 14:13-21 John 6:1-14 ) He appears to have coincided with Luke several times in the last six months. (See above on Matthew 19:1 ) Here he once more becomes parallel to the others, and will be so at the Bethany supper, probably at the Paschal meal, clearly at the betrayal, and at certain points of the Passion and Resurrection. Matthew, Mark, and Luke continue from this time as generally and as closely parallel as they were during the ministry in Galilee. We left our Lord at Jericho, Luke adding that he "went before, going up to Jerusalem." (Luke 19:28 , B. U. Ver.) He doubtless climbed the Roman military road, carefully graded and paved with hewn stone, which came up from Jericho past Bethany and across the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, and portions of which are still clearly marked by patches of pavement. There was no danger in this particular journey that one would fall "among robbers" ( Luke 10:30 . Rev. Ver.), since the multitude formed a protection; but there was usually such danger, and one cannot safely travel that road to-day without a guard from the sheik of Lazariyeh (Bethany). The distance from Jericho to Jerusalem is about seventeen miles, or fifteen miles to Bethany; the difference in elevation is some three thousand feet. Matthew does not mention the arrival at Bethany (see on "Matthew 21:17 "), which John describes as occurring "six days before the Passover " (John 12:1 ), probably on Friday afternoon. Here Jesus appears to have spent the Sabbath, and we may suppose him to have been the guest of Martha and Mary and Lazarus. Hearing of his arrival, many Jews came over from Jerusalem to Bethany to see him, and also Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead; (John 12:9 ) the time of their coming may have been Saturday evening, or early next morning. Mark and Luke mention Bethany, in connection with Bethphage, as reached before the triumphal entry, but give no details of a sojourn at Bethany.

Matthew 21:1-3 . And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem. The hills which form the site of Jerusalem are really the somewhat lower part of a space which gently slopes from the northwest, and seems elevated only because of the deep ravines which encompass it on the east and west and south. Seen from a real mountain five or six miles distant in the northwest, Jerusalem seems to be in a valley, with the high ridge of Olivet on the eastern and part of the northern side, and with another range of hills on the west and south. Seen from Olivet, the city rises on an opposite but lower elevation, with a deep and narrow ravine lying between them. Seen from another deep ravine on the south, the hill of Zion, or city of David, appears to be on a lofty and exceedingly steep hill, which Joab and his comrades found it hard to climb and capture the supposed impregnable fortress of the Jebusites. (2 Samuel 5:6 f.; 1 Chronicles 11:5 f.) This central space, which slopes narrowing down from the northwest between its ever deepening ravines, is presently divided by a slighter depression, having the same direction, into somewhat separate ridges, the eastern ridge being the temple hill, two hundred feet lower than the other, which is Zion. The depression between them gradually deepens, containing the pool of Siloam near its southeastern end, and passing into the eastern ravine before that forms a junction with the other ravine which has come down on the west and south of Zion. The northern part of the temple elevation, higher than the site of the temple itself, and outside of the city, is recently with no small probability considered to be Golgotha or Calvary. (See on "Matthew 27:33 ".) A considerable space north and south of the temple enclosure was occupied by dwellings, but the greater part of the city lay on Zion, and in the depression separating it from the temple. The eastern wall of the temple enclosure was part of the eastern wall of the city, and just north of that enclosure appears to have been the principal eastern entrance to the city, now called Saint Stephen's gate, from the tradition that Stephen passed through it to his martyrdom. Through this gate, Jesus and his followers probably entered in the triumphal procession, and were at once quite near the northern entrance to the outer court of the temple. And every morning, as he walked over the Mount of Olives from Bethany, he would enter the city and the temple the same way. In the northern and shallowest part of the depression between Zion and the temple ridge was doubtless, as now, the great northern gate of the city. Out of this it is most likely that our Lord was led to crucifixion, Golgotha being perhaps the elevation on the right after passing the outer gate. Pilate's official residence when visiting the city (Matthew 27:2 ) was doubtless on Zion, probably in Herod's palace. It would be hardly one-third of a mile from that place to the northern gate. Not far north of Herod's Palace was the principal western gate, probably about the same place as the present gate leading to Joppa. The city at that time doubtless extended considerably farther to the northwest than now, but the whole space enclosed was quite small, as compared with modern conceptions of a great city. After allowing for the fashion in which Asiatics have always crowded together, as the Chinese do now, it is hard to see how the regular population in the time of Christ can have been more than two or three hundred thousand. But vast multitudes came to the Passover (Josephus talks of three millions), sleeping in the streets and public places, tenting in the surrounding fields, swarming over the suburban villages like Bethany for several miles around.

Were come unto Bethphage. To mention the village and the mountain showed on what side they approached Jerusalem, and how near they were. Bethphage might seem from the order of Mark and Luke to have been reached before Bethany, but this inference is not necessary. The traditional site is between Bethany and Jerusalem, on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. The village is often mentioned in the Talmud, but not so as to show its location, nor are there any modern remains. It was at least near the mountain on the eastern side, and most likely on the Roman road from Bethany to Jerusalem. The name signifies 'house of figs.' The Mount of Olives , (Matthew 24:3 , Matthew 26:30 , Matthew 26:36 Zechariah 14:4 ) in Acts 1:12 'Olivet,' is a low mountain or long and lofty hill, which begins north of Jerusalem and runs eastward, and then turning at a point nearly a mile northeast of the city, runs southward until interrupted by the outlet of the valleys which lie east and south of the city, and send off their united streams at the southeast in a deep ravine towards the Dead Sea. The mountain evidently took its name from its fruitfulness in olives. The valley which separates it from Jerusalem is "the brook Cedron"or Kidron, of John 18:1 . Looking from Jerusalem eastward across this deep and narrow valley (compare on Matthew 26:36 ), one sees that the central and highest Part of the ridge is some three hundred feet higher than the temple hill, and about one hundred feet higher than the hill of Zion; but that the summit line and face of the ridge are marked by three slight depressions, descending so as nearly to meet where they reach the valley of the Kidron. Up the northern depression, ascending northeastward, went David in fleeing from Absalom, "over the brook Kidron.... up by the ascent of Mount Olivet.... past the top, "and so along a route still distinguishable east of the mountain in that direction. (2 Samuel 15:23 , 2 Samuel 16:1 ) The central depression runs nearly east and much steeper, almost straight across the mountain and so towards Bethany (See on "Matthew 21:17 "), and is the direct way for walking between that suburb and the city. The southern depression ascends far southeastward, giving a better grade and crossing at considerably the lowest part of the summit line; over this gap, and skilfully graded beyond it on the eastern slope of Olivet, is the riding way from Jerusalem to Bethany, still clearly indicated by patches of Roman pavement. Along this road came in the triumphal procession.

Then sent Jesus two disciples (so also Mark and Luke); we know not which two, but very likely Peter and John, as hereafter in Luke 22:8 . The village over against you is not certainly known, but was probably Bethphage, fronting them as from Bethany they approached the eastern face of the Mount of Olives. Straightway ye shall find; the description is quite definite. An ass tied and a colt with her. Mark, Luke, and John mention only a colt, which here was the more important of the two. (Compare on Matthew 20:30 ) The object was to have Messiah the King ride a young animal not previously used, "whereon no man ever yet sat" (Mark and Luke), as a matter of special honour; (compare Deuteronomy 21:3 , 1 Samuel 6:7 ) and the mother was probably led in front, to make the colt move quietly. Processions often include led animals, besides those ridden. The Lord hath need of them. We cannot tell whether this would be understood by the owners (Luke 19:33 ) as meaning that they were wanted for the service of Jehovah, or definitely for the Lord Jesus; in the latter case we might suppose owners who knew of Jesus, and would gladly serve him, as in Matthew 26:18 . Doubtless the animals were restored that afternoon, as there was no further use for them; it could be easily done in returning to Bethany.

Matthew 21:4 f. All this was done, etc. better as Rev. Ver., Now this is come to pass (in the course of divineprovidence) that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, compare on Matthew 1:22 . The Common Text has 'all this,' evidently altered by copyists so as to be like Matthew 1:22 and Matthew 26:56 . [1] The quotation is from Zechariah 9:9 , where the prophet predicts a righteous and divinely preserved king of Israel, coming to Jerusalem in peace and meekness. The Jews regarded the passage as Messianic. The Talmud of Babylon several times speaks of the Messiah as riding upon an ass (Lightf. and Wun.), and some Rabbinical commentaries apply this prophecy of Zechariah to the Messiah. (Edersheim) Matthew 12:14-16 and John distinctly declare the passage of Zechariah to be Messianic, and Jesus so treats it; nor is there anything in the connection of Zechariah to forbid, but several expressions (Zechariah 9:10 , Zechariah 9:12 ) which are quite in keeping, while various other prophetic passages also represent the Messiah under the figure of a king of Israel. The Hebrew signifies (Toy), "Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion, shout, daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, thy king comes to thee; just and saved is he, meek and riding 'on an ass, and on a colt the foal of an ass." The Septuagint differs but slightly. Matthew omits 'just and saved,' as not important for his purpose, and abridges and modifies the opening clause without altering the substantial sense (compare on Matthew 2:6 ), as John does in another way. Some think that Matthew has combined this passage with Isaiah 62:11 . Daughter of Zion , viz., Jerusalem, a common Hebrew figure by which a city was represented as the offspring of the locality. Meek , (compare Matthew 11:29 ) not a fierce warrior. Upon is repeated before 'a colt' by the correct Greek text. In Isaiah 62:5 , ass the second time is literally ( an animal ) under the yoke , draught-animal, beast of burden, a more general term, but often used to denote the ass. (2 Peter 2:16 , and Septuagint) Upon an ass, and a colt , is a Hebrew parallelism of the peculiar kind in which the second clause more precisely defines the first; Rev. Ver. of Zechariah puts it 'upon an ass, even upon a colt.' The King does not come on a chariot or on a war horse, but riding as rulers did in time of peace. (1 Kings 1:33 Judges 5:10 Numbers 22:23 ) The trained mule and donkey of Egypt and Syria are very pleasant for riding, and have there no ludicrous associations. In the imagery of Revelation 19:11 the Messiah appears again as a conqueror on a white horse. It seems clear that our Lord arranged to ride the young ass into the city, as an intentional fulfilment of the prophecy. The disciples quickly so recognized, though not fully understanding, (John 12:16 ) and communicated to the multitude the idea that this was a Messianic entry into the capital, as the shouts of Revelation 19:9 show that all understood. Jesus has heretofore carefully avoided (Matthew 16:20 ) any public declaration that he is the Messiah, because it would be misunderstood and lead to political agitation and fanatical disturbance, and because the disciples themselves were not yet sufficiently instructed as to the true nature of the Messianic reign. Only two or three days before this he had spoken a parable at Jericho, (Luke 19:11 ) designed to show that he must go away, and return at a later period to establish his reign. The time has now come (John 7:6 , John 12:23 ) for declaring that he is the king Messiah, but a lowly and peaceful king. (Compare Matthew 26:63 f.)

[1] B has this palpable error, and the "Western" documents, with many others, have the correct text. To 'prophet' a few copies add Zechariah, and two or three add Isaiah, which is mentioned as illustrating the ways of copyists

Matthew 21:6-8 . Mark here describes in detail (Mark 11:4-6 ) the finding of the animal according to direction. And put on them their clothes ( garments ). An animal to be ridden by a monarch was often covered with splendid cloths. Lacking these, the disciples took off their own loose outer garments (compare on Matthew 5:40 ), and put them as housings, not only on the colt but on the mother ass also, as that was to form part of the procession. And they set ; and he sat is the text not only of the leading documents, but also of the majority. [1] Thereon , literally, on them, which naturally means on the garments. Of course the words could mean on the animals. Those who thus take them may understand the phrase generally, like "the postillion rode his horses hard," or "he sprang from the horses,"when of course the saddle-horse is meant. (Winer, 175 219 , Olsh., Schaff.) [2] But it is much more natural to understand that he sat on the garments.

[1] 'And they set him' (Com. Ver.) is not even found in, Stephens' third edition, usually followed by King James' revisers; Tyn. and followers had it, doubtless influenced by the Vulgate; so also (Morison) the fourth edition of Stephens, and Beza, who so often influenced King James' men. Luke 19:35 has an equivalent expression

[2] Strauss and some others have chosen to insist that Matt. represents his Master as riding both the animals. In this absurdly hypercritical fancy they were anticipated by the "Western" documents, which, with their usual free handling, changed 'on them' (both times) to 'on it' or 'on the colt.'

We should not know from Matthew's expression on which of the two animals he rode, but the prophecy he has quoted shows, as do the other Gospels. And a very great , etc. And the most part of the multitude , is the only natural meaning of the Greek, and so Memph. distinctly. Tyn., Cran., Gen,' many of the people'; K. James followed Rheims, 'a very great multitude,' which quite overlooks the Greek article. The phrase indicates that a good many did not take part. Besides some who had joined them at Jericho and at Bethany, or had come over from Jerusalem (John 12:9 ) and were returning, there were doubtless persons among the crowd that had followed Jesus from Perea, and perhaps from Galilee, who did not yet believe him to be Messiah, and so were not prepared to treat him as a monarch entering his capital in triumph. Luke presently tells us (Luke 19:39 ) that "some of the Pharisees from the multitude" spoke to Jesus and complained of what was going on. Spread their garments in the way , having no magnificent carpets to spread on the road over which the King was to ride, as was often done in triumphal processions. Comp; 2 Kings 9:13 . Wetstein quotes, from Greek, Roman, and Jewish writers, accounts of carpets and garments spread under the feet of some honoured one moving in a procession. Robinson tells of the Bethlehem peasants as on a certain occasion spreading their outer garments on the road before the horse of the British Consul, and entreating his help against the exactions of the Turkish tax-gatherers. And others , must not be taken as meaning the rest of the multitude besides 'the most part'; but simply as an additional number of friendly persons who offered another mark of honour to the king. This second class is mentioned by Mark also, though not by Luke. The tense of the verb 'spread' changes in Matthew to the imperfect, and with that of 'cut' describes these persons as engaged in cutting and strewing. Thus three things were done; the disciples placed their garments on the animal, most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and some spread boughs of trees. The trees are naturally conceived of as mainly olive-trees, which have ample and accessible branches, and from which the mountain took its name, but also fig-trees and others. Mark's expression suggests rather leaves than boughs. The leaves were of course the main object, and they cast in the road only such smaller branches as would not embarrass locomotion for man and beast. So we scatter flowers.

Matthew 21:9 . The multitudes that went before and followed , the honoured King having an advance guard and a rear guard. John speaks of a great multitude that had come to the feast and went forth from Jerusalem to meet Jesus, bearing branches of palm trees, (compare Leviticus 23:40 ) and crying "Hosanna," etc. (John 12:12 f.) It is easy to suppose that they met the procession and turned back with those who preceded Jesus. From this statement in John comes the phrase "Palm Sunday." Cried , imperfect tense, were crying, kept crying. Hosanna is a word borrowed from the Hebrew, meaning 'save now,' 'O save,' in Psalms 118:25 . The Hebrew form represented by Hosanna is a slight and natural alteration of that occurring in the Psalm. The Mishna (Succoth IV., 5) says that every day during the Feast of Tabernacles they encompassed the altar, repeating Psalms 118:25 . The Talmud shows that this Psalm also formed a part of the series of Psalms sung at the Passover (compare on Matthew 26:30 ), called by Jewish writers "the great hallei," Psalms 113-118. It was thus very natural that the people should break out with this expression and the following verse. To the Son of David , recognized him as the Messiah, compare on Matthew 20:30 , Matthew 22:42 . The grammatical construction, 'Hosanna to the Son of David' shows us that Hosanna had come to be a formula of congratulation or expression of good wishes, not unlike the English "God save the king." He that cometh ( see on "Matthew 3:11 " ) in the name of the Lord (see on "Matthew 28:18 "), from Psalms 118:26 , quoted again by our Lord himself in Matthew 23:39 . Luke has 'Blessed is the king that cometh in the name of the Lord,' distinctly declaring him the Messiah; and Mark, 'Blessed is the kingdom that cometh, the kingdom of our father David.' Various other expressions are given by the four Evangelists, and in this case all may have been employed by different persons (compare on Mark 3:16 ). Hosanna in the highest , i.e. , in the highest (heavens), as in Luke 2:14 . It is an appeal to God in heaven that he will save and bless his people; and it here implies a joyful recognition of evidence that he is about to do so. Luke alone here introduces the (Luke 19:41-44 ) pathetic account of the Saviour as seeing the city and weeping over it [1] .

[1] The apparent contradiction in Luke between Matthew 21:37 mud Matthew 21:41 is fully explained by Stanley, "Sinai and Palrotins," whose beautiful description of the triumphal entry ought to be read by all. It may be worth while to mention that the present writer and a friend went over the ground in both directions with Dean Stanley's book in hand, and had no doubt remaining as to the correctness of his explanation. A patch of Roman pavement remains to determine within a few feet the point at which Jesus "saw the city and wept over it." comp Matthew 23:37-39 .

Matthew 21:10 f. When he was come into Jerusalem. Mark adds 'into the temple,' and that he 'looked round about upon all things.' All the city was moved , a strong word, rendered 'quake' in Matthew 27:51 , Matthew 28:4 , Rev. Ver., 'shaken' in Revelation 6:13 . The great procession and the loud salutations as to the King Messiah awakened general attention and agitated all the people. (Compare Matthew 2:3 ) Who is this? It was plain that the multitudes who were applauding Jesus as 'the son of David,' as 'the king that cometh in the name of the Lord,' regarded him as being the Messiah. The citizens inquired simply who was the person thus regarded. And the multitudes , plural, as in Revelation 6:9 , said, imperfect tense, kept saying, or said every time they were asked. This is Jesus the prophet, (Luke 7:16 ; John 6:14 , John 7:40 , John 9:17 ) There could in their opinion be no doubt that he was a prophet; their conviction that he was the Messiah they did not care to assert in so many words. Of Nazareth of Galilee. For Nazareth, See on "Matthew 2:23 "; for Galilee, See on "Matthew 4:12 ". Certainly some, and probably many of the crowd had accompanied Jesus from Galilee, (Matthew 27:55 ) and would take special interest in stating that he was from that district. The Judeans insisted that the Messiah would not be from Galilee, and that in fact from Galilee arose no prophet. (John 7:41-52 )

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 21:1-3 . Co-workers with Christ. (1) Jesus needing the help of his followers. (2) Jesus giving full directions for their work. (3) Jesus promising them success (Matthew 21:8 ). (4) Jesus joyfully obeyed (Matthew 21:6 f.)

Matthew 21:3 . The Lord hath need of them. (1) The Lord often needs the property of men. (2) The Lord's ministers must inform men of this need. (3) The Lord promises success in attaining what is needed.

Matthew 21:5 . The peaceful King. (1) His character is peaceful. (2) His methods and surroundings are peaceful (compare Matthew 12:19 f.) (3) His office is to bring men into peace with God and with each other.(Luke 2:14 ) (4) His service may arouse the hostility of the ungodly, (Matthew 10:34 ff.) but its spirit and aim must still be peaceful. (Romans 12:18 )

Matthew 21:7 . Origen, Jerome, and other Fathers made the ass represent the Jews, accustomed to the yoke of the law, and the colt the hitherto untamed Gentiles. Lange: "The old theocracy runs idly and instinctively by the side of the young Church, which has become the true bearer of the kingdom of Christ." It is somewhat dangerous to mention these conceits, even as a warning, for there are persons unwise enough to adopt them. Morison illustrates Matthew 21:8 by the famous story of Sir Walter Raleigh's cloak.

Matthew 21:8-11 . Popular applause. (1) It may be sincere even when superficial. (2) It need not be despised because so often temporary. (3) It may awaken the attention of others, and thus do good (Matthew 21:10 ). (4) It must not prevent sorrow over the perishing. (Luke 19:41 ff.)

Matthew 21:10 . Hall: "Christ's being amongst us doth not make us happy, but his welcome. Every day may we hear him in our streets, and yet be as new to seek as these citizens of Jerusalem, 'who is this?'" Jer. Taylor: "O holy King of Zion, eternal Jesus, be pleased to enter into my soul with triumph, trampling over all thine enemies; and give me grace to entertain thee with joy and adoration, lopping off all my superfluous branches of a temporal condition, and spending them in the offices of charity and religion. Thou, to whose honour the very stones would give testimony, make my stony heart an instrument of thy praises let me strew thy way with flowers of virtue and the holy rosary of Christian graces and let us at last follow thee into thy heavenly Jerusalem with palms in our hands, and joy in our hearts, and eternal acclamations on our lips, rejoicing in thee, and singing hallelujahs in a happy eternity to thee, O holy King of Zion, eternal Jesus Amen".

Verses 12-17

Matthew 21:12-17 . Cleansing The Temple

Found also in Mark 11:15-19 ; Luke 19:45-48 . It appears from the order of Mark, who is nearly always chronological, that this did not occur on the day of the triumphal entry, but on the next day. Matthew, as so often before, has grouped topics, without stopping to indicate the time. Compare on Matthew 21:20 .

John (John 2:13-22 ) has described a similar cleansing of the temple, at the first Passover of our Lord's ministry. Of course the destructive critics at once assume that these are only conflicting accounts of the same event. But we have seen (on Matthew 15:38 ) that Jesus certainly did perform some very similar miracles, as he certainly repeated a number of sayings (see on "Matthew 5:1 "). To make the two cleansings the same is to treat either the Fourth Gospel, or all the other three, as grossly inaccurate in respect to historical order. Matthew, as we have seen, sometimes arranges topically rather than chronologically, but so far as can be judged, the others are as chronological as historians usually are. Certainly then we ought not to suppose that John has placed a striking event at the first of several passovers, and the other three have placed it at the final passover, unless it be impossible, or extremely difficult, to believe that the act was repeated. Now it is perfectly natural that the money-loving traders, who had been temporarily driven out by a prophet' s stern rebuke, should quickly come back when he was gone. Their fathers had often returned to idolatry and gross vices very soon after the reformation wrought by a prophet. Nobody knew that the prophet from Nazareth would interfere with them again. And what he had done produced no great pecuniary loss, while the opportunity for gain in this business was enticing. After all, they might say, we were worse scared than hurt. The prophet does not kill nor imprison, nor impose fines, and the temple authorities make no objection; why not go in again? Nothing is more common than for reform, even when accompanied by severe penalties, to need frequent renewal on the part of civil as well as ecclesiastical authorities. Even the second cleansing doubtless had only temporary results. The chief importance of the act lies in the assertion of prophetic authority (Matthew 21:23 ) and its recognition by all concerned, and in the symbolical lessons. There is thus no difficulty at all in supposing a repetition of the cleansing. The first would not be mentioned by Matt., Mark, and Luke, because they give no account of that early Judean ministry with which it was connected, and which John narrates; and the second would be omitted by John, who introduced very little already found in the other Gospels. There are numerous other cases in which one of the Gospels records a certain event or discourse, and omits the repetition of it which we find in another Gospel. On this second occasion of cleansing fewer details are mentioned nothing of oxen and sheep, and nothing as to a scourge of cords.

Matthew 21:12 . Jesus went into the temple. The additional of God should probably be omitted (Rev. Ver., margin ), but the question is difficult and the substantial sense not altered. [1] Though he had entered Jerusalem as the King Messiah, he did not seek the palace of Herod or the city of David, but we find him every day teaching in the temple; (Luke 19:47 ) for his Messianic reign was to be brought about through spiritual instruction. 'Temple' is here ( hieron see on "Matthew 4:5 "), the general sacred enclosure, Jesus is nowhere said to have entered the naos , the sacred house, which none but priests were allowed to enter. (Compare on Matthew 27:5 ) The sacred house was situated on the top of a hill, and surrounded by an enclosed space which, as enlarged for Herod's temple, seems to have been about six hundred feet square. The house on the summit was near the western side of this space. The large outer court, with its great wall arid inner colonnades (see on "Matthew 4:5 "), was considerably lower down the hill. Into this, as more remote from the sacred house and the altar, it had been customary to allow the entrance of Gentiles, and so it was called the Court of the Gentiles. From this court went up grand steps, in two flights with a landing between them, on the north, east, and south, to the next enclosure, called the Court of Israel, and a portion of it separated as the Court of the Women. The wall at the top of the steps had grand gates, one of which was known as "Beautiful", (Acts 3:2 ) and was perhaps the same that Josephus glowingly describes in "War," 5, 5, 2. Along this wall were stone pillars, bearing in Greek and Latin the inscription,"Let no Gentile enter here under pain of death" ("War," 5, 5, 2); one of these is said to have been found a few years ago. Again steps, and gates at the summit, to the central Court of the Priests, lying east of the sacred house, with an enclosing wall of only two feet in height. Just within this court on the eastern side stood the great altar of burnt sacrifice probably built on the large rock which the Mohammedans have enclosed in the Mosque of Omar. Thus the worshipper could bring his sacrifice up the steps and pass it in to the priests, and could see plainly when it was laid on the altar; (Matthew 5:23 ) and looking beyond the altar could see into the eastern end of the sacred house, where the priests entered at certain times to burn incense. (Luke 1:9 f.) As Gentiles were admitted into the large outer court, it was very easy for Jewish traders to conclude that they might properly sell here the animals to be used in sacrifice. Wherever purchased, these animals had to be led through the courts up to the altar. All that were brought in for sale would, it was hoped, be purchased and sacrificed, and so they were in a certain sense already sacred, and quite as fit to be here as dogs of Gentiles. Worshippers from a distance would enter the courts, pass up toward tile altar, and feeling moved to offer a sacrifice, would be glad to find a supply so conveniently near. Lightfoot says (from the Talmud) that they also sold "wine, salt, oil, and other requisites to sacrifices." It is natural that the practice of admitting traders, not mentioned in Old Testament, should have arisen in a later time when so many Jews came from foreign countries to worship. Jerome suspects that the priests had a share in the profits; and probably (Morison) extortionate prices were charged. At any rate we know they derived gain from all sacrifices, and these would be multiplied by having the material convenient. Plumptre : "We must picture to ourselves, in addition to all the stir and bustle inseparable from such traffic, the wrangling and bitter words and reckless oaths which necessarily grew out of it with such a people as the Jews. The history of Christian churches has not been altogether without parallels that may help us to understand how such a desecration came to be permitted. Those who remember the state of the great Cathedral of London, as painted in the literature of Elizabeth and James, when mules and horses laden with market produce were led through St. Paul's, as a matter of everyday occurrence, and bargains were struck there, and burglaries planned, and servants hired, and profligate assignations made and kept, will feel that even Christian and Protestant England has hardly the right to cast a stone at the priests and people of Jerusalem."

[1] Omitted by ‏ א ‎ B L, several cursives, Memph., Theb., one copy of Old Latin, Jerusalem Syriac, Arm., Æth., and some Fathers. It is not found in the parallel passages of Mark and Luke, nor the similar passage of John, (John 2:14 ) but that fact, if observed by copyists, would have been a reason, as we may Judge from their general practice, not for omitting it in Matt., but for inserting it in some of the others. The expression would not be intrinsically objectionable to any one, and so we cannot account for its omission on that ground. Some suppose it to have been omitted because the phrase is rare. The Jews had little use for such a phrase, since for them 'the temple' could mean only one thing. But the addition would not strike a copyist as strange or unnatural. And a similar phrase does occur, even in Matthew 26:61 , and figuratively in 1 Corinthians 3:16 ff.; 2 Thessalonians 2:4 ; Revelation 3:12 , etc., and 'temple of the Lord' in Luke 1:9 , the word in all these cases being not but hieron , which for our present purpose makes little difference. As the internal evidence is indecisive, it seems wisest to follow the documents which so generally give the correct text. (Compare Westcott Hort, App)

Cast out. We do not know whether as on the former occasion, (John 2:15 ) he used 'a scourge of small cords' as a symbol of authority and punishment. Overthrew the tables of the money changers. The Greek word signifies those who make small change. Compare on Matthew 25:27 . One sees such men now in Jerusalem, with various coins piled in slender pillars on a table, ready for a small premium to change foreign money into such as would be more current. In our Lord's time there was much demand for this on the part of foreign Jews, whom custom forbade to put any but Jewish coins into the treasury of the temple. (Mark 12:41 ) As the change was thus needed in order to a sacred contribution, people easily persuaded themselves that it was proper to allow money changing for the special purpose to take place in the outer court. That sold doves . These were appointed as sacrifices in various cases, and allowed in others as substitutes on the part of the poor. (Luke 2:24 ) There is here (and so Mark and Luke) no mention of oxen and sheep, as on the first occasion. It might be inferred that the traders had not again become bold enough to bring in these, but the inference would be somewhat precarious, as the account may have merely omitted them. Mark adds, (Mark 11:16 , Rev. Ver,) "and he would not suffer that any man should carry a vessel through the temple." The word rendered 'vessel' denotes all sorts of utensils and implements (compare above on Matthew 12:29 , 'goods'). It had probably become common to go through the courts for a short cut from the great eastern gate of the city towards the southern part of Zion, which was connected with the temple by arched bridges over the intervening depression.

Matthew 21:13 . It is written , in Isaiah 56:7 . Luke quotes as here. Mark adds the prophet's concluding words, 'for all the nations,' which carry the emphasis in Isaiah, but are not, necessary here. The meaning and application of this quotation are obvious. But ye make it , as in leading early documents, was easily changed to ye have made it , as in Luke (and Mark). A den of thieves , or, robbers, as in Matthew 27:38 . They were worse than 'thieves,' they openly plundered, making money out of the worship, in sight of the altar. The phrase is borrowed from Jeremiah 7:11 , where the prophet reproaches the people with having a superstitious reverence for the temple and its services, and yet living so immorally that they seem practically to regard the temple as 'a den of robbers.' The Jews whom Jesus reproached were reproducing (Toy) the superstitious reverence for the temple and the wickedness that dishonoured it. On the former occasion, (John 2:16 ) Jesus had simply said, "Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise." What led the traders to obey? There must have been in our Lord a look and tone of superhuman authority; (Matthew 21:23 John 18:5 f.) and then the traders knew in their secret heart that they were doing wrong.

Matthew 21:14 . This is mentioned by Matthew only. Many afflicted persons were doubtless to be seen in the temple courts, asking alms, (Acts 3:2 ) or seeking consolation in worship. The miraculous healings, then and there, served to establish Jesus' authority to cleanse the temple, and in some sense (Weiss) re-consecrated the courts which had been profaned.

Matthew 21:15 f. The chief priests and the scribes were perhaps representatives of the Sanhedrin (see on "Matthew 26:59 "); compare Matthew 21:23 , Matthew 26:3 , Matthew 26:47 Mark 11:18 . Saw the wonderful things that he did , not terata , 'prodigies,' usually translated 'wonders' (see on "Matthew 12:38 "), but the general term which means exactly wonderful things. This doubtless includes his cleansing the temple and his healing the blind and the lame. And the children crying ; that were crying , Rev. Ver., represents the Greek of the leading manuscripts. The words are masculine, meaning boys as in Matthew 2:16 , and not the general term children as in Matthew 11:16 . It would naturally be boys rather than girls, for comparatively few even of grown women went to the temple amid the crowds. These boys had heard the day before the cries of the triumphal procession, 'Hosanna to the Son of David', (Matthew 21:9 ) and readily understood it to mean the Messiah; now observing the authority with which he cleansed the temple and healed the blind and the lame, they recalled that cry and were loudly repeating it, even in the temple . The older people who had said the same on the Mount of Olives and in the streets of the city might have shrunk from making the bold proclamation in this most public place and in the very face of their religious rulers; children are in such a case more ardent and more fearless. They were sore displeased , or, moved with indignation , same word as in Matthew 20:24 . They ought to have been led to earnest inquiry whether he who thus asserted authority and wrought miracles and allowed himself to be hailed as the Son of David was indeed the Messiah; and his purification of the temple might well have reminded them of Malachi 3:1-4 . They rejected the idea without inquiry, and were indignant at the apparent claim. He was altogether different from their notion of the Messiah, came from an obscure village in distant Galilee (John 7:41 f., John 7:52 ), had not asked the recognition of the Sanhedrin, but seemed to be relying on mere popular recognition; (John 7:49 ) and as the Messiah was of course to be a revolutionist and civil ruler, his claim and its popular support might provoke the Romans to crush out the "nation," and deprive these Jewish officials of their "place," as some of them had intimated not long before. (John 11:47 f.) Hearest thou what [1] these are saying ? They do not really doubt that he hears, but mean to intimate surprise that he does not stop a thing so improper as to call him Son of David. So during the triumphal procession, (Luke 19:39 )" some of the Pharisees from the multitude" openly called on him to rebuke his disciples for language implying that he was the Messiah, but he refused. (Compare above on Matthew 21:9 ) It is idle for critics to suppose this a mere inaccurate report of that former case, for the place is different, the persons making the outcry are here children, and the Saviour's reply is also entirely different, and adapted to the testimony of children. The Scribes complaining may have been different, or may have included some 'of the same persons, now still further outraged by the renewed hosannas. Yea , he hears it, and finds it unobjectionable and proper. Have ye never read (see on "Matthew 12:8 "), implying a blameworthy ignorance of what was meant by a very familiar passage of those sacred writings with which Scribes were supposed to be so thoroughly acquainted; so also in Matthew 19:4 , Matthew 21:42 , Matthew 22:31 . Out of the mouth, etc., from Psalms 8:2 , Psalms 8:3 . Hebrew, 'out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast established strength.' The Sept. has 'thou hast prepared praise'; in several other passages (Toy) it has rendered the word for 'strength' by 'praise.' Matt. follows the Sept., as he so often does where it expresses the Hebrew sufficiently for his purpose. (Compare on Matthew 3:3 , Matthew 12:14 ) The Greek word means 'prepared' or 'completely prepared,' and so may be rendered 'perfected.' The first utterances of very young children, showing admiration of God's works, and ready recognition of his existence, are a strong testimony to his being and glory, and ought, the Psalmist adds, to silence the enemy and the avenger, all the "malignant railers against God." ( Alexander on Psalms.) Suckling was sometimes continued among the Jews till the child was three years' old ( 2 Maccabees 7:27 ), and such a custom is still reported by some travellers in the East. What the Psalmist declared true of sucking babes was also and still more true of these boys crying hosanna. Toy says that the meaning in which the words are here used is "substantially the same as that of the Psalmist God had shown these children a truth that the learned men did not see, and had thereby made them instruments of praise and strength." Our Lord's wise answer, while not provoking, yet failed to restrain, the purpose excited by the triumphal entry and his cleansing the temple, viz., to destroy him if possible; the popular recognition and enthusiasm made them fear him all the more, for they accounted him a dangerous rival to their own position as religious instructors and rulers. (Mark 11:18 Luke 19:47 f)

[1] The simple interrogative in indirect question, here and in Matthew 10:19 Mark 14:36 Luke 17:8 , is occasionally used in classic Greek also, see Jelf, 877, Obs. 2.

Matthew 21:17 . And he left them , etc. Mark shows that this was not on the day of the triumphal entry, but on the day following. (Compare above on Matthew 21:12 ) Indeed, Mark tells us (Matthew 11:19 ) that "every evening he went forth out of the city"; and Luke states in connection with the next day that "every day he was teaching in the temple; and every night he went out and lodged in the mount that is called the Mount of Olives," (Luke 21:37 ) This naturally enough means Bethany, which lay on a spur of the mountain. Thus the statements agree, and show us what course he took on the three days of his public appearance, probably the first, second, and third days of the week; he came "early in the morning " (Luke 21:38 ) to the temple and taught, and went out at night across the mountain to Bethany. Many who had come to the feast sought nightly lodgings in the surrounding villages. Jesus would go out to seek repose in the home of his friends (compare on Matthew 26:6 ), and probably also to avoid an attempt to arrest him, such as was successfully made the first night he spent in the city. There is no occasion to suppose, as some have done, that he and his followers camped out near Bethany. His friends in the village were apparently wealthy. In leaving Jerusalem by the eastern gate (compare On Matthew 21:1 ), Jesus and his disciples would descend the steep declivity into the narrow valley of the Kidron, and by a little bridge would cross over the dry Bed of the stream, all covered with flat stones worn into rounded shapes by the torrents of the rainy season. Reaching the foot of the Mount of Olives, they found near them a garden called Gethsemane (see on "Matthew 26:36 "), doubtless occupied by olive-trees and fig-trees, with probably flowers, and less probably vegetables. It seems to have been a place open to the public, and "Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples", (John 18:2 ) perhaps stopping to rest under shade and among flowers before climbing Olivet, or in the morning before entering the hot and crowded city; for in April it is extremely hot in Jerusalem in the daytime, though chilly towards morning. (John 18:18 ) Up the central depression in the slope of the Mount of Olives (compare on Matthew 21:1 ) the path is steep and toilsome, sometimes clambering up ledges of limestone rock, and gradually rising to a level with, and then above, the city on the hills behind. At the summit, from which could be seen the long eastern line of the high mountains of Moab, with glimpses of the Dead Sea in a deep cauldron between, they were half way to Bethany. Some distance down the eastern slope is a narrow neck of rocky soil between little northern and southern valleys. This neck of land connects with Olivet a small rounded outlying hill. Their path wound around the northern part of this hill, while the Roman paved road from Bethany to Jerusalem passed around its southern face. On the east this rounded hill slopes down in a tongue of land between two minute valleys, which presently unite beyond it and go deepening down towards the Dead Sea. On this little tongue of land and in these shallow valleys, amid olive trees, figs, almonds, vines, and apricots, and patches of small, bright-hued flowers, gleamed the white limestone dwellings of Bethany. The place is now called Lazariyeh, from Lazarus, or more exactly, in Arabic, el-Aziriyeh, from el-Azir. It is by the direct path a mile and three quarters from Jerusalem, corresponding exactly to the fifteen stadia (something less than furlongs) of John 11:18 . The name Bethany appears to mean either 'house of dates' or 'house of the poor.' There was another Bethany beyond Jordan, (John 1:28 ) and in John 11:1 this Bethany is distinguished as "the village of Mary and her sister Martha."

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 21:12 . THEME (in Stier): "Once more he goes the way which he had loved as a child, up to the temple."

Matthew 21:13 . A place of worship becoming a den of robbers. (1) When the worship is conducted by men who seek religious office for the money it yields. (2) When the worship is supported, or the house of worship erected, by such measures as extortion in "fairs,"or covert gambling. (3) When persons join a certain church in hope of gaining custom, or otherwise promoting their worldly interests. (4) When men wrong others through the week, and try to atone for it by worshipping God on the Lord's Day. (Jeremiah 7:9-11 ) Henry: "Lawful things, ill-timed and ill-placed, may become sinful things. That which was decent enough in another place, and not only lawful but laudable on another day, defiles the sanctuary and profanes the Sabbath." Hall: "Yea, thus it became thee, 0 thou gracious Redeemer of men, to let the world see thou hast not lost thy justice in thy mercy; that there is not more lenity in thy forbearances, than rigor in thy just severities; that thou canst thunder as well as shine."

Matthew 21:15 f. Children crying in the temple. (1) Would-be wise men often show folly by despising the young. (2) Children sometimes see religious truth more clearly than prejudiced adults. (3) The praise of children is thoroughly acceptable to God. (4) The piety of children ought to touch hard hearts, and silence malignant opposers of the gospel.

Verses 18-22

Matthew 21:18-22 . The Barren Fig-Tree

Found also in Mark 11:12-14 , Mark 11:20-26 . If we had only Matthew, we should suppose that all this occurred the morning which followed the triumphal entry and the cleansing of the temple. But Matthew does not at all contradict the fuller account of Mark, viz., that after the triumphal entry (probably on the first day of the week) Jesus returned to Bethany; the next morning (Monday) on his way to the city he pronounced a curse upon the fig-tree, and afterwards cleansed the temple; and the following morning (Tuesday) the disciples expressed their surprise that the tree had at once withered. Matthew has simply thrown together the whole matter of the fig-tree, just as in narrating the ministry in Galilee he often arranges topically rather than chronologically.

Matthew 21:18 . As he returned , or probably, upon returning [1] He hungered . The first meal was usually taken about the middle of the forenoon. (Acts 2:15 ) Compare on Matthew 22:4 . The case in John 21:12 is exceptional. Walking up and down the steep mountain in the early morning air would naturally awaken appetite, especially in one who had eaten moderately the evening before. There is no occasion for the supposition that he had spent the night in special prayer.

[1] Aorist part. in ‏ א ‎ (first hand), B (first hand), L (followed by Tischendorf and Westcott Hort), 'upon returning,' 'after returning,' 'having returned.' This, as the more difficult reading, easily changed by copyists into the other, has strong claims to adoption. The immediately following 'by the road' would show that the former expression is meant loosely, that though he had reached the city, he had not entered it. There is thus only an apparent contradiction between this and Mark, 'when they were come out from Bethany he was hungry.' It was less than two miles from one place to the other. Buttmann would here translate 'put off' as it means in Luke 5:3 f., thus making it 'after putting off to the city.' But it can hardly be shown that the word has that exact sense, unless the phrase were 'after putting off from Bethany.' The Aorist part. in Acts 25:13 , which Scrivener says is "manifestly false" though read by all uncials and some other good documents, and which Hort regards as an instance of "prior corruption" of the text, may perhaps be explained as meaning "they came down to Cesarea by way of greeting to Festus," since the coming itself was a greeting as well as the words spoken on arriving. This would be like "You did well in reminding me" ( anamnesas ), Plato. (Compare below Matthew 25:3 , Matthew 26:12 , Matthew 27:4 ) The present part. would mean, "they came down while saluting." Compare on Matthew 23:20 , as to the general theory of the aorist.

Matthew 21:19 . A fig-tree , or more probably, in the strict sense (Rev. Ver margin ), ' a single fig-tree '(comp, on Matthew 8:19 ), perhaps one that stood apart, or that attracted attention by the rich development of leaves which it alone presented. Pliny ("Natural History "XVI, 49) says of the fig-tree, "Its leaf comes later than tile fruit, except a certain species in Cilicia, Cyprus, and Greece. "Tristram says ("Not. Hist. of the Bible") that in Palestine "the fruit appears before the leaves." Dr. Chainbets (in Schaff) denies this, but the conflict of reports is accounted for by the statement of Thomson ("Land and Book "): "The fig often comes with, or even before, the leaves." Mark's expression,"seeing a fig-tree afar off, having leaves, he came, "shows that the presence of leaves suggested the presence of fruit. They had perhaps eaten new figs in the deep plain of Jericho a few days before. And though "it was not the season of figs," Mark 11:13 here on the mountain, yet this appeared to be an exceptional tree, bearing fruit earlier than usual. Thomson says he has eaten very early figs on Lebanon in May, and that fruits are there a month later than in Jerusalem. So it was not impossible that in some warm nook of the Mount of Olives an exceptionally early variety might have figs at the beginning of April. To suppose that Jesus expected to find a few figs remaining from the fall and winter crop is entirely unsuitable. Leaves would be no sign of such remaining fruit; there would be no occasion for finding fault, and no symbolical lesson. The artificial translation of Mark which some have proposed, "for the season was not a good one for figs," is without warrant in grammar, and a mere expedient to escape a difficulty. To take from a fruit tree beside the road, or even to pluck ears of grain in passing, was entirely in accordance with law and custom, Deuteronomy 23:24 f., compare above on Matthew 12:1 . See the thorough humanity of our Saviour hungry from a mountain walk, seeking food from a tree beside the road, and disappointed in not finding figs when there was such a show of leaves. His human mind, which had grown in wisdom, Luke 2:52 which did not know the day and hour of his own second coming, Mark 13:32 Was of necessity, as a finite mind, unable to contain all knowledge. We must beware of unchastened inferences from this fact that he did not know some things, remembering that in the unity of his person dwelt a divine as well as a human nature, and that the Holy Spirit was given him without measure; John 3:34 but we must not deny or becloud the fact, when distinctly set forth. This is indeed a necessary part of a real incarnation, and we must accept it as a mystery. Maldonatus holds that Jesus feigned to be hungry, and feigned to seek what he knew he would not find which painfully reminds us that the great commentator was a Jesuit. Let no fruit grow on thee hence forward forever. So Mark, and this is what Peter called a curse. Mark 11:21 To suppose that Jesus angrily uttered imprecations against the inanimate object is not only irreverent, but gratuitous and silly. Our Lord sought illustration of religious truth from all sources; from food and water, patching clothes and bottling wine, sowing and reaping, and changes of weather, birds and flowers, plants and trees, as well as the doings and sayings of men around him, all were made to teach lessons. And here was an opportunity for a very striking lesson. The tree gave by its leaves a false sign of possessing fruit, and so would strikingly represent false professions of piety without the effects thereof, as so plainly seen in the contemporary Jews, and alas! not in them alone. By the curse pronounced it became a symbol and a warning to all who should ever hear the gospel. That withered fig-tree stands as one of the most conspicuous objects in sacred history, an object lesson forever (compare on Matthew 18:2 ). Its lesson corresponded exactly to that of a parable given some months earlier, (Luke 13:6-9 ) and corresponds generally to the lamentation over Jerusalem the day before, Luke 19:42 to the cleansing of the temple which immediately followed, and to the long course of teaching on the next day. Matthew 21:28 , Matthew 23:39 There was among the Jews of the time great religiosity, and little religion. Witness the trading in the temple, the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees, their refusal to believe John the Baptist, Matthew 21:32 their rejection of the long expected Messiah. The fig-tree destroyed was of extremely little value, as it bore no fruit. It may be that standing 'on the road' it was not private property. The Talmud often distinguishes (Lightf.) between the fruit of trees that grew in commons, and the fruit of trees that grew in gardens or fields. But that a prophet, a "teacher come from God," should destroy a piece of property of trifling value for the sake of teaching a great lesson, would seem to the Jews no ground whatever of complaint; much less will it seem so to those who believe in his divinity. Compare the destruction of the herd of swine, Matthew 8:30 ff. Theophyl . remarks that our Lord's other miracles were all beneficent, and lest it should be thought that he cannot punish, he wrought two that were punitive: yet these were not upon men, but upon the tree and the swine, and really meant kindness toward men; "he withers the tree that he may chasten men." And presently (Rev. Ver., immediately ) the fig-tree withered away , does not necessarily mean that the withering was completed in a moment. And when Mark (Mark 11:20 ) states that "in the morning they saw the fig-tree withered away from the roots," he indicates that the withering had previously occurred. So there is no contradiction.

Matthew 21:20 . And when the disciples saw it , which we learn from Mark was the following morning. Matthew does not mention the lapse of time, but does not deny nor exclude it. How soon , etc., better, as in Rev. Ver., How did the fig-tree immediately, etc. See Winer, p. 276 345 . The Greek cannot mean 'how soon,' for the word is 'immediately,' just as in the preceding verse. The disciples inquire how the immediate withering occurred. The process was justly characterized as immediate, as there had been only twenty-four hours, and it was withered from the roots (Mark). The Master had not expressly said that the tree should wither at once, but only that it should never bear fruit. We learn from Mark (Mark 11:21 ) that Peter, so often spokesman, mentioned the matter to the Teacher, but the answer was addressed to them all.

Matthew 21:21 f. Our Lord indirectly answers their question by telling how they too may work not only such a miracle, but more wonderful ones, and may obtain in prayer all that they ask for, viz., through undoubting faith. Unto this mountain would naturally be the Mount of Olives, and into the sea would be the Mediterranean or the Dead Sea. Mark has both expressions the same. But the example is evidently presented, not as a thing likely or proper to be actually done, but as an extreme case of a conceivable miracle, (compare 1 Corinthians 13:1 ) to illustrate more vividly the miraculous possibilities presented to unwavering faith. (Compare on Matthew 17:20 ) In a similar expression not long before he spoke of rooting up a tree and planting it in the sea. (Luke 17:6 ) The Talmud of Bah. (Lightfoot) frequently uses "rooter up of mountains " as a figure to describe some teacher who had great power in removing difficulties. Christians of the present day have no reason to believe themselves commissioned to work miracles, and the attempt to do so is either irreverent trifling, or a fanaticism injurious to themselves and repulsive to thoughtful observers. Every true prayer of Christian faith is taught by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:26 f.), and he will never teach men a presumptuous prayer.

From the power which faith will give them to work miracles, our Lord passes to its more general power in prayer (Matthew 21:22 ). This in Matthew is merely added; in Mark (Mark 11:25 ) it is declared to follow as a consequence from what precedes. If faith could work miracles, it follows that faith can secure whatever we pray for. (compare James 5:16 ) Believing, ye shall receive. Of course this promise has limitations; we shall receive what we ask, or something which our Heavenly Father knows to be better (compare on Matthew 7:7 , Matthew 7:11 ). Mark has a yet stronger and quite peculiar expression, "believe that ye receive (Rev. Ver., margin received) them, and ye shall have them"; from the time of asking go on believing that your prayer was heard, that you virtually received when you asked, and you shall have the things in due season. Mark also adds (Mark 11:25 ) an injunction to forgive others when we are praying for God's forgiveness; which Matthew might omit from having recorded it as also given in connection with the "Lord's Prayer." (Matthew 6:14 )

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 21:18 f. Nothing but leaves. (1) Profession without practice is worthless. (2) Profession without practice is offensive to God and man. (3) Profession without practice is in great danger of becoming perpetual. (4) Profession need not be laid down if practice be taken up. Hall: "That which was the fault of this tree is the punishment of it, fruitlessness. Woe be to that church or soul that is punished with her own sin."

Matthew 21:21 f. The power of Christian faith. (1) In the time of Christ and his apostles it could work miracles. (2) If we suppose it can now work any miracle, it ought to be able to work the greatest miracles. (John 14:12 ) (3) Its power in miracle-working assures and illustrates its present power in prayer (comp, James 5:17 f.; Luke 10:20 ). (4) We cannot be sure that miracles would now do good, but we know that the prayer of faith in every age brings the richest blessings. (5) It enhances the privilege of prayer to believe that God will give what we ask, or what he sees to be better.

Verses 23-32

Matthew 21:23-32 . The Rulers Question Christ's Authority, And Are Rebuked

Found also in Mark 11:27-33 ; Luke 20:1-8 . It occurred on the third day of our Lord's appearance in the temple, which was probably Tuesday.

Matthew 21:23 . The chief priests and the elders. Mark, 'the chief priests and the scribes and the elders,' representing the three classes which composed the Sanhedrin (see on "Matthew 26:59 "); it is not necessary to suppose a formal deputation. They had already begun seeking to destroy him, Luke 19:47 f. and even some time sooner. John 11:53

As he was teaching . So Luke, Rev. Ver.; Mark has 'as he was walking in the temple,' probably in one of the beautiful colonnades, as some months earlier in John 10:23 . To teach while walking about was very common with the Rabbis, as it was at Athens, where the followers of Aristotle were from this specially called Peripatetics. To stop a teacher and ask him questions, was also common. Matthew 22:16 , Matthew 22:23 , Matthew 22:35 The conversation between our Lord and the rulers now goes on for a long time in the temple court, Matthew 21:23 to Matthew 22:46 the people thronging to hear, their usual keen interest in rabbinical discussions being heightened by the triumphal entry and other recent events. After that, he turns from the baffled rulers to address directly the multitudes and his disciples (ch. 23), and towards evening speaks to the disciples on the Mount of Olives. (ch. 24 and 25.) By what authority (see on "Matthew 9:6 "), more exactly, by what sort of authority ; so also Mark and Luke. And who gave thee this authority? The first question asks the nature of the authority, the second asks its source. Did he claim prophetic authority, Matthew 21:11 Messianic authority, Matthew 21:15 or what? Did he claim authority from man, or from God? Any Jew was allowed to talk publicly about religious questions (as in our social meetings), but if he proposed to be a regular teacher (Rabbi), he must be authorized by other Rabbis or by the Sanhedrin (compare Edersh.). Jesus was not only making it his occupation to teach, but working miracles, cleansing the temple as if a prophet, and apparently justifying his followers in greeting him as the Messiah. It was proper for the Sanhedrin to inquire into his authority, (compare Acts 4:7 ) if it had been done in a proper spirit. These rulers ought to have recognized his divine mission, as their associate Nicodemus had done two or three years before, just after the first cleansing of the temple. John 2:18

Matthew 21:24-27 . Jesus answers by asking them a question. He did this not simply as a retort, or to escape from a dilemma, but (compare Origen) because his question tended to show them the inconsistency of their position, and lead, if possible, to self-searching and a better mind. (compare Matthew 22:41 ff.) If they would squarely answer his question, their own question would then answer itself. What sort of authority did John have, and who gave it to him? But John had testified to Jesus. The baptism of John . This striking rite, from which John was popularly called 'John the Baptizer' (compare on Matthew 3:1 ), represented in the popular mind his entire ministry, and our Lord so uses it here. Compare Acts 1:22 , Acts 10:37 , Acts 13:24 . From heaven , was the same as to say 'from God' (see on "Matthew 3:2 "). And they reasoned with themselves , may mean either among themselves, or in their own minds. Their embarrassment in argument grew out of their practical misconduct, as often happens. John's ministry had made a great impression (compare on Matthew 3:5 ), and the people had very naturally recognized that it was from heaven, that he was a true prophet. This feeling was doubtless deepened by sorrow at his untimely death, so that the multitude would not now tolerate any expression of doubt as to his being a prophet. But the rulers, after their first early interest, (Matthew 3:7 ) had turned away from his ministry, and declined his baptism; (Luke 7:30 ) hence their present embarrassment. Why did ye not then believe him? John constantly testified that the Messianic reign was near at hand, and distinctly intimated to messengers from the rulers that the Messiah would very soon appear, (John 1:19 , John 1:26 f.) and again in the presence of a Jew that Jesus was the Messiah. (John 3:25-30 ) Long before, at Jerusalem, our Lord had recalled this embassy to John, and the testimony borne to himself. (John 5:32-36 ) In the region of the baptizing this testimony was well remembered. (John 10:40-42 ) So then to reject him, when by his actions and by popular acclaim declared to be the Messiah, was refusing to believe John; they saw this plainly, and knew that it would be said. (Matthew 21:32 .) We fear the people, or multitude . Luke adds, 'All the people will stone us.' For all hold John as a prophet . So also Mark and Luke. Herod had long feared to put John to death for the same reason. (Matthew 14:5 ) In Galilee Jesus took for granted, and strongly encouraged, the popular persuasion that John was a prophet. (See on "Matthew 11:7 ".) We cannot tell . We know not, is the literal and exact meaning. So Wyc. and Rheims. It was Tyn. that introduced 'we cannot tell.' And he, or he also , with a certain emphasis on 'he' (see on "Matthew 1:21 ".) Neither tell I you. So also Mark in Rev. Ver., and Luke. Not 'neither do I know,' as they had said; in fact even theirs was not really a failure to know, but to tell. He was released from all obligation to tell them on the ground of courtesy, by their declining to answer, his question. He did not choose to answer, because he did not wish make distinct and public proclamation of his Messiahship till the moment of crisis came; (Matthew 26:63 f.) while they probably wished to entrap him into some avowal for which he could he accused before the Sanhedrin, as in Matthew 22:15 ff. And he did not need to answer, for they knew that John had testified to him as the Messiah, and that he had suffered the people to greet him as the Son of David. The principle involved in his refusal is the same as when he refused a sign from heaven, (Matthew 16:4 ) viz., ( Alex. ) "that no man has a right to demand a superfluity of evidence on any question of belief or duty, and that as the call for such accumulated proof is a virtual rejection of that previously given, it is the law of that divine administration to refuse it even as a favour." (Compare Luke 16:31 )

Our Lord now rebukes the rulers by three parables, the first and second being pointedly applied to them, viz., Matthew 21:28-32 , Matthew 21:38-46 , Matthew 22:1-14 . The first and third are given by Matt. only.

Matthew 21:28-30 . Two sons , literally, children . Perhaps we may suppose them to have been boys, to whom the conduct in the two cases would be especially natural. Son , child , as an expression of affection (See on "Matthew 9:2 "). Go , go along , said with a certain urgency, compare Matthew 4:10 , Matthew 5:24 , Matthew 13:44 , Matthew 18:15 , Matthew 19:21 . In my vineyard , the , not 'my,' according to the best text. The father speaks of it as pertaining to the family, not as distinctively his own. I will not , [1] a rough and curt answer. Repented is the Greek word ( metamelomai ) which expresses regret, and may or may not be followed by change of purpose and conduct; (compare Matthew 27:8 ) quite different from the word ( metanoeo ) used to denote repentance unto life. (See on "Matthew 8:2 ".) It is rendered 'repented himself' in Com. Vet. of Matthew 27:8 , and it is better to give with Rev. Ver. the same rendering here and in Matthew 27:32 . In 1 Corinthians 7:8 , 1 Corinthians 7:10 , the milder English term 'regret' is a sufficient translation. I go, sir, with emphasis on 'I,' as it is expressed in the Greek; a polite and pretentious reply. So the Jewish rulers professed that they served God, while others did not. The same fault had been illustrated that morning by the fig. tree, which made great show of leaves, but had no fruit. Some understand the 'I' as a Hebraistic expression without emphasis, comparing Acts 9:10 Judges 13:11 ; but those cases are unlike this, and even in those the 'I' is really emphatic. A somewhat similar parable is given (Wun.) in the Midrash (Jewish commentary) on Exodus, probably of the eleventh or twelfth century. A king wished to rent out some land; several farmers declined; one undertook it, but did not work the land; the king will be most angry with the last. This may have been an imitation of that given by Jesus.

[1] There is here a famous and quite perplexing question of text criticism, though fortunately it does not materially affect the sense. Westcott Hort follow (as usual) B and certain other documents in transposing the order in which the conversation with the' two sons is held, and then in Matthew 21:21 rending 'the latter'; thus getting the same sense as that of the common text. Lachm. and Treg. follow the "Western" documents in keeping the order of the common text and yet reading 'the latter.' They preferred this as the more difficult reading, readily accounting for the other two as alterations from it; but the difficulty here amounts almost to impossibility, for Jerome's supposition that the Jews purposely said 'the latter' through perverseness is excessively far-fetched. Those who prefer the "Textus Receptus" at all hazards, or who merely count authorities instead of grouping them, decide at ones for the common reading. W. H., on the other hand, declare B, the lost uncial represented by 13, 69, 124, and 346, with three cursives, the Memph., Jerusalem Syr., Arm., and some codices of the Æth., and some rather late Fathers, to be "far the higher authority," which is surely far too strong a statement. It is not easy to say whether the common reading or that of B will best account for the others. Perhaps the most satisfactory conjecture would be that in some early copy of the "Western" type 'the latter' or 'the last' was substituted by a copyist's mistake, and propagated; and that then a corrector of the "Alexandrian" type (some such corrections we have already found in B) removed the difficulty by transposing the order of the two conversations, a transposition further recommended to him by the fact that it puts first the son who represents the rulers as opposed to publican and harlots, and (upon the interpretation of Origen and other Fathers) the Jews as opposed to Gentiles, which might seem the more natural order, and would correspond to the order of allusion in Matthew 21:32 . This theory is certainly not more finespun than that of W. H. in the opposite direction. So far as it goes it will tend to support the common text.

Matthew 21:31 f. The application is not (as Origen and other Fathers explain) to Jews in contrast to Gentiles, as in the next parable, but expressly (Matthew 21:31 ) to the Jewish rulers and outwardly correct persons, in contrast to some who had been grossly wicked. Compare Luke's remark (Luke 7:29 f.) on an earlier occasion. Here for the first time our Lord makes an open, personal application of a parable to the Jewish authorities. So also in Matthew 21:43 ff. The time has come for speaking out unreservedly to them, and also to the people concerning them, as he will do later in the day. (ch. 23.) The publicans were very unpopular, and often very wicked. (See on "Matthew 5:46 ".) To these he adds the class everywhere most despised, and too often regarded as beyond the reach of religious influence. The "woman which was a sinner" of Luke 7:37 probably belonged to this class. Bruce : "Publicans and harlots! why, the phrase was proverbial to denote all that was vile, loathsome, and alien to the feelings of the pure, the respectable, and the patriotic. The analogous phrase in Corea, another Judea in exclusiveness, is 'pigstickers and harlots.' To tell the proud, self-satisfied zealots for righteousness that the moral scum of society was nearer the kingdom of God than they, was to offer them a mortal and unpardonable insult." Verily I say unto you , solemnly calling attention, See on "Matthew 5:18 ". Into the kingdom of God , the Messianic kingdom, See on "Matthew 8:2 " and See on "Matthew 11:12 ". Go before You (as in Matthew 21:9 ), or more probably 'lead you on' (as in Matthew 2:9 Mark 10:32 , and so in Matthew 26:32 , Matthew 28:7 ). You not only do not lead them forward, as you ought to do, but will not even follow their lead. In the way of righteousness , and not in any way of sin a man of righteous behaviour and righteous teaching. Compare 2 Peter 2:21 Proverbs 8:20 , Proverbs 12:28 ; Tobit 1:3 . You cannot excuse your failure to believe him by impugning his character or his instructions. John showed no lack of righteousness even as to the externals which the Pharisees so valued, for he practiced fasting, (Matthew 9:14 , Matthew 11:18 ) and made formal prayers. (Luke 11:1 ) Olsh. and Bruce seem to go too far in making this last the sole thought. And ye believed him not, compare on Matthew 3:7 . They knew Jesus would charge this upon them. (Matthew 21:25 .) When ye had seen it , or saw, saw that some of the vilest were believing John and entering the kingdom. Repented not , etc. Better, as in Rev. Ver., Did not even [1] repent yourselves afterward, that ye might believe him. This does not mean that they did not repent of their sins in general ( metanoeo ), but that they did not even after seeing the effect produced in others, repent ( metamelomai ) of their previous refusal to believe John and enter the kingdom. The terms 'repent yourselves' and 'afterward' are in the application borrowed from the parable.

[1] Not even, oude , rather than ou , 'not' (com. text), is read by B, several cursives, the Latin and Syriac versions, Memph., Æth., and some Fathers. D and two copies of the Old Latin put it 'repented afterward because you did not believe, 'which shows early confusion as to the text. 'Not even' would be readily changed to 'not,' by copyists who did not see the force of the argument, and is no doubt the correct reading.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 21:24-26 . A question answered by a question. (1) It is sometimes proper to silence captious inquiry by asking questions in return. (Compare Matthew 12:27 , Matthew 22:41 , Matthew 22:46 ) (2) We are frequently involved in logical and in practical difficulties by our previous wrong-doing; compare Pilate. (3) One has no right to decide questions of truth and duty by considerations of safety and popularity. (4) Yet public opinion is often wiser than eminent rulers. (compare John 7:48 f.)

Matthew 21:25 ."From heaven or from men." (1) No religious teaching is authoritative unless it comes from God. (2) No religious ceremony is obligatory unless it is commanded by God. (3) All teachings from God should be believed, and all ceremonies appointed by him should be practised.

Matthew 21:27 ."We know not." (1) Men often shrink from knowing, because of a lurking fear that the knowledge might not please them. (2) Men often pretend they do not know, because it would be embarrassing to tell what they do know. (3) Men might often gain, by acting up to what they know, some blessed increase of knowledge.

Matthew 21:30 ."I go, sir." (1) It is right to profess, if we also practice. (2) It is wrong in professing to assume superiority to others; compare Peter. (Matthew 26:33 ) (3) It is abominable to profess, and that loudly, when one does not practice; compare the fig tree. (Matthew 21:19 ) (4) It is wise not to bring the profession down to the practice, but to bring the practice up to the profession.

Matthew 21:31 f. The decent and the vile. (1) The vile who believe God's message and turn from their sin are accepted; the Prodigal Son, Zaccheus, and the penitent robber. (2) The decent who refuse, to believe God, are thereby guilty of great and ruinous sin; Eve, Caiaphas, Gallio. (3) The saved who were once vile should stir penitent shame and awaken new hope in the decent who have been unbelieving. "Moral" persons ought to set an example to the vicious of joyfully accepting God's mercy; but, alas! they are often self-righteous, and will not even follow an example. Chrys.: "It is an evil thing not at the first to choose the good, but it is worse not to even change afterwards, Let no man then of them that live in vice despair; let no man who lives in virtue slumber. Let neither this last be confident, for often the harlot will pass him by; nor let the other despair, for it is possible for him to pass by even the first."

Verses 33-46

Matthew 21:33-46 . Parable Of The Wicked Husbandmen

Found also in Mark 12:1-12 Luke 20:9 to Luke 19:33 f. Hear another parable . Jesus addresses the Jewish rulers. (Matthew 21:23 ) Many of the people also were listening. (Luke 20:9 ) He had not called Luke 20:28-30 a parable, but all perceived that it was such. As to the term, and the general principles upon which our Lord's parabolic discourses must be interpreted, see on "Matthew 13:3 ". In explaining certain points of the story itself, we may sometimes for convenience anticipate the application. The imagery here recalls Psalms 80:8-16 , and especially Isaiah 5:1-7 . Bruce: "Our parable is but an old theme worked up with new variations. Every one who heard it knew what the vineyard with its hedge, winepress, and tower signified, and who the vine-dressers were, and who the servants sent for the fruits. These phrases belonged to the established religious dialect of Israel." A certain householder , see on "Matthew 10:25 ". A tower , in which guards stay to protect the vineyard against robbery. Pulpit interpretation should beware of separately "spiritualizing" the hedge, winepress, tower, etc. Origen here especially cautions against "torturing the parable," and then does it. These details simply show that the owner made all necessary arrangements, so that the vineyard ought to have yielded a good return. (compare Isaiah 5:4 ) Let it out to husbandmen , the general term 'agriculturists,' here applied to one particular department of agriculture. Went into a far country , literally (in our colloquial) moved away . Luke adds, 'for a long time.' The time; season of the fruits (as in Matthew 21:41 ), not 'time,' see on "Matthew 11:21 ". His servants, 'bond-servants' (Rev. Ver. margin ), doulos see on "Matthew 8:6 "; here they act as the master's agents. Mark and Luke mention only a single servant each time, but Mark adds 'and many others.' To receive the fruits of it , or, his fruits . The Greek may mean either; the connection favours the latter, and so Mark and Luke. The rent was sometimes paid in money (Edersheim), but in this case in a certain portion of the crop, (see Mark 12:2 ) which the agents might then sell to the tenants or any one else, or might carry away with them. This is largely practised at the present day in India and in Italy, and to a considerable extent in this country.

Matthew 21:35 . And beat one , more exactly, scourged , literally, ' flayed .' Goebel : "For the bodily ill-treatment of the prophets, the example of Jeremiah may be compared (Jeremiah 20:1-18 ; Jeremiah 37:15 ; Jeremiah 38:6 ), and of Micah; (1 Kings 22:24 ) for the killing, the murder of the prophets in the time of Elijah, (1 Kings 18:4 , 1 Kings 19:10 ) and of Urijah by Jehoiakim; (Jeremiah 26:20 ff.) and for the stoning, the example of Zechariah. (2 Chronicles 24:12 f.) The killing of the prophets collectively is mentioned in Old Testament, (Jeremiah 2:30 Nehemiah 9:26 ) and referred to by Jesus in Matthew 23:31 , Matthew 23:35 , Matthew 23:37 Luke 13:34 ; also in Acts 7:52 Hebrews 11:36 ." And stoned another may well follow 'killed,' since it denotes a very wrathful and cruel way of killing. Stoning did not necessarily kill, (Acts 14:19 ) but was apt to do so.(Acts 7:59 ) However it is not necessary to find regular progression in a series of terms in a style so familiar as that of the Gospels.

Matthew 21:36 f. Renewed and more urgent calls. Goebel urges that the word translated more ( pleionas ) here means more excellent (as in Hebrews 11:4 ), of higher dignity; but that use is quite rare, and does not seem to be here called for. His son . Mark and Luke add 'beloved.' They will reverence my son . Luke prefixes 'it may be.' This indicates a hope that was doomed to disappointment. Such a detail could be applied to God only by anthropomorphism, as when it is said that God repented. And we may add that although God's Son was slain, his mission did ultimately bring fruits from "other husbandmen."

Matthew 21:38 . Let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance . This was something not likely to occur in such a case, but entirely possible, and that is enough for an illustration; the conduct to be illustrated was itself extraordinary. The owner in the story had been long absent, and seems to have had no other son; he might not return for years, might die in a distant land, and leave the vineyard permanently in their possession.

The property of a continuous absentee is often very freely handled by the occupiers. The story shows serious defects in local government and outbreaks of popular violence, such as we know to have been not uncommon in Palestine at that period. Alexander : "It is incongruous to press the correspondence of the sign and the thing signified, although this proposition bears an evident analogy to the ambitious and absurd attempt of the Jewish rulers in the time of Christ to oust him from his heritage and make their own provisional authority perpetual. In every effort to continue the Mosaic institutions beyond the time prescribed for their duration, the Jews have been guilty of the usurpation here projected by the husbandmen."

Matthew 21:39 . And cast him out of the vineyard . Alexander : "The act of casting out denotes the whole rejection of our Lord, but perhaps with an allusion to the literal fact of his suffering without the holy city, (Hebrews 13:11-13 ) which must not however be regarded as the whole sense."For six months past Jesus has been telling the disciples that the rulers at Jerusalem would kill him, (Matthew 16:21 , Matthew 17:23 , Matthew 20:18 ) and now to the rulers themselves he intimates the same through a "parabolic veil" so transparent that they do not fail to see. (Matthew 21:45 f.) Doubtless some of those who heard these sayings were reminded of them a few weeks later by Peter's words on the Day of Pentecost, and all the more were pricked in their heart. (Acts 2:23 , Acts 2:37 , Acts 3:14 )

Matthew 21:41 . He will miserably destroy those wicked men . The Rev. Version preserves the verbal assonance of the Greek; but the Greek describes them as wicked evil they are and evil shall be their fate. Instead of drawing out this reply from the rulers, so as to condemn them out of their own mouth (compare Nathan and David), our Lord in Mark and Luke makes the statement himself. We may perhaps suppose (Mald.) that he repeated their statement, so solemnly and pointedly as already to indicate that it meant them; thus leading them to say "be it not so." (Luke 20:16 , Rev, Ver., margin.) At any rate there is no substantial difference (compare on Matthew 3:17 ). Goebe : "On one side the rhetorical question (in Mark and Luke) is still an appeal to the assent of the hearers to the statement introduced by the question; and on the other, the acceptance of the answer of the Sanhedrists by the Lord (in Matthew)is equivalent in substance to a statement of his own of the same purport." In destroying the husbandmen, the owner acts as also a sovereign. (compare Matthew 22:7 )

Matthew 21:42 . Our Lord now pointedly and severely applies his illustration to the Jewish rulers, whom he has been addressing ever since Matthew 21:23 , and to the nation in general. (Matthew 21:42-44 .) The nation of Israel, after being established by special divine act in the land of promise, and provided with everything necessary for righteous living, failed to render to God the fruits of righteousness, when called on by providential dealings and by inspired messages; they have insulted and sometimes killed his messengers the prophets, and are now on the point of slaying his Son (compare Acts 7:52 ) Yet this will not end the matter. The rejected one is God's chief corner-stone for the temple of human salvation.

Did ye never read in the Scriptures? as in Matthew 12:3 , Matthew 19:4 , Matthew 21:16 . Mark's phrase (Mark 12:10 , Rev. Ver.) makes still more pointed the rebuke of their ignorance, 'Have ye not read even this Scripture'? The term 'Scriptures' or 'Scripture' (Matthew 22:29 , Matthew 26:54 , Matthew 26:56 , and throughout the New Testament) had a technical sense among the Jews of our Lord's time, (just as among us), denoting a certain well-known group of sacred books. We learn from Josephus and the Talmud, from Melito and Origen (see works on The Canon), that this group comprised exactly our Old Testament, neither more nor less, and was recognized as definite and fixed. The Talmud states, it is true, that in what must have been the latter part of our first century, some Rabbis questioned, on internal grounds, whether Ecclesiastes was sacred, and some others as to Solomon's Song; but the final decision supported those books, and there is no hint of any question as to the other books so that the exception proves the rule. When therefore Jesus and the apostles spoke of 'the Scriptures' or 'Scripture' as sacred and authoritative, they knew that their hearers would understand them to mean that well-known group of books; and they have thus stamped their seal upon the entire Old Testament

Our Lord's quotation is from Psalms 118:22 f., just preceding the words borrowed in the hosannas of the multitude during the triumphal entry (see on "Matthew 21:9 "). The quotation follows the Hebrew and the Sept. without any noticeable difference. Mark has the same. The second couplet, 'This was from the Lord,' etc., is omitted by Luke, and also by Peter, who quotes the passage both in addressing the Sanhedrin, (Acts 4:11 ) and in his first Epistle. (1 Peter 2:7 ) Compare in general Isaiah 28:16 . The stone which the builders rejected . A few miles northwest of Jerusalem, on the Roman road to Gibeon, may now be seen in an old quarry a stone set on end, say 8 x 3 x 2 feet. As observed from the road it is a good stone, but on riding around you find a great flaw that destroys its value. This stone was quarried and offered, but when lifted up for inspection was rejected by the builders, and there it stands. Imagine such a rejected stone to become the chief corner stone in some grand building. The tradition sometimes repeated that such a thing actually occurred in building the temple, doubtless grew out of this passage and is worthless. The corner stones of ancient buildings were often of enormous size, and therefore very costly, 'precious.' (1 Peter 2:6 ) Thus even now at the southeast corner of what was the temple area is seen above ground a stone nearly 24 x 5 x 3 feet, and at the southwest corner one about 32 x 3 x 2 feet (compare on Matthew 24:1 ). The same is become , or simply became . [1] The head of the corner does not show clearly whether it stands as the foundation, or as the topmost stone, or elsewhere. It seems to be called 'head' simply from its prominence and importance. This was [2] from the Lord, is the literal translation. Tyndale's paraphrase, ' This is the Lord's doing ,' is very pleasing. In the Psalm, the date of which is uncertain, but probably after the captivity, Israel seems to be the stone, conquered, carried away, and flung aside as of no use, but divinely destined to a future of importance and grandeur. But there is atypical relation between the history of Israel and the Messiah (see on "Matthew 2:15 "), and our Lord shows us in this passage a prophecy at the same time of himself.

[1] It is very doubtful whether the aorist passive of this verb is anywhere perceptibly different in force from the aorist middle. 'The stone' in Greek is an accusative, by an unusual, but not unnatural nor wholly unexampled form of attraction.

[2] 'This' and 'marvellous' are feminine in the Greek, and might grammatically refer to kephale , 'head' (Origen, Meyer); but Matt. only follows the Sept., and the feminine seems there a mere literal rendering of the Hebrew, which having no neuter, uses the feminine for general ideas, so that 'this' means this thing or this occurrence, as it would naturally be taken in English. There are other examples in Sept., as Psalms 26:4 , Psalms 102:9 , Psalms 119:36 Judges 15:7 . So our passage is understood by Buttm., Jelf, most commentators; Win. and Alex. hesitate.

Matthew 21:43 . This is given by Matt. only, being of special moment to his Jewish readers. The kingdom of God , the Messianic reign (see on "Matthew 8:2 "), with its privileges and benefits. Shall be taken away from you . This was fulfilled partly in the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish State, and partly in the fact that most Jews through their unbelief failed of the Messianic salvation. And given to a nation shows distinctly that it was to be taken away not merely from the Jewish rulers, whom our Lord has been principally addressing, but from the Jewish people in general though, as we learn otherwise, with many individual exceptions, and with a prospect in the far future, (Romans 11:0 ) which our Lord does not here indicate. This other nation will be the spiritual Israel, called by Peter "a holy nation." (1 Peter 2:9 ) Compare Acts 13:46 , Acts 18:5 . Bringing forth the fruits thereof , (compare Matthew 3:8 , Matthew 7:16 ff.) living as is required of Messiah's subjects. The image changes from that of paying the owner's share of the fruits, to the more familiar one of producing the fruits. Or perhaps it is meant that the husbandmen were not only unwilling to pay the owner's share, but had failed to make the vineyard duly productive.

Matthew 21:44 is here of doubtful genuineness, [1] as it is wanting in some documents, and might easily have been brought in from Luke 20:18 , where there is no variation at all, while, on the other hand, we can see no reason for its omission here if originally present. It is at any rate a real saying of our Lord on this occasion, as we know from Luke. The passage evidently refers to Isaiah 8:14 f., which is borrowed in 1 Peter 2:8 , along with the quotation from Psalms 118:0 , which has here just preceded. Broken , Rev. Ver., broken to pieces , the Greek being stronger than the mere 'broken.' Will grind him to powder . So Tyndale, Gen., and K. James. This would strike any one at first sight as being what the image calls for. But the Greek word nowhere has that meaning. By etymology and general use, it signifies to 'winnow,' to separate the chaff from the wheat; and derivatively to 'scatter,' like chaff or dust. Memph. and Peshitta both here render 'scatter.' There is doubtless an allusion to Daniel 2:35 , "Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them" (Rev. Ver.), in reference to which passage a little later (Daniel 2:44 ) the Sept. (Theodotion) uses the Greek word here employed by Matt. and Luke. The idea then is not simply that of crushing, but of scattering into nothingness. What then is the thought of our passage? He who in unbelief finds this stone an obstacle, smites against it and falls (compare on Matthew 11:6 , Matthew 5:29 ), will not only be bruised by the fall, but broken to pieces. (Isaiah 8:14 , 1 Peter 2:8 .) If he stumbles over Jesus as unfit to be a Saviour, all his religious hopes will be utterly destroyed. In the second clause the image is somewhat changed. The stone is here conceived not as the foundation stone, but as placed higher up in the corner, perhaps at the top, and some one tries to pull it down from its place; but it falls upon him, and scatters him like a puff of dust. Jesus came to be the Messiah; the Jews reject him, and thereby utterly lose the Messianic felicity. He is notwithstanding placed by God as the corner stone of salvation; the Jews try to pull him down, to defeat the divine plan by putting him to death, but in falling he will scatter like chaff their schemes and themselves. They will have not only the loss which comes from stumbling at him, but the terrible destruction which comes from pulling him down on their heads; while he, divinely replaced, will forever remain the corner-stone of human salvation.

[1] Wanting in D, 33, several copies of the old Latin, and passed without mention in Origen's copious 'commentary on this passage. Eusebius and Irenaeus copy v. 33-43, and would hardly have failed to add so striking a concluding sentence. Yet as the authorities for omission are few, and represent mainly the, "Western", group, which has so much arbitrary alteration of the text, the question must be left doubtful. The sentence is only bracketed In Lachm., Treg. (margin), and Westcott Hort, and see margin of Rev. Ver.

Matthew 21:45 f. he chief priests and Pharisees , correspond to the chief priests and the elders of Matthew 21:23 . The chief priests, certainly at this period, were for the most part Sadducees, compare on Matthew 26:57 , Matthew 27:62 . As to the Pharisees, see on "Matthew 3:7 ". Had heard his parables , this and that of Matthew 21:28 ff., and perhaps others not recorded. Mark and Luke, having only given this one, say 'parable.' That he spake of them , not of them as distinguished from the people at large, but especially of them as being the leaders. (Compare on Matthew 21:43 .) When they sought . This would cover not merely actual efforts, but plans and wishes. The Sanhedrin had some weeks before formed the purpose to kill Jesus. (John 11:47-53 ) They feared the multitudes , just as with reference to John the Baptist. (Matthew 21:26 , Matthew 14:5 ) Took him for a prophet , the expression being, in the correct text, a little different from that of Matthew 21:26 .

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 21:37 . Reverencing the Son of God. (1) He deserves to be reverenced by all mankind. (2) He came to men, and his own chosen people (John 1:11 ) rejected and killed him,

Matthew 21:39 . (3) He is now rejected and dishonoured by many who ought most to admire and revere him. (4) He is crucified afresh (Hebrews 6:6 ) by some who have professed to show him reverence. (5) Yet, though rejected and slain, he is risen and ascended and reigning, and multitudes do reverence and serve him. (6) In the great day every tongue will confess that he is Lord. (Philippians 2:9-11 )

Matthew 21:41 . Henry: "Many can easily prognosticate the dismal consequences of other people's sins, that see not what will be the end of their own."

Matthew 21:42 ."Did ye never read in the Scriptures'?" (1) If we had read the Scriptures aright, they would solve for us many a now perplexing question of truth and duty. (2) If we had read the Scriptures aright, we should clearly perceive that they condemn us. (3) If we had read the Scriptures aright, we should see in them Jesus Christ the corner-stone of human salvation.

Matthew 21:43 . Origen: "The kingdom of God is not given to any one that is reigned over by sin."

Matthew 21:44 . Use and misuse of the corner-stone. (1) God gave his Son to be the corner-stone of salvation to all who will accept him. (Isaiah 28:16 , 1 Peter 2:6 Ephesians 2:20 ) (2) Many stumble against that stone instead of building upon it, (Isaiah 8:14 Romans 9:31 , 1 Peter 2:8 ) and are broken to pieces by the fall. (a) Some believe nothing in the Bible. (b) Others do not believe that Christ is the foundation of salvation by his atonement. (c) Others think the vicious may build on Christ, but they can build on themselves. (3) On many that stone will fall and utterly destroy them. (a) He will destroy by his providence their plans of opposition to his kingdom. (b) He will destroy themselves to all eternity. (Matthew 25:46 Hebrews 6:2 , 2 Thessalonians 1:9 ) Calvin: "This teaching partly instructs us that with tender and flexible heart we may gently yield ourselves to be ruled over by Christ; partly also confirms us against the contumacy and furious assaults of the ungodly, for whom at last a fearful end is waiting."

Matthew 21:45 . Henry: "A guilty conscience needs no accuser, and sometimes will save a minister the labour of saying 'Thou art the man.' When those who hear the reproofs of the word perceive that it speaks of them, if it do not do them good it will certainly do them hurt."

Matthew 21:45 f. Calvin: "The Evangelists show us how little Christ accomplished, in order that we may not wonder if to-day the gospel does not constrain all to obey God."

Bibliographical Information
Broadus, John. "Commentary on Matthew 21". "Broadus' Commentary on Matthew". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jbm/matthew-21.html. 1886.
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