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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 19

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

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Verses 1-12

Mat 19:1-12

Part Third.
Ministry of Jesus in Perea and Judea

Matthew 19:1 to Matthew 28:20

Section I.
Conversations in Perea, Matthew 19:1 to Matthew 20:16

J.W. McGarvey

Conversation about Divorce, Matthew 19:1-12.
(
Mark 10:1-12)

1. departed from Galilee.—This is the final departure of Jesus from Galilee. He returned thither no more until after his resurrection from the dead, when he suddenly appeared to his disciples there on two occasions. (See Matthew 28:16-17; John 21:1.) He had made one visit to Jerusalem during his ministry in Galilee, which is not recorded by Matthew, nor by Mark, or Luke. (See John 5:1.) He had labored in Galilee about twenty-two months.

coasts of Judea beyond Jordan.—The Jewish territory beyond the Jordan was called Perea, from ἥ περαια, the region beyond. It is here called the coasts (ὁρια, borders) of Judea because, though not strictly a part of Judea, it belonged to it somewhat as the Territories of the United States belong to the States.

2. he healed them there.—The healing continues, but in the remainder of the narrative Matthew speaks of it in more general terms, and devotes less space than formerly to describing individual cases.

3. The Pharisees.... tempting him.—Testing him as to his fealty to the law of Moses and as to his own consistency. They thought that they could compel him to contradict either his own former teaching on the subject of divorce (5:32), or the law of Moses; hence their question, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?" By every cause they meant every cause which was satisfactory to the husband.

4-6. he answered.—The argument contained in his answer presents the following premises and conclusions: First, in the beginning God made a male and a female, and said, "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife." (Matthew 19:4-5. Comp. Genesis 2:24.) Now the relation to father and mother can be dissolved only by death, yet the marriage relation is more intimate than that, and its obligations are more binding. Second, in the same sentence (Genesis 2:24) God said, "They two shall be one flesh." If they are one flesh the relation can be dissolved only by death, which dissolves the body itself. Third, from these premises the conclusion follows (Matthew 19:6) that what God has thus joined together man shall not put asunder. Of course, God who joined them together may put them asunder by prescribing the conditions of lawful divorce, but man has nothing to do in the case except to obey God’s law. Any act of divorce, therefore, or any legislation by State or Church on the subject, inconsistent with the divine law, is open rebellion against the authority of Christ.

7. Why did Moses then.—On hearing his answer the Pharisees thought they had gained the advantage which they were seeking, and they demand of him, with an air of triumph, why did Moses command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away.

8. Moses... suffered you.—Jesus states more accurately their citation of Moses. He did not "command to give a writing of divorcement and put her away," he only "suffered" them to do so, and he suffered it on account of the hardness of their hearts, though it had not been so from the beginning. Previous to the law of Moses God had not permitted divorce, but when the law was given, such was the prevalent hardness of heart in relation to women and marriage, that a positive prohibition of divorce would have led to promiscuous intercourse, or to secret assassination of wives who were displeasing to their husbands (see on 10 below); and as there was no immutable principle of the divine government involved in tolerating divorce for a time, the privilege was granted as a choice between evils. It was a concession to the hardness of men’s hearts, but it was part of a system of adaptations by which at last this hardness would be more effectually overcome. When the gospel was introduced God’s chosen time had arrived for bringing this concession to an end, and since then it has been the most daring interference with the divine prerogative, for men to venture on a continuance of the same concession, as though they were possessed of divine authority. (See Olshausen on Matthew 19:9.)

9. I say unto you.—Having answered their objection, he now, by his own authority, reaffirms the law which had existed in the beginning, and which he had already reenacted in his sermon on the mount. (Matthew 5:32.)

her that is put away.—That is, put away for some other cause than fornication. Whether it would be adultery to marry a woman who had been put away, on account of fornication, is neither affirmed nor denied. No doubt such a woman is at liberty to marry again if she can, seeing that the bond which bound her to her husband is broken.

10. His disciples say.—The conclusion of the disciples, that if divorce at will is prohibited, it is not good to marry, proves the wisdom of allowing divorce under the law of Moses; for if these men would so conclude, how much more those Jews who were less disposed to obey God? And if marriage were avoided, licentiousness would necessarily prevail. Even in the Savior’s day, then, the hardness of heart among the Jews was still an obstacle in the way of the original law; but motives to obedience greater than any that had been known under the Jewish law were about to be presented in the completed gospel, and this made it wise to withdraw the temporary concession.

11, 12. he said to them.—The answer of Jesus to the objection of the disciples is confessedly obscure. In searching for its meaning, the first thing to be determined is the reference of the expression, "this saying." It must refer either to the saying of the disciples (Matthew 19:10), "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry; "or to the saying of Jesus in his answer to the Pharisees. It can not refer to the former, because that saying was objectionable, and the saying in question is one that should be received; for Jesus says (Matthew 19:12), "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." It must, then, refer to his own saying in answer to the Pharisees. His entire speech to the Pharisees is a unit, and its point of unity is the remark that the married couple are one flesh. It is this which makes the marital relation more intimate than that of parent and child, and that makes it wrong to put asunder those whom God has thus joined together. (Matthew 19:5-6.) Now Jesus says of this saying, "Not all men receive this saying (οπντες χωρυσι), but they to whom it is given;" that is, they to whom it is given to receive it. This implies that the greater part of men do, and that those who do not are the exceptions. Eunuchs are then introduced as an exceptional class. They cannot receive the saying because a eunuch cannot become "one flesh" with a woman; and, seeing that his marriage would be a nullity, separation after such a marriage would not be the divorce which Jesus forbids, nor would subsequent marriage on the woman’s part be adultery. Jesus admits, then, that, so far as eunuchs are concerned, it is good not to marry, because his doctrine cannot be received or be made practical in their cases; but he insists that all shall receive it and abide by it who can and do enter really into marriage.

some eunuchs.—Of the three classes of eunuchs mentioned in this verse, the first and second—that is, those born so, and those made so by men—are certainly eunuchs in the literal sense of the word. The third class, those who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, are those who, by a life of celibacy undertaken for the sake of better serving the kingdom of heaven, make them eunuchs practically but not really. We think so, because we know of none in the apostolic age who for this purpose made themselves real eunuchs. The "saying" which the other two classes could not receive was equally inapplicable to these, for the marriage of a man who would maintain practical celibacy would be a nullity, and separation from him would not be the divorce prohibited. Paul and Barnabas belonged to this class and there may have been many others of whom we have no account. (See 1 Corinthians 9:5-6; and comp. Matthew 19:7; Matthew 19:25-27.)

Divorce - Matthew 19:1-12

Open It

1. Whose marriage do you most admire? Why?

2. What ingredients make for a happy marriage?

3. What factors tend to undermine a marriage and make a couple more susceptible to divorce?

Explore It

4. Where did Jesus go after telling the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant? (Matthew 19:1)

5. Who accompanied Jesus? (Matthew 19:2)

6. Who approached Jesus with the motive of testing Him? (Matthew 19:3)

7. What trick question did the Pharisees ask Jesus? (Matthew 19:3)

8. How did Jesus respond to the Pharisees’ question? (Matthew 19:4-6)

9. What did Jesus quote? Why? (Matthew 19:4-5)

10. What did Jesus say is God’s ideal for marriage? (Matthew 19:6)

11. What follow-up question did Jesus’ enemies ask? (Matthew 19:7)

12. How did Jesus respond to the second question about divorce? (Matthew 19:8)

13. Jesus allowed for divorce under what condition? (Matthew 19:9)

14. What did the disciples think about Jesus’ view of marriage and divorce? (Matthew 19:10)

15. What did Jesus teach about those who never marry? (Matthew 19:11-12)

Get It

16. What are the most devastating consequences of divorce?

17. Which would be worse: to be unhappily married or never to be married?

18. What is the ideal even in a marriage that was stained by adultery?

19. How does the previous passage (Matthew 18:21-35) have application in this one?

20. What do you think churches can and should do to build stronger marriages and to reduce the divorce rate among their members?

21. In what ways is singleness a great advantage?

22. How would you feel if you never married?

Apply It

23. What habits can you develop, beginning today, that will make you a better marriage partner?

24. How can you communicate to your children the sanctity and sacredness of the marriage relationship?

25. What specific service can you (and will you) render to God in the coming year because of the freedom your singleness permits?

Verses 13-30

Mat 19:13-30

About Little Children, Matthew 19:13-15.
(
Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17)

J.W. McGarvey

13. put his hands on them and pray.—These words express the object for which the children were brought. The prayers of a good man in our behalf have always been regarded as a blessing: no wonder that the mothers of these children desired the prayers of Jesus in behalf of their little ones.

the disciples rebuked them.—Not the children, but those who brought them. (Mark 10:13.) The disciples thought it an unnecessary annoyance to the Master.

14. to come to me.—That is, to come for the purpose declared, "that he might put his hands on them and pray." Those who have imagined that there is an allusion here to infant baptism, or to infant church membership, are indebted for the idea, not to their Bibles, but to their creeds.

of such is the kingdom of heaven.—Not of little children, but of such as little children. Neither the kingdom as it now is, nor the kingdom as it will be, is composed of little children, but in both states of its existence it is composed of persons with characters like theirs. (Comp. Matthew 18:1-6.) As, however, children are here made the models of those in the kingdom, it is quite certain that on account of their freedom from personal transgression they will be admitted unconditionally into the eternal kingdom.

The fortuitous coincidence of these two conversations has been noticed by the commentators generally. The little children, the offspring of happy wedlock, and a source of constant happiness to faithful husbands and wives, were brought into notice at the close of a conversation about divorce and about the supposed inconvenience of an indissoluble marriage bond. The pleasant incident served as a comment on the discussion, and left a better impression in reference to married life.

The Little Children and Jesus - Matthew 19:13-15

Open It

1. What are some ways people abuse positions of authority?

2. Where do we draw the line between being productive and being rushed, or between being dedicated and being driven?

3. What are the most exciting and the most frightening aspects of parenthood?

4. What would you do differently if you could live your childhood over again?

Explore It

5. What people were being brought to Jesus? Why? (Matthew 19:13)

6. Why were children being brought to Jesus? (Matthew 19:13)

7. To whom did some parents bring their children? Why? (Matthew 19:13)

8. How did the disciples react to the fact that children were being brought to Jesus? (Matthew 19:13)

9. On whom did the disciples vent their displeasure? (Matthew 19:13)

10. How did Jesus correct the disciples? (Matthew 19:14)

11. Why did Jesus command the disciples to allow the children to come to Him? (Matthew 19:14)

12. According to Jesus, what kind of people will possess the kingdom of heaven? (Matthew 19:14)

13. What did Jesus do for the little children? (Matthew 19:15)

14. What did Jesus do after He spent time with the children? (Matthew 19:15)

Get It

15. Why do you think the disciples got irritated about the children being brought to Jesus?

16. What are some ways you get so caught up in your schedule or "to do" list that you are insensitive or even rude to the people around you?

17. What is the purpose behind the church practice of "baby dedication"?

18. What are some ways we might hinder children from coming to Christ?

19. What did Jesus mean by saying that "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these"?

20. What are the advantages to trusting in Christ at an early age?

21. How early can a child truly comprehend the gospel?

Apply It

22. What are some specific ways you could bless a child today?

23. How can you become more childlike in your faith over the next month?

Conversation with a Rich Man, Matthew 19:16-22.

(Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23)

16. what good thing.—The man evidently thought that there was some one thing of merit so exalted that by doing it he would secure eternal life.

17. Why dost thou ask.—The words, "Why callest thou me good." were interpolated from Mark 10:18, where see the note on the other words of this verse which are placed in brackets.

keep the commandments.—The reply, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments," was given from the standpoint of the law of Moses, under which the man was living. In the broadest sense of the word commandments, including the statutes concerning sacrifices for sin, this answer covered the entire ground of salvation under the law. From the point of view which obtained after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the answer would have been different, but still, obedience would have been required as a condition. (Comp. Acts 2:37-38; 2 Thessalonians 1:8, et al.)

18, 19. Which?—The man still thought that some one commandment was preeminent, and he was greatly surprised, no doubt, when Jesus repeated the last six in the decalogue, substituting for "Thou shalt not covet," the equivalent, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." We suppose that he named the last six rather than the first four, because the six were then more frequently violated than the four, and obedience to them was on this account a better test of character.

20. The young man saith.—Here it first appears that the questioner was a young man. Farther on he appears also as a rich man. That both of these facts are introduced incidentally shows the want of formality which characterizes Matthew’s descriptions. The young man’s claim that he had kept all these commandments, was doubtless true so far as he knew his own heart and understood the import of the commandments. He thought that there must be something more in order to be certain of eternal life; hence his next question, "What lack I yet?" The bracketed words, "from my youth up," were interpolated from Mark 10:20.

21. If thou wilt be perfect.—That is, perfect in keeping the commandments and in securing eternal life. The commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," does, in some instances, require the selling of one’s possessions and distribution of all to the poor; and a perfect character is one which goes to the utmost limit of every requirement, leaving nothing undone which benevolence can suggest and our ability execute. This benevolent sacrifice would have made the young man perfect in reference to the commandments recited, and obedience to the additional command, "Come and follow me," would have brought him to the complete and final atonement for his sins, rendering him perfect in his preparation for eternal life.

22. he went away sorrowful.—That he went away sorrowful rather than angry, speaks well for the young man. A man of extreme avarice, or of little concern for eternal life, or of little faith in Jesus, would have been offended at the extravagance of the demand. His sorrow shows that he had respect for the authority of Jesus, that he really desired to seek eternal life under his guidance, and that it required a struggle to give up his purpose even for the sake of his great possessions. This is an example not of the worst class of rich men, but of that class whose love of their possessions barely preponderates over their desire to serve God with unswerving devotion.

About the Salvation of Rich Men, Matthew 19:23-26.
(
Mark 10:23-27; Luke 18:24-27)

23. shall hardly enter.—Shall with difficulty (δυσκλως) enter; that is, it will be difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24. It is easier.—Here is indicated the extent of the difficulty declared in the previous verse. It is illustrated by the physical impossibility of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. The conceit, which originated I know not where that "the eye of a needle" here means a low and narrow gate through which the camel could not go except on his knees and after is burden had been removed, is not only without historical foundation, but is inconsistent with the context, which contemplates something impossible with men. (Matthew 19:26.)

25. exceedingly amazed.—The amazement of the disciples must be considered in connection with the incident which gave rise to the astonishing remark. If they had been thinking of rich men who grind the poor and live licentiously, they would not have been surprised. But the case before their minds was that of a rich man who lacked only the one thing of being perfect. It was the statement that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for such a rich man to be saved, that amazed them and suggested the question, "Who then can be saved?"

26. With men... with God.—The remark, "With men this is impossible," refers primarily to the passage of a camel through a needle’s eye; but it hints secondarily at the asserted difficulty of saving a rich man. Likewise, the declaration that "with God all things are possible," looks first to the case of the camel, and secondly to that of the rich man, but has chief reference to the latter. As it is possible for God, though impossible with men, to cause a camel to go through the eye of a needle; so it is possible with God, though a work in itself difficult, to save a rich man. The point of difficulty was seen in the case of the man who had just gone away—his disposition to esteem riches more highly than eternal life. This part of the lesson is more clearly developed in Mark, where see the note on Mark 10:24.

About Sacrifice for Jesus, Matthew 19:27-30
(
Mark 10:28-31; Luke 18:28-30)

27. we have forsaken all.—The refusal of the rich young man to sell all and follow Jesus (Matthew 19:21-22), reminded Peter that a similar demand had been made of him and his companions, and that although they had but little to forsake, they had forsaken all they had. He now wishes to know what shall be their reward for this.

28. in the regeneration.—Regeneration means, either the process of regenerating, or the result attained by that process, according to the context in which it is found. Here it evidently means the former, for it designates a period during which the apostles would sit on thrones. We cannot connect the words "in the regeneration" with the preceding clause, "ye who have followed me," for the obvious reason that Jesus had gone through no regeneration, and they could have followed him through none. The words, "ye who have followed me," simply describe the parties addressed as having done what the rich man refused to do. The period designated by the term regeneration is further limited by the words, "when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory." He sat down on that throne when he ascended up to heaven, and he will still be seated on it in the day of judgment. (Acts 2:33-35; Hebrews 1:13; Matthew 25:31; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.) "The regeneration," then, is cotemporaneous with this period, and therefore it must be that process of regenerating men which commenced on the Pentecost after the ascension, and will continue until the saints are raised with regenerated bodies, and the heaven and earth shall themselves be regenerated as the home of the redeemed.

upon twelve thrones judging.—The statement of Paul that "the saints shall judge the world" (1 Corinthians 6:2), has led many to suppose that the judging here mentioned is to take place at the final judgment. But clearly the judging and the sitting on thrones are declared to be cotemporaneous with the regeneration and with Christ’s sitting on his throne; and therefore they must be regarded as now in progress. If we are correct in this, of which we entertain no doubt, the judging consists in pronouncing decisions on questions of faith and practice in the earthly kingdom, and the twelve are figuratively represented as sitting on thrones, because they are acting as judges. During their personal ministry they judged in person; since then they judge through their writings. True, we have written communications from only a part of them, but judgments pronounced by one of a bench of judges with the known approval of all, are the judgments of the entire bench. The twelve thrones had reference, of course, to the twelve original apostles, and the place of Judas was filled by Matthias. (Acts 1:26.) The apostle to the Gentiles is left out of view.

the twelve tribes.—The apostles have sustained no such relation to the twelve tribes of Israel, literally so called, as the text indicates, nor is there any intimation in the Scriptures that they ever will. Their work is with the true Israel, and not with Israel according to the flesh; consequently, we are to construe the terms metaphorically, the twelve tribes representing the Church of God of which they were a type.

29. shall receive manifold.—Not manifold in the same exact form, but manifold in value as affecting real happiness. This is the reward in time, while in eternity the party shall inherit everlasting life. This last is an inheritance as well as a reward, because it results from having become a child of God. Doubtless Peter felt satisfied when he heard that these honors and blessings were to be his reward.

30. first shall be last.—This proverbial expression, in its present connection, means that many who are first in prospect of everlasting life shall be last, and many who are last in this respect shall be first. For example, the rich young man whose inquiries had given rise to this conversation (Matthew 19:16-20), had been among the first, but now it appeared that he was among the last. Judas, also, who was then among the first, was destined to be last, and Matthias, who was among the last, being then only an obscure disciple (Acts 2:21-23), was to take his place.

The Rich Young Man - Matthew 19:16-30

Open It

1. What would you do (buy, spend, give, save) if you suddenly received a million dollars?

2. Which is more dangerous and why: being very rich or being very poor?

3. What does a individual’s checkbook reveal about him or her?

Explore It

4. What question was asked of Jesus at the beginning of this story? (Matthew 19:16)

5. How did Jesus respond to the man’s question? (Matthew 19:17-19)

6. What astonishing claim did the young man make? (Matthew 19:20)

7. What further assignment did Jesus give the man who came to Him? (Matthew 19:21)

8. How did the man react to Jesus’ demands? (Matthew 19:22)

9. What amazing statement did Jesus make to His disciples about riches and the kingdom of God? (Matthew 19:23-24)

10. How did the disciples respond when they heard how hard it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven? (Matthew 19:25)

11. How did Christ explain His statement about rich people and heaven? (Matthew 19:25)

12. When he applied the truth about riches to the disciples, Peter asked what question? (Matthew 19:27)

13. What insights into the future did Christ give in His promise? (Matthew 19:28)

14. What did Jesus promise the twelve disciples? (Matthew 19:28-29)

15. What further promise did Jesus make to Christians through the ages who make sacrifices for Him? (Matthew 19:29)

16. How are spiritual values different from worldly values? (Matthew 19:30)

Get It

17. Why do many poor people have a great love for God and many rich people have no interest in God?

18. Why do many poor people long to be rich?

19. What would you say to the person who claims, "See, this passage teaches that eternal life is something we receive in exchange for the good things we do"?

20. What point do you think Jesus was making with this rich man?

21. Why can’t moral, decent, good people make it to heaven on their own merit?

22. Why is it that we often do not become more generous as our wealth increases?

23. If we truly believe that God will one day reward his children in heaven, why are we reluctant to make sacrifices for God?

Apply It

24. What sacrifice are you willing to make for Christ this week, in the knowledge that you will be rewarded in heaven?

25. What promise from this passage do you want to claim (or even memorize) today?

26. How can you decrease your spending over the next month in order to increase the amount of money you can give to the work of God?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 19". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/matthew-19.html.
 
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