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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Matthew 12

Verse 1

Time [καιρω] . Rev., season. The word implies a particular time; as related to some event, a convenient, appropriate time; absolutely, a particular point of time, or a particular season, like spring or winter.

Corn [σποριμων] . From speirw, to sow. Properly, as Rev., corn - fields.

Verse 2

What is not lawful. "On any ordinary day this would have been lawful; but on the Sabbath it involved, according to the Rabbinic statutes, at least two sins, viz., plucking the ears, which was reaping, and rubbing them in their hands (Luke 6:1), which was sifting, grinding, or fanning. The Talmud says : 'In case a woman rolls wheat to remove the husks, it is considered as sifting; if she rubs the heads of wheat, it is regarded as threshing; if she cleans off the side - adherencies, it is sifting out fruit; if she bruises the ears, it is grinding; if she throws them up in her hand, it is winnowing'" (Edersheim, " Life and Times of Jesus ").

Verse 6

One greater [μειζων] . The correct reading makes the adjective neuter, so that the right rendering is something greater (Rev., in margin). The reference is, of course, to Christ himself (compare vv. 41, 42, where the neuter pleion, more (so Rev., in margin), is used in the same way). Compare, also, John 2:19, where Christ speaks of his own body as a temple. The indefiniteness of the neuter gives a more solemn and impressive sense.

Verse 10

Is it lawful ? [ει εξεστιν] . The eij can hardly be rendered into English. It gives an indeterminate, hesitating character to the question : I would like to know if, etc.

Verse 13

Stretch forth thy hand. The arm was not withered.

Verse 20

Flax. The Hebrew is, literally, a dimly burning wick he shall not quench (Isaiah 42:3). The quotation stops at the end of the third verse in the prophecy; but the succeeding verse is beautifully suggestive as describing the Servant of Jehovah by the same figures in which he pictures his suffering ones - a wick and a reed. "He shall not burn dimly, neither shall his spirit be crushed." He himself, partaking of the nature of our frail humanity, is both a lamp and a reed, humble, but not to be broken, and the "light of the world." Compare the beautiful passage in Dante, where Cato directs Virgil to wash away the stains of the nether world from Dante's face, and to prepare him for the ascent of the purgatorial mount by girding him with a rush, the emblem of humility :

"Go, then, and see thou gird this one about With a smooth rush, and that thou wash his face, So that thou cleanse away all stain therefrom. For 'twere not fitting that the eye o'ercast By any mist should go before the first Angel, who is of those of Paradise. This little island, round about its base, Below there, yonder, where the billow beats it, Doth rushes bear upon its washy ooze. No other plant that putteth forth the leaf, Or that doth indurate, can there have life, Because it yieldeth not unto the shocks. There he begirt me as the other pleased; O marvellous! for even as he culled The humble plant, such it sprang up again Suddenly there where he uprooted it."

Purg., 1, 94 - 105, 133 - 137.

Verse 26

He is divided [εμερισθη] . Lit., "he was divided." If he is casting himself out, there must have been a previous division.

Verse 28

Is come unto you [εφθασεν εφ υμας] . The verb is used in the simple sense to arrive at (2 Corinthians 10:14; Philippians 3:16), and sometimes to anticipate (1 Thessalonians 4:15). Here with a suggestion of the latter sense, which is also conveyed by the Rev., "come upon." It has come upon you before you expected it.

Verse 29

Of a strong man [του ισχυρου] . Rev. rightly gives the force of the article, the strong man. Christ is not citing a general illustration, but is pointing to a specific enemy - Satan. How can I despoil Satan without first having conquered him?

Goods [σκευη] . The word originally means a vessel, and so mostly in the New Testament. See Mark 11:16; John 19:29. But also the entire equipment of a house, collectively : chattels, house - gear. Compare Luke 17:31; Acts 27:17, of the gear or tackling of the ship. Rev., lowered the gear.

Verse 32

The Holy Spirit [του πνευματος του αγιου] . The Spirit - the holy. These words define more clearly the blasphemy against the Spirit, ver. 31.

Verse 35

Bringeth forth [εκβαλλει] . But the translation is feeble. The word means to throw or fling out. The good or evil things come forth out of the treasure of the heart (34). "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." The issues of the heart are thrown out, as if under pressure of the abundance within.

Verse 36

Idle [αργον] . A good rendering. The word is compounded of aj, not, and ergon, work. An idle word is a non - working word; and inoperative word. It has no legitimate work, no office, no business, but is morally useless and unprofitable.

Verse 39

Adulterous [μοιχαλις] . A very strong and graphic expression, founded upon the familiary Hebrew representation of the relation of God 's people to him under the figure of marriage. See Psalms 73:27; Isaiah 57:3 sqq.; Isaiah 61:5; Ezekiel 23:27. Hence idolatry and intercourse with Gentiles were described as adultery; and so here, of moral unfaithfulness to God. Compare James 4:4; Revelation 2:20 sqq. Thus Dante :

"Where Michael wrought Vengeance upon the proud adultery." Inf., 7, 12.

Verse 40

The whale [του κητους] . A general term for a sea - monster.

Verse 41

Shall rise up [αναστησονται] . Rev., stand up. Come forward as witnessed. Compare Job 16:9, Sept.; Mark 14:57. There is no reference to rising from the dead. Similarly shall rise up, ver. 42. Compare Matthew 11:11; Matthew 24:11.

A greater [πλειον] . Lit., something more. See on ver. 6.

Verse 49

Disciples [μαθητας] . Not the apostles only, but all who followed him in the character of learners. The Anglo - Saxon renders learning knights.

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 12". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/matthew-12.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.