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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 21

Vincent's Word StudiesVincent's Studies

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Verse 1

Bethphage. House of figs.

Verse 2

A colt with her. The Lord does not separate the colt from its dam.

Verse 3

The Lord [ο κυριος] . From kurov, supreme power, authority. Hence kuriov, one having authority, Lord, owner, ruler. In classical Greek, used of the gods, and in inscriptions applied to different gods, as Hermes, Zeus, etc.; also of the head of the family, who is Lord, [κυριος] of the wife and children (1 Samuel 1:8, Sept.); while to the slaves he is despothv. In the Pauline writings, however, the master of slaves is called both despothv (1 Timothy 6:1, 1 Timothy 6:2; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18), and kuriov (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1).

In the Septuagint it is used by Sarah of her husband (Genesis 18:12; compare 1 Peter 3:6). Joseph is called Lord of the country (Genesis 42:33), and is addressed by his brethren as my Lord (xlii. 10). It is applied to God (Genesis 18:27; Exodus 4:10). In the New Testament it is a name for God (Matthew 1:20, Matthew 1:22, Matthew 1:24; Matthew 2:15; Acts 11:16; Acts 12:11, Acts 12:17; Revelation 1:8). As applied to Christ, it does not express his divine nature and power. These are indicated by some accompanying word or phrase, as my God (John 20:28); of all (Acts 10:36); to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11); of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8); so that, as a title of Christ, Lord is used in the sense of Master or Ruler, or in address, Sir (Matthew 22:43, Matthew 22:45; Luke 2:11; Luke 6:46; John 13:13, John 13:14; 1 Corinthians 8:6). O kuriov, the Lord, is used of Christ by Matthew only once (xxi. 3) until after the resurrection (xxviii. 6). In the other gospels and in the Acts it occurs far oftener. Nevertheless, in the progress of Christian thought in the New Testament, the meaning develops toward a specific designation of the divine Savior, as may be seen in the phrases Jesus Christ our Lord, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Jesus our Lord.

Verse 5

Daughter of Sion. Jerusalem. Compare daughter of Babylon for the city of Babylon (Psalms 137:8; Isaiah 47:1); daughter of Tyre for the city or people of Tyre (Psalms 45:12); daughter of my people (Isaiah 22:4).

Sitting [επιβεβηκως] . Lit., having gone upon, or mounted. Rev., riding.

Foal of an ass [υιον υποζυγιου] . Lit., son of a beast - of - burden. Upozugion, from uJpo, beneath, zugov, a yoke. Wyc., son of a beast - under - yoke. The phrase emphasized the humble state of Jesus. He is mounted, not on a stately charger with embroidered and jewelled housings, nor even on an ass for the saddle, the Eastern ass being often of great beauty and spirit, and in demand for this purpose. He rides on a common beast - of - burden, furnished with the everyday garments of his disciples.

Garments [ιματια] . Outer garments. See on Matthew 5:40.

Verse 7

Set him thereon. But the preferable reading is ejpekaqisen, he took his seat upon.

A very great multitude [ο πλειστος οχλος] . The A. V. is wrong. The reference is not to the size, but to the proportionate part of the multitude which followed him. Hence Rev., correctly, The most part of the multitude.

Their garments [εαυτων] . Lit., "their own garments." The disciples spread their garments on the beasts; the multitude strewed their own garments in the way. Dr. Edward Robinson, cited by Dr. Morison, speaking of the inhabitants of Bethlehem who had participated in the rebellion of 1834, says : "At that time, when some of the inhabitants were already imprisoned, and all were in deep distress, Mr. Farrar, then English consul at Damascus, was on a visit to Jerusalem, and had rode out with Mr. Nicolayson to Solomon 's Pools. On their return, as they rose the ascent to enter Bethlehem, hundreds of people, male and female, met them, imploring the consul to interfere in their behalf, and afford them his protection; and all at once, by a sort of simultaneous movement, they spread their garments in the way before the horses."

The variation of tenses is not preserved in the English versions. Spread their garments, aorist tense, denoting one definite act. Cut down, spread in the way, imperfects, denoting continued action. As Jesus advanced, they kept cutting branches and spreading them, and the multitude kept crying.

Verse 9

Hosanna. O save !

Verse 10

Was moved [εσεισθη] . Moved is hardly strong enough. It is shaken as by an earthquake. Rev., stirred. As Morison happily observes, "a profounder ground - swell of feeling."

Verse 12

The money - changers [κολλυβιστων] . From kollubov, the rate of exchange. These changers sat in the temple, in the court of the Gentiles, to change the foreign coins of pilgrims into the shekel of the sanctuary for payment of the annual tribute. See on Matthew 17:24.

Verse 13

Thieves [ληστων] . Rev., correctly, robbers. See on Matthew 26:55; Luke 10:30.

Verse 16

Say [λεγουσιν] . The Rev. is more graphic, are saying. While the songs and shouts are rising, the priests turn angrily to Christ with the question, "Hearest thou what these are saying?"

Thou has perfected [κατηρτισω] . The same word as at Matthew 4:21, where it is used of adjusting or mending nets. Its secondary meaning is to furnish completely, equip; hence to perfect. Thou has provided the perfection of praise. The quotation from Psalms 8:2, follows the Septuagint, and not the Hebrew, which is, "Thou hast founded strength."

Verse 19

A fig - tree [συκην μιαν] . Lit., one single fig - tree. Rev., in margin.

Presently [παραχρημα] . Presently, in popular speech, has acquired something of a future force. I will do such a thing presently means, I will do it, not immediately, but soon. The rendering here was correct in the older English sense of instantly. So constantly in Shakspeare :

" PROSPERO. Go, bring the rabble,

O'er whom I gave thee pow'r, here, to this place.

ARIEL. Presently?

PROS. Ay, with a twink.

Verse 20

Before you can say 'come, ' and 'go, ' And breathe twice; and cry 'so so; ' Each one tripping on his toe Will be here. "

Tempest, 4 1.

Compare ver. 20. "How did the fig - tree immediately wither away?" Rev.

Verse 29

Repented [μεταμεληθεις] . This is a different word from that in Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; metanoeite, Repent ye. Though it is fairly claimed that the word here implies all that is implied in the other word, the New Testament writers evidently recognize a distinction, since the noun which corresponds to the verb in this passage [μεταμελεια] is not used at all in the New Testament, and the verb itself only five times; and, in every case except the two in this passage (see ver. 32), with a meaning quite foreign to repentance in the ordinary gospel sense. Thus it is used of Judas, when he brought back the thirty pieces (Matthew 27:3); of Paul 's not regretting his letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:8); and of God (Hebrews 7:21). On the other hand, metanoew, repent, used by John and Jesus in their summons to repentance (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17), occurs thirty - four times, and the noun metanoia, repentance (Matthew 3:8, Matthew 3:11), twenty - four times, and in every case with reference to that change of heart and life wrought by the Spirit of God, to which remission of sins and salvation are promised. It is not impossible, therefore, that the word in this passage may have been intended to carry a different shade of meaning, now lost to us. Metamelomai, as its etymology indicates (meta, after, and melw, to be an object of care), implies an after - care, as contrasted with the change of mind denoted by metanoia. Not sorrow for moral obliquity and sin against God, but annoyance at the consequences of an act or course of acts, and chagrin at not having known better. "It may be simply what our fathers were wont to call hadiwist (had - I - wist, or know better, I should have acted otherwise)" (Trench). Metameleia refers chiefly to single acts; metanoia denotes the repentance which affects the whole life. Hence the latter is often found in the imperative : Repent ye (Matthew 3:2; iv.; 17; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19); the former never. Paul 's recognition of the distinction (2 Corinthians 7:10) is noteworthy. "Godly sorrow worketh repentance [μετανοιαν] unto salvation," a salvation or repentance "which bringeth no regret on thinking of it afterwards" [αμεταμελητον] . There is no occasion for one ever to think better of either his repentance or the salvation in which it issued.

Verse 33

Hedged it round about [φραγμον αυτω περιεθηκεν] . Rev., more literally, set a hedge about it; possibly of the thorny wild aloe, common in the East.

Digged a wine - press [ωρυξεν ληνον] . In Isaiah 5:1, Isaiah 5:1, which this parable at once recalls, the Hebrew word rendered by the Septuagint and here digged, is hewed out, i e., from the solid rock. "Above the road on our left are the outlines of a wine - fat, one of the most complete and best preserved in the country. Here is the upper basin where the grapes were trodden and pressed. A narrow channel cut in the rock conveyed the juice into the lower basin, where it was allowed to settle; from there it was drawn off into a third and smaller basin. There is no mistaking the purpose for which those basin were excavated in the solid rock" (Thomson, " Land and Book ").

A tower [πυργον] . For watchmen. Stanley (" Sinai and Palestine ") describes the ruins of vineyards in Judea as enclosures of loose stones, with the square gray tower at the corner of each. Allusions to these watching - places, temporary and permanent, are frequent in Scripture. Thus, "a booth in a vineyard" (Isaiah 1:8). "The earth moveth to and fro like a hammock" (so Cheyne on Isaiah; A. V., cottage; Rev., hut), a vineyard - watchman's deserted hammock tossed to and fro by the storm (Isaiah 24:20). So Job speaks of a booth which the keeper of a vineyard runneth up (xxvii. 18), a hut made of sticks and hung with mats, erected only for the harvest season on the field or vineyard, for the watchman who spreads his rude bed upon its high platform, and mounts guard against the robber and the beast. In Spain, where, especially in the South, the Orient has left its mark, not only upon architecture but also upon agricultural implements and methods, Archbishop Trench says that he has observed similar temporary structures erected for watchmen in the vineyards. The tower alluded to in this passage would seem to have been of a more permanent character (see Stanley above), and some have thought that it was intended not only for watching, but as a storehouse for the wine and a lodging for the workmen.

Let it out [εξεδετο] . "There were three modes of dealing with land. According to one of these, the laborers employed received a certain portion of the fruits, say a third or a fourth of the produce. The other two modes were, either that the tenant paid a money - rent to the proprietor, or else that he agreed to give the owner a definite amount of the produce, whether the harvest had been good or bad. Such leases were given by the year or for life; sometimes the lease was even hereditary, passing from father to son. There can scarcely be a doubt that it is the latter kind of lease which is referred to in the parable : the lessees being bound to give the owner a certain amount of fruits in their season" (Edersheim, "Life and Times of Jesus "). Compare ver. 34, and Mark 12:2," that he might receive of the fruits " [απο των καρπων] .

Verse 37

They will reverence [εντραπησονται] . The verb literally means to turn toward; hence to give heed to, pay respect to.

Verse 41

He will miserably destroy those wicked men [κακους κακως απολεσει αυτους] . There is a play upon the words which the A. V. missed and the Rev. preserves by rendering "miserably destroy those miserable men." So the Rheims version : "The naughty men will he bring to naught." Tynd., "He will evil destroy those evil persons." The order of the Greek words is also striking : Miserable men, miserably he will destroy them.

Which [οιτινες] . The compound Greek pronoun marks the character of the new husbandmen more distinctly than the simple which; husbandmen of such a character that, or belonging to that class of honest men who will give him his due.

Verse 44

Shall be broken [συνθλασθησεται] . The verb is stronger : broken to pieces; so Rev.

Grind him to powder [λικμησει αυτον] . But the A. V. misses the picture in the word, which is that of the winnowing - fan that separates the grain from the chaff. Literally it is, will winnow him. Rev., scatter him as dust.

Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 21". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/matthew-21.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.
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