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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Matthew 19

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 19

Matthew 19:3. οἱ φαρις.] Lachm. has deleted οἱ, following B C L M δ π, min. Correctly; the οἱ φαρ. would suggest itself mechanically to the transcribers from being in current use by them; in several manuscripts it is likewise inserted in Mark 10:2.

After λέγοντες Elz. and Scholz insert αὐτῷ, which, owing to the preponderance of evidence against it, is to be regarded as a common interpolation, as are also αὐτοῖς, Matthew 19:4, αὐτήν, Matthew 19:7.

ἀνθρώπῳ] is wanting in B L γ א* min. Aug., deleted by Lachm. Correctly; supplement from Matthew 19:5, and for which Cod. 4 has ἀνδρί (Mark 10:2).

Matthew 19:5. προσκολληθ.] Lachm. and Tisch., also Fritzsche; κολληθ., following very weighty evidence. The compound form, however, is more common, and is taken from the LXX.

Matthew 19:9. ὅτι before ὅς is not, with Lachm. and Tisch. 7, to be deleted. It has the preponderance of evidence in its favour, and how readily may it have been overlooked, especially before ὅς, seeing that it is not indispensable.

Instead of μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ Lachm. has παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας, following B D, min. It. Or., but clearly borrowed from Matthew 5:32 by way of a gloss. For μή, Elz. and Scholz have εἰ μή, against decisive evidence; an exegetical addition.

κ. ἀπολελυμ. γαμ. μοιχᾶται] are deleted by Tisch. 8, following C** D L S א, vss. Or.? Chrys. But there is preponderating evidence in favour of the words, and the homoeoteleuton might readily enough be the occasion of their omission. Moreover, there is no parallel passage verbally identical with this.

Matthew 19:13. προσηνέχθη] Lachm. and Tisch.: προσηνέχθησαν, following B C D L א, min. Or. In presence of such weighty evidence, the singular is to be regarded as a grammatical correction.

Matthew 19:16. ἀγαθέ] is justly condemned by Griesb. and deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. (B D L א, min. codd. of It. Or. Hilar.). Inserted from Mark 10:17; Luke 18:18.

Matthew 19:17. The Received text (so also Fritzsche and Scholz) has τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς θεός. But the reading: τί με ἐρωτᾷς περὶ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ; εἷς ἐστὶν ἀγαθός, is attested by the very weighty evidence of B D L א, Vulg. It. Or. and other vss. and Fathers. So Griesb., Lachm., Tisch. The reading of the Received text is taken from Mark and Luke, and would be adopted all the more readily the more the original reading seemed, as it might easily seem, to be inappropriate.(2) The order: εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθ. (Lachm., Tisch.), has decisive attestation; but τηρεῖ (Lachm., Tisch. 7) for τήρησον finds but inadequate support, being favoured merely by B D, Homil. Cl.

Matthew 19:20. ἐφυλαξάμην ἐκ νεότητός μου] Lachm. and Tisch.: ἐφύλαξα, following important, though not quite unanimous, witnesses (B D L א* among the uncial manuscripts; but D has retained ἐκ νεότ., though omitting μου). The reading of the Received text is taken from Luke and Mark.

Matthew 19:23. Lachm. and Tisch., following decisive evidence, read πλούσιος δυσκόλως.

Matthew 19:24. Instead of the first εἰσελθεῖν, Elz. has διελθεῖν, which is defended by Fritzsche and Rinck, and also adopted again by Lachm., in opposition to Griesb., Matth., Scholz, Schulz, Tisch., who read εἰσελθεῖν. The evidence on both sides is very weighty. διελθεῖν is a correction for sake of the sense, with which εἰσελθεῖν was supposed not to agree. Comp. note on Mark 10:25; Luke 18:25. If the second ἐισελθεῖν were to be retained, the preponderance of evidence would be in favour of inserting it after πλούσιον (Lachm.); but we must, with Tisch., following L Z א, 1, 33, Syrcur Or. and other Fathers, delete it as being a supplement from the parallel passages.

Matthew 19:28. For καὶ ὑ΄εῖς read, with Tisch. 8, καὶ αὐτοί, following D L Z א, 1, 124, Or. Ambr. The reading of the Received text is an exegetical gloss.

Matthew 19:29. ὅστις] The simple ὅς (Elz., Griesb., Fritzsche, Scholz) is opposed by preponderating evidence; τις was omitted as unnecessary (but comp. Matthew 7:21, Matthew 10:32).

γυναῖκα] after ΄ητ. is correctly deleted by Lachm. and Tisch., on the evidence of B D, 1, Or. Ir. Hil. vss. Taken from Mark and Luke.

For ἑκατονταπλασίονα Lachm. and Tisch. have πολλαπλασιονα, following B L, Syrjer Sahid. Or. Cyr. Correctly; it would be much more natural to explain the indefinite πολλαπλας. from Mark 10:30 by means of the definite expression ἑκατονταπλας., than to explain the latter from Luke 18:30 by means of πολλαπλας.


Verse 1

Matthew 19:1 f. With his usual formula, κ. ἐγέν. ὅτε ἐτέλ., κ. τ. λ. (Matthew 7:28, Matthew 11:1, Matthew 13:53), Matthew here introduces the account of the closing stage in Christ’s ministry by mentioning His departure from Galilee to Judaea. It does not follow (comp. note on Matthew 16:21) that there may not have been previous visits to Judaea (in answer to Baur), but, in order to give to this journey, above all, the prominence due to its high significance, it was necessary that the Synoptists should confine their view to the Galilaean ministry until the time came for this final visit to the capital.

The conversation concerning divorce and marriage is likewise given in Mark 10:1 ff., and, on the whole, in a more original shape.

μετῆρεν ἀπὸ τῆς γαλιλ.] Comp. Matthew 17:22; Matthew 17:24.

πέραν τοῦ ἰορδάνου] This expression cannot be intended to define the locale of εἰς τὰ ὄρια τῆς ἰουδαίος, for the reader knew, as matter of course, that Peraea and Judaea (Matthew 4:15; Matthew 4:25) meant different districts, although, according to Ptolem. v. 16. 9, several towns east of the Jordan might be reckoned as included in Judaea; neither can it belong to μετῆρεν ἀπὸ τ. γαλ. (Fritzsche: “Movens a Galilaea transiit fluvium”), for κ. ἦλθεν εἰς τ. ὄρ. τ. ἰουδ. is not of the nature of a parenthesis; rather is it to be regarded as indicating the route (Mark 10:1) which Jesus took, thus defining ἦλθεν (Mark 7:31) somewhat more precisely, lest it should be supposed that He was on this side Jordan, and therefore approached Judaea by going through Samaria, whereas, being on the farther side of the river, He went by Peraea, and reached the borders of Judaea by crossing over to the west side of the Jordan (somewhere in the neighbourhood of Jericho, Matthew 20:29). The expression is not awkward (Volkmar); nor, again, is it to be erroneously understood as showing that the Gospel was written in some district east of the Jordan.

Further, the narrative of Matthew and Mark cannot be reconciled with that of Luke, who represents Jesus as keeping to this side of the Jordan (Luke 9:51, and see note on Luke 17:11); nor with the account of John, who, John 10:22, says nothing about the journey to Jerusalem, but represents Jesus as already there, and in John 19:40 as setting out from that city to make a short sojourn in Peraea.

ἐκεῖ] that is, in Peraea, just mentioned, and through which He was travelling on His way to the borders of Judaea, Matthew 19:1. On αὐτούς (their sick), see Winer, p. 139 [E. T. 183]. Instead of the healing, Mark speaks of the teaching that took place on this occasion.


Verse 3

Matthew 19:3. πειράζοντες] The question was of an ensnaring nature, owing to the rivalry that existed between the school of Hillel and that of the more rigorous Sammai. See note on Matthew 5:31. There is not the slightest foundation in the text for the idea that the questioners had in view the matrimonial relations of Antipas (Paulus, Kuinoel, de Wette, Ewald), as though they wanted to involve Jesus, while yet in Peraea, within that prince’s domains, in a fate similar to that of the Baptist. Moreover, the adoption of this view is altogether unnecessary, since the whole school of Sammai had already condemned that most unlawful state of matters just referred to, and therefore there was on this score nothing of a specially tempting character about the question. But they expected that Jesus in His reply would declare in favour of one of the rival schools (and that it would doubtless be that of Sammai; for with κ. πᾶσαν αἰτίαν they suggested the answer, No), so that they might be able to stir up party feeling against Him. Falling back, however, upon the divine idea on which the institution of marriage is founded, He took higher ground than either of the schools in question, inasmuch as from this divine idea He deduces that marriage is a union which no human authority has a right to dissolve; but as for Himself, He avoids prescribing any law of His own with reference to this matter; comp. Harless, Ehescheidungsfr. p. 34 ff.

εἰ] See note on Matthew 12:10.

τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ] Assuming ἀνθρώπῳ to be spurious, the αὐτοῦ can only refer to something in the context, and that doubtless to the logical subject, to the τίς implied in the ἔξεστι. For a similar classical usage, comp. Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 503 D.

κατὰ πᾶσαν αἰτίαν] for every cause, which he has to allege against her,—the view maintained by the school of Hillel, and which was precisely that which gave to this question its tempting character, though it is not so represented in Mark. As given by the latter evangelist the question is not presented in its original form; as it now stands it would have been too general, and so not calculated to tempt, for it would certainly have been foolish to expect from Jesus any answer contrary to the law (in answer to Weiss, Keim); but, according to Matthew’s version, the persons who were tempting Jesus appear to have framed their question with a view to His splitting on the casuistical rock implied in κ. πᾶσαν αἰτίαν. After having laid down as a principle the indissoluble nature of the marriage tie, Jesus, in the course of the conversation, replies to this captious point in their query in the very decided terms of Matthew 19:9, where He says, μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ.


Verse 4

Matthew 19:4. αὐτούς] δηλαδὴ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους· τουτὶ μὲν οὖν τὸ ῥητὸν ἐν τῇ βίβλῳ τῆς γενέσεως (Matthew 1:27) γέγραπται, Euthymius Zigabenus. The following αὐτούς should be understood after ποιήσας, as the object of the succeeding verb has often to be supplied after the participle (Krüger’s note on Xen. Anab. i. 8. 11). For ποιεῖν, to create, comp. Plat. Tim. p. 76 C Hesiod, Theog. 110, 127 ( γένος ἀνθρώπων).

ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς] does not belong to ποιήσας (as usually explained), in which case it would be superfluous, but to what follows (Fritzsche, Bleek), where great stress is laid on the expression, “since the very beginning” (Matthew 19:8).

ἄρσεν κ. θῆλυ] as male and female, as a pair consisting of one of each sex.

ἐποίησεν] after ποίησας the same verb. See Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. iv. 2. 21, and Gramm. II. 2, p. 656.


Verse 5

Matthew 19:5. εἶπεν] God. Comp. note on 1 Corinthians 6:16. Although, no doubt, the words of Genesis 2:24 were uttered by Adam, yet, as a rule, utterances of the Old Testament, in which God’s will is declared, are looked upon as the words of God, and that altogether irrespective of the persons speaking. Comp. Euthymius Zigabenus and Fritzsche on the passage.

ἕνεκεν τούτου] refers, in Genesis 2:24, to the formation of the woman out of the rib of the man. But this detail, which belongs to an incident assumed by Jesus to be well known, is included in the general statement of Matthew 19:4, so that He does not hesitate to generalize, somewhat freely, the particular to which the ἕνεκεν τούτου refers. Observe, at the same time, that Matthew 19:4-5 together constitute the scriptural basis, the divine premisses of what is to appear in the shape of an inference in the verse immediately following.

καταλείψει “necessitudo arctissima conjugalis, cui uni paterna et materna cedit,” Bengel.

οἱ δύο] These words are not found in the Hebrew, though they occur in the Samaritan text, as they must also have done in that which was followed by the LXX. They are a subsequent addition by way of more distinctly emphasizing the claims of monogamy. See note on 1 Corinthians 6:16. The article indicates the two particular persons in question.

εἰς σάρκα μίαν] Ethical union may also be represented by other ties; but this cannot be said of bodily unity, which consists in such a union of the sexes, that in marriage they cease to be two, and are thenceforth constituted one person. Comp. Sirach 25:25 and Grimm’s note. The construction is not Greek (in which εἷναι εἰς means to refer to anything, or to serve for anything, Plat. Phil. p. 39 E Alc. I. p. 126 A), but a rendering of the Hebrew הָיָה לְ (Vorst, Hebr. p. 680 f.).


Verse 6

Matthew 19:6. οὐκέτι] after this union, Matthew 19:5.

εἰσί] are they, that is, the two of Matthew 19:5.

] quod, “ut non tanquam de duobus, sed tanquam de uno corpore loqueretur,” Maldonatus.

θεός] through what is said in Matthew 19:5. Observe the contrast to ἄνθρωπος.

Having regard, therefore, to the specific nature of marriage as a divine institution, Jesus utterly condemns divorce generally as being a putting asunder on the part of man of what, in a very special way, God has joined together. With regard to the exception, by which, in fact, the essential idea of marriage as a divine institution is already practically destroyed, see Matthew 19:9, and comp. note on Matthew 5:32.


Verse 7

Matthew 19:7. Supposed counter-evidence.

ἐνετείλατο] Deuteronomy 24:1, in which, indeed, there is no express command, though it may be said to contain κατὰ διάνοιαν the prescription of the bill of divorce. Mark—and in this his account is certainly more original—represents the whole reply of Jesus as beginning with the question as to the law of Moses on the matter (Matthew 10:3). Moreover, the more appropriate expression ἐπέτρεψεν, which in Matthew 19:8 is ascribed to Jesus (not so in Mark), undoubtedly betrays the influence of riper reflection.

Comp. besides, note on Matthew 5:31.


Verse 8

Matthew 19:8. πρός] out of regard to, with (wise) consideration so as to avert greater evil.

σκληροκαρδίαν] stubbornness of heart (Mark 16:14; Romans 2:5; Acts 7:51; Sirach 16:10; Deuteronomy 10:16), which will not be persuaded to self-reflection, gentleness, patience, forbearance, etc.; κατὰ διαφόρους αἰτίας μισούντων τὰς γαμετὰς, καὶ μὴ καταλλαττομένων αὐταῖς. ἐνομοθέτησε γὰρ ἀπολύειν ταύτας, ἵνα μὴ φονεύωνται, Euthymius Zigabenus.

οὐ γέγονεν οὕτω] non ita factum est, namely, that a man should have permission to put away his wife. The above primitive institution of God is accordingly not abrogated by Moses, who, on account of the moral obduracy of the people, is rather to be understood as only granting a dispensation in the form of a letter of divorce, that the woman might be protected against the rude severity of the man.


Verse 9

Matthew 19:9. See note on Matthew 5:32.

μὴ ἐπὶ πορν.] not on account of fornication, i.e. adultery. The deleting of those words (Hug, de conjug. vinculo indissolub. p. 4 f.; Maier’s note on 1 Corinthians 7:11; but also Keim, who sees in them the correction of a subsequent age) is justified neither by critical evidence, which Keim himself admits, nor by the following ἀπολελ. γαμ. μοιχᾶται, which is in no way inconsistent with the exception under consideration, seeing that, as a matter of course, the ἀπολελ. refers to a woman who has been divorced arbitrarily, μὴ ἐπὶ πορν. (see note on Matthew 5:32); nor by Matthew 19:10, where the question of the disciples can be sufficiently accounted for; nor by 1 Corinthians 7:11 (see note on this passage). We are therefore as little warranted in regarding the words as an interpolation on the part of the evangelist in accordance with a later tradition (Gratz, Weisse, Volkmar, Schenkel). The exception which they contain to the law against divorce is the unica et adaequata exceptio, because adultery destroys what, according to its original institution by God, constitutes the very essence of marriage, the unitas carnis; while, on this account also, it furnishes a reason not merely for separation a toro et mensa (Catholic expositors), but for separation quoad vinculum. To say, as Keim insists (according to Mark), that Jesus breaks with Moses, is unwarranted, not only by Matthew’s narrative, but also by Mark’s; and any indication of such a breach would betray the influence of a later age.

μοιχᾶται] commits adultery, because, in fact, his marriage with the woman whom he has arbitrarily dismissed has not yet been disannulled. The second μοιχᾶται is justified: because this ἀπολελυμένη is still the lawful wife of him who has, in an arbitrary manner, put her away.


Verse 10

Matthew 19:10. This conversation is to be understood as having taken place privatim, in a house (Mark 10:10), or elsewhere.

εἰ οὕτως ἐστὶν αἰτία, κ. τ. λ.] αἰτία means causa, but not in the sense of res or relation (Grotius): “si ita res se habet hoininis cum uxore” (Grimm), which is at variance with the Greek usage, and would be tantamount to a Latin idiom; nor is it to be understood in the sense imported by Fritzsche: “causa, qua aliquis cum uxore versari cogatur.” According to the text, αἰτία can only be taken as referring back to the question concerning divorce, κατὰ πᾶσαν αἰτίαν, Matthew 19:3. The correct interpretation, therefore, must be as follows: If it stands thus with regard to the reason in question, which the man must have in relation to his wife (in order, namely, to her divorce). The Lord had, in fact, declared the πορνεία of the wife to be such an αἰτία as the disciples had inquired about, and that, moreover, the sole one. This also leads me to withdraw my former interpretation of αἰτία in the sense of guilt, that, namely, which was understood to be expressed by the μοιχᾶται. The correct view is given by Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschr. 1868, p. 24, and, in the main, by so early an expositor as Euthymius Zigabenus: ἐὰν μία μόνη ἐστὶν αἰτία μέσον τοῦ ἀνδρὸς κ. τῆς γυναικὸς διαζευγνύουσα.

οὐ συμφ. γαμ.] because one cannot be released again, but, with the exception of adultery alone, must put up with all the woman’s other vices.


Verse 11-12

Matthew 19:11-12. The disciples have just said: οὐ συμφέρει γαμῆσαι. But to this saying must τὸν λόγον τοῦτον be referred, not to the statement concerning the indissoluble nature of marriage, as though Jesus meant to say that this was to be insisted on only in the case of those who had been endowed with the donum continentiae (Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 410 f.); which would be to contradict His argument in favour of non-dissolution taken from the objective nature of marriage, no less than His absolute declaration in Matthew 5:32, as well as to render nugatory, for all practical purposes, the primitive moral law of non-dissolution, by making it dependent on a subjective condition. Besides, the illustration of the eunuchs is only applicable to continence generally, not to a mere abstaining from the sin of adultery. No. Jesus wishes to furnish His disciples with the necessary explanation regarding their οὐ συμφέρει γαμῆσαι, and for this end He by no means questions their λόγος, but simply observes that: it is a proposition which all do not accept, i.e. which all cannot see their way to adopt as a maxim, but only such as God has endowed with special moral capabilities. Then, in Matthew 19:12, He explains who are meant by the οἷς δέδοται, namely, such as have become eunuchs; by these, however, He does not understand literal eunuchs, whether born such or made such by men, but those who, for the sake of the Messiah’s kingdom, have made themselves such so far as their moral dispositions are concerned, i.e. who have suppressed all sexual desire as effectually as though they were actual eunuchs, in order that they might devote themselves entirely to the (approaching) Messianic kingdom as their highest interest and aim (to labour in promoting it, comp. 1 Corinthians 7:32; 1 Corinthians 7:34). Finally, He further recommends this ethical self-castration, this “voluntary chastity” (Luther), when He exclaims: Whosoever is able to accept (to adopt) it (that which I have just stated), let him accept it! Chrysostom well observes: He says this, προθυμοτέρους τε ποιῶν τῷ δεῖξαι ὑπέρογκον ὂν τὸ κατόρθωμα, καὶ οὐκ ἀφιεῖς εἰς ἀνάγκην νόμου τὸ πρᾶγμα κλεισθῆναι. Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:1 f. The χερεῖν, Matthew 19:11 f., means simply to receive, and to be understood as referring to a spiritual reception, a receiving in the heart (2 Corinthians 7:2); and those endowed with the power so to receive it have, in consequence of such endowment, not only the inclination to be continent, but at the same time the moral force of will necessary to give effect to it, while those who are not so endowed “aut nolunt, aut non implent quod volunt,” Augustine. The more common interpretation, praestare posse (“negat autem Jesus, te, nisi divinitus concessis viribus tam insigni abstinentiae, qua a matrimonio abhorreas, parem esse,” Fritzsche), might be traced to the rendering capere, but it is precluded by the fact that the object of the verb is a λόγος (a saying). Others take it in the sense of: to understand, with reference, therefore, to the power of apprehension on the part of the intellect (Maldonatus, Calovius, Strauss, Bretschneider, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald; similarly Bengel, de Wette, Bleek, who, however, arbitrarily take τὸν λόγ. τοῦτ. as pointing forward to Matthew 19:12). So Plut. Cat. min. 64; Ael. V. H. iii. 9; Phocyl. 86: οὐ χωρεῖ μεγάλην διδαχὴν ἀδίδακτος; Philo, de mundo Matthew 1151: ἀνθρώπινος λογισμὸς οὐ χωρεῖ. But the difficulty with respect to what the disciples have said, and what Jesus says in Matthew 19:12, is not connected with the apprehension of its meaning, but with its ethical appropriation, which, moreover, Jesus does not absolutely demand, but leaves it, as is also done by Paul, 1 Corinthians 7., to each man’s ability, and that according as he happens to be endowed with the gift of continence as a donum singulare. Consequently, the celibate of the clerical order, as such, acts in direct opposition to this utterance of the Master, especially as the εὐνουχίζειν ἑαυτόν cannot be acted on by any one with the certainty of its lasting. Comp. Apol. Conf. A., p. 240 f.: “non placet Christo immunda continentia.” As showing how voluntary celibacy was by no means universal, and was exceptional even among the apostles themselves, see 1 Corinthians 9:5.

The metaphorical use of εὐνούχισαν ἑαυτούς to denote entire absence from sexual indulgence, likewise occurs in Sohar Ex. f. 37, c. 135; Levit. f. 34, c. 136 b; Schoettgen, p. 159.

It is well known that from a misunderstanding of the meaning of this passage Origen was led to castrate himself. On the correctness of this tradition (in answer to Schnitzer and Bauer), see Engelhardt in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 157; Redepenning, Origenes, I. p. 444 ff.

That Jesus was not here contemplating any Essenian abstinence (Strauss, Gfrörer, Philo, II. p. 310 f., Hilgenfeld), is already manifest from the high estimate in which marriage is always held by Him, and from His regard for children. The celibacy which a certain class of Essenes observed was founded on the fact that they regarded marriage as impure.


Verse 13

Matthew 19:13. Comp. Mark 10:13. At this point (after being suspended from Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:14) the narrative of Luke again becomes parallel, Luke 18:15.

Little children were brought to Jesus, as to a man of extraordinary sanctity, whose prayer was supposed to have peculiar efficacy (John 9:31); as, in a similar way, children were also brought to the presidents of the synagogues in order that they might pray over them (Buxt. Synag. p. 138). The laying on of the hands (Genesis 48:14) was desired, not as a mere symbol, but as a means of communicating the blessing prayed for (Acts 6:6); hence, with a nearer approach to originality, Mark and Luke have simply ἅψηται and ἅπτεται (which, in fact, was understood to be of itself sufficient for the communication in question).

The conjunctive with ἵνα after the preterite (Kühner, II. 2, p. 897; Winer, p. 270 [E. T. 359]) serves to represent the action as immediately present.

αὐτοῖς] are those of whom the προσηνέχθη is alleged, i.e. those who brought the children. The disciples wished to protect Jesus from what they supposed to be an unseemly intrusion and annoyance; a verecundia intempestiva (Bengel), as in Matthew 20:31.


Verse 14

Matthew 19:14. By τῶν τοιούτων we are not to understand literal children (Bengel, de Wette), for the Messianic kingdom cannot be said to belong to children as such (see Matthew 5:3 ff.), but men of a child-like disposition and character, Matthew 18:3 f. Jesus cannot consent to see the children turned away from Him; for, so far from their being too insignificant to become the objects of His blessing, He contemplates in their simplicity and innocence that character which those who are to share in His kingdom must acquire through being converted and becoming as little children. If they thus appeared to the Lord as types of the subjects of His kingdom, how could He withhold from them that prayer which was to be the means of communicating to their opening lives the blessing of early fellowship with Him! Herein lies the warrant, but, according to 1 Corinthians 7:14, not the necessity, for infant baptism; comp. in general, note on Acts 16:15.


Verse 16

Matthew 19:16 ff. Comp. Mark 10:17 ff.; Luke 18:18 ff.

εἷς] One, a single individual out of the multitude. According to Luke, the person in question was an ἄρχων, not a νεανίσκος (Matthew 19:20), which is explicable (Holtzmann) on the ground of a different tradition, not from a misunderstanding on the part of Matthew founded on ἐκ νεότητ. μου (Mark 10:20).

τί ἀγαθὸν ποιήσω] is not to be explained, with Fritzsche, as equivalent to τί ἀγαθὸν ὂν ποιήσω, quid, quod bonum sit, faciam? for the young man had already made an effort to do what is right, but, not being satisfied with what he had done, and not feeling sure of eternal life in the Messiah’s kingdom, he accordingly asks: which good thing am I to do, etc.? He wishes to know what particular thing in the category of the eternal good must be done by him in order to his obtaining life.


Verse 17

Matthew 19:17. Thy question concerning the good thing, which is necessary to be done in order to have eternal life in the Messianic kingdom, is quite superfluous ( τί με ἐρωτᾶς, κ. τ. λ.); the answer is self-evident, for there is but one (namely, God, the absolute ideal of moral life) who is the good one, therefore the good thing to which thy question refers can be neither more nor less than obedience to His will,—one good Being, one good thing, alterum non datur! But if thou ( δέ, the continuative autem: to tell thee now more precisely what I wished to impress upon thee by this εἷς ἐστὶν ἀγαθός) desirest to enter into life, keep the commandments (which are given by this One ἀγαθός). Neander explains incorrectly thus: “Why askest thou me concerning that which is good? One is the good one, and to Him, thou must address thyself; He has, in fact, revealed it to thee also; but since you have asked me, then let me inform you,” etc. This view is already precluded by the enclitic με (as otherwise we should necessarily have had ἐμέ).

For the explanation of the Received text, see note on Mark 10:18; the claim to originality must be decided in favour not of Matthew (in answer to Keim), but of Mark, on whom Luke has also drawn. The tradition followed by Matthew seems to have already omitted the circumstance of our Lord’s declining the epithet ἀγαθός. The claims of Mark and Luke are likewise favoured by Weisse, Bleek, Weiss, Schenkel, Volkmar, Holtzmann, Hilgenfeld, the last of whom, however, gives the palm in the matter of originality to the narrative of the Gospel of the Hebrews (N. T. extra can. IV. p. 16 f.).

For οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς. κ. τ. λ., comp. Plat. Rep. p. 379 A: ἀγαθὸς γε θεὸς τῷ ὄντι τε καὶ λεκτέον οὕτως.

On the dogmatic importance of the proposition that God alone is good, see Köster in the Stud. u. Krit. 1856, p. 420 ff.; and on the fundamental principle of the divine retribution: εἰ θέλειςτήρησον τὰς ἐντολάς, which impels the sinner to repentance, to a renunciation of his own righteousness, and to faith; comp. notes on Romans 2:13; Galatians 3:10 ff. Bengel well remarks: “Jesus securos ad legem remittit, contritos evangelice consolatur.” Comp. Apol. Conf. A., p. 83.


Verse 18

Matthew 19:18 f. Agreeably to the meaning of his question, Matthew 19:16, the young man expected to be referred to commandments of a particular kind, and therefore calls for further information respecting the ἐντολάς to which Jesus referred; hence ποίας, which is not equivalent to τίνας, but is to be understood as requesting a qualitative statement.

For the purpose of indicating the kind of commandments he had in view Jesus simply mentions, by way of example, one or two belonging to the second table of the decalogue, but also at the same time the fundamental one (Romans 13:9) respecting the love of our neighbour (Leviticus 19:18), because it was through it (for which also see note on Matthew 22:39) He wished the young man to be tested. This latter commandment, introduced with skilful tact, Origen incorrectly regards as an interpolation; de Wette likewise takes exception to it; comp. Bleek, who considers Luke’s text to be rather more original.


Verse 20

Matthew 19:20. In what respect do I still come short? what further attainment have I yet to make? Comp. Psalms 39:4 : ἵνα γνῶ τί ὑστερῶ ἐγώ; 1 Corinthians 12:24; 2 Corinthians 11:5; 2 Corinthians 12:11. This reply (Plat. Rep. p. 484 D: μηδʼ ἐν ἄλλῳ μηδενὶ μέρει ἀρετῆς ὑστεροῦντας) serves to show that his moral striving after the Messianic life is confined within the narrow limits of a decent outward behaviour, without his having felt and understood the spirit of the commandments, and especially the boundless nature of the duties implied in the commandment of love, though, at the same time, he has a secret consciousness that there must be some higher moral task for man, and feels impelled towards its fulfilment, only the legal tendencies of his character prevent him from seeing where it lies.


Verse 21

Matthew 19:21. τέλειος] perfect, one, who for the obtaining of eternal life, οὐδὲν ἔτι ὑστερεῖ. In accordance with the moral tendencies and disposition which He discerned in the young man, Jesus demands from him that moral perfection to which, from not finding satisfaction in legalism, he was striving to attain. The following requirement, then, is a special test for a special case,(3) though it is founded upon the universal duty of absolute self-denial and devotion to Christ; nor is it to be regarded merely in the light of a recommendation, but as a command. Observe that the Lord does not prescribe this to him as his sole duty, but only in connection with ἀκολούθει μοι. It was intended, by pressing this requirement upon him, that the young man should be led to realize his own shortcomings, and so be enabled to see the necessity of putting forth far higher efforts than any he had hitherto made. It was meant that he should feel himself weak, with a view to his being made morally strong; accordingly it is precisely upon the weak side of the young man’s character that Jesus imposes so heavy a task, for with all his inward dissatisfaction he was not aware of his actual weakness in that direction.

πτωχοῖς] the poor.

ἐν οὐρανῷ] thou wilt have (instead of thy earthly goods) a treasure in heaven, i.e. in the hands of God, where it will be securely kept till it comes to be bestowed at the setting up of the Messiah’s kingdom. Comp. Matthew 5:12, Matthew 6:20. For the whole saying, comp. Avoda Sara f. 64, 1 : “Vendite omnia, quae habetis, et porro oportet, ut fiatis proselyti.”


Verse 22

Matthew 19:22 f. λυπούμενος] because he could not see his way to compliance with that first requirement, and saw himself thereby compelled to relinquish his hope of inheriting eternal life. “Aurum enervatio virtutum est,” Augustine.

δυσκόλως] because his heart usually clings too tenaciously to his possessions (Matthew 6:19-21) to admit of his resigning them at such times and in such ways as the interests of the kingdom may demand. For analogous passages from the Greek classics bearing on the antagonism between wealth and virtue, see Spiess, Logos spermat. p. 44.


Verse 24

Matthew 19:24. “Difficultatem exaggerat,” Melanchthon. For πάλιν, comp. Matthew 18:19. The point of the comparison is simply the fact of the impossibility. A similar way of proverbially expressing the utmost difficulty occurs in the Talmud with reference to an elephant(4) See Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. p. 1722, and Wetstein. To understand the expression in the text, not in the sense of a camel, but of a cable (Castalio, Calvin, Huet, Drusius, Ewald), and, in order to this, either supposing κάμιλον to be the correct reading (as in several cursive manuscripts), or ascribing this meaning to κάμηλος ( τινές in Theophylact and Euthymius Zigabenus), is all the more inadmissible that κάμηλος never has any other meaning than that of a camel, while the form κάμιλος can only be found in Suidas and the Scholiast on Arist. Vesp. 1030, and is to be regarded as proceeding from a misunderstanding of the present passage. Further, the proverbial expression regarding the camel likewise occurs in Matthew 23:24, and the Rabbinical similitude of the elephant is quite analogous.

εἰσελθεῖν after ῥαφ. is universally interpreted: to enter in (to any place). On the question as to whether ῥαφίς is to be recognised as classical, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 90. To render this word by a narrow gate, a narrow mountain-pass (so Furer in Schenkel’s Lex. III. p. 476), or anything but a needle, is simply inadmissible.

The danger to salvation connected with the possession of riches does not lie in these considered in themselves, but in the difficulty experienced by sinful man in subordinating them to the will of God. So Clemens Alexandrinus: τίς σωζόμενος πλούσιος. Hermas, Pastor, i. 3. 6.


Verse 25

Matthew 19:25. τίς ἄρα] who therefore, if the difficulty is so great in the case of the rich, who have the means of doing much good. The inference of the disciples is a majoribus ad minores. The general expression τίς cannot be intended to mean what rich man (Euthymius Zigabenus, Weiss), as is further evident from what is said by Jesus in Matthew 19:23-24.


Verse 26

Matthew 19:26. ἐμβλέψας] This circumstance is also noticed by Mark. The look which, during a momentary pause, preceded the following utterance was doubtless one of a telling and significant character, and calculated to impress the startled disciples (Chrysostom, Euthymius Zigabenus: ἡμέρῳ βλέμματι). Comp. Luke 20:17; John 1:43.

παρὰ ἀνθρώποις] so far as men are concerned, i.e. not hominum judicio (Fritzsche, Ewald), but serving to indicate that the impossibility is on the part of man, is owing to human inability, Luke 1:37.

τοῦτο] namely, the σωθῆναι, not: that the rich should be saved. See Matthew 19:25 (in answer to Fritzsche, de Wette). Jesus invites the disciples to turn from the thought of man’s own inability to obtain salvation, to the omnipotence of God’s converting and saving grace.


Verse 27

Matthew 19:27. Peter’s question is suggested by the behaviour of that young man (hence ἀποκρ., see note on Matthew 11:25), who left Jesus rather than part with his wealth. The apostles had done quite the contrary ( ἡμεῖς placed emphatically at the beginning, in contrast to the young man).

ἀφήκαμεν πάντα] employment, the custom-house, worldly things generally. It is therefore a mistake to suppose that the disciples were still pursuing their former avocations while labouring in the service of Jesus (not to be proved from John 21:3 ff.). See Fritzsche, ad Mark. p. 441.

τί ἄρα ἔσται ἡμῖν] ἄρα: in consequence of this. The question has reference to some special compensation or other by way of reward; but as to the form in which it is to be given, it leaves that to be explained by Jesus in His reply. In spite of the terms of the passage and the answer of Jesus, Paulus incorrectly explains thus: what, therefore, will there be for us still to do? Similarly Olshausen: what is awaiting us? Are we, too, to be called upon yet to undergo such a test (as the young man had just been subjected to)? In Mark 10:28 and Luke 18:28 it is not expressly asked, τί ἄρα ἔσται ἡμῖν; but the question is tacitly implied in the words of Peter (in answer to Neander, Bleek), as reported by those evangelists, while Matthew appears to have gleaned it from Mark.


Verse 28

Matthew 19:28. This part of the promise is omitted in Mark, but comp. Luke 22:30.

In answer to the question concerning the reward, Jesus, in the first place, promises a special recompense to His disciples, namely, that they should have the honour of being associated with Him in judging the nation at the second coming; then, in Matthew 19:29 (comp. Mark 10:29; Luke 18:29), He adds the general promise of a reward to be given to those who for His sake have sacrificed their worldly interests; and finally, in Matthew 19:30, He makes a statement calculated to rebuke everything in the shape of false pretensions, and which is further illustrated by the parable in Matthew 20:1 ff.

There is no touch of irony throughout this reply of Jesus (in answer to Liebe in Winer’s exeget. Stud. I. p. 73). Comp. Fleck, de regno div. p. 436 ff.

ἐν τῇ παλιγγενεσίᾳ] in the regeneration, does not belong to ἀκολουθήσαντές μοι (Hilary, explaining the words by baptismal regeneration (Titus 3:5); also Calvin, who understands by παλιγγενεσία the renovation of the world begun in Christ’s earthly ministry), for the disciples could only have conceived of the renovation of the world as something that was to take place contemporaneously with the actual setting up of the kingdom; the ἀποκατάστασις, Acts 3:21, does not represent quite the same idea as the one at present in question. Neither are we, with Paulus, to insert a point after παλιγγεν., and supply ἐστε (“you are already in the position of those who have been regenerated,” spiritually transformed), which would have the effect of introducing a somewhat feeble and irrelevant idea, besides being incompatible with the abruptness that would thus be imparted to the ὅταν (otherwise one should have expected ὅταν δέ). The words belong to καθίσεσθε, and signify that change by which the whole world is to be restored to that original state of perfection in which it existed before the fall, which renewal, restitutio in integrum, is to be brought about by the coming Messiah ( חדוש העולם). See Buxtorf, Lex Talm. p. 712; Bertholdt, Christol. p. 214 f.; Gfrörer, Jahrh. d. Heils, II. p. 272 ff. Comp. Romans 8:19 ff; 2 Peter 3:13. When the resurrection is over, and the last judgment is going on (and it is to this part of the scene that the Lord is here referring), this renovation will have already begun, and will be in the course of development, so that Jesus can say with all propriety: ἐν τῇ παλιγγ. “Nova erit genesis, cui præerit Adamus secundus,” Bengel. Comp. παλιγγενεσία τῆς πατρίδος in Joseph. Antt. xi. 3. 9; παλιγγεν. τῶν ὅλων in Anton. xi. 1. Philo, de mund. p. 1165 C.; leg. ad Caj. p. 1037 B. Augustine, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Fritzsche, interpret the expression of the resurrection, in favour of which such passages might be quoted as Long. iii. 4; Lucian, Musc. enc. 7; but this would be to understand it in too restricted a sense, besides being contrary to regular New Testament usage ( ἀνάστασις).

ὅταν καθίσῃ, κ. τ. λ.] as judge.

δόξης αὐτοῦ] the throne, that is, on which the Messiah shows Himself in His glory, Matthew 25:31.

καὶ αὐτοί (see critical notes): likewise, just as the Messiah will sit on His throne.

καθίσεσθε] you will take your seats upon. Christ, then, is to be understood as already sitting. Moreover, though the promise applies, in a general way, to the twelve disciples, it does not preclude the possibility of one of them failing, through his apostasy, to participate in the fulfilment of the promise; “thronum Judae sumsit alius, Acts 1:20,” Bengel.

κρίνοντες] not: ruling over (Grotius, Kuinoel, Neander, Bleek), but, as the word means and the context requires: judging. As believers generally are to be partakers of the glory and sovereignty of Christ (Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12), and are to be associated with Him in judging the non-Christian κόσμος (1 Corinthians 6:2), so here it is specially promised to the disciples as such that they shall have the peculiar privilege of taking part with Him in judging the people of Israel. But it is evident from 1 Corinthians 6:2 that the people of Israel is conceived of as still forming part of the κόσμος, therefore it will be so far still unconverted, which coincides with the view that the second coming is near at hand, Matthew 10:23. It is a mistake, therefore, to take the people of Israel as intended to represent the people of God in the Christian sense (de Wette, Bleek); but it is no less so to suppose that the judging in question is merely of an indirect character, such as that which in Matthew 12:41 is ascribed to the queen of the south and the Ninevites (Chrysostom, Euthymius Zigabenus, Erasmus, Maldonatus),—a view which does not at all correspond with the picture of the judgment given in the text, although those expositors correctly saw that it is the unbelieving Israel that is meant. This sitting upon twelve thrones belongs to the accidental, Apocalyptic form in which the promise is embodied, though it is not so with regard either to the judging itself or its special reference to the δωδεκάφυλον of Israel (Acts 26:7), to which latter the number of the apostles expressly corresponds; for the second coming, instead of subverting the order of things here indicated, will only have the effect of exhibiting it in its perfection, and for the apostles themselves in its glory. It is therefore too rash to infer, as has been done by Hilgenfeld, that this passage bears traces of having been based upon an original document of a strictly Judaeo-Christian character. Even the Pauline Luke (Matthew 22:30) does not omit this promise, although he gives it in connection with a different occasion,—a circumstance which by Schneckenburger, without sufficient reason, and by Volkmar, in the most arbitrary way possible, is interpreted to the disadvantage of Matthew. It is not the case that Matthew 19:28 interferes with the connection (Holtzmann), although Weizsäcker also is disposed to regard it as “a manifest interpolation.”


Verse 29

Matthew 19:29. The promise that has hitherto been restricted to the apostles now becomes general in its application: and (in general) every one who, etc.

ἀφῆκεν] has left, completely abandoned. Comp. Matthew 19:27.

ἕνεκεν τ. ὀν. μ.] i.e. because my name represents the contents of his belief and confession. Comp. Luke 21:12. This leaving of all for the sake of Jesus may take place without persecution, simply by one’s choosing to follow Him as a disciple; but it may also be forced upon one through persecution, as for instance by such a state of matters as we find in Matthew 10:35 ff.

πολλαπλασίονα (see critical notes) λήψεται, according to the context (see καθίσεσθε, Matthew 19:28; κληρονομήσει, Matthew 19:29; ἔσονται, Matthew 19:30), can certainly have no other reference but to the recompense in the future kingdom of the Messiah, in which a manifold compensation will be given for all that may have been forsaken. Here the view of Matthew diverges from that of Mark 10:38, Luke 18:30, both of whom represent this manifold compensation as being given during the period preceding the second advent. This divergence is founded upon a difference of conception, existing from the very first, regarding the promise of Jesus, so that the distinction between the καιρὸς οὗτος and the αἰὼν ἐρχόμενος in Mark and Luke may be regarded as the result of exegetical reflection on the meaning of the expressions in the original Hebrew. The words are likewise correctly referred to the reward of the future world by de Wette, Bleek, Keim, Hilgenfeld, while Fritzsche is at a loss to decide. In opposition to the context, the usual interpretation in the case of Matthew as well, is to refer the promise of a manifold compensation to the αἰὼν οὗτος, some supposing it to point to the happiness arising from Christian ties and relationships, as Jerome, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Erasmus, Grotius, Wetstein; others, to the receiving of all things in return for the few (1 Corinthians 3:21; Olshausen); others, again, to inward peace, hope, the fellowship of love (Kuinoel, Calvin), or generally, the spiritual blessings of believers (Bengel); and others still, to Christ Himself, as being (Matthew 12:49 f.) infinitely more to us than father, mother, brother, etc. (Maldonatus, Calovius). Julian mocked at the promise.

κ. ζωὴν αἰ. κληρ.] the crown of the whole, which perfects all by rendering it an eternal possession. Observe, further, how what is promised is represented as a recompense, no doubt, yet not for meritorious works, but for self-denying, trustful obedience to Christ, and to His invitation and will. Comp. Apol. Conf. A., p. 285 f.


Verse 30

Matthew 19:30. However, the measure of rewards in the Messianic kingdom is not to be determined by the time, sooner or later, at which any one may have entered into fellowship with me. No, it is not seniority of discipleship that is to be the standard of reward at the setting up of the approaching kingdom: Many who were the first to enter will receive just the same treatment as those who were the last to become my followers, and vice versâ. The correct construction and translation are not those of Fritzsche, who interprets: Many will be first though last ( ἔσχατοι ὄντες, namely, before the second coming), and last though first ( πρῶτοι ὄντες), but those usually adopted, according to which πρῶτοι is the subject of the first, and ἔσχατοι that of the second part of the sentence. This is not forbidden by Matthew 20:16, where, on the other hand, the order seems to have been inverted to suit the context. Observe, further, that the arrangement by which πολλοὶπρῶτοι stand so far apart serves to render πολλοί very emphatic: In multitudes, however, will the first be last, and vice versâ. The second clause is to be supplemented thus: καὶ πολλοὶ ἔσονται ἔσχατοι πρῶτοι. But to understand πρῶτοι and ἔσχατοι as referring, not to time, but to rank, regarded from the divine and human point of view, as though the idea were that “when the rewards come to be dispensed, many a one who considers himself among the highest will be reckoned among the lowest” (Hilgenfeld, following Euthymius Zigabenus, Erasmus, Jansen, Wetstein, de Wette, Bleek),—is forbidden by the subsequent parable, the connection of which with the present passage is indicated by γάρ. However, there is a little warrant in the text for taking the words as referring specially to the Jews on the one hand, and the Gentiles (who were later in being called) on the other (Theophylact, Grotius).

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 19:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/matthew-19.html. 1832.

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