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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Matthew 12

 

 

Verse 1

Matthew 12:1. ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῲ καιρῷ, at that time) The Pharisees interrupted Him even at that most unseasonable(548) time.— ἤρξαντο τίλλειν, began to pluck) The Pharisees interrupted Him immediately. It required some labour to shake out a sufficient number of grains from the ears to appease their hunger.


Verse 2

Matthew 12:2. ἰδοὺ, κ. τ. λ., behold, etc.) They mean to say, “The Master ought to be accountable for what the disciples do in His very presence.” Behold! They wish Him to issue an immediate prohibition.— οὐκ ἔξεστι, that which is not lawful) They do not put the matter doubtfully, and they are therefore rebuked severely in Matthew 12:3; Matthew 12:5; Matthew 12:7. The proposition [may be put either affirmatively or negatively], “It is lawful,” or “It is not lawful.” A false reproof was more common at that time, than a true one is now.— ποιεῖν, to do) referring not to the eating, but the plucking.— ἐν σαββάτῳ, on a Sabbath) The subject of the Sabbath occupies great part of the Evangelic history.


Verse 3

Matthew 12:3. οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε, have ye not read) They had read the letter, without perceiving the spirit. Our Lord convicts them of error by the authority of the Old Testament.— δαυὶδ, David) whose conduct, in this instance, you do not find fault with.— ὅτε ἑπείνασεν, when he was hungry) This is left, in 1 Samuel 21:3, to be understood by the reader.— μετʼ αὐτοῦ, with him) See ibid. Matthew 12:4.


Verse 4

Matthew 12:4. τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ, the house of God) That which might have been considered as a ground of hesitation is exhibited in full force by this expression; the tabernacle is meant, as the temple was built somewhat later.— τοὺς ἄρτους, the loaves) There is much of a ceremonial character in the Sabbath: otherwise no argument could have been derived from the shew-bread.— τῆς προθέσεως, of the laying before,(549) Lat. propositionis) = Hebrew פנים. פָנִים, shew-bread, lit. bread of faces. PATRICK on Exodus 25:30, in voc. shew-bread, says, “In the Hebrew, bread of the face or presence, because it was set before the Ark of the Covenant, where God was present.—(I. B.)">(550)— εἰ ΄ὴ, except) i.e., for any except.


Verse 5

Matthew 12:5. , or? Lat. an?)— ἐν τῷ νόμῳ,(551) in the Law) He proceeds step by step to a more stringent argument, from the example of the Prince, which the priest had approved, to the Law itself; from the prophets, even the earlier, parts of whom were read, to the Law, all of which was read; and from the sacred food to the sacred day, concerning which the dispute arose.— οἱ ἱερεῖς, the priests) who ought especially to maintain the law, yet in this matter are especially excepted. Thus also, the priests of Christ are less bound to the Sabbath than the remaining multitude.— ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, in the temple) Whilst they are employed in sacred rites.— βεβηλοῦσι, profane) (verb); the adjective βέβηλον, profane, is opposed to ἅγιον, sacred, nor does it always imply impurity or guilt.—See Leviticus 10:10, and 1 Samuel 21:4.


Verse 6

Matthew 12:6. δέγω, I say) This form of speech expresses great authority.— τοῦ ἱεροῦ, the temple) In which the priests minister. The Temple gives way to Christ, the Sabbath (Matthew 12:5) to the Temple; therefore the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8) to Christ.— ἔστιν ὧδε, there is here) He does not say, “I am greater.” Jesus was lowly in heart. See Matthew 12:41-42, ch. Matthew 11:4-5. Thus too in Luke 4:21, He says, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears; and again, ch. Matthew 19:9, This day is salvation come to this house. See also Matthew 13:17; John 4:10; John 9:37.


Verse 7

Matthew 12:7. ἐγνώκειτε, ye would have known) The pluperfect tense.— ἔλεον, mercy) See ch. Matthew 9:13. The disciples accorded mercy to themselves,(552) and the Pharisees had violated it by their rash judgment.— θυσίαν, sacrifice) More sacred than the Sabbath. See Matthew 12:5.— οὐκ ἄν κατεδικάσατε, ye would not have condemned) Rashly, quickly, cruelly.(553) By this argument an answer would have been given, if any one had doubted whether it were lawful to pluck the ears before the Passover.


Verse 8

Matthew 12:8. κύριος, Lord) The innocence and liberty of the disciples is guaranteed by the majesty of Christ, and the authority(554) of the Son of Man manifests itself in mercy.— σαββάτου, of the Sabbath) The Lord of the Temple, and of all things else, is undoubtedly the Lord of the Sabbath; nor has He merely that right which David had.(555)


Verse 10

Matthew 12:10. ἄνθρωπος ἦν, κ. τ. λ., there was a man, etc.) He had either come thither of his own accord, that he might be healed, or else he had been brought by others with an insidious design.— ἵνα κατηγορήσωσιν αὐτοῦ, that they might accuse Him) As if He had broken the Sabbath, which was then greatly respected even by courts of law. See Matthew 12:14.


Verse 11

Matthew 12:11. πρόβατον ἓν, one sheep) The loss of which was not great.— οὐχὶ κρατήσει, will he not take hold of) A verb also suited to the healing of the hand. In our Saviour’s time this was permitted, since then it has been forbidden by the Jews.


Verse 12

Matthew 12:12. τοῖς σάββασι, on the Sabbaths) For a good deed is not to be procrastinated.— καλῶς ποιεῖν, to do well) sc. to either a man or a sheep, nay, to a man much more than to a sheep.(556) We must not on the Sabbath-day perform daily wonted tasks for hire, although we may do those things which time and place suggest to us for the good of our neighbour and all other living creatures, and especially for the honour of God.(557)


Verse 15

Matthew 12:15. ἀνεχῶρησεν, He departed This is especially referred to in Matthew 12:19. Our Lord avoided noise.


Verse 16

Matthew 12:16. ἵνα μὴ, that they should not) Such was the authority of Jesus, even commanding silence to the multitude.(558)


Verse 18

Matthew 12:18. ἰδοὺ παῖς ΄ου, ὃν ᾑρέτισα· ἀγαπητός ΄ου, εἰς ὃν εὐδόκησεν ψυχή ΄ου· θήσω τὸ πνεῦμά ΄ου ἐπʼ αὐτὸν, καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ· οὐκ ἐρίσει οὐδὲ κραυγάσει, οὐδὲ ἀκούσει τὶς ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ· κάλαμον συντετριμμένον οὐ κατεάξει, καὶ λίνον τυφόμενον οὐ σβέσει· ἓως ἂν ἐκβάλῃ εἰς νῖκος τὴν κρίσιν· καὶ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσι,—Behold My Servant, whom I have chosen; My Beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall announce judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory. And, in His name shall the Gentiles trust. The LXX. thus render Isaiah 42:1-4,— ἰακὼβ παῖς ΄ου, ἀντιλήψομαι αὖτοῦ· ἰσραὴλ ἐκλεκτός ΄ου, προσεδέξατο αὐτὸν ψυχή ΄ου, ἔδωκα τὸ πνεῦμά ΄ου ἐπʼ αὐτὸν, κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἐξοίσει· οὐ κράξεται, οὐδὲ ἀνήσει, οὐδὲ ἀκουσθήσεται ἔξω φωνὴ αὐτοῦ· κάλαμον συντεθλασμένον οὐ συντρίψει, καὶ λίνον καπνιζόμενον οὐ σβέσει, ἀλλὰ εἰς ἀλήθειαν ἐξοίσει κρίσιν, κ. τ. λ.(559) Jacob is My servant; I will defend him. Israel is my chosen; My soul has accepted him: I have given my Spirit upon him; he shall bear forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up [his voice]; nor shall his voice be heard without. A bruised reed shall he not crush, and smoking flax shall he not quench; but he shall bear forth judgment unto truth.— παῖς μου, my servant = the Hebrew עבדי,(560) in Isaiah 42:1. And the LXX. frequently express that Hebrew word(561) by παῖς,(562) e.g. where Moses, or even the Messiah, is spoken of. Cf. Acts 3:13; Acts 3:26; Acts 4:27; Acts 4:30. For it is not again repeated in the New Testament concerning the Messiah, either because neither the Greek παῖς, or any other word, corresponds sufficiently to that Hebrew word, which the apostles also used in the beginning, or else because neither of them is suitable to our Lord’s state of glorification. The words, servant and beloved, are parallel; and also, I have chosen, and I am well pleased.— ᾑρέτισα, I have chosenαἱρετίζειν = αἱρετὸν ὁρίζειν, to set apart as chosen.— εἰς ὅν, towards whom) The preposition εἰς denotes the perpetual tendency of the Father’s mind towards His Beloved [Son]. See 2 Peter 1:17.— κρίσιν, judgment) salutary to men. See Matthew 12:20, and John 16:11.— κρίσις, judgment, is the separation of sin and righteousness.— τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, to the Gentiles) when He shall have departed from the Jews.— ἀπαγγελεῖ, He shall announce) He both performed and announced it. The future tense is employed here; but the past afterwards by St Paul, Ephesians 2:17 [with reference to the same matter].


Verse 19

Matthew 12:19. φωνὴν αὐτοῦ, His voice) sc. from the house. This example of the lowliness and meekness of Jesus aptly precedes the manifestation of His severity in Matthew 12:34; thus also He wept when about to enter Jerusalem, and then expelled them that bought and sold from the temple.


Verse 20

Matthew 12:20. κάλαμον, a reed) In Hebrew קנה.(563) Jerome ad. Algasiam,(564) quæJames 2, interprets the bruised reed of Israel; and the smoking flax, of the people congregated from the Gentiles, who, the fire of the natural law being extinguished, were enveloped in the errors of a most bitter smoke, which is hurtful to the eyes, and of a thick darkness. Whom He not only forbore to extinguish and reduce to ashes, but also, on the contrary, from the spark, which was small and all but dying, aroused great flames, so that the whole world should burn with that fire of our Lord and Saviour which He came to send upon earth, and desires to kindle in the hearts of all.— οὐ κατεάξει, οὐ σβέσει, shall He not break, shall He not quench) An instance of Litotes for “He shall especially cherish.” Cf. Matthew 12:7, ch. Matthew 11:28; Isaiah 42:3; Isaiah 61:1-3.— ἐκβάλῃ, send forth, extend) In the Hebrew יוציא and ישים. In the S. V. both verbs(565) are commonly rendered by ἐκβάλλειν, to extend.— εἰς νῖκος, unto victory) The LXX. frequently render קנצח (for ever) by εἰς νῖκος, which is the force of the phrase in this passage; i.e. so that nothing may resist them for ever.


Verse 20-21

Matthew 12:20-21. κρίσιν· καὶ τῷ, κ. τ. λ.) After κρίσιν the LXX. have ἀναλάμψει καὶ οὐθραυσθήσεται ἕως ἂν θῆ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς κρίσιν, καὶ ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν. He shall shine forth, and He shall not be broken, until He establish judgment on the earth: and in His name shall the Gentiles trust. And on this verse of Isaiah (viz. Isaiah 42:4) Jerome thus comments: “But that which follows, ‘He shall shine, and shall not be consumed, until He establish judgment on the earth,’ Matthew the evangelist has not inserted. Or else the words between ‘judgment’ and ‘judgment’ have been lost by the error of a transcriber, for which we have given this interpretation, ‘He shall not be sad nor turbulent, but shall always preserve an equability of aspect.’ Aquila and Theodotion have interpreted it, He shall not darken, and He shall not flee, until He establish judgment on the earth. And the meaning is, He shall repel none by the sadness of His aspect, nor be hasty to punish, since He has reserved the reality of judgment (veritatem judicii) for the last time.” The intervening passage in the Hebrew runs thus: לא יכהה ולא ירוץ עד ישים בארץ משפט, rendered in the E.V. He shall not fail nor he discouraged (margin, be broken). Jansen(566) rejects the suspicion of Jerome of the chasm admitted by the transcriber, but Drusius(567) adopts it, not undeservedly. Moreover, since the Evangelist, in the whole of this passage, differs widely from the words of the LXX., you will not easily discover by what Greek words the Hebrew hemistich of Isaiah has been expressed in St Matthew. The sentence itself, indeed, most becomingly expresses the placid and moderate action of the Messiah. See Apparatus, p. 474(568) [2d Edition, p. 118].

Grotius rightly opposes the insertion of the words. What Isaiah, Isaiah 42:3, repeated twice, viz. “bring forth judgment unto truth,” Matthew 12:4, “set judgment on the earth;” Matthew omitting the poetic pleonasm, condenses into one, and takes the ‘until’ from Matthew 12:4, and “bring forth judgment to victory” from Matthew 12:3. He also expresses the sense of the last clause of verse 3 (“bring forth judgment unto truth”) more fully—ED.

The margin of the larger Ed. holds the proposed insertion of the words (Jerome’s) doubtful. The margin of the 2d Ed. and the Germ. Vers. altogether omit them.—E. B.


Verse 21

Matthew 12:21. καὶ, κ. τ. λ., and, etc.) Jerome ad. Algasium, in the passage cited above, refers to these words those of Isaiah. He shall shine, and shall not be broken, until He establish judgment on the earth: so that, says he, the light of His preaching shall at length shine forth in the world, and [He] be consumed and overcome by the devices of no one, until He establish judgment on the earth, and that be fulfilled which was written, Thy will be done, as in heaven so on earth.— ὀνόματι, name) In the Hebrew the word is תורה, law. The whole Gospel is a discourse on the name of Christ.


Verse 22

Matthew 12:22. δαιμονιζόμενος, one possessed with a devil) extremely miserable.— καὶ λαλεῖν καὶ βλέπειν, both spake and saw) The order of the miracle appears to be thus expressed.


Verse 24

Matthew 12:24. ἀκούσαντες, when they heard) sc. what the people said.— οἷτος, this) man. A contemptuous mode of expression.(569) [E. V. This fellow].— εἰ μὴ, except) A vehement affirmation.— ἐν τῷ βεελζεβοὺλ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίων, by Beelzebub the prince of the devils) They call Satan thus. In the Old Testament this was the name of an idol. Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:20.


Verse 25

Matthew 12:25. ἐνθυμήσεις, thoughts) most bitter ones; cf. Matthew 12:34-35.—— βασιλεία, kingdom) First the kingdom of Satan is treated of, then his house, and, in ver 26, Satan himself; whose kingdom contains wicked men, whose house, devils.— οὐ σταθήσεται, shall not be established, shall not be made to stand) sc. by its master or lord. Ammonius(570) says: σταθῆναι μέν ἐστι τὸ ὑφʼ ἑτέρου· στῆναι δὲ, τὸ κατʼ ἰδίαν ῥώμην, καὶ προαίρεσιν, i.e. σταθῆναι is to stand by means of another, but στῆναι is to stand by its own strength and will.


Verse 26

Matthew 12:26. εἰ σατανᾶς τὸν σατανᾶν ἐκβάλλει, if Satan cast out Satan) Satan or the devil is one. I, says our Lord, cast out Satan. In the kingdom of darkness there is none greater than Satan. If therefore your words are true, it must be Satan who casts out Satan. But this is clearly absurd: one kingdom, one city, one house, is not divided against itself; neither is one spirit divided against himself. The noun is used for the reciprocal pronoun ( ἑαυτόν) as in Exodus 16:7; Leviticus 14:15; Leviticus 14:26; 1 Kings 8:1; 1 Kings 10:13; 1 Kings 12:21; 2 Kings 17:31. This does not however prevent the supposition, that the accusative τὸν σατανᾶν, Satan, is put by synecdoche for his comrades. Thus, for example, you might say, “The Gaul destroyed himself,” if at any time one Gallic cohort should put another to the sword. Thus Satan would cast himself out, i.e., Satan, the prince, who is one, would cast out those whom he knew to be his own, his comrades.— βασιλεία, kingdom) which is however very stable. Satan is said to have a kingdom, and yet he is never called a king, for he is an usurper.


Verse 27

Matthew 12:27. οἱ υἱοὶ ὑμῶν, your sons) whom you cannot but accuse, says Jesus, if you calumniate Me. See also Mark 9:38, and cf. Acts 19:13.— ὑμῶν, your) whom you do not harass in this manner, since they are of your own race and discipline.— ἐκβάλλουσι, cast out(571)) See ch. Matthew 8:22, and Mark 9:38.— αὐτοὶ, they) emphatically.


Verse 27-28

Matthew 12:27-28. εἰεἰ δε, if—but if) A dilemma.


Verse 28

Matthew 12:28. εἰ, κ. τ. λ. if, etc.) The first portion of the dilemma having been dismissed, this particle has the force of since.— ἐκβάλλω, I cast out) Jesus in every way destroyed the kingdom of Satan.— ἄρα, therefore) The expulsion of Satan, together with his belongings, is the mark and token of the kingdom of God; for this was reserved for the Messiah.— ἔφθασεν, has prevented)(572) This word is used here in its strict and proper sense, and intimates something important; cf. πρῶτον, first, Matthew 12:29.— βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ, the kingdom of God) in contradistinction to that of Satan, mentioned in Matthew 12:20.


Verse 29

Matthew 12:29. , or else?)=Latin, an? A disjunctive interrogation.— οἰκίαν, house) The world was the house of Satan.— τοῦ ἰσχυροῦ, of the strong) sc. of any one who is strong; cf. Hebrews 2:14.— πρῶτον, first) Jesus bound Satan: then took his spoils.— δήση, shall have bound) by superior strength.— διαρπάσει, shall spoil) See Gnomon on Mark 3:27.


Verse 30

Matthew 12:30. μὴ ὢν, κ. τ. λ., he that is not, etc.) The latter part of the dilemma contained in Matthew 12:27-28, is confirmed by Matthew 12:29; the former by Matthew 12:30, with this meaning, your sons are not against Me, nor do they scatter abroad; therefore they are with Me, and gather with Me. There is no neutrality in the kingdom of God; that activity which is natural to man is exercised either in good or in evil, especially in the case of those who hear the word of God. The work and cause of Christ is, however, simple and pure; and though it has so many enemies and adversaries, it overpowers them all, nor does it enter into collusion with them: see Luke 12:51. This verse forms a Divine axiom.— συνάγων, that gathereth) The work of Christ and of Christians is to gather; see ch. Matthew 23:37, John 11:52. This word corresponds with the Hebrew קהלת,(573) one that gathereth, or a preacher.


Verse 31

Matthew 12:31. βλασφημία, blasphemy) The most atrocious kind of sin. He who insults the majesty of an earthly king by injurious language, is much more severely punished than he who steals many thousands of gold pieces.— ἀφεθήσεται, shall be forgiven) so that the punishment may be remitted to the penitent.— τοῦ πνεύματος βλασφημία, the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost) Sin against the Holy Spirit is one thing, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is another. The word ἀμαρτία, sin, is not repeated here. The sinner injures himself by sin: the blasphemer affects many others with irreparable harm. And the Pharisees blasphemed the Holy Spirit, not in a mere ordinary holy man, but in the Messiah Himself.


Verse 32

Matthew 12:32.(574) τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦʼ ανθρώπου, the Son of Man) This expression is used in accordance with our Lord’s condition as it appeared to men, inasmuch as He was then conversing with them on an equal footing, see Philippians 2:7, as He is described in ch. Matthew 11:19; cf. also Gnomon on ch. Matthew 16:13. It is not therefore easy, in these times, to say anything against the Son of Man: it is more easy to commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.(575)οὔτεοὔτε, κ. τ. λ., neither—neither, etc.) i.e., he shall in both drain to the dregs the most sure and most grievous punishment. See Chrysostom on this passage.


Verse 33

Matthew 12:33. καὶ, and) Understand again ποιήσατε, make; resolving the imperative into the future.— καλὸν, good) The Jews wished to be a good tree with bad fruit, though they plainly knew it to be contrary to the truth.


Verse 34

Matthew 12:34. τῆς καρδίας, τὸ στόμα, of the heart, the mouth) See ch. Matthew 15:18; Romans 10:9; 2 Corinthians 4:13.


Verse 35

Matthew 12:35. θησαυροῦ, treasure) There is truly treasure and hidden abundance in every man.(576)τὰ ἀγαθὰπονηρὰ, the good things, evil things) The article has frequently a relative value: I have therefore sometimes thought that it was on that account added to ἀγαθὰ, good things, as being already mentioned in Matthew 12:34, and not to πονηρὰ, which does not there occur. But many have either written or omitted the article too promiscuously.(577) The ancient Cambridge MS. has ἀγαθὰ without an article.(578)

τὰ ante πονηρὰ) Er. Bas. α. β. γ., etc., τὰ Comp. Aug. 2. Byz. Par. 6, vel plures; Chrys. Articulus in priore colo lectus, in altero non lectus, medium: et articulus sæpe vim relativam habet: ideo ad τὰ ἀγαθὰ versu 34 laudata, non ad πονηρὰ, ibidem non memorata, adhiberi, aliquando mihi visus est, unde alii bis, alii ne semel quidem, alii posteriore tantum loco scribendum putarint. Sed nimis promiscue, etc.,” as in Gnomon.—(I. B.)

In the margin of Ed. 2, and in Vers. Germ., the article τὰ is omitted.—E. B.

BD omits τὰ before ἀγαθά. Perhaps the τὰ of Rec. Text crept in from the τὸ ἀγαθὸν of Luke 6:35, through the Harmonies. L δ read also τὰ πονηρά. But the primary authorities oppose this reading.—ED.


Verse 36

Matthew 12:36. ῥῆμα, word) A nominative absolute, as in Luke 21:6; John 17:2; Acts 7:40; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 3:21, and in the S. V. of Psalms 17(18):31.— ἀργὸν, idle) not only evil. Goodness of treasury does not produce even anything idle.(579)ἀποδώσουσι λόγον, they shall render account) i.e., they shall pay the penalty of. A metonymy of the antecedent for the consequent.


Verse 37

Matthew 12:37. (580) ἐκ, κ. τ. λ., by, etc.) Words exhibit the righteousness or unrighteousness, which is in the heart.


Verse 38

Matthew 12:38. ἀπεκρίθησαν, κ. τ. λ., answered, etc.) As though they would not otherwise believe the words which they had just heard.— θέλομεν, we wish) Why do we wish? Because it so pleases us. They thus deny the signs which our Lord had already performed.— ἀπὸ σοῦ, from Thee) i.e. from Thee Thyself, as in ch. Matthew 16:1ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, from heaven.


Verse 39

Matthew 12:39. γεμεὰ, a generation) A race of the same age and disposition.— μοιχαλὶς, adulterous) i.e. strictly so speaking: see ch. Matthew 5:32; and also, by synecdoche, very guilty; see James 4:4.— σημεῖον, a sign) and one too of a certain special kind. This word is thrice repeated here with great emphasis; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:12, where the meaning is, They wish for an occasion, and no occasion is given them; which resembles what is said here, They seek for a sign, and no sign shall be given them.— ἐπιζητεῖ seeketh in addition) i.e. beyond those which it has already seen, it requires further signs, as if it had seen none yet.— τὸ σημεῖον ἰωνᾶ, the sign of Jonah) that is such a one as was given in Jonah.


Verse 40

Matthew 12:40. ἰωνὰς, Jonas) Jonas did not then die, but yet it was as much believed that he would not return from the fish, as it was that Jesus would not return from the heart of the earth; yet both of them did return.— ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ τοῦ κήτους, in the belly of the whale) We ought not to doubt that Jonah was in the belly of the whale, on account of the narrow throat of some animals of that kind. For there are various sorts of whales, and in these days, the bodies of men are found in their stomachs; and even if such were not the case, we must suppose that fish especially made for the occasion; see Jonah 2:1.— ἔσται, shall be) A sign for the future, as in John 2:19; John 6:62; John 6:39.— γῆς, of the earth) From thence shall they have a sign, and not one from heaven before that, although they sought it thence; cf. Luke 11:16. No signs, except such as were exhibited from the earth, and performed for the good of men, were suitable to the Messiah’s state of humiliation. They did not know that the sign of that time was suitable to that time; see ch. Matthew 16:3. Afterwards signs were shown, and shall be shown from heaven: see Acts 2:19; Matthew 24:30.— τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας, three days and three nights) No one doubts that Jesus was in the heart of the earth three days.—He remained there however only two nights, as far as night signifies the darkness interposed between day and day (cf. Mark 14:30); and yet the calculation of three days, and the same number of nights, holds good if you do not interpret it with astronomical exactness, but resolve it by synecdoche. For three days and three nights are the periphrasis of a single idea, and have the force of a single word and term, if such existed, by which the remaining of Jesus in the sepulchre is expressed, as if you should say a-space-of-three-days-and-nights (triduinoctium), or three-nights-and-days (tria noctidua). Three days might have been simply expressed, but this is the idiom of the sacred style, that in indicating continuous time the intervening nights are added; see ch. Matthew 4:2; Genesis 7:4; 1 Samuel 30:12-13; Job 2:13. And then it sounds better to say(581) three days and three nights, than three days and two nights, although the Lord was buried on the actual day of the preparation, not on the night preceding and joined to it, and the space of twenty-four hours is regarded simply as a natural day without the change of darkness and light; and in fact the first night-and-day, used synecdochically,(582) was from about the tenth hour of the Friday up to the night exclusively;(583) the second and fullest, from the beginning of that night up to the end of the Sabbath and beginning of the following night; the third, strictly speaking, from the beginning of the following night up to the resurrection of the Lord, and the rising of the sun on Sunday morning. Two nights, therefore, were certainly joined with two days; nor does one night taken from one day, i.e. the first, affect the truth of the language, which denominates the thing in question from its superior part (locutionis a potiori(584) rem denominantis). In fine, there were not two nights and days, nor four; therefore there were three. The Hebrew mode of expression is agreeable to this; concerning which, see Lightfoot and Wolfe on this passage, and Michaelis on Joshua 2:16. Although what I have here said may satisfy a reader who is not unreasonable, I would also further observe, that the synecdoche does not belong so much to the three-days-and-three-nights as to the actual remaining in the heart of the earth. Scripture indeed frequently defines a certain time, and expresses not the whole matter which commensurately and exactly occupied that time, but a part of the matter longer in duration than the other parts; as, for example, the four hundred and thirty years of the sojourning in Egypt, Exodus 12:40; and thus passim the whole book of Judges. In this passage, therefore, the remaining in the heart of the earth, i.e. in the sepulchre, is expressed, but at the same time the whole period of the Passion is implied, certainly from the agony in Gethsemane, when Jesus fell on the earth which He was the next day to enter, and from the capture by which the Jews commenced their undertaking to destroy that Temple (as Erasmus thinks, Annot. F. 134). Nay, the glorious beginning of the three days on Thursday is clearly intimated, in John 13:31 [comp. Harmon. Evang. p. 310, 366], as dating from the time when the Jews bargained for the Saviour, who was to be committed to the earth. The remaining in the earth, taken in a wider signification, includes all these things; see Psalms 71:20. For the Son of Man was a sign to that generation, not only in His sepulchre, but most especially in His passion; see John 8:28. In this manner, the three days and three nights are exactly completed from the dawn of Thursday to the dawn of Sunday. The time of the death of the two witnesses is exactly defined, Revelation 11, to be three and a half days; therefore we ought to consider that the three days and three nights of our Lord’s remaining in the middle of the earth have been also exactly defined. The middle, or heart, of the earth should not be precisely sought for; but these phrases are opposed to the earth itself, on the surface of which Christ dwelt for more than thirty years.


Verse 41

Matthew 12:41. ἄνδερες νινευῖται, men of Nineveh) whose example was followed by their wives and children. In the following verse, the example of one woman is added, who heard a wise man, though it might seem more natural for the weaker sex to seek prophecy than wisdom.— ἀναστήσονται, shall rise) In the next verse, we find ἐγερθήσεται, shall he raised up; cf. in Luke 11:32; Luke 11:31; shall rise of their own accord, shall be raised up by the Divine volition. The force of each word is contained in the other.— μετὰ, withκατακρινοῦσιν, shall condemn) Cf. Romans 2:27. Therefore, at the Last Judgment, those whose conduct is similar or opposite,(585) will be pitted in turn against each other.— εἰς, at) The faith of the Ninevites is hereby(586) asserted (proprie dicitur).—See Jonah 3:5. Cf. the use of εἰς, in Romans 4:20.— κήρυγμα, preaching) without miracles.(587)ἰωνᾶ, of Jonah) who was mentioned also in Matthew 12:39. The messengers of salvation are prophets, wise men, and scribes; see ch. Matthew 23:34. It did not become the Lord to act the Scribe; see John 7:15, and cf. Gnomon on Luke 4:16 : but He, the greatest Prophet, from the race of prophets selects him who best suited this occasion, namely Jonah; and, being wisdom itself, He, from the race of wise men, selects that distinguished wise man, Solomon; and declares that Something Greater than either of them was then present. Both of them had been believed without signs.— πλεῖον, Something Greater) He who is rather to be heard.(588)ὧδε, here) close at hand, cf. in the following verse.— ἐκ τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς, from the uttermost parts of the earth.


Verse 42

Matthew 12:42. νότου, of the south) from Arabia-Felix.— πλεῖον σαλομῶνος, Something Greater than Solomon) Solomon was wise, but here is Wisdom itself.—See Luke 11:49.


Verse 43

Matthew 12:43. ὅταν, κ. τ. λ., when, etc.) Having rebuked and dismissed the interruption of the Pharisees, Jesus pursues those matters which depend upon Matthew 12:30; cf. Luke 11:23-24.— ἐξέλθῃ, has gone out) as had been said in Matthew 12:29.— διέρχεται, he goeth through) one after another.— ἀνύδρων, without water) Where there is no water, men do not dwell; see Psalms 107:35-36.— ἀναπαύσιν, rest) Rest is wished for by every created being. The devils think that man is their proper resting-place.— οὐχ εὑρίσκει, findeth none) sc. except in man. It is miserable always to seek and never to find it.


Verse 44

Matthew 12:44. οἶκόν μου, my house) What the enemy had once occupied, he considers as a portion of his property.— ἐξῆλθον, I came out) He speaks as if he had not been cast forth See the pride of the unclean spirit, which shows itself not merely in this word, but from his whole speech, as though it had been at his option either to come out or to return. Our Lord uses the same word without any particular emphasis in Matthew 12:43. The same word may either have emphasis, or be without emphasis, in different speeches, according to the different condition and mind of the speaker.— ἑλθὸν, when he is come) for the sake of reconnoitering.— εὑρίσκει, κ. τ. λ., he finds, etc.) Therefore, the house was not so before the enemy had been cast forth.— σχολάζοντα, vacant) Tranquillity, although in itself good, is not far distant from peril. The same verb σκολάζειν occurs in the S. V. of Exodus 5:8; Exodus 5:17, for רפה, to be idle.— σεσαρωμένον, swept) i.e., cleared from evils.— κεκοσμημένον, adorned) sc. with good things; see Matthew 12:28. The enemy seeks especially clean places to rest in, not that they may remain clean, but that he may render them also unclean.


Verse 45

Matthew 12:45. τότε, then) sc. when he has reconnoitred it.— ἑπτὰ, seven) Therefore, counting him, there are eight. The fathers have numbered also eight deadly sins: see Columbanus,(589) and Goldastus(590) on him; also Ephraem Syrus,(591) f. υκβ. The seven, however, differ from that one in wickedness, perhaps also among themselves. The greater number includes the lesser numbers also disjunctively; cf. Luke 8:8, with Matthew 13:8. Therefore, six spirits may occupy one, five another, four another, etc.— πονηρότερα, more evil) i.e., operating with greater subtilty, not by violent paroxysms. There are, therefore, unclean spirits who are yet less evil than others; and there are other spirits exceedingly malignant.— κατοικεῖ; inhabit) make their habitation more perseveringly than before.— χείρονα, worse) Seven times worse and more.— καὶ, also) That which happened to the man in his body, shall be done to this generation spiritually.(592)


Verse 46

Matthew 12:46. ΄ήτηρ, mother) It is clear that, on this occasion, the thoughts and feelings of Mary were not in unison with those of her Son.—(593) αὐτῷ, unto Him) as if for His sake.(594)


Verse 48

Matthew 12:48. τίς ἐστιν, κ. τ. λ., who is, etc.) He does not scorn His mother, but He places His Father before her (see Matthew 12:50): and, with reference to this principle, He does not acknowledge His mother and brethren; and uses this form of words to convey a reproof.


Verse 49

Matthew 12:49. καὶ, κ. τ. λ., and, etc.) The greatest gentleness and sobriety are here combined with the greatest seventy.(595)ἰδοὺ, behold) corresponding to the same word in Matthew 12:47.


Verse 50

Matthew 12:50. ποιήσῃ, shall do) He does not say does, but He speaks somewhat conditionally.— τὸ θέλημα, the will) by which we are born again.(596)αὐτὸς, he) This man, and he only.— ἀδελφὸς, brother) This word is said for the third time with great force.— καὶ ἀδελφὴ, and sister) The plural appellation of brethren in Matthew 12:46-49, includes sisters also.— μήτηρ, mother) The climax.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 12:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/matthew-12.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 5th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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