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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Mark 12

 

 

Verses 1-12

And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.

For the exposition, see the notes at Matthew 21:33-46.

The time of this section appears to be still the third day of Christ's last week-Tuesday. Matthew introduces the subject by saying (Matthew 22:15), "Then went the Pharisees and took counsel how they might entangle Him in His talk."


Verse 13

And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.

And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees - "their disciples," says Matthew; probably young and zealous scholars in that hardening school.

And of the Herodians. See the note at Matthew 22:16. In Luke 20:20 these willing tools are called, "spies, which should feign themselves just (or 'righteous') men, that they might take hold of His words, that so they might deliver Him unto the power and authority of the governor." Their plan, then, was to entrap Him into some expression which might be construed into disaffection to the Roman government; the Pharisees themselves being notoriously discontented with the Roman yoke.


Verse 14

And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?

And when they were come, they say unto him, Master - or 'teacher' [ Didaskale (Greek #1320)] -- We know that thou art true, and carest for no man; for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth. By such flattery-though they said only the truth-they hoped to throw Him off His guard.

Is it lawful to give tribute [ keenson (G2778)] to Caesar, or not? It was the civil poll-tax paid by all enrolled in the 'Census.' See the note at Matthew 17:25.


Verse 15

Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.

Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy , [ hupokrisin (Greek #5272)] - "their wickedness" [ poneerian (Greek #4189)] Matthew 22:18; "their craftiness" [ panourgian (Greek #3834)] Luke 20:23. The malignity of their hearts took the form of craft, pretending what they did not feel-an anxious desire to be guided aright in a matter which to a scrupulous few might seem a question of some difficulty. Seeing perfectly through this, He

Said unto them, Why tempt ye me? - "hypocrites!"

Bring me a penny, [ deenarion (G1220)], that I may see it - or "the tribute money" (Matthew 22:19).


Verse 16

And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's.

And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image , [ eikoon (Greek #1504)] - stamped upon the coin,

And superscription? [ epigrafee (Greek #1923)] - the words encircling it on the observe side.

And they said unto him, Cesar's.


Verse 17

And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.

And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's. Putting it in this general form, it was impossible for section itself to dispute it, and yet it dissolved the snare.

And to God the things that are God's. How much is there in this profound but to them startling addition to the maxim, and how incomparable is the whole for fullness, brevity, clearness, weight!

And they marveled at him - "at His answer, and held their peace" (Luke 20:26), "and left Him, and went their way" (Matthew 22:22).


Verse 18

Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,

Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection - "neither angel nor spirit" (Acts 23:7). They were the materialists of the day. See the note at Acts 23:7.

And they asked him, saying,


Verses 19-22

Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

Master, Moses wrote unto us (Deuteronomy 25:5), If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him ... And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.


Verse 23

In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. In the resurrection therefore [when they shall rise]. The clause in brackets is of doubtful authority, and Tregelles omits it; but Lachmann and Tischendorf retain it.

Whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her wife.


Verse 24

And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?

And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures - regarding the future state,

Neither the power of God? - before which a thousand such difficulties vanish.


Verse 25

For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.

For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage - "neither can they die anymore" (Luke 20:36). Marriage is ordained to perpetuate the human family; but as there will be no breaches by death in the future state, this ordinance will cease.

But are as the angels which are in heaven. In Luke it is "equal unto the angels" [ isangeloi (Greek #2465)]: but as the subject is death and resurrection, we are not warranted to extend the equality here taught beyond the one point-the immortality of their nature. A beautiful clause is added in Luke - "and are the children of God" - not in respect of character, which is not here spoken of, but of nature - "being the children of the resurrection," as rising to an undecaying existence (Romans 8:21; Romans 8:23), and so being the children of their Father's mortality (1 Timothy 6:16).


Verse 26

And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? And as touching the dead, that they rise; have ye not read in the book of Moses - "even Moses" (Luke 20:37), whom they had just quoted for the purpose of entangling Him,

How in the bush God spake unto him , [ epi (Greek #1909) tou (Greek #3588) batou (Greek #942)] - either 'at the bush,' as the same expression is rendered in Luke 20:37, that is, when he was there; or, 'in the (section of his history regarding the) bush.' The structure of our verse suggests the latter sense, which is not unusual.

Saying (Exodus 3:6), I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?


Verse 27

He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.

He is not the God of the dead, but [the God] of the living , [ ho (Greek #3588) Theos (Greek #2316) nekroon (Greek #3498) alla (Greek #243) Theos (Greek #2316) zoontoon (Greek #2198)] - not 'the God of dead but [the God] of living persons.' The word in brackets is almost certainly an addition to the genuine text, and critical editors exclude it. "For all live unto Him" [ autoo (Greek #846)] Luke 20:38 - `in His view,' or 'in His estimation.' This last statement-found only in Luke-though adding nothing to the argument, is an important additional illustration. It is true, indeed, that to God no human being is dead or ever will be, but all mankind sustain an abiding conscious relation to Him; but the "all" here mean "those who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world." These sustain a gracious covenant-relation to God which cannot be dissolved. (Compare Romans 6:10-11.) In this sense our Lord affirms that for Moses to call the Lord the "GOD" of His patriarchal servants, if at that moment they had no existence, would be unworthy of Him.

He "would be ashamed to be called their God, if He had not prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:16). It was concluded by some of the early Fathers, from our Lord's resting His proof of the Resurrection on such a passage as this, instead of quoting some much clearer testimonies of the Old Testament, that the Sadducees, to whom this was addressed, acknowledged the authority of no part of the Old Testament but the Pentateuch; and this opinion has held its ground even until now. But as there is no ground for it in the New Testament, so Josephus is silent upon it; merely saying that they rejected the Pharisaic traditions. It was because the Pentateuch was regarded by all classes as the fundamental source of the Hebrew Religion, and all the succeeding books of the Old Testament but as developments of it, that our Lord would show that even there the doctrine of the Resurrection was taught. And all the rather does He select this passage, as being not a bare annunciation of the doctrine in question, but as expressive of that glorious truth out of which the Resurrection springs. "And when the multitude heard this (says Matthew 22:33), they were astonished at His doctrine." "Then (adds Luke 20:39-40) certain of the scribes answering said, Master" - `Teacher' [ Didaskale (Greek #1320)], "thou hast well said" - enjoying His victory over the Sadducees. "And after that they durst not ask Him any [question at all]" - neither party could; both being for the time utterly foiled.

"But when the Pharisees had heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together" (Matthew 22:34).


Verse 28

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?

And one of the scribes , [ grammateoon (Greek #1122)] - "a lawyer" [ nomikos (Greek #3544)], says Matthew (

); that is, a teacher of the law,

Came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him - manifestly in no bad spirit. When Matthew therefore says he came "tempting," or "trying him," as one of the Pharisaic party who seemed to enjoy the defeat He had given to the Sadducees, we may suppose that though somewhat priding himself upon his insight into the law, and not indisposed to measure his knowledge with One in whom he had not yet learned to believe, he was nevertheless an honest-hearted, fair disputant.

Which is the first commandment of all? - first in importance; the primary, leading commandment, the most fundamental one. This was a question which, with some others, divided the Jewish teachers into rival schools. Our Lord's answer is in a strain of respect very different from what He showed to cavillers-ever observing His own direction, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine; lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matthew 7:6).


Verse 29

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is. The readings here vary considerably. Tischendorf and Tregelles read simply [ Prootee (Greek #4413) estin (Greek #2076)] 'the first is;' and they are followed by Meyer and Alford. But though the authority for the precise form of the received text is slender, a form almost identical with it seems to have most weight of authority. Our Lord here gives His explicit sanction to the distinction between commandments of a more fundamental and primary character, and commandments of a more dependent and subordinate nature; a distinction of which it is confidently asserted by a certain class of critics that the Jews knew nothing, that our Lord and his apostles nowhere lay down, and which has been invented by Christian divines. (Compare Matthew 23:23.)

Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord. This every devout Jew recited twice every day, and the Jews do it to this day; thus keeping up the great ancient national protest against the polytheisms and pantheisms of the pagan-world: it is the great utterance of the national faith in One Living and Personal God - "ONE JEHOVAH!"


Verse 30

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment.


Verse 31

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Since every word here is of the deepest and most precious import, we must take it in all its details.

In Mark 12:30, "And thou shalt" shows here the language of law, expressive of God's claims. What then are we here bound down to do? One word is made to express it. And what a word! Had the essence of the divine law consisted in deeds, it could not possibly have been expressed in a single word; because no one deed is comprehensive of all others embraced in the law. But as it consists in an affection of the soul, one word suffices to express it-but only one. Fear, though due to God and enjoined by Him, is limited in its sphere and distant in character. Trust, Hope, and the like, though essential features of a right state of heart toward God, are called into action only by personal necessity, and so are-in a good sense, it is true, but still are properly-selfish, affections; that is to say, they have respect to our own well-being. But LOVE is an all-inclusive affection, embracing not only every other affection proper to its Object, but all that is proper to be done to its Object; for as love spontaneously seeks to please its Object, so, in the case of men to God, it is the native well-spring of a voluntary obedience. It is, besides, the most personal of all affections. One may fear an event, one may hope for an event, one may rejoice in an event; but one can love only a Person. It is the tenderest, the most unselfish, the most divine of all affections. Such, then, is the affection in which the essence of the divine law is declared to consist.

Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God. We now come to the glorious Object of that demanded affection. Thou shalt love "the Lord, thy God" - that is, Yahweh (Hebrew #3068), the Self-Existent One, who has revealed Himself as the "I AM," and there is "none else;" who, though by his name Yahweh apparently at an unapproachable distance from His finite creatures, yet bears to Thee a real and definite relationship, out of which arises His claim and Thy duty-of LOVE. But with what are we to love Him? Four things are here specified.

With thy heart. First, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy heart." This sometimes means 'the whole inner man' (as Proverbs 4:23): but that cannot be meant here; for then the other three particulars would be superfluous. Very often it means 'our emotional nature'-the seat of feeling as distinguished from our intellectual nature or the seat of thought, commonly cared the "mind" (as in Philippians 4:7). But neither can this be the sense of it here; because here the heart is distinguished both from the "mind" and the "soul." The "heart," then, must here mean the sincerity of both the thoughts and the feelings; in other words, 'uprightness' or 'true-heartedness,' as opposed to a hypocritical or divided affection. [So the word - leeb (Hebrew #3820) and kardia (Greek #2588) - is used in Genesis 20:6; Hebrews 10:22; and see particularly Jeremiah 3:10.]

With thy soul. But next, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God" "with thy soul." This is designed to command our emotional nature: 'Thou shalt put feeling or warmth into thine affection.'

With thy mind. Further, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God" "with thy mind." This commands our intellectual nature: 'Thou shalt put intelligence into thine affection'-in opposition to a blind devotion, or mere devoteeism.

With thy strength. Lastly, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God" with thy strength. This commands our energies: 'Thou shalt put intensity into thine affection' - "Do it with thy might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Taking these four things together, the command of the Law is, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy powers-with a sincere, a fervid, an intelligent, an energetic love.' But this is not all that the Law demands. God will have all these qualities in their most perfect exercise. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," says the Law, "with all thy heart," or, with perfect sincerity; "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul," or, with the utmost fervour; "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind," or, in the fullest exercise of an enlightened reason; and "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy strength," or, with the whole energy of our being! So much for the First Commandment.

And the second is like - "unto it" (Matthew 22:39); as demanding the same affection, and only the extension of it, in its proper measure, to the creatures of Him whom we thus love-our brethren in the participation of the same nature, and neighbours, as connected with us by ties that render each dependent upon and necessary to the other.

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Now, as we are not to love ourselves supremely, this is virtually a command, in the first place, not to love our neighbour with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. And thus it is a condemnation of the idolatry of the creature. Our supreme and uttermost affection is to be reserved for God. But as sincerely as ourselves we are to love all mankind, and with the same readiness to do and suffer for them as we should reasonably desire them to show to us. The golden rule (Matthew 7:12) is here our best interpreter of the nature and extent of these claims.

There is none other commandment greater than these - or, as in Matthew 22:40, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (see the note at Matthew 5:17). It is as if He had said, 'This is all Scripture in a nutshell; the whole law of human duty in a portable, pocket form.' Indeed, it is so simple that a child may understand it, so brief that all may remember it, so comprehensive as to embrace all possible cases. And from its very nature it is unchangeable. It is inconceivable that God should require from his rational creatures anything less, or in substance anything else, under any dispensation, in any world, at any period throughout eternal duration. He cannot but claim this-all this-alike in heaven, in earth, and in hell! And this incomparable summary of the divine law belonged to the Jewish religion! As it shines in its own self-evidencing splendour, so it reveals its own true source. The religion from which the world has received it could be none other than a God-given religion.


Verse 32

And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:

And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master [`Teacher' Didaskale (G1320)], thou hast said the truth: for there is one [God]; and there is none other but he. The genuine text here seems clearly to have been, "There is one," without the word [ Theos (Greek #2316)] "God;" and so nearly all critical editors and expositors read.


Verse 33

And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices - more, that is, than all positive institutions; thereby showing insight into the essential difference between what is moral and in its own nature unchangeable, and what is obligatory only because enjoined and only so long as enjoined.


Verse 34

And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly [ nounechoos (Greek #3562)] - rather, 'intelligently,' or 'sensibly;' not only in a good spirit, but with a promising measure of insight into spiritual things.

He said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God - for he had but to follow out a little further what he seemed sincerely to own, to find his way into the kingdom. He needed only the experience of another eminent scribe who at a later period said, "We know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin;" who exclaimed, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me?" but who added, "I thank God through Jesus Christ!" (Romans 7:14; Romans 7:24-25). Perhaps among the "great company of the priests" and other Jewish ecclesiastics who "were obedient to the faith," almost immediately after the day of Pentecost (Acts 6:7) this upright lawyer was one. But for all his nearness to the Kingdom of God, it may be he never entered it.

And no man after that durst ask any question - all feeling that they were no match for Him, and that it was vain to enter the lists with Him.


Verse 35

And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?

And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple - and "while the Pharisees were gathered together" (Matthew 22:41).

How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? - How come they to give it out, that Messiah is to be the son of David? In Matthew, Jesus asks them, "What think ye of Christ?" or of the promised and expected Messiah? "Whose son is He (to be)? They say unto Him, The son of David." The sense is the same. "He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord?" (Matthew 22:42-43).


Verse 36

For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

For David himself said by the Holy Spirit (Psalms 110:1), The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.


Verse 37

David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.

David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? There is but one solution of this difficulty. Messiah is at once inferior to David as his son according to the flesh, and superior to him as the Lord of a kingdom of which David is himself a subject, not the sovereign. The human and divine natures of Christ, and the spirituality of His kingdom-of which the highest earthly sovereigns are honoured if they be counted worthy to be its subjects-furnish the only key to this puzzle.

And the common people , [ ho (Greek #3588) polus (Greek #4183) ochlos (Greek #3793)] - or, 'the immense crowd,' heard him gladly. "And no man was able to answer Him a word; neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any mere questions (Matthew 22:46).


Verse 38

And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,

And he said unto them in his doctrine , [ en (Greek #1722) tee (Greek #3588) didachee (Greek #1322) autou (Greek #846)] - rather, 'in His teaching;' implying that this was but a specimen of an extended discourse, which Matthew gives in full (Mark 2:3.) Luke says (Luke 20:45) this was "in the audience of all the people said unto his disciples." [The reading, 'unto them' - pros (Greek #4314) autous (Greek #846) - which Tischendorf adopts there is ill supported: Lachmann and Tregelles take the Received Text.]

Beware of the scribes, which love [or 'like' thelontoon (G2309)] to go in long clothing (see the note at Matthew 23:5), and [love] salutations in the market-places,


Verse 39

And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:

And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms, or positions, at feasts. See the note on this love of distinction, Luke 14:7; and at Matthew 6:5.


Verse 40

Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation. They took advantage of their helpless condition and confiding character, to obtain possession of their property, while by their "long prayers" they made them believe they were raised far above "filthy lucre." So much the "greater damnation" awaited them. (Compare Matthew 23:33). A life-like description this of the Romish clergy, the true successors of "the scribes."

Remarks:

(1) What an exalted illustration does our Lord's example here afford of His own direction to the Twelve and His servants in every age, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep among wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves"! And shall not we, the deeper we drink into His spirit, approach the nearer to that matchless wisdom with which, in the midst of "wolves" hungry for their prey, He not only avoided their snares but put them to silence and shame; with wise speech, even as by well-doing, putting to silence ignorance of foolish men?

(2) The things of Cesar and the things of God-or things civil and things sacred-are essentially distinct, though quite harmonious. Neither may overlap or intrude itself into the sphere of the ether. In the things of God we may not take law from men (Acts 4:19; Acts 5:29); while in honouring and obeying Cesar in his own sphere, we are rendering obedience to God Himself (Romans 13:1-2; Romans 13:5).

(3) In matters which lie entirely beyond the present sphere-as the Resurrection of the dead-the authority of the Scriptures" must decide everything; and all difficulties arising out of their teaching on this and kindred subjects must be referred, as here, to "the power of God." A seasonable directory this in our day, when physical difficulties in the way of any corporeal resurrection of the dead have almost annihilated the faith of it in the minds of many scientific Christians. While "the Scriptures" must be the sole rule of faith with Christians on this subject, let us learn to refer every difficulty in the way of believing its testimony to "the power of God" to accomplish whatever He promises. So much for the doctrine of the Resurrection generally. As to the difficulty with which the Sadducees plied our Lord-the difficulty of adjusting, in the resurrection-state, the relationships of the present life-His reply not only dissolves it, but opens to us some beautiful glimpses into the heavenly state.

The Sadducean difficulty proceeded on the supposition that the marriage-relations of the present life would require to reappear in the resurrection-state, if there was to be any. This was but one of those gross conceptions of the future life to which some minds seem prone. Since marriage is designed to supply the waste of human life here which death creates, it can have no place in a state where there is no death. The future life of the children of God, as it will be sinless, so it will be deathless. This supposes new and higher laws stamped upon their physical system, to which the purer and higher element in which they are to move will be adapted. In respect of this undecaying life they will be on a level with the angels, and a faint reflection of their Father's own immortality. Yet there is an extreme on the other side to be guarded against, of so attenuating our ideas of the resurrection-state as to amount to scarcely more than the immortality of the soul. Were this all, the resurrection of the dead would have no meaning at all. It is the body only which does or can rise from the dead; and however "spiritual" the resurrection-body is to be (1 Corinthians 15:44), it must be a body still, and therefore possessed of all the essential characteristics of a body. Never let us lose hold of this truth, one of the brightest and most distinguishing of the Christian verities.

(3) What a light is here thrown upon the historical truth and inspiration of the Pentateuch! On any lower supposition, it is incredible that our Lord should have rested the divine authority of the doctrine of the Resurrection upon such words as He has quoted from it; and when, in His subsequent question about David, He quotes Psalms 110:1-7 as what David said "in spirit" or "by the Holy Spirit," and throughout all His teaching refers to every portion of the Old Testament Scriptures as of equal divine authority, we must set our seal also to that great truth, if we would not charge our Lord either with inability to rise above the errors of His age or with unworthy accommodation to them, knowing them to be errors.

(4) Our Lord's selection of an implied evidence of the resurrection in the Pentateuch, in preference to a direct proof which He might have found in the prophets, is worthy of note, not as showing His with to confine Himself to the Pentateuch, but as encouraging us to penetrate beneath the surface of Scripture, and, in particular, to take God's own words in their most comprehensive sense. When the Lord said to Moses, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," He might seem to mean no more than that He had neither forgotten nor grown indifferent to the promises which He made, some centuries before, to those patriarchs, whose God He was when they were alive. But as our Lord read, and would have us to read, those words, they were an assurance to Moses that He and the patriarchs, dead though they were, sustained the same relation still, and that as "all (of them) lived to Him," He held Himself under pledge to them; and in now sending Moses to redeem their children from Egypt and bring them to the promised land, He was but fulfilling His engagements to the patriarchs themselves, as living and not dead men.

To superficial readers this may seem, if not far-fetched, yet not the most cogent reasoning. But the views which it opens upon the indissoluble relation that God sustains to His redeemed-which death cannot for a moment interrupt, much less destroy or impair (John 11:25-26) - as they necessarily imply a resurrection of the dead, will be deemed by all deeper thinkers to be as cogent in point of argument as they are precious in themselves. In fact, the strongest arguments for a Future State in the Old Testament are derived, not so much from explicit statements-which however are not wanting-as from the essentially indestructible character of those relations and contacts which the saints sustained to God, and the consciousness of this which the saints themselves seemed to feel; as if they took it for granted rather than reasoned it out, or even reflected upon it.

(5) The intelligent reader of the New Testament will not fail to perceive that "life" in the future world is never once ascribed to the wicked as their portion, even though a life of misery. That they exist forever is but too clear. That they will "rise" as well as the righteous, is explicitly declared; but never "from the dead" [ ek (Greek #1537) nekroon (Greek #3498)] - as if they would rise to live: They "rise to the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29), even as in the Old Testament they are said to "awake to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2). But the word "life," as expressive of the future state, is invariably reserved for the condition of the saints. Hence, when our Lord here says, "For all live unto Him," we might conclude, even although the connection did not make it clear, that He meant 'all His saints'-all the dead that die in the Lord-and they only.

(6) How unscriptural as well as gloomy is the doctrine of the sleep of the soul between death and the resurrection! The argument of our Lord here for the resurrection of the patriarchs, and consequently of the saints in general, is founded on their being even now alive. Yes; and not only are their souls in conscious life, but as God is the God of themselves-the embodied Abraham and Isaac and Jacob - "though worms have destroyed their bodies, yet in their flesh must they see God," in order to be their full selves again, and get in full the promised inheritance. Sweet consolation this "concerning them which are asleep, that we sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." They are not dead. They have but fallen asleep. Their souls are still awake; "for all live unto Him." And as to their sleeping dust, "If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

(7) In the light of the Great Commandment, what shall we think of those who talk of the Pentateuch as but fragments of the early Jewish literature, and this as embodying none but narrow and rude ideas of religion, suited to a gross age of the world, but not worthy to give law to the religious thinking of all time? Whether we compare the religious and ethical views opened up in that Commandment with the best religious thinking to be found outside the pale of Judaism during any period whatever before Christ; or compare it with the light which the teaching of Christ has shed upon Religion, and with the most advanced ideas of the present time-the peerless perfection of this monument of the Mosaic Religion stands equally forth before the unsophisticated, reflecting mind, as evidence of its supernatural origin and revealed character. And just as the deeper view of those words of the Pentateuch, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," suggest the continued life and ultimate resurrection of those patriarchs, so does the deeper study of the Great Commandment, like a "schoolmaster, bring us unto Christ, that we may be justified by faith." For who, in the view of its requirements, must not exclaim, "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin;" but "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us;" and this redemption, or rather "the love of Christ" which prompted it, "constraineth us to live no longer to ourselves, but to Him who died for us and rose again." And thus is the Law reinstated in its rightful place in our hearts; and, despairing of life through the Great Commandment, the life which we fetch out of Christ's death is a life of real, loving, acceptable obedience to that Great Commandment. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, in that wonderful invention! (8) The doctrine of the two natures-the divine and the human-in the one Person of Christ, is the only key to the satisfactory solution of many enigmas in Scripture, of which that which our Lord propounded to the scribes regarding David was but one. Accordingly, none who repudiate this doctrine have been able to retain their hold of almost any of the cardinal doctrines of Scripture, nor have held firmly even by the Scriptures themselves, of which this may be called the chief corner stone-elect, precious.


Verses 41-44

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

For the exposition, see the notes at Luke 21:1-4.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Mark 12:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/mark-12.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, August 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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