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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Matthew 22

 

 

Verses 1-46

Matthew 22:2. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king which made a marriage for his son. The marriage of the heir apparent, giving stability to the throne, protection to the subject, and glory to the empire, is a most auspicious event, and claims the most lively interest of the nation. How much more then, when sinners are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. What happier emblems could wisdom devise to attract mankind to devotion and joy, than the figures employed in this parable?

Matthew 22:3. He sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden. The jews and proselytes only, to whom were committed the oracles of God. These are called the “children of the kingdom.” Matthew 8:12. But they would not come, but treated the invitation with contempt.

Matthew 22:4. He sent forth other servants. After his ascension he gave them a fresh commission, with new powers of expostulation and entreaty, to reason with them concerning the grandeur of the preparations, the richness of the feast, and the consequences of insulting their king. “God spared not his own Son.” But they made light of it, and pursued their habits of husbandry and merchandize. To them, earth was more than heaven.

Matthew 22:7. He sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. This is what the prophet Malachi had foretold: chap. Matthew 4:1. While the jews had the power, they killed and wasted the church, and everywhere excited the gentiles to persecute them. At length the longsuffering of God burst in vengeance upon them. He sent the Roman armies in the year seventy, to destroy the rebels with famine, with pestilence, and the sword. Josephus states that in these wars eleven hundred thousand perished. — Wars of the jews, book 7.

Matthew 22:8. They which were bidden were not worthy. St. Paul brings the same charge against the jews. “Seeing ye judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the gentiles,” who are scattered in darkness and error, as wanderers in the high ways.

Matthew 22:12. Not having on a wedding garment. A conscience purged from sin, divine charity hallowing the heart, and all the fruits of righteousness by faith; in a word, holiness of heart and life.

Matthew 22:14. Many are called, but few chosen. These words are a jewish adage, obviously taken from the eighth chapter of the second book of Esdras. “Many are created, but few shall be saved.” They import that the gate of life is strait, and that few find it. None, says Erasmus, are chosen but those who obey the call to the end, Now, these words ought not to be taken in an ill sense, because in the parable God in great mercy invites both jew and gentile. Also because he is angry with them for not coming; and because he says they are not worthy, and shall not taste of his supper. Here were both meat and means, and goodwill in the king: therefore God most justly lays the cause of destruction wholly on themselves.

Matthew 22:16. With the Herodians. Of the Herodians we have various accounts. In Jerusalem great strife and emulation subsisted between the college of Shammai, and that of Hillel. When Herod ascended the throne he was violently opposed by the jews. But Manahem, a head of the sanhedrim or council, with eighty men in arms, entered the palace for Herod’s defence; and all the royal party were thence called Herodians. In their creed they differed little from the sadducees. Tertullian states, that this court faction went so far as to affirm, that Herod was the Christ. — The story of the seven brothers is taken out of the Talmud; probably one of those which St. Paul calls “old wives’ fables.” See Matthew 3:7.

Matthew 22:23. The sadducees say there is no resurrection. The rabbins asserted a future state from the words of Moses in Numbers 15:31. Deuteronomy 30:16. That soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him. Our Saviour’s answer concerning Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is yet stronger.

Matthew 22:35. Then a lawyer asked him a question. See on Mark 12:28, where the case is more largely stated.

Matthew 22:41-42. While the pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, in the temple publicly, as Mark states it in chap. 12., What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? They say, the son of David. As to the lineage of Christ from Abraham and David, to both of whom the Lord sware, Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:16. 2 Samuel 7:1; 2 Samuel 7:17, there is no variation of opinion. Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 55:4. Ezekiel 34. But as to the prophecies of his ineffable and unutterable generation, as the Son, the Word, and Wisdom of the Father, Psalms 33:6; Psalms 110:1; JEHOVAH’S servant to accomplish all his pleasure, Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 53:13. Micah 5:2, Malachi 3:1; Malachi 4:2, and a cloud of other predictions, the rabbinical theology is full of darkness and confusion. The jews mostly expected him as a secular prince, who should never die. It was therefore essential for the jews to know, that the Messiah was also David’s Adonai, the Lord, who sits on his Father’s throne, and under whose feet all things are put in subjection. How confused, how foolish must all those learned doctors look, to be thus covered with silence and shame before the people. Learn a lesson, oh christian ministers, so to read and study the holy scriptures that your plain hearers may never put you to the blush, by asking a fair bible question which you cannot answer. Let the word of God dwell in you richly in all wisdom, and be your morning study to the end of life.

REFLECTIONS.

The crowds run to feasts, they throng the halls to dine, and royal feasts especially are not deficient of guests. But from the long-expected feast of the gospel, all the invited shrink away; and when pressed too close, they kill the men that earnestly seek their salvation. Assuredly there is an enmity in the heart which must be expelled, or it will destroy the soul for ever in the regions of darkness.

The holy prophets had uniformly represented the glory of the Messiah’s reign under the idea of a universal and flourishing kingdom. The pharisees, making a temporal Messiah their vain hope, despised the rising kingdom already come. The remarkably rich and interesting parable contained in this chapter is intended to give us an idea of the splendour of this kingdom, by the sumptuous figure it employs, of an eastern monarch providing a supper at the marriage of his son, the heir of his throne.

Divesting the subject of its parabolic form, we may understand the king as denoting the divine Father. By the Son, and his marriage, we understand Jesus Christ, and his espousals with the church, confirming the new covenant with every believer. By the supper time, (and in the torrid zone the feasts are in the evening when the solar heat has ceased) we understand the opening of the gospel dispensation. By the succession of servants which the king sent, we learn the great indulgence which providence extended to the jews. In short, the whole parable is a most striking copy of the conduct of providence towards God’s ancient people.

We also learn that pure religion consists in family union, and friendship with God. Believers are the guests and friends of the king; yea, the whole church is called the Lamb’s wife, and the bride which hath made herself ready. Pure religion provides for the soul a royal feast of intellectual pleasure, and of unutterable peace, righteousness, and joy. God has spared no cost to make the festival worthy of angels and of saints. There is however in man an awful disposition to refuse the overtures of grace. The jews would not come when invited. Such is still the heart of man; unbelief has made us all brethren, and we account those enemies who would disturb us in our sins.

God is very forbearing and indulgent to ungrateful men. He sent other servants; and the change of ambassadors, when the first have not succeeded, is the highest mark of respect which one court can pay to another. God addresses again and again revolting man, and leaves nothing unsaid which can possibly gain his judgment, or interest his heart. He assumes every character of paternal compassion, and tenderly addresses the heart, that he may make it tender. He tells them that were bidden, behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed.

Neglect and excuses in regard to salvation are the highest provocations to heaven. They made light of it, and went their way, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. This conduct most insolently says to God, ‘My sins are of no moment, and thy gospel is of no value. My farm is more than thy kingdom; and as to thine anger, it gives me not the least concern.’ Nay, this is not all; where reverence is wanting, enmity predominates in the heart. The remnant took Christ’s apostles, and treated them despitefully, and slew them.

Vengeance recoils on the guilty. There are thrones in heaven to which the oppressed can appeal. God’s love burned to anger, and he sent forth the Romans, who by war, and pestilence, and famine, vanquished and burnt the city. And the judgments of God on the jews are only specimens of the vengeance which awaits all ungodly men.

The rejection of the jews was the election of the gentiles. God sent forth his servants to the poor, to beggars in the street, and to strangers in the highways. So it was that multitudes of all nations turned to God, and received the truth as it is in Jesus.

God will separate hypocrites from his friends. He found among his guests a man destitute of a wedding garment: robes on days of rejoicing were universally worn in the east. But what are we to understand by the wedding garment? Answer: being clothed with the Spirit, and adorned with all the adornings of Christ. This is the white raiment which can only be bought of Christ. Now to come unprepared was to insult the king, who was monarch of his subjects, and to bring down vengeance on the intruder. It was also an insult to the guests who were all arrayed in robes of nuptial joy. The righteousness of God by faith is the delight of all the church.

The supreme Being may also be supposed to put this question to a frantic suicide. Friend, how camest thou hither? Who sent for thee? Thy work was not done: and how didst thou dare to become the arbiter of a life thou didst not give? Why didst thou cowardly shrink from the ills of life, or from the frowns of men? And I ought here to add, that our Richard Baxter, and John Claude of Paris, have most ably discussed this parable in five sermons each. They are both finished pieces, and full of argument.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 22:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/matthew-22.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 9th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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