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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Matthew 21

 

 

Verses 1-11

FOURTH SECTION

THE PROPHETIC HOSANNA OF THE PEOPLE AND THE SURPRISE OF THE CAPITAL

Matthew 21:1-11.

( Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19. Matthew 21:1-9 the Gospel for first Advent, and for Palm-Sunday)

1And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall [will] find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me 3 And if any man say aught unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them [he sends them].[FN1] 4All[FN2] this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting [mounted, ἐπιβεβηκώς] upon an ass, and [yea upon][FN3] a colt the foal of an ass [of a beast6, of burden].[FN4] And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes [garments], and they set him [and he sat][FN5] thereon 8 And a very great multitude [most of the multitude][FN6] spread their garments in the way; [and] others cut down branches from the trees, and strewed them in the way 9 And the multitudes that went before [him],[FN7] and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna[FN8] to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest 10 And when he was come [had entered] into Jerusalem, all the city [the whole city] was moved, saying, Who is this? 11And the multitude [the multitudes][FN9] said, This is Jesus the prophet [the prophet Jesus][FN10] of [from] Nazareth of Galilee.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Matthew 21:1. Unto Jerusalem.—Jerusalem is mentioned as the goal, to assign the motive for the mission of the two disciples. Jerusalem, יְרוּשִליִם, ̓Ιερονσλήμ, ̓Ιεροσὸλυμα:—according to Ewald, possession or inheritance of peace; according to Gesenius, the people or house of peace. At all events, a seat of peace, the city of peace:[FN11] poetically, שָׁלֵם Psalm 76:8; אֲרִיאֵל, Isaiah 29:1; Isaiah 29:8; and, earlier, Judges 19:10; now called by the Mohammedans, el-Khuds [“the holy” or Beit el-Makdis,the holy house,” “the sanctuary”]. In every respect this city is the mysterious and wonderful flower of history:[FN12]—in its situation, in its history, in its religious position, and especially in its symbolical character. The city lay high; and the hills around came first into view, over which it spread gradually into the higher and lower city: the hill of Zion being the centre,—Zion, Moriah, Bezetha, Akra. Then the valleys, which made it a natural fortress: toward the west the valley of Gihon; toward the south-west and south, Genesis -hinnom; toward the east, the valley of Kidron, bounded by the low hill of Gihon, the Mount of Evil Counsel, and the Mount of Olives with its three peaks. The city belonged to the inheritance of Benjamin, but was for the most part inhabited by the tribe of Judah. As it respects the history of Jerusalem, we may distinguish the period before, and the period after, the exile. The former is subdivided into the time of the Canaanite origin of the place (Josephus calls its builder Melchizedec); the time of its gradual elevation and glory; the time of its humiliation down to the destruction of the first temple. The time after the exile may be divided into the Jewish, the Christian, and the Mohammedan periods. Wonderful have been the conquests and spoliations which Jerusalem has undergone, without being demolished.

[See the article Jerusalem in Winer’s Realwörterbuch, and in W. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible (vol1. pp981–1035, by James Fergusson, very full and elaborate with maps); Krafft’s Topographie Jerusalem! (Bonn, 1846); Barclay’s City of the Cheat King; and the well-known works on Palestine, by Robinson, von Raumer, von Schubert, Tischendorf, Schulz, Strauss, Tobler, Wolff, Bausman, etc.]

To Bethphage.—It lay, according to Matthew 21:2, straight before them, and was soon reached, פּגֵּאבֵּית house of figs. The name indicates a favorable situation on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives. “Descending about100 steps from the top of the Mount of Olives, the place is seen where Bethphage stood, though no ruin remains at this day to mark the spot: 15 stadia farther down, or a short half hour from Jerusalem ( John 11:18), we reach Bethany. The village (el Aziriyeh [from el Azir, i.e, Lazarus]) is small and poor, occupied by Arabs (and Christians); the way to Jericho runs through it. The supposed houses of Martha, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, Simon the leper, are shown to this day; but especially the sepulchre of Lazarus, hewn out of stone.” Von Raumer. Winer suggests that Bethphage lay somewhat east of Bethany; and hence that it is named before Bethany in Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29. But in Mark 11:1 the description runs backward from the starting-point: Jerusalem, Bethphage, Bethany according to which, Bethphage lay between Jerusa lem and Bethany. Robinson follows Winer in drawing the same wrong conclusion from the text.[FN13] Pococke thought that he found the ruins of Bethphage two English miles from the city; but Robinson assures us that there are no traces of it visible. The road, which passed from the valley of Bethany over the hill of Bethphage to the middle hill of the Mount of Olives, then passing downward to the valley of Kidron, was then lost in rich palm plantations and fruit and olive gardens. At the time of the Passover, the many trains of pilgrims, and the tents on the sides of the Mount of Olives (in which many pilgrims lodged), made the road look like a festal and excited encampment.

Then sent Jesus two disciples.—They are not further indicated. The sending was occasioned by the Messianic significance of the journey. The festive procession, which had come from Jericho to the neighborhood of the Mount of Olives, and halted there on account of the Sabbath, was increased on Monday morning by the adherents of Jesus who came out from Jerusalem to meet Him. On the evening before, many Jews had gone to Bethany, to see Jesus, and Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead ( John 12:9). Others were now added to these. They received Him with palm branches, and went on singing the Messianic greeting of Psalm 118:26 : Hosanna, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel. He would enter into the holy city with the emblems of the King of peace, according to Zechariah 9:9 : hence the mission of the disciples.

Matthew 21:2. Into the village.—Bethphage.

An ass, and a colt with her.—“The seeming variation of the two animals from Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30; John 12:14, is not to be derived (with de Wette and Strauss) from a misunderstanding of the prophetic passage, in which וְעַל עַיִד is the epexegetic parallel of עַל־חֲמֹר. In the same way we must understand καὶ ἐπὶ πῶλον, Matthew 21:5. Matthew also says that Jesus rode upon the colt; but the mother animal was there, which circumstance the other Evangelists pass over.” Meyer. The words of the prophet Zechariah run: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, yea, upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Here there is a parallelismus membrorum: the ass in the former clause is more fully described in the second as the foal of the ass. Strauss thinks that the Evangelist misunderstood this parallelism, and accordingly made two animals out of one. But, doubtless, the Evangelist, who understood Hebrew poetry, thought of another explanation of the parallel: that, namely, between the mother ass and her foal, as it was realized in the actual event. The Evangelists, all of them, lay stress on the fact, already predicted by the prophet, that Jesus entered the city on a foal not yet ridden. This characteristic of the animal was symbolical, as the whole procession was symbolical. A new time; a new Prince; a new animal to ride upon. But if this foal had never borne a rider, it was necessary that the mother should be led by its side, in order to quiet it for such a service.—According to Justin Martyr (Dial. c. Tryph. 63), the foal was a figure of untamed heathenism; while the ass, accustomed to burdens, was a figure of Judaism under the law.[FN14] But the contrast of the old theocracy and the young ἐκκλησία seems more obvious. In the symbolism of the prophets the ass signifies the peaceable animal of the Prince of peace, in opposition to the proud war-horse of the conqueror. (Against the frivolous witticisms of Strauss on the two animals, compare Ebrard, p480.)

Loose them.—“Strauss has no ground whatever for making this prediction a myth, with allusion to Genesis 49:11.” Meyer. The disciples were to loose the asses, which stood bound by the way, before the eyes of the standers-by; thus, believing in the word of Jesus, they were to perform an act which seemed violent, but was not Song of Solomon, inasmuch as the Lord knew beforehand the consent of these men, and communicated that assurance to the disciples.—But why did the Lord adopt such a method of entering Jerusalem? In this style of approach we see the character of His progress throughout the world. He is a King, at whose disposal all things stand when He wants them, but who has not anywhere, either for Himself or for His servants, great provision laid up beforehand. Thus He goes on His way through the world, as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. Doubtless, the fact of this provision may be traced to His friends at Bethany, as the provision of the guest-chamber at Jerusalem for the Passover was traceable to friends in the city; but in both cases the exact specification does not point to any external concert, but to the superhuman knowledge of Christ.

Matthew 21:4. That it might be fulfilled—The words combine two passages: Isaiah 62:11 (“Tell ye the daughter of Zion.” Here the city of the present seems to be addressed as the daughter of the ideal, historical, Jerusalem), and Zechariah 9:9 (see above). This latter passage refers back indeed to the blessing of Judah, Genesis 49:11. Judah is there exhibited as combining the conqueror and the prince of peace (Shiloh): first, he is a conquering prince, and then the prince of peace; and in the latter capacity he makes use of the ass. Both these characteristics of Judah are typically separated in the contrast between David and Solomon; and in the Messiah they are united and fulfilled. Zechariah introduces the Messiah first as a warrior, ch9, and then makes Him enter Jerusalem as a Prince of peace. But the expression, “that it might be fulfilled,” does not here, any more than in Matthew 2:23; John 19:28, and elsewhere, signify a merely conventional and fortuitous realization of the prophecy. The occasion and need of the moment was the obvious motive. But to the Spirit of God these historical occasions were arranged coincidences with the prophetical word. Christ was in need of the foal of the ass, inasmuch as He could not make His entrance on foot in the midst of a festal procession. He must not be lost in the crowd; it was necessary that He should take a prominent position, and appear pre-eminent. But if He became conspicuous, it must be in the most humble and peaceable fashion: hence the choice of the ass. The dignity of the procession required the ass’s colt, and this made the history all the more symbolical. But it could not be concealed from the spirit of Christ that here again the plain historical necessity coincided with the symbolically significant fulfilment of a prophetical word. The disciples did not perceive this significance till afterward.

Matthew 21:5. And (Yea) a colt.—The καὶ epexegetical, for closer description:—and that the foal of an ass.

Matthew 21:7. He sat upon them, ἐκὰθισεν ἐπάνωαν̓τῶν—This is referred to the garments by Theophylact, Euth. Zygab, Castal, Beza, Meyer, and others [Wordsworth]. As referred to the animals, it is variously explained. De Wette: a want of accuracy in Matthew. Strauss says that the Evangelist makes Jesus slavishly and unreasonably carry out the prophetic description, by riding at once upon both animals.[FN15] Fritzsche, Fleck, and older commentators, suppose that He rode on both alternately. Other expositors, as Winer, Olshausen, Ebrard, Lange, comp. Calvin and Grotius, [also Alford and Nast, explain it as merely an inexact expression, as we might say: “He sprang from the horses.” We do not, however, lay stress upon this comprehensive expression, but upon the idea that He controlled the pair by riding the foal. (Olshausen is mistaken in supposing that He rode the ass.) If we ascribe to the Evangelist a symbolical consciousness, this circumstance assumes a living significance. The old theocracy runs idly and instinctively by the side of the young Church, which has become the true bearer of the kingdom of Christ With all the enmity that existed, she could not separate from it. The rider of a team does really ride both the united animals, though in a mechanical sense only one; and this view is not opposed, as Meyer thinks, by the fact that in Matthew 21:5, where riding in a narrower sense is spoken of, such latitude of expression cannot be assumed. Glassius’s explanation of an enallage numeri must then fall to the ground.

Matthew 21:8. Spread their garments [loose overcoats, comp. Matthew 5:40].—Oriental mark of honor at the reception of kings, on their entrance into cities: 2 Kings 9:13. The disciples had made their upper garments into coverings for the animals; the people follow the example, and spread theirs as a carpet on the way.

Matthew 21:9. Hosanna to the Son of David.—חוֹשִיעָח־נָא (יְהוָֹה), Help (Lord); give Thy salvation! Psalm 98:25. The expression seems gradually to have become a Messianic prediction of good wish (Hail, io triumphe, ἰὴ παιάν). Hence its meaning varied according to circumstances; but here its highest significance was disclosed. “The dative is not governed by the verb in ὡσαννά, but is a dative of relation, and Hosanna is a festal cry of good will.” Meyer.—Hosanna in the highest.—In the highest regions (ν̔ψίστοις), that Isaiah, in heaven. De Wette: May Hosanna be confirmed by God in heaven. Beza: May it be given by God in heaven. Fritzsche: May it be cried by angels in heaven. Meyer: May it come down from heaven upon the Messiah. Salvation in the heavens, viewed generally, means as well the heavenly salvation which God gives and ensures, as the salvation uttered and announced from the heavens. Hence we might more precisely explain it—May our Hosanna be in the heavens! that Isaiah, as a prayer, and as a prayer granted (comp. Luke 2:14), as an exclamation sent to heaven, and as an echo from heaven. In short: May our Hosanna resound in heaven!—These Messianic acclamations seem, according to Matthew 21:9, to have taken the form of an antiphonal song between the multitudes which went before, the Lord (the disciples from Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives), and those which followed Him (the Galilean pilgrim-train).

Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.—The pilgrims’ greeting on their entrance into Jerusalem at the time of the feasts (greeting and response, Psalm 118:26).

[Jesus, instead of giving way to this joyous enthusiasm of the shouting multitude, weeps tears of sympathy and compassion over unbelieving Jerusalem. See Luke 19:41. Could such a trait have been invented?—P. S.]

Matthew 21:10. And when He was come into Jerusalem.—The journey over the Mount of Olives, and the Lord’s emotions at sight of the city, are passed over. See Luke.

The whole city was moved, ἐρείσοη.—The verb denotes a violent excitement—the being mightily moved, in the external and figurative sense. Meyer: “The excitement was contagious.” But what follows shows that the excitement must not be regarded as merely sympathetic. The question uttered shows this of itself. Jerusalem knew the person of Jesus sufficiently to have spared the question, had it wished.

Matthew 21:11. The prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.—Meyer: “The well-known prophet. The accompanying crowds had most distinctly termed Him the Messiah; but the less enthusiastic multitude in the city required first of all to know His name, condition, and so forth. Hence the full answer, in which the ἀπὸ Ναζαρ τ. Γαλιλ. is certainly not without Galilean pride.” This may be so. Yet it must not be overlooked, that the question of surprise with which the proud city met the Galilean pilgrim-train seems to have lowered in some degree the spirit of their testimony. It is not “the Messiah,” but, somewhat ambiguously, “the prophet,” that they reply.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. See the preceding explanations.

2. On the jubilant acclamation which the disciples, on the Mount of Olives, and in prospect of the city, poured out in honor of Jesus, compare Luke 19:37; John 12:4. Doubtless we have here—where they celebrated the miracles of Christ, and especially His raising of Lazarus—the first preludes of the speaking with new tongues on the day of Pentecost. The common object of both, in the first as well as in the last, is to τὰ μεγαλεῖα τοῦ Θεοῦ

3. According to the Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist, the entrance of the Lord was the last attempt at a Messianic political foundation of a kingdom. But this is quite contrary to the whole of our Lord’s previous conduct, as He always avoided, not only all political suggestions and temptations, but even the very idea of a political Messiah itself.[FN16] The readiness with which He could yield to the true Messiahidea, implanted in the minds of His disciples, proves that among them also the proper hope of a political Messiah had been already overcome. That the Lord never made a single attempt to set in motion a political project, does not say enough: we find that His disciples never did so. But that the Lord should suffer Himself to be introduced festally as their Messiah by His people, was only consistent with the truth of His Messiahship and the theocratically-justified expectations of His people. The entry was the purified historical fulfilment of the Messianic expectations of Israel, in conformity with the promise; but, in the form it assumed, it was a testing accommodation to the Messianic expectation of the age. In the wilderness, the popular spirit had tested Him; now His appearance tested the popular spirit. This test was a judgment upon the unbelief of the people; but it was also an important purifier of the rising faith of those who truly believed in Him. To Himself, finally, the kingly procession was a prelude of His sufferings; but it was also a symbol to Him of His glorification, of His kingly procession through the world, and of His future great epiphany. Hence the history of Palm Sunday is read as an Advent lesson. Palm Sunday stands at the beginning of Passion-week, as an anticipation of Easter; just as, conversely, the day of Crucifixion is gently reflected in the Ascension day,—this also being the Lord’s departure, and the consecration of His church as a church of the cross.

4. Heubner: Christ’s entry into Jerusalem forms in every particular a memorable contrast to the subsequent passion. In the one case He stands on the Mount of Olives, the spot of His glory, looking over Jerusalem, which did homage to Him; in the other He was led to Golgotha, the place of the skull, surrounded by the graves and skulls of malefactors. Here He held His solemn entry, attended by friends and followers and the shouting multitude; there He is thrust out of the city, surrounded by enemies, tied as a criminal, and led by officers and executioners. Here His disciples serve Him willingly, and feel themselves honored thereby; there they forsake Him in dismay and despair. Here all vie with each other in honoring and beautifying His entry; there they spit in His face, and heap all kinds of ignominy on Him. Here they spread garments in the way; there He is stripped of His garments, which are parted by casting lots, while He hangs naked on the cross. Here branches are strewed in the way, and He walks on beds of flowers; there He is scourged and crowned with thorns. Here He rides into the city as King; there He is compelled to bear His own cross. Here the prophecy of Zechariah concerning the coming King is fulfilled; there the awful prophecy of Isaiah concerning Him that is despised and rejected of men. Here He is saluted King, amid shouts of hosannas; there He is rejected, condemned, and crucified as a false prophet and blasphemer. In whose life is there such a contrast—such a sudden transition from joy and glory to humiliation and ignominy? And amid the high excitement of these rapidly-changing scenes, Christ maintains a perfect equanimity, neither giving way for a moment to the importunities of His excited friends, nor overwhelmed by the apparent hopelessness of His cause.—P. S.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Jesus comes as the Christ publicly to His city; or, the day of decision. It was, 1. prepared for with sacred foresight; 2. longed for with the most fervent desire; 3. adorned with the richest miracles of salvation; 4. like a festal revelation from heaven; 5. and yet it was a day of severest test and of decisive judgment for Israel, but, finally, 6. also a day of the approach of redemption for the people of God.—Jesus and Jerusalem; or, the King of peace and the city of peace: 1. Designed ever for each other; 2. bringing each other the doom of death; 3. for each other the means of glorification.—The Mount of Olives: 1. He came over the Mount of Olives,—the Christ of the Spirit; 2. He went to heaven from the Mount of Olives,—the Mediator of the Spirit.—The festal entrance of Christ into the holy city, in its significance for all times: 1. The present—as the glory of the life of Jesus; 2. the past—as the glory of the ancient covenant; 3. the future—as the type of the coming of Christ in glory.—The concealed friends of Christ in the history of His kingdom.—The obedience of the two disciples, a severe test of faith.—The palm-entry of Christ a heavenly type of the coming kingdom of heaven itself.—The festal procession of the Prince of peace: 1. Scriptural representations: the blessing of Jacob, Solomon’s rule, the word of Zechariah 2. Under what signs He appears: the animal of peace, the palm of peace, the people of peace (the last intensely excited, yet without any trace of insurrection). 3. What peace He brings peace of the heart with God, peace of fellowship with brethren, peace of reconciliation with the existing order of things. In all His peace.—The lesson taught by the great palm-entry without any trace of insurrection: 1. Regard not (hierarchically) Christ as separated from His people (freedom of faith); 2. regard not (despotically) the people as separated from their Christ (freedom of conscience).—How we should receive the Lord at His entrance: 1. With devotion of heart, in trust and obedience; 2. with the praise of lips; 3. with festive offerings of our substance.—Lift up your heads, O ye gates! Psalm 24.—The Hosanna of the festal multitudes; or, Israel in the beauty of spring: 1. The blossom full of promise; 2. the fading flowers; 3. the fruit that remained.—The Hosanna, as echo of the angels’ Song of Solomon,, Luke 2, in the hearts of men.—The Hosanna in its twofold issue: Crucify Him, and the tongues at Pentecost.—Jerusalem once more excited by the announcement of the Messiah (compare Matthew 2).—All the world must ask who He is.—Loud praise and timid confession.—The day of salvation: To-day, to-day, if ye will hear His voice, Hebrews 3:7.—Palm Sunday, a preparatory festival, 1. of Good Friday; 2. of Easter; 3. of the Ascension; 4. of Pentecost.

Starke:—With what alacrity does the Lord make arrangements for His end!—A King whose best throne is in the heart.—As all things spoken concerning Christ in the Scripture were fulfilled, so also must be fulfilled all things spoken in the Scripture concerning His church.—Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, but spiritual.—The works of God are not with observation.

Gerlach:—After Jesus had so often avoided the snares of His enemies, He now goes directly to meet the death long predicted for Him; while His friends expected the manifestation of His kingly dignity, and His enemies expected His total destruction.—The hopes of friends and foes were alike fulfilled, yet not in the way they respectively thought: He suffered death, that He might gloriously conquer in it; He received His kingdom on the cross.

Heubner:—Jesus orders all things with supreme wisdom and prudence for His final work.—The last journey of Jesus to Jerusalem.—Jesus is always seeking access into our hearts.—The kingdom of God a kingdom of gentleness and love.—The entry of Christ: 1. Blameless and harmless; 2. wise and dignified; 3. in accordance with duty and necessity.—The contrast between this entrance and the Passion history.—The glorification of Jesus at His last entrance into Jerusalem: 1. By what He Himself did; and2. by what took place on Him through the instrumentality of others.—What excitement in all the world and in all times concerning Jesus!—On the first Sunday in Advent this Gospel must be viewed in itself, on Palm Sunday in its connection with the history of the Passion.

The Text as the Gospel for Advent.Hossbach:—Christ holding His entry anew among us.—Hey:—Pious enthusiasm, in its value and in its insufficiency.—Schultz:—When can the Christian say of himself that salvation is come nigh to him?—Lisco:—The preparation for the coming of Christ.

The Text as the Gospel for Palm Sunday,Rein hard:—Jesus’ deportment before and during the swift process of His last sorrows.—Harms:—In all our sad journeys, let us take Jesus for our guide.—Bachmann:—Introduction to the proper celebration of the holy week.—Ahlfeld:—A glance into the na ture of the kingdom of Christ.—Dittmar:—Behold, thy King cometh unto thee.—Routenberg:—Dare we utter our Hosannas to the Son of David, who is going to Calvary?

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Matthew 21:3.—The Recepta reads the future: ἀποστελεῖ, which is sustained by B, D, the Vulgate, Itala, Lachmann, Tischendorf. But Griesbach and Scholz prefer the present: ἀποστέλλει, with Codd. C, E, G, K, al, which it more expressive, though apparently less suitable (Meyer).

FN#2 - Matthew 21:4.—Lachmann and Tischendorf [in former editions, but not in that of1859] omit ὅλον, all, according to Codd, C, D, L, Z, versions, and fathers. [Cod. Sinait. likewise omits it.—P. S.]

FN#3 - Matthew 21:5.—Καὶ is epexegetical, and hence ὀπί before πῶλον is superfluous. [But Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford retain it according to B, L, Z, and Cod. Sinait. At all events καί does not express addition here, but explanation or epeæegesis (und swar, and that, or yea), and thus the apparent difference in the accounts of the Evangelists is easily solved. See Exeg. Note on Matthew 21:2.—P. S.]

FN#4 - Matthew 21:5.—Υἱὸν ὑποζυγίου “The ass (ὄνος) is the animal meant by the word, but is also characterised by it. (Conant) Lange: Lastthier. Comp. Zechariah 9:9.—P. S.]

FN#5 - Matthew 21:7.—The reading: ἐπεκάθισεν, he sat, instead of the lect.rec.: ἐπεκάθισαν, they set, is sustained by Codd. B, C, Origen, etc, and adopted in the critical editions.

FN#6 - Matthew 21:8.—[Ὁδὲ πλεῖστος ὄχλος. Lange and Ewald: das meiste Volk; Kendrick and Conant: (the) meet of the multitude. Comp. ἄλλοι δὲ, and others, in the next clause.—P. S.]

FN#7 - Matthew 21:9.—Προάγοντες αὐτόν [instead of πρυἁγοντες simply]. So Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Alford], following B, C, D, al, [and Cod. Sinait.].

FN#8 - Matthew 21:9.—[Ὡσαννα (originally a formula of supplication, bat conventionally one of triumphant gratulation and joyful greeting to a deliverer, hence followed by the dative) was properly retained in the English, German, and other moden Versions, as Matthew retained it from the Hebrew (הוֹשִׁיעִי־נּא, σῶσον δή, LXX, Save now!), comp. Mark 9:9-10 John 12:18. So we have likewise from the Hebrew the words: Jehovah, sabbath, manna, Zebaoth, amen, etc.—P. S.]

FN#9 - Matthew 21:11.—[Ὄχλοι as in Matthew 21:9, where the E. V. correctly renders multitudes.—P. S.]

FN#10 - Matthew 21:11.—[The oldest reading, sustained by Cod. Sinait, and adopted by Lachmann, Tregelles. Alford, and Conant, προφήτης Ἰησοῦς, the prophet Jesus, instead of Ἰησοῦς προφήτης. But Dr. Lange in his version retain. the received residing with Teschendorf, and takes no notice of the difference.—P. S.]

FN#11 - Jedenfalls also ein Friedenshain, ein Friedenssitz, dir Friedensstadt.]

FN#12 - Die mysteriöse Wunderblame der Wettgeschichte,—one of the many untranslatable poetic compounds of Dr. Lange. The Edinb. transl. has mysterious glory.—P. S.]

FN#13 - Gresswell and Nast remove the difficulty by supposing that Bethphage lay upon the direct line of this route, but that Bethany did not; so that one travelling from Jericho would come to Bethphage first, and would have to turn off from the road to go to Bethany.—P. S.]

FN#14 - Chrysostom, Jerome, and other fathers, likewise regard the ass as a figure of the synagogue burdened with the yoke of the law, and the colt as a symbol of the Gentiles who were untamed and unclean before Christ sat upon them and sanctified them. See more of this patristic allegorizing in the catena Aurea of Thomas Aquinas. Oxford ed1:51. p708 sqq. Of modern commentators Wordsworth adopts it in this as in many other cases.—P. S.]

FN#15 - In his new Life of Jesus, 1864, p, 524, Strauss Is not ashamed to repeat this specimen of frivolous criticism, to which it is sufficient to reply that Matthew knew as much Hebrew and had as much common senile as any modem critic of his Gospel.—P. S.]

FN#16 - Comp. the remarks of Dr. W. Nast in loc.: “The absurd assertion of the antichristian critique, ‘that Jesus’ entry was His last attempt to found a worldly Messianic, kingdom,’ is sufficiently refuted not only by the uniform tenor of His previous conduct, rejecting sternly all insinuations and offers of that kind as coning from the Evil One, but also by the form of the entry, which was well adapted to remove every idea of earthly power a d worldly entry. even amid the hosannas of His followers and the attending crowds, and to set forth the spiritual nature of His kingdom. His followers did not carry swords or spears, but branches of palm trees, and He Himself did not ride the war-steed of a king, but the colt of an ass, the symbol of peace. That the entry had no political character appears also from the fact that the Roman Government took no notice of it”—Even Strauss, in his new Life of Jesus, p278, refutes the hypothesis of Reimarus (the author of the Wolfenbüttel Fragments), and well remarks that he who makes his entry unarmed with unarmed followers on a peaceful animal must either be already acknowledged as ruler, or he must aim at dominion in such a manner as excludes all force and political power.—P. S.]


Verses 12-22

FIFTH SECTION

THE CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE AND ABODE IN IT AS ITS KING

Matthew 21:12-22

A. The House of Prayer and Mercy, in contrast with the Den of Thieves. Matthew 21:12-14.

( Mark 11:11-17; Luke 19:45-46.)

12And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew [overturned, κατέστρεψε] the tables of the money changers, 13and the seats of them that sold [of sellers of] doves,[FN17] And [he][FN18] said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the [a] house of prayer ( Isaiah 56:7); but ye have made [make][FN19] it a den of thieves [robbers, λῃστῶν, Jeremiah 7:11];[FN20] 14And the blind and the lame[FN21] came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Matthew 21:12. And He went into the temple of God, and cast out.—Mark’s account is here the more exact. On the evening of Palm Sunday Jesus went into the temple, and looked round,—without, however, doing anything then. He thereupon returned with the disciples to Bethany, which may be regarded as the Lord’s resting-place during the festival. Returning next day to the temple, the fig-tree was cursed. Then followed the cleansing of the temple.

The temple.—בֵּית אֱלֹחִים,חֵיכַל קדֶשׁ,הֵיכַל יְהוְֹה Here comes into view the history of the temple—its construction, and form, and meaning. The Jewish temple was the mysterious centre of Israel: hence its history is the history of the people down to the destruction of Jerusalem. We may distinguish, 1. The period of the patriarchal altar; 2. that of the tabernacle (travelling; moveable, and at last resting on Zion); 3. the temple of Solomon; 4. the temple of Zerubbabel; 5. the temple of Herod. At the destruction of Jerusalem the temple disappeared, its meaning being absorbed in the Church of Christ; that is the type gave place, or was lost in the antitype. The temple-vision of Ezekiel has only an ideal, symbolical meaning. The attempt of Julian to rebuild the temple only served to demonstrate the continuance of its doom; and the temple of the Egyptian Jews at Leontopolis was only a transitory imitation. As the temple, in the narrower sense, had three historical periods, so the sanctuary of the temple had three divisions—the Forecourt, the Sanctuary, and the Holiest or Holy of Holies. See Winer, art. Tempel [also the valuable article Temple, illustrated with plates, in W. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. iii, pp1450–1464]. As to the signification of the temple, compare the various treatises of BÆhr, Kurtz, Sartorius, Hengstenberg, and others, upon the Mosaic Cultus, but especially Friederich: Symbolik der Mosaischen Stiftshutte, Leipz, 1841, and BÆhr: Der Salomonische Tempel, Karlsruhe, 1848. The following are some of the views taken: 1. The temple was a figure of the universe (Philo, Josephus); 2. a symbol of the dwelling-place of God after the analogy of human dwellings (Hoffmann); 3. a figure of the human form and nature (intimated by Philo, Luther, Friederich); 4. a symbol of heaven (Bähr); 5. the symbol of the kingdom of God under the Old Covenant (Hengstenberg, Tholuck, Lisco, etc.).—So far as the temple of God was a symbol, it was a figure of the theocracy—of the kingdom of heaven which comes down to earth; but bo far as it was a type—that Isaiah, a figure of something to come[FN22]—it was a figure of the body of Christ (according to John 2), and of His Church as the real house of God. And thus, as the Holiest of all was the most essential thing in the type, it will find its final and consummate realization in the kingdom of glory (comp. Hebrews 9:24; Revelation 21:22).

And cast out.—The locality of this scene was the Court of the Gentiles. The history of this court is obscure, but it is a very important element in the history of the temple; it is connected with the development of the hierarchy on the one hand, and with the advancement of proselytism on the other. The changes which this court underwent, reflected precisely the course of these relations. The tabernacle had only one forecourt, the court of the altar of burnt-offering ( Exodus 27:1-8). The only hint of a distinction between the place of the people and the place of the priests, is the circumstance that the laver of brass for the priests’ washing ( Exodus 38:8) stood nearer the sanctuary than the altar of burnt-offering. In the temple of Solomon the court of the priests (the inner court) was distinguished from the great court ( 2 Chronicles 4:9). Probably, also, it was a few steps higher; and the altar of burnt-offering belonged to the court of the priests. In the temple of Zerubbabel, Alexander Jannæus (b. c106) separated the court of the priests by a wooden trellis from the external court of the temple (Joseph. Antiq. xiii3, 5). This wooden trellis gave way in the temple of Herod to one of stone, of the height of an ell (Joseph. Bell. Judges 6, 6, 5); and in this temple also the court of the Gentiles assumed a definite character. The temple itself was surrounded by terraces, which formed the several courts in gradation. “The outermost space (in the Talmud: mountain of the house; 1 Maccabees 13:53 : mountain of the sanctuary) went round the whole temple, and had several gates. It was laid with colored stones, and begirt with beautiful halls. A few steps higher a stone lattice, three ells high, ran all the way round, with here and there Greek and Latin inscriptions, that forbade all who were not Jews to proceed any farther toward the sanctuary (on pain of death, Bell. Judges 6:2; Judges 6:4). Hence the space of the temple mountain as far as this limit has been called by Christian archæologists the Court of the Gentiles.” (See Winer, sub Tempel, 2. p581.) Through this court was reached the court proper, which in its breadth was divided into the courts of the men and the women (the former lower than the latter), but in its depth was divided into the court of the people and that of the priests. The “Court of the Gentiles” grew in importance in proportion as the distinction between proselytes of the gate and of righteousness came to prevail,[FN23] and it became customary for even devout Gentiles to bring gifts to the temple.

Those that sold and bought.—“In the court of the Gentiles was the Song of Solomon -called temple-market tabernœ, where sacrificial animals, incense, oil, wine, and other things necessary for the service and sacrifice, were to be obtained.” Lightfoot.—The table of the money-changers.—They changed, at a certain premium, the common money, which was accounted protane, for the double drachmas which served for the temple-tribute. Thus the agents who had to collect the temple-tribute from the various districts resorted generally to these money-changers. According to Lundius, these collectors themselves took charge of the exchange in the temple. It is highly probable that many of those who came up from the country paid at this time the tribute which fell due in the month of Adar. “And possibly other business connected with money-changing by degrees had crept in.” Meyer.

The Cleansing of the Temple.—According to Pearce, Wetstein, Lücke, and others, this act was identical with the cleansing mentioned in John 2:13, which belonged to the first visit of Jesus to the Passover after His entrance on His ministry; according to Chrysostom and most modern commentators, the account of the Synoptists is a repetition of that earlier one. It is obvious that they omitted the earlier action of the same kind, because they record, generally, only the last of Christ’s visits to the feast.[FN24] But for John’s point of view, the former cleansing was a decisive crisis, and was recorded by him as such. There is no difficulty in assuming, as the distinct narratives require, that the act was performed twice. And although it might be possible that the two records mutually influenced each other (as Neander, Leben Jesu, 388, assumes), it is plain that the later has its own advance in meaning. According to Mark, Jesus did not suffer that any man should carry vessels through the temple ( Matthew 11:16); and, while in John we read, “Make not My Father’s house a house of merchandize,” in the last accounts we read of the house of prayer for all nations being turned into a den of robbers. As to the Lord’s warrant for attacking the existing irregularities, which had become regular by practice, various explanations have been given. Selden (de Jure nat. et gent. Matthew 4:6) and others found upon the act of Phinehas ( Numbers 25:11) the supposition of an Israelite zealot-right; that Isaiah, the right of at once and violently assaulting and abolishing any crying offence in the theocracy. Lücke (Com. on John 2:15-16) thinks that zealotism as a right can not be proven, yet he gathers from the history of the people and the writings of the Rabbins that the reforming vocation in the Jewish church, if it really existed, stood higher than the external right. Of course, it is not necessary to assume that this right was invested with legal sanctions. The real question Isaiah, whether there ever was an acknowledgment of a right to interfere, under divine impulse or as a prophet, with existing abuses. And of that there can be no doubt; indeed, the sad prelude of this zealotism was the violence of the brothers Simeon and Levi ( Genesis 34:25), and the last perversion of it was the conduct of the Zealots during the siege of the city. Between these extremes, however, there are many, illustrious instances of zealotism; and, in its pure fundamental idea, it continues permanently in the discipline of the Christian church.[FN25] That, at His first cleansing of the temple, Jesus acted from the impulse of prophetic zeal, and according to zealot-right, is plain from the consideration that He had not yet publicly announced Himself under the name of the Messiah; and the Evangelist significantly refers to the saying, “The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up” ( John 2:11). We may, therefore, thus distinguish; On the first occasion Christ attacked the abuses of the temple in the authority of prophetic zealotism; on the second occasion, in the authority of the Messiah. But we must not overlook the fact, that the former authority forms the true Old Testament basis for the latter; and that the Messiah, as a reformer, was the consummation and glorification of the prophetic zealotism. Much has been said about the assent of the people. Origen and Jerome regarded this as a specific miracle. Doubtless, the fact is explained by the miraculous influence of the prophetic majesty of Christ on the one hand, and of the evil conscience of the Jews on the other.

[The silent submission of these buyers and venders, who by their physical force might easily have overpowered Jesus, conclusively proves the sublime moral majesty and power with which our Saviour performed this Acts, and silences the objection of some modern skeptics, who see in it an outbreak of violent passion, which is always a sign of weakness. It was a judicial act of a religious reformer, vindicating in just and holy zeal the honor of the Lord of the temple, and revealed the presence of a superhuman authority and dignity, which filled even these profane traffickers with awe, and made them yield without a murmur. Jerome regards this expulsion of a multitude by one humble individual as the most Wonderful of the miracles, and supposes that a flame and starry ray darted from the eyes of the Saviour, and that the majesty of the Godhead was radiant in His countenance.—P. S.]

Matthew 21:13. And He said unto them.Isaiah 56:7 : “For My house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations.” Jeremiah 7:11 : “Is then this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?” The two passages are quoted freely, and joined together according to their Old Testament meaning.—In what sense a den of robbers? 1. Theophylact: τὸ γὰρ φιλοκερδὲς λῃστρικὁν πάθος ἐστίν. 2. Fritzsche: Ye gather together here money and animals, as robbers collect their booty in their den3. Rauschenbusch (Leben Jesu, 309): By these abominations the Gentiles, for whose prayer this house was designed, are kept back from God’s service. Assuredly, the fact that the place of prayer for the Gentiles was made a market for beasts, was a robbery inflicted on the rights of the Gentiles. Humanity was outraged by the false churchliness or bigotry of the Jewish odium generis humani.

Matthew 21:14. And blind and lame persons came to Him.—And then He turned the desecrated temple again from a den of robbers into a house of mercy.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The prophet Malachi predicted the coming of the Messiah with these words: “The Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye desire, saith the Lord of hosts” ( Malachi 3:1). These words had their manifold fulfilment in the whole course of Christ’s first advent; and will again be fulfilled at His second glorious coming. Once, however, they were fulfilled in their most literal sense then, namely, when Jesus, amidst the greeting of His people, made His festal entry into the temple. But in the cleansing of the temple Christ exhibited Himself as the eternal Purifier and Reformer of the theocracy, of the human heart, and of the whole Church.

2. Only one full day did Jesus dwell and rule personally in the temple—the Monday of the Passion-week. This theocratical residence of one day had, however, an eternal significance. It Revelation -established for ever the spiritual destination of the temple, and spiritually confounded and silenced in the temple itself all the false ministers and watchmen of the temple. Thus was the word of Haggai fulfilled, not only in its spirit, but also in its letter: “The last glory of this house shall be greater than the first” ( Matthew 2:9). But, if we include the entrance on the Sunday evening (the looking round, the visitation), and the solemn departure from the temple on Tuesday (its abandonment to judgment), then the one day must be extended to three.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Jesus and the temple in Jerusalem. 1. How related in the Spirit of God: The temple the type of His body and of His Church; Christ the realization and the glory of the temple2. Separated through the guilt of the world: Christ crucified through false temple-service; the temple desolated through the death of Christ, and abandoned to the fire3. Still inseparable in the spiritual sense: all pious worship is in a Zion which the Lord will glorify. Christ visits His temple in all the world.—The predictions of the prophets have all been fulfilled on the temple ( Haggai, Malachi).—The sanctification of the temple perfected by Christ: 1. Its purifying (negative sanctification); 2. its consecration (positive—by the healing of the blind and lame).—The Lord cleanses His temple: 1. the Church; 2. the hearts of His people.—The twofold change passed upon the temple: Its change from a house of prayer for all nations into a den of robbers—under the semblance of higher holiness; the change of the desecrated den of robbers into a house of prayer and of mercy.—That kind of worship which outrages charity to Prayer of Manasseh, may transform the house of prayer into a den of robbers.—Christian consecration of the church: 1. It separates the church from the market-place; 2. it unites prayer and mercy (the hospital and the prayer-hall, hôtel-dieu).—The great day of Christ’s abode in the temple: 1. Its being a strange occurrence was a sign how soon the temple might be a spiritual desert; 2. but it was also a proof that the Lord will manifest Himself to His people in His temple.—The three temples on Mount Zion, and the three consecrations ( 1 Kings 8; Ezra 6; and this section).—The zeal of the holy Son for the honor of His Father’s house.—The temple itself became at last the witness of the miracles of Jesus.

Starke:Hedinger: Foul blasphemers require severe dealing: the fear of Prayer of Manasseh, flattery, and gentleness, will not drive them out—Cramer: As everything has its time, so everything has also its place.—All reform must proceed according to the rules of Holy Writ: thus Christ is the Founder of all scriptural reformation.—Canstein: Churches are exclusively for divine worship.—He who would spiritually walk and see, must come to Christ in the temple.

Lisco:—The cleansing of the temple had a symbolical reference to the cleansing of the Church of God.

Heubner:—The Lord’s sacred anger at the desecration of God’s house.—This cleansing reminds us, 1. of the holiness which the temple had in Christ’s eyes; 2. of the guilt of all who desecrate God’s house and day; and3. of our duty to do all we can to maintain their sanctity.—Lavater says, that His being able to do this was the proof that He ought to do it.

[Matthew Henry:—Abuses must first be purged out and plucked up before that which is right can be established.—Buyers and sellers driven out before ( John 2:14-15), will return to the temple and nestle there again, if there be no continual care and oversight, and if the blow be not often repeat—That which is lawful and laudable (as buying and selling and changing money) in another place and on another day, defiles the sanctuary and profane the sabbath.—This cleansing of the temple was the only act of regal authority and coercive power of Christ in the days of His humiliation; He began with it ( John 2), and He ended with it.—In the reformation of the Church we must go back to the authority of the Scripture as the supreme rule and pattern, and not go further than we can justify by a final: It is written ( Matthew 21:13).—The blind and the lame were debarred from David’s palace ( 2 Samuel 5:8), but were admitted into God’s house, from which only the wicked and profane are excluded.—The temple was profaned and abused when it was turned into a market-place, but it was graced and honored when it was made a hospital.—Christ’s healing was the real answer to the question: Who is this? and His healing in the temple was the fulfilling of the promise, that the glory of the latter house should be greater than the glory of the former.W. Nast:—By cleansing the temple Jesus symbolically sets forth the purity of heart which He requires of His church in general and of each individual belie Matthew 21 : 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16.—P. S.]

Footnotes:

FN#17 - Matthew 21:12.—Τῶν πωλούν των τὰς περιστεράς Lang and other German Versions: Taubenhädler; Luther: Taubenkrämer; sellers of doves. Doves were offered to the Lord by the poor as a substitute for a lamb, Leviticus 5:7; Leviticus 12:8; Luke 2:24.—P. S.]

FN#18 - Matthew 21:13.—[A new sentence ought to commence with Matthew 21:13, and hence the He inserted. So also Lange.—P. S.]

FN#19 - Matthew 21:13 —Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Tregelles, Alford], read: ποιεῖτε, ye make, with Codd. B, L, [Cod. Sinait], and other ancient authorities, instead of ἐποιήσατε of the Recepta (from Luke).

FN#20 - Matthew 21:13.—[Comp. the Authorized Version in Jeremiah 7:11, from which this passage is quoted. Λῃστής robber, plunderer, is stronger than κλέπτης, The Authorized Version, however, generally renders it thief (in 11 passages of the N. T.). except in John 10:1; John 10:8; John 18:40; 2 Corinthians 11:26. The difference appears plainly in John 10:8 : κλέπται εὶσὶν καὶ λῃσταί thieves and robbers. But Luther’s Mördergrube, which Lange retains, is too strong; although the verse quoted from Jeremiah stands in connection with the charge of murder and the shedding of innocent blood. Better: Räuberhöhle, spelunca latronum.—P. S.]

FN#21 - In the English Version the definite article is required, or else the addition of the word persons.—P. S.]

FN#22 - A circumlocution of the German: Werdebild, for which I know of no precise equivalent in English.—P. S.]

FN#23 - The Edinb. transl. here, as often, reverses the sense of the original, and reads: as the distinction....was [illegible] (in German: hervortrut). The rabbinical distinction between גֵּרֵי הַשַּׁעַר and גֵּרֵי הַצֶּדֶק or גֵּרֵי הַבְּרִיח far from being done away with, appeared just in the later history of Judaism, and was in full force at the time of the aposties. In the N. T. the proselytes of the gate are called οισεβομενοι (or φοβουμενοι τὸν Θεον). Acts 10:2; Acts 13:50; Acts 16:14; Acts 17:4; Acts 17:17; Acts 18:7 (comp Joseph. Antiq. xiv72); they were more susceptible for the gospel than he Jews, and Gentiles, and generally formed the nucleus of the Gentile-Christian congregations.—P. S.]

FN#24 - So also Alford. The omission of the first cleansing in the Synoptists is in remarkable consistency with the fact that their narrative is exclusively Galilæan until this last journey to Jerusalem. It is impossible that either the Synoptisis or John should have made such a gross error in chronology, as the hypothesis of the identity of the two narratives assumes.—P. S.]

FN#25 - I took the liberty of substituting this idea for the “Polisei des christlichen Staates” in the original, which Implies the union of church and state, and is hardly applicable to our country —P. S.]


Verses 15-17

B. The Children in the Temple: the High Priests and Scribes. Matthew 21:15-17

15And [But, δέ] when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things[FN26] that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected [prepared, κατηρτὶσω][FN27] praise ( Psalm 8:2)? 17And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Matthew 21:15. The wonderful things, τὰ θανμάσια—More comprehensive than wonders or miracles. The expression occurs in the New Testament only here, but in the Sept. and the Classics it is common. The moral miracle, in a wider sense, which exhibited the Lord as King in His temple, is combined with the miracles proper.

And the children.—According to Sepp (Leben Jesu, iii192), by these children we must understand the virgins and youths consecrated to the temple-service. There can be no doubt that there were such youths dedicated to the temple; but, as they were under the immediate authority of the priests, their jubilant cries would at once have been suppressed by these priests themselves.

Matthew 21:16. Hearest thou what these say?—By this question they indirectly declared that they did not attribute to Him the Messianic dignity which this Messianic Hosanna involved. At the same time, they pronounced their judgment that children were not authorized to express any religious sentiment or opinion. It was contempt of the little ones. They laid the stress on the doctrinal utterance of the little ones; Christ, on the other hand, on their religious singing.

Have ye never read?Psalm 8:2 [ Matthew 21:3 in the Hebrew and German text]. The passage of the Psalm finds the praise of God (in the original: a might; Sept.: praise) in the mouth of theocratical children, and even in the lispings of sucklings. Not that the Israelite sucklings might be three or four years old, and certainly not because of “the tender sounds of lisping sucklings.” The thought Isaiah, that the Great God of heaven is glorified by the seemingly insignificant men of this lower earth, including the very lowest of them, down to the very root of life. In the children and sucklings of the theocratic Church His praise begins to grow: it begins with the very life of human nature accepted by grace. The antitheses to be noted here, are the mouth of the infants, as also the sucklings and praising. But Christ gives this passage prominence, because in it the Old Testament expressly approved and praised just that which here took place. In the application of this Scripture, we find without doubt the following points:—1. The praise of the Messiah is the praise of God2. The praise of children is a praise which God Himself has prepared for Himself, the miraculous energy of His Spirit3. The scribes might fill up the rest: Thou hast prepared praise—“on account of Thine adversaries, to bring to silence the enemy and the accuser.” Not only are the passages themselves, which Christ quotes from the Old Testament, of the highest importance, but also the connection of those passages. The eighth Psalm is to be reckoned among the typical Messianic Psalm; it describes man in his higher Christological relations.

Matthew 21:17. And He left them.—How often does this indicate the moment of His moral discomfiture of His enemies, and of His free withdrawal from the contest! He passed the night in Bethany, which was His stronghold. On Bethany, see above, Matthew 21:1.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Christ rules in the midst of His enemies, Psalm 90.

2. God oft prepares for Himself a praise from the lips of infants and new-born babes, in opposition to the adult and aged who dishonor His name; and from the lips of a younger generation, who have not yet reached office and dignity, in opposition to a decaying generation of fathers who deny their official calling to give the Lord His praise.

3. The same children, whom they would denounce as wicked disturbers, Christ regards as a chorus of unconscious prophets of His own advent.

4. Not only the blind and the lame, the afflicted and the children, but the Greeks also who desired to see Jesus, illustrated this great day. John 12:20-36 belongs to the same history, but probably to the day following.

5. Heubner: May God in mercy protect us from such theologians and priests as are offended by children and their harmless songs! Children, too, are to sing the praises of God and of Christ. Would that our children were trained from early infancy for such praise.—P. S.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The obduracy of the priests and scribes in the presence of the Lord’s miracles in the temple.—The question of the Pharisees; or, the evening clouds.—Not for one day did the hypocrites permit the Lord to rule undisturbed in His temple.—The jubilant children and the murmuring scribes: Earnest pastime and trifling earnestness in the temple; the free play of children a divine prophecy, and the constrained temple-service a godless play.[FN28]—The echo of the palm-entry in the hearts and lips of the children.—The Son of David, the beautiful dream of the youth in Israel.—The children’s Hosanna: 1. A significant act of childlike piety; 2. a noble blossom of the hope of Israel; 3. a divine testimony to the glory of Christ; 4. a sad echo of the elders’ dying Hosanna.—The mouth of babes and sucklings, in its vocation to condemn presumptuous tutorship in the Church.—Hearest Thou what these say? To unbelief, in the garb of bigotry, the most touching testimonies of faith are but blasphemies.—Those who are always reading, but do no more than read, must always hear the Lord’s question: Have ye never read?—They who read wrongly, objected to the Lord that He heard wrongly.—Christ and the Scriptures for ever bear witness to each other, against false scribes and false Christians.—Jesus leaves the contemners of His name to themselves, and goes His way1. He leaves them refuted and confounded; 2. He goes to His friends, to His rest and His work, with His own.—One day of the Lord is as a thousand years ( Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8).—Christ in the temple the Restorer of all original rights in one right: 1. Of all rights (those of the Gentiles, of the poor, of the children); 2. in one right (that of God and His Anointed).

Starke:Quesnel: The envy, covetousness, and ambition of corrupt clergy do more harm in the Church than its open enemies can do.—The world cannot bear that God and Christ should be honored.—Zeisius: The world mocks all pious simplicity.—Hardened and envious persecutors we must leave, and escape from danger.

Heubner:—Quench not the Spirit, especially among children.—Only Childlike hearts can praise Him aright.—Melanchthon (at the conference at Torgau): We need not be anxious; I have seen those who fight for us (praying mothers and children).

[Nast:—The children in the temple, proclaiming the honors of Christ, as emblems of the apostles and disciples, whom Christ calls “babes” in contrast to the wise and prudent of the world. “I thank thee, Father,” etc, Matthew 11:25.—P. S.]

C. The Deceptive Fig-tree, rich in Leaves, but without Fruit on the Temple-mount. The Symbolical Cursing. Matthew 21:18-22

( Mark 11:12-14; Mark 11:20-26.)

18Now in the morning, as he returned into the city, he hungered 19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way [seeing one (solitary) fig tree by the road side],[FN29] he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and [And he] said unto it, Let no fruit[FN30] grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently [forthwith] the fig tree withered away 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away![FN31] [And] 21Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not [do not doubt], ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree [not only shall ye do this with the fig tree],[FN32] but also if ye shall say unto this mountain [of the temple], Be thou removed [taken up, Αρθητι], and be thou cast [and cast, καὶ βλήθητι] into the sea; it shall be done 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Matthew 21:18. He hungered.—Mark gives us here the stricter note of time. On the day of the procession Jesus only looked round the temple observingly; He then went out to Bethany, for it was evening. On Monday morning, as He went back to the temple, He was hungry; and this gave occasion for the cursing of the fig-tree. A day later, on Tuesday morning (not the evening before), the disciples, again accompanying the Lord to the city, found the fig-tree dried up from the roots. Matthew combines the two separate points of this transaction in one, in order to make more prominent the meaning of the whole. He would bring before the reader’s mind the antitype of the barren fig-tree, the high priests and scribes in their unbelieving conduct.[FN33] The Lord’s hunger on this morning shows us with what ardor He went to take up His abode in the temple: He had not taken time to eat His breakfast at Bethany.[FN34]

Matthew 21:19. One fig-tree (μίαν).—Bengel: Unam illo loco. The fig-tree, תְּאֵנָה ficus, carica, was, like the vine, one of the most extensive and best cared-for productions of Palestine: this appears in the saying, “Under his own vine and fig-tree,”—a figure of peace ( 1 Kings 4:25). Compare on it the Bibl. Encyclops, especially Winer’s, and also Robinson and von Schubert on the Holy Land. The Rabbins studied under the shadow of the fig-tree, as in an arbor. It was often planted by the waysides, because the dust of the road was an absorbing counteraction to the strong flow of the sap,—so hindering a too great development of leaves, and promoting its fruitfulness. The fig itself was a common and much esteemed article of food. Three kinds were distinguished: 1. The early fig, Bicura, Boccore, which ripened after a mild winter at the end of June, and in Jerusalem still earlier2. The summer fig, Kermus, which ripened in August3. The winter fig, or later Kermus, which came to maturity only after the leaves were gone, and would hang through a mild winter into the spring: it was larger than the summer fig, and of a dark violet color. This last kind cannot here be meant, since a winter fig-tree might well have been long ago robbed of its fruit; and for the spring fig this might seem a too early period of the year. But its extraordinary show of leaves so early, gave a promise of early figs; since in the fig-tree the blossom and the fruit appear before the formation of the leaves.[FN35] Thus it was this profusion of leaves which warranted the Lord in expecting to find figs on the tree. But the fruit was wanting. Mark explains: οὐ γὰρ ἦν καιρὸς σύκων.[FN36] This does not mean, however, that at such a time of year figs were not to be expected; but that the tree had not yet been stripped, if it had ever borne fruit. The symbolical element, however, is the main thing here. A fig-tree laden with leaves promised fruit: if all fruit was wanting, it was a deceiver; and therefore an apt image of the hypocritical Jewish priesthood.

By the road-side: ἐπὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ.—“The tree stood over the way, either on an elevation in the way, or the way was a declining one.” Meyer. But a third supposition may be made, that the tree extended its branches over the level path.

Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever.—The same criticism which objected against the treatment of the Gergesenes, that it was an invasion of private property, objects against the cursing of the fig-tree, that it was an outrage upon the forest laws. But as the driving out of the demons was no wild hunt, so the word of cursing was no felling axe. It cannot be said that a miracle of punishment was alien to Christ’s spirit. But this was not properly a miracle of punishment: it was a symbolical sign of the punishment which the people had to expect from God, but which our Lord exhibited as a sign of His own retribution, as being already the glorified King. And in this warning act—which was to seal to the disciples the subsequent judicial prophecies, and especially to release their hearts from all faith in the seeming sanctity of the temple-worship—lay the great design of the whole transaction. Jesus made a symbolical use of the attractive appearance of the leaves, and executed a symbolical judgment of the deceptive tree, which deluded and mocked the hungry traveller, in order to teach His disciples that they also must at last cease to seek spiritual nourishment from the leaf-covered, but fruitless priesthood, and look forward to the Divine judgments which would cause the withering away of the theocratic people.[FN37]

And forthwith (παραχρῆμα) the fig-tree withered away.—The tree was diseased through the overflow of its false life, which exhausted itself in luxuriant foliage. But the word of curse was miraculous, and the first prelude of that great miraculous work of Christ which at His advent will blast all the evil of this present world. But primarily it was an earnest of the speedy withering of the land, when the palms should vanish, the fig-trees wither, the fountains be sealed up, and Canaan become a waste. Paulus explained it as an announcement of the speedy natural death of the tree in popular language; Strauss, as a mythical construction of the parable in Luke 13:6; Origen, Chrysostom, and the moderns generally, as a prophetic symbolical representation of the doom upon the spiritual unfruitfulness of Israel. [The absence of any instruction on this symbolical meaning of the destruction of the fig-tree, is no valid objection against it; for this meaning readily suggested itself in view of the time and place of the Acts, and the whole series of denunciatory discourses which follow are an eloquent commentary, as Meyer correctly remarks, on the silent symbolical eloquence of the withered fig-tree.—P. S.]

Matthew 21:21. If ye say to this mountain.—The mountain to which the Lord pointed, wag doubtless the hill of the temple itself. It was, like the fig-tree, a figure of the hypocritical character, of the Jewish worship, as it lay in the way of the spread of the gospel, a future hindrance to His disciples in their work. This mountain, the theocratic Judaism, must be cast into the sea of the nations (destruction of Jerusalem), before the Church of Christ could reach its consummation and free development. Certainly this was not to be effected by judicial punishment on the part of the disciples themselves; but it was for them to exhibit symbolically the judgment of God, which would issue in such a translation of the temple mountain, by turning away from the Jews, and carrying the gospel, the true Zion, to the sea of the Gentile world. The displacement of the temple mountain had therefore two points, which, however, here coalesce.

[And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, etc.—This promise is confined, of course, to prayers of faith ( Matthew 21:21-22), which implies agreement with the will of God, and excludes the abuse of this promise.—In John, Christ defines believing and effective prayer to be prayer in His name, John 14:13; John 15:16; John 16:24.—P. S.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The cursing of the fig-tree is both a Parable and a Prophecy in action, performed on the public road near the city and the temple, on Monday of the Passion-week, exhibiting Christ as the final Judge of that people which soon afterward crucified Him.—P. S.]

2. Jesus did not so much curse the fig-tree, as make manifest the curse of its internal blight It was, as it respects a fig-tree, only dead wood, fit only for the fire. To this destination He now gave it up. That Jesus had in view the spiritual condition of His people as figured by this tree, is plain from the parable, Luke 13:6. Yet Israel was, in God’s purpose, the early fig-tree among the nations, Hosea 9:10.

3. The withered fig-tree was a sign of many judgments: (1) A sign of the withering congregation of the temple or the expiring of the theocracy; (2) of withering Canaan; (3) of withering external church organizations and sects; (4) of the withering old earth: The sudden blight was a token of the instantaneousness of the judgment—of the catastrophes which had been in secret long prepared for.

4. The Saviour performed innumerable miracles of mercy on living and feeling men, but only one miracle of judgment, and that not on a human being, which He came to save, but on an unfruitful, unfeeling tree, and with a view to benefit all impenitent sinners by timely warning them of their danger. Thus we have even here a proof of Christ’s goodness in His severity. Thus even the barren fig-tree bears constant fruit in the garden of Holy Scripture as a symbol of the fearful doom of hypocritical ostentation and unfruitfulness. (Comp. similar remarks of Hilary, Grotius, Heubner, Trench, and Wordsworth.)—P. S.]

5. The tree was not cursed so much for being barren, as for being false. No fruit could be expected of any nation before Christ; for the time of figs was not yet. The true fruit of any people before the Incarnation would hare been to own that they had no fruit, that without Christ they could do nothing. The Gentiles owned this; but the Jews boasted of their law, temple, worship, ceremonies, prerogatives, and good works, thus resembling the fig-tree with pretentious, deceitful leaves without fruit Their condemnation was, not that they were sick, but that, being sick, they counted themselves whole. (Condensed from Trench and Witsius.)—P. S.]

6. Striking simultaneous exhibition of Christ’s humanity in hungering, and of His divinity in the destruction of the fig-tree by a word of Almighty power which can create and can destroy. Bengel: Maxima humanitatis et deitatis indicia uno tempore edere solitue est. John 11:35; John 11:40. Wordsworth: “He hungers as a Prayer of Manasseh, and withers the tree as God. Whenever He gives signs of human infirmity, some proof of His divine power is always near.” Comp. the poverty of His birth, and the song of angels and the adoration of the shepherds and magi; the circumcision, and the name of Christ; the purification in the temple, and the hymn of Simeon and Hanna; His obedience to His parents, and astonishing wisdom in the temple; the baptism on Jordan, and the voice from heaven and the Holy Spirit descending on Him; the announcement of His passion, and the transfiguration on the mount; the payment of tribute-money to the temple, and the miracle of the fish with the stater; the cross, and the royal inscription, etc.—P. S.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

How Jesus, with holy self-forgetfulness, early hastened to the scene of His great day’s work.—He spiritualized everything natural: even His own hunger and thirst were made awakening sermons.—Christ everywhere, in the best sense of the phrase, made a virtue out of necessity.—The barren fig-tree on the mountain of the temple a perpetual exhortation to the Church: 1. A faithful image of the priestly community in Israel as it then appeared (full of leaves, empty of fruit); 2. a warning example in its sudden blight under the curse (revealed as a dead tree, and as such given up to the fire).—The withering fig-tree as a warning to self-examination also for individual believers.—A sound fig-tree must put forth blossom earlier than leaves.—The interpretation of His act by His word: 1. The fig-tree has a close reference to the temple mountain; 2. as the fig-tree stopped Jesus in His way, so the temple mountain stopped the disciples; 3. as the Lord removed the hindrance by His miraculous word, so the disciples must overcome it by a miraculous faith, which should remove the hill of Zion into the midst of the nations (although, in doing Song of Solomon, the Jews were dispersed among the peoples).—All that the Christian asks in faith is given to him: 1. In faith it is given to him what he should ask; 2. in faith he asks what shall be given to him.

Starke:—The world often lets Christ’s servants suffer hunger and need.—When we are in want, we suffer what Jesus suffered.—Faith lays low all imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.—Teachers remove mountains when they overcome in faith, and remove out of the way, the hindrances which are thrown in the way of their vocation.—Faith and prayer: Faith is the source of prayer; prayer the voice of faith.

Lisco:—Jesus in His human necessity, Matthew 21:18; and in His divine power and dignity, Matthew 21:19.

Heubner:—Warnings in nature: Life killed by frost; blossom cankered by worms; fruit poisoned from within.—There was one even among the twelve disciples to whom this curse applied; and every one who is unfaithful to Christ has such a judgment of hardening, abandonment of God, to expect.—Jesus, after miracles of love, performs yet one miracle, which should demonstrate His power to punish and to ruin, as it belongs to the Judge of all flesh; He did not, however, perform this on Prayer of Manasseh, whom He was not come to destroy, but on an inanimate object—Faith is here, and everywhere, the firm assurance of the heart concerning that which God wills.

Rieger:—We are reminded of the weeping over Jerusalem, Luke 19; of the parable of the two sons, Matthew 21:28-31; of Romans 11:20 : “Be not high-minded, but fear.”

Footnotes:

FN#26 - Matthew 21:15.—[Wonderful thing is better for τὰ θαυμάσια mirabilia (Vulg.), than wonders, which Conant substitutes here for the Authorized Version. See the Exeg. Notes on Matthew 21:15.—P. S.]

FN#27 - Matthew 21:16.—[Καταρτιζειν is variously translated in the English Version: to mend ( Matthew 4:21), to restore ( Galatians 6:1) to perfect ( 1 Corinthians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 13:13; Hebrews 13:21), to fit ( Romans 9:22), to frame ( Hebrews 11:3). to prepare ( Hebrews 10:5). In Psalm 8:2, whence the above passage is quoted, the English Version reads: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained (or founded, established, Sept: κατηρτίσω for the Hebrew יִסַּד) strength (עֹז) because of thine enemies.” The proper translation here is: hast prepared, as in Hebrews 10:5 : σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι a body hast thou prepared for me, as a sacrifice to thee. The translation: perfected, is from the Latin Vulgate: perjecisti. But Tyndale and Cranmer have: ordained (as in Psalm 8:2); Fritzsche: parasti tibi laudem; Luther: du hunt sugerichtet; de Wette, van Ess, Lange: du hast Lob bereitet; Ewald: ich will Preis oufrichten. As to the difference between strength in the Hebrew (עז) and praise in the Sept. and here (αἶνος), the latter is to be regarded as an explanation of the former. עֹז means both ( Exodus 15:2; Psalm 29:1; Isaiah 12:2. etc.), and as it is here ordained out of the mouth, it must mean strength of speech or praise. The strength of the weak is praise, and the praise of God and Christ gives strength and power.—P. S.]

FN#28 - In German: Das freis Kinderspiel sins göttlichs Prophtetie, der unfreie Tempelditnst sin ungöttiches Schauspiel geworden.—P. S.]

FN#29 - Matthew 21:18.—[Ἰ δὼν συκῆν μίαν ἐπὶ δοῦ Lange, emphasizing μίαν, Er sahe Einen (einzelnen. single) Feigenbaum über dem Wege. Bengel: One in that place (unam illo loco). So also Meyer and Winer (ein vereinz elt dastehender Feigenbaum). Possibly it may have a symbolical reference to the singular position of the Jews as the one tree of God’s planting, standing conspicuous and alone both in favor and in guilt Others, however, explain the μίαν In this case from the later usage of the Hebrew אָחַד and the Aram. חַד.—P. S.]

FN#30 - Matthew 21:19.—B, L. read: οὐμηκέτι. The Recepta omits οὐ as superfluous.

FN#31 - Matthew 21:20.—[Lange I kewise takes the sentence as an exclamation, πως=quam. But the Lat. Vulgate (Quomodo continuo aruit?), Luther, van Ess, Meyer, Ewald, Winer, Conant take it as a question, and render πως παραχρῆμα ἐξηράνθη συκῆ How did the fig-tree forthwith wither away? So also the editions of Stier and Thei’e, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Alford in their punctuation. The former view agrees better with the parallel passage in Mark 11:21, and to not inconsistent with the use of ἀποκριθεις which follows in both accounts. But we may regard it perhaps best as an interrogative exclamation. In any case the is of the E. V. ought to be stricken out and withered away substituted for is withered away; for εξηράνθη, as here used, expresses the act past and gone, while ἐξήρανται in Mark 11:21 signifies the result.—P. S.]

FN#32 - Matthew 21:21.—[Οὐμόνον τὸ τῆς συκῆς ποιήσετε, lit.: this of the fig-tree, or: this with the fig-tree, as Luther, Ewald, and Lange have it (das mit dem Feigenbaum thun).—P. S.]

FN#33 - Similarly Trench, On the Miracles, p43, who calls those who exaggerate such small chronological differences, “the true Pharisees of history, straining at [out] gnats and swallowing camels.”—P. S.]

FN#34 - Bengel observes on ἐπείνασε esurivit:rex ille gloriœ, Matthew 5:5. Miranda exinanitio.”—P. S.]

FN#35 - Pliny, Hint. Nat. 16:49: Ei demum serius folium nascitur quom pomum.]

FN#36 - On this passage of Mark there are different interpretations. See Com. in loc. and a long note in Trench (p 441 sq.). Trench considers it very doubtful whether at that reason of the year, March or April, either fruits or leaves ordinarily appear on the fig-tree; but this tree, by putting forth leaves, nude pretension to be something more than others, to have fruit on it which in the fig-tree appears before the leaves. This tree vaunted itself to be In advance of all the other trees, and challenged the passer-by that he should come and refresh himself with its fruit. Yet when the Lord drew near, He found it like others without fruit, for, as Mark says, the time of figs had not yet arrived. The fault lay in the hypocritical pretension, the chief sin of Israel.—P. S ]

FN#37 - Trench calls attention to the fact that the only times that the fig-tree appears prominently In the New Testament It appears as a symbol of evil; here and at Luke 13:6, According to an old tradition, it was the tree of temptation in Paradise. It is noticeable, also, that Adam attempted to cover his nakedness and shame with fig-leaves and to assume a false appearance before the Lord. But the Saviour, of course, in destroying the fig-tree because of its unfruitfulness, did not attribute to it any moral responsibility and guilt but simply a fitness as a symbol of moral unfruitfulness worthy of punishment—P. S.]


Verse 23

SIXTH SECTION

THE ASSAULTS OF THE EXTERNAL THEOCRACY UPON THE ROYAL LORD IN HIS TEMPLE

Matthew 21:23 to Matthew 22:46

The symbolical transaction of the fig-tree begins to unfold itself in spiritual judgments upon the Jews in al. their authorities. The second day of the stay of the Messiah in the temple is come, the Tuesday of Passion-week; or the third, if we include the day of the entry. It was the great day of contest after the day of peace: a day on which Jesus endured victoriously the hostile attacks of the authorities in the temple, in which He silences and puts to confusion their several bands, one after another; and then, after His great judicial discourse ( Matthew 23), in view of their obduracy and in prospect of their violence, voluntarily leaves the temple. The first assault was made by the high priests and elders: it is disguised under the forms of official authority. Jesus confronts them, and discloses their true position by three parables, Matthew 21:23 to Matthew 22:14.—The second attack was an attack of cunning, led on by Pharisees and Herodians: they ironically assume that He has Messianic authority, in order that they may politically entangle Him ( Matthew 21:15-22). Then follow the Sadducees with their attack. They seek, by their alternative, to involve Him in Sadducean or antinomian assertions ( Matthew 21:23-33). Hereupon, the Pharisees make their last desperate assault, with a tempting and fundamentally threatening question of the law; and are reduced to pronounce their own discomfiture by His counter-question touching the divine dignity of the Messiah, according to Psalm 110—(Then follows the judicial discourse of Matthew 23; and finally the departure from the temple.)

A. The Attack of the High Priests and Elders, and the Victory of the lord.

Matthew 21:23-27

( Mark 11:27 to Mark 12:12; Luke 20:1-19; Luke 22:1-14.—The Gospel for the 20 th Sunday after Trinity.)

23And when he was come into the temple, the chief [high] priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? 24And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing [one word, λόγον ἕνα], which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with [among][FN38] themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why [then, οῦν] did ye not then believe him? 26But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people [multitude, ὄχλον]; for all hold John as a prophet 27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell [We do not know, οὐκ οἴδαμεν]. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

Transition to the Offensive.—First Parable: The Parable of the Two Sons (the hypocritical unbelief)

Matthew 21:28-32

28But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Song of Solomon, go work to day in my [the][FN39] vineyard 29 He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went 30 And he came to the second [other],[FN40] and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go [I will, ἐγώ],[FN41] sir; and went not 31 Whether of them twain [Which of the two, Τίς ἐκ τῶν δν́ο] did the will of his father [the father’s will, τὸ θέληυα τοῦ πατρός]? They say unto him, The first.[FN42] Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not[FN43] afterward, that ye might believe him.

Second Parable: The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (the murder of Christ, and the judgment)

Matthew 21:33-46

33Hear another parable: There was a certain[FN44] householder, which [who] planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about [put a hedge around it, φραγμὸν αὐτῷ πρριέθηκε], and digged [dug] a winepress in it, and built a [watch ] tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far [another] country:[FN45] 34And when the time of the fruit [the fruit-season][FN46] drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it [to receive his fruits].[FN47] 35And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another [and one they beat, and another they killed, and another they stoned].[FN48] 36Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise 37 But last of all he sent unto them his Song of Solomon, saying, They will reverence my Song of Solomon 38But when the husbandmen saw the Song of Solomon, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on [have][FN49] his inheritance 39 And they caught [took, λανόντες] him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.[FN50]

40When the lord therefore [When therefore the lord, ὅταν οῦ̓ν] of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked [miserable] men [or: he will wretchedly destroy those wretches],[FN51] and will let out his [the] vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall [who will] render him the fruits in their seasons 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing [from the Lord, παρὰ κυρίου], and it is marvellous [wonderful ] in our eyes ( Psalm 118:22)? 43Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall [will] be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.[FN52]

45And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared[FN53] the multitude [multitudes, τοὺς ὄχλους], because they took him for a prophet [held him as a prophet, ὡς προφήτην αὐτὸν εῖ̓χον].[FN54]

Third Parable: The Marriage of the King’s Son (the judgment of the rejection of Israel and the new theocracy of the kingdom of heaven).

Matthew 22:1-14

1And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by [in, ἐν] parables, and said, 2The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which [who] made a marriage for 3 his Song of Solomon, And [he] sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which [that] are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner [τὸ ἄριστον, early meal, midday-meal]: my oxen and my [the] fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways [went away, ἀπῆλθον], one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6And the remnant [But the rest, οἱ δὲ λοιποί] took [laid hold of, κρατήσαντες] his servants, and entreated them spitefully [ill-treated, ὕβρισαν], and slew them. 7But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city 8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which [that] were bidden were not worthy 9 Go ye therefore into the highways [thoroughfares, διεξόδους τῶν ὁδῶν],[FN55] and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage 10 So those servants went out into the highways [ὁδούς], and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good. and the wedding was furnished with guests 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which [who] had not on a wedding garment: 12And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless [put to silence, ἐφιμώθη]. 13Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and[FN56] cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Matthew 21:23. As He was teaching.—At first the members of the Sanhedrin, with the high priest himself at their head, confronted the Lord with an official and formal inquiry. Their action was passionately prepared; for, no sooner had Jesus repaired again to the temple, than they were on the spot. Their inquiry was hostile in its design; His opponents would oppress Him at once by their authority; and therefore they interrupted Him even in the midst of His teaching. But the form of their inquiry was official, and according to theocratical rule: the Jewish rulers had the right to demand of a man who exercised prophetic functions the warranty of His prophetical character. But, as Jesus had already abundantly authenticated Himself by various miracles, their seemingly justifiable act was only a shameless avowal of unbelief. It was no other than the highest rebellion in the disguise of strict legality.

The high priests and the elders.—That Isaiah, the Sanhedrin in its official authority. Hence Luke and Mark add the scribes also; for these belonged in a wider sense to the presbytery. The high priests: the plural is explained by the then existing relations of the high-priesthood. The high priest was supposed legally to enjoy his function during life (see Winer, art. Hohepriester); and before the exile we read of only one deposition ( 1 Kings 2:27). But since the time of the Syrian domination the office had often changed hands under foreign influence; it was often a football of religious and political parties, and sometimes even of the mob. This change was especially frequent under the Roman government. Thus Annas (Ananus) became high priest seven years after the birth of Christ (Æra Dion.); seven years ater Ishmael, at the command of the Roman procurator (Joseph. Antiq. xviii2, 2); afterward Eleazar, son of Annas; a year later, one Simon; and after another year, Joseph Caiaphas, a Song of Solomon -in-law of Annas. Thus Caiaphas was now the official high priest; but, in consistency with Jewish feelings, we may assume that Annas was honored in connection with him as the properly legitimate high priest. This estimation might be further disguised by the fact of his being at the same time the סָנָן, or vicar of the high priest (Lightfoot); or, if he was the נָכִוֹיא, president of the Sanhedrin (Wieseler). Compare, however, Winer, sub Synedrium. That, in fact, high respect was paid to him, is proved by the circumstance that Jesus was taken to him first for a private examination ( John 18:13). And thus he here appears to have come forward with the rest, in his relation of colleague to the official high priest. Moreover, the heads of the twenty-four classes of the priests might be included under this name. Probably the whole was the result of a very formal and solemn ordinance of the Council, at whoso head stood the high priests.

By what authority?—(Comp. Acts 4:7.) The two questions are not strictly the same. The first demanded His own authority, or what was the prophetic title which He assumed; the second demanded the authority from which He derived His own, and which authenticated Him. It therefore seems to have intimated that their authorization was denied to Him. Doubtless their aim was to extort from Him thus early that same declaration which they afterward ( Matthew 26) construed into a criminal charge.

Doest Thou these things? ταῦτα.—Grotius, Bengel, and others refer the ταῦτα to His teaching: Meyer, on the contrary, to the cleansing the temple and the healing, Matthew 21:14. Better, de Wette: The whole of the work of Jesus in the temple up to this time. As they would not acknowledge the acts of Jesus, the definite word ταῦτα is chosen with design.

Matthew 21:24-25. I also will ask you.—The counter-question is once more a testimony to the heavenly supremacy of Christ’s wisdom as a teacher. They had presented this inquiry under the pretext of theocratical rule; and, in the true spirit of this theocratical rule, He put to them His counter-question: The baptism of John, was it from heaven? that Isaiah, Did John act as a true prophet under divine authority? The antithesis, or of men, signifies his having come by his own arbitrary boldness, undertaking an enthusiastic work, supported by the party spirit of like-minded confederates. As the opposite of divine authority of the true prophet, the words still more definitely describe the character of the false prophet. Now if the Sanhedrin declared for the latter part of the alternative, they would not only come into collision with the faith of the people, but they would condemn themselves as having proved false to the theocracy, as the administrators of its laws. If, on the other hand, they acknowledged the divine mission of John, they must also acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah; for John had declared himself to be the forerunner of the Messiah, and he had moreover directed the people to Jesus as the Messiah. Indeed, the silent secret is here hinted at, that he had directed themselves—the Sanhedrin—to Jesus as the Messiah (see Matthew 4).

Matthew 21:25. They deliberated among themselves.—Their pondering must issue in a formal answer; and, as they must give a common answer, a common consultation and deliberate calculation was previously necessary: hence ἐνἑαυτοῖς, among themselves; which also appears in the διαλογίξεσθαι. (See Matthew 16:7.)—Why then did ye not believe him?—that Isaiah, his testimony concerning the Messiah.

Matthew 21:26. We fear the multitude.—We have the crowds (τὸνὄχλον) to dread. Meyer assumes here an aposiopesis, which ( Luke 20:6) interprets: All the people will stone us. But the expression φοβούμεθα intimates the same in a more indefinite way. The ὄχλος is scornful: the mob, as in John 7:49.

[The intelligence of this official consultation, which is related almost verbatim by the Synoptists, may have been originally derived from Nicodemus, who belonged to the Sanhedrin.—P. S.]

Matthew 21:27. We do not know.—This reminds us of the hierarchical decision, “mandatum de supersedendo,” which is so frequent in papal history; e.g., in the conflict between Reuchlin and the Dominicans (see Ranle: Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation vol. i. p281). They were caught in a rough alternative, and could extricate themselves only by a step of desperation. The Sanhedrin were under the necessity, in the temple and in the hearing of all the people, to utter a confession of ignorance, and. that of hypocritical ignorance. If they were not already enemies of Jesus to the death, this would make them so. This declaration made them, in the eyes of Jesus, cease to be a truly legitimate and divinely authorized Sanhedrin; after this, they were to Him only as usurpers. Hence His reply, Neither tell I you. [The οὐδὲ ἐγὼ λέγω is an answer not to their words: οὐκ οῐδαμεν, but to their inward thoughts: οὐ θέλομεν λέγειν.]

Matthew 21:28. But what think ye?—Now there is a transition to the offensive. First Parable.—Jesus had already by His counter-question obliged His enemies to by bare their ignorance, or their unbelief. He now constrains them, in the first parable, to declare heir own great; and, in the second, to declare their own punishment; and, as they had now decided to put Him to death, He describes to them, in the third parable, the consequences of their great violation of the covenant and ingratitude—the destruction of their ancient priesthood, and the triumphant establishment of His new kingdom of heaven among the Gentiles. The first parable is found only in Matthew.[FN57]

Matthew 21:30. I will, Sirach, ’Εγώ.—Not merely, yes, but an elliptical expression of devoted willingness, like the Hebrew הִכֵּנִי (Grotius). De Wette: It always refers to the previous verb: thus, ὑπάγω or ἐργάσομαι must be supplied. But the emphasis of the answer with I is to be regarded as intimating a contrast to the refusing son.

Matthew 21:31. The publicans and the harlots.—Thus, those who were excommunicated from the Jewish Church: the last word specializes the usual expression, sinners. They are represented by the first son. Their earlier relation to the requirements of the law and the prophets was a virtual no, which often in the expression of unbelief had become an actual and literal no. But, since the coming of the Baptist, they had repented. The contrast to them is the Sanhedrin in the second son. By their doctrine and hypocritical piety they had exhibited themselves as the obedient ones, yet with a boastful I will, Sirach, and with a contemptuous look upon the disobedient son. But they were the disobedient in relation to the Baptist and the Christ; they would not be influenced even by the example of the publicans’ repentance.

Go before you, προσάγουσιν.—Here intransitive: not of a “future,” but of a present entering into the kingdom of God. But the following of the others is not intimated; rather the reverse. [According to Trench, on the contrary, the words imply that the door of hope was not yet shut upon the Pharisees by an irreversible doom, and that they might still follow, if they would. So also Alford and Nast. Comp. John 12:35; and Christ’s prayer on the cross, Luke 23:34.—P. S.]

Matthew 21:32. In the way of righteousness, ἐν δῷδι καιοσύνης.—Meyer: “As a thoroughly righteous and upright man. It is not the preaching of righteousness which is meant.” De Wette: “For he preached righteousness.” That ὅδος often means doctrine, as a standard of practical righteousness, is a settled point (comp. Matthew 22:16; Acts 13:10, etc.). But here we must understand the way of righteousness in reference to the words of Christ in John 14:6 : I am the way. John came (ἔρχεοθαι of teachers arising, Matthew 11:18) as the forerunner of the Messiah, pointing to Him, the way of righteousness. The δικαιοσύνη here is analogous to the σοφία, Matthew 11:19.

Repented not.—Μεταμελέομαι here expresses the coming to a change of mind and purpose, and not merely “to meditate something better;” yet repent is rather too strong a translation, and corresponds to δικαισσὐνη. Comp. Matthew 27:3; 2 Corinthians 7:8.

Matthew 21:33. Hear another parable.—[As if to say: “I have not done with you yet; I have still another word of warning and rebuke.” Trench.] This second parable does not merely predict “ the future punishment” of the enemies of the Messiah; it more definitely specifies the nature of their guilt, in its last and near approaching consummation, the murder of Christ.

Planted a vineyard.—The theocracy under the similitude of a vineyard: see [A vineyard was regarded as the most valuable plantation, which yielded the largest harvest, but required also the most constant labor and care. Cato says: Nulla possessio pretiosior, nulla majorem operam requirit.—P. S.]

A wine-press, ληνὁς.—Properly the trough which was buried in the ground; the wine-press proper stood above, and the juice flowed through a grated opening into it. But the press and the trough were also together called ληνός.

[The digging, of course, can only refer properly to the receptacle for the juice in the rock or ground to keep it cool (Mark has for it ὑπολήνιον=lacus vinarius); but ληνός=torcular, sometimes means the whole structure for treading the grapes and receiving the expressed juice. Dr. Hackett (Illustrations of Scripture, p157, 8th ed.), as quoted by Dr. Conant in loc., gives the following description of it: “A hollow place, usually a rock, is scooped out, considerably deeper at one end than the other. The grapes are put into this trough, and two or more persons, with naked feet and legs, get into it, where they jump up and down, crushing the fruit.… The juice flows into the lower part of the excavation.… The place for treading out the grapes is sometimes dug in the ground, lined probably with a coating of stone or brick. The expression in Matthew 21:38 may allude to such an excavation.”—P. S.]

Tower.—Watch-tower; generally built in vineyards [not so much for recreation as for the watchmen who guarded the fruits against thieves].

Let it out to husbandmen, ἐξέδοτο.—De Wette: For a part of the fruits, Meyer: For money, as the lord himself received the fruits, Matthew 21:34; Matthew 21:41. But in Luke 20:10 we have ἀπὸ ταῦ καρποῦ τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος, and hence de Wette must be right. If the ἐκδιδόναι had been used of money (it must be distinguished, even then, from the μισθοῦν of the laborers, Matthew 20:1; Matthew 20:7), the lord would have required of these husbandmen, not the fruits, but the rent. Meyer himself favors this explanation, when he makes τοὺς καρποὺς αὐτοῦ refer, not to the fruits of the vineyard, but to the fruits belonging to the lord.

Matthew 21:35. Stoned another.—Meyer: According to Matthew 23:37; John 8:5; Acts 7:58, etc, “this is related to killing as its climax, as species atrox (Bengel) of killing.” But in the parallel of Mark, where λιθοβολήσαντεσ is sufficiently authenticated, we must understand it, that the servant was saluted from afar with stones. The climax is there, but of another kind: they did not let the third messenger come near them, but drove him away with stones. It must be remembered, that stoning is used here as part of the parable, not in the sense of the Jewish law.

[ Matthew 21:37. But last of all he sent unto them his Song of Solomon, etc.—It has been frequently observed by ancient and modern commentators, that the only and well-beloved Son of God is here distinctly marked out as far above the prophets in dignity and rank, the sending of whom is the last and crowning effort of divine mercy, and the rejection of whom fills up the measure of human sin and guilt. Compare here the more expressive language of Mark 12:6 : “Having yet therefore one Song of Solomon, his well-beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, they will reverence my son.” The expression of the hope, that the husbandmen will reverence the Song of Solomon, implies, of course, no ignorance, but the sincere will of God, that all should be saved; and the fact of man’s freedom and responsibility which is perfectly consistent with Divine foreknowledge and foreordination, although we may not be able in this world to see the connection and to explain the mystery.—P. S.]

Matthew 21:38. Let us have his inheritance, καὶ σχῶ μεντὴν κληρονομίαν.—The reading κατάσχωμεν (seize), and the parallel in Mark 12:7, contain the true explanation. That of Meyer, “And let us hold fast, not be driven out” (as if they did not mention the result, but their further design, what they would do after the killing of the son), gives no good sense. Till then, they regarded themselves as hired laborers; after killing the heir, they usurp the possession.

Matthew 21:39. They cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.—Mark’s inversion of the order exhibits the act in a more passionate and dramatic manner; but it loses a typical feature. For, the sequence in Matthew (and Luke) bears with it an undoubted allusion to the excommunication which preceded death. Chrysostom, Olshausen, and others refer the casting out to the crucifixion outside of Jerusalem; and they are so far right, as this was the consequence of the sentence and curse which rested on Jesus, Hebrews 13:12.

Matthew 21:33-39. The Meaning of the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen.—The vineyard is the theocratical kingdom of God, especially[FN58] in its Old Testament form. The hedge is the divine order of restriction and mark of membership: in the Old Testament, circumcision; in the New Testament, the power of the keys, and baptism with confession (Chrysostom and others: the law[FN59]). The wine-press is the altar in the widest sense (Chrysostom and others: the altar; in the New Testament also, the Lord’s Supper[FN60]). The tower is the theocratical protection; or also the New Testament office of watchman ideally viewed (Chrysostom: the temple). We must hold fast the fundamental traits of the Mosaic law; yet so as to include the New Testament fulfilment, for the vineyard passes over in the New Covenant to other laborers. The departure of the proprietor. Bengel: tempus divinœ taciturni tatis, ubi homines agunt pro arbitrio. But against this speaks the fact, that the time of the prophets is described, and their mission is combined in one with the mission of Christ. It is rather the period of the natural human development of the kingdom of God from the date of its divine institution. The laborers, or husbandmen, are the official leaders of the theocracy, especially the priests, elders, and scribes. The servants are the prophets sent by God. For their maltreatment, see the flight of Elijah, the histories of Jeremiah and Zechariah ( 2 Chronicles 24:20), the tradition concerning Isaiah. The son is the Messiah. The attempt of the laborers to gain the inheritance for themselves, is the ambition of the Jewish rulers. The coming of the lord is the judgment of retribution.

Matthew 21:40. When therefore the lord of the vineyard cometh.—His enemies are constrained to explain the parable for themselves. But, inasmuch as their solution was a necessary consequence of their whole position, Mark and Luke represent Jesus as Himself drawing the conclusion. But they also put first the question, “What will the lord of the vineyard do?” Each representation is in harmony with the connection of each Gospel; but that of Matthew seems the original one. Meyer supposes that the Sanhedrin daringly gave their decision, although they felt that the parable referred to them; and in favor of this is the μἡ γένοιτο, Luke 20:16. On this assumption, their apparent sincerity was only hypocrisy; and they thereby declared that the parable did not apply to them.

Matthew 21:41. He will miserably destroy those miserable men.—Meyer, well: As miserable ones will He miserably destroy them. See his examples of the same phraseology. It signifies the theocratical judgments upon Israel, appearing in the destruction of Jerusalem; which Meyer, with his wonted misunderstanding of the advent, denies. The Parousia of Christ is consummated in His last coming, but is not one with it. It begins in principle with the resurrection ( John 16:16); continues as a power through the New Testament period ( John 14:3; John 14:19); and is consummated in the stricter sense in the final advent ( 1 Corinthians 15:23; Matthew 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 2etc.).

To other husbandmen.—The passing over of the kingdom of God to the Gentiles. The significance of this feature of the parable was not, probably, clearly seen by the Council. Remarkable is the praise which they finally lavish upon the new laborers. The meaning Isaiah, that the Lord will always know how to seek and to find faithful laborers in His work.

Matthew 21:42. And Jesus said unto them.—A parabolical word follows from the Old Testament, which gives its edge to the preceding parable; showing the Sanhedrin from the ancient Scriptures that most assuredly the parable suited them. The passage which the Lord brings to their remembrance is that of Psalm 118:22 [the same Psalm of triumph from which the people had taken their Hosannas], quoted from the Septuagint. According to Ewald, this Psalm was sung at the first Feast of Tabernacles after the return from captivity. This much is certain, that it primarily pointed, in its historical sense, to the pious, mystical kernel of the people, as exalted above all the attempts of the heathen to destroy them. According to Zechariah 3:8-9; Zechariah 4:7, Zerubbabel was probably the person; but Zerubbabel was a type of the Messiah; therefore the passage was a typical prophecy of Christ, as the Rabbins always acknowledged. But as the stone is described as one rejected by the builders, this could hardly be said of the Gentiles, and must refer to the Jewish builders themselves, the priests and rulers, who first despised the stone and then rejected it. We have then here something that passes beyond historical type, and which makes the parable a striking prophecy of the conduct of the Sanhedrin toward Christ. And if the cornerstone, the stone which bears up the theocratical edifice, is distinguished from that building, it cannot signify all Israel, but the theocratical offspring of David, who is the definite type of the Messiah. Since the cornerstone, or head of the corner (κεφαλὴ γωνίς) binds together the two walls, Ammonius and Cyril found in this image the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ.[FN61] But the idea here prominent is this, that the despised and rejected stone becomes the corner-stone of the theocracy. [Compare for a similar application of this Psalm in Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:1.]

Matthew 21:43. Therefore I say unto you.—De Wette: “Therefore, because ye have rejected the comer-stone.” Better: Because the word concerning the corner-stone shows that the parable spoken expressly suits you, the word also concerning the vineyard being given to others suits you also; the kingdom will be taken from you, etc. For this also speaks the expression: “given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

To a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.—The New Testament people of God, with emphasis upon the new and heterogeneous element, the Gentiles. Meyer: The Ἰσραὴλ κατὰ πνεῦμα.

Matthew 21:44. Whosoever shall fall upon this stone, etc.—The privative and negative punishment of the wicked laborers is followed by their positive punishment. Thus we have here an explanation of the words: “He will miserably destroy these miserable men,” connected with the figure of the stone, which now approves its rocky nature, that fitted it to be the corner-stone. Thus Christ also demonstrates that He is the Judge. The positive and punitive judgment has again its two sides. The stone falls on none who have not first fallen on it: that Isaiah, only the unbelievers, who have rejected Christ, will be by Him condemned and rejected. But it is a double form of punishment which is expressed by this antithesis. He who falls upon Christ, the corner-stone, or who runs against and falls over it, making Him a spiritual offence and stumbling-block, σκάνδαλυν ( Isaiah 8:14; comp. 1 Peter 2:8), will be bruised. This is death through dismemberment of the body: spiritual death, reprobation, and demolition of Israel, or of the individual unbeliever. This is the judgment which falls upon the active enemy of the passive Christ, as subject. But he will also be the passive object of the punishment of the glorified and governing Christ. But on whomsoever it shall tall.—He against whom Christ comes in judgment—according to the figure of the stone, Daniel 2:34-35—will He grind to powder, λικμήσει; Vulgate:[FN62] conterat; Luther: zermalmen, to crush, to pulverize. Meyer maintains that the Greek verb can only mean, shall winnow him, throw him off as chaff. But this does not suit the effect of a falling stone. The expression is chosen with reference to the mysterious stone in Daniel, which grinds to powder the image of the monarchies; that Isaiah, to Christ, who unfolds His life in the kingdom of God, and grinds the kingdoms of the world to powder. This is the actual and most proper result of His historical judgment: perfect dissolution of organization, dissipation of its elements even to apparent annihilation. The threatening here refers primarily to the Jewish hierarchy and the destruction of Jerusalem; but the unbelieving individual will also be ground to powder at last, the glory of his life will be dissipated, he will be reduced to his elements, and driven to the verge of annihilation.

Matthew 21:46. They sought to lay hands on Him.—They had already fixed the decree to kill Him. But their exasperation at the condemning import of the parables might have urged them at once to carry out their resolution, had not their dread of the people prevented them.

Matthew 22:1. And Jesus answered.The third parable: the Marriage of the King’s Song of Solomon 1 The judgment upon Jerusalem and the Jews, and the new theocracy of the kingdom of heaven.—The Lord’s further words are introduced as an answer, because they refer to the schemes of His enemies to seize Him.

In parables.—Plural of the category.

Matthew 22:2. Made a marriage for his son.—This parable is related, in its fundamental idea that the kingdom of heaven is a festive meal, to that of Luke 14:16-24. But there is an essential difference between them. The festive supper of a host is here expanded into a wedding supper which a king made for his son. In Luke the whole parable is so ordered as to depict the infinite goodness and grace of the Lord: hence the scornful guests are at once passed by, and the parable turns to those newly invited out of the streets and lanes. But in Matthew the judgment is the standpoint from which the whole is viewed. Hence not only is the judgment upon the first neglecters of the invitation depicted, but further judgment is extended to the guests who actually came. The practical scope of these parables has been altogether overlooked by those who have maintained that the former was the original parable, and that evangelical tradition pieced together in this one many separate fragments. (De Wette, Strauss, Schnecken-burger, and others.)[FN2] Evangelical parables are not works of art in this sense. Their fundamental ideas may be viewed from different points of view, and differently developed accordingly. So here, when the Lord shows what judgments will fall upon the various kinds of contempt poured on the marriage supper of the kingdom of God. The Jews had long been wont to think of the festival of the consummated kingdom of heaven under the figure of a feast. The paschal meal, doubtless, gave them the type of it; while all the heathen festivals and sacrificial feasts rested upon the same common foundation. Comp. Exodus 24:11; Psalm 23:5; Isaiah 25:6. This feast of the kingdom of heaven is an image of the blessedness and fellowship of the life of faith, and assumes a threefold form: 1. It is a feast in the future world, Luke 16:22; Luke 2. it is the future feast at the visible advent of the Messiah, Luke 14:15; Matthew 25:1; Matthew 3. it is the present, spiritual feast which begins at once with the life of faith, Psalm 23; the parables, Luke 14:17, and in this section. The Jewish rabbinical mythology exhibited the feast at the end of the world, at the advent of the Messiah, with all sensuous characteristics, and in colossal figures. The change of the simple feast into a marriage supper rested upon the Old Testament representation of the covenant between Jehovah and Israel by the figure of the marriage state: Isaiah 54:5; Ezekiel 16:4; Matthew 23; Hosea 2:19-20; compare the Canticles. In the New Testament development of this figure, we must, of course, regard the Messiah as the Bridegroom, for whom the Father prepared the marriage with the Church: Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 21Calovius and many others have interpreted the wedding as the union of the divine and human natures in Christ.[FN3] And indeed, this union forms the ideal foundation and real root of the actual union and communion between Christ and His Church, which was typically foreshadowed by the union of Jehovah with Israel. Believers are here represented as guests; but this does not militate against the reference to Christ’s relations with His Church, because the ideal Church in its totality must be regarded as the bride, and the individual Christians as guests. But certainly the bond of connection between Christ and His Church has its root in His assumption of His humanity by the assumption of His human nature. The expression γἀμοι then is not to be generalized, and translated feast. “Michaelis, Fischer, Kuinoel, Paulus, and others have thought that only a feast in celebration of the receiving of the kingdom is meant. But the Messiah is the Bridegroom ( Matthew 25:1), whose betrothal is the establishment of His kingdom (comp. on Ephesians 5:27).” Meyer.[FN4]

Matthew 22:3. To call them that were bidden.—An Oriental custom. The first invitation was an invitation to the feast generally; the second, to the beginning of the feast itself.

Matthew 22:4. Behold.… my dinner, τὸἄριστόν.—The introductory meal, which opened the series of wedding feasts; an early meal toward midday, not the same as the δεῖπνον.[FN5]

Matthew 22:5-6. But they made light of it … but the rest.—How is this difficult clause to be construed? As the words stand, a division into two parts is suggested, the first part being again subdivided into two:—1. But they made light of it, and went away: a. some to their fields; b. some to their merchandize2. But the rest, etc.—So Meyer, after de Wette: ἀμελήσαντες refers only to those who went away; for the remainder, Matthew 22:6, acted in direct hostility (κρατήσαντες). But the contempt which is expressed by ἀμελήσαντες is the general term for the enmity which embraced them all in one guilt; and, accordingly, they are all together condemned afterward as φονεῖς. Fritzsche therefore is right in assuming an inexactness in the phrase, which should have been: οἱ δὲ ἀμελ. and οἱ μὲν ἀπῆλθον; as the Vulgate has it: Illi autem neglexerunt, el abierunt, etc. Yet the οἱ found wanting before ἀπῆλθον is contained in the following μὲν, δέ. Thus, οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ κρατήσαντες 1. ἀπῆλθον δ μὲν, δὲ; 2. οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ κρατήσαντεσ. The ἀμέλεια is the hostile unbelief which is common to all. This expresses itself in two ways: a. In the indifferent worldliness: they think nothing of their king, and devote themselves to their own private affairs, b. In fanatical spirituality, which makes the positive persecution of the servants (prophets) an official business. This is a striking picture of the miserable contrast of false worldliness and spirituality in the hierarchical communion.[FN6] Fundamentally, however, the contrast is only a reciprocal influence; and both dwell together in only one city of murderers, which was doomed to burning.

Matthew 22:9. Out into the highways.—Not the places where the streets of the city meet (Kypke, Kuinoel, and others); for the city is assumed to be burned, Matthew 22:7; but the outlets of country roads (Fritzsche, Meyer).[FN7] At this point our parable goes beyond that of Luke 14:16. There, the streets and lanes of the city are mentioned, where the maimed and the poor gathered together (the halt, the lame, the blind: publicans and sinners within the theocracy). Here, the commission is to go far beyond the doomed city, out into the high roads of the world: all, both bad and good, the heathen simply, are invited; both those who were looking for light, and the common people of heathenism generally.

Matthew 22:10. Both had and good.—Bengel: locutio quasi adverbialis. Meyer: They acted as if they would make no difference, whether the persons were morally good or bad, provided only they accepted the invitation; the distinction between them must be made by the king at a later period, and not by them. But in this interpretation, first, the distinction between the wicked and the good in the heathen world ( Acts 10; Romans 2) is improperly done away with; and, secondly, it is not proper to confound the difference between the good and the bad among the invited, with the difference between the guests who had, and those who had not, the wedding-garment. The plan of salvation shines clearly through the whole; and that does not look at the previous life, but at faith or unbelief toward the gospel. The words: they gathered together, imply that they accepted the invitation with joy.

The wedding was furnished with guests.—With the filling of the wedding-chamber the wedding feast was consummated. The contemners of the feast could not do away with or invalidate it: it came to its full consummation.

Matthew 22:11. To see the guests.—At the thought of a calling of the Gentiles to the Messianic salvation the Pharisaic legality revolted with horror, as opening the gate to antinomianism and anarchy. Christ meets this aversion of the hierarchy with the doctrine that righteousness and judgment would pervade, though in higher and nobler forms, even the new economy of grace. And the idea of judgment is predominant throughout the whole parable. The higher forms of the spiritual law: 1. The guests are examined by the king; 2. the sign of worthiness is the wedding-garment; 3. the punishment is a personal and rigorous exclusion.

Not having a wedding-garment, ἔνδυμαγάμου.—Here, not merely “a garment suitable for a wedding feast” (de Wette), but specifically a wedding-garment1. Michaelis, Olshausen, and others interpret: The guests of kings were in the East presented with festal garments, or caftans, according to Harmar (Observations on the East, ii17) and others. This custom is assumed in the parable; and the figure is appropriate, the more so as saving righteousness, faith, and the Holy Spirit are likewise the gifts of God. But Fritzsche, Meyer, and de Wette object to this view. De Wette remarks “that such a custom cannot be sufficiently proved (Meyer: Not even by Genesis 45:22; Judges 14:12; 2 Kings 5:22; 2 Kings 10:22; Esther 6:8; Esther 8:15); and that there could be no reason why an invited guest should despise the festive garment.” 2. They therefore suggest another explanation: “That the guests were bound to come with festal clothing, was an obvious and customary propriety that needed no enforcement. Moral δικαιοσύνη was thereby symbolized, which men, after the call to the kingdom of the Messiah, should obtain for themselves through the μετάνοια.” So Meyer; without, however, giving any more precise explanation of this moral δικαιοσύνη.[FN8] De Wette: “The view here obtains, that the spirit which is appropriate to the kingdom of God depends upon man himself.” But where could guests get these garments in the urgency of the feast, especially as they were men of all kinds (according to Luke’s parable, probably many of them beggars)? The passages quoted by Meyer show at least that the custom of furnishing the guests with festive garments on such occasions was very ancient in the East.[FN9] Andthe man might have excused himself by his poverty, If it were not assumed that every one might have received his wedding garment. However, we must not lay any more stress upon the idea that the garment was presented, than upon the notion that every one must provide it for himself. There is no feature in the parable which specially points to the one or the other of these assumptions. The stress lies upon this, that every one must be found at the wedding in a wedding garment, and that he must therefore have previously taken pains in the matter. The question, how that trouble was to be taken, and how the garment was to be obtained, is designedly avoided, because another point of view is here the more important. If the guest had not taken any pains about the wedding-garment, he showed positive disrespect to the inviting lord, and a contempt for his feast, or Antinomianism. The free gift of righteousness as such cannot here be meant; as that consists in the invitation to the supper and the participation of the feast. Nor is faith as such intended; for that takes place at the acceptance of the invitation itself. Therefore, the wedding garment is the exhibition of character, or appearance, corresponding to the invitation and the feast: that Isaiah, discipline of spirit, an earnest Christian life.[FN10]The first historical figure in which this guest comes before us in the apostolical history, is that of the Antinomians, who are depicted in the Second Epistle of Peter and the Epistle of Jude, and the Nicolaitanes of the Apocalypse. If it is still thought necessary to supply the deficient point (which, however, tends to weaken the main impression), we may say that the wedding garment was at once freely given and obtained by personal effort. It was given as free grace; yet it was to be obtained in the ante chamber by earnest effort and prayer. The chief point Isaiah, that it was obtained by diligent anxiety, springing from a right appreciatior of the dignity of the feast.

Matthew 22:13. Bind him hand and foot.—An appropriate punishment of lawlessness. It had not for its object merely to keep him fast in his place of punishment, but also to carry him there securely; for, at he was a desperately bold intruder, he could not otherwise be driven out and carried away. The binding is the hard political restraint which follow on lawlessness. It is the business, not of the guest of the church, but of the servants of the King.—Outer darkness—Comp. Matthew 8:12. It may be worthy of notice, that the Antinomians are cast out into the same place of punishment with the traditionalists and legalists. This points to an internal connection between the two extremes.

There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.See above. There is no sufficient reason for separating these words from the parable, as Meyer does, and making them explanatory words of Christ.

Matthew 22:14. For many are called.—If we take these words as simply the Lord’s explanation, they refer not only to the punishment of the one guest, who had not on the wedding-garment, but to those also who had been earlier invited; and thus the antithesis of the many and few is better established and illustrated. Comp. Matthew 20:16. Called and chosen signify here not merely a difference, but an antithesis. Both in the old and in the new economy there is a rigorous separation made between the worthy and unworthy, and on that this antithesis is founded. We must not, therefore, understand the word here in its common doctrinal meaning; it is no more than the historical call or invitation, and the called are simply the individual members of the theocracy, and of the Christian Church. And Song of Solomon, further, the idea of election here is not the usual dogmatic conception of an eternal decree, but that final election in the judgment which, however, points back to the first election. De Wette goes no further, in his exposition, than the definite sentence of the Judge upon the worthiness and unworthiness of men. Meyer interprets it of the eternal decree by which God appointed those to enter into the kingdom of the Messiah who would appropriate His righteousness, Matthew 25:34 (essentially the Arminian view). Perhaps it is better to go no further here also than the historical illustration. Many are called; few, as actual guests, have escaped as elect ones the two crises of judgment. Probably the expression rests upon some proverbial saying, such as, Many guests, few elect ones. The Scripture doctrine of election is the basis of the saying; but it is an election which is here viewed in all its developments and processes down to the judgment day.

Matthew 22:1-14. The Meaning of the Parable of the Marriage of the King’s Son. It speaks everywhere for itself. God is the King, and the wedding of His Son is the feast of the Messiah’s kingdom. The invited, who have a second invitation, are the Jews. The second invitation came through John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. The city burnt is Jerusalem. The second sending of the servants is the mission of the Apostles. The highways are the heathen world. Good and bad are the whole body of heathen, receiving a common and unlimited proclamation of the gospel. The other traits—the general acceptance, etc.—have been already sufficiently explained. Lampe understood by the wedding garment Christ Himself: we regard it as the moral excellence of the Christian character. Judas has been discerned in the man without the garment (ἑταῖρε, Matthew 26:50); but the connection shows that this man is the collective Antinomianism of the New Testament economy.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. See the foregoing Exegetical Notes.

2. His enemies would oppress and destroy the Lord through the might of their theocratic hierarchical authority. But He constrained them, by the Might of His Wisdom of Solomon, to pronounce before the people in the temple the sentence of their own deposition and degradation. By the question concerning the origin of John’s baptism He accomplished three things: 1. He constrained them to make manifest how much they differed from the belief of the people in the prophetic mission of the Baptist2. He brought home to their minds their own guilt, in having rejected the Baptist’s express authentication of His claims as the Messiah3. He rendered it necessary that they should pronounce their own sentence upon themselves as utterly incompetent to discharge the duties of their office. Thus the defensive was turned already into the offensive. But the special attack upon them, to which He now passes on, unfolds their guilt and its punishment in perfect gradation; and here again they are obliged to pronounce sentence upon themselves. Despisers of John, the prophet of repentance, worse than the publicans and harlots ! this is the first sentence. That of the second is—Unfaithful stewards of the Lord’s vineyard, murderers of the Messiah, condemned, deprived of their office, degraded, and forced to make way for strangers better than themselves!—this is the second sentence. Being with the whole people insane despisers of God and His salvation, and in all their acts rebels against Him, their city is to be burned, while they themselves are to be destroyed and to give place to the Gentiles!—this is the third sentence, which the Lord Himself utters in an allegorical prophecy. In all these mark the gradation of their guilt. In the first parable they are, by their “I will, Sirach,” condemned, as well as by the repentance of the publicans and harlots. In the second parable they are condemned by the favorable terms on which the vineyard is let to them, by the long forbearance of the Proprietor, by the bold generosity with which He at last committed to them His Son. In the third parable, by the dignified invitation of their King to the wedding of His Song of Solomon, as if they were friends, while at the same time they are subjects, and might be commanded; by the repetition of the call, and the anxious, almost supplicating, manner in which the preparations are spoken of, and the probable embarrassment caused by their absence; but, most of all, by the emptiness of their excuses, and the stupid malignity of their vengeance upon the messengers who invited them.

3. The appendix in the second parable perfects Its application to the Council; but at the same time unfolds the two sides of the judgment which falls upon the builders who rejected the corner stone. The corner stone of Psalm 118, which the builders rejection, thus securing their own rejection, is made here, on the one hand, a figure of Isaiah’s suffering Messiah (the stone of stumbling in Israel’s way, Isaiah 8:14-15), by the contemptuous rejection of whom the enemies of the Messiah pronounced their own spiritual condemnation; and, on the other hand it is made a figure of Daniel’s glorified Messiah (the rock which descended from the highest mountain of the earth into the valley), who in the judgments of history annihilated His enemies. But the second part of the third parable is a justification of the hint, that the kingdom of God pastes over to the Gentiles. Hence it is shown that law, justice, and judgment are to rule in the new economy, although in another and a higher form.

4. The marriage of the Son.—The call to the kingdom of God is a call to the highest honor, the highest joy, and the highest festivity. The inviting king is God; the bridegroom is Christ; the bride (not here appearing) the Church. The fact that the invited who accept the invitation belong to the body, which is the bride, comes not into view in the parable. Believers individually are the guests; believers collectively are the bride. The guests are the subjects of the king: He might constrain them as servants to do the work of servants, but He invites them as guests and friends to partake of His honors and joys, and invites them even with urgency. The motives of honor, love, duty, here all cooperate in their influence. And this makes the conduct of the first invited all the more unnatural and damnable.

5. “It does seem strange that the invited guests ill treat and kill the messengers, who invite them to make their appearance; but what if this senseless conduct in the parable were designed to point to the equal folly of those who are now acting in the same senseless way with regard to God’s messages !”—Weisse (2. p113).

6. At the end of this section, the theocratical authority of Christ has taken the place of the old and forfeited authority. The Sanhedrin had now only the form of authority remaining with it. Essentially it was displaced by Christ.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

I. The Whole Section.—The spiritual and real reckoning between Christ and the Sanhedrin points to the future open and historical reckoning.—The full development of the fall of Israel1. Their sin: (a) Disobedience under the guise of piety; (b) persecution of the prophets; (c) the murder of Christ; (d) contempt of God, and self exclusion from the gospel feast, 2. Their judgment: (a) Put to shame by publicans and harlots and Gentiles; (b) degradation from their dignity and historical vocation; (c) loss of their land; (d) burning of their city; (e) and total downfall of all their glory.—Mark the fate of every hierarchical dominion which, like that of the Jews, withstands the Lord.

2. The Question of the Sanhedrin; Christ counter question, Matthew 21:23-32.—Christ is the spiritual avenger of the Baptist’s blood in the temple.—The Lord in his House obliged to defend His rights; outraged by servants, and treated by them as a usurper.—Christ the conqueror of all hierarchical spirits in the temple of God. The supreme authority of the Lord robs all other authority here of its power.—The silencing of the Council: their silence was a sign of their desperation and of their hardening.—Connection of false prudence and fear: 1. false prudence begets fear; 2. fear begets false prudence —Before the Lord in His holy temple must all the world keep silence.

3. The Parable of the Two Unequal Sons.—The open, and the false character.—The penitent sinner held up by the Lord to put to shame the hypocrite.—The Lord’s sermon of repentance in the temple.

4. The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, Matthew 21:33-41.—The fearful wickedness of God’s laborers, who would turn His vineyard into a private possession1. The sources of this conduct: Misunderstanding of the Lord’s external absence, of His longsuffering and tenderness; selfishness, worldliness, ambition, evil company2. The form of its manifestation: Denial of the fruits; contempt of the messengers; renunciation of the Lord; conspiracy against the Heir3. The issue of this conduct: Displacement from their vocation; loss of the vineyard; and terrible ruin.—The ruinous delusion of the servants of Christ who turn an office of service into an office of rule.—The ordinary offices in the Church are lost, when they fail to recognize the Lord’s extraordinary messengers.—The murder of Christ in the vineyard of His Father; John 3:16 : So God loved the world, etc.—The history of the hardening of Israel an eternal warning to the Church.—They knew the Son and they knew Him not ( Luke 23:34; Acts 3:17); their blindness was a self inflicted obscuration of their minds.—In Christ’s end the guilt of the whole world is summed up.—How He made His enemies pronounce their own doom.

5. Christ The Stone Rejected by the Builders, Which became the Head of the Corner, Matthew 21:42-46.—As the Old Testament foretold the degeneracy of His officers, so did also the New.—Christ the rock: 1. The stone which the builders rejected, and who was made the corner stone ( Psalm 118.); 2. the stone in the way, a stumbling block and a stone to rest upon ( Isaiah 8.); 3. the rock which, hewn out, rolled down from the everlasting hills ( Daniel 2.).—How unbelief turns the warning of ruin into a new and ruinous snare.—How the fear of the people’s faith restrained the enemies of the Lord in their assaults.—The embarrassment and impotence of the Jewish Council: 1. Pressed within by the spiritual words of the Lord; 2. pressed without by the people’s temper.—The malignity of unbelief reaches its climax in the feeling of its own impotence.

6. The Marriage of the King’s Son. The old Scripture lesson for the twentieth Sunday after Trinity. Matthew 22:1-14.—The kingdom of heaven a wedding feast, which God has prepared for His Son—All preaching of the gospel is an invitation to this wedding.—Two kinds of guilt in dealing with the invitation: 1. Contempt of the invitation: dishonoring (a) the King, (b) the King’s Song of Solomon, (c) the inviting messengers2. Contempt of the feast itself: (a) dishonoring the blessedness of the feast in gross carnality and service of the world; (b) dishonoring the holiness and consecration of the feast, in preferring the beggarly fellowships of the world.—The guilt of remaining away, and the guilt of appearing ill (without the wedding garment).—The difference and the common glory of the Old and New Covenants1. The difference: the Old Testament is the invitation to the feast; the New Testament is the feast itself2. The common glory: grace runs through the whole of the Old Covenant as well as the New; and the spirit of judgment and justice runs through the New Covenant as well as the Old the guests are examined.—The best thing in our earth life Isaiah, that in it we are invited to the feast of the salvation of God.—The true and proper loss of life in life is the despising the invitation to God’s great least.—How God in His mercy condescends to represent Himself as an embarrassed host, who fears for the dishonoring of His feast, and prays us to come.—All God’s martyrs are persecuted messengers of invitation.—How it can come to pass that unbelief should rise in rebellion against the invitation to the free gift of blessedness.—Indifference which undervalues salvation in the midst of earthly cares, and fanaticism which persecutes the heralds of the gospel, are fundamentally one and the same self seeking worldliness, though assuming different forms.—All God’s judgments are the counterparts or antitheses of slighted feasts and invitations.—The Lord’s armies, which He sends out for retribution ( Romans, etc.); or, heaven and earth must contend for the honor of the Lord and His Son.—All the endless confusion of the course of this world must subserve the one clear end of God.—The passing over of the kingdom of heaven from the first invited to the new guests.—The ingratitude of those who would not come cannot invalidate the feast: the wedding is fully furnished and crowded nevertheless.—In the Church of the gospel the law is born again.—Friend, how earnest thou in hither ? or, lawlessness (Antinomianism) in the Church, and its judgment.—Holy discipline of the Church of Christ, the rule of Christ in the midst of it.—The eternal consecration of the eternal feast of Christ.—Outer darkness; or, the punishment of the servants of men’s precepts, and the scorners of the law, the same.—Many are called, etc, or the difference between the external and the internal Church: (a) called, elect; (b) many, few; (c) remaining without, new and different guests.

Selections from other Homiletical Commentaries

1. The Question and the Counter Question—Starke:—From Zeisius: The anti christian spirit arrogates to itself all power in the Church, and will lord it over all things ( 2 Thessalonians 2:4).—Spiritual councils, synods, and consistories, not only may err, but have erred, and err to this day; so that we must not obey them further than they conform to the word of God.—Most necessary it is to use prudence in dealing with the enemies of the truth.—Sometimes the cunning of the enemy can be met and unmasked by a little counter question.

Gerlach:—The mysterious answer which Jesus had given them the first time ( John 2.) had remained dark to their minds.—Christ’s counter question was by no means a mere evidence of His prudence, or an evasive reply; but He opens up to His enemies the way to acknowledge His Messiahship, for if they believed in John, they must receive his testimony concerning Jesus as the Messiah.

2. The Two Sons.—Starke:—Two sorts of men: manifest sinners, and hypocrites.—Quesnel: What would have been to Prayer of Manasseh, in a state of innocence, pleasure, is now hard work on account of sin.—Cramer: To sin is human, but to continue in sin is devilish.—We must never give up all hope of the vilest sinner.—Behold, Jesus receiveth the vilest sinners, publicans and harlots!—Hedinger: Hypocrites promise much and keep little.—Obstinate persons are hard to convert.—Good examples of penitents should draw sinners to follow them.

Heubner:—The first application is to the persons named in Matthew 22:31; the second, to the Jews and Gentiles. But the parable is for all men generally.—Those that are converted late often become more acceptable to God than those who are relapsing from early zeal.—The summoning “Go work” is for every man.—True improvement comes from action, not from wishing and promising.

3. The Wicked Husbandmen.—Starke:—From Quesnel: Ministers of the divine word must regard their flocks as a vineyard of the Lord.—The rulers of the Church are often its greatest persecutors, and most responsible for its corruptions.—The Son of God is heir of all things: whosoever rejects Him here has no part in the heavenly inheritance.—Those who cast Jesus out of their hearts, cast Him also out of the vineyard which He purchased with His blood.—Zeisius: The wicked are very often made unconsciously to bear witness against themselves.—The time of retribution will come.

Gerlach:—The number of the prophets increased in the later ages of the Israelitish people; so also, the longer the Church lives, the further the individual advances, the more abundant are the tokens of God’s grace.—He sent his son ( Matthew 21:37, comp. Hebrews 1:2). Important passage, showing how Christ essentially distinguished Himself from all the former messengers of God, by His own peculiar relation to His heavenly Father.—The husbandmen know the son: thus Christ declares that His enemies knew who He was, or at least that they were guilty of their own ignorance. He tells them also why they watched for His life: because they feared He would lake from them their usurped authority.—Human nature, in rebellion against Christ, has a right instinct, that if it could overcome Him, it would overcome all opposition.

Heubner:—The high priests acted as the agents or representatives of the evil spirit, the prince of this world. If Jesus could be destroyed, all would be won for Satan.—The Church of Christ often the stage of most frightful cruelty.—God’s judgments become more and more severe.—The Jewish people a monument of divine mercy and justice.

4. The Corner Stone.—Starke:—From Canstein: The corner stone of the Church is Christ: 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6-8.—The Saviour falls on no one as a judgment, who has not already by unbelief stumbled at Him.—So blind are the ungodly, that they fear men, while they have no fear of God.

Heubner:—The Old Testament bad foretold the rejection of the Son of God; the New Testament foretells to us the apostasy from Christianity,[FN11] for the warning and confirmation of believers.—Jesus honored the Scripture, and every where saw in it the counsel of God indicated. Ought not this to inspire the Christian with reverence for the Old Testament—What wise one of this world, what human reason, would have conceived, under the cross, that this Prayer of Manasseh, hanging suspended between two malefactors, and despised by all, would one day receive the worship of the whole world ?—This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.—Vain are all attempts and devices to suppress the truth, or thwart the counsel of God.—It is madness to rush against the rock: it is for us only to rest and build on.—The doom of the despisers of God’s grace.

5. The Wedding Feast, Matthew 22:1-14.—Starke:—The blind world often regards the good messengers, who invite them to a heavenly feast, as their enemies.—God is great, not only in His love, but also in His anger.—Cramer: Joyful word: All things are ready ! Alarming word: Thou art not ready!—Osiander: Let all take care that they do not slight the gospel, that God may not take away His word (“and give it to others”).—Quesnel: It the work of salvation there is no respect of persons.—Cramer: In heaven there are only good, in hell only wicked; but in the militant Church there are tares and wheat together (Gregor. M. Homil. 38).—He was speechless: Job 9:3; Psalm 130:3.—Zeisius: The small number of the elect should make no Christian despond, or weaken his hope of salvation; but only cause him to rub all sleep out of his eyes.—Not external communion with the Church, but divine election through faith, saves us.

Gerlach: The wedding feast of the Son of God with mankind, when Ho assumed our flesh.—The highways, the places where men most congregate.

Heubner:—My dinner. God has made all provision for our salvation, and that in the most abundant manner.—The climax: 1. Seize, hold fast and imprison, those to whom all houses and hearts should be opened; 2. Scorn, despise in word and Acts, those to whom men are bound to show the greatest respect and love; 3. Kill, those for whom the longest life should be desired.—Christianity is offered to us without merit.—The wisdom of God knows even how to derive good from evil.—The Jews’ contempt for the gospel sent it over to the Gentiles.—All without distinction are invited.—Different receptions of the invitation to the kingdom of heaven.—The goodness and earnestness of the call of mercy.

Hofacker:—The righteous judgment of God upon those who obey not the gospel.—Reinhard:—The predominant spirit of every age furnishes its own pretexts for repelling the appeals of the gospel—J. J. Rambach:—The vain hope of false Christians.

[Comp. also Matthew Henry, on the parable of the Marriage Feast, on which he is quite full and rich for practical purposes.—P. S.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - So It is called in the headings of the English Bible, to distinguish it from the parable of the Great Supper in Luke 14:16-24. Sometimes it is called less appropriately the parable of the Wedding Garment, which after all is only an episode in it.—P. S.]

FN#2 - Even Theophylact, Calvin, and Maldonatus maintain the Identity of the two parables; while Olshausen, Stier, Nast. Alford. Trench, and Owen agree with Lange in keeping their distinct Comp. the apt remarks of Trench on the difference and against Strauss, p208 sqq.—P. S.]

FN#3 - The Edinb. trsl. here again reverses the sense of the original by adding: “but we have no Scripture warranty for this, and then omitting the following sentence altogether. A translator has no right to change the views of his author, unless he state that he has done so.—P. S.]

FN#4 - Falsely credited to Lisco in the Edinb. trsl. with the omission of all the names representing this view.—P. S.]

FN#5 - The Edinb. trsl, which usually retains the language of the Authorized Version, even whore Dr. Lange’s version and comments require an alteration, falsely gives the text in this case: My supper is Ready, and thereby contradicts both the English Version and Dr. Lange’s comment. The term: ἅοιστον, from ῆ̓ρι, early, means properly an early meal, but generally a late breakfast, lunch, prandium, taken about midday, comp. Joseph. Antiq. v4, 2 (while the early breakfast, taken at sunrise, was called ἀκράτισμα), and is uniformly rendered dinner In the E. V. ( Matthew 22:4; Luke 11:38; Luke 14:12): δεῖπνον was the principal meal taken early In the evening, after the work and heat of the day, as now in large cities, and is always rendered supper ( Mark 6:21; Luke 14:12; Luke 14:16-17; Luke 14:24; John 12:2; John 13:2; John 13:4; John 21:20; 2 Corinthians 11:20. “the Lord’s supper;” Revelation 19:9, “the marriage supper of the Lamb”), except In three passages, where it Is rendered feast ( Matthew 23:6; Mark 12:39; Luke 20:46). The corresponding verbs are translated: to dine and to sup. Some have proposed to translate ἄριστον, breakfast, and δεῖπνον, dinner. But it would sound very strange to the English ear accustomed to the admirable idiom of his good Anglo-Saxon Bible to hear of “the Lord’s dinner,” and “the marriage dinner of the Lamb.” In such cases the common sense and traditional reverence of English Christendom would tolerate no alteration. In our passage the ἅριστον is the beginning of the marriage feasts, which culminate in the marriage supper of the lamb, Revelation 19:9.—P. S]

FN#6 - In German: in dem hierarchischen, Gemeinwesen, which the Edinb. edition has rendered: ecclesiastical nature!]

FN#7 - Alford and Trench refer διέξοδοι to the city, i.e, not the city of the murderers (Jerusalem), but the city in which the marriage was supposed to be celebrated. Trench, p. Matthew 220: “We must not permit our English highways to suggest places in the country as distinguished from the town; the image throughout is of a city, in which the rich and great and noble, those naturally pointed out as a king’s guests, refuse his banquet whereupon the poor of the same city are brought in to share it.”—P. S.]

FN#8 - In the fourth edition of his Commentary, Meyer adds: “This δικαιοσύνη was tube obtained gratuitously by faith for the sake of the death of Christ: but the knowledge of this doctrine was reserved to the later development of the Christian faith.” Similarly Alford: “The garment is to imputed and inherent [?] righteousness of the Lord Jesus, put on symbolically in Baptism ( Galatians 3:27), and really by a true and living faith ( Galatians 3:26),—without which none can appear before God in His kingdom of glory;— Hebrews 12:14; Philippians 3:7-8; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10; Romans 13:14 :—which truth could not he put forward here, but at its subsequent manifestation threw its great light over this and other such simllitudes and expressions.”—P. S.]

FN#9 - Compare a so what Trench address from modern travellers and modern customs in the East, which are likely to date from very ancient times, p225. Horace tells of Lucullus (Epist. 1:6, 40) that he had not less than five thousand mantles in his wardrobe. Chardin says of the king of Persia that he Rave away an infinite number of dresses (Voyage en perse, vol3. p230). Owen, like Lange, urges the obvious impossibility that the guests, especially the poor ones, could provide themselves with costly garments In so short a time, unless they wore ready in the king’s palace. “It must be remembered.” he says, “that these guests were Invited and brought In from the very highways. along which they were passing for pleasure or business, and It is very unreasonable to suppose that they were, or could be, provided, at so short a time, with appropriate dresses. Many of them wore doubtless too poor to meet the expense of such a garment, had lime been given them to procure one. On the other hand, we have abundant evidence, that kings were provided with extensive wardrobes, from which each invited guest was furnished with a suitable garment.”—P. S.]

FN#10 - The Fathers, the Roman Catholic and some Protestant commentators, understand the wedding garment to mean charity or holiness; most of the older Protestant commentators, faith; John Gerhard, Olshausen, Trench, Brown, and others, combine the two in the conception of Christ, or righteousness, both in its root of faith and its flower of charity, or “faith as the Investing power, charity as the invested robe,” in putting on Christ ( Galatians 3:27). Comp. Isaiah 61:10 : “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garment of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself if with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels.” Trench explains It of “righteousness In its largest sense, the whole adornment of the new and spiritual Prayer of Manasseh, Including the faith without which it is impossible to please God ( Hebrews 11:6), and the holiness without which no man shall see Him ( Hebrews 12:14), or like this guest, only see Him to perish at His presence: it is at once the faith which Is the root of all graces, the mother of all virtues, and likewise those graces and those virtues themselves.” A singular curiosity In modern exegetical the interpretation of Wordsworth, who soberly refers the wedding garment to baptism “as the germ of all the means of spiritual grace,” and applies the rebuking ἑταῖρε, friend, especially to the Quakers or Friends, because they reject the visible signs and means of spiritual grace, provided for and prescribed to all by the Great King! The white baptismal garment. In the ancient church must serve as an illustration in the absence of proof.—P. S.]

FN#11 - In German: den Abfall vom Christenthum, from Christianity, nut of chritstendom, as the Edinb. trsl. has it, which would require la German: den Abfall deb Christenheit.—P. S.]

FN#38 - Matthew 21:25.—Παῤ ἑαυτοῖς. Lachmann and Tischendorf [not in the ed. of1859] read: ἐν ἐαυτοῖς, after B, L, Z, etc. The latter reading is preferable, since the sanhedrists had to consult among themselves before giving a general answer.

FN#39 - Matthew 21:28.—Μου is omitted in many MSS. [So also in Cod. Sinait. and in the critical editions of Lachmann Tischen-dorf, Tregelles, and Alford.—P. S.]

FN#40 - Matthew 21:30.—[Τῷ ἑτέρῳ is the correct reading, sustained by the best authorities, including Cod. Sinait, instead of the Recepta: δευτέρῳ, which after πρώτῳ appears as a gloss. Dr. Lange, however, retains δευτερῳ with Lachmann (who follows the Vatican Cod.), and makes no mention of the other reading.—P. S.]

FN#41 - Matthew 21:30.—[̓Εγὼ, κύριε, Isaiah, of course, elliptical, to which ὑπάγω, or πορεύομαι, or ἀπέρχομαι must be supplied. The various readings: ναὶ, κύριε, ὑπάγω, κύριε, and others, are to be traced to the desire of amending an apparently incomplete phrase.—P. S.]

FN#42 - So also Tischendorf and Alford.] Lachmann [and Tregelles] after B, D.: ὔστερος; still others: novissimus, This reading is connected with the reversion of the answers it Matthew 21:29-30, but the sense remains the same. Comp. for different views Meyer. [Comp. also the note of Conant in favor of ὕστερος, i.e, the later, the tardier one, he who was behind the other in his compliance; which is descriptive, while πρῶτος merely identifies. The reversion of the order in some authorities may be easily accounted for by the error of a transcriber who thought that the parable must refer to the successive calling of Jews and Gentiles (as Origen, Chrysostom, and Jerome do), while it applies to two classes in the same nation.—P. S.]

FN#43 - Matthew 21:32.—Cod. B, al, Lachmann, [and Alford]: οὐδέ [for οὑ which Is retained by Tischendorf in the edition of1889—P. S.]

FN#44 - Matthew 21:33.—[Lit: “There was a Prayer of Manasseh, a householder,ἄνθρωπος ῆ̓ νοἰκο δεσπότης, Lange: Es war sin Mensch, ein Gutsherr. All the critical editions omit τις (certain) after ἄνθρωπος.—P. S.]

FN#45 - Matthew 21:33.—[̓Απεδήμησεν means: he went abroad (Lange: er zog über Land), without reference to distance, as is implied in the far of the E. V.—P. S.]

FN#46 - Matthew 21:34.—[̔Ο καιρὸς των καρπῶν, as distinct from χρόνος.—P. S.]

FN#47 - Matthew 21:37—[Ααβεῖν τοὺς κορποὺς αὺτοῦ: αὐτοῦ, like the previous one after δούλους, referring to the householder as the subject of the sentence, and not to the vineyard, as in the E. V. See Meyer and Conant in loc.—P. S.]

FN#48 - Matthew 21:37.—[So Luther, Lange, and Conant, according to the emphatic form of the original: ὅν μὲν ἔδειραν, κ.τ.λ.—P. S.]

FN#49 - Matthew 21:38.—[The critical authorities, including Cod. Sinait, and editions read: σχῶμεν for κατάσχωμεν, which eems to be a gloss.—P. S.]

FN#50 - Matthew 21:39.—Cod. D, al, in reverse order: they slew him and cast him out of the vineyard. A correction in keeping with a passionate proceeding. The order of the Recepta is better. The expulsion from the vineyard before the murder signifies the priestly excommunication and rejection which preceded the crucifixion.

FN#51 - Matthew 21:41.—[Κακοὺς κακῶς (=pessimos pessime) ἀπολέσει, a classic phrase of the purest Greek (petita ea purissimo sermone Grœco, as Grotius observes). The paronomasia brings out the agreement of the deed and the punishment In German: er wird die Elenden elendiglich umbringen (Meyer); schlimm wird er die Schlimmen umbringen (Lange); ubel wird er die Ueblen (better: Uebelthäter) vernichten (Ewald). In English we have no equivalent phrase. The rendering of the Authorized Version is as good as any I have seen. Dr. Conant retains it. Dr. Geo. Campbell (The Four Gospels, etc.) renders: he will put those wretches to a wretched death, which I have slightly altered in the text. The Rheims Version has: the naughty men he will bring to naught, after the Vulgate: Malos male perdet.—P. S.]

FN#52 - Matthew 21:44.—Omitted by Tischendorf without sufficient authority. [Meyer defends the words, and accounts for the omission by an overnight of a transcriber who passed from αὐτῆς και, at the close of Matthew 21:43, at once to αυτὸν και, at the close of Matthew 21:44. Lachmann retains the verse, but in brackets.—P. S.]

FN#53 - Ver, 46.—[Better: And they sought … but they feared, και ζητοῦντεςἐφοβήθησαν, as in Matthew 14:5, where the E. V. renders: And when he would hare put him to death, he feared the multitude.]

FN#54 - Matthew 21:46.—[As in Matthew 21:26, or: they counted him as a prophet, as the E. V. renders the same phrase in Matthew 14:5.—P. S.]

FN#55 - Ch22 Matthew 21:9.—[Διέξοδος, transitus and exitus (Durchgang and Ausgang, Passow), a way through and out, a crossing, fork of the roads, where many resort or pass; here a common outlet of the ways (των ὁδῶν) that lead into it, a thoroughfare. Lange translates it: Scheidewege, and ὁδούς, Strasen.—P. S.]

FN#56 - Matthew 21:13.—[The words: ἄρα τε αὐτὸν καί, take him away and, are omitted by Lachmann, Tregelles, Alford, and Lange in his Version (who, however, translates καί), but retained by Tischendorf in the edition of1859. See Tischendorf and Alford, Crit. apparatus.—P. S.]

FN#57 - Trench (50:100 p185) remarks on these three parables that notwithstanding their severe and threatening aspect, they are not words of defiance, but of earnest tenderest love, spoken with the intention of turning them, if possible, from their purpose, of saving them from the fearful outrage against His person which they were about to commit, and. of winning them also for the kingdom of God. The parable of the Two Sons is rather retrospective, while the two that follow, are prophetic also.—P. S.]

FN#58 - Not: that Isaiah, as the Edinb. transistor (Rev. Mr. Pops) has it, evidently mistaking the German namentlich for nämlich, and thereby confining the vineyard to the Jewish church, when Lange expressly means to apply it to the Christian church also, as the connection clearly shows. Such errors are very frequent In this translation, especially in. the few preceding and all the subsequent chapters.—P. S.]

FN#59 - So also Trench who refers the hedge to the law which Paul calls “the middle wall of partition” between the Jew and the Gentile ( Ephesians 2:14), and which was a hedge both of separation from, and defence against, Gentile abominations and hostile foreign influence. He refers It at the same time to the geographical isolation of Palestine.—P. S.]

FN#60 - Irenæus, Hilary, Ambrose, and others, take the winepress to be a symbol of the prophetic Institution.—P. S.]

FN#61 - So also Origen. Jerome, Augustine, Chrysostom, Theophylact. and among modern commentators, Alford, Trench, and Wordsworth. See Ephesians 2:20-22.—P. S.]

FN#62 - The original substitutes the Greek Septuagint (which ought to be connected with the preceding λικμᾷν) for the Latin Vulgate,—an obvious oversight (doubtless of the printer, who may have omitted Vulgate), which the Edinb. translator, as usual, faithfully and thoughtlessly copies.—P. S.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Matthew 21:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/matthew-21.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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