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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Matthew 22

 

 

Verse 1

Matthew 22:1. Jesus spake unto them again by parables — That is, spake with reference to what had just passed: for this parable is closely connected with that of the vineyard, delivered at the close of the preceding chapter. And as our Lord had in that foretold the approaching ruin of the Jewish place and nation, he goes on in this to vindicate God’s mercy and justice in the rejection of that people and the calling of the Gentiles; admonishing the latter, at the same time, of the necessity of holiness, and showing that if they remained destitute of it, they would meet with the same severity of judgment which had befallen the disobedient Jews.


Verse 2-3

Matthew 22:2-3. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king — That is, the dispensation of the gospel may be well illustrated by that which happened in the case of a king; who made a marriage for his son — Our Lord is frequently represented in Scripture under the character of a bridegroom. The marriage-feast here spoken of is intended to signify the blessings of the gospel, which are set forth under the emblem of a feast in divers passages of Scripture, especially Isaiah 25:6; and Isaiah 55:1-2; Luke 14:16; where see the notes. And sent forth his servants — John the Baptist and the twelve, and the seventy sent forth during our Lord’s lifetime; to call them that were bidden τους κεκλημενους, that had been before invited — Namely, the Jews, who had been invited from the times of Moses, by the law and the prophets, to this long-expected marriage of the Desire of all nations; and to whom the first offers of grace and salvation through Christ were made, to the wedding, or nuptial banquet, as γαμους here properly signifies. And they would not come — They were so rude and foolish as to refuse complying with the invitation. By this their refusal, and by the reasons assigned for it, stated here and Luke 14:18-19, is shown the rejection of the gospel by the Jews, and the carnal causes, not only of their, but of all men’s refusing to come unto the gospel-feast.


Verse 4-5

Matthew 22:4-5. Again, he sent forth other servants — The apostles and others, on whom the Holy Ghost descended on the day of pentecost, and who thereby received a fresh commission to call the Jews to repentance; saying, Tell them which were bidden, I have prepared my dinner, &c. — After Christ’s resurrection and ascension, the apostles were sent forth to inform the Jews that the divine mission of Christ was confirmed by his resurrection; that sin was expiated by his death, and justification, peace with God, the influences of his Spirit, and all the other blessings of the gospel, procured for all who would accept them in the way of repentance, faith, and new obedience. But they made light of it — Namely, of the invitation to the marriage-feast, and of the feast itself to which they were invited; that is, the privileges and blessings of the gospel of Christ. They viewed them as unimportant, and treated them with indifference and neglect. And yet they who did so were members of God’s visible church, and professors of the true religion: they had been intrusted for ages with his oracles, which foretold the coming of the Messiah, described his character and office, his marriage with his church, and the marriage-feast. And they professed to believe in these oracles, and to expect and desire his coming. Observe, reader, making light of Christ, and of the salvation wrought out by him, is the chief cause of the ruin of many professors of religion. Multitudes perish eternally through mere carelessness, who have not any direct aversion to, or enmity against spiritual things, but a prevailing indifference and unconcern about them. And went their ways, one to his farm, &c. — Here we have the reason why they made light of the marriage-feast: they had other things to mind, in which they took more delight, and which they thought it more concerned them to mind. Thus it is still; the business and profit of worldly employments prove with many a great hinderance to their embracing the blessings of the gospel. One must mind what he has; another gain what he wants. The country people have their farms to look after, and the town’s people must attend to their shops and trade, and must buy and sell and get gain. And it must be granted that both farmers and tradesfolk must be diligent in business; but not so as to be thereby prevented from making religion their main business. Licitis perimus omnes, said the ancients. We all perish by lawful things, namely, when unlawfully used; when we are so careful and troubled about many things, as to neglect the one thing needful.


Verse 6

Matthew 22:6. And the remnant — Or the rest of them, who did not go to farms or merchandise, who were neither husbandmen nor tradesmen, but ecclesiastics; namely, the scribes and Pharisees, and chief priests; took [Gr. κρατησαντες, laying hold on] his servants, entreated them spitefully [or rather, shamefully,] and slew them — If it be objected that these circumstances of the parable are improbable, as it was never known in the world that subjects refused the invitation of their sovereign to the marriage of his son; and much less that any persons were ever so rude and barbarous as to treat with ignominy and slay the servants of a king, or of any superior, who came to invite them to a feast, it must be observed that, allowing this to be so, it only places the crime of the Jews in a more aggravated point of view, with respect to whom all this was literally true. They whose feet should have been beautiful, because they brought glad tidings of peace and salvation, were treated as the offscouring of all things, 1 Corinthians 4:13. The prophets, and John the Baptist, had been thus abused already, and the apostles and other ministers of Christ were to lay their account with being treated in the same manner. The Jews were, either directly or indirectly, agents in most of the persecutions of the first preachers of the gospel: witness the history of the Acts, and the Epistles of the apostles.


Verse 7

Matthew 22:7. And when the king heard thereof, he was wroth — Inasmuch as “the invitation to the marriage-feast of his son, sent by this king to his supposed friends, was the highest expression of his regard for them, and the greatest honour that could be done to them; therefore, when they refused it for such trifling reasons, and were so savagely ungrateful as to beat, and wound, and kill the servants who had come with it, it was justly viewed as a most outrageous affront, an injury that deserved the severest punishment.” Accordingly the king resented it exceedingly, and sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, &c. — This branch of the parable plainly predicted the destruction of the Jews by the Roman armies, called God’s armies, because they were appointed by him to execute vengeance upon that once favourite, but now rebellions people. It is justly observed here by Dr. Doddridge, that “this clause must be supposed to come in by way of prolepsis, or anticipation; for it is plain there could not be time before the feast already prepared was served up, to attempt an execution of this kind.”


Verses 8-10

Matthew 22:8-10. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready — That is, the marriage-feast is prepared; but they which were bidden were not worthy — Were not disposed to receive the gospel, not willing to repent and believe, and behave kindly to the preachers of it: which is the description Christ gives to his apostles of those whom they were to account αξιοι, worthy, Matthew 10:11-14. These here spoken of were αμελησαντες, (Matthew 22:5,) slighters, despisers of the spiritual banquet, out of love to their secular interests; they loved other things more than Christ and the blessings of his kingdom; which he that doth, says Christ, is not worthy of me, because he will not take up his cross and follow me, Matthew 10:37-38. Go ye therefore, &c. — As if he had said, Yet let not the provisions I have made be lost; but go into the highways, Gr. διεξοδους των οδων, the byways, or turnings of the road: or, as others interpret the expression, the ways most frequented, or the places where several streets and roads meet. As this is intended of the calling of the Gentiles, it intimates, that the Gentiles had as little reason to expect the call of the gospel, as common passengers and travellers to expect all invitation to a royal banquet. The offer of Christ and salvation to them, was, 1st, unlooked for; for they had had no previous notice of any such thing being intended: whereas the Jews had had notice of the gospel long before, and expected the Messiah and his kingdom. See Isaiah 65:1; Isaiah 2:2 d, It was universal, and undistinguishing; go and bid as many as you find, high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, young and old, Jew and Gentile; tell them all they shall be welcome to gospel privileges upon gospel terms; whoever will, let him come, without exception. So those servants went out — As their Lord had commanded them, and gathered as many as they found, good and bad — Giving a free invitation to all, whatever their character had formerly been. Thus, when the gospel was rejected by the Jews, the apostles, in obedience to Christ’s command, went into all parts of the world, and preached it to every creature that was willing to hear it; preached repentance and remission of sins in Christ’s name among all nations, Mark 16:16; Luke 24:47. And the wedding was furnished with guests — Great multitudes were gathered into the gospel church.


Verse 11

Matthew 22:11. And when the king came in to see the guests — The members of the visible church; he saw there a man which had not on a wedding- garment — To explain this, it must be observed, it was usual in the eastern countries to present the guests at marriages, and other solemnities, with garments wherein they were to appear, and the number of them was esteemed an evidence of the wealth and magnificence of the giver. This king, therefore, having invited so many from the lanes, and hedges, and highways, who could never have provided themselves with proper raiment in which to make their appearance at this marriage-feast, according to the custom of the country, must be supposed to have ordered each, on his applying to the ruler of the feast, to be presented with a proper garment, that they might all be clothed in a manner becoming the magnificence of the solemnity. But this man either neglected to apply, or refused to accept and put on, the garment offered him, which was the circumstance that rendered his conduct inexcusable. “That persons making an entertainment sometimes furnished the habits in which the guests should appear, is evident from what Homer (Odyss., lib. 8. ver. 402) says of Ulysses, being thus furnished by the Phæacians.” See also Odyss., lib. 4. ver. 47-51, where Homer tells us, that Telemachus and Pisistratus, happening to arrive at Menelaus’s house in Lacedæmon, while he was solemnizing the nuptials of his son and daughter, the maids of the house washed the strangers, anointed them, dressed them, and set them down by their master at table. “It is manifest also, from the account which Diodorus gives of the great hospitality of Gellias the Sicilian, who readily received all strangers, and at once supplied five hundred horsemen with clothes, who, by a violent storm, were driven to take shelter with him; (Diod. Sic., lib. 13., p. 375, edit. Steph.) — Now it was usual, more especially at marriage-feasts, for persons to appear in a sumptuous dress, adorned, as some writers tell us, with florid embroidery, (see Dr. Hammond,) though many times white garments seem to have been used on such occasions: (compare Revelation 19:8-9.) We must therefore conclude, not only from the magnificence of the preparations, to which we must suppose the wardrobe of the prince corresponded, but likewise from the following circumstance of resentment against this guest, that a robe was offered but refused by him. And this is a circumstance, which, as Calvin observes, is admirably suited to the method of God’s dealing with us; who indeed requires holiness in order to our receiving the benefits of the gospel; but is graciously pleased to work it in us by his Holy Spirit; and therefore may justly resent and punish our neglect of so great a favour.” — Doddridge.


Verse 12-13

Matthew 22:12-13. Friend, how camest thou in hither — How camest thou to presume to enter into my church, by taking upon thee a profession of my religion, and to sit down among the guests, or associate thyself with my disciples; not having on a wedding-garment? — Not having put off the old man and put on the new, not being made a new creature, not having put on the Lord Jesus Christ in holy graces and moral virtues. “It is needless to dispute,” says Calvin, “about the wedding-garment, whether it be faith, or a pious, holy life. For neither can faith be separated from good works, nor can good works proceed except from faith. Christ’s meaning is only that we are called in order that we may be renewed in our minds after his image. And therefore, that we may remain always in his house, the old man, with his filthiness, must be put off, and a new life designed, that our attire may be such as is suitable to so honourable an invitation.” And he was speechless — Gr. εφιμωθη, he was struck speechless. “This is the true import of the original word, which is rendered very improperly in our translation, he was speechless; as from hence the English reader is led to conceive that the man was dumb, and so could not speak; whereas he was made dumb only by self-condemnation and conviction, even as Christ made dumb — εφιμωσε, — or put to silence, the Sadducees, Matthew 22:34; and as Peter would have us to make speechless, or put to silence, ( φιμουν,) the ignorance of foolish men.” See Gerhard’s Continuation. Then said the king to his servants, Bind him hand and foot, &c. — Thus, 1st, Christ commands the ministers of his gospel, to whom the exercise of discipline in his church is committed, to exclude from the society of the faithful all who, by walking disorderly, bring a reproach upon the gospel, and to leave them to outer darkness, or the darkness without the pale of the church; that is, heathenish darkness. In other words, as is expressed Matthew 18:17, to let such be unto them as heathen and as publicans. But, 2d, This clause of the sentence is to be chiefly referred to the last judgment, when Christ will command his angels to gather out of his kingdom not only all things that offend, but them which do iniquity, and to cast them into the darkness which is without the heavenly city, namely, into the darkness of hell, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The mention of outer darkness in the parable, in the connection in which it stands, “would incline one to think, either that the word αριστον, rendered dinner, Matthew 22:4, may signify supper as well as dinner; or that the king is represented as visiting the guests in the evening. But not to insist on this, which is of little moment, it is well known that banquets of this kind were generally celebrated in rooms richly adorned: and considering how splendid and magnificent the entertainments of the eastern princes were, it cannot be thought an unnatural circumstance, that such an affront as this, offered to the king, his son, his bride, and the rest of the company, should be punished with such bonds and thrown into a dungeon.”


Verse 14

Matthew 22:14. For many are called — Nor imagine, (as if our Lord had said,) that this will be the case of one alone; for though it be a dreadful truth, yet I must say, that even the greatest part of those to whom the gospel is offered, will either openly reject or secretly disobey it; and while indeed many are called to the gospel-feast, it will be manifest by their disregarding it, there are but few chosen in such a sense as finally to partake of its blessings. In short, many hear, few believe: many are members of the visible, but few of the invisible church.


Verses 15-17

Matthew 22:15-17. Then went the Pharisees — Greatly incensed by the two last parables delivered by our Lord; and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk — Gr. παγιδευσωσιν εν λογω, might entrap him in his discourse, so as to find something on which they might ground an accusation against him, and effect his destruction. And they sent out their disciples — Persons who had imbibed their spirit of hostility against him, and entered fully into their designs; with the Herodians — “Probably,” says Dr. Campbell, “partisans of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, who were for the continuance of the royal power in the descendants of Herod the Great, an object which, it appears, the greater part of the nation, especially the Pharisees, did not favour. They considered that family not indeed as idolaters, but as great conformists to the idolatrous customs of both Greeks and Romans, whose favour they spared no means to secure. The notion adopted by some, that the Herodians were those who believed Herod to be the Messiah, hardly deserves to be mentioned, as there is no evidence that such an opinion was maintained by any body.” On account of their zeal for Herod’s family, they were of course also zealous for the authority of the Romans, by whose means Herod was made and continued king. Their views and designs being therefore diametrically opposite to those of the Pharisees, there had long existed the most bitter enmity between the two sects. So that the conjunction of their counsels against Christ is a very memorable proof of the keenness of that malice which could thus cause them to forget so deep a quarrel with each other. In order to insnare Christ, they came to him, feigning themselves just men, (Luke 20:20,) men who had a great veneration for the divine law, and a dread of doing any thing inconsistent with it; and, under that mask, accosted Christ with an air of great respect, and flattering expressions of the highest esteem, saying, Master, we know that thou art true — A person of the greatest uprightness and integrity; and teachest the way of God in truth — Declarest his will with perfect impartiality and fidelity; neither carest thou for the censure or applause of any man; for thou regardest not the person of men — Thou favourest no man for his riches or greatness, nor art influenced by complaisance or fear, or any private view whatever, to deviate from the strictest integrity and veracity. Tell us, therefore, Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cesar? — In asking this question they imagined that it was not in Christ’s power to decide the point, without making himself obnoxious to one or other of the parties which had divided upon it. If he should say, it was lawful; they believed the people, in whose hearing the question was proposed, would be incensed against him, not only as a base pretender, who, on being attacked, publicly renounced the character of the Messiah, which he had assumed among his friends; (it being as they supposed, a principal office of the Messiah to deliver them from a foreign yoke;) but as a flatterer of princes also, and a betrayer of the liberties of his country. But if he should affirm that it was unlawful to pay, the Herodians resolved to inform the governor of it, who they hoped would punish him as a fomenter of sedition. Highly elated therefore with their project, they came and proposed their question.


Verses 18-22

Matthew 22:18-22. But Jesus perceived their wickedness, (and craftiness, Luke,) in this their address, however pious and respectful it appeared; and said, Why tempt ye me? — That is, Why do ye try me by such an insnaring question, and seek to draw me into danger by it? Ye hypocrites — Making conscience and a pure regard to the divine will your pretence for asking the question, while your design is to bring about my destruction. Show me the tribute-money — Which is demanded of you. It seems the Romans chose to receive this tribute in their own coin. And they brought unto him a penny — A denarius, stamped with the head of Cesar. He saith, Whose is this image — Which is struck upon the coin? They say unto him, Cesar’s — Plainly acknowledging, by their having received his coin, that they were under his government. And indeed this is a standing rule. The current coin of every nation shows who is the supreme governor of it. Render therefore, ye Pharisees, to Cesar, the things which ye yourselves acknowledge to be Cesar’s: and, ye Herodians, while ye are zealous for Cesar, see that ye render to God the things that are God’s. When they had heard, &c., they marvelled and left him — “So unexpected an answer, in which Jesus clearly confuted them on their own principles, and showed that the rights of God and the magistrate do not interfere in the least, (because magistrates are God’s deputies, and rule by his authority,) quite disconcerted and silenced those crafty enemies. They were astonished at his having perceived their design, as well as at the wisdom by which he avoided the snare, and went off inwardly vexed and not a little ashamed.” — Macknight.


Verse 23

Matthew 22:23. The same day came to him the Sadducees — Concerning whose doctrines and conduct see note on Matthew 3:7; which say, there is no resurrection — Nor indeed any future life at all, as the word αναστασις, here rendered resurrection, is considered by many learned men as signifying; their doctrine being, that when the body dies the soul dies with it, and that there is no state of rewards or punishments after death, and no judgment to come. “The word αναστασις,” says Dr. Campbell, “is indeed the common term by which the resurrection, properly so called, is denominated in the New Testament; yet this is neither the only nor the primitive import of it. When applied to the dead, the word denotes properly no more than a renewal of life to them, in whatever manner this happens. The Pharisees themselves did not universally mean by this term the reunion of soul and body, as is evident from the account which the Jewish historian gives of their doctrine, as well as from some passages in the gospels. To say, therefore, in English, that they deny the resurrection, is to give a very defective account of their sentiments on this topic, for they denied the existence of angels and all separate spirits; in which they went much further than [many of] the pagans, who, though they denied what Christians call the resurrection of the body, yet acknowledged a state after death wherein the souls of the deceased exist, and receive the reward or punishment of their actions.” The doctor therefore renders the clause, Who say there is no future life, which version, he observes, not only gives a juster representation of the Sadducean hypothesis, but is the only version which makes our Lord’s argument appear pertinent, and levelled against the doctrine which he wanted to refute. In the common version they are said to deny the resurrection: that is, that the soul and the body of man shall hereafter be reunited; and our Lord brings an argument from the Pentateuch to prove — What? Not that they shall be reunited, (to this it has not even the most distant relation,) but that the soul subsists after the body is dissolved. This many would have admitted, who denied the resurrection; yet so evidently did his argument strike at the root of the scheme of the Sadducees, that they were silenced by it, and, to the conviction of the hearers, confuted. Now this could not have happened, if the fundamental error of the Sadducees had been barely the denial of the resurrection of the body, and not the denial of the immortality of the soul, or of its actual subsistence after death. If possible, the words, Luke 20:38, παντες αυτω ζωσιν, all live to him: (namely, the patriarchs and all the faithful dead,) make it still more evident that our Lord considered this, namely, the proving that the soul still continued to live after a person’s natural death, was all that was incumbent on one who would confute the Sadducees. Now if this was the subversion of Sadducism, Sadducism must have consisted in denying that the soul continues to live after the body dies. Certainly our Lord’s answer here, and much of St. Paul’s reasoning, 1 Corinthians 15., proceeds on the supposition of such a denial. Thus, 2 Maccabees 12:42-44, the author proves that Judas believed a resurrection, from his offering sacrifices for the souls of the slain, which shows that by a resurrection he meant a future state.


Verses 24-28

Matthew 22:24-28. Master, Moses said, If a man die, &c. — “The argument by which the Sadducees endeavoured to confute the notion of a future state was taken from the Jewish law of marriage, which, to give their objection the better colour, they observed was God’s law, delivered by Moses. As they believed the soul to be nothing but a more refined kind of matter, they thought if there was any future state, it must resemble the present; and, that men being in that state material and mortal, the human race could not be continued, nor the individuals made happy, without the pleasures and conveniences of marriage. Hence they affirmed it to be a necessary consequence of the doctrine of the resurrection, or future state, that every man’s wife should be restored to him.” — Macknight.


Verse 29-30

Matthew 22:29-30. Jesus answered, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures — Which plainly assert a future state; nor the power of God — Who created spirit as well as matter, and can preserve it in existence when the body is dissolved, and can also raise the body from the dust and render it immortal; and who can make the whole man completely happy in the knowledge, love, and enjoyment of himself, without any of the pleasures or objects of this visible and temporal world. For in the resurrection they neither marry, &c. — Our Lord proceeds to observe further, that they entirely mistook the nature of the life to be enjoyed in a future state: that those who attained it being as the angels of God, incorruptible and immortal, marriage and the procreation of an offspring were no longer necessary to continue the species, or maintain the population of the spiritual world.


Verse 31-32

Matthew 22:31-32. But as touching the resurrection of the dead — Or the future state, (see on Matthew 22:23,) have ye not read that which was spoken by God — Namely, in the books of Moses, for which the Sadducees had a peculiar value; but which Christ here shows they did not understand; but were as ignorant of them as they were of the power of God. They had drawn their objection to a future state from the writings of Moses; and from those writings Christ demonstrates the certainty of a future state! I am the God of Abraham, &c. — The argument runs thus: God is not the God of the dead, but of the living: (for that expression, Thy God, implies both benefit from God to man: and duty from man to God:) but he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: therefore Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are not dead, but living. Therefore the soul does not die with the body. So indeed the Sadducees supposed, and it was on this ground that they denied the resurrection and a future state. It cannot be objected to this interpretation, that it lays too much stress on the words, I am, which are not in the Hebrew. For our Lord’s application of the citation in the present tense, ( ουκ εστιν ο θεος θεος νεκρων, God is not the God of the dead,) plainly implies that no other tense of the verb can be supplied. Accordingly the words are so rendered by the LXX., εγω ειμι ο θεος του πατρος σου, θεος αβρααμ, &c., I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, &c.; Exodus 3:6. In a similar way Dr. Campbell states the argument: “When God appeared to Moses in the bush, (which was long after the death of the patriarchs,) he said unto him, I am the God of Abraham, &c.; now God is not the God of the dead, of those who, being destitute of life, and consequently of sensibility, can neither know nor honour him: he is the God of those only who love and adore him, and are by consequence alive. These patriarchs, therefore, though dead in respect to us, who enjoy their presence here no longer, are alive in respect of God, whom they still serve and worship.” Others, however, choose to explain the argument thus: To be the God of any person is to be his exceeding great reward, Genesis 15:1. Wherefore, as the patriarchs died without having obtained the promises, Hebrews 11:39, they must exist in another state to enjoy them, that the veracity of God may remain sure. Besides, the apostle tells us that God is not ashamed to be called their God, because he has prepared for them a city, Hebrews 11:16, which implies, that he would have reckoned it infinitely beneath him to own his relation, as God, to any one for whom he had not provided a state of permanent happiness. The argument, taken either way, is conclusive; for which cause we may suppose that both the senses of it were intended, to render it full of demonstration.

With what satisfaction should we read this vindication of so important an article of our faith and hope! How easily did our Lord unravel and expose the boasted argument of the Sadducees, and cover with just confusion all the pride of those bold wits, who valued themselves so much on that imaginary penetration, which laid men almost on a level with brutes. Indeed, objections against the resurrection and a future state, much more plausible than this of theirs, may be answered in that one saying of our Lord’s: Ye know not the Scriptures nor the power of God. Were the Scripture doctrine on this subject considered on the one hand, and the omnipotence of the Creator on the other, it could not seem incredible to any that God should preserve the soul in immortality, or raise the dead. Acts 26:8.


Verse 33

Matthew 22:33. And when the multitude — Which was present in the temple at the time; heard this — This unthought-of, and yet convincing argument, together with so complete an answer to a cavil in which the Sadducees were wont to triumph as invincible; they were astonished at his doctrine — At the clearness and solidity of his reasoning, and the manifest confutation of a sect whose principles they considered as fundamentally erroneous, and subversive of all piety and virtue.


Verses 34-36

Matthew 22:34-36. When the Pharisees heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence — Gr. οτι εφιμοσε, that he had stopped their mouths, or so confuted that he had confounded them, and rendered them unable to make any reply; they were gathered together — It is not said with what design: but it is probable from Matthew 22:15-16, with a malicious one, namely, to try, though the Sadducees had been baffled in their attempt upon him, as they themselves had also been, when they united with the Herodians, if they could yet any way expose him to the people. Then one of them, a lawyer — Or teacher of the law, (namely, of Moses,) as the word νομικος always means in the New Testament, that is, a scribe, asked him a question, tempting, or trying him — Not, it seems, with any ill design, but barely to make further trial of that wisdom which he had shown in silencing the Sadducees. For, according to Mark, it was in consequence of his perceiving that our Lord had answered the Sadducees well, that this person asked the question here mentioned. Master, which is the great commandment in the law? — This was a famous question among the Jews. “Some of their doctors declared that the law of sacrifices was the great commandment, because sacrifices were both the expiations of sin and thanksgivings for mercies; others bestowed this honour on the law of circumcision, because it was the sign of the covenant established between God and the nation; a third sort yielded to the law of the sabbath, because, by that appointment, both the knowledge and practice of the institutions of Moses were preserved; and to name no more, there were some who affirmed the law of meats and washings to be of the greatest importance, because thereby the people of God were effectually separated from the company and conversations of the heathen.” But Jesus, with much better reason, decided in favour of a command inclusive of the whole of piety, and leading to every holy temper, word, and work.


Verses 37-40

Matthew 22:37-40. Jesus said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart — Concerning this first and great commandment, and the words wherewith Moses prefaced it, see note on Deuteronomy 6:5; and for the elucidation of this whole paragraph, see the notes on Mark 12:28-34, where the conversation which our Lord had with this scribe is related more at large. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets — That is, they contain the substance or abridgment of all the religious and moral duties contained in the law and the prophets, which therefore may be all said to hang or depend on them. The expression, says Dr. Whitby, is a metaphor taken from a custom mentioned by Tertullian of hanging up their laws in a public place to be seen of all men; and it imports that in these precepts is compendiously contained all that the law and prophets require, in reference to our duty to God and man; for though there be some precepts of temperance which we owe to ourselves, yet are they such as we may be moved to perform from the true love of God and of our neighbour; whom if we truly love we cannot be wanting in them. For the love of God will make us humble and contented with our lot; it will preserve us from all intemperance, impatience, and unholy desires; it will make us watchful over ourselves, that we may keep a good conscience, and solicitous for our eternal welfare. And the love of our neighbour will free us from all angry passions, envy, malice, revenge, and other unkind tempers: so that both taken together will introduce into us the whole mind that was in Christ, and cause us to walk as he walked.


Verses 41-46

Matthew 22:41-46. While the Pharisees were gathered, &c. — That is, during this conference, expecting to have found an opportunity to insnare him, as he was still teaching the people in the temple; Jesus asked them — “The Pharisees, having in the course of our Lord’s ministry proposed many difficult questions to him, with a view to try his prophetical gifts, he, in his turn, now that a body of them was gathered together, thought fit to make trial of their skill in the sacred writings. For this purpose he publicly asked their opinion of a difficulty concerning the Messiah’s pedigree, arising from Psalms 110 : What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? — Whose son do you expect the Messiah to be, who was promised to the fathers? They say unto him, The son of David — This was the common title of the Messiah in that day, which the scribes taught them to give him, from Psalms 89:35-36; and Isaiah 11:1.” He saith, How then doth David in spirit, rather, by the Spirit; that is, by inspiration; call him Lord — If he be merely the son, or descendant of David? if he be, as you suppose, the son of man, a mere man? “The doctors, it seems, did not look for any thing in their Messiah more excellent than the most exalted perfections of human nature; for, though they called him the Son of God, they had no notion that he was God, and so could offer no solution of the difficulty. Yet the latter question might have shown them their error. For if the Messiah was to be only a secular prince, as they supposed, ruling the men of his own time, he never could have been called Lord by persons who died before he was born; far less would so mighty a king as David, who also was his progenitor, have called him Lord. Wherefore, since he rules over, not the vulgar dead only of former ages, but even over the kings from whom he was himself descended, and his kingdom comprehends the men of all countries and times, past, present, and to come, the doctors, if they had thought accurately upon the subject, should have expected in their Messiah a king different from all other kings whatever. Besides, he is to sit at God’s right hand till his enemies are made the footstool of his feet; made thoroughly subject unto him. Numbers of Christ’s enemies are subjected to him in this life; and they who will not bow to him willingly, shall, like the rebellious subjects of other kingdoms, be reduced by punishment. Being constituted universal judge, all, whether friends or enemies, shall appear before his tribunal, where by the highest exercise of kingly power, he shall doom each to his unchangeable state.” And no man was able to answer him a word — None of them could offer the least shadow of a solution to the difficulty which he had proposed. Neither durst any man ask him any more questions — “The repeated proofs which he had given of the prodigious depth of his understanding, had impressed them with such an opinion of his wisdom, that they judged it impossible to insnare him in his discourse. For which reason they left off attempting it, and from that day forth troubled him no more with their insidious questions.” — Macknight.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 22:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/matthew-22.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 7th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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