Page images

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

in studies and pursuits very different from those of lawyers among us. They were interpreters of the Mosaic statutes and religion, and of the traditions which had been handed down from ancient times. || Tempting him; testing his skill as a teacher. Compare Mark 12: 28-34. Mark omits the mention of an agreement among the Pharisees, and merely speaks of "one of the scribes" (that is, lawyers) coming to him.

36. The great commandment. The Pharisees divided the commands of God into important and unimportant, grave and light. In conformity with this division, they disputed on the question. Which command is the greatest? and so on other commands, Which are to be preferred in point of importance, and which may be placed in the class of inferior ones? See Matt. 5: 19.

37. Thou shalt love, &c. Deut. 6: 5. The meaning of the words is, Thou shalt love the Lord supremely, above all other beings or objects.

39. Thy neighbor, &c. Lev. 19: 18. For the meaning of the word neighbor, and the extent of the duty enjoined, see Luke 10: 25-37.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David.

43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord? saying,

two commandments. All true religion must exist in the heart, and may be reduced to love to God and love to man. Emphatically is this true respecting the Christian religion. Compare Mark 12: 28–34. Mark relates, that the scribe to whom Jesus was speaking, expressed a warm and complete satisfaction with the reply of Jesus, and that Jesus declared him to be not far from the kingdom of God; that is, to have such views of religious truth as would accord with the principles of the new dispensation; in other words, to have correct views. Compare 1 Cor. 13: 1—13.

42. What think ye of Christ? rather, What think ye of the Messiah? particularly as to his parentage. During our Saviour's abode on earth, the name Christ was not given to him as a proper name, like the name Jesus. It was at that time a title of office, and was of the same import as the word Messiah, or the phrase the Lord's anointed one. The question proposed by our Lord had respect to the Messiah, not to the opinions of the Pharisees respecting himself as claiming to be the Messiah. || The son of David. See 1: 1.

43. In spirit; under the influences of the Holy Spirit, or by inspiration.

40. Hang; depend upon, are comprised in. All the law and the prophets; the whole system of religion contained in the Old Testament. By the expression "the law and the prophets," the Jews designated their sacred Scriptures. The sum and substance of religion, as enforced in the Jew-cation of titles than among us. ish Scriptures, are contained in these their conversation, the distinction be

Lord. In order to understand the import of this question, we must consider, that in ancient times, and in the Eastern nations, there prevailed more preciseness and formality in the appliIn

44 The LORD said unto my | forth, ask him any more ques Lord, Sit thou on my right tions. hand, till I make thine enemies

thy footstool.

45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?

46 And no man was able to answer him a word; neither durst any man, from that day tween superior and inferior was more carefully observed. We apply the title sir to inferiors and equals as well as to superiors; this would not accord with Oriental notions. A king may in our times address certain high officers by the title My lords; in just the same manner as a person inferior to them would address them. But in the East, such terms of respect and honor were given as expressions of superiority on the part of those to whom they were given; and the superior did not use them in application to one who was regarded as inferior or equal to himself. There was, then, something remarkable in the fact, that David, a most distinguished monarch, who acknowledged no earthly superior, should, in speaking of the Messiah, call him his lord, thus implying that the Messiah was to be his superior. And yet the Messiah was to be his son; and for a father to apply to his son a term expressing superiority, was quite different, in the customs of the Hebrews, from ordinary usage; so that it might well be regarded as a matter of inquiry, how David could speak of his son as being his lord.



multitude, and to his disciHEN spake Jesus to the

2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:

cated them. The Messiah was indeed
to be a descendant of king David; but
in certain respects he was to be im-
mensely superior to David; he was to
sustain a very peculiar relation to Je-
hovah, and to possess such dignity as
to have a participation in Jehovah's
government. David, then, while con-
templating the Messiah in this inti-
mate relation to Jehovah, sharing in
the honors of the divine government,
would behold a person immensely su-
perior to himself, to whom the title
my lord, given by David to the Mes-
siah, would be altogether appropriate,
while, at the same time, in another re-
spect, David would regard the Mes-
siah as his son. The true solution of
the difficulty appears to be, that the
Messiah was," according to the flesh'
(according to his human nature), "of
the seed of David," was David's son
(Rom. 1: 3); and according to his spir-
itual, divine nature, he was David's
lord. Even if the Pharisees had per-
ceived, that in some respects the Mes-
siah was to be so greatly superior to
David as to be properly called David's
lord, they might have declined say.
ing so, through fear that Jesus, who
claimed to be the Messiah, would make
their reply a further occasion of pro-
moting his own cause.
Ask him any

[ocr errors]

44. The Lord, &c. See Ps. 110: 1. The words the Lord here, are, in the original language of the psalm, Jehovah. Sit thou on my right hand; take more questions; that is, more questions a station of the highest dignity, and of such a sort as they had recently become partaker of the honors of gov- been attempting to harass and entanernment. I make thy foes thy foot-gle him with. Compare Mark 12: stool; wholly subdue thine enemies, 35-37. Luke 20: 41-44. and make thee wholly and finally victorious.

46. The Pharisees appear to have been thrown into a difficulty, from which an attentive examination of the psalm referred to, might have extri

CHAPTER XXIII. 2. In Moses' seat. Moses was the lawgiver and guide of the Hebrews, and his instructions were late their opinions and conduct. The

to regu

3 All therefore whatsoever | but they themselves will not they bid you observe, that ob- move them with one of their serve and do; but do not ye fingers. after their works: for they say, and do not.

4 For they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders;

scribes and Pharisees expounded the law of Moses, and thus were religious teachers, and occupied a relation to the Jews similar to that which Moses once held.

3. All therefore, &c. ; listen to their instructions, and carefully perform what they enjoin. The public teachers made known and enforced the laws of Moses; and so far as they communicated the precepts of Moses, their instructions were to be heeded. But while their instructions, drawn from the inspired volume, were to be sacredly regarded, their examples were to be carefully avoided.

5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

hibit the merciful promises of God. 5. To be seen of men. See 6: 1, 2, 5, 16. || Phylacteries. In Deut. 6' 8, and 11: 18, the Hebrews were commanded to keep the law of God in constant remembrance. This idea is enforced in the language "Thou shalt bind them [Moses instructions] for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes." The Pharisees, regarding the language rather than the spirit of the precept, placed pieces of parchment, on which were written four passages of Scripture, namely, Ex. 13: 1-10, 11-16, and Deut. 6: 4-9, 11: 1321, on the back part of the left hand and on the forehead, between the eyes. These pieces of parchment were rolled up in a peculiar shape, were enclosed in a leather bag, and were bound on the hand and forehead by a leather thong. They superstitiously regarded these pieces of parchment as amulets or charms, and as having power to ward off evil, especially evil spirits. These were the phylacteries; and those which the Pharisees wore, they made, for a show of piety, uncommonly large. || Borders of their garments. In Num. 15: 32-41, is an account of a man's having violated the Sabbath, and having been put to death in consequence of it. Immediately upon this event, the people were commanded to have fringes on the borders of their garments with a blue riband, as a means of reminding them of the Lord's statutes, and of their being distin-' guished from the heathen. To attract the notice of the people, and to gain reputation for piety, the Pharisees made these fringes uncommonly

4. Hervy burdens, &c. The scribes and Pharisees were exceedingly strict and harsh in enforcing the precepts of Moses, and the additions which had been made from time to time to his laws, and their strictness had respect rather to outward ceremonial observances, than to piety of heart. But strenuous as they were in enforcing a rigid obedience, they were very little concerned about rendering a personal obedience to their own precepts. While they imposed heavy burdens on others, they kept themselves from such burdensome obedience; so that, while others were loaded with burdens that required all their strength, they would not take a burden that could be moved with their finger; nor did they present those cheering encouragements which were needed, and which the Old Testament afforded to those who truly desired to serve God. Having loaded the people with intolerable burdens of ceremonial observances, and pushed very harshly and unrelentingly the claims of religion, they presented none of its mild features, and knew not how to ex-large.

6 And love the uppermost among you, shall be your serrooms at feasts, and the chief vant. seats in the synagogues,

7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

8 But be not ye called Rabbi for one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

11 But he that is greatest

6. Uppermost rooms. The word rooms does not convey, at the present time, the precise idea of the original. Reference was not made by our Saviour to the different apartments of a house, but to the different parts of the couches on which the people reclined at their feasts. These couches were composed of two sides, and a part at one end connecting the sides; this upper part was the most honorable position. This chief part of the couch is what is here meant. || Chief seats. The seats in the synagogues, nearest the spot where the sacred books were kept, were regarded as the most honorable.

7. Greetings; salutations. || Markets; chief places of concourse. || Rabbi. The scribes and Pharisees, being the religious teachers of the people. assumed to themselves titles of respect and dignity. Rabbi means, literally, great, that is, great teacher. Compare Mark 12: 38, 39. Luke 20: 46.

8. Christ; the Messiah. This word is here not a proper name, but a title of office.

9. Call no man your father; exercise a childlike reliance on no man as your ultimate and deciding authority. Only God is worthy thus to be confided in.

[ocr errors]

12 And whosoever shall exalt himself, shall be abased'; and he that shall humble himself, shall be exalted.

13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayMessiah is your guide and teacher; it is not suitable for you to seek those distinctions and honors which, among men, are usually designated by such names. Let men be taught to regard the Messiah as the great leader; and do you claim no ambitious preferences.

11. Your servant. Humility and the spirit of usefulness compose the true dignity to which you ought to aspire. Let greatness be shown among you, by your cherishing deep humility and regard for the good of others. || Shall be; that is, let him be. Compare 20: 25-28.

12. Compare Prov. 16: 18. James 4: 6. 1 Pet. 5: 5, 6.

13. Hypocrites; dissemblers, having a mere show of piety. || Ye shut up, &c. Instead of helping men to attain the blessings of the new dispensation, or of the gospel, as religious teachers ought to do, you hinder them from attaining those blessings. You prevent the people from rightly judging of my instructions and seeking the blessings which I can bestow. Thus you produce the same effect, as if the keys of God's house were in your hand, and you would keep the door locked, and prevent admission.

14. Devour widows' houses. The word houses is here used for posses10. Masters; teachers, guides. Thesions, property. Widows, under the

er therefore ye shall receive the | nothing; but whosoever shall greater damnation. swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor.

15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides! which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is

influence of the Pharisees' instructions, would give them, as an act of piety, portions of their property, and at death would bequeath property to them. Thus the Pharisees secured to themselves, as a pious gift, what the widows and their families ought justly to have retained. || Make long prayer. They reinained a long time in the attitude of prayer, making repetitions and long pauses, so as to attract attention. But such cruelty, concealed under such a garb, would meet with a terrible doom.

15. Ye compass sea and land; a proverbial expression, meaning, Ye make untiring efforts. It resembles our expression, You leave no stone unturned. To make one proselyte; to gain even one to your party. The Pharisees were bent on increasing the number of their followers, and spared no pains to secure that object. The child of hell. This expression means, according to the Hebrew manner of speaking, a person exposed to or deserving of hell. Twofold more than yourselves; twice as wicked as yourselves. Your manner of conducting towards him does him no good, but makes him doubly worse than yourselves. This effect was doubtless produced by the Pharisees' being more anxious for an external union to their party of a person from among the heathen, than for his real benefit. His former heathen notions were not corrected; he imbibed new errors; and a most corrupt example was set him by his teachers. No wonder

17 Ye fools, and blind! for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?

18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.

19 Ye fools and blind! for

he became doubly worse than they.

16. Swear by the temple. It was customary among the Jews to swear by a variety of objects; and the Pharisees made a distinction of oaths into great and small. Those oaths which they called small, might be violated (so they taught) without guilt. See on 5:33. They were careful, in these distinctions, to have much regard to what might contribute to their own wealth or consequence. This is probably alluded to in this verse. It is nothing; it has no force; the oath is not binding. || The gold of the temple; the golden ornaments or utensils of the temple, or the money contained in the treasury, gathered from the yearly tax for the support of the temple (see 17: 24), from the payment of vows, and from voluntary donations. An oath by this money was, probably, represented as binding a person, through a supposition of some uncommon sanctity pertaining to such money. By making these impressions on the people, the Pharisees, doubtless, greatly increased the wealth of the temple. He is a debtor; he is bound to fulfil his oath.

17. Sanctifieth; causeth it to be regarded as sacred, inasmuch as it was devoted to sacred purposes; just as we might regard money devoted to the spread of the gospel as sacred.

18. By the gift that is upon it. The Pharisees represented oblations and sacrifices as peculiarly sacred and acceptable to God. He is guilty. The ordinary meaning of the word guilty

« PreviousContinue »