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The birth of Christ.
(Now all this was done, so that it was fulfilled 22
Joseph warned by an angel.
rations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the going away to Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the going away to Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.]
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was thus: When his mother Mary had been espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was 19 found with child by the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to expose her to shame, purposed to 20 divorce her privately. But while he was thinking on these things, behold, an angel of the Magians from the east are directed to Christ by a star; they do obeysance Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take to thee Mary thy wife; for her conception is by the 21 Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS [SAVIOUR:] for he shall SAVE his people from their sins."
to him; Joseph fleeth into Egypt with Jesus and his Mother; Herod slayeth the children and dieth; Joseph returns and dwells at Nazareth. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Ju- 1 dea, in the days of king Herod, behold, Magians from the east-country came to Jerusalem, Saying, "Where is the new-born King of the Jews? 2
1. Let us admire the faithREFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER I. fulness of God. He promised to Abraham, that in bis seed all the families of the earth should be blessed; and this promise was fulfilled in the birth and work of Jesus, who sprang from him according to the flesh. The providence of God regulated the events which occurred to the descendants of Abraham, in reference to the accomplishment of the divine promise. When they sinned they were chastised, but not destroyed; they were given up into the hands of their enemies, but were not wholly cast off.
2. In the conduct of Joseph we see piety united with caution, gentleness and prudence. He weighed the circumstances of the case
number of the generations here specified is inaccurate; and Newcome and Pearce consider this verse as a marginal gloss, which, after the names abovementioned had been omitted, was added as a part of the text. Matthew gives the natural genealogy of Joseph and Luke his civil or legal genealogy.
19. A righteous man. Campbell renders, 'a worthy man.' I prefer the term adopted, as it includes all that is essential in a truly good and pious chaTo divorce, &c. racter; and as it is the usual'sense of the original term.— This was done by giving a bill of divorce in a private manner; and in this case the dowry was not forfeited.
20. Her conception. The Greek is, that which is begotten or formed in her;' the sense of which the word adopted clearly gives.
22. So that it was fulfilled. I have adopted this version as being most apposite to the quotations from the Old Testament. For it is certain that the event did not take place for the mere purpose of fulfilling it; but God predetermined a fit event, and then foretold it by his prophets. That va expresses the consequence or event only, and is equivalent to so that appears from many passages. See Matt. xxiii. 26. Luke ix. 45.; xi. 50. John iv. 36.; v. 20. ix. 3.; xii. 38, &c.
The virgin, &c. Compare Is. vii. 14.His name shall be, &c. 1 There is some variety render in the passive, as being the sense of the text. in manuscripts and versions both here and in the prophet; but the sense is the same whatever reading be adopted. See note, Isa. vii. 14.
of his betrothed wife, and determined to act with as much lenity as possible. While he deliberated on the path of duty, God interposed to guide and direct him; and like him let us commit our way unto the Lord, and he will direct our steps. Joseph obeyed the divine will with readiness and delight; and no doubt anticipated with pleasure the appearance of Jesus, who was to save his people from their sins.
3. While we survey the humiliation of our Saviour assuming our nature and appearing in the likeness of sinful flesh, let us still rememGreat indeed is the mystery ber that he is Emmanuel, God with us. of Godliness. God manifest in the flesh! Let us admire his condescension and grace, and give up ourselves unreservedly to his service.
CHAP. II. 1. What is here related happened sometime after the birth -King of our Lord, at least above a year after. Comp. ver. 16. and note.—— He Herod. This was Herod the great, the first Jewish king of that name. ver. 22. had four sons. 1. Archelaus, Ethnark of Judea and Samaria : 2. Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee, who put John the Baptist in prison, &c. Matt. xiv. 1, 10. Luke iii. 1. It was this Herod to whom Pilate sent Jesus. 3. Philip the Tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis: Luke iii. 1. 4. Herod Philip: Matt. xiv. 3. 5. Herod Agrippa was the grandson of Herod the great, who beheaded James the Apostle: Acts xii. 1. 6. Herod Agrippa, son of the former mentioned: Acts xxv. 13.-Magians. They were neither Magicians (see Dan. ii. 27.) nor Sorcerers: Acts xiii. 6. but persons who lived in retirement and studied astronomy and other sciences. They worshipped one God, as infinitely wise and good; and were opposed to the Sabians, who worshipped the sun and stars. Daniel was placed over them in Babylon: Pearce thinks it Dan. v. 11. and Elymas, who was a Jew, was of this sect.
not improbable, that the Magians, who now came to Jerusalem might also be Jews; but Doddridge contends that they were Gentiles. Most commentators agree that they came from Arabia.
2. Have seen his star. Some unusual luminous body, which, by some divine intimations, they were taught to consider as importing the birth of the long expected King of the Jews.To do him homage. Doddridge renders, This homage 'to prostrate,' which is the proper signification of the term.
Magians come from the east.
for we have seen his star in the east country, 3 and are come to do him homage." When king - Herod heard these things, he was disturbed, and 4 all Jerusalem with him. And when he had assembled all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the 5 Christ was to be born. And they said unto him, "In Bethlehem of Judea for thus it is written 6 by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem in the land of Judah, art by no means the least among the chief cities of Judah; for out of thee shall come a Governor, who shall rule my people 7 Israel." Then Herod, when he had privately called the Magians, learnt from them exactly 8 what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, "Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word, that I also may come 9 and do him homage." When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east-country, went before them, till it came and stood over the place where the 10 young child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with very great joy.
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and did him homage: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented to him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back into their own 13 country by another way. And when they had gone back, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, and
was paid to kings and other superiors: Exod. xviii. 7. When civil respect is intended, to do homage is used; and when religious adoration, to worship, to which sense this term is now confined.
4. Chief priests. These were the high priest, with such has had discharged that office, together with the heads of the 24 courses: 1 Chron. xxiv. 6, 19. Acts iv. 6. -Scribes of the people. See Introd. Vol. 1. p. 54.
6. Art by no means the least. In the prophet Micah v. 2. we have no negative particle; but if rendered interrogatively, the negative is implied, and the Evangelist has given the sense. Art thou Bethlehem Ephrata, the least among the chief cities of Judah? See version and note on the place.
9. Went before them till it came. Bishop Pearce would render, had gone before them; not having led them but having been at Bethlehem before them. This seems more probable, than that it moved on before them, as Doddridge and Campbell render.
take the young child and his mother, and flee
16. From two years old, &c. According to the Jewish mode of reckoning, if a child had entered on its second year, it would be called two years
Then Herod, when he saw that he was de- 16 ceived by the Magians, was greatly enraged; and he sent forth, and slew all the male-children that were in Bethlehem, and in all its borders, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had learntexactly from the Magians. Then was fulfilled again that which was spoken 17 by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "A voice was 18 heard in Ramah, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning; Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they were not."
But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel 19 of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, "Arise, and take the young 20 child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel for they are dead who sought the young child's life." And he arose, and took the young 21 child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus 22 reigned in Judea, instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: but, being warned of God in a dream, he withdrew into the parts of Galilee; And came and dwelt in a city called 23 Nazareth: so that it was fulfilled which was
Hence Campbell renders, One full year old,' after Doddridge and
17. See Note on Jer. xxxi. 15. Nothing can be more evident, than that the primary design of the prophet does not refer to the slaughter of the infants by Herod; but the Evangelist recollecting the words considers them as again fulfilled. So Doddridge and others explain.
20. They are dead. Mr. Mann conjectured that there is here a reference to Antipater, the son of Herod, who died five days before his father. He had procured the death of his two elder brothers to clear his way to the crown; and might be one who had advised Herod to slaughter the infants.
22. See Note on ver. 1. Archelaus, inherited his father's cruelty; and Joseph feared to live under his dominion. It should seem his first intention was to reside at Bethlehem, but on account of Archelaus, he went to Nazareth, which was part of the territory allotted to his brother, Herod Antipas.
23. A Nazarean. From John i. 47. it is manifest that Nazareth was a despised place; and its inhabitants a despised people. Hence Jesus and his
John begins his ministry.
spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a
A. D. 26, 27. John begins his Ministry; his office, life and baptism; he reproveth the Pharisees and baptizeth Christ in the Jordan.
1 In those days came John the Baptist, preach2 ing in the desert of Judea, And saying, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven draweth near." 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, The voice of one crying in the desert; Prepare ye the way of the Lord; 4 make his paths straight." Now this John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER II. 1. However humiliating the circumstances of our Lord's birth, the father bore testimony to his dignity, by the appearance of a new star, or splendid meteor; and by conducting the Magians to pay their homage to him. They honoured him as the new-born King of Israel! Let us bow down before him, and render to him the glory due to his name.
2 We learn from the example of Herod, the deceit and depravity of the human heart. Ambitious and cruel he received the news of Messiah's birth with horror; and under pretence of being ready to do him homage, was contriving to murder him! Thus Herod plotted against the Holy child Jesus; but by the over-ruling providence of God, he raged in vain, and the Redeemer was preserved! In this, as in many other instances, we see, that no human wisdom, or counsel, or might, can prevail against the Lord. This tyrant, after having shed the blood of many citizens, completed his career of iniquity by
disciples were called Nazareans, in contempt; they were despised and insulted according to the predictions of the prophets. See Spanh. in locum, and Dod. CHAP. III. 1. In those days, &c. From the return of Joseph from Egypt, our Lord dwelt at Nazareth being subject to his parents; and, in those days, mean, while Jesus dwelt at Nazareth John began his ministry. It is nowhere said what the age of John was, when he began to preach; but from the practice of the Jews it is conjectured he was about thirty. These words clearly prove that Matthew's Gospel could not have begun in this manner, as they imply a preceding narration; and the attempt of the Socinians, without any external authority to expunge these words to justify their rejection of the two first chapters, proves how much the judgment is biassed by adherence to a system! Desert of Judea. This does not denote a plain destitute of vegetation, or inhabitants, but a district fit only for pasturing flocks and herds. Comp. 1 Sam. xvii. 28. Josh. xv. 61. Judges i. 16.
His faithful address.
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all 5 Judea, and all the country about the Jordan, And were baptized by him in the Jordan, con- 6 fessing their sins. But when he saw many of the 7 Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, "O offspring of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from impending wrath? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance: 8 And think not to say within yourselves, We 9 have Abraham to our father; for I our father; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. And even now the ax is 10 laid to the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with 11 water to repentance; but he who cometh after
2. Kingdom of heaven. This version I have retained as well as the corresponding one, ‘kingdom of God,' because I cannot find any terms which express more precisely the complex notions involved in the words. The phrase is derived from Dan. ii. 44. ; vii. 13, 14. It properly signifies the gospel dispensation, in which subjects were to be gathered to Christ, and a society formed, under him as the king and head, which was first to subsist in more imperfect circumstances on earth, but afterwards to appear complete in glory. It is denominated the kingdom of heaven or of God,' because of its
origin, its nature, and its final destination. In some places the phrase denotes the state of the church on earth, as to the gathering of its members by the gospel, their union by faith in Christ, and their obedience and subjection to him, as Chap. xiii. &c. and sometimes it signifies the state of glory, but most frequently it includes both. The Jews understood it of a temporal kingdom, and expected Jerusalem to be under Messiah the seat of universal empire; but the address of the Baptist was calculated to correct this erroneous notion; for the very demand of repentance showed that it was a spiritual kingdom, and that no wicked impenitent man could be the subject of it. Campbel! renders, 'reign of heaven and of God;' but I cannot think this is either more proper or more comprehensive of the meaning of the phrase than the common version. 3. The voice of one, &c. See Note, Isa. xl. 3.
4. Of camel's hair. Camel's hair is now made into cloth; for Chardin assures us, that the Dervises wear such garments, as they do also leathern girdles: See Harmer's Obser.- -Locusts. That these were eaten, See Levit. xi. 21, 22. They are still dried for food in some hot countries. Wild honey abounded in Judea: 1 Sam. xiv. 25.
7. The Pharisees, &c. See Introd. Vol. 1. p. 52, 53.-Coming to his baptism. Bishop Pearce thought that they came only to inquire who John was, but did not submit to be baptized by him. This opinion appears probable, if we comp. Matt. xxi. 25, 32. Luke vii. 30.-John's address marks his honest, but austere character. He reproves with boldness, as knowing
Christ is baptized.
me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry; he shall baptize you with the Holy 12 Spirit and with fire: Whose winnowing-shovel is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor, and gather the wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire."
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee unto the Jor14 dan to John, to be baptized by him. But John forbad him, saying, "I have need to be baptized 15 by thee, and comest thou to me?" And Jesus answering said to him, "Suffer it now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." Then 16 he suffered him. And when Jesus had been baptized, he went up immediately out of the water, and lo, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, 17 and coming upon him: And, lo, a voice
His fast and temptation.
from the heavens, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
the hypocrisy of the one, and the infidelity of the other, of these sects. 9. From these stones, &c. Jesus probably pointed to some which lay before him. See Chap. iv. 3.; vi. 29, &c. Our Lord alludes to the calling of the Gentiles; and that God should regard the Gentiles as the children of Abraham, appeared to the Jews like a natural impossibility.
See Introd. p. 56. It could not be a van, as
A. D. 30, 31. Christ fasteth and is tempted; angels minister unto him; he dwelleth in Capernaum; beginning to preach; he calls Peter, Andrew, James and John, and healeth all the diseased.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER III. 1. In the character of 3. How awful is infidelity. In the Saducees we have an examthe Baptist, we see the spirit and the power of Elijah. What bold-ple of its fatal influence.-Rejecting the clear discoveries of revelation, ness, zeal and fidelity did he exercise in the holy ministry he had received! He sought not the praise of men but the praise of God. Mortified to this world, he laboured to arouse a stupid, and to reform a profligate race. He, by his ministry and example, was a burning and a shining light! Happy the man, who, when his Lord cometh, is found equally impartial, faithful and humble!
they became brutish in their knowledge, and equally so in their practice. "O my soul, come not thou into their secret; mine honour, to their assembly, be not united!"
it was carried in the hand.
16. Descending as a Dove Luke says, 'in a bodily shape,' but it is uncertain, whether or not this appearance was in the form of a dove. Grotius and Dr. Owen thought this appearance was a bright flame; and it descended in the manner of a dove, hovering and then resting on Jesus. It is probable, that not only Jesus, but John and all present saw this sign from heaven, and heard the voice: John i. 32.; and 1 John. v. 6, 8.
THEN was Jesus led up by the Spirit into the I desert to be tempted by the devil. And when 2 he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he afterward was hungry. And when the tempter 3 came to him, he said, "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves.” But he answered and said, "It is written; Man 4 shall not live by bread only, but by whatsoever God appointeth." Then the devil taketh Jesus 5 with him to the holy city, and setteth him on a
2. How dangerous are mistaken notions in religion. The Pharisees placed their religion in external and ceremonial performances. Their doetrinal creed was in many things excellent; but pride, self-impending wrath urge us to flee to him who is able to save. confidence and hypocrisy were their prevailing vices. They considered their descent from Abraham as a ground of hope; and though wholly destitute of the spirit and faith of that Patriarch, they confidently expected to share with him the joys of paradise. Vain expectations! May we ever remember that external privileges will not be admitted as a substitute for personal piety;-that they are only means, and if not improved, instead of securing our happiness, will aggravate our condemnation.
5. How glorious is the person of the Messiah! John is sent to prepare the way before him; like the morning star, to usher in the sun of righteousness. How richly furnished was Jesus with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, for his great and glorious work! The Father gave not the Spirit by measure unto him; but poured it out upon him in the most abundant degree; thus giving testimony to his beloved son, in whom he was well pleased. Let us honour him as such; that confiding in him for salvation, the Father may accept us in the beloved!
4. Jesus came to lay the ax to the root of every bad tree, and to separate the chaff from the wheat. By his doctrine and preaching, he in some degree accomplished this design; but at the great day he will more fully complete it. O let us dread his vengeance, and fly to his grace for relief. Who can endure the unquenchable fire! Let this
17. This is my beloved, &c. Some mss. read here as Mark and Luke, "Thou art my beloved Son, &c.' The sense is the same whether reading be adopted.
CHAP. IV. 1. If the temptation soon followed our Lord's baptism, it is probable the desert might be the great desert where the law was given. This was a fit scene for the temptation, whether it be considered as a real occurrence, or as only what passed in our Lord's mind. Pearce thinks it was real, and that our Lord alludes to it: chap. vi. 13. Deliver us from the evil one, as he renders. On the other hand, Farmer and many excellent commentators, contend that it was visionary, that after a miraculous fast of forty days, the tempter seemed to his mind to come and say; If thou be, &c. Indeed what is related ver. 8, could not literally happen.
3. Loaves. So Pearce and Campbell; and the former explains, let each stone become a loaf. We do not read, that our Lord, during his whole mi nistry, wrought one miracle to support himself.
Jesus conquers the tempter.
6 wing of the temple, And saith to him, "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge give his angels charge concerning thee; and on their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a 7 stone." Jesus said to him, "It is also written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." 8 Again, the devil taketh Jesus with him up very high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith to him, "All these things I will give to thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." 10 Then saith Jesus to him, "Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." 11 Then the devil leaveth him; and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Now when Jesus had heard that John was delivered up to prison, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And having left Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is on the side of the lake, 14 in the borders of Zebulon and Naphtali: So that it was fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah 15 the prophet, saying, "The land of Zebulon, and the land of Naphtali, toward the way of the lake, by the side of the Jordan, Galilee of the
4. In the quotation from Deut. viii. 3, I have given the sense in preference to the literal version. See Note there.
7. Tempt the Lord thy God. Hammond has observed that this language does not mean to confide too much in the divine goodness, but to distrust the divine goodness and power, after sufficient proof had been given. In short to tempt God, is to call in question the proofs he has given of his goodness and power, and unreasonably to request new proofs. Comp. Exod. xvii. 2, 3. Deut. vi. 6. Heb. iii. 12. and Isa. lxxviii. 18, 20.
9. Our Lord was here tempted by power, honour, and ambition; but the tempter found nothing in him, on which these objects could operate. The tempter was resisted, and he fled.
12. John was imprisoned in the castle of Machærus in Peraa; and the reason of it is given Chap. xiv. 3. Mark vii. 17. and Luke iii. 19.
Peler, Andrew and others called.
Gentiles; The people who sat in darkness 16 have seen a great light; and to them who sat in the region of the shadow of death light hath sprung up.'
13. Capernaum. Wetstein conjectures, that this town, which was situate at the north point, on the outer side of the Lake of Galilee, was under the Tetrarch of Galilee, and not under Herod. Compared with this Herod, Philip was a quiet and peaceable Prince.
15. The lake. It is called the lake or sea of Galilee, of Tiberias and of Genesereth. It received, from a small district called Genesereth, the last name; the second from a town built by Herod the Great, which became the chief city, and continued to be celebrated as the seat of Jewish literature, long after Jerusalem was destroyed. The Jerusalem Talmud was written there. The first name is taken from the Province of Galilee; this province contained the northern part of the Holy land; and, as it was contiguous to the Tyrians and Syrians, in the upper part of it many of these dwelt. Hence it was called Galilee of the Gentiles. No part of the Holy land was more populous than this.
From that time Jesus began to preach, and 17 to say, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven draweth near."
Now as he walked by the lake of Galilee, he 18 saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake; for they were fishers. And he saith to them, 19 "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of
And immediately they left their nets 20 and followed him. And going on thence, he 21 saw other two brethren, James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and 22 their father, and followed him.
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in 23 their synagogues, and preaching the glad tidings of his kingdom, and curing every disease, and every malady among the people.
And his fame went through all Syria; and 24 they brought to him all their sick who were seized with various diseases and torments, and
16. Who sat in darkness. The tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali, were the first that suffered by the invasion of Tiglath Pilesar: 2 Kings xv 29. and 1 Chron. 5. 26. and the prophet when properly translated, evidently predicts a future period, when God would make this district glorious. Our Lord first preached to these tribes, and wrought many miracles among them, so that the Evangelist applies with the strictest propriety this prophecy to this circumstance.
18-22. Simon called Peter. These apostles knew Jesus before this solemn call. Some of them had heard the testimony of John the baptist to him: John i. 35, 41. and it is probable that our Lord's divine knowledge and power were known to them.
23. In their synagogues. These are not mentioned in the Old Testament. They were erected in towns both in Judea, and where ever a sufficient number of Jews resided, and religious service was performed in them three times a day, morning, afternoon, and evening. They were like modern chapels, with a desk, where the law and prophets were read, seats for the men below, and galleries for the women. The synagogue was governed by a council of a few persons and a president, who is called in the Gospels, ruler of the synagogues. The glad tidings. I give here the acknowledged sense of the text. "The gospel of the kingdom,' conveys no clear sense, our Lord did not as yet distinctly and publicly declare himself to be the Messiah; but preached on the prophecies respecting him, and on the blessings to be enjoyed under his reign. He wrought many miracles to awaken attention and to establish his claims to be the person that should come.
24. Those who had demons. Some contend that demoniacs were persons who laboured under bodily diseases: particularly those of the maniacal, lunatic, and epilectic kind, which were by the common people attributed to the agency of demons and evil spirits. But most suppose that God permitted