Page images

by parables, and said,

2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

3 And 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 are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise.

6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

who manifested an utter want of respect and gratitude towards the king. He was at once thrust out from the joyous festivities, as a person unsuitable to be occupying a place among the king's friends and favorites. By this latter part of the parable, the Saviour showed, that though the Jews would reject him, and would, therefore, be themselves rejected, yet others would be brought to the favor of God, and to the enjoyment of those blessings which had been provided. He also showed, that the enjoyment of those blessings would depend upon the characters of men; and that however some who were not of a suitable character might now be found among the friends of God, and the partakers of his bounty, yet, for a continuance among them, and for the permanent and ultimate possession of the Messiah's blessings, they would have no reasonable hope. They, too, would be rejected,and would be consigned to hopeless misery.

2. The kingdom of hearen; the Messiah's dispensation; the system of religion and of spiritual blessings

7 But 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 were bidden were not worthy.

9 Go ye, therefore, unto the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

10 So those servants went out into the highways, 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 had not on a wedding garment :

introduced by him. A marriage. The word thus rendered may signify an entertainment in general, a banquet. Nothing is said in the parable respecting any marriage ceremonies. The Saviour meant, probably, to describe a king making an entertainment in honor of his son, as a suitable method of signifying either his admitting his son to a share of his royal dignity, or his distinctly marking him out as his


3. To call them that were bidden. It was not unusual among the ancients for two invitations to be given; the last of which mentioned the particular time at which the guests were desired to come. To the wedding; the entertainment.

6. Entreated; an old word, corresponding to our word treated.

8. Were not worthy; not suitable, not fit to come to such an entertainment. 10. Highways; the most frequented streets. Bad and good. Compare 13: 25, 28, 38, 48.

11. A wedding garment; a garment suited to the festival; or a garment

[blocks in formation]

13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

given him by the king for wearing at the entertainment. It was sometimes the case, that a king, when he made a feast, presented vestments to all who were invited, with which they were expected to clothe themselves, before they sat down to the feast. If a person had thus received a garment from the king, and did not at once clothe himself with it, and render his homage to the king, he ran the hazard of provoking the king's displeasure. Such neglect argued the utter absence of a respectful and grateful mind, and would naturally be regarded as an insult to the king.

12. And he was speechless. He knew the established custom of society, and what was expected of him, and in what light his conduct would naturally be viewed.

13. Into outer darkness; that is, into the darkness without. Feasts were held towards, and after, evening, The rooms in which they were held were lighted up, and were warm and cheerful. In the climate of Palestine, the night, particularly when approaching towards morning, was very cold. To be thrust out, then, from a room in which an entertainment was held, would not only be disgraceful, but would subject one to distress; and might well be employed as a symbol of sorrow and misery.

14. Jesus then quoted a proverbial saying; the import of which, as here used, was, that though men might be invited to the enjoyment of God's favor, many of them would yet fail of becoming his favorites. He would 16


14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

16 And they sent out unto him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for

thus lead to calm and considerate reflection, whether we, each one of us, belong to the happy number, whose characters can be approved, and who will be admitted to the endless bliss of heaven; whether, in short, we have that love, reverence and esteem for God, and that attachment to his Son, and that delight to honor his Son, which are justly required.

15. Entangle him in his talk; insnare him by conversation; draw from him some expressions which might serve as an accusation against him, and by which they might set some party among the people against him, and ultimately procure his death.

16. Their disciples; some of the followers, or scholars, of the Pharisees. || The Herodians. These were probably persons who, from political considerations, were friendly to Herod, and consequently to the Romans, by whose authority Herod held dominion. The persons who thus went to Jesus, both Pharisees and Herodians, went in a hypocritical manner, pretending to have a case of conscience, and to repose great confidence in the sincerity and independence of Jesus, as a religious teacher. The question, which they desired to propose, was one which enlisted much feeling, and respecting which the two parties who came to Jesus held different opinions. The Jews, in general, were very restless under the Roman yoke, and conceived it highly disgraceful, if not morally wrong, that they should be paying tribute or taxes to a foreign and heathen power. With these sentiments

any man for thou regardest not the person of men.

17 Tell us, therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

19 Show me the tributemoney. And they brought unto him a penny.

the Pharisees, doubtless, coincided; while the Herodians sided rather with the Romans. Luke says expressly, (20: 20), that these persons went as spies. Thou regardest not, &c.; thou art not a partial man; favoring one and then another, according as it may serve a turn, and having respect of persons.

17. Is it lawful, &c. Cesar was a common name applied to the Roman emperors. The emperor, at the time here spoken of, was Tiberius Cesar. The conquered provinces of the empire were subject to a tax for the support of the government. But as this was to be paid to a heathen power, by descendants of Abraham and David, who were indulging most lofty notions of earthly dominion, the Jews were very reluctant to bear this mark of servitude, and questioned whether it was right for them thus to submit to a foreign power.

18. Their wickedness. There was a manifest artifice in such a company's proposing such a question. For if Jesus had given a direct reply, whether he had said yes, or no, advantage would have been taken of his reply by the one or the other of the parties present. Had he said yes, the Pharisees would easily have excited a popular tumult against him. Had he said no, the Herodians would have accused him before the civil authorities as a seditious person; and the Pharisees would gladly have borne testimony against him as having uttered a rebellious sentiment. Jesus saw through their design, and let them know that

20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21 They say unto him, Cesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render, therefore, unto Cesar, the things which are Cesar's; and unto God, the things that are God's.

22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and

he saw through it. He charged them with being hypocrites, and with endeavoring to lead him into difficulty. || Tempt ye me; induce me to say something which you may employ to my disadvantage.

19. The tribute-money; the coin in which the Roman tax was paid. || A penny; a denarius, a small Roman coin, equivalent, according to some estimates, to about nine cents of our money; according to other estimates, to about fourteen cents.

21. Cesar's. The money current among the Jews bearing the stamp of the Roman government, was a sufficient indication that they were under the dominion of Cesar, that is, of the Roman emperor. By their own acknowledgment, in having Roman money as the ordinary currency of the country, they were the subjects of Cesar. This circumstance the Saviour made the foundation of his reply. If they were subjects of Cesar, then let them render obedience to Cesar. The civil state of the country the Messiah came not to interfere with; and a direct answer to their question he would waive. At the same time, he would lay down a principle by which they might regulate their conduct, if they had any scruples of conscience.Whatever things are due from you to Cesar, render to Cesar; and what things are due from you to God, render to God. If you acknowledge that you ought, according to your law, to pay a yearly tax for the support of God's temple, pay it to God. And if you acknowledge a subjection to the

left him, and went their way.

23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,

24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

25 Now, there were with us seven brethren and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased; and having no issue, left his wife unto his brother.

Roman power, render to Cesar what, by your own acknowledgment, belongs to Cesar. By placing the matter in this light, while he spoke to the conviction of their consciences, he gave no just cause of offence to either party. Every one must have felt the propriety of the principle he enforced; and he left it to themselves to make the application. As parallel passages, see Mark 12: 12-17. Luke 20: 20-26. 23. Sadducees. See INTRODUCTORY EXPLANATIONS, III. 2. The Sadducees believed, that besides God, there was no other spiritual being, whether good or bad. They believed, that the soul and the body died together, and that there could be no resurrection. Compare Acts 23: 8. || Resurrection. This word is, in this conversation of our Lord, of more extensive meaning than simply the rising again of the body; it also denotes future life, that is, the continued life of the soul while separated from the body. The Saviour intended to meet the whole ground of the Sadducees' skepticism, and especially to show the error respecting the soul's ceasing to exist when the body is dead.

24. Moses said. See Deut. 25: 5. 25-28. The case here presented to our Lord was doubtless only an imagined case, such as might possibly Occur; and the representation was devised, in order to set in the strongest

26 Likewise the second also, and the third unto the seventh. 27 And last of all the woman died also.

28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

light the Sadducees' difficulty respecting the resurrection and the future


29. Not knowing the Scriptures; the Scriptures of the Old Testament, in which are satisfactory evidences, that the soul survives the death of the body. These evidences from the word of God the Sadducees had not sufficiently considered. Nor the power of God; not considering that the omnipotence of God is adequate to the work of raising the dead.

30. In the resurrection; in the future state, particularly after the resurrection. The state of things in the future world is different from the state of things in this world. Marriage is appropriate to this world, but there will be no occasion for it in the coming world; for those who attain to the bliss of the future world, who attain to a blessed resurrection, will be like angels, beings not constituted for the marriage relation. Thus the Saviour removed the difficulty with which the Sadducees expected to press him. By his authority as a divine teacher, he declared that such is the state of things in the future world, that the difficulty they suggested cannot exist. That the word resurrection here relates to the future state of the righteous, and not indiscriminately to the future state of all men, is evident from the language of Luke 20: 35, &c.

31 But, as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,

32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

31. Resurrection; the future life; the continued existence of the soul. Spoken unto you by God. Ex. 3: 6. 32. God of the dead. The word dead is here equivalent to the phrase destitute of existence, or beings that have no existence. God is not the God of non-existent things, but of living beings. The fact, that Jehovah called himself the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, long after those patriarchs had ceased to live on earth, our Saviour presented as showing that those patriarchs were regarded by Jehovah as not having ceased to exist. They were not indeed in this world; but they still were in existence, for God calls himself still their God. This language is harmonious with the sentiment, that there is a future state of being; and that those patriarchs were still regarded as living beings. The Saviour's mode of reasoning, on this occasion, may be thus exhibited; he declared that there is no impossibility in respect to future existence, for the power of God is adequate to securing the continued life of those who have deceased on earth; he also mentioned that the Scriptures of the Old Testament teach this continued life. Having thus given the sanction of his authority to the doctrine of a future state, he proceeded to observe that the very language employed by God to Moses, at the burning bush, recognized the continued existence of the patriarchs.

33. Astonished at his doctrine; rather, at his teaching. They saw the propriety of his remarks, and viewed the subject in a more satisfactory light than ever before.

33 And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.

34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

Though the Saviour so easily disposed of the difficulty suggested by the Sadducees, yet it doubtless had been viewed by the Sadducees as a very serious difficulty. The Pharisees, and the mass of the people, had some very vague notions about the resurrection, supposing it would be intimately connected with the coming of the Messiah, and yet they believed the Messiah's reign was to be on earth, and during the glory of his administration, human beings and human affairs, though variously modified for the better, would be substantially the same as before. They did not contemplate the spiritual government of the Messiah as his great object; but having fixed their minds upon a great temporal kingdom, and a resurrection in connection with that, they would be pressed by such a difficulty as the Sadducees had presented. Compare, as parallel passages, Mark 12: 18—27. Luke 20: 27-38.

34. They were gathered together; they came together for consultation. The manner in which the Saviour had treated the Sadducees was adapted greatly to increase the esteem and confidence of the people towards him. This the Pharisees dreaded; and they wished to entangle him in the various disputes of the times, so as in some way to injure his reputation among the people.

35. A lawyer; an expounder of the laws of Moses; the same as a scribe. See INTRODUCTORY EXPLANATIONS, III. 4. The laws of Moses were of a religious as well as civil character; so that those who are called lawyers, in the New Testament, were engaged

« PreviousContinue »