|<< Luke 22 >>|
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
The chief priests and scribes plot our Lord's destruction, Luke 22:1, Luke 22:2. Judas, at the instigation of the devil, betrays him, Luke 22:3-6. He eats his last supper with his disciples, Luke 22:7-18. Institutes the eucharist, Luke 22:19, Luke 22:20. Announces one of his disciples as the traitor, Luke 22:21-23 : The contention which should be greatest, Luke 22:24-30. Warns Peter against Satan's devices, Luke 22:31, Luke 22:32. Peter's resolution, Luke 22:33. His denial foretold, Luke 22:34. Tells his disciples to make prudent provision for their own support, Luke 22:35-37. The two swords, Luke 22:38. He goes to the Mount of Olives, and has his agony in the garden, Luke 22:39-46. Judas comes with a mob, Luke 22:47, Luke 22:48. Peter cuts off the ear of the high priest's servant, which Christ heals by a touch, Luke 22:49-51. He addresses the chief priests and captains of the temple, Luke 22:52, Luke 22:53. They lead him to the high priest's house, and Peter follows and denies his Master, Luke 22:54-60. Christ looks upon him, he is stung with remorse, and weeps bitterly, Luke 22:61, Luke 22:62. Jesus is mocked, and variously insulted, Luke 22:63-65. The next morning he is questioned before the council, Luke 22:66, Luke 22:67. He acknowledges himself to be the Son of God, Luke 22:68-70. They condemn him, Luke 22:71.
1Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.
The feast of unleavened bread, etc. - See this largely explained, Exodus 23:14 (note); Leviticus 23:2-40 (note), and on Matthew 26:2 (note).
2And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.
They feared the people - The great mass of the people seem to have been convinced that Christ was at least a prophet sent from God; and it is likely they kept steady in their attachment to him. The multitude, who are represented as clamouring for his blood at the crucifixion, appear to have been a mere mob, formed out of the creatures of the chief priests and Pharisees.
3Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.
Then entered Satan into Judas - The devil filled the heart of Judas with avarice; and that infamous passion led him to commit the crime here specified. This at once accounts for the whole of this most unprincipled and unnatural transaction. None but a devil, or he who is possessed by one, could have been guilty of it: - let the living lay this to heart. A minister of the Gospel, who is a lover of money, is constantly betraying the interests of Christ. He cannot serve two masters; and while his heart is possessed with the love of self, the love of God and zeal for perishing souls cannot dwell in him. What Satan could not do by the envy and malice of the high priests and Pharisees, he effects by Judas, a false and fallen minister of the Gospel of God. None are so dangerous to the interests of Christianity as persons of this stamp.
4And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.
And captains - Among the priests who were in waiting at the temple, some were appointed φυλακες, for a guard to the temple; and over these were Ϛρατηγοι commanding officers: both sorts are mentioned by Josephus, War, b. vi. c. 5. s. 3. Bp. Pearce, See another sense of captains, in the note on Matthew 27:65 (note). Dr. Lightfoot supposes these to have been the captains over the watches; for in three places the priests kept watch and ward in the temple, viz. in Beth Abtenes, in Beth Nitsots, and in Beth Mokad. The Levites also in twenty-one places more, Middoth, chap. i. Though these watches consisted of several persons in each, there was one set over them, as the captain or head of that watch. He thinks that Matthew, Matthew 27:65, refers to one of these: Ye have a watch of your own; let some of them be sent to guard the sepulchre. The captain of the temple, he supposes to have been the chief or head of all these watches; and thus he was captain of the captains. In the same Talmudical tract it is said, The ruler of the mountain of the temple (i.e. captain of the temple) takes his walks through every watch with torches lighted before him: if he found any upon the watch, that was not standing on his feet, he said, Peace be with thee: but if he found him sleeping, he struck him with a stick, and he might also burn his clothes. And when it was said by others, What noise is that in the court? the answer was, It is the noise of a Levite under correction, whose garments they are burning, because he slept upon his watch. This custom casts light on Revelation 16:15 : Behold, I come as a thief: blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. It is easy to distinguish this captain of the mountain of the temple from the ruler of the temple, or sagan: the former presided over the guards; the latter over the whole service of the temple. We have them both distinguished, Acts 4:1 : there is the captain of the temple; and Annas, who was the sagan. See Lightfoot.
5And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.
They - covenanted to give him money - Matthew says thirty pieces, or staters, of silver, about 4. 10s. English, the common price of the meanest slave. See the note on Matthew 26:15.
6And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.
And he promised - That is, to do it - εξωμολογησε: or, He accepted the proposal. See Wakefield.
7Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.
The passover - Πασχα, Luke 22:1, is the name of the festival; το πασχα here is supposed to be the name of that on which they feasted, viz. the sacrificed paschal lamb. But see the notes on Matthew 26 (note), and especially the observations at the end of that chapter, (Matthew 26:75 (note)).
8And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.
He sent Peter and John, etc. - See the subject of these verses largely explained on Matthew 26:17-19 (note), and Mark 14:13, Mark 14:15 (note).
9And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare?
10And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.
11And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?
12And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.
13And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
14And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.
And when the hour was come - That is, the evening. See Matthew 26:20, and Mark 14:17.
15And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
With desire I have desired - A Hebraism for, I have desired most earnestly. Our Lord's meaning seems to be, that, having purposed to redeem a lost world by his blood, he ardently longed for the time in which he was to offer himself up. Such love did the holy Jesus bear to the human race. This eucharistic passover was celebrated once, by way of anticipation, before the bloody sacrifice of the victim of salvation, and before the deliverance it was appointed to commemorate; as the figurative passover had been likewise once celebrated before the going out of Egypt, and the deliverance of God's chosen people. Quesnel.
16For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
Until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God - That is, until that of which the passover is a type is fulfilled in my death, through which the kingdom of God, or of heaven, (See Matthew 3:2), shall be established among men.
17And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
He took the cup - This was not the sacramental cup, for that was taken after supper, Luke 22:20, but was the cup which was ordinarily taken before supper.
Divide it among yourselves - Pass the cup from one to another; thus the cup which Christ gave to the first person on his right hand continued to be handed from one to another, till it came to the last person on his left.
18For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
I will not drink of the fruit of the vine - That is, before the time of another passover, the Holy Ghost shall descend, the Gospel of the kingdom be established, and the sacramental supper shall take place of the paschal lamb; for in a few hours his crucifixion was to take place. See on Matthew 26:29 (note).
19And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
Took bread - See the nature and design of the Lord's Supper explained in the notes on Matthew 26:26-29 (note).
This do in remembrance of me - That the Jews, in eating the passover, did it to represent the sufferings of the Messiah, as evident from the tract Pesachim, fol. 119, quoted by Schoettgen.
Why do we call this the great hallel? (i.e. the hymn composed of several psalms, which they sung after the paschal supper). Ans. Because in it these five things are contained:
1. The exodus from Egypt.
2. The dividing of the Red Sea.
3. The promulgation of the law.
4. The resurrection of the dead. And,
5. The sufferings of the Messiah.
The first is referred to, Psalm 114:1, When Israel went out of Egypt, etc.
The second in Psalm 114:3, The sea saw it and fled.
The third in Psalm 114:4, The mountains skipped like rams, etc.
The fourth in Psalm 116:9, I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
The fifth in Psalm 115:1, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory; for thy mercy and thy truth's sake. See the note on Matthew 26:30.
20Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
This cup is the new testament in my blood - Perhaps it might be better to paraphrase the passage thus: This cup which is poured out for you, signifies the blood of the new covenant, which is shortly to be ratified in (or by) the shedding of my blood. Or, This cup is the new covenant, poured out for you with my blood: - that is, the paschal sacrifice and my sacrifice happen together. But see Kypke.
It does not appear that our Lord handed either the bread or the cup to each person; he gave it to him who was next to him, and, by handing it from one to another, they shared it among themselves, Luke 22:17. In this respect the present mode of administering the Lord's Supper is not strictly according to the original institution.
21But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.
The hand of him that betrayeth me, etc. - What can be desired more, says Dr. Lightfoot, as a demonstration that Judas was present at the eucharist? And, whereas the contrary is endeavored to be proved out of John 13, nothing is made out of nothing; for there is not one syllable throughout that whole chapter of the paschal supper, but of a supper before the feast of the passover.
22And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!
The Son of man goeth - That is, he is about to die, Απερχεσθαι, οιχεσθαι, abire, going, going away, and departing, are used, by the best Greek and Latin writers, for death and dying. See Rosenmuller.
23And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.
They began to inquire among themselves - See the notes on Matthew 26:23, Matthew 26:24.
24And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
There was also a strife among them - There are two different instances of this sort of contention or strife mentioned by the evangelists, each of which was accompanied with very different circumstances; one by Matthew, in Matthew 18:1, etc., by Mark, Mark 9:33, etc.; and by Luke, in Luke 9:46, etc. That contention cannot have been the same with this which is mentioned here. The other, related in Matthew 20:20, etc., and Mark 10:35, etc., must be what Luke intended here to record; and this strife or contention was occasioned by the request which Zebedee's wife made to our Lord in favor of her sons, James and John; but, then, Luke has mentioned this very much out of the order of time, it having happened while our Lord and his disciples were on their way to Jerusalem: Matthew 20:17; Mark 10:32. See Bp. Pearce.
25And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
Are called benefactors - The very Greek word used by the evangelist, ευεργεται, was the surname of some of the Ptolemies of Egypt; Ptolemy Euergetes, i.e. the Benefactor. It was a custom among the ancient Romans to distribute part of the lands which they had conquered on the frontiers of the empire to their soldiers; those who enjoyed such lands were called beneficiarii, beneficed persons; and the lands themselves were termed beneficia, benefices, as being held on the beneficence of the sovereign; and it is no wonder that such sovereigns, however tyrannical or oppressive they might have been in other respects, were termed benefactors by those who were thus dependent on their bounty.
26But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
Let him be as the younger - Dr. Lightfoot justly conjectures that Peter was the eldest of all the disciples; and he supposes that the strife was kindled between him and the sons of Zebedee, James and John. These three disciples were those whom Christ had distinguished by peculiar marks of his favor; and therefore it is natural to conclude that the strife lay between these three, the two brothers and Peter. Shall we or Peter be at the head? Neither, says our Lord. Let him, Peter, who is chief (ὁ μειζων, the eldest) among you, be as, John, ὁ νεωτερος, the younger. The younger part of the disciples do not appear to have taken any part in this contention; and our Lord shows Peter, and the sons of Zebedee, that they must be as unambitious as the younger in order to be acknowledged as his disciples. Dr. Lightfoot thinks that Peter was the mover of this strife, and therefore our Lord rebukes him by name.
27For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
28Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.
29And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me - The Codex Alexandrinus, with some other MSS., the later Syriac, and Origen, read in the first clause, διαθηκην, a covenant. I appoint unto you a Covenant, as my Father hath appointed unto me a kingdom: - Ye shall be ministers of the new covenant, as I am king in that spiritual kingdom to which it relates. This is a curious reading: but our Lord is probably to be understood as promising that they should get a kingdom - a state of blessedness, as he should get it - they must go through much tribulation in order to enter into the kingdom of God. So the Son of man suffered that he might enter into his glory: for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, and despised the shame, and is set down on the right hand of God.
30That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Sit on thrones - See on Matthew 19:28 (note). Marcion left the whole of this verse out, according to Epiphanius: probably because he did not understand it.
31And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
Simon, Simon - When a name is thus repeated in the sacred writings, it appears to be always intended as an expression of love, manifested by a warning voice. As if he had said, While thou and the others are contending for supremacy, Satan is endeavoring to destroy you all: but I have prayed for thee, as being in most danger.
Satan hath desired - you - That is, all the apostles, but particularly the three contenders: the plural pronoun, ὑμας, sufficiently proves that these words were not addressed to Peter alone. Satan had already got one, Judas; he had nearly got another, Peter; and he wished to have all. But we see by this that the devil cannot even tempt a man unless he receive permission. He desires to do all evil; he is permitted only to do some.
32But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
I have prayed for thee - From the natural forwardness and impetuosity of thy own spirit, thou wilt be brought into the most imminent danger; but I have supplicated for thee, that thy faith may not utterly fail - εκλειπῃ, from εκ, out, and λειπω, I fail, to fall utterly or entirely off. Peter's faith did fail, but not utterly: he did fall, but he did not fall off, apostatize, or forsake his Master and his cause finally, as Judas did. Every body sees, from Peter's denial of his Lord, that his faith did fail, and his great courage too; and yet they read, in the common translation, that Christ prayed that it might not fail: can they then conceive that our Lord's prayer was heard? The translation which I have given above removes this embarrassment and apparent contradiction. It was certainly Peter's advantage that our Lord did pray for him; but it was not so much for his honor that he should stand in need of such a prayer, beyond all others. Lightfoot.
When thou art converted - Restored to a sense of thy folly and sin, and to me and my cause - establish these thy brethren. All the disciples forsook Jesus and fled, merely through fear of losing their lives; Peter, who continued for a while near him, denied his Master with oaths, and repeated this thrice: our Lord seems to intimate that, after this fall, Peter would become more cautious and circumspect than ever; and that he should become uncommonly strong in the faith, which was the case; and that, notwithstanding the baseness of his past conduct, he should be a proper instrument for strengthening the feeble minded, and supporting the weak. His two epistles to the persecuted Christians show how well he was qualified for this important work.
33And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.
34And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
The cock shall not crow this day - Matthew 26:34, and Mark 14:30, say, this night; both expressions are right, because the Jewish day, of twenty-four hours, began with the evening, and ended at the evening of the following day. On Peter's denial, see the notes on Matthew 26:31-35 (note).
35And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
When I sent you without purse - See the notes on Matthew 10:9, Matthew 10:10.
36Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
He that hath no sword - Bishop Pearce supposes that the word μαχαιραν, sword, has been inserted here from what is said in Luke 22:38, as it is evident our Lord never intended to make any resistance, or to suffer a sword to be used on the occasion; see Matthew 26:52. The word stands rather oddly in the passage: the verse, translated in the order in which it stands, is as follows: And he who hath none, let him sell his garment and buy - a sword. Now it is plain that the verb πωλησατω, let him buy, may be referred to πηραν a scrip, in the former part of the verse: therefore if, according to the bishop's opinion, the word sword be omitted, the passage may be understood thus: "When I sent you out before, Luke 10:1, etc., I intended you to continue itinerants only for a few days, and to preach the Gospel only to your country-men; therefore you had but little need of a staff, purse, or scrip, as your journey was neither long, nor expensive; but now I am about to send you into all the world, to preach the Gospel to every creature; and, as ye shall be generally hated and persecuted for my sake, ye shall have need to make every prudent provision for your journey; and so necessary will it be for you to provide yourselves victuals, etc., for your passage through your inhospitable country, that, if any of you have no scrip or wallet, he should sell even his upper garment to provide one." Others, who are for retaining the word sword, think that it was a proverbial expression, intimating a time of great difficulty and danger, and that now the disciples had need to look to themselves, for his murderers were at hand. The reader will observe that these words were spoken to the disciples just before he went to the garden of Gethsemane, and that the danger was now so very near that there could be no time for any of them to go and sell his garment in order to purchase a sword to defend himself and his Master from the attack of the Jewish mob.
Judea was at this time, as we have already noticed, much infested by robbers: while our Lord was with his disciples, they were perfectly safe, being shielded by his miraculous power. Shortly they must go into every part of the land, and will need weapons to defend themselves against wild beasts, and to intimidate wicked men, who, if they found them totally defenceless, would not hesitate to make them their prey, or take away their life. However the matter may be understood, we may rest satisfied that these swords were neither to be considered as offensive weapons, nor instruments to propagate the truth. The genius and spirit of the Christian religion is equally against both. Perhaps, in this counsel of our Lord, he refers to the contention about supremacy: as if he had said, Instead of contending among yourselves about who shall be the greatest, ye have more need to unite yourselves against the common enemy, who are now at hand: this counsel was calculated to show them the necessity of union among themselves, as their enemies were both numerous and powerful.
37For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
Must yet be accomplished - Probably meaning that, though this prophecy did refer to some particular matter in the time of the prophet, yet it farther (ετι) related to Christ, and could not have its complete accomplishment but in his crucifixion as a criminal.
For the things concerning me have an end - As if he had said, My work is now almost done; yours is only beginning; I am now about to be crucified and numbered with the transgressors; think what will be done to you, and what ought to be done by you; and then think if this be a time for you to be contending with each other. Lightfoot.
38And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough - These words cannot be well understood as being an answer to the supposed command of Christ, for every one who had no sword to go and sell his garment and buy one; for, in this case, they were not enough, or sufficient, as nine of the disciples must be without any instrument of defense; but they may be understood as pointing out the readiness and determination of Peter, and perhaps some others, to defend our Lord: Thou shalt not be treated as a transgressor; here are two swords, and we will fight for thee. In Luke 22:33, Peter had said, he was ready to go with Christ either to prison or death; which showed his strong resolution to stand by and defend his Master, even at the expense of his life. But, alas, he depended too much on himself!
It is enough. The meaning probably is, there is enough said on the subject; as immediately after this he entered into his agony.
I must here confess that the matter about the swords appear to me very obscure. I am afraid I do not understand it, and I know of none who does. Schoettgen and Lightfoot have said much on the subject; others have endeavored to get rid of the difficulty by translating μαχαιραν a knife, which was necessary on long journeys for providing forage and fuel; as they were to depend wholly on their own industry, under God, for all the necessaries of life, while going through the nations of the earth, preaching the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles. I cannot say which sense the reader should prefer.
39And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
40And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
When he was at the place - Viz. Gethsemane. On this agony of our Lord see the notes on Matthew 26:36-46 (note).
41And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
42Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
There appeared an angel - from heaven - It was as necessary that the fullest evidence should be given, not only of our Lord's Divinity, but also of his humanity: his miracles sufficiently attested the former; his hunger, weariness, and agony in the garden, as well as his death and burial, were proofs of the latter. As man, he needs the assistance of an angel to support his body, worn down by fatigue and suffering. See at the end of Luke 22:44 (note).
44And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Prayed more earnestly - With greater emphasis and earnestness than usual, with strong crying and tears, Hebrews 5:7; the reason given for which is, that he was in an agony. Kypke well observes, Vox αγωνια summum animi angorem et dolorem indicat; et idem est, quod αδημονειν, Matthew 26:37; Mark 14:34. "The word αγωνια (agony) points out the utmost anguish and grief of soul, and is of the same import with αδημονειν in Matthew and Mark." See the note on Matthew 26:37.
Drops of blood - See the note on Matthew 26:38. Some have thought that the meaning of the words is, that the sweat was so profuse that every drop was as large as a drop of blood, not that the sweat was blood itself: but this does not appear likely. There have been cases in which persons in a debilitated state of body, or through horror of soul, have had their sweat tinged with blood. Dr. Mead from Galen observes, Contingere interdum, poros ex multo aut fervido spiritu adeo dilatari, ut etiam exeat sanguis per eos, fiatque sudor sanguineus. "Cases sometimes happen in which, through mental pressure, the pores may be so dilated that the blood may issue from them; so that there may be a bloody sweat." And Bishop Pearce gives an instance from Thuanus (De Thou) of an Italian gentleman being so distressed with the fear of death that his body was covered with a bloody sweat. But it is fully evident that the fear of death could have no place in the mind of our blessed Lord. He was in the bloom of life, in perfect health, and had never suffered any thing from disease of any kind; this sweat was most assuredly produced by a preternatural cause. See at the end of the chapter.
45And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
46And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
47And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
48But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? - Dost thou attempt to kiss me as a friend, while thou art delivering me up into the hands of my enemies? We need not wonder at all this, as Satan himself had entered into the heart of this traitor, see Luke 22:3; consequently we can expect nothing from him but what is fell, deceitful, and cruel.
49When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
50And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
Cut off his right ear - See the note on Matthew 26:51.
51And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
Suffer ye thus far - Or, Suffer me to go thus far. As they had now a firm hold of Christ, Matthew 26:50, he wished them to permit him to go as far as Malchus, whose ear was cut off, that he might heal it. See the objections brought against this interpretation answered by Kypke; and see the examples he produces. However, the words may be understood as an address to his disciples: Let them proceed; make no resistance; for in this way only are the Scriptures to be fulfilled.
52Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?
53When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
I was daily with you in the temple - Alluding to the four preceding days, during the whole of which he taught in the temple, see Luke 21:37, and Matthew 21:17.
This is your hour, and the power of darkness - That is, the time in which you are permitted to unrein your malice; which ye could not do before, because God did not permit you; and so perfectly are ye under his control that neither you nor the prince of darkness can proceed a hair's breadth against me but through this permission: see at the end of the chapter. What a comfortable thought is it to the followers of Christ, that neither men nor demons can act against them but by the permission of their heavenly Father, and that he will not suffer any of those who trust in him to be tried above what they are able to bear, and will make the trial issue in their greater salvation, and in his glory!
54Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.
55And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.
56But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.
A certain maid beheld him - Or, Attentively beholding him, ατενισασα. And this she did by the help of the light of the fire at which Peter sat.
57And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.
And he denied him - See the notes on Matthew 26:58, Matthew 26:69, etc.
58And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.
59And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.
60And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
61And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
The Lord turned, and looked upon Peter - See the note on Matthew 26:75, where this delicate reproof is particularly noted.
62And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
And Peter went out - The word Peter is omitted by BDKLM, and many other good MSS., with some of the ancient versions. Griesbach leaves it out of the text.
63And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.
Mocked him, and smote him - This and the following verses are placed by Matthew and Mark before the relation of Peter's denial. For their explanation, see on Matthew 26:67, Matthew 26:68 (note).
64And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?
65And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.
66And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,
67Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe:
68And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.
And if I also ask you - Concerning the Christ, in case ye cannot give me such an answer as may prove I am not the Christ, ye will not let me go; for I know ye are determined to put me to death.
69Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.
Hereafter - From this very time, απο του νυν. The kingdom of God is now going to be set up. See the note on Matthew 16:27, Matthew 16:28.
70Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.
Art thou then the Son of God? - They all insisted on an answer to this question, and the high priest particularly put it to him, Matthew 26:63.
71And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.
We ourselves have heard - We have heard him profess himself the Son of God; he is therefore guilty of blasphemy, and, as an impious pretender to a Divine mission, we must proceed against and condemn him to death. See the note on Matthew 26:66. Thus they proceeded as far as they could; he must now be brought before Pilate, as the Jews had no power to put him to death. His trial before Pilate is related in the subsequent chapter.
On our Lord's agony in the garden, related in the 43d and 44th verses, much has been written, but to little purpose. The cause of this agony seems not to have been well understood; and there have been many wild conjectures concerning it. Some think it was occasioned by "the Divine wrath pressing in upon him; for, as he was bearing the sin of the world, God looked on and treated him as if he were a sinner." There is something very shocking in this supposition; and yet it is truly astonishing how general it is. The ministry of the angel, in this case, is a sufficient refutation of this opinion; for what sort of strength could an angel give Christ against God's indignation? Angelic strength could not enable him to bear either the sin of the world or God's wrath. If an angel could have succoured him in this, an angel might have made the whole atonement. Indeed, the ministry of the angel, who must have been sent from God, and sent in love too, is a full proof that God's wrath was not poured out on our blessed Redeemer at this time. Dr. Lightfoot conjectures that his conflict in the garden was with a devil, who appeared to him in a bodily shape, most horrible; and that it was through this apparition that he began to be sore amazed, and very heavy, Mark 14:33; for, as Satan assaulted the first Adam in a garden in a bodily shape, it is not unreasonable to conclude that in the same way he assaulted the second Adam in a garden. St. Luke tells us, Luke 4:13, that when the devil had finished all his temptations, he departed from him for a season: this season in the garden, probably, was the season, or fit opportunity, for him to return - the prince of this world came and found nothing in him, John 14:30. But, though there was nothing in the immaculate Jesus on which Satan could work, yet he might, as the doctor supposes, assume some horrible shape, in order to appal his mind, and shake his firmness; and the evangelist seems to intimate that he had desired to be permitted to try or sift the disciples in this way, see Luke 22:31; and it is probable that it is to some personal, horrid appearance, that the apostle alludes when he speaks of the messenger of Satan that buffeted him, 2 Corinthians 12:7. The angel, therefore, from heaven, may be supposed to come against this angel from hell; and, as the one appeared to terrify, the other appeared to strengthen him. It was not necessary to exert the Divine power to crush this devil, and therefore an angel from heaven is sent to counteract his influence. This is the sum of Dr. Lightfoot's reasonings upon this very difficult subject.
Others suppose that, while our Lord was praying intensely in the garden, the extreme fervor of his application to God in the behalf of the poor deluded Jews, and in behalf of the world, was too much for his human nature to support; that he, in consequence, fell into a swoon, in which he had a Vision of an angel coming from heaven to strengthen him. Let these sentiments stand on their respective merits.
What renders this circumstance more difficult is, that there is no mention of it in any of the other evangelists: and it is worthy of remark that, among many of the ancients, the authenticity of these two verses, the 43d and 44th, has been doubted, and in consequence they are omitted in several MSS., and in some versions and fathers. The Codex Alexandrinus and the Codex Vaticanus, the two oldest MSS. in the world, omit both verses; in some other very ancient MSS. they stand with an asterisk before them, as a mark of dubiousness; and they are both wanting in the Coptic Fragments published by Dr. Ford. They are however extant in such a vast number of MSS., versions, and fathers, as to leave no doubt with most critics of their authenticity. After all that has been said, or perhaps can be said on this subject, there will remain mysteries which only the bright light of the eternal world can sufficiently illustrate. That Christ was now suffering, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, and that he was bearing in his body the punishment due to their sins, I have no doubt: and that the agony of his mind, in these vicarious sufferings, caused the effusion from his body, of the bloody sweat, may be easily credited without supposing him to be at all under the displeasure of his heavenly Father; for, as God can see nothing but as it is, he could not see him as a sinner who was purity itself. In every act, Jesus was that beloved Son in whom the Father was ever well pleased.
As to the angel strengthening him, probably no more is meant by it than a friendly sympathizing of one of those heavenly beings with their Lord in distress: this circumstance is the most difficult in the whole relation; but, understood thus, the difficulty is removed; for what strength could the highest angel in heaven afford to our blessed Lord in his atoning acts? Surely, none. The bare supposition is insupportable. But, if we allow that the angel came to sympathize with him during his passions the whole account will appear plain and consistent.