|<< Luke 6 >>|
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
The disciples pluck and eat the ears of corn on the Sabbath day, and the Pharisees find fault, Luke 6:1, Luke 6:2. Our Lord shows the true use of the Sabbath, Luke 6:3-5. He heals the man with the withered hand, Luke 6:6-11. He goes into a mountain to pray, and calls twelve disciples, Luke 6:12-16. Multitudes are instructed and healed, Luke 6:17-19. Pronounces four blessings, Luke 6:20-23, and four woes, Luke 6:24-26. Gives various instructions about loving our enemies, being patient, gentle, kind, grateful, and merciful, Luke 6:27-36. Harsh judgments censured, and charity recommended, Luke 6:37, Luke 6:38. The parable of the blind leading the blind, Luke 6:39. Of the mote in a brother's eye, Luke 6:40-42. Of the good and corrupt tree, Luke 6:43, Luke 6:44. The good and evil treasure of the heart, Luke 6:45. The parable of the two houses, one builded on the rock, and the other on the sand, Luke 6:46-49.
1And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.
On the second Sabbath after the first - Εν σαββατῳ δευτεροπρωτῳ, In the first Sabbath after the second. What does this mean? In answering this question, commentators are greatly divided. Dr. Whitby speaks thus: "After the first day of the passover, (which was a Sabbath, Exodus 12:16), ye shall count unto you seven Sabbaths complete, Leviticus 23:15, reckoning that day for the first of the first week, which was therefore called δευτεροπρωτον, the first Sabbath from the second day of unleavened bread; (the 16th of the month); the second was called δευτεροδευτερον, the second Sabbath from that day; and the third, δευτεροτριτον, the third Sabbath from the second day; and so on, till they came to the seventh Sabbath from that day, i.e. to the 49th day, which was the day of pentecost. The mention of the seven Sabbaths, to be numbered with relation to this second day, answers all that Grotius objects against this exposition." Whitby's Notes.
By this Sabbath seems meant that which immediately followed the two great feasts, the first and last day of the passover, and was therefore the second after the proper passover day. The words in the Greek seem to signify, the second first Sabbath; and, in the opinion of some, the Jews had three first Sabbaths: viz. the first Sabbath after the passover; that after the feast of pentecost; and that after the feast of tabernacles. According to which opinion, this second first Sabbath must have been the first Sabbath after the pentecost. So we have the first Sunday after Epiphany; the first after Easter; the first after Trinity; and the first in Lent. Bp. Pearce.
This was the next day after the passover, the day in which they were forbidden to labor, Leviticus 23:6, and for this reason was termed Sabbath, Leviticus 23:15; but here it is marked by the name, second first Sabbath, because, being the day after the passover, it was in this respect the second; and it was also the first, because it was the first day of unleavened bread, Exodus 12:15, Exodus 12:16. Martin.
I think, with many commentators, that this transaction happened on the first Sabbath of the month Nisan; that is, after the second day of the feast of unleavened bread. We may well suppose that our Lord and his disciples were on their way from Jerusalem to Galilee, after having kept the passover. Bp. Newcome.
The Vulgar Latin renders δευτεροπρωτον, secundoprimum, which is literal and right. We translate it, the second Sabbath after the first, which is directly wrong; for it should have been the first Sabbath after the second day of the passover. On the 14th of Nisan, the passover was killed; the next day (the 15th) was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread; the day following (the 16th) the wave sheaf was offered, pursuant to the law, on the morrow after the Sabbath: Leviticus 18:11. The Sabbath, here, is not the seventh day of the week, but the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, let it fall on what day of the week it would. That and the seventh day of that feast were holy convocations, and therefore are here called Sabbaths. The morrow, therefore, after the Sabbath, i.e. after the 16th day of Nisan, was the day in which the wave sheaf was offered; and after that seven Sabbaths were counted, and fifty days completed, and the fiftieth day inclusively was the day of pentecost. Now these Sabbaths, between the passover and pentecost, were called the first, second, etc., Sabbaths after the second day of the feast of unleavened bread. This Sabbath, then, on which the disciples plucked the ears of corn, was the first Sabbath after that second day. Dr. Lightfoot, has demonstrably proved this to be the meaning of this σαββατον δευτεροπρωτον, (Hor. Hebraic. in locum), and from him F. Lamy and Dr. Whitby have so explained it. This Sabbath could not fall before the passover, because, till the second day of that feast, no Jew might eat either bread or parched corn, or green ears, (Leviticus 23:14). Had the disciples then gathered these ears of corn on any Sabbath before the passover, they would have broken two laws instead of one: and for the breach of these two laws they would infallibly have been accused; whereas now they broke only one, (plucking the ears of standing corn with one's hand, being expressly allowed in the law, Deuteronomy 23:25), which was that of the Sabbath. They took a liberty which the law gave them upon any other day; and our Lord vindicated them in what they did now, in the manner we see. Nor can this fact be laid after pentecost; because then the harvest was fully in. Within that interval, therefore, this Sabbath happened; and this is a plain determination of the time, according to the Jewish ways of reckoning, founded upon the text of Moses's law itself. Dr. Wotton's Miscellaneous Discourses, etc., vol. i. p. 269.
The word δευτεροπρωτῳ, the second first, is omitted by BL, four others, Syriac, later Arabic, all the Persic, Coptic, Ethiopic, and three of the Itala. A note in the margin of the later Syriac says, This is not in all copies. The above MSS. read the verse thus: It came to pass, that he walked through the corn fields on a Sabbath day. I suppose they omitted the above word, because they found it difficult to fix the meaning, which has been too much the case in other instances.
2And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?
Which is not lawful - See on Matthew 12:2-8 (note).
3And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;
What David did - See on Mark 2:26, Mark 2:27 (note).
4How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?
After this verse, the Codex Bezae and two ancient MSS. quoted by Wechel, have the following extraordinary addition:
Τῃ αυτῃ ἡμερᾳ θεασαμενος τινα εργαζομενον τῳ σαββατῳ, ειπεν αυτῳ, Ανθρωπε, ει μεν οιδας τι ποιεις μακαριος ει; ει δε μη οιδας επικαταρατος, και παραβατης ειτου νομου.
On the same day, seeing one working on the Sabbath, he said unto him, Man, if indeed thou knowest what thou dost, blessed art thou; but if thou knowest not, thou art cursed, and art a transgressor of the law.
Whence this strange addition proceeded, it is hard to tell. The meaning seems to be this: If thou now workest on the Jewish Sabbath, from a conviction that that Sabbath is abolished, and a new one instituted in its place, then happy art thou, for thou hast got Divine instruction in the nature of the Messiah's kingdom; but if thou doest this through a contempt for the law of God, then thou art accursed, forasmuch as thou art a transgressor of the law. The Itala version of the Codex Bezae, for παραβατης, transgressor, has this semi-barbaric word, trabaricator.
5And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
6And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.
Whose right hand was withered - See on Matthew 12:10 (note), etc. The critic who says that ξηραν χειρα signifies a luxated arm, and that the stretching it out restored the bone to its proper place, without the intervention of a miracle, deserves no serious refutation. See on Luke 6:10 (note).
7And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.
Watched him - Παρετηρουν αυτον, They maliciously watched him. This is the import of the word, Luke 14:1; Luke 20:20, and in the parallel place, Mark 3:2. See Raphelius on the last-quoted text, who has proved, by several quotations, that this is the proper meaning of the term.
An accusation against him - Instead of κατηγοριαν αυτου, his accusation, several eminent MSS. and versions add κατα, against, which I find our translators have adopted.
8But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
9Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?
I will ask you one thing - I will put a question to you. See on Mark 3:4, Mark 3:5 (note).
10And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
Whole as the other - Many MSS., both here and in the parallel place, Mark 3:5, omit the word ὑγιης, whole. Griesbach leaves it out of the text. The hand was restored as the other. But had it only been a luxated joint, even allowing, with a German critic, that the bone regained its place by the effort made to stretch out the arm, without the intervention of a miracle, it would have required several weeks to restore the muscles and ligaments to their wonted tone and strength. Why all this learned labor to leave God out of the question?
11And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
They were filled with madness - Pride, obstinacy, and interest, combined together, are capable of any thing. When men have once framed their conscience according to their passions, madness passes for zeal, the blackest conspiracies for pious designs, and the most horrid attempts for heroic actions. Quesnel.
12And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
In prayer to God - Or, in the prayer of God: or, in the oratory of God, εν τῃ προσευχῃ του Θεου. So this passage is translated by many critics; for which Dr. Whitby gives the following reasons: As the mountain of God, Exodus 3:1; Exodus 4:27; the bread of God, Leviticus 21:17; the lamp of God, 1 Samuel 3:3; the vessels of God, 1 Chronicles 22:19; the altar of God, Psalm 43:4; the sacrifices of God, Psalm 51:17; the gifts of God, Luke 21:4; the ministers of God, 2 Corinthians 6:4; the tabernacle of God, 2 Chronicles 1:3; the temple of God, Matthew 21:12; the synagogues of God, Psalm 74:8; are all things consecrated or appropriated to God's service; so προσευχη του Θεου must, in all reason, be a house of prayer to God; whence it is called τοπος προσευχης, a place of prayer, 1 Maccabees 3:46; and so the word is certainly used Acts 16:13; and by Philo, in his oration against Flaccus, where he complains that αἱ προσευχαι, their houses for prayer were pulled down, and there was no place left in which they might worship God, or pray for Caesar; and by Josephus, who says the multitude was gathered εις την προσευχην, into the house of prayer: and so Juvenal, Sat. iii. v. 296, speaks to the mendicant Jew: -
Ede ubi consistas; in qua te quaero proseucha?
In what house of prayer may I find thee begging?
See on Acts 16:13 (note). But on this it may be observed, that as the mountains of God, the wind of God, the hail of God, the trees of God, etc., mean very high mountains, a very strong wind, great and terrible hail, very tall trees, etc., so προσευχη του Θεου, here, may be very properly translated the prayer of God; i.e. very fervent and earnest prayer; and though διανυκτερευων may signify, to lodge in a place for a night, yet there are various places in the best Greek writers in which it is used, not to signify a place, but to pass the night in a particular state. So Appian, Bell. Pun. Εν τοις ὁπλοις διενυκτερευϚε μεθ' ἁπαντων - He passed the night under arms with them all. Idem, Bell. Civ. lib. v. διενυκτερευον - They passed the night without food, without any regard to the body, and in the want of all things. See more examples in Kypke, who concludes by translating the passage thus: He passed the night without sleep in prayers to God. Some of the Jews imagine that God himself prays; and this is one of his petitions: Let it be my good pleasure, that my mercy overcome my wrath. See more in Lightfoot.
13And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
He chose twelve - Εκλεξαμενος απ' αυτων, He chose twelve Out of them. Our Lord at this time had several disciples, persons who were converted to God under his ministry; and, out of these converts, he chose twelve, whom he appointed to the work of the ministry; and called them apostles, i.e. persons sent or commissioned by himself, to preach that Gospel to others by which they had themselves been saved. These were favored with extraordinary success:
1. Because they were brought to the knowledge of God themselves.
2. Because they received their commission from the great Head of the Church. And
3. Because, as he had sent them, he continued to accompany their preaching with the power of his Spirit.
These three things always unite in the character of a genuine apostle. See on Matthew 10:1-4 (note).
14Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
15Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,
Called Zelotes - Some Jews gave this name to themselves, according to Josephus, (War, b. iv. c. iii. s. 9, and vii. c. viii. s. 1), "because they pretended to be more than ordinarily zealous for religion, and yet practised the very worst of actions." "But this (says the judicious Bp. Pearce) Josephus says of the zealots, at the time when Vespasian was marching towards Jerusalem. They probably were men of a different character above forty years before; which was the time when Jesus chose his twelve apostles, one of whom had the surname of the Zealot." It is very probable that this name was first given to certain persons who were more zealous for the cause of pure and undefiled religion than the rest of their neighbors; but like many other sects and parties who have begun well, they transferred their zeal for the essentials of religion to nonessential things, and from these to inquisitorial cruelty and murder. See on Matthew 10:4 (note).
16And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
17And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;
And stood in the plain - In Matthew 5:1, which is supposed to be the parallel place, our Lord is represented as delivering this sermon on the mountain; and this has induced some to think that the sermon mentioned here by Luke, though the same in substance with that in Matthew, was delivered in a different place, and at another time; but, as Dr. Priestly justly observes, Matthew's saying that Jesus was sat down after he had gone up to the mountain, and Luke's saying that he stood on the plain when he healed the sick, before the discourse, are no inconsistencies. The whole picture is striking. Jesus ascends a mountain, employs the night in prayer; and, having thus solemnly invoked the Divine blessing, authoritatively separates the twelve apostles from the mass of his disciples. He then descends, and heals in the plain all the diseased among a great multitude, collected from various parts by the fame of his miraculous power. Having thus created attention, he likewise satisfies the desire of the people to hear his doctrine; and retiring first to the mountain whence he came, that his attentive hearers might follow him and might better arrange themselves before him - Sacro digna silentio mirantur omnes dicere. Horace. All admire his excellent sayings with sacred silence. See Bishop Newcome's notes on his Harmony of the Gospels, p. 19.
18And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.
19And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
20And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed be ye poor - See the sermon on the mount paraphrased and explained, Matthew 5 (note), Matthew 6 (note), Matthew 7 (note),
21Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
They shall separate you - Meaning, They will excommunicate you, αφορισωσιν ὑμας, or separate you from their communion. Luke having spoken of their separating or excommunicating them, continues the same idea, in saying that they would cast out their name likewise, as a thing evil in itself. By your name is meant their name as his disciples. As such, they were sometimes called Nazarenes, and sometimes Christians; and both these names were matter of reproach in the mouths of their enemies. So James (James 2:7) says to the converts, Do they not blaspheme that worthy name by which ye are called? So when St. Paul (in Acts 24:5) is called a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, the character of a pestilent fellow, and, that of a mover of sedition, is joined to it; and, in Acts 28:22, the Jews say to Paul, As concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against; and this is implied in 1 Peter 4:14, when he says, If ye be reproached for the Name of Christ, i.e. as Christians; agreeably to what follows there in 1 Peter 4:16, If any man suffer as a Christian, etc. In after times we find Pliny, Epist. x. 97, consulting the Emperor Trajan, whether or no he should Punish the Name Itself, (of Christian), though no evil should be found in it. Nomen Ipsum, etiam si flagitiis careat, Puniatur. See Pearce.
23Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
Did - unto the prophets - See 1 Kings 18:4; 1 Kings 19:20; 2 Chronicles 24:21; 2 Chronicles 36:16; Nehemiah 9:26.
24But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
But wo unto you that are rich! - The Pharisees, who were laden with the spoils of the people which they received in gifts, etc. These three verses are not found in the sermon, as recorded by Matthew. They seem to be spoken chiefly to the scribes and Pharisees, who, in order to be pleasing to all, spoke to every one what he liked best; and by finesse, flattery, and lies, found out the method of gaining and keeping the good opinion of the multitude.
25Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
27But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
Thy cloak - thy coat - In Matthew 5:40, I have said that Coat, χιτωνα, signifies under garment, or strait coat; and Cloak, ἱματιον, means upper garment, or great coat. This interpretation is confirmed by the following observations of Bishop Pearce. The χιτων was a tunica, or vestcoat, over which the Jews and other nations threw an outer coat, or gown, called a cloak, Matthew 5:40, (which is meant by ἱματιον), when they went abroad, or were not at work. Hence the common people at Rome, who did not usually wear, or had no right to wear, the toga, are called by Horace tunicatus popellus, Epist. i. 7, 65. This account of the difference between the χιτων and the ἱματιον appears plainly from what Maximus Tyrius says, The inner garment which is over the body they call χιτωνισκον, and the outer one the ἱματιον. And so Plutarch, (in Nupt. p. 139, ed. Fran. 1620), speaking of a man who felt the heat of the sun too much for him, says that he put off, τον χιτωνα, τῳ ἰματιῳ, his vestcoat also with his cloak.
30Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
Ask them not again - Or, Do not beg them off. This probably refers to the way in which the tax-gatherers and Roman soldiers used to spoil the people. "When such harpies as these come upon your goods, suffer the injury quietly, leaving yourselves in the hand of God, rather than attempt even to beg off what belongs to you, lest on their part they be provoked to seize or spoil more, and lest you be irritated to sue them at law, which is totally opposite to the spirit and letter of the Gospel; or to speak bad words, or indulge wrong tempers, which would wound the spirit of love and mercy." Of such as these, and of all merciless creditors, who even sell the tools and bed of a poor man, it may be very truly said: -
Tristius haud illis monstrum, nec saevior ulla
Pestis et ira deum Stygiis sese extulit undis: -
Diripiunt dapes, contactaque omnia faedant Immundo: -
Virg. Aen. iii. ver. 214
"Monsters more fierce offended heaven ne'er sent
From hell's abyss, for human punishment: -
They snatch the meat, defiling all they find."
However, it is probable that what is here spoken relates to requiring a thing speedily that had been lent, while the reason for borrowing it still continues. In Ecclus. 20:15, it is a part of the character of a very bad man, that to-day he lendeth, and tomorrow will he ask it again. From Luke 6:27 to Luke 6:30 our blessed Lord gives us directions how to treat our enemies.
1. Wish them well.
2. Do them good.
3. Speak as well of them as possible.
4. Be an instrument of procuring them good from others; use your influence in their behalf.
5. Suffer patiently from them contempt and ill treatment.
6. Give up your goods rather than lose your meekness and charity towards them.
The retaliation of those who hearken not to their own passion, but to Christ, consists in doing more good than they receive evil. Ever since our blessed Savior suffered the Jews to take away his life, it is by his patience that we must regulate our own. Quesnel.
31And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
For sinners also love those that love them - I believe the word ἁμαρτωλοι is used by St. Luke in the same sense in which τελωναι, tax-gatherers, is used by St. Matthew, Matthew 5:46, Matthew 5:47, and signifies heathens; not only men who have no religion, but men who acknowledge none. The religion of Christ not only corrects the errors and reforms the disorders of the fallen nature of man, but raises it even above itself: it brings it near to God; and, by universal love, leads it to frame its conduct according to that of the Sovereign Being. "A man should tremble who finds nothing in his life besides the external part of religion, but what may be found in the life of a Turk or a heathen." The Gospel of the grace of God purifies and renews the heart, causing it to resemble that Christ through whom the grace came. See the note on Luke 7:37.
33And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
Of whom ye hope to receive - Or, whom ye expect to return it. "To make our neighbor purchase, in any way, the assistance which we give him, is to profit by his misery; and, by laying him under obligations which we expect him in some way or other to discharge, we increase his wretchedness under the pretense of relieving it."
35But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
Love ye your enemies - This is the most sublime precept ever delivered to man: a false religion durst not give a precept of this nature, because, with out supernatural influence, it must be for ever impracticable. In these words of our blessed Lord we see the tenderness, sincerity, extent, disinterestedness, pattern, and issue of the love of God dwelling in man: a religion which has for its foundation the union of God and man in the same person, and the death of this august being for his enemies; which consists on earth in a reconciliation of the Creator with his creatures, and which is to subsist in heaven only in the union of the members with the head: could such a religion as this ever tolerate hatred in the soul of man, even to his most inveterate foe?
Lend, hoping for nothing again - Μηδεν απελπιζοντες. The rabbins say, he who lends without usury, God shall consider him as having observed every precept. Bishop Pearce thinks that, instead of μηδεν we should read μηδενα with the Syriac, later Arabic, and later Persic; and as απελπιζειν signifies to despair, or cause to despair, the meaning is, not cutting off the hope (of longer life) of any man, neminis spem amputantes, by denying him those things which he requests now to preserve him from perishing.
36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Be ye therefore merciful - Or, compassionate; οικτιρμονες, from οικτος, commiseration, which etymologists derive from εικω to give place, yield, because we readily concede those things which are necessary to them whom we commiserate. As God is ever disposed to give all necessary help and support to those who are miserable, so his followers, being influenced by the same spirit, are easy to be entreated, and are at all times ready to contribute to the uttermost of their power to relieve or remove the miseries of the distressed. A merciful or compassionate man easily forgets injuries; pardons them without being solicited; and does not permit repeated returns of ingratitude to deter him from doing good, even to the unthankful and the unholy. See on Matthew 5:7 (note).
37Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
Judge not - See on Matthew 7:1 (note). "How great is the goodness of God, in being so willing to put our judgment into our own hands as to engage himself not to enter into judgment with us, provided we do not usurp the right which belongs solely to him in reference to others!"
Condemn not - "Mercy will ever incline us not to condemn those unmercifully whose faults are certain and visible; to lessen, conceal, and excuse them as much as we can without prejudice to truth and justice; and to be far from aggravating, divulging, or even desiring them to be punished."
Forgive - The mercy and compassion which God recommends extend to the forgiving of all the injuries we have received, or can receive. To imitate in this the mercy of God is not a mere counsel; since it is proposed as a necessary mean, in order to receive mercy. What man has to forgive in man is almost nothing: man's debt to God is infinite. And who acts in this matter as if he wished to receive mercy at the hand of God! The spirit of revenge is equally destitute of faith and reason.
38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
Give, and it shall be given - "Christian charity will make no difficulty in giving that which eternal truth promises to restore. Let us give, neither out of mere human generosity, nor out of vanity, nor from interest, but for the sake of God, if we would have him place it to account. There is no such thing as true unmixed generosity but in God only; because there is none but him who receives no advantage from his gifts, and because he engages himself to pay these debts of his creatures with an excessive interest. So great is the goodness of God, that, when he might have absolutely commanded us to give to our neighbor, he vouchsafes to invite us to this duty by the prospect of a reward, and to impute that to us as a desert which he has a right to exact of us by the title of his sovereignty over our persons and estates."
Men live in such a state of social union as renders mutual help necessary; and, as self-interest, pride, and other corrupt passions mingle themselves ordinarily in their commerce, they cannot fail of offending one another. In civil society men must, in order to taste a little tranquillity, resolve to bear something from their neighbors; they must suffer, pardon, and give up many things; without doing which they must live in such a state of continual agitation as will render life itself insupportable. Without this giving and forgiving spirit there will be nothing in civil society, and even in Christian congregations, but divisions, evil surmisings, injurious discourses, outrages, anger, vengeance, and, in a word, a total dissolution of the mystical body of Christ. Thus our interest in both worlds calls loudly upon us to Give and to Forgive.
Bosom - Κολπον, or lap. Almost all ancient nations wore long, wide, and loose garments; and when about to carry any thing which their hands could not contain, they used a fold of their robe in nearly the same way as women here use their aprons. The phrase is continually occurring in the best and purest Greek writers. The following example from Herodotus, b. vi., may suffice to show the propriety of the interpretation given above, and to expose the ridiculous nature of covetousness. "When Croesus had promised to Alcmaeon as much gold as he could carry about his body at once, in order to improve the king's liberality to the best advantage, he put on a very wide tunic, (κιθωνα μεγαν), leaving a great space in the Bosom, κολπον βαθυν, and drew on the largest buskins he could find. Being conducted to the treasury, he sat down on a great heap of gold, and first filled the buskins about his legs with as much gold as they could contain, and, having filled his whole Bosom, κολπον, loaded his hair with ingots, and put several pieces in his mouth, he walked out of the treasury, etc." What a ridiculous figure must this poor sinner have cut, thus heavy laden with gold, and the love of money! See many other examples in Kypke and Raphelius. See also Psalm 129:7; Proverbs 6:27; Proverbs 17:23.
The same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again - The same words we find in the Jerusalem Targum on Genesis 38:26. Our Lord therefore lays down a maxim which themselves allowed.
39And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
Can the blind lead the blind? - This appears to have been a general proverb, and to signify that a man cannot teach what he does not understand. This is strictly true in spiritual matters. A man who is not illuminated from above is utterly incapable of judging concerning spiritual things, and wholly unfit to be a guide to others. Is it possible that a person who is enveloped with the thickest darkness should dare either to judge of the state of others, or attempt to lead them in that path of which he is totally ignorant! If he do, must not his judgment be rashness, and his teaching folly? - and does he not endanger his own soul, and run the risk of falling into the ditch of perdition himself, together with the unhappy objects of his religious instruction?
40The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
Every one that is perfect - Or, thoroughly instructed, κατηρτισμενος: - from καταρτιζω, to adjust, adapt, knit together, restore, or put in joint. The noun is used by the Greek medical writers to signify the reducing a luxated or disjointed limb. It sometimes signifies to repair or mend, and in this sense it is applied to broken nets, Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19; but in this place, and in Hebrews 13:21; 2 Timothy 3:17, it means complete instruction and information. Every one who is thoroughly instructed in Divine things, who has his heart united to God, whose disordered tempers and passions are purified and restored to harmony and order; every one who has in him the mind that was in Christ, though he cannot be above, yet will be as, his teacher - holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
"The disciple who perfectly understands the rules and sees the example of his master, will think it his business to tread exactly in his steps, to do and suffer upon like occasions, as his master did: and so he will be like his master." Whitby.
41And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
And why beholdest thou the mote - See this explained on Matthew 7:3-5 (note).
42Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
43For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Corrupt fruit - Καρπον σαπρον, literally, rotten fruit: but here it means, such fruit as is unfit for use. See on Matthew 7:17-20 (note).
44For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
A good man - See on Matthew 12:35 (note).
46And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Lord, Lord - God judges of the heart, not by words, but by works. A good servant never disputes, speaks little, and always follows his work. Such a servant a real Christian is: such is a faithful minister, always intent either on the work of his own salvation, or that of his neighbor; speaking more to God than to men; and to these as in the presence of God. The tongue is fitly compared by one to a pump, which empties the heart, but neither fills nor cleanses it. The love of God is a hidden spring, which supplies the heart continually, and never permits it to be dry or unfruitful. Quesnel.
47Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
I will show you - Ὑποδειξω, I will show you plainly. I will enable you fully to comprehend my meaning on this subject by the following parable. See this word explained Matthew 3:7 (note).
48He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
He is like a man, etc. - See on Matthew 7:24-27 (note).
49But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
The ruin of that house was great - On this passage, father Quesnel, who was a most rigid predestinarian, makes the following judicious remark. "It is neither by the speculations of astrologers, nor by the Calvinian assurance of predestination, that we can discover what will be our portion for ever: but it is by the examination of our heart, and the consideration of our life, that we may in some measure prognosticate our eternal state. Without a holy heart and a holy life, all is ruinous in the hour of temptation, and in the day of wrath." To this may be added, He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the Witness in Himself: 1 John 5:10.
The subjects of this chapter have been so amply explained and enforced in the parallel places in Matthew, to which the reader has been already referred, that there appears to be no necessity to make any additional observations.