Luke 19
Calvin's Commentaries
And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

Luke 19:1-10

1. And having entered, he passeth through Jericho. [674] 2. And, lo, a man named Zaccheus, and he was chief of the publicans, and was rich. 3. And he sought to see Jesus who he was, [675] and could not on account of the multitude; for he was of small stature. 4. And running before, he climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him; for he was to pass that way. 5. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said to him, Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. 6. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he had gone to lodge with a man who is a sinner. 8. And Zaccheus stood, and said to the Lord, Lo, O Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any man in any thing, I restore fourfold. [676] 9. Jesus said to him, Today is salvation come to this house, inasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. [677] 10. For the Son of man came to seek and save what was lost.

This shows how little attention Luke paid to observing the order of dates; for, after having detailed the miracle, he now relates what happened in the city of Jericho He tells us that, while Christ presented himself to the view of all, as he went along the streets, Zaccheus alone was very desirous to see him. For it was an evidence of intense desire that he climbed up a tree; since rich men are, for the most part, haughty, and plume themselves on affected gravity. It is possible, indeed, that others entertained the same wish, but this man was most properly singled out by Luke, both on account of his rank, and on account of his wonderful conversion, which took place suddenly. Now, though faith was not yet formed in Zaccheus, yet this was a sort of preparation for it; for it was not without a heavenly inspiration that he desired so earnestly to get a sight of Christ; I mean, in reference to that design which immediately appeared. Some were led, no doubt, by vain curiosity to run even from distant places, for the purpose of seeing Christ, but the event showed that the mind of Zaccheus contained some seed of piety. In this manner, before revealing himself to men, the Lord frequently communicates to them a secret desire, by which they are led to Him, while he is still concealed and unknown; and, though they have no fixed object in view, He does not disappoint them, but manifests himself in due time.

5. Zaccheus, make haste, and come down. It is a remarkable instance of favor, that the Lord anticipates Zaccheus, and does not wait for his invitation, but of his own accord asks lodging at his house. We know how hateful, nay, how detestable the name of publican at that time was; and we shall find that this is shortly afterwards mentioned by Luke. It is therefore astonishing kindness in the Son of God to approach a man, from whom the great body of men recoil, and that before he is requested to do so. But we need not wonder, if he bestows this honor on one who was already drawn to him by a secret movement of the Spirit; for it was a more valuable gift to dwell in his heart than to enter his house. But by this expression he made it evident, that he is never sought in vain by those who sincerely desire to know him; for Zaccheus obtained vastly more than he had expected. Besides, the great readiness of Zaccheus to obey, his hastening to come down from the tree, and his joy in receiving Christ, exhibit still more clearly the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit; for, though he did not yet possess a pure faith, yet this submissiveness and obedience must be regarded as the beginning of faith.

7. And when they saw it, they all murmured. The inhabitants of the town -- and, perhaps, some of Christ's followers -- murmur that he goes to lodge with a man who is looked upon as wicked and infamous, even though nobody invited him. It is thus that the world disregards the offer of the grace of God, but complains bitterly [678] when it is conveyed to others. But let us consider how unjust this murmuring was. They think it unreasonable that Christ should bestows so great an honor on a wicked man; for in this passage, as in many others, the word sinner is not taken in the ordinary sense, [679] but denotes a man of disgraceful and scandalous life. Let us suppose that Zaccheus was a person of this description. Still, we ought first to inquire for what purpose Christ chose to become his guest; for, while out of doors men are murmuring, within the house God displays magnificently the glory of this name, and refutes their wicked calumny.

The conversion of Zaccheus was an astonishing work of God, and yet there was no good reason why Zaccheus should be marked with infamy. He had the charge of collecting the taxes. Now to collect taxes was no crime in itself, but men of that class were exceedingly despised and hated by the Jews, because they reckoned it to be in the highest degree unjust that they should pay tribute. But whatever might be the character of Zaccheus, still the kindness of Christ ought not to be blamed, but commended, in not refusing his assistance to a wretched man, to rescue him from destruction, and bring him to salvation. And therefore the offense which was wickedly taken did not hinder him from proceeding to execute his Father's command. With such magnanimity ought all his ministers to be endued, as to think more highly of the salvation of one soul than of the murmurs which all ignorant persons may utter, and not to desist from their duty, even though all their actions and words may expose them to reproaches.

8. And Zaccheus stood, and said. From this result they ought to have formed their opinion of what Christ did; but men are so hasty and precipitate, that they do not take time to wait for God. [680] The conversion of Zaceheus is described by fruits and outward signs. As it was probable that he had enriched himself to the injury of others,

if he had wronged any man, he was ready to restore fourfold. Besides, the half of his goods he dedicates to the poor. A man might indeed bestow all his goods on the poor,
(1 Corinthians 13:3,)

and yet his generosity might be of no value in the sight of God; but, though no mention is here made of inward repentance, yet Luke means that the godly zeal, which he commends in Zaccheus, proceeded from that living root. In like manner, Paul, when treating of repentance, exhorts us to those duties, by which men may learn that we are changed for the better.

Let him that stole steal no more; but rather let him labor with his hands, that he may assist the poor and needy,
(Ephesians 4:28.)

We ought therefore to begin with the heart, but our repentance ought also to be evinced by works.

Now let us observe that Zaccheus does not make a present to God out of his extortions, as many rich men give to God a portion of what they have obtained by dishonesty, that they may the more freely pillage in future, and that they may be acquitted of the wrongs which they have formerly done. But Zaccheus devotes the half of his goods to God in such a manner, as to give, at the same time, compensation for whatever wrongs he has done; and hence we infer that the riches which he possessed were not the fruit of dishonest gain. Thus Zaccheus is not only ready to give satisfaction, if he has taken any thing by fraud, but shares his lawful possessions with the poor; by which he shows that he is changed from a wolf not only into a sheep, but even into a shepherd. And while he corrects the faults which had been formerly committed, he renounces wicked practices for the future, as God demands from his people, first of all, that they abstain from doing any act of injury. Zaccheus has not laid others under obligation, by his example, to strip themselves of the half of their goods; but we have only to observe the rule which the Lord prescribes, that we dedicate ourselves, and all that we have, to holy and lawful purposes.

9. Today is salvation come to this house. Christ, bearing testimony to Zaccheus, declares that his professions were not hypocritical. And yet he does not ascribe to the good works of Zaccheus the cause of salvation; but, as that conversion was an undoubted pledge of the divine adoption, he justly concludes from it that this house is a possessor of salvation Such, to is the import of the words for, since Zaccheus is one of the children of Abraham, he argues that his house is saved. In order that any man may be reckoned among the children of Abraham, it is necessary for him to imitate Abraham's faith; nay, Scripture expressly bestows on faith this commendation, that it distinguishes the genuine children of Abraham from strangers. Let us therefore know that in Zaccheus faith is chiefly commended, on account of which his good works were acceptable to God. Nor is there reason to doubt that the doctrine of Christ went before the conversion of Zaccheus; and, consequently, the commencement of his salvation was, to hear Christ discoursing on the undeserved mercy of God, and on the reconciliation of men to Him, and on the redemption of the Church, and to embrace this doctrine by faith.

In consequence of the Greek word oikos; (house) being of the masculine gender, this passage is explained in two ways. The old translator [681] has made the reference to be to Zaccheus, which I also prefer. [682] Erastians has chosen to render it, inasmuch as The House, itself is a Daughter of Abraham; [683] and although I do not disapprove of this, I think it more natural to explain it as referring to Zaccheus For, since God, when he adopts the head of a family, promises that He will be a God even to his whole house, salvation is, with propriety, extended from the head to the whole body. Now the particle kai (also) is emphatic; for Christ means, that Zaccheus, not less than the other Jews who haughtily detested him, is a son of Abraham And that his former life may not seem to have shut against him the gate of salvation, Christ argues from his own office, that there is nothing in this change at which any man ought to take offense, since he was sent by the Father to save those who were lost.


[674] "Estant entre en Iericho, il alloit par la ville;" -- "having entered into Jericho, he went through the town."

[675] "Et taschoit a veoir lequel estoit Iesus;" -- "and endeavored to see who Jesus was."

[676] "I'en rend quatre fois autant;" -- "I restore four times as much for it."

[677] "Poutrtant que ceste-ci aussi est fille d'Abraham, ou, cestuy-ci aussi est fils d'Abraham;" -- "because this also is a daughter of Abraham, or, this also is a son of Abraham."

[678] "Et cependant est envieux et marri;" -- "and yet is envious and offended."

[679] "Et ne signifie pas ce que communeement nous appelons pecheur;" -- "and does not mean what we usually call a sinner."

[680] "Qu'ils n'ont pas la patience d'attendre que Dieu monstre ce qu'il vent faire;" -- "that they have not patience to wait till God show what he intends to do."

[681] "Le translateur Latin ancien;" -- "the old Latin translator."

[682] The question is, whether the antecedent to autos be Zakchaios or ho oikos. On the former supposition, our English version will be approved HE also (namely, Zaccheus) is a son of Abraham On the latter supposition, the translation will run thus: IT also (namely, the house) is a child of Abraham; or -- carrying out the metaphor as Erasmus has done -- IT also is a DAUGHTER of Abraham. -- Ed

[683] "Eo quod ipsu domus sit filia Abrahae."

And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

Matthew 25:14-30

Luke 19:11-28

14. For as a certain man, setting out on a journey, called his servants, and delivered to them his goods. 15. And to one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one; to every one according to his own ability; and immediately set out. 16. And he who had received five talents went away and traded with them, and amassed other five talents. 17. And likewise he who had received two, he also gained other two. 18. But he who had received one went away, and dug in the earth, and hid his master's money. 19. And after a long time the master of those servant cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20. And he who had received five talents, saying, Master, thou deliveredst to me five talents: lo, I have gained by them other five talents. 21. His master saith to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou has tbeen faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy master. 22. And he also who had received two talents came, and said, Master, thou deliveredst to me two talents: lo, I have gained by them other two. 23. His master saith to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things: enter thou into the joy of thy master. 24. But he who had received one talent came and said, Master, knew thee that thou art a harsh man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where didst not scatter: 25. And, being afraid, I went away, and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast what is thine. 26. And his master answering said to him, Wicked and slothful servant, thou knowest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter: 27. Thou oughtest therefore to have given my money to the bankers, and, when I came, I would have received my own with usury. 28. Take away then from him the talent, and give it to him who hath ten talents. 29. For to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound; but he that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken from him. 30. And cast out the unprofitable servant into outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

11. While they were hearing these things, he added, and spoke a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God would immediately be revealed. 12. He said therefore, A certain nobleman set out for a distant country, to receive for himself a kingdom, [684] and to return. 13. And, having called his ten servants, he gave to them ten pounds, and said to them, Trade till I come. 14. And his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 15. And it happened that he returned, after having obtained the kingdom, [685] and commanded those servants to be called to him, to whom he had given money, that he might know how much everyone had gained by trading. 16. And the first came, saying, Master, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 17. And he said to him, Well done, good servant; because thou hast been faithful in a very small matter, have though power over ten cities. 18. And another came, saying, Master, thy pound hath gained five pounds. 19. And he said to him, And be thou ruler over five cities. 20. And another came, saying, Master, lo, thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21. For I feared thee, because thou art a harsh man: thou takest up what thou didst not lay down, and reapest what thou didst not sow. 22. He saith to him, Out of thy mouth will I judge thee, wicked servant. Thou knewest that I am a harsh man, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow: 23. And why didst not thou give my money to the bank, and, when I came, I would have demanded it with usury? 24. And to those who stood by he said, Take from him the pound, and give it to him who hath ten pounds. 25. And they said to him, Master, he hath ten pounds. 26. For I say to you, That to him that hath it shall be given; but from him who hath not, even what he hath shall be taken away. 27. But bring hither those my enemies, who refused that I should reign over them, and slay them before me. 28. And, having said these things, he went before, to go up to Jerusalem.

Luke 19:11. While they were hearing these things. It was next to a prodigy that the disciples, after having been so frequently warned as to the approaching death of Christ, flew aside from it to think of his kingdom. There were two mistakes; first, that they pictured to themselves rest and happiness without the cross; secondly, that they judged of the kingdom of God according to their own carnal sense. Hence it appears how slight and obscure their faith was; for though they had entertained a hope of the resurrection, yet the taste was too slight for forming a fixed and decided opinion about Christ. They believe him to be the Redeemer who had been formerly promised, and hence they conceive a hope that the Church will be renewed; but that knowledge immediately degenerates into vain imaginations, which either overturn or obscure the power of his kingdom. But the strangest thing of all was, that so many warnings should have passed away from their recollection without yielding any advantage. At least, it was brutal stupidity that, though Christ had lately declared, in express terms, that he was just about to undergo a bitter and ignominious death, they not only remained unconcerned, but rushed forward, as if to a joyful triumph.

12. A certain nobleman. Matthew interweaves this parable with others, without attending to the order of time; but, as his intention was, in the twenty-second chapter, to make a collection of Christ's latest discourses, readers ought not to trouble themselves greatly with the inquiry which of them was delivered on the first, or the second, or the third day within that short period. But it is proper to observe the difference between Matthew and Luke; for, while the former touches only on one point, the latter embraces two. This point is common to both, that Christ resembles a nobleman, who, undertaking a long journey for the sake of obtaining a kingdom, has entrusted his money to the management of his servants, and so on. The other point is peculiar to Luke, that the subjects abused the absence of the prince, and raised a tumult in order to shake off his yoke. In both parts Christ intended to show, that the disciples were greatly mistaken in supposing that his royal authority was already established, and that he was coming to Jerusalem, in order to commence immediately a course of prosperity. Thus by taking away the expectation of an immediate kingdom, he exhorts them to hope and patience; for he tells them that they must long and steadily endure many toils, before they enjoy that glory for which they pant too earnestly.

Into a distant country. As the disciples thought that Christ was now about to enter into the possession of his kingdom, he first corrects this mistake by informing them, that he must undertake a long journey, in order to obtain the kingdom [686] As to what is meant by the distant country, I leave it to the ingenious expositions of those who are fond of subtleties. For my own part, I think that Christ expresses nothing more than his long absence, which would extend from the time of his death to his last coming. For, though he sits at the right hand of the Father, and holds the government of heaven and earth, and though, from the time that he ascended to heaven, all power was given to him, (Matthew 28:18,) that every knee might bow before him, (Philippians 2:10;) yet as he has not yet subdued his enemies -- has not yet appeared as Judge of the world, or revealed his majesty -- it is not without propriety that he is said to be absent from his people, till he return again, clothed with his new sovereignty. It is true, indeed, that he now reigns, while he regenerates his people to the heavenly life, forms them anew to the image of God, and associates them with angels; while he governs the Church by his word, guards it by his protection, enriches it with the gifts of the Spirit, nourishes it by his grace, and maintains it by his power, and, in short, supplies it with all that is necessary for salvation; while he restrains the fury of Satan and of all the ungodly, and defeats all their schemes. But as this way of reigning is concealed from the flesh, his manifestation is properly said to be delayed till the last day. Since, therefore, the apostles foolishly aimed at the shadow of a kingdom, our Lord declares that he must go to seek a distant kingdom, that, they may learn to endure delay. [687]

13. And having called his ten servants. We must not inquire anxiously into the number of the servants, or into the sums of money. For Matthew, by expressing various sums, includes a more extensive doctrine, namely, that Christ does not lay on all an equal charge of trafficking, but commits to one a small, and to another a larger sum of money. Both agree in this, that till the last day of the resurrection Christ, in some respects, goes to a distance from his people, but yet that it would be highly improper for them to sit down in idleness and do no good; for each has a certain office enjoined him, in which he ought to be employed, and, therefore, they ought to be diligent in trading, that they may be careful to increase their Lord's property.

Luke says simply, that to each he gave a pound; because, whether more or less may be committed to us by our Lord, every man must equally give account for himself. Matthew, as I have said, is more full and copious; for he states various degrees. Let us know that the Lord does not bestow on all indiscriminately the same measure of gifts, (Ephesians 4:7,) but

distributes them variously as he thinks proper,
(1 Corinthians 12:11,)

so that some excel others. But whatever gifts the Lord has bestowed upon us, let us know that it is committed to us as so much money, that it may yield some gain; for nothing could be more unreasonable than that we should allow to remain buried, or should apply to no use, God's favors, the value of which consists in yielding fruit.

Matthew 25:15. To every one according to his own ability. By this term Christ does not distinguish between natural gifts and the gifts of the Spirit; for we have neither power nor skill [688] which ought not to be acknowledged as having been received from God; and, therefore, whoever shall determine to give God his share will leave nothing for himself. What then is meant by saying, that the master of the house gives to each person more or less, according to his own ability? It is because God, as he has assigned to every one his place, and has bestowed on him natural gifts, gives him also this or the other injunction, employs him in the management of affairs, raises him to various offices, furnishes him with abundant means of eminent usefulness, and presents to him the opportunity.

It is absurd, however, in the Papists to infer from this, that the gifts of God are conferred on every man according to the measure which he deserves. For, though the old translator, [689] employed the word virtus, [690] he did not mean that God bestows his gifts, according as men have acquitted themselves well, and obtained the praise of virtue, but only so far as the master of the house has judged them to be suitable. Now we know that no man is found by God to be suitable till He has made him so; and the Greek word dunamis, (power, ability,) which Christ employed, is free from all ambiguity.

20. And he who had received five talents. Those who employ usefully whatever God has committed to them are said to be engaged in trading The life of the godly, [691] is justly compared to trading, for they ought naturally to exchange and barter with each other, in order to maintain intercourse; and the industry with which every mall discharges the office assigned him, the calling itself, the power of acting properly, and other gifts, are reckoned to be so many kinds of merchandise; because the use or object which they have in view is, to promote mutual intercourse among men.

Now the gain which Christ mentions is general usefulness, [692] which illustrates the glory of God. For, though God is not enriched, and makes no gain, by our labors, yet when every one is highly profitable to his brethren, and applies advantageously, for their salvation, the gifts which he has received from God, he is said to yield profit, or gain, to God himself. So highly does our heavenly Father value the salvation of men, that whatever contributes to it he chooses to place to his own account. That we may not become weary in doing well, (Galatians 6:9,) Christ declares that the labor of those who are faithfully employed in their calling will not be useless.

According to Luke, he says that he who gained five pounds obtains the government of five cities; by which words he informs them, that the glory of his kingdom will be very different at his last coming from what it now appears. For now [693] we have labor and anxiety in managing, as it were, the affairs of an absent master; but then he will have at his command an ample and copious supply of honors, to ennoble and enrich us. The form of expression employed by Matthew is more simple, Enter thou into the joy of thy master; by which he means that faithful servants, whose discharge of duty shall meet with his approbation, will share with himself a blessed abundance of all good things.

But it is asked, What is meant by what is added, Take from him the talent, and give it to him who hath ten talents? For every kind of trading will then be at an end. I reply, We ought to keep in remembrance what I formerly mentioned, that those who insist on explaining, with exactness, every minute phrase, are mistaken. The true meaning is, though slothful and unprofitable servants are now endued with the gifts of the Spirit, yet they will at length be deprived of them all, that their wretched and shameful poverty may redound to the glory of the good. Now these slothful persons, Christ tells us, hide either the talent or the pound in the earth; because, while they consult their own ease and gratifications, they refuse to submit to any uneasiness; as we see very many who, while they are privately devoted to themselves and to their own advantage, avoid all the duties of charity, and have no regard to the general edification. When it is said that the master of the house, after his return, called the servants to account; as this ought to impart courage to the good, when they understand that they do not lose their pains, so the indolent and careless, on the other hand, ought to be struck with no small terror. Let us therefore learn to call ourselves daily to account, before the Lord come, and make a reckoning with us.

24. I knew thee, that thou art a harsh man. This harshness has nothing to do with the substance of the parable; and it is an idle speculation in which those indulge, who reason from this passage, how severely and rigorously God deals with his own people. For Christ did not intend to describe such rigor, any more than to applaud usury, when he represents the master of the house as saying, that the money ought to have been deposited with a banker, that it might, at least, gain interest Christ only means, that there will be no excuse for the indolence of those who both conceal the gifts of God, and waste their time in idleness. Hence also we infer that no manner of life is more praiseworthy in the sight of God, than that which yields some advantage to human society.

29. To every one that hath shall be given has been explained [694] under Matthew 13:12

30. And cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness. We have also explained, [695] under Matthew 8:12, that outer darkness is contrasted with the light which is within the house; [696] for, as banquets were anciently held, for the most part, at night, and were illuminated by numerous torches and lamps, of those who are banished from the kingdom of God, Christ says, that they are cast without into darkness

Luke 19:27. But those my enemies In this second part, he appears to glance principally at the Jews, but includes all who in the absence of their master, determine to revolt. Now Christ's intention was, not only to terrify such persons by threatening an awful punishment, but also to keep his own people in faithful subjection; for it was no small temptation to see the kingdom of God scattered by the treachery and rebellion of many. In order then that we may preserve our composure in the midst of troubles, Christ informs us that he will return, and that at his coming he will punish wicked rebellion. [697]


[684] "Pour conquester un royaurae;" -- "to conquer a kingdom."

[685] "Apres avoir conqueste le royaume;" -- "after having conquered the kingdom."

[686] "Pour conquester ce royaurae;" -- "to conquer this kingdom.'

[687] "Qu'ils apprenent de porter patiemment la longue attente;" -- "that they may learn to endure patiently the long delay."

[688] "Il n'y a ne puissance, ne industrie, ou dexterit;" -- "there is neither power, nor industry, nor skill."

[689] "Le translateur Latin ancien;" -- "the old Latin translator."

[690] An interpreter who was willing to twist a passage, so as to bring out of it any meaning that he chose, would find the vagueness of the Latin word virtus to be well suited to his purpose. Its derivation from vir, a man, shows that it originally signified manliness, from which it easily passed to denote courage, and, from the high estimation in which courage was held among warlike nations, became the general expression for moral excellence, out of which arose the application of it to other kinds of excellence, as in the phrase, virtutes orationis, the ornaments of style. Again, from denoting manly vigor it came naturally to denote ability; and it is undoubtedly in this sense, with which our English version accords, that rirtus is employed by the Vulgate in this passage. -- Ed.

[691] "Des fideles;" -- "of believers."

[692] "C'est le profit ou l'avancement de toute la compagnie des fideles en commun;" -- "it is the profit or advancement of the whole company of believers in common."

[693] "En ce monde;" -- "in this world."

[694] See [38]p. 104 of this volume.

[695] Harmony, vol. 1.[[39]p. 384.

[696] "De la lumiere et clarte qui est en la maison;" -- "with the light and brightness that is within the house."

[697] "Il se vengera contre les traistres, et les punira de leur rebellion;" -- "he will take vengeance on traitors, and will punish them for their rebellion."

He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
(And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.
And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,

Matthew 21:1-9

Mark 11:1-10

Luke 19:29-38

1. And when they approached Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, to the mountain of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, [698] 2. Saying to them, Go into the village which is opposite to you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them to me. 3. And if any man shall say anything to you, say, The Lord hath need of them; and immediately he will send them. [699] 4. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5. Say to the daughter of Zion, Lo, thy King cometh to thee, meek, and sitting on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of one that is under the yoke. [700] 6. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus had commanded them. 7. And they brought the ass and the colt, and laid on them their garments, and placed him upon them. [701] 8. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; and others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed be he [702] that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. [703]

1. And as they approach Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the mountain of Olives, he sendeth two of his disciples. 2. And saith to them, Go away into the village which is opposite to you, and, just as you are entering into it, you will find a colt tied, on which no man ever sat; loose him, and bring him. 3. And if any man shall say to you, Why do you this? say, Because the Lord hath need of him; and immediately he will send him hither. 4 And they went away, and found a colt tied near a door where two ways meet, and they loose him. 5. And some of those who stood there said to them, What do you, [704] loosing the colt? 6. And they said to them as Jesus had commanded, and they allowed them. [705] 7. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on him, and he sat upon him, 8. And many spread their garments in the way; and others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9. And they that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Blessed be he [706] that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10. Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. [707]

29. And it happened, when he approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mountain which is called the mountain of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 30. Saying, Go into the village which is opposite; and, as you enter into it, you will find a colt tied, on which no man ever sat; loose him, and bring him. 31. And if any man shall ask you, Why do you loose him? thus shall you say to him, Because the Lord hath need of him. 32. And they that were sent went away, and found as he had said to them. 33. And while they were loosing the colt, its owners [708] said to them, Why do you loose the colt? 34. And they said, The Lord hath need of him. 35. And they brought him to Jesus; and, having thrown their garments on the colt, they set Jesus upon it. 36. And while he was going, they strawed their garments in the way. 37. And when he was already of the mountain of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples, rejoicing, began to praise God with a loud voice, for all the miracles which they had seen, 38. Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. [709]

Matthew 21:1. Then Jesus sent two disciples Jesus sends his disciples to bring an ass to him, not because he was wearied with the journey, but for a different reason; for, in consequence of the time of his death being at hand, he intended to show, by a solemn performance, what was the nature of his kingdom. He had begun, indeed, to do this at his baptism, but it remained that this demonstration should be given by him towards the end of his calling: for why did he hitherto refrain from the title of King, and now at length openly declare himself to be a King, but because he is not far from the end of his course? [710] So then, as his removal to heaven was at hand, he intended to commence his reign openly on earth.

This would have been a ridiculous display, if it had not been in accordance with the prediction of Zechariah, (9:9.) In order to lay claim to the honors of royalty, he enters Jerusalem, riding an ass. A magnificent display, truly! more especially when the ass was borrowed from some person, and when the want of a saddle and of accouterments compelled the disciples to throw their garments on it, which was mark of mean and disgraceful poverty. He is attended, I admit, by a large retinue; but of what sort of people? Of those who had hastily assembled from the neighboring villages. Sounds of loud and joyful welcome are heard; [711] but from whom? From the very poorest, and from those who belong to the despised multitude. One might think, therefore, that he intentionally exposed himself to the ridicule of all. But as he had two things to do at the same time, -- as he had to exhibit some proof of his kingdom, and to show that it does not resemble earthly kingdoms, and does not consist of the fading riches of this world, it was altogether necessary for him to take this method.

To wicked men, no doubt, this might be very unacceptable, had not God long before testified by his Prophet that such would be the king who would come to restore the salvation of his people. In order, therefore, that the mean aspect of Christ may not hinder us from perceiving in this exhibition, [712] his spiritual kingdom, let us keep before our eyes the heavenly prediction, by which God conferred more honor on his Son under the revolting aspect of a beggar, than if he had been decorated with all the dazzling ornaments of kings. Without this seasoning, we shall never have any relish for this history; and therefore there is great weight in the words of Matthew, when he says, that the prediction of the Prophet was fulfilled [713] Perceiving that it was hardly possible that men, who are too much devoted to wealth and splendor, should derive any advantage from this narrative, when viewed according to the feeling of the flesh, he leads them away from the simple contemplation of the fact to the consideration of the prophecy.

2. Go into the village. As he was at Bethany, he did not ask for an ass to relieve the fatigue of traveling; for he could easily have performed the rest of the journey on foot. [714] But as kings are wont to ascend their chariots, from which they may be easily seen, so the Lord intended to turn the eyes of the people on himself, and to place some mark of approbation on the applauses of his followers, lest any might think that he unwillingly received the honor of a king. [715]

From what place he ordered the ass to be brought is uncertain, except, what may naturally be inferred, that it was some village adjoining to the city; for the allegorical exposition of it, which some give, as applying to Jerusalem, is ridiculous. Not a whit more admissible is the allegory which certain persons have contrived about the ass and the colt "The she-ass," they tell us, "is a figure of the Jewish nation, which had been long subdued, and accustomed to the yoke of the Law. The Gentiles, again, are represented by the colt, on which no man ever sat. Christ sat first on the ass for this reason, that it was proper for him to begin with the Jews; and afterwards he passed over to the colt, because he was appointed to govern the Gentiles also in the second place." And indeed Matthew appears to say that he rode on both of them; but as instances of Synecdoche occur frequently in Scripture, we need not wonder if he mentions two instead of one. From the other Evangelists it appears manifestly that the colt only was used by Christ; and all doubt is removed by Zechariah, (9:9,)who twice repeats the same thing, according to the ordinary custom of the Hebrew language. [716]

And immediately you will find That the disciples may feel no hesitation about immediate compliance, our Lord anticipates and replies to their questions. First, he explains that he does not send them away at random, and this he does by saying that, at the very entrance into the village, they will find an ass-colt with its mother; and, secondly, that nobody will hinder them from leading him away, if they only reply that He hath need of him In this way he proved his Divinity; for both to know absent matters, and to bend the hearts of men to compliance, [717] belonged to God alone. It was, no doubt, possible that the owner of the ass, entertaining no unfavorable opinion of Christ, would cheerfully grant it; but to foresee if he would be at home, if it would then be convenient for him, or if he would place confidence in unknown persons, was not in the power of a mortal man. Again, as Christ strengthens the disciples, that they may be more ready to obey, so we see how they, on the other hand, yield submission. The result shows that the whole of this affair was directed by God.

5. Say to the daughter of Zion. This is not found, word for word, in Zechariah; but what God commanded one Prophet to proclaim, the Evangelist justly and appropriately applies to all godly teachers; for the only hope, on which the children of God ought both to build and to rely, was, that the Redeemer would at length come. Accordingly, the Prophet shows that the coming of Christ yields to believers a full and complete ground of joy; for, since God is not reconciled to them in any other way than through the agency of the Mediator, and as it is the same Mediator who delivers his people from all evils, what can there be, apart from him, that is fitted to cheer men ruined by their sins, and oppressed by troubles? And as we must be altogether overwhelmed with grief when Christ is absent, so on the other hand, the Prophet reminds believers that, when the Redeemer is present with them, they ought to be perfectly joyful. Now though he bestows on Christ other commendations -- namely, that he is just, and having salvation -- Matthew has taken but a single portion, which applied to the object he had in view, which is, that Christ will come, poor or meek; or in other words, that he will be unlike earthly kings, whose apparel is very magnificent and costly. Another mark of poverty is added, that he will ride on an ass, or the foal of an ass; for there can be no doubt that the manner of riding which belongs to the common people is contrasted with royal splendor.

6. And the disciples went It was just now remarked, that the zeal and readiness of the disciples to obey are here mentioned with commendation; for the influence of Christ was not so great, that his name alone would be sufficient to produce an impression on unknown persons; and besides, there was reason to fear that they would be blamed for theft. It is therefore a proof of the deference which they paid to their Master, when they make no reply, but proceed readily towards that place to which he has ordered them to go, relying on his command and promise. Let us also learn by their example to press forward through every kind of difficulty, so as to render to the Lord the obedience which he demands from us; for he will remove obstacles, and open up a path, and will not permit our endeavors to be unavailing.

8. And a very great multitude. Here the Evangelists relate that Christ was acknowledged as a king by the people. It might, indeed, appear to be a ludicrous exhibition, [718] that a multitude of obscure persons, by cutting down trees, and strawing their garments, bestowed on Christ the empty title of King; but as they did this in good earnest, and as they gave an honest testimony of their reverence, so Christ looked upon them as fit heralds of his kingdom. Nor ought we to wonder at such a beginning, when even in the present day, while sitting at the right hand of the Father, he commissions from the heavenly throne obscure men, by whom his majesty is celebrated in a despicable manner. I do not think it probable that the branches of palm-trees were cut down, as some interpreters conjecture, in accordance with an ancient and solemn rite appointed for that day. On the contrary, it would seem to have been by a sudden movement of the Spirit that this honor was rendered to Christ, when nothing of this nature had been intended by the disciples, whom the rest of the multitude imitated by doing the same thing; for this also may be inferred from the words of Luke.

9. Hosanna to the Son of David. This prayer is taken from Psalm 118:25. Matthew relates expressly the Hebrew words, in order to inform us, that these applauses were not rashly bestowed on Christ, and that the disciples did not utter without consideration the prayers which came to their lips, but that they followed with reverence the form of prayer, which the Holy Spirit had prescribed to the whole Church by the mouth of the Prophet. For, though he speaks there of his own kingdom, yet there is no reason to doubt that he principally looks, and intends others to look, to the eternal succession, which the Lord had promised to him. He drew up a perpetual form of prayer, which would be observed, even when the wealth of the kingdom was decayed; and therefore it was a prevailing custom, that prayers for the promised redemption were generally presented in these words. And the design of Matthew was, as we have just hinted, to quote in Hebrew a well-known psalm, for the purpose of showing that Christ was acknowledged by the multitude as a Redeemer. The pronunciation of the words, indeed, is somewhat changed; for it ought rather to have been written, Hoshiana, (hvsy n') Save now, we beseech thee; but we know that it is scarcely possible to take a word from one language into another, without making some alteration in the sound. Nor was it only the ancient people whom God enjoined to pray daily for the kingdom of Christ, but the same rule is now laid down for us. And certainly, as it is the will of God to reign only in the person of his Son, when we say, May thy kingdom come, under this petition is conveyed the same thing which is expressed more clearly in the psalm. Besides, when we pray to God to maintain his Son as our King, we acknowledge that this kingdom was not erected by men, and is not upheld by the power of men, but remains invincible through heavenly protection.

In the name of the Lord. He is said to come in the name of God, who not only conducts himself, but receives the kingdom, by the command and appointment of God. This may be more certainly inferred from the words of MARK, where another exclamation is added, Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, which cometh in the name of the Lord; for they speak thus in reference to the promises; because the Lord had testified that he would at length be a deliverer of that nation, and had appointed as the means the restoration of the kingdom of David. We see then that the honor of Mediator, from whom the restoration of all things and of salvation was to be expected, is ascribed to Christ. Now as it was mean and uneducated men by whom the kingdom of Christ was called the kingdom of David, let us hence learn that this doctrine was at that time well known, which in the present day appears to many to be forced and harsh, because they are not well acquainted with Scripture.

Luke adds a few words, Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest; [719] in which there would be no obscurity, were it not that they do not correspond to the song of the angels, (Luke 2:14;) for there the angels ascribe to God glory in heaven, and to men peace on earth; while here both peace and glory are ascribed to God. But there is no contradiction in the meaning; for, though the angels state more distinctly the reason why we ought to sing, Glory to God -- namely, because through his mercy men enjoy peace in this world -- yet the meaning is the same with what is now declared by the multitude, that there is peace in heaven; for we know that there is no other way in which wretched souls find rest in the world, than by God reconciling himself to them out of heaven.


[698] "Deux de ses disciples;" -- "two of his disciples?"

[699] "Et incontinent les laissera aller;" -- "and immediately he will allow them to go."

[700] "Et la petit asnon de celle qui est sous le ioug;" -- "and the young ass-colt of her that is under the yoke." -- Campbell brings out, in the same manner, the force of Greek, "even the colt of a laboring beast." -- Ed.

[701] "Et le feirent asseoir sur iceux vestemens;" -- "and made him sit on these garments."

[702] "Benit soil celuy;" -- "blessed be he."

[703] "Es tres-hauts lieux;" -- "in the very high places."

[704] "Que voulez-vous faire?" -- "Witat do you wish to do?"

[705] "Et ceux-la les laisserent aller;" -- "and those men allowed them to go."

[706] "Benit soil celuy;" -- "blessed be he."

[707] "Es tres-hauts lieux;" -- "in the very high places."

[708] "Ceux a qui il estoit;" -- "those to whom it belonged."

[709] "Es tres-hauts lieux;" -- "in the very high places."

[710] "Pource qu'il se voit estre bien pres du but de sa course;" -- "because he sees that he is very near the end of his course."

[711] "Les voix retentissent pour luy faire honneur, et le recevoir en grande ioye et triomphe;" -- "voices resound to do him honor, and to receive him in great joy and triumph."

[712] "Sous la couverture des choses yci recitees;" -- "under the disguise of the things here related."

[713] "Quand il dit que tout cela se faisoit afin que ce qui avoit este dit loaf le Prophete fust accompli;" -- "when he says that all this was done, in order that what had been said by the Prophet might be fulfilled."

[714] "Car il y avoit si pen de la iusques en Ierusalem, qu'il y fust aisee-merit alle a pied;" -- "for it was so short a distance from that place to Jerusalem, that he would easily have gone thither on foot."

[715] "Afin qu'on ne pensast point qu'il prinst cela a desplaisir, et qu'on lui attribuast l'honneur de Roy contre son vouloir;" -- "that it might not be thought that he took offense at this, and that the honor of King was given to him in opposition to his will."

[716] "Car voyla ses mots, Estant monte sur an asne, et sur un asnon poullain d'asnesse;" -- "for his words are these, Sitting on an ass, and on an ass-colt, the foal of an ass."

[717] "Et de faire flechir les coeurs des hommes, pour accorder ce qu'il luy plaist;" -- "and to bend the hearts of men to grant what he pleases."

[718] "Vray est qu'il pouvoit sembler que c'estoit un ieu de petits enfans;" -- "true, it might be thought that it was a game of little children."

[719] "Es lieux tres-hauts;" -- "in the very high places."

Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.
And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.
And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them.
And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?
And they said, The Lord hath need of him.
And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.
And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.
And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

Matthew 21:10-22

Mark 11:11-24

Luke 19:39-48

10. And when he entered into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11. And the multitudes said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth in Galilee. 12. And Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all that sold and bought in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of those who sold doves; 13. And said to them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of robbers. 14. And the blind and lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. 15. When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful works which he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David! They were enraged, [1] 16. And said to him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith to them, Yes; and have you never read, Out of the mouth [2] of infants and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? 17. And, leaving them, he went out of the city into Bethany, and lodged there. 18. And in the morning, returning to the city, he was hungry. 19. And when he saw a fig tree near the road, he came to it, and found nothing on it but leaves only. And he said to it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth forever; and immediately the fig tree withered. 20. And when his disciples saw it, they wondered, saying, How quickly is the fig tree withered! 21. And Jesus answering said to them, Verily I say to you, If you have faith, and do not doubt, not only will you do what has taken place in the fig tree, but also, if you shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed, and thrown into the sea, it shall be done. 22. And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, [3] you shall receive.

11. And the Lord entered [4] into Jerusalem, and into the temple; and when he had looked around on all things, and it was now evening, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. 12. And the next day, when they departed from Bethany, he was hungry. 13. And when he saw at a distance a fig tree having leaves, he came, if perhaps he would find anything on it. [5] And when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. 14. And Jesus answering said o the fig tree, Let no man eat fruit from thee henceforth forever. And his disciples heard it. 15. And they come to Jerusalem. And Jesus entered into the temple, and began to drive out those who sold and bought in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers, and the seats of those who sold doves; 16. And did not suffer any man to carry a vessel through the temple. 17 And taught, saying to them, Is it not written, My house shall be called by all nations a house of prayer? But you have made it a den of robbers. 18. And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they would put him to death; for they dreaded him, because the whole multitude admired his doctrine. 19. And when it was evening, he went out of the city. 20. And in the morning, passing by the fig tree, they saw that it was dried up from the root. [6] 21. And Peter, remembering, saith to him, Rabbi, [7] lo, that fig tree which thou cursedst is dried up! 22. And Jesus answering saith to them, Have faith in God. 23. Verily I say to you, Whoever shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed, and thrown into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he saith shall be, he shall have whatever he saith. 24. Therefore I say to you, Whatever you ask, praying, believe that you will receive it, and you shall have it.

39. And some of the Pharisees out of the multitude said to him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. 40. To whom he said, I say to you, that if these be silent, the stones will cry out. [8] (A little after.) 45. And having entered into the temple, he began to drive out those who sold and bought in it, 46. Saying to them, It is written, My house is a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of robbers. 47. And he taught daily in the temple. And the chief priests, and scribes, and rulers of the people, sought to put him to death, 48. And did not find what to do; for all the people hung upon his lips, while they were hearing him.

There is a difference between Matthew and Mark in their narrative of the withering of the fig tree; for Matthew says that it was on the day after that Christ made a public appearance as King, while Mark appears to throw it back to the following day. [9] But the solution is easy; for they agree in this respect, that Christ, on the day after that he made his solemn entrance into the city, cursed the tree; only Mark states what Matthew had omitted, that the occurrence was observed by the disciples on the following day., So then, though Mark has stated more distinctly the order of time, he makes no contradiction.

He appears to differ more openly both from Matthew and from Luke in the narrative of chastising the traders; [10] for while both of them declare that Christ, as soon as he entered into the city and temple, drove out those who sold and bought, Mark simply says that he looked around on all things, but has thrown back the driving of them out till another day. [11] But I reconcile them in this way, that Mark, not having spoken about the purifying of the temple, afterwards inserts it, though not in its proper place. He relates that, on the first day, Christ came into the temple, and there looked round on all things. [12] Now why did he look so earnestly, except for the purpose of correcting something that was wrong? For, having been formerly accustomed to pay frequent visits to the temple, it was not the novelty of the sight that affected him. Now as Mark ought immediately to have added, that those who sold and bought in the temple were driven out of it, he says that Christ went out of the city; but, having omitted what was worthy of being related, he inserts it afterwards.

But perhaps some will be more inclined to believe that, in this narrative also, Mark observed the order of time, which the other two Evangelists had disregarded; for though they appear to indicate an uninterrupted succession of events, yet as they do not name a particular day, there would be no impropriety in dividing what we find to be connected in their writings. For my own part, however, I prefer the conjecture which I stated first; for it is probable that this demonstration of his power was made by Christ in presence of a large multitude. But any one who will consider how little care the Evangelists bestowed on pointing out dates will not stumble at this diversity in the narrative.

Matthew 21:10. When he entered into Jerusalem. Matthew says that the city was moved, in order to inform us that the transaction did not take place secretly, or by stealth, but in the presence of all the people, and that the priests and scribes were not ignorant of it. Under this despicable aspect of the flesh the majesty of the Spirit was apparent; for how would they have endured that Christ should be conducted into the city, attended by the splendor of royalty, with so great danger to themselves, if they had not been seized with astonishment? The substance of it therefore is, that Christ's entrance was not made in a private manner, and that his enemies abstained from opposing it, not because they treated him with contempt, but rather because they were restrained by secret fear; for God had struck them with such alarm, that they dare not make any attempt. At the same time, the Evangelist glances at the careless indifference of the city, and commends the piety of those who have just reached it; for when the inhabitants, on hearing the noise, inquire, Who is this? it is manifest that they do not belong to the number of Christ's followers.

12. And Jesus entered into the temple. Though Christ frequently ascended into the temple, and though this abuse continually met his eye, twice only did he stretch out his hand to correct it; once, at the commencement of his embassy, [13] and now again, when he was near the end of his course. But though disgraceful and ungodly confusion reigned throughout, and though the temple, with its sacrifices, was devoted to destruction, Christ reckoned it enough to administer twice an open reproof of the profanation of it. Accordingly, when he made himself known as a Teacher and Prophet sent by God, he took upon himself the office of purifying the temple, in order to arouse the Jews, and make them more attentive; and this first narrative is given by John only in the second chapter of his Gospel. But now, towards the end of his course, claiming again for himself the same power, he warns the Jews of the pollutions of the temple, and at the same time points out that a new restoration is at hand.

And yet there is no reason to doubt that he declared himself to be both King and High Priest, who presided over the temple and the worship of God. This ought to be observed, lest any private individual should think himself entitled to act in the same manner. That zeal, indeed, by which Christ was animated to do this, ought to be held in common by all the godly; but lest any one, under the pretense of imitation, should rush forward without authority, we ought to see what our calling demands, and how far we may proceed according to the commandment of God. If the Church of God have contracted any pollutions, all the children of God ought to burn with grief; but as God has not put arms into the hands of all, let private individuals groan, till God bring the remedy. I do acknowledge that they are worse than stupid who are not displeased at the pollution of the temple of God, and that it is not enough for them to be inwardly distressed, if they do not avoid the contagion, and testify with their mouth, whenever an opportunity presents itself, that they desire to see a change for the better. But let those who do not possess public authority oppose by their tongue, which they have at liberty, those vices which they cannot remedy with their hands.

But it is asked, Since Christ saw the temple filled with gross superstitions, why did he only correct one that was light, or, at least, more tolerable than others? I reply, Christ did not intend to restore to the ancient custom all the sacred rites, and did not select greater or smaller abuses for correction, but had only this object in view, to show by one visible token, that God had committed to him the office of purifying the temple, and, at the same time, to point out that the worship of God had been corrupted by a disgraceful and manifest abuse. Pretexts, indeed, were not wanting for that custom of keeping a market, which relieved the people from trouble, that they might not have far to go to find sacrifices; and next, that they might have at hand those pieces of money which any man might choose to offer. Nor was it within the holy place that the money-changers sat, or that animals intended for sacrifice were exposed to sale, but only within the court, to which the designation of the temple is sometimes applied; but as nothing was more at variance with the majesty of the temple, than that a market should be erected there for selling goods, or that bankers should sit there for matters connected with exchange, this profanation was not to be endured. And Christ inveighed against it the more sharply, because it was well known that this custom had been introduced by the avarice of the priests for the sake of dishonest gain. For as one who enters a market well-stocked with various kinds of merchandise, though he does not intend to make a purchase, yet, in consequence of being attracted by what he sees, changes his mind, so the priests spread nets in order to obtain offerings, that they might trick every person out of some gain.

13. It is written. Christ quotes two passages taken out of two Prophets; the one from Isaiah 56:7, and the other from Jeremiah 7:11. What was written by Isaiah agreed with the circumstances of the time; for in that passage is predicted the calling of the Gentiles. Isaiah, therefore, promises that God will grant, not only that the temple shall recover its original splendor, but likewise that all nations shall flow to it, and that the whole world shall agree in true and sincere piety. [14] He speaks, no doubt, metaphorically; for the spiritual worship of God, which was to exist under the reign of Christ, is shadowed out by the prophets under the figures of the law. Certainly this was never fulfilled, that all nations went up to Jerusalem to worship God; and therefore, when he declares that the temple will be a place of prayer for all nations, this mode of expression is equivalent to saying, that the nations must be gathered into the Church of God, that with one voice they may worship the true God, along with the children of Abraham. But since he mentions the temple, so far as it then was the visible abode of religion, Christ justly reproaches the Jews with having applied it to totally different purposes from those to which it had been dedicated. The meaning therefore is: God intended that this temple should exist till no as a sign on which all his worshippers should fix their eyes; and how base and wicked is it to profane it by thus turning it into a market?

Besides, in the time of Christ, that temple was actually a house of prayer; that is, so long as the Law, with its shadows, remained in force. But it began to be a house of prayer for all nations, when out of it resounded the doctrine of the Gospel, by which the whole world was to be united in one common faith. And though shortly afterwards it was totally overthrown, yet even in the present day the fulfillment of this prophecy is manifest; for, since

out of Zion, went forth the law,
(Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:2,)

those who wish to pray aright must look to that beginning. I do acknowledge that there is no distinction of places, for it is the will of the Lord that men should call upon Him everywhere; but as believers, who profess to worship the God of Israel, are said to

speak in the language of Canaan, (Isaiah 19:18,)

so they are also said to come into the temple, because out of it flowed the true religion. It is likewise the fountain of the waters, which, enlarged to an astonishing degree within a short period, flow in great abundance, and give life to those that drink them, as Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:9) mentions, [15] which, going out from the temple, spread, as Zechariah (Zechariah 14:8) says, from the rising to the setting sun. Though in the present day we make use of temples (or churches) for holding the holy assemblies, yet it is for a different reason; for, since Christ was manifested, no outward representation of him under shadows is held out to us, such as the fathers anciently had under the Law.

It must also be observed, that by the word prayer the prophet expresses the whole worship of God; for, though there was at that time a great variety and abundance of religious rites, yet God intended briefly to show what was the object of all those rites; namely, that they might worship him spiritually, as is more clearly expressed in the fiftieth psalm, where also God comprehends under prayer all the exercises of religion.

But you have made it a den of robbers. Christ means that the complaint of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:11) applied equally well to his own time, in which the temple was not less corrupted. The prophet directs his reproof against hypocrites, who, through confidence in the temple, allowed themselves greater liberty in sinning. For, as it was the design of God to employ outward symbols, as a sort of rudiments, for instructing the Jews in true religion, so they satisfied themselves with the empty pretense of the temple, as if it were enough to give their attention to outward ceremonies; just as it is customary with hypocrites to

change the truth of God into a lie (Romans 1:25.).

But the prophet exclaims that God is not bound to the temple, or tied to ceremonies, and therefore that they falsely boast of the name of the temple, which they had made a den of robbers. For as robbers in their dens sin with greater hardihood, because they trust that they will escape punishment, so by means of a false covering of godliness hypocrites grow more bold, so that they almost hope to deceive God. Now as the metaphor of a den includes all corruptions, Christ properly applies the passage of the prophet to the present occasion.

Mark adds, that Christ gave orders that no man should carry a vessel through the temple; that is, he did not permit any thing to be seen there that was inconsistent with religious services; for by the word vessel the Hebrews denote any kind of utensil. In short, Christ took away whatever was at variance with the reverence and majesty of the temple.

14. And the blind and lame came to him. That the authority which Christ had claimed for himself out of the usual course might not be suspected of rashness, he supported it by miracles. He therefore cured the blind and lame in the temple, in order to proclaim that the rights and honor of Messiah truly belonged to him; for by these marks the prophets describe him. Hence we again perceive what I hinted a little ago that it is not every one of the people who is called to imitate this action of Christ lest he inconsiderately raise himself to the throne of the Messiah. We ought indeed to believe that the lame and blind, who were cured, were witnesses of the divine power of Christ, as if God, by his voice from heaven, approved what had been proclaimed by the multitude. [16]

15. When the chief priests and scribes saw. Luke relates that the Pharisees began to grumble, while he was still on the road. [17] It was the disciples that were then crying out: the others wished to have them silenced. Christ replied, that it was in vain for them to make opposition; because God would rather make the stones cry out than permit the reign of His Son to be forgotten. It is probable that, as the crying out was not diminished, and as even the children now joined in it, the scribes and priests were roused to still fiercer indignation, and then commenced a new attack on Christ. They appear indirectly to reproach him by alleging that he is desirous to obtain the praises of children.

But we must observe whence their displeasure arose. That it was connected with ungodly malice and outrageous contempt of God is evident from the fact, that his miracles gave them not less uneasiness than the shouts of applause. But I now inquire about some more special reason. What was it that chiefly vexed them? Now we know how eagerly they contended for their authority; for the object to which their zeal carried them was, that the tyranny, which they had once claimed, might continue to be enjoyed by them; and it was no slight diminution of their power, if the people were at liberty to bestow on Christ the title of King. Even in trifling matters they wished their decisions to be regarded as oracles, [18] so that it might not be permitted to approve or reject any thing but according to their pleasure. They therefore reckon it to be foolish and unreasonable, that the people should confer the title of Messiah on one whom they do not treat with any respect. And certainly, if they had done their duty, it would have been proper for them to direct the whole people, and to go before them as their leaders. For the priests had been appointed, that from their lips all might seek the knowledge of the Law, and, in short, that they might be the messengers and interpreters of the God of armies, (Malachi 2:7.) But as they had basely extinguished the light of truth, Christ appropriately replies, that they gain nothing by endeavoring to suppress the doctrine of salvation, for it will rather break out from the stones.

There is likewise an implied admission; for Christ does not deny that it is an unnatural order for the uneducated multitude and children to be the first to magnify with their voice the coming of the Messiah, but as the truth is wickedly suppressed by those who ought to have been its lawful witnesses, it is not wonderful if God raise up others, and -- to their shame -- make choice of children. Hence we derive no slight consolation; for though wicked men leave no stone unturned for concealing the reign of Christ, we learn from this passage that their efforts are in vain. They hope that, when some of the multitude, that is carrying forward the kingdom of Christ, shall have been put to death, and others shall be silenced by fear, they will gain their object. But God will disappoint them; for He will sooner give mouths and tongues to stones than allow the kingdom of His Son to be without witnesses.

16. And have you never read? The scribes and priests seize on this as an opportunity of calumniating Christ, that he allows himself to be called a King by children; as it is always the custom of wicked people haughtily to despise the mean condition of the disciples of Christ. This malicious design Christ checks by a quotation from David, who makes even infants to be the heralds of the glory of God. Literally the words run,

Out of the mouth of infants and sucklings thou hast founded strength, (Psalm 8:2;)

by which David means that, though every tongue were silent, [19] God needs no other orators to proclaim his power than mere infants, who are still hanging on their mothers' breasts. In themselves, no doubt, they are silent; but the wonderful providence of God, which shines in them, serves the purpose of splendid and powerful eloquence. For he who considers with himself how the child is formed in the mother's womb, is nourished there for nine months, afterwards comes into the world, and finds nourishment provided as soon as it is born, must not only acknowledge that God is the Creator of the world, but will be altogether carried away into admiration of Him. [20] Thus the sun and moon, though they are dumb creatures, are said to have a loud and distinct voice for singing the praises of God, (Psalm 19:1, 2.) But since the praises of God are heard from the tongue of infants, Christ infers from this, that it is not strange if He cause them to be uttered by children who have already acquired the use of speech.

18. And returning in the morning. Between that solemn entrance of Christ, of which we have spoken, and the day of the Passover, he had passed the night in Bethany; and during the day he appeared in the temple for the purpose of teaching. Matthew and Mark relate what happened during that interval, that Christ, when coming into the city, was hungry, approached a fig-tree, and, having found nothing on it but leaves, cursed it; and that the tree, which had been cursed by his voice, immediately withered. I take for granted that Christ did not pretend hunger, but was actually hungry; for we know that he voluntarily became subject to the infirmities of the flesh, though by nature he was free and exempt from them.

But here lies the difficulty. How was he mistaken in seeking fruit on a tree that had none; more especially, when the season of fruit had not yet arrived? And again, Why was he so fiercely enraged against a harmless tree? But there would be no absurdity in saying, that as man, he did not know [21] the kind of tree; though it is possible that he approached it on purpose, with full knowledge of the result. Certainly it was not the fury of passion that led him to curse the tree, (for that would not only have been an unjust, but even a childish and ridiculous revenge;) but as hunger was troublesome to him according to the feeling of the flesh, he determined to overcome it by an opposite affection; that is, by a desire to promote the glory of the Father, as he elsewhere says,

My meat is to do the will of my Father, (John 4:34;)

for at that time he was contending both with fatigue and with hunger. I am the more inclined to this conjecture, because hunger gave him an opportunity of performing a miracle and of teaching his disciples. So when he was pressed by hunger, and there was no food at hand, he finds a repast in another way; that is, by promoting the glory of God. He intended, however, to present in this tree an outward sign of the end which awaits hypocrites, and at the same time to expose the emptiness and folly of their ostentation.

19 Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth. Let us learn from this what is the meaning of the word curse, namely, that the tree should be condemned to barrenness; as, on the other hand, God blesses, when by his voice he bestows fertility. It appears more clearly from Mark, that the fig-tree did not instantly wither, or, at least, that it was not observed by his disciples, until they saw it next day stripped of leaves. Mark, too, attributes to Peter what Matthew attributes equally to all the disciples; but as Christ replies in the plural number, it may naturally be inferred that one put the question in the name of all.

21 And Jesus answering. The use of the miracle is still farther extended by Christ, in order to excite his disciples to faith and confidence. By Mark, the general exhortation is placed first, to have faith in God; and then follows the promise, that they would obtain by faith whatever they asked from God. To have faith in God means, to expect, and to be fully assured of obtaining, from God whatever we need. But as faith, if we have any, breaks out immediately into prayer, and penetrates into the treasures of the grace of God, which are held out to us in the word, in order to enjoy them, so Christ adds prayer to faith; for if he had only said that we shall have whatever we wish, some would have thought that faith was presumptuous or too careless. And therefore Christ shows that those only are believers who, relying on his goodness and promises, betake themselves to him with humility.

This passage is exceedingly adapted to point out the power and nature of faith; that it is a certainty, relying on the goodness of God, which does not admit of doubt. For Christ does not acknowledge as believers any but those who are fully convinced that God is reconciled to them, and do not doubt that he will give what they ask. Hence we perceive by what a diabolical contrivance the Papists are bewitched, who mingle faith with doubt, and even charge us with foolish presumption, if we venture to appear before God under the conviction of His fatherly regard toward us. But this benefit derived from Christ is that on which Paul chiefly dwells, when he says that

by the faith of him we have boldness
to approach to God with confidence (Ephesians 3:12).

This passage shows also that the true test of faith lies in prayer. If it be objected, that those prayers are never heard, that mountains should be thrown into the sea, the answer is easy. Christ does not give a loose rein to the wishes of men, that they should desire any thing at their pleasure, when he places prayer after the rule of faith; [22] for in this way the Spirit must of necessity hold all our affections by the bridle of the word of God, and bring them into obedience. Christ demands a firm and undoubting confidence of obtaining an answer; and whence does the human mind obtain that confidence but from the word of God? We now see then that Christ promises nothing to his disciples, unless they keep themselves within the limits of the good pleasure of God.

Luke 19:47. And he taught daily in the temple. Mark and Luke point out, first, what was the class of men of which the Church consisted, namely, of the despised multitude; and again, what enemies Christ had, namely, the priests and scribes, and all the rulers. Now this is a part of the folly of the cross, that God, passing by the excellence of the world, chooses what is foolish, weak, and despised. Secondly, they relate that those worthy guardians of the Church of God sought an occasion of putting Christ to death, by which their wicked impiety was discovered; for though there had been good grounds for pursuing Christ, yet they had no right to proceed to murder after the manner of robbers, or secretly to hire assassins. Thirdly, they show that the wicked conspiracy of those men was frustrated, because, by the secret purpose of God, Christ was appointed to the death of the cross.


[1] "Ils en furent indignez;" -- "they were enraged at it."

[2] "Par la bouche;" -- "by the mouth."

[3] "Ayans foy;" -- "having faith."

[4] "Ainsi le Seigneur entra;" -- "thus the Lord entered."

[5] "Il y alla pour veoir s'il y trouveroit quelque chose;" -- "he went to it to see if he would find anything on it."

[6] "Estoit sech? jusq'aux racines;" -- "was withered even to the roots."

[7] "Maistre;" -- "Master."

[8] "Les pierres soudain crieront;" -- "the stones will suddenly cry out."

[9] "Que le jour ensuyvant les disciples prindrent garde ? ce qui estoit advenu ? l'arbre;"-- "that, on the following day, the disciples took notice of what had happened the tree."

[10] "En l'histoire des marchans chassez hors du temple;" -- "in the narrative of the merchants driven out of the temple."

[11] "Et puis il remet ? l'autre jour ensuyvant ceste reformation du temple;" -- "and then he throws back to the other following day that reformation of the temple."

[12] "Et l? regarda tout autour ce qui s'y faisoit;" -- "and there looked all around at what was done in it."

[13] "Quand il commen?a ? exercr son office d'ambassadeur;" -- "when he began to discharge his office as ambassador."

[14] "A la vraye et droiet cognoissanc de Dieu;" -- "in the true and right knowledge of God."

[15] "Et aussi c'est ceste source des quatre fleuves desquels Ezekiel (47:2) parle, qui doyvent arrouser les quatre coins du monde;" -- "and this is also the source of the four rivers of which Ezekiel (47:2) speaks, which are to water the four quarters of the world."

[16] "Comme si Dieu eust d'enhaut approuv? par sa voix les louanges que le peuple avoit proclamees en l'honneur de Christ;" -- "as if God had from on high approved by his voice the praises which the people had proclaimed in honor of Christ."

[17] "Christ estant encore en chemin;" -- "Christ being still on the road."

[18] "Pour arrests ou revelations celestes;" -- "as decisions or revelations from heaven."

[19] "Quand toutes bouches seroyent closes, et toutes langues se tairoyent;" -- "though every mouth were closed, and every tongue were silent."

[20] "Mais aussi il entrera en une grande admiration de sa puissance et sagesse infinie;" -- "but also will greatly admire His infinite power and wisdom."

[21] "Il n'a pas cognu de loin;" -- "he did not know at a distance."

[22] "Veu qu'il met les prieres apres la regle de foy, et veut qu'elles soyent conduites par icelle;" -- "since he places prayers after the rule of faith, and wishes that they should be regulated by it."

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

Luke 19:41-44

41. And when he came near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, 42. O if even thou, and at least in this thy day, hadst known and considered the things which belong to thy peace! but now they are hid from thy eyes. 43. For the days will come upon thee, and thy enemies will encompass thee with a rampart; [720] and will enclose thee, and will shut thee in on all sides; 44. And will level thee with the ground, and thy children who are within thee; and will not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou didst not know the time of thy visitation.

41. And wept over it. As there was nothing which Christ more ardently desired than to execute the office which the Father had committed to him, and as he knew that the end of his calling was to gather the lost sheep of the house of Israel, (Matthew 15:24,) he wished that his coming might bring salvation to all. This was the reason why he was moved with compassion, and wept over the approaching destruction of the city of Jerusalem. For while he reflected that this was the sacred abode which God had chosen, in which the covenant of eternal salvation should dwell -- the sanctuary from which salvation would go forth to the whole world, it was impossible that he should not deeply deplore its ruin. And when he saw the people, who had been adopted to the hope of eternal life, perish miserably through their ingratitude and wickedness, we need not wonder if he could not refrain from tears.

As to those who think it strange that Christ should bewail an evil which he had it in his power to remedy, this difficulty is quickly removed. For as he came down from heaven, that, clothed in human flesh, he might be the witness and minister of the salvation which comes from God, so he actually took upon him human feelings, as far as the office which he had undertaken allowed. And it is necessary that we should always give due consideration to the character which he sustains, when he speaks, or when he is employed in accomplishing the salvation of men; as in this passage, in order that he may execute faithfully his Father's commission, he must necessarily desire that the fruit of the redemption should come to the whole body of the elect people. Since, therefore, he was given to this people as a minister for salvation, it is in accordance with the nature of his office that he should deplore its destruction. He was God, I acknowledge; but on all occasions when it was necessary that he should perform the office of teacher, his divinity rested, and was in a manner concealed, that it might not hinder what belonged to him as Mediator. By this weeping he proved not only that he loved, like a brother, those for whose sake he became man, but also that God made to flow into human nature the Spirit of fatherly love.

42. O if even thou hadst known! The discourse is pathetic, and therefore abrupt; for we know that by those who are under the influence of vehement passion their feelings are not more than half-expressed. Besides, two feelings are here mingled; for not only does Christ bewail the destruction of the city, but he likewise reproaches the ungrateful people with the deepest guilt, in rejecting the salvation which was offered to them, and drawing down on themselves a dreadful judgment of God. The word even, which is interwoven with it, is emphatic; for Christ silently contrasts Jerusalem with the other cities of Judea, or rather, of the whole world, and the meaning is: "If Even thou, who art distinguished by a remarkable privilege above the whole world, -- if thou at least, (I say,) who art a heavenly sanctuary in the earth, hadst known " This is immediately followed by another amplification taken from the time: "Though hitherto thou hast wickedly and outrageously rebelled against God, now at least there is time for repentance." For he means that the day is now at hand, which had been appointed by the eternal purpose of God for the salvation of Jerusalem, and had been foretold by the prophets. Thus (says Isaiah) is the accepted time, this is the day of salvation, (Isaiah 49:8; 2 Corinthians 6:2.)

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near, (Isaiah 55:6.)

The things which belong to thy peace Under the word peace he includes, according to the meaning of the Hebrew phrase, all that is essential to happiness. Nor does he simply say, that Jerusalem did not know her peace, but the things which belonged to her peace; for it frequently happens that men are far from being unacquainted with their happiness, but they are ignorant of the way and means, (as we say,) because they are blinded by their wickedness. Now since the compassion is mingled with reproach, let us observe, that men deserve the heavier punishment in proportion to the excellence of the gifts which they have received, because to other sins there is added an impious profanation of heavenly grace. Secondly, let us observe, that the nearer God approaches to us, and holds out the light of sound doctrine, the less excusable are we, if we neglect this opportunity. The gate of salvation, indeed, is always open; but as God is sometimes silent, it is no ordinary privilege, when He invites us to himself with a loud voice, and in a familiar manner, and therefore the contempt will be visited by severer punishment.

But now they are hid from thy eyes. This is not said for the purpose of extenuating the guilt of Jerusalem; for, on the contrary, it marks with disgrace the monstrous stupidity of that city, that, when God is present, it does not perceive him. I do acknowledge that it belongs to God alone to open the eyes of the blind, and that no man is qualified for understanding the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom, unless God enlighten him inwardly by his Spirit; but it does not follow from this that they who perish through their own brutal blindness are excusable. Christ intended also to remove an offense, which might otherwise have perplexed the ignorant and weak; for when the eyes of all were directed to that city, his example might have very great influence in both respects, either for evil or for good. That no man then may be perplexed by its unbelief and proud contempt of the Gospel, Jerusalem is condemned for disgraceful blindness.

43. For the days shall come upon thee. He now assumes, as it were, the character of a judge, and addresses Jerusalem with greater severity. In like manner the prophets also, though they shed tears over the destruction of those about whom they ought to feel anxiety, yet they summon up courage to pronounce severe threatenings, because they know that not only are they commanded to watch over the salvation of men, but that they have also been appointed to be the heralds of the judgment of God. Under these terms Jesus declares that Jerusalem will suffer dreadful punishment, because she did not know the time of her visitation; that is, because she despised the Redeemer who had been exhibited to her, and did not embrace his grace. Let the fearful nature of the punishments which she endured now alarm us, that we may not, by our carelessness, extinguish the light of salvation, but may be careful to receive the grace of God, and may even run with rigor to meet it.


[720] "T'assiegeront de rempars;" -- "will besiege thee with ramparts."

Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought;
Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.
And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him,
And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.
John Calvin's Commentaries
Text Courtesy of Christian Classics Etherial Library.

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