Expositor's Greek Testament
FAREWELL TO GALILEE.
In Mt.’s narrative the journey of Jesus to the south, reported in Matthew 19:1, marks the close of the Galilean ministry. Not so obviously so in Mk.’s (see notes there), though no hint is given of a return to Galilee. It is not perfectly clear whether the incidents reported are to be conceived as occurring at the southern end of the journey, or on the way within Galilee or without. The latter alternative is possible (vide Holtz., H. C., p. 214). The incidents bring under our notice a variety of interesting characters: Pharisees with captious questions, mothers with their children, a man in quest of the summum bonum, with words and acts of Jesus corresponding. But the disciplining of the Twelve still holds the central place of interest. Last chapter showed them at school in the house, this shows them at school on the way.
And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;Matthew 19:1-2. Introductory, cf. Mark 10:1.
Matthew 19:1. καὶ ἐγένετο … λόγους τούτους: similar formulae after important groups of logia in Matthew 7:28, Matthew 11:1, Matthew 13:53.—μετῆρεν: also in Matthew 13:53, vide notes there; points to a change of scene worthy of note, as to Nazareth, which Jesus rarely visited, or to Judaea, as here.—ἀπὸ τ. Γαλιλαίας. The visit to Nazareth was a movement within Galilee. This is a journey out of it not necessarily final, but so thought of to all appearance by the evangelist.—εἰς τὰ ὅρια τ. Ἰ. π. τ. Ἰ.: indicates either the destination = to the coasts of Judaea beyond the Jordan; or the end and the way = to the Judaea territory by the way of Peraea, i.e., along the eastern shore of Jordan. It is not likely that the writer would describe Southern Peraea as a part of Judaea, therefore the second alternative is to be preferred. Mk.’s statement is that Jesus went to the coasts of Judaea and (καὶ, approved reading, instead of διὰ τοῦ in T. R.) beyond Jordan. Weiss thinks that Mt.’s version arose from misunderstanding of Mk. But his understanding may have been a true one, for Mk.’s statement may mean that Peraea was the first reached station (Holtz., H. C.), implying a journey on the eastern side. The suggestion that the writer of the first Gospel lived on the eastern side, and means by πέραν the western side (Delitsch and others), has met with little favour.
And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.Matthew 19:2. ἠκολούθησαν: the crowds follow as if there had been no interruption, in Mt.; in Mk., who knows of a time of hiding (Matthew 9:30), they reassemble (Matthew 10:1).—ἐθεράπευσεν α. ἐκεῖ: a healing ministry commences in the south; in Mk. a teaching ministry (Matthew 10:1).
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?Matthew 19:3-9. The marriage question (Mark 10:2-9).
Matthew 19:3. φ. πειράζοντες: Pharisees again, tempting of course; could not ask a question at Jesus without sinister motives.—εἰ ἔξεστιν: direct question in indirect form, vide on Matthew 12:10.—ἀπολῦσαι … κατὰ πᾶσαν αἰτίαν: the question is differently formulated in the two accounts, and the answer differently arranged. In Mk. the question is absolute = may a man put away his wife at all? in Mt. relative = may, etc.… for every reason? Under the latter form the question was an attempt to draw Jesus into an internal controversy of the Jewish schools as to the meaning of Deuteronomy 24:1, and put Him in the dilemma of either having to choose the unpopular side of the school of Shummai, who interpreted עֶרְוַת דָּבָר strictly, or exposing Himself to a charge of laxity by siding with the school of Hillel. It was a petty scheme, but characteristic. Whether the interrogants knew what Jesus had taught on the subject of marriage and divorce in the Sermon on the Mount is uncertain, but in any case all scribes and Pharisees knew by this time what to expect from Him. For κατὰ in the sense of propter, vide instances in Hermann’s Viger, 632, and Kypke.
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,Matthew 19:4. οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε: the words quoted are to be found in Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:24.—ὁ κτίσας: the participle with article used substantively = the Creator.—ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς goes along with what follows, Christ’s purpose being to emphasise the primitive state of things. From the beginning God made man, male and female; suited to each other, needing each other.—ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ: “one male and one female, so that the one should have the one; for if He had wished that the male should dismiss one and marry another He would have made more females at the first,” Euthy.
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?Matthew 19:5. καὶ εἶπεν: God said, though the words as they stand in Gen. may be a continuation of Adam’s reflections, or a remark of the writer.—ἕνεκεν τούτου: connected in Gen. with the story of the woman made from the rib of the man, here with the origin of sex. The sex principle imperiously demands that all other relations and ties, however intimate and strong, shall yield to it. The cohesion this force creates is the greatest possible.—οἱ δύο: these words in the Sept have nothing answering to them in the Hebrew, but they are true to the spirit of the original.—εἰς σάρκα μίαν: the reference is primarily to the physical fleshly unity. But flesh in Hebrew thought represents the entire man, and the ideal unity of marriage covers the whole nature. It is a unity of soul as well as of body: of sympathy, interest, purpose.
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.Matthew 19:6. ὥστε with indicative, expressing actual result as Christ views the matter. They are no longer two, but one flesh, one spirit, one person.—ὃ οὖν: inference from God’s will to man’s duty. The creation of sex, and the high doctrine as to the cohesion it produces between man and woman, laid down in Gen., interdict separation. Let the Divine Syzygy be held sacredel How small the Pharisaic disputants must have felt in presence of such holy teaching, which soars above the partisan views of contemporary controversialists into the serene region of ideal, universal, eternal truth!
They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?Matthew 19:7-9. τί οὖν, etc.: such doctrine could not be directly gainsaid, but a difficulty might be raised by an appeal to Moses and his enactment about a bill of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1). The Pharisees seem to have regarded Moses as a patron of the practice of putting away, rather than as one bent on mitigating its evil results. Jesus corrects this false impression.
He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.Matthew 19:8. πρὸς τ., with reference to.—σκληροκαρδίαν: a word found here and in several places in O. T. (Sept), not in profane writers; points to a state of heart which cannot submit to the restraints of a high and holy law, literally uncircumcisedness of heart (Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4).—ἐπέτρεψεν, permitted, not enjoined. Moses is respectfully spoken of as one who would gladly have welcomed a better state of things; no blame imputed except to the people who compelled or welcomed such imperfect legislation (ὑμῶν twice in Matthew 19:8).—ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, etc.: the state of things which made the Mosaic rule necessary was a declension from the primitive ideal.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.Matthew 19:9, ide notes on Matthew 5:31-32.
His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.Matthew 19:10-12. Subsequent conversation with the disciples.—Christ’s doctrine on marriage not only separated Him totacœlo from Pharisaic opinions of all shades, but was too high even for the Twelve. It was indeed far in advance of all previous or contemporary theory and practice in Israel. Probably no one before Him had found as much in what is said on the subject in Gen. It was a new reading of old texts by one who brought to them a new view of man’s worth, and still more of woman’s. The Jews had very low views of woman, and therefore of marriage. A wife was bought, regarded as property, used as a household drudge, and dismissed at pleasure—vide Benzinger, Heb. Arch., pp. 138–146.
Matthew 19:10. αἰτία: a vague word. We should say: if such be the state of matters as between husband and wife, and that is doubtless what is meant. So interpreted, αἰτία would = res, conditio. (So Grotius.) Fritzsche regards the phrase ἡ αἰτία τ. ἀ. μ. τ. γ. as in a negligent way expressing the idea: if the reason compelling a man to live with a wife be so stringent (no separation save for adultery). If we interpret αἰτία in the light of Matthew 19:3 (κατὰ π. αἰτίαν) the word will mean cause of separation. The sense is the same, but in any view the manner of expression is somewhat helpless, as was not unnatural in the circumstances. Euthy. gives both meanings = αἰτία συζυγίας and αἰτία διαζευγνύουσα, with a preference for the former.—ἀνθρώπου here = vir, maritus; instances of this use in Kypke, Palairet, etc.
But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.Matthew 19:11. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν. Jesus catches up the remark of the disciples, and attaches to it a deeper sense than they thought of. Their idea was that marriage was not worth having if a man must put up with all the faults and caprices of a woman, without possibility of escape, except by gross misconduct. He thinks of the celibate state as in certain cases desirable or preferable, irrespective of the drawbacks of married life, and taking it even at the best.—τὸν λόγον thus will mean: what you have said, the suggestion that the unmarried condition is preferable.—χωροῦσι = capere, receive, intellectually and morally, for in such a case the two are inseparable. No man can understand as a matter of theory the preferableness of celibacy under certain circumstances, unless he be capable morally of appreciating the force of the circumstances.—ἀλλʼ οἶς δέδοται: this phrase points chiefly to the moral capacity. It is not a question of intelligence, nor of a merely natural power of continence, but of attaining to such a spiritual state that the reasons for remaining free from married ties shall prevail over all forces urging on to marriage. Jesus lifts the whole subject up out of the low region of mere personal taste, pleasure, or convenience, into the high region of the Kingdom of God and its claims.
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.Matthew 19:12 is an explanatory commentary on δέδοται.—εὐνοῦχος: keeper of the bedchamber in an Oriental barem (from εὐνή, ed, and ἔχω), a jealous office, which could be entrusted only to such as were incapable of abusing their trust; hence one who has been emasculated. Jesus distinguishes three sorts, two physical and one ethical: (1) those born with a defect (ἐγεννήθησαν οὕτως); (2) those made such by art (εὐνουχίσθησαν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων); (3) those who make themselves eunuchs (εὐνούχισαν ἑαυτοὺς).—διὰ τὴν β. τ. ο., for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. This explains the motive and the nature of ethical eunuchism. Here, as in Matthew 15:17, Jesus touches on a delicate subject to teach His disciples a very important lesson, viz., that the claims of the Kingdom of God are paramount; that when necessary even the powerful impulses leading to marriage must be resisted out of regard to them.—ὁ δυνάμενος χωρεῖν χωρείτω: by this final word Jesus recognises the severity of the demand as going beyond the capacity of all but a select number. We may take it also as an appeal to the spiritual intelligence of His followers = see that ye do not misconceive my meaning. Is not monasticism, based on vows of life-long celibacy, a vast baleful misconception, turning a military requirement to subordinate personal to imperial interests, as occasion demands, into an elaborate ascetic system?
Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.Matthew 19:13-15. Children brought for a blessing (Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17).
Matthew 19:13. τότε: if the order of the narrative reflect the order of events, this invasion by the children was a happy coincidence after those words about the sacred and indissoluble tie of marriage and the duty of subordinating even it to the claims of the kingdom.—προσηνέχθησαν, passive, by whom brought not said, the point of the story being how Jesus treated the children.—ἵνα τ. χ. ἐπιθῇ, that he may lay His hands on them: the action being conceived of as present (Klotz ad Devar, p. 618).—καὶ προσεύξηται: the imposition of hands was a symbol of prayer and blessing, possibly in the minds of those who brought the children it was also a protection from evil spirits (Orig.).—ἐπετίμησαν αὐτοῖς: the αὐτοῖς ought in strict grammar to mean the children, but it doubtless refers to those who brought them. The action of the disciples was not necessarily mere officiousness. It may have been a Galilean incident, mothers in large numbers bringing their little ones to get a parting blessing from the good, wise man who is leaving their country, unceremoniously crowding around Him, affectionately mobbing Him in a way that seemed to call for interference. This act of the mothers of Galilee revealed how much they thought of Jesus.
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 19:14. ἄφετε, μὴ κωλύετε: visits of the children never unseasonable; Jesus ever delighted to look on the living emblems of the true citizen of the Kingdom of God; pleased with them for what they were naturally, and for what they signified.—τοιούτων, of such, i.e., the child-like; repetition of an old lesson (Matthew 18:3).
And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.Matthew 19:15. ἐπορεύθη ἐκεῖθεν; He departed thence, no indication whence or whither. The results of this meeting are conceivable. Christians may have come out of that company. Mothers would not forget Him who blessed their children on the way to His cross, or fail to speak of the event to them when they were older.
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?Matthew 19:16-22.—A man in quest of the “summum bonum” (Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23). A phenomenon as welcome to Jesus as the visit of the mothers with their children: a man not belonging to the class of self-satisfied religionists of whom He had had ample experience; with moral ingenuousness, an open mind, and a good, honest heart; a malcontent probably with the teaching and practice of the Rabbis and scribes coming to the anti-Rabbinical Teacher in hope of hearing from Him something more satisfying. The main interest of the story for us lies in the revelation it makes of Christ’s method of dealing with inquirers, and in the subsequent conversation with the disciples.
Matthew 19:16. ἰδού, lo! introduces a story worth telling.—εἷς: one, singled out from the crowd by his approach towards Jesus, and, as the narrative shows, by his spiritual state.—Διδάσκαλε: this reading, which omits the epithet ἀγαθέ, doubtless gives us the true text of Mt., but in all probability not the exact terms in which the man addressed Jesus. Such a man was likely to accost Jesus courteously as “good Master,” as Mk. and Lk. both report. The omission of the epithet eliminates from the story the basis for a very important and characteristic element in Christ’s dealing with this inquirer contained in the question: “Why callest thou me good?” which means not “the epithet is not applicable to me, but to God only,” but “do not make ascriptions of goodness a matter of mere courtesy or politeness”. The case is parallel to the unwillingness of Jesus to be called Christ indiscriminately. He wished no man to give Him any title of honour till he knew what he was doing. He wished this man in particular to think carefully on what is good, and who, all the more that there were competing types of goodness to choose from, that of the Pharisees, and that exhibited in His own teaching.—τί ἀγαθὸν ποιήσω. the ἀγαθὸν is omitted in the parallels, but it is implied: of course it was something good that would have to be done in order to obtain eternal life. What good shall I do? Fritzsche takes this as not = quid boni faciam? but = quid, quod bonum sit, faciam? that is, not = what particular good action shall, etc., but = what in the name of good, etc. This is probably right. The man wants to know what the good really is … that by doing it he may attain eternal life. It was a natural question for a thoughtful man in those days when the teaching and practice of the religious guides made it the hardest thing possible to know what the good really was. It is a mistake to conceive of this man as asking what specially good thing he might do in the spirit of the type of Pharisee who was always asking, What is my duty and I will do it? (Schöttgen). Would Jesus have loved such a man, or would such a man have left His presence sorrowful?—ζωὴν αἰώνιον: an alternative name for the summum bonum in Christ’s teaching, and also in current Jewish speech (Wünsche, Beiträge). The Kingdom of God is the more common in the Synoptics, the other in the fourth Gospel.
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.Matthew 19:17. τί με ἐρωτᾷς, etc.: it seems as if Jesus thought the question superfluous (so Weiss and Meyer), but this was only a teacher’s way of leading on a pupil = “of course there is only one answer to that: God is the one good being, and His revealed will shows us the good He would have us do”. A familiar old truth, yet new as Christ meant it. How opposed to current teaching we know from Matthew 15:4-9.—εἰ δὲ θέλεις, etc., but, to answer your question directly, if, etc.—τήρ-ει (-ησον) τ. ἐν.: a vaguer direction then than it seems to us now. We now think only of the Ten Words. Then there were many commands of God besides these; and many more still of the scribes, hence most naturally the following question.
He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,Matthew 19:18. ποίας; not = τίνας (Grotius), but what sort of commands: out of the multitude of commands divine and human, which do you mean? He had a shrewd guess doubtless, but wanted to be sure. Christ’s reply follows in this and subsequent verse, quoting in direct form prefaced with τό the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and fifth commands of the Decalogue with that to love a neighbour as ourselves from Leviticus 19:18. This last Origen regarded as an interpolation, and Weiss thinks that the evangelist has introduced it from Matthew 22:39 as one that could not be left out. If it be omitted the list ends with the fifth, a significantly emphatic position, reminding us of Matthew 15:4, and giving to the whole list an antithetic reference to the teaching of the scribes. In sending the inquirer to the second table of the Decalogue as the sum of duty, Jesus gave an instruction anything but commonplace, though it seem so to us. He was proclaiming the supremacy of the ethical, a most important second lesson for the inquirer, the first being the necessity of using moral epithets carefully and sincerely. From the answer given to this second lesson it will appear whereabouts the inquirer is, a point Jesus desired to ascertain.
Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?Matthew 19:20-22. ὁ νεανίσκος, the youth; whence known? from a special tradition (Meyer); an inference from the expression ἐκ νεότητός μου in Mark 10:20 (Weiss).—ἐφύλαξα (-άμην). Kypke and Elsner take pains to show that the use of this verb (and of τηρεῖν, Matthew 19:17) in the sense of obeying commands is good Greek. More important is it to note the declaration the verb contains: all these I have kept from youth. To be taken as a simple fact, not stated in a self-righteous spirit (Weiss-Meyer), rather sadly as by one conscious that he has not thereby reached the desired goal, real rest in the highest good found. The exemplary life plus the dissatisfaction meant much: that he was not a morally commonplace man, but one with affinities for the noble and the heroic. No wonder Jesus felt interested in him, “loved him” (Mark 10:21), and tried to win him completely. It may be assumed that the man appreciated the supreme importance of the ethical, and was not in sympathy with the tendency of the scribes to subordinate the moral to the ritual, the commands of God to the traditions of the elders.—τί ἔτι ὑστερῶ: the question interesting first of all as revealing a felt want: a good symptom; next as betraying perplexity = I am on the right road, according to your teaching; why then do I not attain the rest of the true godly life? The question, not in Mk., is implied in the tone of the previous statement, whether uttered or not.
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.Matthew 19:21. εἰ θέλες τέλειος εἶναι (on τέλειος vide Matthew 5:48): if you wish to reach your end, the true life and the rest it brings.—ὕπαγε, etc.: go, sell off, distribute to the poor, and then come, follow me—such is the advice Christ gives: His final lesson for this inquirer. It is a subjective counsel relative to the individual. Jesus sees he is well-to-do, and divines where the evil lies. It is doubtful if he cares passionately, supremely for the true life; doubtful if he be τέλειος in the sense of single-mindedness. It is not a question of one more thing to do, but of the state of the heart, which the suggestion to sell off will test. The invitation to become a disciple is seriously meant. Jesus, who repelled some offering themselves, thinks so well of this man as to desire him for a disciple. He makes the proposal hopefully. Why should so noble a man not be equal to the sacrifice? He makes it with the firm belief that in no other way can this man become happy. noblesse oblige. The nobler the man, the more imperative that the heroic element in him have full scope. A potential apostle, a possible Paul even, cannot be happy as a mere wealthy merchant or landowner. It is “a counsel of perfection,” but not in the ascetic sense, as if poverty were the sure way to the higher Christian life; rather in the sense of the adage: of him to whom much is given shall much be required.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.Matthew 19:22. ἀπῆλθεν: he would have to go away in any case, even if he meant to comply with the advice in order to carry it into effect. But he went away λυπούμενος, in genuine distress, because placed in a dilemma between parting with wealth and social position, and forfeiting the joy of disciplehood under an admired Master. What was the final issue? Did “the thorns of avarice defile the rich soil of his soul” (Euthy.), and render him permanently unfruitful, or did he at last decide for the disciple life? At the worst see here the miscarriage of a really noble nature, and take care not to fall into the vulgar mistake of seeing in this man a Pharisee who came to tempt Jesus, and who in professing to have kept the commandments was simply a boastful liar. (So Jerome: “Non voto discentis sed tentantis interrogat … mentitur adolescens”.)
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 19:23-27. Conversation ensuing (Mark 10:23-27; Luke 18:24-27).
Matthew 19:23. ἀμὴν, introduces as usual a solemn utterance.—πλούσιος: the rich man is brought on the stage, not as an object of envy or admiration, which he is to the worldly-minded, but as an object of commiseration.—δυσκόλως εἰσελεύσεται, etc.: because with difficulty shall he enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is stated as a matter of observation, not without sympathy, and not with any intention to pronounce dogmatically on the case of the inquirer who had just departed, as if he were an absolutely lost soul. His case suggested the topic of wealth as a hindrance in the divine life.—δυσκόλως: the adjective δύσκολος means difficult to please as to food (δυς, κόλον), hence morose; here used of things, occurs only in this saying in N. T.
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.Matthew 19:24. πάλιν δὲ λέγω: reiteration with greater emphasis. The strong language of Jesus here reveals a keen sense of disappointment at the loss of so promising a man to the ranks of disciplehood. He sees so clearly what he might be, were it not for that miserable money.—εὐκοπώτερον, etc.: a comparison to express the idea of the impossible. The figure of a camel going through a needle-eye savours of Eastern exaggeration. It has been remarked that the variation in the parallel accounts in respect to the words for a needle and its eye shows that no corresponding proverb existed in the Greek tongue (Camb. G. T.). The figure is to be taken as it stands, and not to be “civilised” (vide H. C.) by taking κάμηλος (or κάμιλος, Suidas) = a cable, or the wicket of an Oriental house. It may be more legitimate to try to explain how so grotesque a figure could become current even in Palestine. Furrer suggests a camel driver leaning against his camel and trying to put a coarse thread through the eye of a needle with which he sews his sacks, and, failing, saying with comical exaggeration: I might put the camel through the eye easier than this thread (Tscht., für M. und R.).—τρήματος from τιτράω, to pierce.—ῥαφίδος, a word disapproved by Phryn., who gives βελόνη as the correct term. But vide Lobeck’s note, p. 90. It is noticeable that Christ’s tone is much more severe in reference to wealth than to wedlock. Eunuchism for the kingdom is optional; possession of wealth on the other hand seems to be viewed as all but incompatible with citizenship in the kingdom.
When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?Matthew 19:25. ἐξεπλήσσοντο σφόδρα: the severity of the Master’s doctrine on wealth as on divorce (Matthew 19:12) was more than the disciples could bear. It took their breath away, so to speak.—τίς ἄρα, etc.: it seemed to them to raise the question as to the possibility of salvation generally. The question may represent the cumulative effect of the austere teaching of the Master since the day of Caesarea. The imperfect tense of ἐξεπλήσσοντο may point to a continuous mood, culminating at that moment.
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.Matthew 19:26. ἐμβλέψας denotes a look of observation and sympathy. Jesus sees that He has made too deep an impression, depressing in effect, and hastens to qualify what He had said: “with mild, meek eye soothing their scared mind, and relieving their distress” (Chrys., Hom. lxiii.).—παρὰ ἀνθρώποις, etc.: practically this reflection amounted to saying that the previous remark was to be taken cum grano, as referring to tendency rather than to fact. He did not mean that it was as impossible for a rich man to be saved as for a camel to pass through a needle-eye, but that the tendency of wealth was to act powerfully as an obstructive to the spiritual life.
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?Matthew 19:27-30. A reaction (Mark 10:28-31; Luke 18:28-30).
Matthew 19:27. εἶπεν δὲ Π.: from depression the disciples, represented by Peter, pass to self-complacent buoyancy—their natural mood.—ἰδοὺ points to a fact deserving special notice in view of the recent incident.—ἡμεῖς, we, have done what that man failed to do: left all and followed Thee.—τί ἄρα, etc.: a question not given in Mk. and Lk., but implied in Peter’s remark and the tone in which it was uttered: what shall be to us by way of recompense? Surely we shall attain what seems so hard for some to reach.
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.Matthew 19:28. ἀμὴν: introducing a solemn statement.—ὑμεῖς οἱ ἀκ.: not a nominative absolute (Palairet, Observ.), but being far from the verb, ὑμεῖς is repeated (with καὶ) after καθίσεσθε.—ἐν τ. παλινγενεσίᾳ to be connected with καθίσεσθε following. This is a new word in the Gospel vocabulary, and points to the general renewal—“re-genesis (nova erit genesis cui praeerit Adamus ii., Beng.)”—in the end of the days, which occupied a prominent place in Jewish apocalyptic hopes. The colouring in this verse is so strongly apocalyptic as to have suggested the hypothesis of interpolation (Weizsäcker), or of a Jewish-Christian source (Hilgenfeld). It is not in the parallels, but something similar occurs in Luke 22:30. Commentators translate this promise, so strongly Jewish in form, into Christian ideas, according to their taste, reading into it what was not there for the disciples when it was spoken.
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.Matthew 19:29. eneral promise for all faithful ones.—ἀδελφούς, etc.: detailed specification of the things renounced for Christ.—πολλαπλασίονα λήψεται: shall receive manifoldly the things renounced, i.e., in the final order of things, in the new-born world, as nothing is said to the contrary. Mk. and Lk. make the compensation present.—καὶ ζωὴν αἰώνιον: this higher boon, the summum bonum, over and above the compensation in kind. Here the latter comes first; in chap. Matthew 6:33 the order is reversed.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.Matthew 19:30. πολλοὶ δὲ ἔσονται, etc., but many first ones shall be last, and last ones first. Fritzsche reverses the meaning = many being last shall be first, so making it accord with Matthew 20:16. The words are so arranged as to suggest taking πρῶτ. ἔσχ. and ἔσχ. πρῶτ. as composite ideas, and rendering: many shall be first-lasts, and last-firsts = there shall be many reversals of position both ways. This aphorism admits of many applications. There are not only many instances under the same category but many categories: e.g., first in this world, last in the Kingdom of God (e.g., the wealthy inquirer and the Twelve); first in time, last in power and fame (the Twelve and Paul); first in privilege, last in Christian faith (Jews and Gentiles); first in zeal and self-sacrifice, last in quality of service through vitiating influence of low motive (legal and evangelic piety). The aphorism is adapted to frequent use in various connections, and may have been uttered on different occasions by Jesus (cf. Luke 13:30 : Jew and Gentile), and the sphere of its application can only be determined by the context. Here it is the last of those above indicated, not the first, as Weiss holds, also Holtzmann (H. C.), though admitting that there may be reference also to the self-complacent mood of Peter. The δὲ after πολλοὶ implies that this is the reference. It does not introduce a new subject, but a contrasted view of the same subject. The connection of thought is: self-sacrifice such as yours, Peter, has a great reward, but beware of self-complacency, which may so vitiate the quality of service as to make one first in sacrifice last in the esteem of God.