And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I go, sir.—The tone of outward respect, as contrasted with the rude refusal of the elder son, is eminently characteristic as representing the surface religion of the Pharisees.
Two sons - By those two sons our Lord intends to represent the conduct of the Jews, and that of the publicans and sinners.
In my vineyard - See the notes at Matthew 21:33. To work in the vineyard here represents the work which God requires man to do.
I will not - This had been the language of the publicans and wicked men. They refused at first, and did not "profess" to be willing to go.
Repented - Changed his mind. Afterward, at the preaching of John and Christ, the publicans - the wicked - repented and obeyed.
The second ...said, I go sir; and went not - This represented the conduct of the scribes and Pharisees - "professing" to obey God, observing the external rites of religion, but opposed really to the kingdom of God, and about to put his Son to death.
Whether of them twain ... - Which of the two. "They say unto him, The first." This answer was correct; but it is strange that they did not perceive that it condemned themselves.
Go into the kingdom of God - Become Christians, or more readily follow the Saviour. See the notes at Matthew 3:2.
Before you - Rather than you. They are more likely to do it than you. You are self-righteous, self-willed, and obstinate.
John came in the way of righteousness - Many of them have believed, but you have not. That is, in the right way, or teaching the way to be righteous; to wit, by repentance. Publicans and harlots heard him and became righteous, but they did not. They saw it, but, as in one thousand other cases, it did not produce the proper effect on them, and they would not repent.
and went not—He did not "afterward repent" and refuse to go; for there was here no intention to go. It is the class that "say and do not" (Mt 23:3)—a falseness more abominable to God, says Stier, than any "I will not."See Poole on "Matthew 21:32".
and said likewise; the same things as to the other son, the publicans and sinners; calling them into the Gospel dispensation, to hear the word, embrace truth, attend on ordinances, and labour in promoting the kingdom, and interest of the Messiah, whilst they had the light of the Gospel with them. Urging also the relation they stood in to God, as a part of the Jewish body; to whom, among other external privileges, the adoption belonged:
and he answered and said, I go, sir, and went not: the word "go" is not in the generality of the Greek copies; the phrase is only "I sir", though it is rightly enough supplied as to the sense. Beza says, it was in his most ancient copy; and so it is in the Arabic and Persic versions, and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel; though it is not in the Syriac and Ethiopic versions. So, the Scribes and Pharisees seemed pleased with the ministry of John for a while, and at first were forward to submit to his baptism, and were very inquisitive about the Messiah: yet, when he was declared in John's ministry, and by his own doctrine, and miracles, they refused to give in to the belief of him; they would neither enter into the Gospel kingdom, embrace the doctrines, and obey the commands of it themselves, nor suffer others to enter in; but, as much as in them lay, by their reproaches, menaces, and excommunications, deterred them from it. They, were like some other persons, who promise fair, and talk much of doing good works, but do none; teach the people to do them, but do not perform them themselves, though they would seem to do them; make great pretensions to them, boast of them, and trust in them; and therefore, of all men, ought to be careful to maintain them, and yet do the least.And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 21:30. οὐ θέλω, I will not, I am not inclined; rude, sulky, unmannerly, disobedient, and making no pretence to filial loyalty.Matthew 21:30. Τῷ ἑτέρῳ, the other) Who, in a different point of view, is called the eldest in Luke 15:25.—ὡσαύτως, in like manner) with undoubtedly the same spirit. Their calling was equal.—ἐγω, I) sc. ὑπάγω, go; cf. in Acts 9:10, the reply of Ananias, ἰδοὺ, ἐγὼ, Behold, I, sc. am here; and in S. V. of Jdg 13:11, that of the angel to Manoah, ἐγὼ, I, sc. am.—Κύριε, Lord) cf. ch. Matthew 7:22.Verse 30. - The second. He typifies the Pharisees, the scrupulous observers of outward form, while neglectful of the weightier matters - judgment, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23). I go, sir, Ἐγὼ κύριε: Eo, domine. This son is outwardly respectful and dutiful; his answer is in marked contrast to the rough "I will not" of his brother. He professes zeal for the Law, and ready obedience. And went not. Such men did no real work for God, honouring him with their lips and outward observances, while their heart was far from him, and their morality was unprincipled and impure.
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