RPM, Volume 17, Number 33, August 9 to August 15, 2015

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 17

By Albert Barnes

Grand Rapids, Mich.:
Baker Book House, 1949.



Verses 1-6. See also Mr 9:33-41; Lu 9:46-60. Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? By the kingdom of heaven they meant the kingdom which they supposed he was about to set up-- his kingdom as the Messiah. They asked the question because they supposed, in accordance with the common expectation of the Jews, that he was about to set up a temporal kingdom of great splendour; and they wished to know who should have the principal offices and posts of honour and profit. This was among them a frequent subject of inquiry and controversy. Mr 9:34 informs us that they had had a dispute on this subject in the way. Jesus, he says, inquired of them what they had been disputing about. Lu 9:47 says, that Jesus perceived the thought of their heart;--an act implying omniscience, for none can search the heart but God, Jer 17:10. The disciples, conscious that the subject of their dispute was known, requested Jesus to decide it, Mt 18:1. They were at first silent through shame, Mr 9:34 but perceiving that the subject of their dispute was known, they came, as Matthew states, and referred the matter to him for his opinion.

{u} "At the same" Mr 9:33; Lu 9:46; 22:24


Verses 2-3. Except ye be converted. The word "converted," means changed, or turned. It means, to change or turn from one habit of life, or set of opinions, to another, Jas 5:19; Lu 22:32. See also Mt 7:6; 16:23; Lu 7:9, etc., where the same word is used in the original. It is sometimes referred to that great change called the new birth, or regeneration, Ps 51:13; Isa 9:5; Ac 3:19 but not always. It is a general word, meaning any change. The word regeneration denotes a particular change--the passing from death to life. The phrase, "except ye be converted," does not imply of necessity that they were not Christians before, or had not been born again. It means, that their opinions and feelings about the kingdom of the Messiah must be changed. They had supposed that he was to be a temporal Prince. They expected that he would reign as other kings did. They supposed he would have his great officers of state, as other monarchs had. And they were ambitiously inquiring who should hold the highest offices, Jesus told them they were wrong in their views and expectations. No such things would take place. From these notions they must be turned, changed, or converted, or they could have no part in his kingdom. These ideas did not fit at all the nature of his kingdom.

And become as little children. Children are, to a great extent, destitute of ambition, pride, and haughtiness. They are characteristically humble and teachable. By requiring his disciples to be like them, he did not intend to express any opinion about the native moral character of children, but simply that in these respects they should become like them. They should lay aside their ambitious views, and pride, and be willing to occupy their proper station--a very lowly one. Mr 9:35 says that Jesus, before he placed the little child in the midst of them, told them that "if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all." That is, he shall be the most distinguished Christian who is the most humble, and who is willing to be esteemed least, and last of all. To esteem ourselves as God esteems us, is humility. And it cannot be degrading to think of ourselves as we are. But pride, or an attempt to be thought of more importance than we are, is foolish, wicked, and degrading.

{v} "ye be converted" Ps 51:10-13; Joh 3:3 {w} "little children" 1 Co 14:20; 1 Pe 2:2


Verse 3. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 18:2"


Verse 4. The same is greatest, etc. That is, shall be the most eminent Christian; shall have most of the true spirit of religion.

{x} "humble himself" Lu 14:11; Jas 4:10


Verse 5. And whoso shall receive one such little child. That is, whoso shall receive and love one with a spirit like this child--one who is humble, meek, unambitious, or a real Christian.

In my name. As a follower of me; or, because he is attached to me. Whoso receives one possessed of my spirit, and who, because he has that spirit, loves him, loves me also. The word "receive" means, to approve, love, or treat with kindness; to aid in the time of need. See Mt 25:35-40.

Mr 9:38 and Lu 9:49 add a conversation that took place on this occasion, that has been omitted by Matthew. John told him that they had seen one casting out devils in his name, and they forbade him, because he followed not with them. Jesus replied, that he should not have been forbidden, for there was no one who could work a miracle in his name that could lightly speak evil of him. That is, though he did not attend them, though he had not joined himself to their society, yet he could not really be opposed to him. Indeed they should have remembered, that the power to work a miracle must always come from the same source, that is, God; and that he that had the ability given him to work a miracle, and that did it in the name of Christ, must be a real friend to him. It is probable from this, that the power of working miracles in the name of Christ was given to many who did not attend on his ministry.

{z} "shall offend" Mr 9:42; Lu 17:1,2


Verse 6. Whoso shall offend. That is, cause to fall, or to sin; or who should place anything in their way to hinder their piety or happiness; See Barnes "Mt 5:29".

These little ones. That is, Christians, manifesting the spirit of little children, 1 Jo 2:1,12,18,28.

It were better for him that a millstone, etc. Mills anciently were either turned by hand, See Barnes "Mt 24:41"

or by beasts, chiefly by mules. These were of the larger kind; and the original words denote that it was this kind that was intended. This was one mode of capital punishment practised by the Greeks, Syrians, Romans, and by some other surrounding nations. The meaning is, it would be better for him to die before he had committed the sin. To injure, or to cause to sin, the feeblest Christian, will be regarded as a most serious offence, and will be punished accordingly.

{z} "shall offend" Mr 9:42; Lu 17:1,2


Verse 7. Woe unto the world because of offences. That is, offences will be the cause of woe, or of suffering. Offences, here, mean things that will produce sin; that will cause us to sin, or temptations to induce others to sin. See Barnes "Mt 5:29".

It must needs be, etc. That is, such is the depravity of man, that there will be always some attempting to make others sin; some men of wickedness endeavouring to lead Christians astray, and rejoicing when they have succeeded in causing them to fall. Such, also, is the strength of our native corruption, and the force of passion, that our besetting sins will lead us astray.

Woe to that man by whom the offence cometh. He who draws others into sin is awfully guilty. No man can be more guilty, life wickedness can be more deeply seated in the heart, than that which attempts to mar the peace, defile the purity, and destroy the souls of others. And yet, in all ages, there have been multitudes, who, by persecution, threats, arts, allurements, and persuasion, have endeavoured to seduce Christians from the faith, and to lead them into sin.

{a} "for it must" 1 Co 11:19; Jude 1:4 {b} "but woe" Jude 1:11


Verse 8,9. If thy hand, etc. See Barnes "Mt 5:29,30".

The meaning of all these instances is the same. Temptations to sin, attachments, and employments of any kind that cannot be pursued without leading us into sin, be they ever so dear to us, must be abandoned, or the soul must be lost.

It is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed-with one eye, etc. It is not meant by this, that when the body shall be raised it will be maimed and disfigured in this manner. It will be perfect. See 1 Co 15:42-44. But these things are said for the purpose of carrying out or making complete the figure, or the representation of cutting off the hands, etc. The meaning is, it is better to go to heaven, without enjoying the things that caused us to sin, than to enjoy them here, and then be lost.

Halt. Lame.

Maimed. With a loss of limbs.

Into hell fire. It is implied in all this, that if their beloved sins are not abandoned, the soul must go into everlasting fire. This is conclusive proof that the sufferings of the wicked will be eternal. See Barnes "Mr 9:44, See Barnes "Mr 9:46, See Barnes "Mr 9:48".

{c} "Wherefore if thy hand" Mt 5:29,30; Mr 9:43,45


Verse 9. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 18:8"

{d} "enter into life" Heb 4:11 {e} "two eyes" Lu 9:25


Verse 10. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones, etc. That is, one who has become like little children--or, a Christian. Jesus then proceeds to state the reason why we should not despise his feeblest and obscurest follower. That reason is drawn from the care which God exercises over them. The first instance of that care is, that in heaven their angels do always behold his face. He does not mean, I suppose, to state that every good man has his guardian angel, as many of the Jews believed; but that the angels were, in general, the guards of his followers, and aided them, and watched over them, Heb 1:14.

Do always behold the face of my Father, etc. This is taken from the practice of earthly courts. To be admitted to the presence of a king; to be permitted to see his face continually; to have free access at all times, was deemed a mark of peculiar favour, 1 Ki 10:8; Es 1:14 and was esteemed a security for his protection. So, says our Saviour, we should not despise the obscurest Christians, for they are ministered to by the highest and noblest of beings; beings who are always enjoying the favour and friendship of God.

{f} "angels do always" Ac 12:15 {g} "behold" Ps 17:15


Verse 11. For the Son of man, etc. This is a second reason why we should not despise Christians, for the Son of man came to seek and save them. He came in search of them when lost; he found them; he saved them. It was the great object of his life; and though obscure and little in the eye of the world, yet that cannot be worthy of contempt which the Son of God sought by his toils and his death.

Son of man. See Barnes "Mt 8:19,20".

That which was lost. Property is lost when it is consumed, mislaid, etc.--when we have no longer the use of it. Friends are lost when they die--we enjoy their society no longer. A wicked and profligate man is said to be lost to virtue and happiness. He is useless to society. So all men are lost. They are wicked, miserable wanderers from God. They are lost to piety, to happiness, and heaven. These Jesus came to save by giving his own life a ransom, and shedding his own blood that they might be recovered and saved.

{h} "save that" Mt 1:21; Lu 9:56; 19:10; Joh 3:17; 10:10; 12:47

1 Ti 1:15


Verses 12-14. To show still farther the reason why we should not despise them, he introduced a parable showing the joy felt when a thing lost is found. Man rejoices over the recovery of one of his flock that had wandered, more than over all that remained. So God rejoices that man is restored, seeks his salvation, and wills that not one thus found should perish. If God thus loves and preserves the redeemed, then surely man should not despise them, See this passage farther explained in Lu 15:4-10.

{i} "if a man" Lu 15:4


Verse 13. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes on "Mt 18:12"


Verse 14. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 18:12"

{k} "one of these" 2 Pe 3:9


Verses 15-20. Moreover if thy brother. The word brother, here, evidently means a fellow-professor of religion. Christians are called brethren because they belong to the same redeemed family--having a common Father, God, and because they are united in the same feelings, objects, and destiny.

Trespass against thee. That is, injure thee in any way, by words or conduct. The original word means, sin against thee. This may be done by injuring the character, person, or property.

Go and tell him his fault. This was required under the law, Le 19:17. In the original it is, "go and reprove him." Seek an explanation of his conduct; and if he has done wrong, administer a friendly and brotherly reproof. This is required to be done alone:

(1.) That he may have an opportunity of explaining it. In nine cases out of ten, where one supposes he has been injured, a little friendly conversation would set the matter right, and prevent difficulty.

(2.) That he may have opportunity of acknowledging his offence, or making reparation, if he has done wrong. Many would be glad of such an opportunity, and it is our duty to furnish it by calling on them.

(3.) That we may admonish them of their error, if they have done an injury to the cause of religion. This should not be blazoned abroad. It can do no good. It does injury. It is what the enemies of religion wish. Christ is often wounded in the house of his friends; and religion, as well as an injured brother, often suffers by spreading such faults before the world.

Thou hast gained thy brother. To gain means, sometimes, to preserve, or to save, 1 Co 9:19. Here it means, thou hast preserved him, or restored him, to be a consistent Christian. Perhaps it may include the idea also, thou hast reconciled him--thou hast gained him as a Christian brother.

{l} "if thy brother" Le 19:17; Lu 17:3 {m} "if he shall hear thee" Jas 5:20


Verse 16. If he will not hear thee, etc. That is, if he spurns or abuses you, or will not be entreated by you, and will not reform.

Take one or two more. The design of taking them seems to be,

(1.) that he might be induced to listen to them, Mt 18:17. They should be persons of influence or authority; his personal friends, or those in whom he could put confidence.

(2.) That they might be witnesses of his conduct before the church, Mt 18:17. The law of Moses required two or three witnesses, De 19:15; 2 Co 13:1; Joh 8:17.

{n} "witnesses" De 19:15


Verse 17. Tell it unto the Church. See Barnes "Mt 16:18".

The church may here mean the whole assembly of believers; or it may mean those who are authorized to try such cases--the representatives of the church, or those who act for them. In the Jewish synagogue there was a bench of elders, before whom trials of this kind were brought. It was to be brought to the church, in order that he might be admonished, entreated, and, if possible, reformed. This was, and is always to be, the first business in disciplining an offending brother.

If he neglect to hear the Church, let him be, etc. The Jews gave the name heathen or Gentile to all other nations but themselves. With them they had no religious intercourse or communion.

Publican. See Barnes "Mt 5:47".

Publicans were men of abandoned character, and the Jews would have no intercourse with them. The meaning of this is, cease to have religious intercourse with him, to acknowledge him as a brother. Regard him as obstinate, self-willed, and guilty. It does not mean that we should cease to show kindness to him, and aid him in affliction or trial; for this is required towards all men; but it means that we should disown him as a Christian brother, and treat him as we do other men not connected with the church. This should not be done till all these steps are taken. This is the only way of kindness. This is the only way to preserve peace and purity in the church.

{o} "let him be unto" Ro 16:17; 1 Co 5:3-5; 2 Th 3:6,14


Verse 18. Whatsoever ye shall bind, See Barnes "Mt 16:19".

These words were spoken to the apostles. He had used the same words to Peter, Mt 16:19. He used them here to signify that they all had the same power; that in ordering the affairs of the church he did not intend to give Peter any supremacy, or any exclusive right to regulate it. The meaning of this verse is, whatever you shall do in the discipline of the church shall be approved by God, or bound in heaven. This promise, therefore, cannot be understood as extending to all Christians or ministers; for all others but the apostles may err.

{p} "whatsoever ye shall bind" Mt 16:19; Joh 20:23; Ac 15:23-31; 2 Co 2:10


Verse 19. Again I say unto you, That if two of you, etc. This is connected with the previous verses. The connexion is this: The obstinate man is to be excluded from the church, Mt 18:17. The care of the church--the power of admitting or excluding members--of organizing and establishing it--is committed to you, the apostles, Mt 18:18. Yet there is not need of the whole to give validity to the transaction. When two of you agree, or have the same mind, feelings, and opinion, about the arrangement of affairs in the church, or about things desired for its welfare, and shall ask of God, it shall be done for them. See Ac 1:14-26; 15:1-29. The promise here has respect to the apostles in organizing the church. It cannot, with any propriety, be applied to the ordinary prayers of believers. Other promises are made to them, and it is true that the prayer of faith will be answered; but that is not the truth taught here.

{q} "it shall be done" Mr 11:24; Joh 16:24; 1 Jn 5:14


Verse 20. For where two or three, etc. This is a general assertion, made to support the particular promise made Mt 18:19 to his apostles. He affirms that wherever two or three are assembled together in his name he is in the midst of them.

In my name. That is,

(1.) by my authority, acting for me in my church. Joh 10:25; Joh 16:23

(2.) It may mean, for my service, in the place of prayer and praise, assembled in obedience to my command, and with a desire to promote my glory.

There am I in the midst of them. Nothing could more clearly prove that Jesus must be everywhere present, and, of course, be God. Every day, perhaps every hour, two or three, or many more, may be assembled in every city or village in the United States, in England, in Greenland, in Africa, in Ceylon, in the Sandwich Islands, in Russia, and in Judea--in almost every part of the world--and in the midst of them all is Jesus the Saviour. Millions thus at the same time, in every quarter of the globe, worship in his name, and experience the truth of the promise that he is present with them. It is impossible that he should be in all these places, and not be God.

{r} "gathered together" Joh 20:19; 1 Co 5:4


Verses 21,22. Then came Peter, etc, The mention of the duty Mt 18:15 seeing a brother when he had offended us, implying that it was a duty to forgive him, led Peter to ask how often this was to be done.

Forgive him? To forgive is to treat as though the offence was not committed--to declare that we will not harbour malice, or treat unkindly, but that the matter shall be buried and forgotten.

Till seven times? The Jews taught that a man was to forgive another three times, but not the fourth. Peter more than doubled this, and asked whether forgiveness was to be exercised to so great an extent.

Until seventy times seven. The meaning is, that we are not to limit our forgiveness to any fixed number of times. See Ge 4:24. As often as a brother injures us, and asks forgiveness, we are to forgive him. It is his duty to ask forgiveness, Lu 17:4. If he does this, it is our duty to declare that we forgive him, and to treat him accordingly. If he does not ask us to forgive him, yet we are not at liberty to follow him with revenge and malice, but are still to treat him kindly, and to do him good, Lu 10:30-37.

{s} "forgive him" Mr 11:25; Lu 17:4; Col 3:13


Verse 22. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 18:21"


Verse 23. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened, etc. This phrase has reference to the church, or to the way in which God will deal with his people. It shall be in my church as it was with a certain king; or, God will deal with the members of his church as a certain king did with his servants. See Barnes "Mt 3:2".

This parable Mt 13:3 is related to show the duty of forgiving others. It is not necessary to suppose that it was a true narrative, but only that it illustrated the truth which he was teaching. At the same time, it may be true that such an occurrence really took place.

Would take account of his servants. To take account means to reckon, to settle up the affairs. Servants here means, probably, petty princes, or, more likely, collectors of the revenue or taxes. Among the ancients, kings often farmed out, or sold for a certain sum, the taxes of a particular province. Thus, when Judea was subject to Egypt, or Rome, the kings frequently sold to the high priest the taxes to be raised from Judea, on condition of a much smaller sum being paid to them. This secured to them a certain sum, but it gave occasion to much oppression in the collection of the taxes. It is probable that some such persons are intended by the word servants.

{t} "take account" Ro 14:12


Verse 24. Ten thousand talents. A talent was a sum of money, or weight of silver or gold, amounting to three thousand shekels. A silver shekel was worth, after the captivity, not far from half a dollar of our money. A talent of silver was worth 1519 dollars, 23 cents, [or -L-342 3s. 9d.] of gold, 24,309 dollars, 88 cents, [or -L-5,475.] If these were silver talents, as is probable, then the sum owed by the servant was 16,180,000 dollars, [or about -L-8,421,876 sterling]; a sum which proves that he was not a domestic, but some tributary prince. The sum is used to show that the debt was immensely large, and that our sins are so great that they cannot be estimated or numbered. Compare Job 27:5.

{1} "thousand talents" "A talent is 750 ounces of silver, which, at 5s, the oz., is 187l. 10s."


Verse 25. His lord commanded him to be sold, etc. By the laws of the Hebrews, they were permitted to sell debtors, with their wives and children, into servitude for a time sufficient to pay the debt. See 2 Ki 4:1; Le 25:39-46; Am 8:6.

{u} "be sold" 2 Ki 4:1; Is 1:1


Verse 26. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him. This does not mean that he paid him religious homage, but that in a humble, and reverent, and earnest manner, he entreated him to have patience with him. He prostrated himself before his lord, as is customary in all eastern nations, when subjects are in the presence of their king. See Barnes "Mt 2:2".

{1} "worshipped" or, "besought him"


Verse 27. The lord of that servant was moved with compassion, etc. He had pity on him. He saw his distressed condition. He pitied his family. He forgave him the whole debt. This represents the mercy of God to men. They had sinned. They owed to God more than could be paid. They were about to be cast off. But God has mercy on them, and in conexion with their prayers, forgives them. We are not to interpret the circumstances of a parable too strictly. The verse about selling the wife and children is not to be taken literally, as if God was about to punish them for the sins of their father; but it is a circumstance thrown in to keep up the story; to make it consistent; to explain why the servant was so anxious to obtain a delay of the time of payment.

{v} "loosed him" Ps 78:38


Verses 28,29. He found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence. The Penny was a Roman coin, worth about fourteen cents [seven pence] of our money. Consequently, this debt was about fourteen dollars [three pounds three shillings]-- a very small sum compared with what had been forgiven to the first servant. Perhaps our Saviour, by this, meant to teach that the offences which our fellow-men commit against us are very small and insignificant, compared with our offences against God. Since God has forgiven us so much, we ought to forgive each other the small offences which are committed.

Took him by the throat. Took him in a violent and rough manner; half choked, or throttled him. This was the more criminal and base, as he had himself been so kindly treated, and dealt so mildly with, by his Lord.

Besought. Entreated, pleaded with him.

{2} "Penny" "The Roman penny is the 8th part of an ounce, which at 5s, the ounce, is 7d. half-penny." Mt 20:2

{w} "saying" Mt 18:26


Verse 29. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 18:28"


Verse 30. No Barnes text on this verse.


Verse 31. So when his fellowservants, etc. This is a mere circumstance thrown into the story for the sake of keeping, or making a consistent narrative. It cannot be intended to teach that other Christians should go and tell God What a brother had done; for God well knows all the actions of his children, and does not need us, surely, to inform him of what is done. It is abusing the Bible, and departing from the design of parables, to press every circumstance, and to endeavour to extract, from it some spiritual meaning. Our Saviour, in this parable, designed most clearly to exhibit only one great truth--the duty of forgiving our brethren, and the great evil of not forgiving a brother when he offends us. The circumstances of the parable are intended only to make the story consistent with itself, and thus to impress the general truth more fully on the mind.


Verse 32. No Barnes text on this verse.

{x} "wicked servant" Lu 19:22


Verse 33. No Barnes text on this verse.


Verse 34. Delivered him to the tormentors. The word tormentors, here, probably means keepers of the prison. Torments were inflicted on criminals, not on debtors. They were inflicted by stretching the limbs, or pinching the flesh, or taking out the eyes, or taking off the skin while alive, etc. It is not probable that anything of this kind is intended, but only that the servant was punished by imprisonment till the debt should be paid.


Verse 35. So likewise, etc. This verse contains the sum or moral of the parable. When Christ has explained one of his own parables, we are to receive it just as he has explained it, and not attempt to draw spiritual instruction from any parts or circumstances which he has not explained. The following seems to be the particulars of the general truth which he meant to teach:

(1.) That our sins are great.

(2.) That God freely forgives them.

(3.) That the offences committed against us by our brethren are comparatively small.

(4.) That we should, therefore, most freely forgive them.

(5.) That if we do not, God will be justly angry with us, and punish us.

From your hearts. That is, not merely in words, but really and truly to feel and act towards him as if he had not offended us.

Trespasses. Offences, injuries. Remarks and actions designed to do us wrong.

{y} "So likewise" Pr 21:13; Mt 6:12; Jas 2:13


(1.) We see that it is possible to make a profession of religion an occasion of ambition, Mt 18:1. The apostles at first sought honour, and expected office in consequence of following Christ. So thousands have done since. Religion, notwithstanding all the opposition it has met with, really commands the confidence of mankind. To make a profession of it may be a way of access to that confidence; and thousands, it is to be feared, even yet enter the church merely to obtain some worldly benefit. Especially does this danger beset ministers of the gospel. There are few paths to the confidence of mankind so easily trod, as to enter the ministry. Every minister, of course, if at all worthy of his office, has access to the confidence of multitudes, and is never despised but by the worst and lowest of mankind. No way is so easy to step at once to public confidence. Other men toil long to establish influence by personal character. The minister has it by virtue of his office. Those who now enter the ministry are tempted far more in this respect than were the apostles; and how should they search their own hearts, to see that no such abominable motive has induced them to seek that office!

(2.) It is consummate wickedness thus to prostrate the most sacred of all offices to the worst of purposes. The apostles, at this time, were ignorant. They expected a kingdom where it would be right to seek distinction. But we labour under no such ignorance. We know that his kingdom is not of this world, and woe to the man that acts as though it were. Deep and awful must be the lot of him who thus seeks the honours of the world, while he is professedly following the meek and lowly Jesus.

(3.) Humility is indispensable to religion, Mt 18:3. No man, who is not humble, can possibly be a Christian. He must be willing to esteem himself as he is, and to have others esteem him so also. This is humility. And humility is lovely. It is not meanness; it is not cowardice; it is not want of just self-esteem. It is a view of ourselves just as we are, and a willingness that God and all creatures should so esteem us. What can be more lovely than such an estimation of ourselves? And how foolish and wicked is it to be proud; that is, to think more of ourselves, and wish others to think so, than we really deserve! To put on appearances, and to magnify our own importance, and think that the affairs of the universe could not go on without us, and to be indignant when all the world does not bow down to do us homage-- this is hypocrisy, as well as wickedness; and there may be, therefore, hypocrites out of the church, as well as in it.

(4.) Humility is the best evidence of piety, Mt 18:4. The most humble man is the most eminent Christian. He is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The effect of sin is to produce pride. Religion overcomes it by producing a just sense of ourselves, of other men, of angels, and of God. We may, therefore, measure the advance of piety in our own souls by the increase of humility.

(5.) We see the danger of despising and doing injury to real Christians, and more especially the guilt of attempting to draw them into sin, Mt 18:6. God watches over them. He loves them. In the eye of the world they may be of little importance, but not so with God. The most obscure follower of Christ is dear, infinitely dear, to him; and he will take care of him. He that attempts to injure a Christian attempts to injure God; for God has redeemed him, and loves him.

(6.) Men will do much to draw others into sin, Mt 18:7. In all communities there are some who seem to live for this. They have often much wealth, or learning, or accomplishment, or address, or professional influence; and they employ it for the sake of seducing the unwary, and leading them into ruin. Hence offences come, and many of the young and thoughtless are led astray. But He who has all power has pronounced woe upon them, and judgment will not always linger. No class of men have a more fearful account to render to God than they who thus lead others into vice and infidelity.

(7.) We must forsake our dearest sins, Mt 18:8,9. We must do this, or go to hell-fire. There is no way of avoiding it. We cannot love and cherish those sins, and be saved.

(8.) The wicked--they who will not forsake their sins--must certainly go to eternal punishment, Mt 18:8,9. So said the compassionate Saviour. The fair and obvious meaning of his words is, that the sufferings of hell are eternal. And Christ did not use words without meaning. He did not mean to frighten us by bugbears, or to hold up imaginary fears. If Christ speaks of hell, then there is a hell; if he says it is eternal, then it is so. Of this we may be sure, that EVERY WORD which the God of mercy has spoken about the punishment of the wicked is Full OF MEANING.

(9.) Christians are protected, Mt 18:10. Angels are appointed as their friends and guardians. Those friends are very near to God. They enjoy his favour, and his children shall be safe.

(10.) Christians are safe, Mt 18:11-14. Jesus came to save them. He left the heavens for this end. God rejoices in their salvation. He secures it at great sacrifices, and none can pluck them out of his hand. After the coming of Jesus to save them--after all that he has done for that, and that only--after the joy of God and angels at their recovery--it is impossible that they should be wrested from him and destroyed. See Joh 10:27,28.

(11.) It is our duty to admonish our brethren when they injure us, Mt 18:15. We have no right to speak of the offence to any one else, not even to our best friends, until we have given an opportunity to explain.

(12.) The way to treat offending brethren is clearly pointed out, Mt 18:15-17. Nor have we a fight to take any other course. Infinite Wisdom--the Prince of Peace--has declared that this is the way to treat our brethren. No other can be right; and no other, therefore, can be so well adapted to promote the peace of the church And yet how different from this is the course commonly pursued! How few go honestly to an offending brother, and tell him his fault! Instead of this, every breeze bears the report--it is magnified-- mole-hills swell to mountains, and a quarrel of years often succeeds what might have been settled at once. No robber is so cruel as he who steals away the character of another. Nothing can compensate for the loss of this. Wealth, health, mansions, and equipage, all are trifles compared with this. Especially is this true of a Christian. His reputation gone, he has lost his power of doing good; he has brought dishonour on the cause he most loved; he has lost his peace, and worlds cannot repay him.

Who steals my purse, steals trash: 'tis something, nothing:
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands.
But he that filches from me my good name,
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.

(13.) We have every encouragement to pray, Mt 18:20. We are poor, and sinful, and dying, and none can comfort us but God. At his throne we may find all that we want. We know not which is most wonderful, that God deigns to hear our prayers, or that men are so unwilling to use so simple and easy a way of obtaining what they so much need.

(14.) We should never be weary of forgiving our brethren, Mt 18:22. We should do it cheerfully. We should do it always. We are never better employed than when we are doing good to those who have injured us. Thus doing, we are most like God.

(15.) There will be a day in which we must give up our account, Mt 18:23. It may wait long; but God will reckon with us, and everything shall be brought into judgment.

(16.) We are greatly indebted to God--far, far beyond what we are able to pay, Mt 18:24. We have sinned, and in no way can we make atonement for past sins. But Jesus the Saviour has made atonement, and paid our debt, and we may be free.

(17.) It is right to pray to God when we feel that we have sinned, and are unable to pay the debt, Mt 18:26. We have no other way. Poor, and needy, and wretched, we must cast ourselves upon his mercy, or die--die for ever.

(18.) God will have compassion on those who do it, Mt 18:27. At his feet, in the attitude of prayer, the burdened sinner finds peace. We have nowhere else to go but to the very Being that we have offended. No being but He can save us from death.

(19.) From the kindness of God to us we should learn not to oppress others, Mt 18:28.

(20.) It is our true interest, as well as duty, to forgive those that offend us, Mt 18:34. God will take vengeance; and in due time we must suffer if we do not forgive others.

(21.) Christians are often great sufferers for harbouring malice. As a punishment, God withdraws the light of his countenance; they walk in darkness; they cannot enjoy religion; their conscience smites them; and they are wretched. No man ever did, or ever can, enjoy religion, who did not from his heart forgive his brother his trespasses.

(22.) One reason why Christians ever walk in darkness is, that there is some such duty neglected. They think they have been injured, and very possibly they may have been. They think they are in the right, and possibly they are so. But mingled with a consciousness of this is an unforgiving spirit; and they cannot enjoy religion till that is subdued.

(23.) Forgiveness must not be in word merely, but from the heart, Mt 18:35. No other can be genuine; no other is like God.



Verses 1-12. See also Mr 10:1-12.

Verse 1. Coasts of Judea beyond Jordan. Probably our Saviour was then going from Galilee up to Jerusalem, to one of the great feasts of the Jews. Samaria was between Galilee and Jerusalem; and, choosing not to go through it, he crossed the Jordan, and passed down on the east side of it, through Peraea, a region of country belonging to Judea, formerly a part of the tribes Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. See the Map.

Coasts of Judea. Regions or parts of Judea. See Barnes "Mt 2:16".

{a} "departed from Galilee" Mr 10:1; Joh 10:40


Verse 2. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 19:1"


Verse 3. The Pharisees also came. See Barnes "Mt 3:7".

Tempting him. This means, to get him, if possible, to express an opinion that should involve him in difficulty. There was the more art in this captious question which they proposed, as at that time the people were very much divided on the subject. A part, following the opinions of Hillel, said, that a man might divorce his wife for any offence, or any dislike he might have of her. See Barnes "Mt 5:31".

Others, of the school of Shammai, maintained, that divorce was unlawful, except in case of adultery. Whatever opinion, therefore, Christ expressed, they expected that he would involve himself in difficulty with one of their parties.


Verses 4-6. And he answered and said, etc. Instead of referring to the opinions of either party, Jesus called their attention to the original design of marriage, to the authority of Moses--an authority acknowledged by them both.

Have ye not read. Ge 1:27; 2:21,22.

And said, For this cause, etc. Ge 2:24. That is, God at the beginning made but one man and one woman; their posterity should learn that the original intention of marriage was, that a man should have but one wife.

Shall leave father and mother. This means, shall bind himself more strongly to his wife than he was to his father or mother. The marriage connexion is the most tender and endearing of all human relations; more tender than even that bond which unites us to a parent.

And shall cleave to his wife. The word cleave denotes a union of the firmest kind. It is, in the original, taken from gluing, and means so firmly to adhere together that nothing can separate them.

They twain shall be one flesh. That is, they two, or that were two, shall be united as one--one in law, in feeling, in interest, and in affection. They shall no longer have separate interests, but shall act in all things as if they were one--animated by one soul and one wish. The argument of Jesus here is, that since they are so intimately united as to be one, and since in the beginning God made but one woman for one man, it follows that they cannot be separated but by the authority of God. Man may not put away his wife for every cause. What God has joined together, man may not put asunder. In this decision he really decided in favour of one of the parties; and it shows that when it was proper, Jesus answered questions, from whatever cause they might have been proposed, and however much difficulty it might involve him in. Our Lord, in this, also showed consummate wisdom. He answered the question, not from Hillel or Shammai, their teachers, but from Moses, and thus defeated their malice.


Verse 5. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes on "Mt 19:4"

{c} "For this cause" Ge 2:24; Eph 5:31


Verse 6. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 19:4"

{d} "What therefore" 1 Co 7:10


Verse 7. Why did Moses, etc. To this they objected that Moses had allowed such divorces, De 24:1 and if he had allowed them, they inferred that they could not be unlawful. See Barnes "Mt 5:31".

{e} "Why did Moses" De 24:1; Isa 1:1


Verse 8. He saith unto them, etc. Jesus admits that this was allowed; but still he contends that this was not the original design of marriage. It was only a temporary expedient, growing out of a peculiar state of things, and not designed to be perpetual. It was on account of the hardness of their hearts. Moses found the custom in use. He found a hard-hearted and rebellious people. In this state of things he did not deem it prudent to forbid a practice so universal: but it might be regulated; and, instead of suffering the husband to divorce his wife in a passion, he required him, in order that he might take time to consider the matter, and thus make it probable that divorces would be less frequent, to give her a writing; to sit down deliberately, to look at the matter, and probably also to bring the case before some scribe or learned man, to write a divorce in the legal form. Thus doing, there might be an opportunity for the matter to be reconciled, and the man to be persuaded not to divorce his wife. This, says our Saviour, was a permission growing out of a particular state of things, and designed to remedy a prevailing evil. But at first it was not so. God intended that marriage should be between one man and one woman, and that they were only to be separated by appointment of him who had formed the union.

Hardness of your hearts. He speaks here of his hearers as a part of the nation. The hardness of you Jews; as when we say, we fought with England, and gained our independence; that is, we the American people, though it was done by our fathers, lie does not mean to say, therefore, that this was done on account of the people that he addressed, but of the national hardness of heart--the cruelty of the Jewish people as a people.

{e} "Why did Moses" De 24:1; Isa 1:1


Verse 9. And I say unto you. Emphasis should be laid here on the word I. This was the opinion of Jesus--this he proclaimed to be the law of his kingdom--this the command of God ever afterwards. Indulgence had been given by. the laws of Moses; but that indulgence was to cease, and the marriage relation to be brought back to its original intention. Only one offence was to make divorce lawful. This is the law of God. And by the same law, all marriages which take place after divorce, where adultery is not the cause of divorce, are adulterous. Legislatures have no Sight to say that men may put away their wives for any other cause; and where they do, and where there is marriage afterwards, by the law of God such marriages are adulterous.

{f} "???" Mt 5:32; Lu 16:18


Verse 10. His disciples say, etc. The disciples were full of Jewish notions. They thought that the privilege of divorcing a wife when there was a quarrelsome disposition, or anything else that rendered the marriage unhappy, was a great privilege; and that in such cases to be always bound to live with a wife was a great calamity. They said, therefore, that if such was the case in such the condition on which men married--it was better not to marry.

{g} "to marry" Pro 19:13; 31:9,19


Verse 11. All men cannot receive this saying. The minds of men are not prepared for this. This saying evidently means what the disciples had just said, that it was good for a man not to marry. It might be good in certain circumstances, in times of persecution and trial, or for the sake of lab outing in the cause of religion, without the care and burden of a family. It might be good for many to live as some of the apostles did, without marriage, but it was not given to all men, 1 Co 7:1,7,9.

To be married, or unmarried, might be lawful according to circumstances, 1 Co 7:26.


Verse 12. Jesus proceeds to state that there were some who were able to receive that saying, and to remain in an married state. Some were so born; some made such by the cruelty of men; and some who voluntarily abstained from marriage for the kingdom of heaven's sake--that is, that they might devote themselves entirely to the proper business of religion. Perhaps he refers here to the ESSENES, a sect of the Jews See Barnes "Mt 3:7"

who held that marriage was unsuitable to their condition, who had no children of their own, but perpetuated their sect by adopting the poor children of others. Eunuchs were employed chiefly in attending on the females, or in the harem. They rose often to distinction, and hold important offices in the state. Hence the word sometimes denotes such an officer of state, Ac 8:27.

{h} "kingdom of heaven's sake" 1 Co 7:32


Verse 13. Then were there brought unto him little children. See also Mr 10:13-16; Lu 18:16-17. Probably these were brought by some of his followers, who desired not only to devote themselves to Jesus, but all that they had--their children as well as themselves. All the Jews were accustomed to devote their children to God by circumcision. It was natural, therefore, under the new dispensation, that it should be done. Luke says, they were infants. They were undoubtedly those who were not old enough to come by choice, but their coming was an act of the parents.

Put his hands on them, and pray. It was customary among the Jews, when blessings were sought for others in prayer, to lay the hands on the head of the person prayed for, implying a kind of consecration to God. See Ge 48:14; Mt 9:18. They had also much confidence in the prayers of pious men; believing that those blessed by a saint or a prophet would be happy. See Nu 22:6; Lu 2:28.

The disciples rebuked them. That is, reproved them, or told them it was improper. This they did, probably, either

(1.) because they thought they were too young; or,

(2.) because they thought they would be troublesome to their Master.


Verse 14. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, etc. Mark adds, he was much displeased at what the disciples said. It was a thing highly gratifying to him, and which he earnestly sought, that children should be brought to him; and a case where it was very improper that they should interfere.

Of such is the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven evidently means, here, the church. See Barnes "Mr 3:2".

In Mark and Luke, it is said he immediately added, "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein." Whosoever shall not be humble, unambitious, and docile, shall not be a true follower of Christ, or a member of his kingdom. Of such as these--that is, of persons with such tempers as these--is the church to be composed. He does not say of those infants, but of such persons as resembled them, or were like them in temper, was the kingdom of heaven made up. It was proper, therefore, that he should pray for them; it was proper that they who possessed such a temper should be brought to him. The disposition itself--the humility, the teachableness, the want of ambition--was an ornament anywhere, and little children should therefore be brought to him. It is probable--it is greatly to be hoped--that all infants will be saved. No contrary doctrine is taught in the sacred Scriptures. But it does not appear to be the design of this passage to teach that all infants will be saved. It means simply, that they should be suffered to be brought to him as amiable, lovely, and uncorrupted by the world, and having traits of mind resembling those among real Christians.

{i} "???" Mr 10:14; Lu 18:16 {k} "such is" Mt 18:3


Verse 15. He laid his hands on them. Mark says, he blessed them. That is, he pronounced or sought a blessing on them.


Verses 16-30. This account is found also in Mr 10:17-31; Lu 18:18-30.

Verse 16. One came. This was a young man, Mt 19:20. He was a ruler, (Luke;) probably a ruler in a synagogue, or of the great council of the nation; a place to which he was chosen on account of his unblemished character, and promising talents. He came running, (Mark;) evincing great earnestness and anxiety. He fell upon his knees, (Mark;) not to worship him, but to pay the customary respectful salutation; exhibiting the highest regard for Jesus as an extraordinary religious Teacher.

Good Master. The word good here means, doubtless, most excellent; referring not so much to the MORAL character of Jesus as to his character as a religious Teacher. It was probably a title which the Jews were in the habit of applying to their religious teachers. The word Master here means Teacher.

What good thing shall I do. He had attempted to keep all the commandments. He had been taught by his Jewish teachers that men were to be saved by doing something, or by their works; and he supposed that this was to be the way under every system of religion. He had lived externally a blameless life; but yet he was not at peace: he was anxious, and he came to ascertain what, in the view of Jesus, was to be done, that his righteousness might be complete. To have eternal life means, to be saved. The happiness of heaven is called life, in opposition to the pains of hell, called death, or an eternal dying, Re 2:2; 20:14. The one is real life, answering the purposes of living--living to the honour of God, and in eternal happiness; the other is a failure of the great ends of existence--prolonged, eternal suffering--of which temporal death is but the feeble image.

{l} "what good" Mr 10:17; Lu 10:25; 18:18


Verse 17. Why callest thou me good? Why do you give to me a title that belongs only to God? You suppose me to be only a man. Yet you give me an appellation that belongs only to God. It is improper to use titles in this manner. As you Jews use them, they are unmeaning. And though the title may apply to me, yet you did not intend to use it in the sense in which it is proper, as denoting infinite perfection, or Divinity; but you intended to use it as a complimentary or a flattering title, applied to me as if I were a mere man--a title which belongs only to God. The intention, the habit of using mere titles, and applying as compliment terms belonging only to God, is wrong, Christ did not intend here to disclaim Divinity, or to say anything about his own character; but simply to reprove the intention and habit of the young man--a most severe reproof of a foolish habit of compliment and flattery, and seeking pompous title.

Keep the commandments. That is, do what God has commanded. He, in the next verses, informs him what he meant by the commandments. Jesus said this, doubtless, to try him, and to convince him that he had by no means kept the commandments; and that in supposing he had, he was altogether deceived. The young man thought he had kept them, and was relying on them for salvation. It was of great importance, therefore, to convince him that he was, after all, a sinner. Christ did not mean to say that any mail would be saved by the works of the law, for the Bible teaches plainly that such will not be the case, Ro 3:20,28; 4:6; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:9; 2 Ti 1:9.

At the same time, however, [it is true that if a man perfectly complied with the requirements of the law, he would be saved...EDITOR'S NOTE; the preceding is utter nonsense, please refer to Ga 2:16] for there would be no reason why he should be condemned. Jesus, therefore, since he saw he was depending on his works, told him that if he would enter life he must keep the commandments; if he was depending on them, he must keep them perfectly; and if this was done, [he would be saved...EDITOR'S NOTE this is utter nonsense, I again refer the reader to Ga 2:16] The reasons why Christ gave him this direction were, probably,

1st. Because it was his duty to keep them.

2nd. Because the young man depended on them, and he ought to understand what was required if he did--that they should be kept perfectly, or that they were not kept at all. 3rd. Because he wanted to test him, to show him that he did not keep them, and thus to show him his need of a Saviour.


Verses 18,19. In reply to the inquiry of the young man, Jesus directed him to the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and fifth, Ex 20:12-16 as containing the substance of the whole--as containing particularly what he intended to show him that he had not kept. See Barnes "Mt 5:21, See Barnes "Mt 5:27".

Not steal. To steal is to take the property of another without his knowledge or consent.

Bear false witness. Give testimony contrary to truth. This may be done in a court of justice, or by private or public slander. It means, to say things of another which are not true.

Honour thy father, etc. That is,

1st. obey them, keep their commands, Co 3:20; Eph 6:1,2,3.

2nd. Respect them, show them reverence.

3rd. Treat their opinions with regard--not despise them, or ridicule them.

4th. Treat their habits with respect. They may be different from ours; may be antiquated, and to us strange, odd, or whimsical; but they are the habits of a parent, and they are not to be ridiculed.

5th. Provide for them when sick, weary, old, and infirm. Bear with their weakness, comply with their wishes, speak to them kindly, and deny ourselves of rest, and sleep, and ease, to promote their welfare. To this he added another--the duty of loving our neighbour, Le 19:18.

This Christ declared to be the second great commandment of the law, Mt 22:39. A neighbour means,

1st, any person who lives near to us.

2nd. Any person with whom we have dealings.

3rd. A friend or relative, Mt 5:43.

4th. Any person--friend, relative, countryman, or foe, Mr 12:31. Any person who does us good, or confers a favour on us, Lu 10:27-37. This commandment means evidently,

1st. that we should not injure our neighbour in his person, property, or character.

2nd. That we should not be supremely selfish, and should seek to do him good.

3rd. That in a case of debt, difference, or debate, we should do what is right, regarding his interest as much as our own, and not being influenced by a love of self.

4th. That we should treat his character, property, etc., as we do our own, according to what is right.

5th. That in order to benefit him we should practise self-denial, or do as we would wish him to do to us, Mt 7:12. It does not mean,

1st. that the love of ourselves, according to what we are, or according to truth, is improper. The happiness of myself is of as much importance as that of any other man; and it is as proper that it should be sought.

2nd. It does not mean that I am to neglect my own business to take care of my neighbour's. My happiness, salvation, health, and family, are committed peculiarly to myself; and, provided I do not interfere with my neighbour's rights, or violate my obligations to him, it is my duty to seek the welfare of my own as my first duty, 1 Ti 5:8; Tit 2:5.

Mark adds to these commandments, "Defraud not;" by which he meant, doubtless, to express the substance of this, to love our neighbour as ourself. It means, literally, to take away the property of another by violence, or by deceiving him: thus showing that he is not loved as we love ourselves.

{m} "shalt do" Ex 20:13; De 5:17


Verse 19. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 19:18"

{n} "Thou shalt love" Le 19:18


Verse 20. All these, etc. I have made these the rule of my life. I have endeavoured to obey them. Is there anything that I lack--any new commandments to be kept? Do you, the Messiah, teach any new commands, besides those which I have learned from the law, and from the Jewish teachers, which it is proper for me to obey, in order to be saved?


Verse 21. If thou wilt be perfect. The word perfect means complete in all its parts---finished, having no part wanting. Thus a watch is perfect; or complete, when it has all its proper wheels, and hands, and movements in order. Job was said to be perfect, Job 1:1; not that he was sinless, for he is afterwards reproved by God himself, Job 38:1-40:4 but because his piety was proportioned, and had a completeness of parts, he was a pious father, a pious magistrate, a pious neighbour, a pious citizen. His religion was not confined to one thing, but extended to all. Perfect means, sometimes, the filling up, or carrying out, or expression of a principle of action. Thus, 1 Jo 2:5, "Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected." That is, the keeping of the commandments of God is the proper expression, carrying out, or completion, of the love of God. This is its meaning here. If thou wilt be perfect, complete, finished if thou wilt show the proper expression of this keeping of the commandments--go, etc. Make the obedience complete.

Mark says, (Mr 10:21) Jesus beholding him loved him. He was pleased with his amiableness, his correct character, his frankness, and ingenuousness. Jesus, as a man, was capable of all the emotions of most tender friendship. As a man, we may suppose that his disposition was tender and affectionate, mild and calm. Hence he loved with peculiar affection the disciple John, eminently endowed with these qualities. And hence he was pleased with the same traits in this young man. Still, with all this amiableness, there is reason to think he was not a Christian; and that the love of mere amiable qualities was all the affection that was ever bestowed on him by the Saviour.

One thing, adds Mark, thou lackest. There is one thing wanting. You are not complete. This done, you would show that your obedience lacked no essential part, but was complete, finished, proportionate, perfect.

Go and sell that thou hast, etc. The young man declared that he had kept the law. That law required, among other things, that he should love his neighbour as himself. It required also that he should love the Lord his God supremely; that is, more than all other objects. If he had that true love to God and man; if he loved his Maker and fellow-creatures more than he did his property, he would be willing to give up his wealth to the service of God and of man. Jesus commanded him to do this, therefore, to test his character, and to show him that he had not kept the law as he pretended; and thus to show him that he needed a better righteousness than his own.

Treasure in heaven. See Barnes "Mt 6:20".

Follow me. To follow Jesus, then meant to be a personal attendant on his ministry; to go about with him from place to place, as well as to imitate and obey him. Now it means,

1st. to obey his commandments 2nd. to imitate his example, and to live like him.

{n} "go and sell" Lu 12:33; 16:9; Ac 2:45; 4:34,35; 1 Ti 6:18,19

{o} "follow me" Joh 12:26


Verse 22. He had great possessions. He was very rich. He made an idol of them. He loved them more than God. He had NOT kept the commandments from his youth up; nor had he kept them at all. And rather than do good with his treasures, and seek his salvation by obeying God, this young man chose to turn away from the Saviour, and give over his inquiry about eternal life. He probably returned no more. Alas, how many lovely and amiable young persons follow his example!


Verse 23. Shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. Shall with difficulty be saved. He has much to struggle with; and it will require the greatest of human efforts to break away from his temptations, and idols, and secure his salvation.

{p} "That a rich man" 1 Ti 6:9,10


Verse 24. It is easier for a camel, etc. This was a proverb in common use among the Jews, and still common among the Arabians. To denote that a thing was impossible, or exceedingly difficult, they said camel or an elephant might as soon walk through a needle's eye. In the use of such proverbs, it is not necessary to understand them literally, but only to denote the extreme difficulty of the case.

A camel. A beast of burden, much used in eastern countries. It is about the size of the largest ox, with one or two bunches on his back, with long neck and legs, no horns, and with feet adapted to the hot and dry sand. They are capable of carrying heavy burdens; will travel sometimes faster than the fleetest horse; and are provided with a stomach which they fill with water, by means of which they can live four or five days without drink. They are very mild and tame, and kneel down to receive and unload their burden. They are chiefly used in deserts and hot climates, where other beasts of burden are with difficulty kept alive.

A rich man. This rather means one who loves his riches, and makes an idol of them; or one who supremely desires to be rich. Mark says, "them that trust in riches." While he has this feeling, it is literally impossible that he should be a Christian. For religion is the love of God, rather than the world; the love of Jesus and his cause, more than gold. Still a man may have much property, and not have this feeling. He may have great wealth, and love God more; as a poor man may have little, and love that little more than God. The difficulties in the way of salvation for a rich man are,

1st. that riches engross the affections.

2nd. Men consider wealth as the chief good; and when this is obtained, think they have gained all.

3rd. They are proud of their wealth, and unwilling to be numbered with the poor and despised followers of Jesus.

4th. Riches engross the time, and fill the mind with cares and anxieties, and leave little for God.

5th. They often produce luxury, dissipation, and vice.

6th. It is difficult to obtain wealth without sin, or without avarice, and covetousness, and fraud, and oppression, 1 Ti 6:9,10,17; Jas 5:1-6; Lu 12:16-21; 16:19-31.

Still Jesus says, Mt 19:26 all these may be overcome. God can give grace to do it. Though to men it may appear impossible, yet it is easy for God.


Verse 25. No Barnes text on this verse.


Verse 26. No Barnes text on this verse.

{q} "but with God" Ps 3:8; 42:11; Zec 8:6


Verse 27. We have forsaken all. Probably nothing but their fishing-nets, small boats, and cottages. But they were their all; their living, their home. And, forsaking them, they had as really shown their sincerity, as though they had possessed the gold of Ophir, and dwelt in the palaces of kings.

What shall we have therefore? We have done as thou didst command this young man to do. What reward may we expect for it?

{r} "Then answered" Mr 10:28; Lu 18:28 {s} "forsaken all" Php 3:8


Verse 28. Verily I say unto you. Jesus in this verse declares the reward which they would have. They were not to look for it now, but in a future period.

In the regeneration. This word occurs but once elsewhere in the New Testament, Tit 3:5. It literally means a new birth, or being born again. Applied to a man, it denotes the great change when the heart is renewed, or when the sinner begins to be a Christian. This is its meaning clearly in Titus. But this meaning cannot be applied here. Christ was not born again, and in no proper sense could it be said that they had followed him in the new birth. The word also means any great changes, or restoration of things to a former state, or to a better state. In this sense it is probably used here. It refers to that great revolution; that restoration of order in the universe; that universal new birth when the dead shall rise, and all human things shall be changed, and a new order of things shall start up out of the ruins of the old, when the Son of man shall come to judgment. The passage, then, should be read, "Ye which have followed me shall, as a reward in the great day of the resurrection of the dead, and of forming the new and eternal order of things--the day of judgment, the regeneration--be signally honoured and blessed."

When the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory. That is, to judge the world. Throne of glory, means glorious throne, or a splendid throne. It is not to be taken literally, but is used to denote his character as a King and Judge, and to signify the great dignity and majesty which will be displayed by him. See Mt 24:30; 26:64; Ac 1:11; 17:31.

Sit upon twelve thrones. This is figurative. To sit on a throne denotes power and honour; and means here that they should be distinguished above others, and be more highly honoured and rewarded.

Judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus will be the Judge of quick and dead. He only is qualified for it; and the Father hath given all judgment to the Son, Joh 5:22. To judge, denotes rank, authority, power. The ancient judges of Israel were men of distinguished courage, patriotism, honour, and valour. Hence the word comes to denote, not so much an actual exercise of the power of passing judgment, as the honour attached to the office. And as earthly kings have those around them dignified with honours and office, counsellors and judges, so Christ says his apostles shall occupy the same relative station in the great day. They shall be honoured by him, and by all, as apostles; as having in the face of persecution left all; as having laid the foundations of his church, and endured all the maddened persecutions of the world.

The twelve tribes of Israel. This was the number of the ancient tribes. By this name the people of God were denoted. By this name Jesus here denotes his redeemed people. See also Jas 1:1, where Christians are called the twelve tribes. Here it also means not the Jews, not the world, not the wicked, not that the apostles are to pronounce sentence on the enemies of God; but the people of God, the redeemed. Among them Jesus says his apostles shall be honoured in the day of judgment, as earthly kings place in posts of office and honour the counsellors and judges of those who have signally served them. Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 6:2".

{t} "ye shall also" Mt 20:21; Lu 22:28-30; 1 Co 6:2,3; Re 2:26


Verse 29. Forsaken houses, etc. In the days of Jesus, those who followed him were obliged generally to forsake houses and home, and to attend him. In our times it is not often required that we should literally leave them, except when the life is devoted to him among the heathen; but it is always required that we love them less than we do him; that we give up all that is inconsistent with religion, and be ready to give up all when he demands it.

For my name's sake. From attachment to me. Mark adds, "and the gospel's;" that is, from obedience to the requirements of the gospel, and love for the service of the gospel.

Shall receive an hundredfold. Mark says, "an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters," etc. An hundredfold means a hundred times as much. This is not to be understood literally, but that he will give what will be worth a hundred times as much, in the peace, and joy, and rewards of religion. It is also literally true, that no man's temporal interest is injured by the love of God. Marks adds, "with persecutions." These are not promised as a part of the reward; but amidst their trials and persecutions, they should find reward and peace.

{u} "And every one" Mr 10:29,30; Lu 18:29,30; 1 Co 2:9


Verse 30. This verse should have been connected with the following chapter. The parable there spoken is expressly to illustrate this sentiment. See its meaning, Mt 20:16.

{v} "But many that" Mt 20:16; 21:31,32; Mr 10:31; Lu 13:30; Ga 5:7; Heb 4:1


(1.) We should not throw ourselves unnecessarily in the way of the enemies of religion, Mt 19:1. Jesus, to avoid the Samaritans, crossed the Jordan, and took a more distant route to Jerusalem. If duty calls us in the way of the enemies of religion, we should go. If we can do them good, we should go. If our presence will only provoke them to anger and bitterness, then we should turn aside. Comp. See Barnes "Mt 10:23".

(2.) Men will seek every occasion to ensnare Christians, Mt 19:3. Questions will be proposed with great art, and with an appearance of sincerity, only for the purpose of leading them into difficulty. Cunning men know well how to propose such questions, and triumph much when they have perplexed believers. This is often the boast of men of some standing, who think they accomplish the great purposes of their existence, if they can confound other men; and think it signal triumph if they can make others as miserable as themselves.

(3.) We should not refuse to answer such persons with mildness, when the Bible has settled the question, Mt 19:4-6. Jesus answered a captious question, proposed on purpose to ensnare him. We may often do much to confound the enemies of religion, and to recommend it, when without passion we hear their inquiries, and deliberately inform them that the question has been settled by God. We had better however, far better, say nothing in reply, than to answer in anger, or to show that we are irritated, All the object of the enemy is gained, if he can make us mad.

(4.) Men will search and pervert the Bible for authority to indulge their sins, and to perplex Christians, Mt 19:7. No device is more common than to produce a passage of Scripture, known to be misquoted or perverted, yet plausible, for the purpose of perplexing Christians. In such cases, the best way is often to say nothing. If unanswered, men will be ashamed of it; if answered, they gain their point, and are ready for debate and abuse.

(5.) We learn from this chapter that there is no union so intimate as the marriage connexion, Mt 19:6. Nothing is so tender and endearing as this union appointed by God for the welfare of man.

(6.) This union should not be entered into slightly or rashly. It involves all the happiness of this life, and much of that to come. The union demands,

(1.) congeniality of feeling and disposition;

(2.) of rank or standing in life;

(3.) of temper;

(4.) similarity of acquirements;

(5.) of age;

(6.) of talent;

(7.) intimate acquaintance. It should also be a union on religious feelings and opinions:

(1.) Because religion is more important than anything else.

(2.) Because it will give more happiness in the married life than anything else.

(3.) Because where one only is pious, there is danger that religion will be obscured and blighted.

(4.) Because no prospect is so painful as that of eternal separation.

(5.) Because it is heathenish, brutal, and mad, to partake the gifts of God in a family, and offer no thanksgiving; and inexpressibly wicked to live from day to day as if there were no God, no heaven, no hell.

(6.) Because death is near, and nothing will soothe the pangs of parting but the hope of meeting in the resurrection of the just.

(7.) No human legislature has a right to declare divorces, except in one single case, Mt 19:9. If they do, they are accessories to the crime that may follow, and presume to legislate where God has legislated before them.

(8.) Those thus divorced, or pretended to be divorced, and marrying again, are, by the declaration of Jesus Christ, living in adultery, Mt 19:9. It is no excuse to say that the law of the land divorced them. The law had no such right. If all the legislatures of the world were to say that it was lawful for a man to steal, and commit murder, it would not make it so; and in spite of human permission, God would hold a man answerable for theft and murder. So also of adultery.

(9.) The marriage union demands kindness and love, Mt 19:6. Husband and wife are one, Love to each other is love to a second self. Hatred, and anger, and quarrels, are against ourselves. And the evils and quarrels in married life will descend on ourselves, and be gall and wormwood in our own cup.

(10.) Infants may be brought to Jesus to receive his blessing, Mt 19:13-15. While on earth, Jesus admitted them to his presence, and blessed them with his prayers. If they might be brought then, they may be brought now. Their souls are as precious; their dangers are as great; their salvation is as important. A parent should require the most indubitable evidence that Jesus will not receive his offspring, and will be displeased if the offering is made, to deter him from this inestimable privilege.

(11.) If children may be brought, they should be brought. It is the solemn duty of a parent to seize upon all possible means of benefiting his children, and of presenting them to God, to implore his blessing. In family prayer, and in the sanctuary, the ordinance of baptism, the blessing of the Redeemer should be sought early and constantly on their precious and immortal souls.

(12.) Earnestness and deep anxiety are proper in seeking salvation, Mt 19:16. The young man came running; he kneeled. It was not form and ceremony; it was life and reality. Religion is a great subject. Salvation is beyond the power of utterance in importance. Eternity is near; and damnation thunders along the path of the guilty. The sinner must be saved soon, or die for ever. He cannot be too earnest. He cannot press with too great haste to Jesus. He should come running, and kneeling, and humbled, and lifting the agonizing cry, "What shall I do to be saved ?"

(13.) He should come young, Mt 19:20. He cannot come too young. God has the first claim on our affections. He made us; he keeps us; he provides for us; and it is right that we should give our first affections to him. No one who has become a Christian ever yet felt that he had become one too young. No young person that given his heart to the Redeemer ever yet regretted it. They may give up the gay world to do it; they may leave the circles of the dance and the song; they may be exposed to contempt and persecution, but no matter. He who becomes a true Christian, no matter of what age or rank, blesses God that he was inclined to do it, and the time never can come when for one moment he will regret it. Why, then, will not the young give their hearts to the Saviour, and do that which they know they never can for one moment regret?

(14.) It is no dishonour for those who hold offices, and who are men of rank, to inquire on the subject of religion, Lu 18:18. Men of rank often suppose that it is only the weak, and credulous, and ignorant, that ever feel any anxiety about religion. Never was a greater mistake. It has been only profligate, and weak, and ignorant men, that have been thoughtless. Two-thirds of all the profound investigations of the world have been on this very subject. The wisest and best of the heathens have devoted their lives to inquire about God, and their own destiny. So in Christian lands. Were Bacon, Newton, Locke, Milton, Hale, and Boerhaave men of weak minds? Yet their deepest thoughts and most anxious inquiries were on this very subject. So in our own land. Were Washington, Ames, Henry, Jay, and Rush men of weak minds? Yet they were profound believers in revelation. And yet young men of rank, and wealth, and learning, often think they show great independence in refusing to think of what occupied the profound attention of these men, and fancy they are great only by refusing to tread in their steps. Never was a greater or more foolish mistake. If anything demands attention, it is surely the inquiry whether we are to be happy for ever, or wretched; whether there is a God and Saviour; or whether we are "in a forsaken and fatherless world."

(15.) It is as important for the rich to seek religion as the poor. They will as certainly die; they as much need religion. Without it, they cannot be happy, Riches will drive away no pain on a death-bed; they will not go with us; they will not save us.

(16.) It is of special importance that wealthy young persons should be Christians. They are exposed to many dangers. The world--the gay and flattering world--will lead them astray. Fond of fashion, dress, and amusement, they are exposed to a thousand follies, from which nothing but religion can secure them. Besides, they may do much good; and God will hold them answerable for all the good they might have done with their wealth.

(17.) The amiable, the lovely, the moral, need also an interest in Christ. If amiable, we should suppose they would be ready to embrace the Saviour. None was ever so moral, so lovely, so pure, as he. If we really loved amiableness, then we should come to him. We should love him. But alas! how many amiable young persons turn away from him, and refuse to follow him! Can they be really lovers of that which is pure and lovely? If so, then why turn away from the Lamb of God ?

(18.) The amiable and the lovely need a better righteousness than their own. With all this, they may make an idol of the world; they may be proud, sensual, selfish, prayerless, and thoughtless about dying. Externally they appear lovely; but oh, how far is the heart from God!

(19.) Inquirers about religion depend on their own works, Mt 19:16 They are not willing to trust to Jesus for salvation; and they ask what they shall do. This is always the case. And it is only when they find that they can do nothing--that they are poor, and helpless, and wretched--that they cast themselves on the mercy of God, and find peace.

(20.) Compliments and flattering titles are evil, Mt 19:17. They ascribe something to others which we know they do not possess. Often beauty is praised, where we know there is no beauty; accomplishment where there is no accomplishment; talent, where there is no talent. Such praises are falsehood. We know them to be such. We intend to deceive by them; and we know that they will produce pride and vanity. Often they are used for the purpose of destruction. If a man praises us too much, we should look to our purse, or our virtue. We should feel that we are in danger, and the next thing will be a dreadful blow, the heavier for all this flattery. They that use compliments much, expect them from others; are galled and vexed when they are not obtained, and are in danger when they are.

(21.) If we are to be saved, we must do just what God commands us, Mt 19:17,18. This is all we have to do. We are not to invent anything of our own. God has marked out the course, and we must follow it.

(22.) We are easily deceived about keeping the law, Mt 19:17. We often think we observe it, when it is only the outward form that we have kept. The law is spiritual; and God requires the heart.

(23.) Riches are a blessing, if used aright; if not, they are deceitful, dangerous, ruinous, Mt 19:23,24. Thousands have lost their souls by the love of riches. None have ever been saved by them.

(24.) It is our duty to forsake all for Christ, Mt 19:27-29. Be it little or much, it is all the same to him. It is the heart that he looks at; and we may as well show our love by giving up a fishing. boat and net, as by a palace or a crown. If done in either case, it will be accepted.

(25.) Religion has its own rewards, Mt 19:28,29. It gives more than it takes. It more than compensates for all that we surrender. It gives peace, joy, comfort in trial and in death, and heaven beyond. This is the testimony of all Christians of all denominations; of all that have lived, and of all that do live, that they never knew true peace till they found it in the gospel. The testimony of so many must be true. They have tried the world in all its forms of gaiety, folly, and vice, and they come and say with one voice, here only is true peace. On any other subject they would be believed. Their testimony here must be true.

(26.) Those eminent for usefulness here, will be received to distinguished honours and rewards in heaven, Mt 19:28. They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as stars in the firmament for ever, Da 12:3.



Verse 1. For the kingdom of heaven, etc. The word "for" shows that this chapter should have been connected with the preceding. The parable was spoken expressly to illustrate the sentiment in the last verse of that chapter. The kingdom of heaven means here the church, including perhaps its state here and hereafter. See Barnes "Mt 3:2".

It has reference to rewards; and the meaning may be thus expressed: "Rewards shalt be bestowed in my kingdom, or on my followers, in the same manner as they were by a certain householder, in such a way as that the last shall be equal to the first, and the first last."

An householder. A master of a family. One at the head of family affairs.

His vineyard. No inconsiderable part of Judea was employed in the culture of the grape. Vineyards are often used, therefore, to represent a fertile or well cultivated place; and hence the church, denoting the care and culture that God has bestowed on it, Isa 5:7; Jer 12:10. For the manner of their construction, see See Barnes "Mt 21:33".

{w} "householder" So 8:11,12


Verse 2. A penny a day. The coin here referred to was a Roman coin, equal in value to about 14 cents, [about 7d.] The original denotes the Roman denarius, denariou a silver coin, which was originally equivalent to ten asses, (a brass Roman coin,) whence its name The consular denarius bore on one side a head of Rome, and an X or a star to denote the value in asses, and a chariot with either two or four horses. At a later period the casts of different deities were on the obverse; and these were finally superseded by the heads of the Caesars. Many specimens of this coin have been preserved. The preceding cuts will show the usual appearance of the coins.

It was probably at that time the price of a day's labour. See Tobit v. 14. This was the common wages of a Roman soldier. In England, before the discovery of the mines of gold and silver of South America, and consequently before money was plenty, the price of labour was about in proportion. In 1351, the price of labour was regulated by law, and was a penny a day. But provisions were of course proportionally cheap; and the avails of a man's labour in articles of food were nearly as much as they are now.

{x} "penny" Mt 18:28


Verse 3. About the third hour. The Jews divided their days into twelve equal parts, or hours, beginning at sunrise, and ending at sunset. This was, therefore, about nine o'clock in the morning.

Standing idle in the marketplace. A place where provisions are sold in towns. Of course many resort to such places; and it would be the readiest place to meet persons, and find employers. They were not, therefore, disposed to be idle, but were waiting in the proper place to find employers.


Verse 4. Whatever is right. Whatsoever it shall appear you can earn. The contract with the first was definite; with this one it depended on the judgment of the employer.


Verse 5. The sixth and ninth hour. That is, about twelve and three o'clock.


Verse 6. The eleventh hour. About five o'clock in the afternoon; or when there was but one working hour of the day left.

{y} "all the day idle" Pr 19:15; Eze 16:49; Ac 17:21; Heb 6:12


Verse 7. No Barnes text on this verse.

{z} "unto them" Ec 9:10; Joh 9:4


Verse 8. When even was come. That is, when the twelfth hour was come; the day was ended, and the time of payment was come.

The steward. A steward is one who transacts business in the place of another. He was one who had the administration of affairs in the absence of the householder; who provided for the family; and who was entrusted with the payment of labourers and servants. He was commonly the most trusty and faithful of the servants, raised to that station as a reward for his fidelity.

Beginning from the last unto the first. It was immaterial where he began to pay, provided he dealt justly by them. In the parable, this order is mentioned to give opportunity for the remarks which follow. Had those first hired been first paid, they would have departed satisfied, and the point of the parable would have been lost.

{a} "and give" Lu 10:7


Verse 9. They received every man a penny. There was no agreement how much they should receive, but merely that justice should be done, Mt 20:4,5,7.

The householder supposed they had earned it, or chose to make a present to them to compensate for the loss of the first part of the day, when they were willing to work but could not find employment.

{b} "eleventh hour" Lu 23:40-43


Verse 10. They supposed that they should have received more. They had worked longer; they had been in the heat; they supposed that it was his intention to pay them, not according to contract, but according to the time of the labour.


Verse 11. Murmured. Complained. Found fault with.

The good man of the house. The original here is the same word which, Mt 20:1, is translated householder, and should have been so translated here. It is the old English way of denoting the father of a family. It expresses no moral quality.

{c} "against the good man" Lu 15:29,30


Verse 12. The burden and the heat of the day. The burden means the heavy labour, the severe toil. We have continued at that toil, in the heat of the day. The others had worked only a little while, and that in the cool of the evening, and when it was far more pleasant and much less fatiguing.

{1} "have wrought", or, "have continued one hour only"


Verse 13. Friend, I do thee no wrong. I have fully complied with the contract. We had an agreement; I have paid it all. If I choose to give a penny to another man if he labours little or not at all; if I should choose to give all my property away to others, it would not affect this contract with you. It is fully met. And with my own-- with that on which you have no further claim--may do as I please. So, if Christians are just, and pay their lawful debts, and injure no one, the world has no right to complain if they give the rest of their property to the poor, or devote it to send the gospel to the heathen, or to release the prisoner or the captive. It is their own. They have a right to do with it as they please. They are answerable not to men, but to God. And infidels, and worldly men, and cold professors in the church, have no right to interfere.

{d} "Friend" Mt 22:12


Verse 14. Take that thine is. Take what is justly due to you--what is properly your own.

{e} "go thy way" Joh 17:2


Verse 15. Is thine eye evil because I am good? The Hebrews used the word evil, when applied to the eye, to denote one envious and malicious, De 15:9; Pr 23:6. The eye is called evil in such cases, because envy and malice show themselves directly in the eye. No passions are so fully expressed by the eye as these. "Does envy show itself in the eye; is thine eye so soon turned to express envy and malice, because I have chosen to do good?"

{f} "Is it not" Ro 9:15-24; Jas 1:18 {g} "Is thine eye" Mt 19:30


Verse 16. So the last shall be first, etc. This is the moral or scope of the parable. To teach this, it was spoken. Many that, in the order of time, shall be brought last into the kingdom, shall be first in the rewards. Higher proportionate rewards shall be given to them than to others. To all justice shall be done. To all to whom the rewards of heaven were promised, they shall be given. Nothing shall be withheld that was promised. If among this number who are called into the kingdom I choose to raise some to stations of distinguished usefulness, and to confer on them peculiar talents and higher rewards, I injure no other one. They shall enter heaven as was promised. If amidst the multitude of Christians, I choose to signalize such men as Paul, and Martyn, and Brainerd, and Spencer, and Summerfield--to appoint some of them to short labour, but to wide usefulness, and raise them to signal rewards--I injure not the great multitude of others who live long lives less useful, and less rewarded. All shall reach heaven, and all shall receive what I promise to the faithful.

Many be called, but few chosen. The meaning of this, in this connexion, I take to be simply this: "Many are called into my kingdom; they come and labour as I command them; they are comparatively unknown and obscure; yet they are real Christians, and shall receive the proper reward. A few I have chosen for higher stations in the church. I have endowed them with apostolic gifts, or superior talents, or wider usefulness. They may not be so long in the vineyard; their race may be sooner run; but I have chosen to honour them in this manner; and I have a right to do it. I injure no one; and have a right to do what I will with mine own." Thus explained, this parable has no reference to the call of the Gentiles; nor to the call of aged sinners; nor to the call of sinners out of the church at all. It is simply designed to teach that in the church, among the multitudes that shall be saved, Christ makes a difference. He makes some more useful than others, without regard to the time which they serve; and he will reward them accordingly. The parable teaches one truth, and but one. And where Jesus has explained it, we have no right to add to it, and say that it teaches anything else. It adds to the reason for this interpretation, that Christ was conversing about the rewards that should be given to his followers, and not about the numbers that should be called, or about the doctrine of election. See Barnes "Mt 19:27-29".

{h} "the last shall be first" Mt 19:30 {i} "for many" Mt 22:14; 1 Th 2:13; Jas 1:23-25


Verses 17-19. See also Mr 10:32-34; Lu 18:31-34. And Jesus going up to Jerusalem. That is, doubtless, to the passover. This journey was from Galilee, on the east side of Jordan, probably to avoid the Samaritans, Mt 19:1. At this time he was on this journey to Jerusalem, probably not far from Jericho. This was his last journey to Jerusalem. He was going up to die for the sins of the world.

Took the twelve disciples apart. All the males of the Jews were required to be at this feast, Ex 23:17. The roads, therefore, on such occasions, would probably be thronged. It is probable also, that they would travel in companies, or that whole neighbourhoods would go together. See Lu 2:44. By his taking them apart is meant his taking them aside from the company. He had something to communicate which he did not wish the others to hear. Mark adds, "And Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid," Mt 10:32. He led the way, He had told them before, (Mt 17:22) that he should be betrayed into the hands of men, and be put to death. They began how to be afraid that this would happen, and to be solicitous for his life and for their own safety.

{k} "And Jesus" Mt 16:21; Mr 10:32; Lu 18:31; Joh 12:12


Verses 18,19. Behold, we go up to Jerusalem. Jesus assured them that what they feared would come to pass. But he had in some measure prepared their minds for this state of suffering, by the promises which he had made to them, Mt 19:27-30; 20:1-16. In all their sufferings they might be assured that eternal rewards were before them.

Shall be betrayed. See Mt 17:22.

Chief Priests and Scribes. The high priest, and the learned men who composed the Sanhedrim, or great council of the nation. He was thus betrayed by Judas, Mt 26:15. He was delivered to the chief priests and scribes, Mt 26:57.

And they shall condemn him to death. They had not power to inflict death, as that was taken away by the Romans; but they had the power of expressing an opinion, and of delivering him to the Romans to be put to death. This they did, Mt 26:66; 27:2.

Shall deliver him to the Gentiles. That is, because they have not the right of inflicting capital punishment, they will deliver him to those who have--the Roman authority. The Gentiles here mean Pontius Pilate and the Roman soldiers. See Mt 27:2,27-30.

To mock, See Barnes "Mt 2:16".

To scourge. That is, to whip. This was done with thongs, or a whip made on purpose; and this punishment was commonly inflicted upon criminals before crucifixion. See Barnes "Mt 10:17".

To crucify him. That is, to put him to death on a cross, the com- mon punishment of slaves. See Mt 27:35.

The third day, etc. For the evidence that this was fulfilled, see Mt 28:1 and following. Mark and Luke say that he shall be spit upon. Spitting on another has always been considered an expression of the deepest contempt. Luke says, Lu 18:31, "All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished." Among other things, he says he shall be "spitefully entreated;" that is, treated with spite or malice: malice implying contempt. These sufferings of our Saviour, and this treatment, and his death, had been predicted in many places. See Is 53:1-12; Da 9:26,27


Verse 19. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 20:17" See Barnes on "Mt 20:18"

{l} "And shall" Mt 27:2; Mr 15:1; Lu 23:1; Joh 18:28; Ac 3:13

1 Co 15:3-7

{m} "to scourge" Isa 53:5


Verse 20. Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children, etc. This was probably Salome, Mr 15:40; 16:1.

With her sons. The names of these were James and John, Mr 10:35. Mark says they came and made the request. That is, they made it through the medium of their mother; they requested her to ask it for them. It is not improbable that she was an ambitious woman, and was desirous to see her sons honoured.

Worshipping him. Showing him respect; respectfully saluting him. In the original, kneeling. See Barnes "Mt 8:2".

{n} "Then came" Mr 10:35


Verse 21. Grant that these my two sons may sit, etc. They were still looking for a temporal kingdom. They expected that he would reign on the earth with great pomp and glory. They expected that he would conquer as a prince and a warrior. They wished to be distinguished in the day of his triumph. To sit on the right and left hand of a prince was a token of confidence, and the highest honour granted to his friends, 1 Ki 2:19; Ps 110:1; 1 Sa 20:25.

The disciples here had no reference to the kingdom of heaven, but only to the kingdom which they supposed he was about to set up on the earth.


Verse 22. Ye know not what ye ask. You do not know the nature of your request, nor what would be involved in it. You suppose that it would be attended only with honour and happiness if the request was granted; whereas, it would require much suffering and trial.

Are ye able to drink of the cup, etc. To drink of a cup often, in the Scriptures, signifies to be afflicted, or sometimes to be punished, Isa 51:17,22; Ps 75:8.

The figure is taken from a feast, where the master of a feast extends a cup to those present. Thus God is represented as extending to his Son a cup filled with a bitter mixture --one causing deep sufferings, Joh 18:11. This was the cup to which he referred.

The baptism that I am baptized with. This is evidently a phrase denoting the same thing. Are ye able to suffer with me---to endure the trials and pains which shall come upon you and me in endeavouring to build up my kingdom? Are you able to be plunged deep in afflictions, to have sorrows cover you like water, and to be sunk beneath calamities as floods, in the work of religion? Afflictions are often expressed by being sunk in the floods, and plunged in the deep waters, Ps 59:2; Is 43:2; Ps 124:4,5; La 3:54.

{o} "baptism" Lu 12:50


Verse 23. Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, etc. You are truly attached to me, you will follow me, and you will partake of my afflictions, and will suffer as I shall. This was fulfilled. James was slain with the sword by Herod, Ac 12:2. John lived many years. But he attended the Saviour through his sufferings, and was himself banished to Patmos, a solitary island, for the testimony of Jesus Christ --a companion of others in tribulation, Re 1:9.

Is not mine to give, etc. The translation of this place evidently does not express the sense of the original. The translation expresses the idea that Jesus has nothing to do in bestowing rewards on his followers. This is at variance with the uniform testimony of the Scriptures, Mt 25:31-40; Joh 5:22-30. The correct translation of the passage would be, "To sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, except to those for whom it is prepared of my Father." The passage thus declares that Christ would give rewards to his followers; but only to such as should be entitled to them according to the purpose of his Father. Much as he might be attached to these two disciples, yet he could not bestow any such signal favours on them out of the regular course of rewards. Rewards were prepared for his followers, and in due time they should be bestowed. He would bestow them according as they had been provided from eternity by God the Father, .

The correct sense is seen by leaving out that part of the verse in Italics; and this is one of the places in the Bible where the sense has been obscured or perverted by the introduction of words which have nothing to correspond with them in the original. See a similar instance in 1 Jo 2:23.

{p} "Ye shall drink" Ac 12:2; Ro 8:17; 2 Co 1:7; Re 1:9


Verse 24. The ten heard it. That is, the ten other apostles.

They were moved with indignation. They were offended at their ambition, at their desire to be exalted above their brethren. The word "it" refers not to what Jesus said, but to their request. When the ten heard the request which they had made, they were indignant.


Verses 25-27. But Jesus called them unto him. That is, he called all the apostles to him, and stated the principles on which they were to act. The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them; that is, over their subjects. "You know that such honours are customary among nations. The kings of the earth raise their favourites to posts of trust and power. They give authority to some over others. But my kingdom is established in a different manner. There are to be no ranks; no places of dominion. All are to be on a level. The rich, the poor, the learned, the unlearned, the bond, the free, are to be equal. He will be the most distinguished that shows most humility, the deepest sense of his unworthiness, and the most earnest desire to promote the welfare of his brethren."

Gentiles. All who were not Jews--used here to denote the manner in which human governments are constituted.

Minister. A servant. The original word is deacon--a word meaning a servant of any kind; one especially who served at the table; and, in the New Testament, one who serves the church, Ac 6:1-4; 1 Ti 3:8. Preachers of the gospel are called ministers because they are the servants of God and the church, 1 Co 3:6; 4:1; 2 Co 3:6; 6:4; Eph 4:12; an office, therefore, which forbids them to lord it over God's heritage; which is the very opposite of a station of superiority, and which demands the very lowest degree of humility.

{q} "Ye know" Lu 22:25,26


Verse 26. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 20:25"

{r} "be so" 1 Pe 5:3 {s} "But whosoever" Mt 23:11; Mr 9:35; 10:43


Verse 27. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 20:25"


Verse 28. Even as the Son of man, See Barnes "Mt 8:20".

Jesus points them to his own example. He was in the form of God in heaven, Php 2:6. He came to men in the form of a servant, Php 2:7. He came not with pomp and glory, but as a man in humble life. And since he came, he had not required them to minister to him. He laboured for them. He strove to do them good. He provided for their wants, fared as poorly as they did, went before them in dangers and sufferings, practised self-denial on their account, and for them was about to lay down his life. See Joh 13:4,5.

To give his life a ransom for many. The word ransom means, literally, a price paid for the redemption of captives. In war, when prisoners are taken by an enemy, the money demanded for their release is called a ransom. That is, it is the means by which they are set at liberty. So anything that releases any one from a state of punishment, or suffering, or sin, is called a ransom. Men are by nature captives to sin. They are sold under it. They are under condemnation, Eph 2:3; Ro 3:9-20,23; 1 Jn 5:19.

They are under a curse, Ga 3:10. They are in love with sin. They are under its withering dominion, and are exposed to death eternal, Eze 18:4; Ps 9:17; Ps 11:6; 68:2; 139:19; Mt 25:46; Ro 2:6-9.

They must have perished unless there had been some way by which they could be rescued. This was done by the death of Jesus; by giving his life a ransom. The meaning is, that he died in the place of sinners, and that God was willing to accept the pains of his death in the place of the eternal suffering of the redeemed. The reasons why such a ransom was necessary are,

1st. that God had declared that the sinner should die--that is, that he would punish, or show his hatred to all sin.

2nd. That all men had sinned; and if justice was to take its regular course, all must perish.

3rd. That man could make no atonement for his own sins. All that he could do, were he holy would be only to do his duty, and would make no amends for the past. Repentance and future obedience would not blot away one sin.

4th. No man was pure, and no angel could make atonement. God was pleased, therefore, to appoint his only-begotten Son to make such a ransom. See Joh 16:10; 1 Jo 4:10; 1 Pe 1:18,19; Re 13:8; Joh 1:29; Eph 5:2; Heb 7:27; Isa 53:1-12.

This is commonly called the atonement. See Barnes "Ro 5:11".

For many. See also Mt 26:28; Joh 10:16; 1 Ti 2:6; 1 Jo 2:2; 2 Co 5:14,15; Heb 2:9.

{t} "but to minister" Lu 22:27; Joh 13:1-38, 4:14; Php 2:7

{u} "and to give" Isa 53:5,8,11; Da 9:24,26; 1 Ti 2:6; Tit 2:14; Heb 9:28; 1 Pe 1:18,19; Re 1:5


Verses 29-34. See Mr 10:40-52; Lu 18:36-43; 19:1: where this account of his restoring to sight two blind men is also recorded. And as they departed from Jericho. This was a large town about eight miles west of the Jordan, and about nineteen miles north-east from Jerusalem. Near to this city the Israelites crossed the Jordan, when they entered into the land of Canaan, Jos 13:16. It was the first city taken by Joshua, who destroyed it to the foundation, and pronounced a curse on him who should rebuild it, Jos 6:20,21,26.

This curse was literally fulfilled in the days of Ahab--nearly five hundred years after, 1 Ki 16:34. It afterwards became the place of the school of the prophets, 2 Ki 2:6. In this place Elisha worked a signal miracle, greatly to the advantage of the inhabitants, by rendering the waters near it, that were before bitter, sweet, and wholesome, 2 Ki 2:21. In point of size it was second only to Jerusalem. It was sometimes called the city of palm-trees, from the fact that there were many palms in the vicinity. A few of them are still remaining. 2 Ch 28:15; Jud 1:16; 3:13.

At this place died Herod the Great, of a most wretched and foul disease. See Barnes "Mt 2:10".

It is now a small village, wretched in its appearance, and inhabited by a very few persons, and called Riha, or Rah, situated on the ruins of the ancient city, (or, as some think, three or four miles east of it,) which a modern traveller describes as a poor, dirty village of the Arabs. There are perhaps fifty houses, of rough stone, with roofs of bushes and mud; and the population, two hundred or three hundred in number, is entirely Mohammedan. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho lies through what is called the wilderness of Jericho, and is described by modern travellers as the most dangerous and forbidding about Palestine. As lately as 1820, an English traveller, Sir Frederick Henniker, was attacked on this road by the Arabs, with fire-arms, who left him naked and severely wounded. See Barnes "Lu 10:30.

Jesus was going to Jerusalem. He had left Samaria, and crossed the Jordan, Mt 19:1. His regular journey was therefore through Jericho.

As they departed from Jericho. Luke says, "As he was come nigh unto Jericho." The original word used in Luke, translated was come nigh, commonly expresses approach to a place. But it does not of necessity mean that always. It may denote nearness to a place, whether going to it or from it. It would be here rendered correctly, "when they were near to Jericho," or when they were in the vicinity of it, without saying whether they were going to or from it. Matthew and Mark say they were going from it. The passage in Lu 19:1, "And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho," which seems to be mentioned as having taken place after the cure of the blind man, does not necessarily suppose that. That passage might be intended to be connected with the account of Zaccheus, and not to denote the order of time in which these events took place; but simply that, as he was passing through Jericho, Zaccheus sought to see him, and invited him to his house. Historians vary in the circumstances and order of events. The main facts of the narrative are observed. And such variations of circumstances and order, where there is no palpable contradiction, show the honesty of the writers; show that they did not conspire together to deceive, and are in all courts, of justice considered as confirmations of the truth of the testimony.


Verse 30. Two blind men. Mark and Luke mention but one. They do not say, however, that there was no more than one. They mention one because he was probably well known; perhaps the son of a distinguished citizen reduced to poverty. His name was Bartimeus. Bar is a Syriac word, meaning son; and the name means, therefore, "the son of Timeus." Probably Timeus was a man of note; and as the case of his son attracted most attention, Mark and Luke recorded it particularly. Had they said there was only one healed, there would have been a contradiction. As it is, there is no more contradiction or difficulty than there is in the fact that the evangelists, like all other historians, often omit many facts which they do not choose to record.

Heard that Jesus passed by. They learned who he was by inquiring. They heard a name, and asked who it was, (Luke.) They had doubtless heard much of his fame, but had never before been where he was, and probably would not be again. They were therefore more earnest in calling upon him.

Son of David. That is, Messiah, or Christ. This was the name by which the Messiah was commonly known. He was the illustrious descendant of David, in whom the promises especially centered, Ps 132:11,12; 89:3,4.

It was the universal opinion of the Jews that the Messiah was to be the descendant of David. See Mt 22:42. On the use of the word Son, See Barnes "Mt 1:1".

{v} "And, behold" Mt 9:27; Mr 10:46; Lu 18:35


Verse 31. And the multitude rebuked them, because, etc. They chid or reproved them, and in a threatening manner told them to be silent.

They cried the more. Jesus standing still, ordered them to be brought to him, (Mark.) They then addressed the blind men, and told them that Jesus called. Mark adds, that Bartimeus cast away his garment, and rose and came to Jesus. The garment was not his only raiment, but was the outer garment, thrown loosely over him, and commonly laid aside when persons laboured or ran. See Barnes "Mt 5:40".

His doing it denoted haste, and earnestness, in order to come to Jesus.


Verse 32. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes on "Mt 20:29"


Verse 33. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes on "Mt 20:29"


Verse 34. And touched their eyes. Mark and Luke say he added, "Thy faith hath saved thee," Thy confidence, or belief that I could cure, has been the means of obtaining this blessing. Faith had no power to open the eyes, but it led them to Jesus; it showed that they had just views of his power; it was connected with the cure. So faith has no power to save from sin, but it leads the poor, lost, blind sinner to him who has power; and in this sense it is said we are saved by faith. His touching their eyes was merely a sign that the power of healing proceeded from him.

Here was an undoubted miracle.

(1.) These blind men were well known. One, at least, had been long blind.

(2.) They were strangers to Jesus. They could not have, therefore, feigned themselves blind.

(3.) The miracle was in the presence of multitudes, who took a deep interest in it, and who could easily have detected the imposition, if there had been one.

(4.) The men followed him. They praised or glorified God, (Mark and Luke.) The people gave praise to God also, (Luke.) They were all satisfied that a real miracle was performed.


(1.) From the parable at the beginning of this chapter, Mt 20:1-16 we learn that it is not so much the time that we serve Christ, as the manner, that is to entitle us to high rewards in heaven. Some may be in the church many years, yet accomplish little; others in a few years may be more distinguished in the success of their labours and in their rewards.

(2.) God will do justice to all, Mt 20:13. He will give to all his followers all that he promised to give. He will give to him entitled to the least, everything which he has promised, and infinitely more than he has deserved.

(3.) On some he will bestow higher rewards than on others, Mt 20:16. There is no reason to think that the condition of men in heaven will be equal, any more than it is on earth. Difference of rank may run through all God's government, and still no one be degraded, or be deprived of his rights.

(4.) God does as he pleases with his own, Mt 20:15. It is his right to do so--a right which men claim, and which God may claim. If he does injustice to no one, he has a right to bestow what favours on others he pleases.

(5.) In doing good to another man, he does no injury to me. He violated none of my rights by bestowing great talents on Newton, or great wealth on Solomon. He did not injure me by making Paul a man of distinguished talents and piety, or John a man of much meekness and love. What he gives me I should be thankful for, and improve; nor should I be envious or malignant, that he has given to others more than he has to me. Nay, I should rejoice that he has bestowed such favours on undeserving men at all; that the race is in possession of such talents and rewards, to whomsoever given; and should believe that in the hands of God such favours will be well bestowed. God is a sovereign; and the Judge of all the earth will do that which is right.

(6.) It is our duty to go into the vineyard and labour faithfully, whenever the Lord Jesus calls us, and till he calls us to receive our reward, Mt 20:1-16. He has a right to call us, and there are none who are not invited to labour for him.

(7.) Rewards are offered to all who will serve him, Mt 20:4. It is not that we deserve any favour, or that we shall not say at the end of life that we have been unprofitable servants; but he graciously promises that our rewards shall be measured by our faithfulness in his cause. He will have the glory of bringing us into his kingdom and saving us, while he will bestow rewards on us according as we have been faithful in his service.

(8.) Men may be saved in old age, Mt 20:6. Old men are sometimes brought into the kingdom of Christ, and made holy. But it is rare. Few aged men are converted. They drop into the grave as they lived. And to a man who wastes his youth and his middle life in sin, and goes down into the vale of years a rebel against God, there is a dreadful probability that he will die as he lived. It will be found to be true, probably, that by far more than half who are saved are converted before they reach the age of twenty-five. Besides, it is foolish as well as wicked to spend the best of our days in the service of Satan, and to give to God only the poor remnant of our lives, that we can no longer use in the cause of wickedness. God should have our first and best days.

(9.) Neither this parable, nor any part of the Bible, should be abused, so as to lead us to put off the time of repentance to old age. It is possible, though not probable, that an old man may repent; but it is not probable that we shall live to be old. Few, few of all the world, live to old age. We may die in youth. Thousands die in childhood. The time, the accepted time to serve God, is in childhood. There are more reasons why a child should love the Saviour, than why he should love a parent. He has done much more for us than any parent. And there is no reason why he may not be trained up to love him, as well as his parents. And God will require it at the hands of parents and teachers, if they do not train up the children committed to them to love and obey him.

(10.) One reason why we do not understand the plain doctrines of the Bible is our prejudice, Mt 20:17-19. Our Saviour plainly told his disciples that he must die. He stated the manner of his death, and the principal circumstances. To us all this is plain; but they did not understand it, (Luke.) They had filled their heads with notions about his earthly glory and honour, and they were not willing to see the truth as he stated it. Never was there a juster proverb than that, "None are so blind as those who will not see." So to us the Bible might be plain enough. The doctrines of truth are revealed clear as a sunbeam, but we are filled with previous notions; we are determined to think differently; and the easiest way to gratify this is to say we do not see it so. The only correct principle of interpretation is, that the Bible is to be taken just as it is. The meaning that the sacred writers intended to teach is to be sought honestly; and where found, that and that only is religious truth.

(11.) Mothers should be cautious about seeking places of honour for their sons, Mt 20:20-22. Doing this, they seldom know what they ask. They may be seeking the ruin of their children. It is not posts of honour that secure happiness or salvation. Contentment and peace are found oftenest in the humble vale of honest and sober industry-- in attempting to fill up our days with usefulness, in the situation where God has placed us. As the purest and loveliest streams often flow in the retired grove, far from the thundering cataract or the stormy ocean, so is the sweet peace of the soul; it dwells oftenest far from the bustle of public life, and the storms and tempests of ambition.

(12.) Ambition in the church is exceedingly improper, Mt 20:22. It is not the nature of religion to produce it. It is opposed to all the modest, retiring, and pure virtues that Christianity produces. An ambitious man will be destitute of religion just in proportion to his ambition; and piety may always be graduated by humility.

(13.) Our humility is the measure of our religion, Mt 20:26-28. Without humility we can have no religion, He that has the most lowly views of himself, and the highest of God--that is willing to stoop the lowest to aid his fellow-creatures, and to honour God-- has the most genuine piety. Such was the example of our Saviour, and it can never be any dishonour to imitate the Son of God.

(14.) The case of the blind men is an expressive representation of the condition of the sinner, Mt 20:30-34.

1st. Men are blinded by reason of sin. They do not by nature see the truth of religion.

2nd. It is proper in this state of blindness to call upon Jesus to open our eyes. If we ever see, it will be by the grace of God. God is the fountain of light, and those in darkness should seek him.

3rd. Present opportunities should be improved. This was the first time that Jesus had been in Jericho. It was the last time he would be there. He was passing through it on his way to Jerusalem. So he passes among us by his ordinances. So it may be the last time that we shall have an opportunity to call upon him. While he is near, we should seek him.

4th. When people rebuke us and laugh at us, it should not deter us from calling on the Saviour. There is danger that they will laugh us out of our purpose to seek him, and we should cry the more earnestly to him. We should feel that our eternal all depends or our being heard.

5th. The persevering cry of those who seek the Saviour aright will not be in vain. They who cry to him sensible of their blindness, and sensible that he only can open their eyes, will be heard, He turns none away who thus cry to him.

6th. Sinners must "rise" and come to Jesus. They must cast away everything that hinders their coming. As the blind Bartimeus threw off his "garments," so sinners should throw away everything that hinders their going to him--everything that obstructs their progress--and cast themselves at his feet. No man will be saved while sitting still. The command is, "Strive to enter in;" and the promise is made to those. Only who "ask," and "seek}" and "knock."

7th. Faith is the only channel through which we shall receive mercy. According to our faith--that is, our confidence in Jesus--our trust and reliance on him--so will it be to us. Without that we shall perish.

8th. They who apply to Jesus thus will receive sight. Their eyes will be opened, and they will see clearly.

9th. They who are thus restored to sight should follow Jesus. They should follow him wherever he leads; they should follow him always; they should follow none else but him. He that can give sight to the blind cannot lead us astray. He that can shed light in the beginning of our faith, can enlighten our goings through all our pilgrimage, and down through the dark valley of the shadow of death.



Verses 1-16. See also Mr 11:1-11; Lu 19:29-44

Verse 1. And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem. They were going up now from Jericho, Mt 20:29. The distance was about nineteen miles. The most of the way was a desert, or filled with caves, and rocks, and woods--a fit place for robbers. See Lu 10:30. The Mount of Olives, or Olivet, is on the east of Jerusalem. Between this and Jerusalem there runs a small stream called the brook Kidron, or Cedron. It is dry in the hot seasons of the year, but swells to a considerable size in time of heavy rains. See Barnes "Joh 8:1".

The Mount of Olives was so called from its producing in abundance the olive. It was from Jerusalem about a Sabbath day's journey, Ac 1:12. On the west side of the mountain was the garden of Gethsemane, Lu 22:39; Mr 4:32. On the eastern declivity of the mountain, were the villages of Bethphage and Bethany. Mark and Luke say that he came near to both those places. He came nearest to Bethphage, and sent his disciples to the village over against them, to Bethany, [Bethpage?]. Bethany was the place where Lazarus dwelt whom he raised from the dead, (Joh 11:1) where Martha and Mary dwelt; and where Mary anointed him with ointment against the day of his burying, Joh 12:1-7. These circumstances are omitted by the three first evangelists, but supplied by John, who wrote after them. The Mount of Olives is about a mile in length, and about seven hundred feet in height, and overlooks Jerusalem; so that from its summit almost every part of the city can be seen. The mountain is composed of three peaks or summits. Our Saviour is supposed to have ascended from the middle one. The olive is a fruit well known among us as an article of commerce. The tree blooms in June, and bears white flowers. The fruit is small. It is first green, then pale, and, when fully ripe, black. It incloses a hard stone, in which are the seeds. The wild olive was common, and differed from the other only in being of a smaller size. There are two roads from Jerusalem to Bethany; one around the southern end of the Mount of Olives, and the other across the summit. The latter is considerably shorter, but more difficult; and it was probably along this road that the Saviour went.

{w} "And when they" Mr 11:1; Lu 19:29


Verse 2. Go into the village over against you. The village here meant was not far from Bethany, and about two miles east of Jerusalem, (Mark and Luke.) He had lodged at Bethphage [Bethany] the night before, and in the morning sent his disciples to the village over against them; that is, to Bethany, [Bethphage,] Joh 12:1-12.

Ye shall find an ass tied, etc. In Judea there were few horses, and those were chiefly used in war. Men seldom employed them in common life, and in ordinary journeys. The ass, the mule, and the camel, are still most used in eastern countries. To ride on a horse was sometimes an emblem of war; on a mule and an ass the emblem of peace. Kings and princes commonly rode on them in times of peace; and it is mentioned as a mark of rank and dignity to ride in that manner, Jud 10:4; 12:14; 1 Sa 25:20.

So Solomon, when he was inaugurated as king, rode on a mule, 1 Ki 1:33. Riding in this manner, then, denoted neither poverty nor degradation, but was the appropriate way in which a king should ride, and in which, therefore, the King of Zion should enter into his capital--the city of Jerusalem.

Mark and Luke say, that he told them they should find "a colt tied." This they were directed to bring. They mention only the colt, because it was this on which he rode.


Verse 3. The Lord hath need of them. This means no more than the master has need of them. The word lord often means no more than master as opposed to servant, Mt 10:24; Eph 6:6; 1 Pe 3:5,6.

The word is sometimes used in the Bible as applied to God, or as a translation of the name JEHOVAH. Its common use is a mere title of respect given by an inferior to a superior, by a servant to a master, by a disciple to a teacher. As a title of high respect it was given to Christ, or the Messiah. The persons to whom these disciples were sent were probably acquainted with the miracles of Jesus, and favourably disposed towards him. He had attracted great notice in that region particularly by raising Lazarus from the dead, and most of the people regarded him as the Messiah.


Verses 4,5. All this was done, etc. The prophecy here quoted is found in Zec 9:9. It was always, by the Jews, applied to the Messiah.

Daughter of Zion. That is, Jerusalem. Zion was one of the hills on which the city of Jerusalem was built. On this stood the city of David and some strong fortresses. The names daughter and virgin were given to it often, in accordance with the oriental figurative manner of expression. See Barnes "Isa 1:8" See Barnes "Am 5:2" See Barnes "Ps 137:8; See Barnes "Isa 47:1".

It was given to them as an expression of their beauty or comeliness.

Meek. See Barnes "Mt 5:5".

The expression here rather denotes peaceful, not warlike; not with pomp, and state, and the ensigns of ambition. He came in the manner in which kings were accustomed to ride, but with none of their pride and ambitious feeling.

Sitting upon an ass, etc. He rode on the colt, (Mark and Luke.) This expression in Matthew is one which is common with all writers.

{x} "prophet" Zec 9:9


Verse 5. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 21:4"

{y} "daughter of Zion" Isa 62:11; Mr 11:4; Joh 12:15


Verse 6. No Barnes text on this verse.


Verse 7. And put on them their clothes. This was done as a token of respect, 2 Ki 9:13.


Verse 8. And a very great multitude, etc. Others showed the same respect by throwing their garments before him; others by cutting down branches of trees, and casting them in the way. This was the way in which conquerors and princes were often honoured. To cast flowers, or garlands, or evergreens, before a warrior returning from victory, or a king entering into his kingdom, was a common way of testifying joyful and triumphant feeling. Thus Josephus says, that Alexander and Agrippa were received at Jerusalem. So in our own land, some of the most acceptable tokens of rejoicing ever bestowed upon Washington were garlands of roses scattered in his path by children. So the path of Lafayette was often strewed with flowers, as a mark of respect and of a nation's gratitude. John says, Joh 12:13, that these branches were branches of the palm-tree. The palm was an emblem of joy and victory. It was used by the Roman soldiers as well as the Jews, as a symbol of peace. See 1 Mac. 13:51; 2 Mac. 10:6, 7; Re 7:9.

The palm-tree is common in warm climates, and was abundant in Palestine. The finest grew about Jericho and Engeddi. Hence Jericho was called the city of palm-trees. The palm has a long and straight body, a spreading-top, and an appearance of very great beauty. It produces an agreeable fruit, a pleasant shade, a kind of honey little inferior to the honey of bees, and from it was drawn a pleasant wine, much used in the east. On ancient coins the palm-tree is often a symbol of Judea. On coins, made after Jerusalem was taken, Judea is represented by a female sitting and weeping under a palm-tree. A reference to the palm-tree occurs often in the Bible, and its general form and uses are familiar to most readers. We give an, engraving of the tree, and add a description of it for the use of those to whom it is not familiar.

Strictly speaking, the palm-tree has no branches; but at the summit, from forty to eighty twigs, or leaf-stalks, spring forth, which are intended in Ne 8:15. The leaves are set around the trunk in circles of about six. The lower row is of great length, and the vast leaves bend themselves in a curve towards the earth; as the circle ascend, the leaves are shorter. In the month of February, there sprout from between the junctures of the lower stalks and the trunk little scales, which develop a kind of bud, the germ of the coming fruit. These germs are contained in a thick and tough skin, not unlike leather. According to the account of a modern traveller, a single tree in Barbary and Egypt bears from fifteen to twenty large clusters of dates, weighing from fifteen to twenty pounds each. The palm-tree lives more than two hundred years, and is most productive from the thirtieth until the eightieth year. The Arabs speak of two hundred and sixty uses to which the different parts of the palm-tree are applied.

The inhabitants of Egypt, Arabia, and Persia, depend much on the fruit of the palm-tree for their subsistence. Camels feed on the seed; and the leaves, branches, fibres, and sap, are all very valuable.

The "branches" referred to by John, (Joh 12:13,) refer to the long leaves which shoot out from the top of the tree, and which were often carried about as the symbol of victory. Comp. See Barnes "Isa 3:26".


Verse 9. Hosanna to the Son of David\ etc. The word hosanna means, "Save now," or, "Save, I beseech thee." It is a Syriac word, and was the form of acclamation used among the Jews. It was probably used in the celebration of their great festivals. During those festivals they sang the 115th, 116th, 117th, and 118th psalms. In the chanting or singing of those psalms, the Jewish writers inform us, that the people responded frequently hallelujah or hosanna. Their use of it on this occasion was a joyful acclamation, and an invocation of a Divine blessing by the Messiah.

Son of David. The Messiah.

Blessed is he, etc. That is, blessed be the Messiah. This passage is taken from Ps 118:25,26. To come in the name of the Lord, is to come by the authority of the Lord; to come commissioned by him to reveal his will. The Jews had commonly applied this to the Messiah.

Hosanna in the highest. This may mean either "Hosanna in the highest, loftiest strains;" or it may mean a prayer to God, "Save now, O thou that dwellest in the highest heaven, or among the highest angels." Perhaps the whole song of hosanna may be a prayer to the Supreme God, as well as a note of triumphant acclamation: "Save now, O thou supremely great and glorious God; save by the Messiah that comes in thy name."

Mark adds, that they shouted "Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord." That is, the kingdom, promised to David, 1 Ki 2:4; 8:25. Coming in the name of the Lord, means coming according to the promise of the Lord. Its meaning may be thus expressed: "Prosperity to the reign of our father David, advancing now according to the promise made to him, and about to be established by the long-promised Messiah, his descendant." Luke adds,

"Lu 19:38

that they said, "Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest." The word peace is used here as significant of joy, triumph, exultation in heaven at this event. There will be increased peace and rejoicing from the succession of the redeemed: and let glory and praise be given to God among the highest angels.

There is no contradiction here among the evangelists. Among such a multitude the shouts of exultation and triumph would by no means be confined to the same words. Some would say one thing, and some another; and one evangelist recorded what was said by a part of the multitude, and another what was said by another part.

{z} "Blessed" Ps 118:26; Mt 23:39 {a} "in the highest" Lu 2:14


Verse 10. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved. There was great excitement. The sight of such a multitude, the shouts of the people, and the triumphant procession through the city, excited much attention and inquiry.


Verse 11. No Barnes text on this verse.


Verses 12-22. This paragraph contains the account of the barren fig-tree, and of the cleansing of the temple, See also Mr 11:12-19 Lu 19:45-48.

Verse 12. And Jesus went into the temple of God, etc. From Mr 11:11-15, it is probable that this cleansing of the temple did not take place on the day that he entered Jerusalem in triumph, but on the day following. He came and looked round upon all things, Mark says, and went out to Bethany with the twelve. On the day following, returning from Bethany, he saw the fig-tree. Entering into the temple, he purified it on that day; or, perhaps, he finished the work of purifying it on that day, which he commenced the day before. Matthew has mentioned the purifying of the temple, which was performed probably on two successive days; or has stated the fact, without being particular as to the order of events. Mark has stated them more particularly, and has divided what Matthew mentions together.

The temple of God, or the temple dedicated and devoted to the service of God, was built on Mount Moriah. The first temple was built by Solomon, about 1006 years before Christ, 1 Ki 6:1. He was seven years in building it, 1 Ki 6:38. David, his father, had contemplated the design of building it, and had prepared many materials for it, but was prevented, because he had been a man of war, 1 Ch 22:1-9; 1 Ki 5:5. This temple, erected with great magnificence, remained till it was destroyed by the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar, five hundred and eighty-four years before Christ, 2 Ch 36:6,7,19.

After the Babylonish captivity, the temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel, but with vastly inferior and diminished beauty. The aged men wept when they compared it with the glory of the former temple, Ezr 3:8,12. This was called the second temple. This temple was often defiled in the wars before the time of Christ. It had become much decayed and impaired. Herod the Great, being exceedingly unpopular among the Jews, on account of his cruelties, was desirous of doing something to obtain the favour of the people, and accordingly, about sixteen years before Christ, and in the eighteenth year of his reign, he commenced the work of repairing it. This he did, not by taking it down entirely at once, but by removing one part after another till it had become in fact a new temple, greatly surpassing the former in magnificence. It was still called by the Jews the second temple; and by Christ's coming to this temple thus repaired, was fulfilled the prophecy in Hag 2:9. On this building Herod employed eighteen thousand men, and completed it so as to be fit for use in nine years, or about eight years before Christ. But additions continued to be made to it, and it continued increasing in splendour and magnificence, till ANNO DOMINI 64. John says, Joh 2:20, "forty and six years was this temple in building." Christ was then thirty years of age, which, added to the sixteen years occupied in repairing it before his birth, makes forty-six years.

The word temple was given, not merely to the sacred edifice, or house itself, but to all the numerous chambers, courts, and rooms connected with it, on the top of Mount Moriah. The temple itself was a small edifice, and was surrounded by courts and chambers half a mile in circumference. Into the sacred edifice itself our Saviour never went. The high priest only went into the holy of holies, and that but once a year; and none but priests were permitted to enter the holy place. Our Saviour was neither. He was of the tribe of Judah, and he consequently was allowed to enter no farther than the other Israelites into the temple. The works that he is said to have performed in the temple, therefore, are to be understood as having been performed in the courts surrounding the sacred edifice. These courts will now be described. The temple was erected on Mount Moriah. The space on the summit of the mount was not, however, large enough for the buildings necessary to be erected. It was therefore enlarged by building high walls, from the valley below, and filling up the space within. One of these walls was six hundred feet in height. The ascent to the temple was by high flights of steps. The entrance to the temple, or to the courts on the top of the mount, was by nine gates, all of them extremely splendid. On every side they were thickly coated with gold and silver. But there was one gate of peculiar magnificence. This was called the beautiful gate, Ac 3:2. It was on the east side, and was made of Corinthian brass, one of the most precious metals in ancient times. See the Introduction to 1 Corinthians, 1. This gate was fifty cubits, or seventy-five feet in height. The whole temple, with all its courts, was surrounded by a wall about twenty-five feet in height. This was built on the wall raised from the base to the top of the mountain; so that from the top of it to the bottom, in a perpendicular descent, was in some places not far from six hundred feet. This was particularly the case on the south-east corner; and it was here, probably, that Satan wished our Saviour to cast himself down. See Barnes "Mt 4:6".

On the inside of this wall, between the gates, were piazzas, or covered porches. On the eastern, northern, and western sides there were two rows of these porches; on the south, three. These porches were covered walks, about twenty feet in width, paved with marble of different colours, with a flat roof of costly cedar, which was supported by pillars of solid marble, so large that three men could scarcely stretch their arms so as to meet around them. These walks or porches afforded a grateful shade and protection to the people in hot or stormy weather. The one on the east side was distinguished for its beauty, and was called Solomon's porch, Joh 10:23; Ac 3:11. It stood over the vast terrace or wall which Solomon had raised from the valley beneath, and which was the only thing of his work that remained in the sacred temple.

When a person entered any of the gates into this space within the wall, he saw the temple rising before him with great magnificence. But the space was not clear all the way up to it. Going forward, he came to another wall, inclosing considerable ground, considered more holy than the rest of the hill. The space between this first and second wall was called the court of the Gentiles. It was so called because Gentiles might come into it, but they could proceed no farther. On the second wall, and on the gates, were inscriptions in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, forbidding any Gentile or unclean person from proceeding farther on pain of death: This court was not of equal dimensions all the way round the temple. On the east, north, and west, it was quite narrow. On the south it was wide, occupying nearly half of the whole surface of the hill. In this court the Gentiles might come. Here was the place where much secular business was transacted. This was the place occupied by the buyers, and sellers, and the money-changers, and which Jesus purified by casting them out.

The inclosure within the second wall was nearly twice as long from east to west as from north to south. This inclosure was also divided. The eastern part of it was called the court of the women; so called because women might advance thus far, but no farther. This court was square. It was entered by three gates: one on the north, one on the east directly opposite to the beautiful gate, and one on the south. In passing from the court of the Gentiles to that of the women, it was necessary to ascend about nine feet by steps. This court of the women was inclosed with a double wall, with a space between the walls about fifteen feet in width, paved with marble. The inner of these two walls was much higher than the one outside. The court of the women was paved with marble. In the corners of that court were different structures for the various uses of the temple. It was in this court that the Jews commonly worshipped. Here, probably, Peter and John, with others, went up to pray, Ac 3:1. Here, too, the Pharisee and publican prayed: the Pharisee near the gate that led forward to the temple, the publican standing far off on the other side or the court, Lu 18:9-14. Paul also was seized here, and charged with defiling the temple, by bringing the Gentiles into that holy place, Ac 21:26-30.

A high wall on the west side of the court of the women divided it from the court of the Israelites; so called because all the males of the Jews might advance there. To this court there was an ascent of fifteen steps. These steps were in the form of a half circle. The great gate to which these steps led was called the gate Nicanor. Besides this, there were three gates on each side, leading from the court of the women to the court of the Israelites.

Within the court of the Israelites was the court of the priests, separated by a wall about a foot and a half in height. Within that court was the altar of burnt offering, and the laver standing in front of it. Here the priests performed the daily service of the temple. In this place, also, were accommodations for the priests, when not engaged in conducting the service of the temple; and for the Levites, who conducted the music of the sanctuary.

The following is a view of the temple and its courts, as here described:

The temple, properly so called, stood within the court. It surpassed in splendour all the other buildings of the holy city; perhaps in magnificence unequalled in the world. It fronted the east, looking down through the gates Nicanor and the beautiful gate, and onward to the Mount of Olives. From the Mount of Olives on the east there was a beautiful and commanding view of the whole sacred edifice. It was there that our Saviour sat, when the disciples directed his attention to the goodly stones with which the temple was built, Mr 13:1. The entrance into the temple itself was from the court of the priests, by an ascent of twelve steps. The porch in front of the temple was a hundred and fifty feet high, and as many broad. The open space in this porch, through which the temple was entered, was one hundred and fifteen feet high, and thirty-seven broad, without doors of any sort. The appearance of this, built as it was with white marble, and decorated with plates of silver, from the Mount of Olives was exceedingly dazzling and splendid. Josephus says, that in the rising of the sun it reflected so strong and dazzling an effulgence, that the eye of the spectator was obliged to turn away. To strangers at a distance it appeared like a mountain covered with snow; for where it was not decorated with plates of silver, it was extremely white and glistening.

The temple itself was divided into two parts: the first, called the sanctuary or holy place, was sixty feet in length, sixty feet in height, and thirty feet in width. In this was the golden candlestick, the table of shew-bread, and the a]tar of incense. The holy of holies, or the most holy place, was thirty feet each way. In the first temple, this contained the ark of the covenant, the tables of the law, and over the ark was the mercy-seat and the cherubim. Into this place no person entered but the high priest, and he but once in the year. These two apartments were separated only by a vail, very costly and curiously wrought. It was this rail which was rent from the top to the bottom when the Saviour died, Mt 27:51. Around the walls of the temple, properly so called, was a structure three stories high, containing chambers for the use of the officers of the temple. The temple was wholly rased to the ground by the Romans under Titus and Vespasian, and was wholly destroyed, according to the predictions of the Saviour. See Barnes "Mt 24:2".

The site of it was made like a ploughed field. Julian the apostate attempted to rebuild it, but the workmen, according to his own historian, Ammianus Marcellinus, were prevented by balls of fire breaking out from the ground. See Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses. Its site is now occupied by the mosque of Omar, one of the most splendid specimens of Saracenic architecture in the World.

And cast out them that bought and sold in the temple. The place where this was done was not the temple itself, but the outer court, or the court of the Gentiles. This was esteemed the least sacred part of the temple; and the Jews, it seems, did not consider it profanation to appropriate this to any business in any way connected with the temple service. The things which they bought and sold were, at first, those pertaining to the sacrifices. It is not improbable, however, that the traffic afterwards extended to all kinds of merchandise. It gave rise to much confusion, noise, contention, and fraud, and was exceedingly improper in the temple of the Lord.

The tables of the money changers. Judea was subject to the Romans. The money hi current use was Roman coin. Yet the Jewish law required that every man should pay a tribute to the service of the sanctuary of half a shekel, Ex 30:11-16. This was a Jewish coin; and it was required o herald in that coin. It became therefore a matter of convenience to have a place where the Roman coin might be exchanged for the Jewish half-shekel. This was the professed business of these men. Of course they would demand a small sum for the exchange; and among so many thousands as came up to the great feasts, it would be a very profitable employment, and one easily giving rise to much fraud and oppression.

The seats of them that sold doves. Doves were required to be offered in sacrifice, Le 14:22; Lu 2:24. Yet it was difficult to bring them from the distant parts of Judea. It was found much easier to purchase them in Jerusalem. Hence it became a business to keep them to sell to those who were required to offer them.

Mark adds, Mr 11:16 that he would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. That is, probably, any of the vessels or implements connected with the traffic in oil, incense, wine, etc., that were kept for sale in the temple.

{b} "Jesus went" Mr 11:11; Lu 19:45; Joh 2:15


Verse 13. And said--It is written, etc. This is written in Is 56:7. The first part of this verse only is quoted from Isaiah. The rest, "but ye have made it a den of thieves," was added by Jesus, denoting their abuse of the temple. Thieves and robbers live in dens and caves. Judea was then much infested with them. In their dens, thieves devise and practise iniquity. These buyers and sellers imitated them. They made the temple a place of gain; they cheated and defrauded; they took advantage of the poor, and by their being under a necessity of purchasing these articles for sacrifice, they robbed them, by selling what they had at an enormous price.

The following reasons may be given why this company of buyers and sellers obeyed Christ:

(1.) They were overawed by his authority; and struck with the consciousness that he had a right to command.

(2.) Their own consciences reproved them; they knew they were guilty, and dared make no resistance.

(3.) The people generally were then on the side of Jesus, believing him to be the Messiah.

(4.) It had always been the belief of the Jews that a prophet had a right to change, regulate, and order the various affairs relating to external worship, They supposed Jesus to be such, and they dared not resist him.

Mark and Luke add, that in consequence of this, the scribes and chief priests attempted to put him to death, Mr 11:18,10 Lu 19:47,48. This they did from envy, Mt 27:18. He drew off the people from them, and they envied and hated him. They were restrained then for fear of the people; and this was the reason why they plotted secretly to put him to death, and why they afterwards so gladly heard the proposals of the traitor, Mt 26:14,15.

{c} "is written" Is 56:7 {d} "den of thieves" Je 7:11


Verse 14. No Barnes text on this verse.

{e} "and he healed them" Isa 35:6


Verses 15,16. When the Chief Priests. The chief men of the nation were envious of his popularity. They could not prevent it; but being determined to find fault, they took occasion to do so from the shouts of the children. Men often are offended that children have anything to do with religion, and deem it very improper that they should rejoice that the Saviour has come. Our Lord Jesus viewed this subject differently. He saw that it was proper that they should rejoice. They are interested in the concerns of religion; and then, before evil principles get fast hold of their minds, is a proper time to love and obey him. He confounded them by appealing to a text of their own Scriptures. This text is found in Ps 8:2. This quotation is not made directly from the Hebrew, but from the Greek translation. This, however, should create no difficulty. The point of the quotation was to prove that children might offer praise to God. This is expressed in both the Hebrew and the Greek.

{f} "Hosanna" Mt 21:9


Verse 16. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 21:15"

{g} "Out of the" Ps 8:2


Verse 17. Bethany. See Barnes "Mt 21:1".


Verse 18. No Barnes text on this verse.


Verse 19. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, etc. This tree was standing in the public road. It was therefore common property, and any one might lawfully use its fruit. Mark says, Mr 11:13, "Seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came," etc. That is, not far off from the road; but seeing it at a considerable distance, having leaves appearing healthy and luxuriant, they presumed that there would be fruit on it. Mark says, (Mr 11:13,) "He came, if haply he might find anything thereon." That is, judging from the appearance of the tree, it was probable that there would be fruit on it. We are not to suppose that our Lord was ignorant of the true condition of the tree, but he acted according to the appearance of things; being a man as well as Divine, he acted of course as men do act in such circumstances.

And found nothing thereon, but leaves only. Mark Mr 11:13 gives as a reason for this, that "the time of figs was not yet." That is, the time of gathering the figs was not yet, or had not passed. It was a time when figs were ripe, or fit to eat, or he would not have gone to it, expecting to find them. But the time of gathering them had not passed, and it was to be presumed that they were still on the tree. This took place on the week of the passover, or in the beginning of April. Figs in Palestine are commonly ripe at the passover. The summer in Palestine begins in March, and it is no uncommon thing that figs should be eatable in April. It is said that they sometimes produce fruit the year round.

Mr 11:12,13 says that this took place on the morning of the day on which he purified the temple. Matthew would lead us to suppose that it was on the day following. Matthew records briefly what Mark records more fully. Matthew states the fact that the fig-tree was barren and withered away, without regarding minutely the order, or the circumstances in which the event took place. There is no contradiction. For Matthew does not affirm that this took place on the morning after the temple was cleansed, though he places it in that order. Nor does he say that a day did not elapse after the fig-tree was cursed before the disciples discovered that it was withered; though he does not affirm that it was so. Such circumstantial variations, where there is no positive contradiction, go greatly to confirm the truth of a narrative. They show that the writers were honest men, and did not conspire to deceive the world.

And said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee, etc. Mark calls this "cursing" the tree, Mr 11:21. The word curse does not imply here anger, or disappointment, or malice. It means only devoting to this destruction, or this withering away. All the curse that was pronounced, was in the words that no fruit should grow on it. The Jews used the word curse, not as always implying wrath, and anger, but to devote to death, or to any kind of destruction, Heb 6:8. It has been commonly thought that he did this to denote the sudden withering away, or destruction of the Jewish people. They, like the fig-tree, promised fair, That was full of leaves, and they full of professions. Yet both were equally barren. And as that was destroyed, so were they soon to be. It is certain that this would be a good illustration of the destruction of the Jewish people; but there is not the least evidence that our Saviour intended it as such; and without such evidence, we have no right to say that that was its meaning.

And presently the fig tree withered away. That is, before another day. See Mark. It is probable that they were passing directly onward, and did not stop then to consider it. Matthew does not affirm that it withered away in their presence, and Mark affirms that they made the discovery on the morning after it was "cursed."

{h} "when he saw" Mr 11:13 {1} "saw a fig tree", or "One fig tree" {i} "withered away" Jude 1:12


Verse 20. And when the disciples saw it. That is, on the morning following that on which it was cursed, Mr 11:20.

They marvelled, saying, etc. Peter said this, Mr 11:21. Matthew means only to say that this was said to him; Mark tells us which one of them said it.


Verse 21. Jesus answered and said, etc. Jesus took occasion from this to establish their faith in God, Mr 11:22. He told them that any difficulty could be removed by faith. To remove a mountain, denotes the power of overcoming any difficulty. The phrase was so used by the Jews. There is no doubt that this was literally true, that if they had the faith of miracles, they could remove the mountain before them the mount of Olives--for this was as easy for God to do by them as to heal the sick, or raise the dead. But he rather referred, probably, to the difficulties and trials which they would be called to endure in preaching the gospel.

{k} "If ye have faith" Mt 17:20; Lu 17:6; Jas 1:6

{l} "???" Mt 8:12


Verse 22. And all things, etc. He adds an encouragement for them to pray, assuring them that they should have all things which they asked. This promise was evidently a special one, given to them in regard to working miracles. To them it was true. But it is manifest that we have no right to apply this promise to ourselves. It was designed specially for the apostles; nor have we a right to turn it from its original meaning.

{m} "in prayer" Mt 7:7; Mr 11:24; Jas 5:16; 1 Jo 3:22; 5:14


Verses 23-27. See also Mr 11:27-33; Lu 20:1-8.

Verse 23. When he was come into the temple. That is, probably, into the inner court; the court of the Israelites. They took this opportunity when he was not surrounded by the multitude.

By what authority, etc. There was a show of propriety in this question. He was making great changes in the affairs of the temple, and they claimed the right to know why this was done, contrary to their permission. He was not a priest; he had no civil or ecclesiastical authority as a Jew. It was sufficient authority indeed, that he came as a prophet, and worked miracles. But they professed not to be satisfied with that.

These things. The things which he had just done, in overturning the seats of those that were engaged in traffic, Mt 21:12.

{n} "And when" Mr 11:27; Lu 20:1 {o} "By what" Ex 2:14


Verses 24,25. And Jesus answered etc. Jesus was under no obligation to give them an answer. They well knew by what authority he did this. He had not concealed his power in working miracles, and had not kept back the knowledge that he was the Messiah. He therefore referred them to a similar case--that of John the Baptist He knew the estimation in which John was held by the people. He took the wise in their own craftiness. Whatever answer they gave, he knew they would convict themselves. And so they saw, when they looked at the question. They reasoned correctly. If they said, From heaven, he would directly ask why they did not believe him. They professed to hear all the prophets. If they said. Of men, their reputation was gone, for all the people believed that John was a prophet.

The baptism of John. For an account of this, see Matthew chapter 3. The word baptism here probably includes all his work. This was his principal employment; and hence he was called the Baptist, or the Baptizer. But our Saviour's question refers to his whole ministry.-- "The ministry of John, his baptism, preaching, prophecies--was it from God, or not?" If it was, then the inference was clear that Jesus was the Messiah; and then they might easily know by what authority he did those things.

From heaven. By Divine authority, or by the command of God.

Of men. By human authority.


Verse 25. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes on "Mt 21:24"


Verse 26. We fear the people. They feared that the people would stone them, (Luke.) Such an unpopular sentiment as to profess that all that John did was imposture, would have probably ended in tumult, perhaps in their death.

{p} "for all held John" Mt 14:5


Verse 27. We cannot tell. This was a direct falsehood. They could have told; and it should have been, we will not tell. There was no reason but that why they did not tell. The reason probably why they would not acknowledge that John was a prophet was that, if they did, they saw he could easily show them by what authority he did those things; i.e., as Messiah. John predicted him, pointed him out, baptized him, came as his forerunner, to fulfil the prophecies. If they acknowledged one, they must the other. In this way our Saviour was about to lead these crafty men to answer their own question, to their own confusion, about his authority. They saw this; and having given them a sufficient answer, there was no need of stating anything further.


Verses 28-32. But what think ye? A way of speaking designed to direct them particularly to what he was saying, that they might be self-convicted.

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 Barnes "Mt 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. Afterwards, 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, etc. 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 Barnes "Mt 3:2".

Before you. Rather than you. They are more likely to do it than you. You are self-righteous, self-willed, and obstinate. Many of them had believed, but you have not. John came unto you in the way of righteousness. 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 a thousand other cases, it did not produce the proper effect on them, and they would not repent.


Verse 29. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes on "Mt 21:28"

{r} "but afterward" 2 Ch 33:12,13; 1 Co 6:11; Eph 2:1-13


Verse 30. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes on "Mt 21:28"


Verse 31. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes on "Mt 21:28"


Verse 32. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes on "Mt 21:28"

{s} "Publicans" Lu 3:12 {t} "harlots" Lu 7:37 {u} "repented not" Re 2:21


Verses 33-46. The parable of the vineyard. This is also recorded in Mr 12:1-12; Lu 20:9-19.

Verse 33. Hear another parable. See Barnes "Mt 13:3".

A certain householder. See Barnes "Mt 20:1".

Planted a vineyard. A place for the cultivation of grapes. It is often used to represent the church of God, as a place cultivated and valuable. Judea was favourable to vines, and the figure is frequently used, therefore, in the sacred writers. See Mt 20:1. It is used here to represent the Jewish people; the people chosen of the Lord, cultivated with care, and signally favoured; or perhaps more definitely, the city of Jerusalem.

Hedged it round about. This means, he inclosed it, either with a fence of wood or stone, or more probably with thorns, thick set and growing--a common way of inclosing fields in Judea, as it is in England.

And digged a winepress in it. Mark says, "digged a place for the wine-vat." This should have been so rendered in Matthew. The original word does not mean the press in which the grapes were trodden, but the vat, or large cistern into which the wine ran. This was commonly made by digging into the side of a hill. The wine-press was made of two receptacles. The upper one, in Persia at present, is about eight feet square, and four feet high. In this the grapes are thrown, and trodden by men, and the juice runs into the large receptacle, or cistern below. See Barnes "Is 63:2,3".

And built a tower. See also Isa 5:2. In eastern countries at present these towers are often eighty feet high, and thirty feet square. They were for the keepers who defended the vineyard from thieves and animals, especially foxes. So 1:6; 2:16.

And let it out, etc. This was not an uncommon thing. Vineyards were often planted to be let out for profit.

Into a far country. This means, in the original, only that he departed from them. It does not mean that he went out of the land. Luke adds, "for a long time." That is, as appears, till the time of the fruit; perhaps for a year. This vineyard denotes doubtless the Jewish people, or Jerusalem. But these circumstances are not to be particularly explained. They serve to keep up the story. They denote in general that God had taken proper care of his vineyard, i.e. his people; but beyond that we cannot affirm that these circumstances, of building the tower, etc., mean any particular thing, for he has not told us that they do. And where he has not explained them, we have no right to attempt it.

{v} "planted" Ps 80:8-16; So 8:11,12; Is 5:1-7; Jer 2:21; Mr 12:1; Lu 20:9


Verse 34. And when the time of the fruit drew near, etc. The time of gathering the fruit. The vineyard was let out, probably for a part of the fruit, and the owner sent to receive the part that was his.

Sent his servants. These doubtless represent the prophets sent to the Jewish people.

{w} "servants" 2 Ki 17:13


Verse 35. And beat one. The word here translated beat, properly means to flay, or to take off the skin. Hence to beat, or to whip, so that the skin in many places is taken off.

And killed another. Isaiah is said to have been put to death by sawing him asunder. See Lu 13:34; Heb 11:37; 1 Sa 22:18; 1 Ki 19:10.

And stoned another. This was, among the Jews, a common way of punishment, De 13:10; 17:7; Jos 7:26.

Especially was this the case in times of popular tumult, and of sudden indignation among the people, Ac 7:58; 14:19; Joh 8:59; 10:31.

This does not imply of necessity that those who were stoned died, but they might be only severely wounded. Mark says, "At him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away," etc.

There is a little variation in the circumstances, as mentioned by Matthew, and by Mark and Luke; but the substance is the same. Mark and Luke are more particular, and state the order in which the servants were sent one after another. They all denote the dealing of the people of Israel towards the prophets. All these things had been done to them. See Heb 11:37; Jer 44:4,5,6; 2 Ch 36:16; Ne 9:26; 2 Ch 24:20,21.

{x} "And the husbandman" 2 Ch 36:16; Ne 9:26; Jer 25:3-7; Mt 5:12

Mt 23:34-37; Ac 7:52; 1 Th 2:15; Heb 11:36,37; Re 6:9


Verse 36. No Barnes text on this verse.


Verse 37. Last of all, etc. Mark adds, that this was an only son, greatly beloved. This beautifully and most tenderly exhibits the love of God, in sending his only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die for men. Long had he sent the prophets, and they had been persecuted and slain. There was no use in sending any more prophets to the people. They had done all they could do. God had one only-begotten and well-beloved Son, whom he might send into the world, and whom the world ought to reverence, even as they should the Father, Joh 5:23. To reverence, denotes honour, esteem, deference--that feeling which we have in the presence of one greatly our superior;--to give such a person, in our feelings and by our deportment, the honour which is due to his rank and character. God is often represented in the Bible as giving his Son, his only-begotten and well-beloved Son, for a lost world, Joh 3:16,17; 1 Jo 4:9,14; Ro 8:3,32; Ga 4:4.


Verse 38. But when the husbandmen, etc. They determined to kill him; and as he was the only son, they supposed they could easily seize on the property. It was rented to them, was in their possession, and they resolved to keep it. This circumstance has probably no reference to any particular conduct of the Jews, but is thrown in to keep up the story, and fill up the narrative. An heir is one who succeeds to an estate, commonly a son; an inheritance is what an heir receives.

{y} "heir" Heb 1:1,2


Verse 39. And they caught him, etc. This refers to the conduct of the Jews in putting the Saviour to death. So they understood it, Mt 21:45. The Jews put him to death, after they had persecuted and slain the prophets. This was done by giving him into the hands of the Romans, and seeking his crucifixion, Mt 27:20-25; Ac 2:23; Ac 7:51,52.

And cast him out of the vineyard. The vineyard in this parable may represent Jerusalem. Jesus was crucified out of Jerusalem, on Mount Calvary, Lu 23:33.

{z} "caught him" Ac 2:23; 4:25-27


Verse 40. When the lord therefore, etc. Jesus then asked them a question about the proper way of dealing with those men. The design of asking them this question was that they might condemn themselves, and admit the justice of the punishment that was soon coming upon them.


Verse 41. They say, etc. They answered according as they knew men would, act and would act justly in doing it. He would take away their privileges, and confer them on others. This was the answer which Jesus wished. It was so clear, that they could not answer otherwise. He wished to show them the justice of taking away their national privileges, and punishing them in the destruction of their city and nation. Had he stated this at first, they would not have heard him. He, however, by a parable led them along to state themselves the very truth which he wished to communicate, and they had then nothing to answer, they did not, however, yet see the bearing of what they had admitted.

{a} "destroy" Ps 2:4,5,9; Zec 12:2

{b} "other husbandmen" Lu 21:24; Ro 9:26; 11:11


Verses 42,43. Jesus saith, etc. Jesus, having led them to admit the justice of the great principle on which God was about to act towards them, proceeds to apply it by a text of Scripture, declaring that this very thing which they admitted in the case of the husbandmen, had been predicted respecting themselves. This passage is found in Ps 118:22,23. It was first applicable to David; but no less to Jesus.

The stone. The figure is taken from building a house. The principal stone for size and beauty is that commonly laid as the corner stone.

Which the builders rejected. On account of its want of beauty, or size, it was laid aside, or deemed unfit to be a corner-stone. This represents the Lord Jesus, proposed to the Jews as the foundation, or corner-stone on which to build the church: rejected by them--the builders --on account of his want of comeliness or beauty; i.e., of what they esteemed to be comely or desirable, Isa 53:2,3.

The same is become, etc. Though rejected by them, yet God chose him, and made him the foundation of the church. Christ is often compared to a stone, a corner-stone, a tried, i.e. a sure, firm foundation--all in allusion to the custom of building, Ac 4:11; Ro 9:33; Eph 2:20; 1 Pe 2:7.

Lord's doing. The appointment of Jesus of Nazareth to be the foundation of the church, is by miracle and prophecy proved to be the work of God.

Marvellous in our eyes. Wonderful in the sight of his people. An object of gratitude and admiration. That he should Select his only Son; that he should stoop so low, be despised, rejected, and put to death; that God should raise him up, and build a church on this foundation, embracing the Gentile as well as the Jew, and spreading through all the world, is a subject of wonder and praise to all the redeemed.

{c} "stone" Ps 118:22; Is 28:16; 1 Pe 2:6,7

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