Matthew 26


Christ predicts his being betrayed and crucified, 1, 2.

The chief priests, scribes, and elders consult about his death,


A woman anoints his head at Bethany, at which the disciples are

offended, but Christ vindicates her conduct, 6-13.

Judas, for thirty pieces of silver, engages with the chief

priests to betray him, 14-16.

He eats a passover with his disciples, and assures them of his

approaching death, and that one of them would betray him, 17-21.

On each asking, Is it I? Christ asserts that Judas is the

traitor, 22-25.

Having eaten his last supper, he institutes the eucharist, to be

observed in his Church as a memorial of his sacrificial death,


They sing a hymn, go to the mount of Olives, and he again

announces his approaching death and resurrection, 30-32.

Peter asserts his resolution to be faithful to his Master, and

Christ foretells his denial and apostasy, 33-35.

He goes to Gethsemane; the transactions there, 36-46.

Judas comes with the high priest's mob and betrays him with a

kiss, 47-50.

Peter cuts off the ear of the high priest's servant; Christ

discourses with the multitude, 51-55.

The disciples flee, and he is led to Caiaphas, 56, 57.

Peter follows at a distance, 58.

They seek false witnesses, and question our Lord, who declares

himself to be the Christ, 59-64.

They accuse him of blasphemy, and abuse him, 65-68.

Peter's denial and repentance, 69-75.


Verse 1. When Jesus had finished all these sayings] He began

these sayings on Mount Olivet, Mt 24:1, and continued them till

be entered into Bethany, whither he was going.

Verse 2. The passover] A feast instituted in Egypt, to

commemorate the destroying angel's passing over the houses of the

Israelites, when he slew the firstborn of the Egyptians. See the

whole of this business largely explained in the Notes on

Ex 12:1-27. This feast began on the fourteenth day of the first

moon, in the first month, Nisan, and it lasted only one day; but

it was immediately followed by the days of unleavened bread, which

were seven, so that the whole lasted eight days, and all the eight

days are sometimes called the feast of the passover, and sometimes

the feast or days of unleavened bread. See Lu 22:1-7.

The three most signal benefits vouchsafed to the Israelites were,

1. The deliverance from the slavery of Egypt; to commemorate

which they kept the feast of unleavened bread, and the passover.

2. The giving of the law; to commemorate which, they kept the

feast of weeks.

3. Their sojourning in the wilderness, and entrance into the

promised land; to commemorate which, they kept the feast of


See these largely explained, Ex 23:14; Le 23:2-40.

The Son of man is betrayed, (rather delivered up,) to be

crucified.] With what amazing calmness and precision does our

blessed Lord speak of this awful event! What a proof does he here

give of his prescience in so correctly predicting it; and of his

love in so cheerfully undergoing it! Having instructed his

disciples and the Jews by his discourses, edified them by his

example, convinced them by his miracles, he now prepares to redeem

them by his blood! These two verses have no proper connection

with this chapter, and should be joined to the preceding.

Verse 3. Then assembled together the chief priests] That is,

during the two days that preceded the passover.

The high priest, who was called Caiaphas] Caiaphas succeeded

Simon, son of Camith, about A. D. 16, or, as Calmet thinks, 25.

He married the daughter of Annas, who was joined with him in the

priesthood. About two years after our Lord's crucifixion,

Caiaphas and Pilate were both deposed by VITELLIUS, then governor

of Syria, and afterwards emperor. Caiaphas, unable to bear this

disgrace, and the stings of his conscience for the murder of

Christ, killed himself about A. D. 35. See Joseph. Ant. b. xviii.

c. 2-4.

Verse 4. And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty]

The providence of God frustrated their artful machinations; and

that event which they wished to conduct with the greatest privacy

and silence was transacted with all possible celebrity, amidst the

thousands who resorted to Jerusalem, at this season, for the

keeping of the passover. It was, doubtless, of the very first

importance that the crucifixion of Christ, which was preparatory

to the most essential achievement of Christianity, viz. his

resurrection from the grave, should be exhibited before many

witnesses, and in the most open manner, that infidelity might not

attempt, in future, to invalidate the evidences of the Christian

religion, by alleging that these things were done in a corner.

See WAKEFIELD in loco.

Verse 5. Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar] It was

usual for the Jews to punish criminals at the public festivals;

but in this case they were afraid of an insurrection, as our Lord

had become very popular. The providence of God directed it thus,

for the reason given in the preceding note.

He who observes a festival on motives purely human violates it

in his heart, and is a hypocrite before God. It is likely they

feared the Galileans, as being the countrymen of our Lord, more

than they feared the people of Jerusalem.

Verse 6. In Bethany] For a solution of the difficulties in

this verse, about the time of the anointing, see the observations

at the end of this chapter.

Simon the LEPER] This was probably no more than a surname, as

Simon the CANAANITE, Mt 10:4,

and Barsabas JUSTUS, Ac 1:23, and several others. Yet it might

have been some person that Christ had healed of this disease.

See Mt 11:5.

Verse 7. There came unto him a woman] There is much contention

among commentators about the transaction mentioned here, and in

Joh 12:3; some supposing them to be different, others to be

the same. Bishop Newcome's view of the subject I have placed at

the end of the chapter.

Some think that the woman mentioned here was Mary, the sister of

Lazarus; others Mary Magdalene; but against the former opinion it

is argued that it is not likely, had this been Mary the sister of

Lazarus, that Matthew and Mark would have suppressed her name.

Besides, say they, we should not confound the repast which is

mentioned here, with that mentioned by John, Joh 12:3. This one

was made only two days before the passover, and that one six days

before: the one was made at the house of Simon the leper, the

other at the house of Lazarus, Joh 12:1, 2. At this, the woman

poured the oil on the head of Christ; at the other, Mary anointed

Christ's feet with it. See Clarke on Mr 14:3,

and See Clarke on Mt 26:75

Verse 8. His disciples] One of them, viz. Judas. This mode of

speaking was common among the Hebrews. So, Mt 27:44,

the thieves also, i.e. one of them. So, Mt 28:17,

some doubted, i.e. one, Thomas.

See also Ge 8:4; Jud 12:7; Ne 6:7, &c.

By a figure called among rhetoricians enallage, the plural is put

for the singular; it is, however, possible that Judas, who made

the objection, was followed in the sentiment by the rest of the


Verse 9. And given to the poor.] How often does charity serve

as a cloak for covetousness! God is sometimes robbed of his right

under the pretence of devoting what is withheld to some charitable

purpose, to which there was no intention ever to give it.

Verse 10. Why trouble ye the woman?] Or, Why do ye put the

woman to pain? See this sense of κοπουςπαρεχειν, established by

Kypke in loco. A generous mind is ever pained when it is denied

the opportunity of doing good, or when its proffered kindness is


Verse 11. Ye have the poor always with you] And,

consequently, have the opportunity of doing them good at any time;

but me ye have not always; my bodily presence is about to be

removed from you for ever. The woman, under a presentiment of my

death is preparing me for my burial.

Verse 12. She did it for my burial.] Or, She hath done it to

embalm me-ενταφιασαιμε. The Septuagint use ενταφιαστης for the

person whose office it was to embalm, Ge 50:2, and ενταφιαζω for

the Hebrew which signifies to prepare with spices, or

aromatics, Ge 50:3. Our Lord took this opportunity to tell them,

once more, that he was shortly to die.

Verse 13. Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached] Another

remarkable proof of the prescience of Christ. Such a matter as

this, humanly speaking, depended on mere fortuitous circumstances,

yet so has God disposed matters, that the thing has continued,

hitherto, as firm and regular as the ordinances of heaven.

For a memorial of her.] As embalming preserves the body from

corruption, and she has done this good work to embalm and preserve

this body, so will I order every thing concerning this transaction

to be carefully recorded, to preserve her memory to the latest

ages. The actions which the world blames, through the spirit of

envy, covetousness, or malice, God takes delight to distinguish

and record.

Verse 14. Then-Judas] After this supper at Bethany, Judas

returned to Jerusalem, and made his contract with the chief


Verse 15. Thirty pieces of silver.] τριακοντααργυρια, thirty

silverlings; but στατηρας, staters, is the reading of the Codex

Bezae, three copies of the Itala, Eusebius, and Origen sometimes;

and στατηραςαργυριου, silver staters, is the reading of the

famous Basil MS. No. 1, in Griesbach, and one copy of the Itala.

A stater was the same as the shekel, and worth about 3s. English

money, according to Dean Prideaux: a goodly price for the Saviour

of the world! Thirty staters, about 4l. 10s. the common price

for the meanest slave! See Ex 21:32. The rabbins say, thirty

selain of pure silver was the standard price for a slave,

whether good or bad, male or female. See tract Erachin,

fol. 14, and Shekalim, cap. 1. Each selaa weighed 384

barley-corns; the same number was contained in a shekel; and

therefore the shekel and the selaa were the same.

See Clarke on Ge 20:16,

and See Clarke on Ex 38:24.

Verse 16. He sought opportunity] ευκαιριαν, a convenient or

fit opportunity. Men seldom leave a crime imperfect: when once

sin is conceived, it meets, in general, with few obstacles, till

it brings forth death. How deceitful, how deeply damning, is the

love of money! Well might a heathen exclaim, while contemplating

the grave of a person who was murdered for the sake of his


---------- Quid non mortalia pectora cogis


"O! cursed lust of gold! what wilt thou not compel the human

heart to perpetrate?." Judas is deservedly considered as one of

the most infamous of men, his conduct base beyond description, and

his motives vile. But how many, since his time, have walked in

the same way! How many, for the sake of worldly wealth, have

renounced the religion of their Lord and Master, and sold Jesus,

and their interest in heaven, for a short-lived portion of secular

good! From Joh 12:6, we learn that Judas, who was treasurer to

our Lord and his disciples, (for he carried the bag,) was a thief,

and frequently purloined a portion of what was given for the

support of this holy family. Being disappointed of the prey he

hoped to have from the sale of the precious ointment, Mt 26:9, he

sold his Master to make up the sum. A thorough Jew!

Verse 17. Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread]

As the feast of unleavened bread did not begin till the day after

the passover, the fifteenth day of the month, Le 23:5, 6;

Nu 28:16, 17,

this could not have been, properly, the first day of that

feast; but as the Jews began to eat unleavened bread on the

fourteenth, Ex 12:18,

this day was often termed the first of unleavened bread. The

evangelists use it in this sense, and call even the paschal day by

this name. See Mr 14:12; Lu 22:7.

Where wilt thou that we prepare] How astonishing is this, that

HE who created all things, whether visible or invisible, and by

whom all things were upheld, should so empty himself as not to be

proprietor of a single house in his whole creation, to eat the

last passover with his disciples! This is certainly a mystery,

and so, less or more is every thing that God does. But how

inveterate and destructive must the nature of sin be, when such

emptying and humiliation were necessary to its destruction! It is

worthy of note what the Talmudists say, that the inhabitants of

Jerusalem did not let out their houses to those who came to the

annual feasts; but afforded all accommodations of this kind

gratis. A man might therefore go and request the use of any room,

on such an occasion, which was as yet unoccupied. The earthen

jug, and the skin of the sacrifice, were left with the host. See

Lightfoot, vol. ii. p. 21.

Verse 18. Go-to such a man] τονδεινα It is probable that

this means some person with whom Christ was well acquainted, and

who was known to the disciples. Grotius observes that the Greeks

use this form when they mean some particular person who is so well

known that there is no need to specify him by name. The

circumstances are more particularly marked in Lu 22:8, &c.

My time is at hand] That is, the time of my crucifixion. Kypke

has largely shown that καιρος is often used among the Greeks for

affliction and calamity. It might be rendered here, the time of

my crucifixion is at hand.

Verse 19. And the disciples did] The disciples that were sent

on this errand were Peter and John. See Lu 22:8.

They made ready the passover] That is, they provided the lamb,

&c., which were appointed by the law for this solemnity. Mr.

Wakefield justly observes, "that the Jews considered the passover

as a sacrificial rite; Josephus calls it θυσιαν, A SACRIFICE; and

Trypho, in Justin Martyr, speaks of προβατοντουπασχαθυειν,

SACRIFICING the paschal lamb. But what comes nearer to the point

is this, that Maimonides, one of the most eminent of the Jewish

rabbins, has a particular treatise on the paschal sacrifice; and

throughout that piece, speaks of the lamb as a victim, and of the

solemnity itself as a sacrifice. And R. Bechai, in his commentary

on Le 2:11,

says that the paschal sacrifice was of a piacular nature, in order

to expiate the guilt contracted by the idolatrous practices of the

Israelites In Egypt." It was highly necessary that this should be

considered as an expiatory sacrifice, as it typified that Lamb of

God who takes away the sin of the world. For much more on this

important subject than can, with propriety, be introduced into

these notes, see a Discourse on the Eucharist, lately published by

the author of this work.

Verse 20. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the

twelve.] It is a common opinion that our Lord ate the passover

some hours before the Jews ate it; for the Jews, according to

custom, ate theirs at the end of the fourteenth day, but Christ

ate his the preceding even, which was the beginning of the same

sixth day, or Friday; the Jews begin their day at sunsetting, we

at midnight. Thus Christ ate the passover on the same day with

the Jews, but not on the same hour. Christ kept this passover the

beginning of the fourteenth day, the precise day and hour in which

the Jews had eaten their first passover in Egypt.

See Ex 12:6-12. And in the same part of the same day in which

the Jews had sacrificed their first paschal lamb, viz. between

the two evenings, about the ninth hour, or 3 o'clock, Jesus Christ

our passover was sacrificed for us: for it was at this hour that

he yielded up his last breath; and then it was that, the sacrifice

being completed, Jesus said, IT IS FINISHED. See Ex 12:6, &c.,

and De 16:6, &c.

See Clarke on Joh 18:28, and the Treatise on the

Eucharist, referred to See Clarke on Mt 26:19; and

See Clarke on Mt 26:26 and following verses.

Verse 21. One of you shall betray me.] Or, will deliver me up.

Judas had already betrayed him, Mt 26:15, and he was now about to

deliver him into the hands of the chief priests, according to the

agreement he had made with them.

Verse 22. They were exceeding sorrowful] That is, the eleven

who were innocent; and the hypocritical traitor, Judas,

endeavoured to put on the appearance of sorrow. Strange! Did he

not know that Christ knew the secrets of his soul! Or had his

love of money so far blinded him, as to render him incapable of

discerning even this, with which he had been before so well


Verse 23. He that dippeth his hand] As the Jews ate the

passover a whole family together, it was not convenient for them

all to dip their bread in the same dish; they therefore had

several little dishes or plates, in which was the juice of the

bitter herbs, mentioned Ex 12:8, on different parts of the table;

and those who were nigh one of these, dipped their bread in it.

As Judas is represented as dipping in the same dish with Christ,

it shows that he was either near or opposite to him. If this

man's heart had not been hardened, and his conscience seared

beyond all precedent, by the deceitfulness of his sin, would he

have showed his face in this sacred assembly, or have thus put the

seal to his own perdition, by eating of this sacrificial lamb? Is

it possible that he could feel no compunction? Alas! having

delivered himself up into the hands of the devil, he was capable

of delivering up his Master into the hands of the chief priests;

and thus, when men are completely hardened by the deceitfulness of

sin, they can outwardly perform the most solemn acts of devotion,

without feeling any sort of inward concern about the matter.

Verse 24. The Son of man goeth] That is, is about to die.

Going, going away, departing, &c., are frequently used in the best

Greek and Latin writers, for death, or dying. The same words are

often used in the Scriptures in the same sense.

It had been good for that man] Can this be said of any sinner,

in the common sense in which it is understood, if there be any

redemption from hell's torments? If a sinner should suffer

millions of millions of years in them, and get out at last to the

enjoyment of heaven, then it was well for him that he had been

born, for still he has an eternity of blessedness before him. Can

the doctrine of the non-eternity of hell's torments stand in the

presence of this saying? Or can the doctrine of the annihilation

of the wicked consist with this declaration? It would have been

well for that man if he had never been born! Then he must be in

some state of conscious existence, as non-existence is said to be

better than that state in which he is now found. It was common

for the Jews to say of any flagrant transgressor, It would have

been better for him had he never been born. See several examples

in Schoettgen. See the case of Judas argued at the end of Acts 1.

Verse 25. Judas-said, Master, is it I?] What excessive

impudence! He knew, in his conscience, that he had already

betrayed his Master, and was waiting now for the servants of the

chief priests, that he might deliver him into their hands; and yet

he says, (hoping that he had transacted his business so privately

that it had not yet transpired,) Master, is it I? It is worthy of

remark, that each of the other disciples said κυριε, LORD, is it

I? But Judas dares not, or will not, use this august title, but

simply says ραββι, TEACHER, is it I?

Thou hast said.] συειπας, or atun amaritun,

"Ye have said," was a common form of expression for YES. IT IS

so. "When the Zipporenses inquired whether Rabbi Judas was dead?

the son of Kaphra answered, Ye have said," i.e. He is dead.

See Schoettgen. Hor. Hebr. p. 225.

Verse 26. Jesus took bread] This is the first institution of

what is termed the LORD's SUPPER. To every part of this ceremony,

as here mentioned, the utmost attention should be paid.

To do this, in the most effectual manner, I think it necessary

to set down the text of the three evangelists who have transmitted

the whole account, collated with that part of St. Paul's First

Epistle to the Corinthians which speaks of the same subject, and

which, he assures us, he received by Divine revelation. It may

seem strange that, although (Joh 13:1-38) mentions all the

circumstances preceding the holy supper, and, from Mt 14:1-36

the circumstances which succeeded the breaking of the bread, and

in chapters 15, 16, and 17, the discourse which followed the

administration of the cup; yet he takes no notice of the Divine

institution at all. This is generally accounted for on his

knowledge of what the other three evangelists had written; and on

his conviction that their relation was true, and needed no

additional confirmation, as the matter was amply established by

the conjoint testimony of three such respectable witnesses.


V. 26. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it

(ευλογησας and blessed God) and brake it, and gave it to the

disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is my body.


V. 22. And as they did eat, Jesus took bread and blessed

(ευλογησας, blessed God) and brake it, and to them, and said,

Take, eat, this is my body.


V. 19. And he took bread and gave thanks, (ευχαριστησας, i.e.

to God,) and gave brake it, and gave unto them, saying:

This is my body which is given for you: This do in remembrance of


1 COR. XI.

V. 23. The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was

betrayed, took bread;

V. 24. And when he had given thanks (καιευχαριστησος, i.e. to

God) he brake it, and said, Take, eat, this is my body, which is

broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

After giving the bread, the discourse related, Joh 14:1-31,

inclusive, is supposed by Bishop Newcome to have been delivered by

our Lord, for the comfort and support of his disciples under their

present and approaching trials.


V. 27. And he took the cup, and gave thanks (ευχαριστησας,) and

gave it to them, saying: Drink ye all of it.

V. 28. For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed

for many or the remission of sins.

V. 29. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this

fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in

my Father's kingdom.


V. 23. And he took the cup; and when he had given thanks,

(ευχαριστησας,) he gave it to them; and they all drank of it.

V. 24. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the New

Testament, which is shed for many.

V. 25. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit

of the vine until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of



V. 20. Likewise also the cup, after supper, saying: This cup is

the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.


V. 25. After the same manner also, he took the cup, when he had

supped, saying: This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do

ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

After this, our Lord resumes that discourse which is found in

the 15th, 16th, and 17th chapters of John, beginning with the last

verse of chap. 14, Arise, let us go hence. Then succeed the

following words, which conclude the whole ceremony.


V. 30. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the

Mount of Olives.


V. 26. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the

Mount of Olives.


V. 39. And he came out, and went as he was wont to the Mount of

Olives. And his disciples also followed him.


V. 1. When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his

disciples over the brook Kedron.

From the preceding harmonized view of this important

transaction, as described by three EVANGELISTS and one APOSTLE, we

see the first institution, nature, and design of what has been

since called THE LORD'S SUPPER. To every circumstance, as set

down here, and the mode of expression by which such circumstances

are described, we should pay the deepest attention.

Verse 26. As they were eating] Either an ordinary supper, or

the paschal lamb, as some think. See the observations at the end

of this chapter.

Jesus took bread] Of what kind? Unleavened bread, certainly,

because there was no other kind to be had in all Judea at this

time; for this was the first day of unleavened bread, (Mt 26:17,)

i.e. the 14th of the month Nisan, when the Jews, according to the

command of God, (Ex 12:15-20; 23:15; 34:25,) were to purge away

all leaven from their houses; for he who sacrificed the passover,

having leaven in his dwelling, was considered to be such a

transgressor of the Divine law as could no longer be tolerated

among the people of God; and therefore was to be cut off from the

congregation of Israel. Leo of Modena, who has written a very

sensible treatise on the customs of the Jews, observes, "That so

strictly do some of the Jews observe the precept concerning the

removal of all leaven from their houses, during the celebration of

the paschal solemnity, that they either provide vessels entirely

new for baking, or else have a set for the purpose, which are

dedicated solely to the service of the passover, and never brought

out on any other occasion."

To this divinely instituted custom of removing all leaven

previously to the paschal solemnity, St. Paul evidently alludes,

1Co 5:6-8.

Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge

out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are

unleavened. For even Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us;

therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with

the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the UNLEAVENED bread

of sincerity and truth.

Now, if any respect should be paid to the primitive institution,

in the celebration of this Divine ordinance, then, unleavened,

unyeasted bread should be used. In every sign, or type, the thing

signifying or pointing out that which is beyond itself should

either have certain properties, or be accompanied with certain

circumstances, as expressive as possible of the thing signified.

Bread, simply considered in itself, may be an emblem apt enough of

the body of our Lord Jesus, which was given for us; but the design

of God was evidently that it should not only point out this, but

also the disposition required in those who should celebrate both

the antetype and the type; and this the apostle explains to be

sincerity and truth, the reverse of malice and wickedness.

The very taste of the bread was instructive: it pointed out to

every communicant, that he who came to the table of God with

malice or ill-will against any soul of man, or with wickedness, a

profligate or sinful life, might expect to eat and drink judgment

to himself, as not discerning that the Lord's body was sacrificed

for this very purpose, that all sin might be destroyed; and that

sincerity, ειλικρινεια, such purity as the clearest light can

discern no stain in, might be diffused through the whole soul; and

that truth, the law of righteousness and true holiness, might

regulate and guide all the actions of life. Had the bread used on

these occasions been of the common kind, it would have been

perfectly unfit, or improper, to have communicated these uncommon

significations; and, as it was seldom used, its rare occurrence

would make the emblematical representation more deeply impressive;

and the sign, and the thing signified, have their due

correspondence and influence.

These circumstances considered, will it not appear that the use

of common bread in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is highly

improper? He who can say, "This is a matter of no importance,"

may say with equal propriety, the bread itself is of no

importance; and another may say, the wine is of no importance; and

a third may say, "neither the bread nor wine is any thing, but as

they lead to spiritual references; and, the spiritual reference

being once understood, the signs are useless." Thus we may,

through affected spirituality, refine away the whole ordinance of

God; and, with the letter and form of religion, abolish religion

itself. Many have already acted in this way, not only to their

loss, but to their ruin, by showing how profoundly wise they are

above what is written. Let those, therefore, who consider that

man shall live by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God,

and who are conscientiously solicitous that each Divine

institution be not only preserved, but observed in all its

original integrity, attend to this circumstance. The Lutheran

Church makes use of unleavened bread to the present day.

And blessed it] Both St. Matthew and St. Mark use the word

ευλογησας, blessed, instead of ευχαριστησας, gave thanks,

which is the word used by St. Luke and St. Paul. But instead of

ευλογησας, blessed, ευχαριστησας, gave thanks, is the reading

of ten MSS. in uncial characters, of the Dublin Codex rescriptus,

published by Dr. Barrett, and of more than one hundred others, of

the greatest respectability. This is the reading also of the

Syriac and Arabic, and is confirmed by several of the primitive

fathers. The terms, in this case, are nearly of the same import,

as both blessing and giving thanks were used on these occasions.

But what was it that our Lord blessed? Not the bread, though many

think the contrary, being deceived by the word IT, which is

improperly supplied in our version. In all the four places

referred to above, whether the word blessed or gave thanks is

used, it refers not to the bread, but to God, the dispenser of

every good. Our Lord here conforms himself to that constant

Jewish custom, viz. of acknowledging God as the author of every

good and perfect gift, by giving thanks on taking the bread and

taking the cup at their ordinary meals. For every Jew was

forbidden to eat, drink, or use any of God's creatures without

rendering him thanks; and he who acted contrary to this command

was considered as a person who was guilty of sacrilege. From this

custom we have derived the decent and laudable one of saying grace

(gratas thanks) before and after meat. The Jewish form of

blessing, probably that which our Lord used on this occasion, none

of my readers will be displeased to find here, though it has been

mentioned once before. On taking the bread they say:-

Baruch atta Elohinoo, Melech, haolam, ha motse Lechem min haarets.

Blessed be thou, our God, King of the universe, who bringest

forth bread out of the earth!

Likewise, on taking the cup, they say:-


Baruch Elohinoo, Melech, haolam, Bore perey haggephen.

Blessed be our God, the King of the universe, the Creator of the

fruit it of the vine!

The Mohammedans copy their example, constantly saying before and

after meat:-


Bismillahi arahmani arraheemi.

In the name of God, the most merciful, the most compassionate.

No blessing, therefore, of the elements is here intended; they

were already blessed, in being sent as a gift of mercy from the

bountiful Lord; but God the sender is blessed, because of the

liberal provision he has made for his worthless creatures.

Blessing and touching the bread are merely Popish ceremonies,

unauthorized either by Scripture or the practice of the pure

Church of God; necessary of course to those who pretend to

transmute, by a kind of spiritual incantation, the bread and wine

into the real body and blood of Jesus Christ; a measure the

grossest in folly, and most stupid in nonsense, to which God in

judgment ever abandoned the fallen spirit of man.

And brake it] We often read in the Scriptures of breaking

bread, but never of cutting it. The Jewish people had nothing

similar to our high-raised loaf: their bread was made broad and

thin, and was consequently very brittle, and, to divide it, there

was no need of a knife.

The breaking of the bread I consider essential to the proper

performance of this solemn and significant ceremony: because this

act was designed by our Lord to shadow forth the wounding,

piercing, and breaking of his body upon the cross; and, as all

this was essentially necessary to the making a full atonement for

the sin of the world, so it is of vast importance that this

apparently little circumstance, the breaking of the bread, should

be carefully attended to, that the godly communicant may have

every necessary assistance to enable him to discern the Lord's

body, while engaged in this most important and Divine of all God's

ordinances. But who does not see that one small cube of

fermented, i.e. leavened bread, previously divided from the mass

with a knife, and separated by the fingers of the minister, can

never answer the end of the institution, either as to the matter

of the bread, or the mode of dividing it? Man is naturally a

dull and heedless creature, especially in spiritual things, and

has need of the utmost assistance of his senses, in union with

those expressive rites and ceremonies which the Holy Scripture,

not tradition, has sanctioned, in order to enable him to arrive at

spiritual things, through the medium of earthly similitudes.

And gave it to the disciples] Not only the breaking, but also

the DISTRIBUTION, of the bread are necessary parts of this rite.

In the Romish Church, the bread is not broken nor delivered to the

people, that THEY may take and eat; but the consecrated wafer is

put upon their tongue by the priest; and it is generally

understood by the communicants, that they should not masticate,

but swallow it whole.

"That the breaking of this bread to be distributed," says Dr.

Whitby, "is a necessary part of this rite is evident, first, by

the continual mention of it by St. Paul and all the evangelists,

when they speak of the institution of this sacrament, which shows

it to be a necessary part of it. 2dly, Christ says, Take, eat,

this is my body, BROKEN for you, 1Co 11:24. But when the

elements are not broken, it can be no more said, This is my body

broken for you, than where the elements are not given. 3dly, Our

Lord said, Do this in remembrance of me: i.e. 'Eat this bread,

broken in remembrance of my body broken on the cross:' now, where

no body broken is distributed, there, nothing can be eaten in

memorial of his broken body. Lastly, The apostle, by saying, The

bread which we BREAK, is it not the communion of the body of

Christ? sufficiently informs us that the eating of his broken body

is necessary to that end, 1Co 10:10. Hence it was that this

rite, of distributing bread broken, continued for a thousand

years, and was, as Humbertus testifies, observed in the Roman

Church in the eleventh century." WHITBY in loco. At present, the

opposite is as boldly practised as if the real Scriptural rite had

never been observed in the Church of Christ.

This is my body.] Here it must be observed that Christ had

nothing in his hands, at this time, but part of that unleavened

bread which he and his disciples had been eating at supper, and

therefore he could mean no more than this, viz. that the bread

which he was now breaking represented his body, which, in the

course of a few hours, was to be crucified for them. Common

sense, unsophisticated with superstition and erroneous creeds,-and

reason, unawed by the secular sword of sovereign authority, could

not possibly take any other meaning than this plain, consistent,

and rational one, out of these words. "But," says a false and

absurd creed, "Jesus meant, when he said, HOC EST CORPUS MEUM,

This is my body, and HIC EST CALIX SANGUINIS MEI, This is the

chalice of my blood, that the bread and wine were substantially

changed into his body, including flesh, blood, bones, yea, the

whole Christ, in his immaculate humanity and adorable divinity!"

And, for denying this, what rivers of righteous blood have been

shed by state persecutions and by religious wars! Well it may be

asked, "Can any man of sense believe, that, when Christ took up

that bread and broke it, it was his own body which he held in his

own hands, and which himself broke to pieces, and which he and his

disciples ate?" He who can believe such a congeries of

absurdities, cannot be said to be a volunteer in faith; for it is

evident, the man can neither have faith nor reason, as to this


Verse 27. And he took the cup] μετατοδειπνησαι, after having

supped, Lu 22:20, and 1Co 11:25. Whether the supper was on the

paschal lamb, or whether it was a common or ordinary meal, I

shall not wait here to inquire: see at the end of this chapter.

In the parallel place, in Luke 22, we find our Lord taking the

cup, Lu 22:17, and again Lu 22:19; by the former of which was

probably meant the cup of blessing, kos haberakah,

which the master of a family took, and, after blessing God, gave

to each of his guests by way of welcome: but this second taking

the cup is to be understood as belonging to the very important

rite which he was now instituting, and on which he lays a very

remarkable stress. With respect to the bread, he had before

simply said, Take, eat, this is my body; but concerning the cup

he says, Drink ye all of this: for as this pointed out the very

essence of the institution, viz. the blood of atonement, it was

necessary that each should have a particular application of it;

therefore he says, Drink ye ALL of THIS. By this we are taught

that the cup is essential to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper;

so that they who deny the cup to the people sin against God's

institution; and they who receive not the cup are not partakers of

the body and blood of Christ. If either could without mortal

prejudice be omitted, it might be the bread; but the cup, as

pointing out the blood poured out, i.e. the life, by which alone

the great sacrificial act is performed, and remission of sins

procured, is absolutely indispensable. On this ground it is

demonstrable, that there is not a priest under heaven, who denies

the cup to the people, that can be said to celebrate the Lord's

Supper at all; nor is there one of their votaries that ever

received the holy sacrament. All pretension to this is an

absolute farce, so long as the cup, the emblem of the atoning

blood, is denied. How strange is it, that the very men who plead

so much for the bare literal meaning of this is my body, in the

preceding verse, should deny all meaning to drink YE ALL of this

cup, in this verse! And though Christ has in the most positive

manner enjoined it, they will not permit one of the laity to taste

it! O, what a thing is man-a constant contradiction to reason and

to himself.

I have just said that our blessed Lord lays remarkable stress on

the administration of the cup, and on that which himself assures

us is represented by it. As it is peculiarly emphatic, I beg

leave to set down the original text, which the critical reader

will do well minutely to examine: τουτογαρεστιτοαιμαμουτο


αμαρτιων. The following literal translation and paraphrase do not

exceed its meaning:-

For THIS is THAT blood of mine which was pointed out by all the

sacrifices under the Jewish law, and particularly by the shedding

and sprinkling of the blood of the paschal lamb. THAT blood of

the sacrifice slain for the ratification of the new covenant. THE

blood ready to be poured out for the multitudes, the whole Gentile

world as well as the Jews, for the taking away of sins; sin,

whether original or actual, in all its power and guilt, in all its

internal energy and pollution.

And gave thanks] See the form used on this occasion, on

Mt 26:26;

and see the MISHNA, TRACT Beracoth.

Verse 28. For this is my blood of the New Testament] This is

the reading both here and in St. Mark; but St. Luke and St. Paul

say, This cup is the New Testament in my blood. This passage has

been strangely mistaken: by New Testament, many understand nothing

more than the book commonly known by this name, containing the

four Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, apostolical Epistles, and book

of the Revelation; and they think that the cup of the New

Testament means no more than merely that cup which the book called

the New Testament enjoins in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

As this is the case, it is highly necessary that this term should

be explained. The original, ηκαινηδιαθηκη, which we translate,

The New Testament, and which is the general title of all the

contents of the book already described, simply means, the new

COVENANT. Covenant, from con, together, and venio, I come,

signifies an agreement, contract, or compact, between two parties,

by which both are mutually bound to do certain things, on certain

conditions and penalties. It answers to the Hebrew berith,

which often signifies, not only the covenant or agreement, but

also the sacrifice which was slain on the occasion, by the blood

of which the covenant was ratified; and the contracting parties

professed to subject themselves to such a death as that of the

victim, in case of violating their engagements. An oath of this

kind, on slaying the covenant sacrifice, was usual in ancient

times: so in Homer, when a covenant was made between the Greeks

and the Trojans, and the throats of lambs were cut, and their

blood poured out, the following form of adjuration was used by the

contracting parties:-





All glorious Jove, and ye, the powers of heaven!

Whoso shall violate this contract first,

So be their blood, their children's and their own,

Poured out, as this libation, on the ground

And let their wives bring forth to other men!

ILIAD l. iii. v. 298-301.

Our blessed Saviour is evidently called the διαθηκη,

berith, or covenant sacrifice, Isa 42:6; 49:8; Zec 9:11. And

to those Scriptures he appears to allude, as in them the Lord

promises to give him for a covenant (sacrifice) to the Gentiles,

and to send forth, by the blood of this covenant (victim) the

prisoners out of the pit. The passages in the sacred writings

which allude to this grand sacrificial and atoning act are almost

innumerable. See the Preface to Matthew.

In this place, our Lord terms his blood the blood of the NEW

covenant; by which he means that grand plan of agreement, or

reconciliation, which God was now establishing between himself and

mankind, by the passion and death of his Son, through whom alone

men could draw nigh to God; and this NEW covenant is mentioned in

contradistinction from the OLD covenant, ηπαλαιαδιαθηκη,

2Co 3:14, by which appellative all the books of the Old Testament

were distinguished, because they pointed out the way of

reconciliation to God by the blood of the various victims slain

under the law; but now, as the Lamb of God, which taketh away the

sin of the world, was about to be offered up, a NEW and LIVING way

was thereby constituted, so that no one henceforth could come unto

the Father but by HIM. Hence all the books of the New Testament,

which bear unanimous testimony to the doctrine of salvation by

faith through the blood of Jesus, are termed, ηκαινηδιαθηκη, The

NEW covenant. See the Preface.

Dr. Lightfoot's Observations on this are worthy of serious

notice. "This is my blood of the New Testament. Not only the

seal of the covenant, but the sanction of the new covenant. The

end of the Mosaic economy, and the confirming of a new one. The

confirmation of the old covenant was by the blood of bulls and

goats, Ex 24, Heb 9, because blood was still to be shed: the

confirmation of the new was by a cup of wine, because under the

new covenant there is no farther shedding of blood. As it is here

said of the cup, This cup is the New Testament in my blood; so it

might be said of the cup of blood, Ex 24, That cup was the Old

Testament in the blood of Christ: there, all the articles of that

covenant being read over, Moses sprinkled all the people with

blood, and said, This is the blood of the covenant which God hath

made with you; and thus the old covenant or testimony was

confirmed. ln like manner, Christ, having published all the

articles of the new covenant, he takes the cup of wine, and gives

them to drink, and saith. This is the New Testament in my blood;

and thus the new covenant was established."-Works, vol. ii. p.


Which is shed (εκχυνομενον, poured out) for many] εκχεω

and εκχυω, to pour out, are often used in a sacrificial sense in

the Septuagint, and signify to pour out or sprinkle the blood of

the sacrifices before the altar of the Lord, by way of atonement.

See 2Ki 16:15; Le 8:15; 9:9; Ex 29:12; Le 4:7, 14, 17, 30, 34;

and in various other places. Our Lord, by this very remarkable

mode of expression, teaches us that, as his body was to be broken

or crucified, υπερημων, in our stead, so here the blood was to be

poured out to make an atonement, as the words, remission of sins,

sufficiently prove for without shedding of blood there was no

remission, Heb 9:22, nor any remission by shedding of blood, but

in a sacrificial way. See the passages above, and on Mt 26:26.

The whole of this passage will receive additional light when

collated with Isa 53:11, 12.

By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify MANY, for he

shall bear their iniquities-because he hath POURED OUT his soul

unto death, and he bare the sin of MANY. The pouring out of the

soul unto death, in the prophet, answers to, this is the blood of

the new covenant which is poured out for you, in the evangelists;

and the , rabbim, multitudes, in Isaiah, corresponds to the

MANY, πολλων, of Matthew and Mark. The passage will soon appear

plain, when we consider that two distinct classes of persons are

mentioned by the prophet. 1. The Jews. Isa 53:4.

Surely he hath borne OUR griefs, and carried OUR sorrows.

Isa 53:5.

But he was wounded for OUR transgressions, he was bruised for OUR

iniquities, the chastisement of OUR peace was upon him.

Isa 53:6.

All WE like sheep have gone astray, and the Lord hath laid upon

him the iniquity of US all. 2. The GENTILES. Isa 53:11.

By his knowledge, bedaato, i.e. by his being made

known, published as Christ crucified among the Gentiles, he shall

justify rabbim, the multitudes, (the GENTILES,) for he

shall (also) bear THEIR offences, as well as OURS, the Jews,

Isa 53:4, &c. It is well known that the Jewish dispensation,

termed by the apostle as above, ηπαλαιαδιαθηκη, the OLD

covenant, was partial and exclusive. None were particularly

interested in it save the descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob:

whereas the Christian dispensation, ηκαινηδιαθηκη, the NEW

covenant, referred to by our Lord in this place, was universal;

for as Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for EVERY

man, Heb 2:9,

and is that Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the WORLD,

Joh 1:29,

who would have ALL MEN to be saved, and come to the knowledge of

the truth, 1Ti 2:4,

even that knowledge of Christ crucified, by which they are to be

justified, Isa 53:11, therefore he has commanded his disciples to

go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE,

Mr 16:15.

The reprobate race, those who were no people, and not beloved,

were to be called in; for the Gospel was to be preached to all the

world, though it was to begin at Jerusalem, Lu 24:47. For this

purpose was the blood of the new covenant sacrifice poured out for

the multitudes, that there might be but one fold, as there is but

one Shepherd; and that God might be ALL and in ALL.

For the remission of sins.] ειςαφεσιςαμαρτιων, for (or, in

reference to) the taking away of sins. For, although the blood is

shed, and the atonement made, no man's sins are taken away until,

as a true penitent, he returns to God, and, feeling his utter

incapacity to save himself, believes in Christ Jesus, who is the

justifier of the ungodly.

The phrase, αφεσιςτωναμαρτιων, remission of sins, (frequently

used by the Septuagint,) being thus explained by our Lord, is

often used by the evangelists and the apostles; and does not mean

merely the pardon of sins, as it is generally understood, but the

removal or taking away of sins; not only the guilt, but also the

very nature of sin, and the pollution of the soul through it; and

comprehends all that is generally understood by the terms

justification and sanctification. For the use and meaning of the

phrase αφεσιςαμαρτοων, see Mr 1:4; Lu 1:77; 3:3; 24:47;

Ac 2:38; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18; Col 1:14; Heb 10:18.

Both St. Luke and St. Paul add, that, after giving the bread,

our Lord said, Do this in remembrance of me. And after giving the

cup, St. Paul alone adds, This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in

remembrance of me. The account, as given by St. Paul, should be

carefully followed, being fuller, and received, according to his

own declaration, by especial revelation from God. See 1Co 11:23,

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto

you, &c. See the harmonized view above.

Verse 29. I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the

vine] These words seem to intimate no more than this: We shall

not have another opportunity of eating this bread and drinking

this wine together; as in a few hours my crucifixion shall take


Until that day when I drink it new with you] That is, I shall

no more drink of the produce of the vine with you; but shall drink

new wine-wine of a widely different nature from this-a wine which

the kingdom of God alone can afford. The term new in Scripture is

often taken in this sense. So the NEW heaven, the NEW earth, the

NEW covenant, the NEW man-mean a heaven, earth, covenant, man, of

a very different nature from the former. It was our Lord's

invariable custom to illustrate heavenly things by those of earth,

and to make that which had last been the subject of conversation

the means of doing it. Thus he uses wine here, of which they had

lately drunk, and on which he had held the preceding discourse, to

point out the supreme blessedness of the kingdom of God. But

however pleasing and useful wine may be to the body and how

helpful soever, as an ordinance of God. It may be to the soul in

the holy sacrament; yet the wine of the kingdom, the spiritual

enjoyments at the right hand of God, will be infinitely more

precious and useful. From what our Lord says here, we learn that

the sacrament of his supper is a type and a pledge, to genuine

Christians, of the felicity they shall enjoy with Christ in the

kingdom of glory.

Verse 30. And when they had sung a hymn] υμνησαντες means,

probably, no more than a kind of recitative reading or chanting.

As to the hymn itself, we know, from the universal consent of

Jewish antiquity, that it was composed of Psalms 113, 114, 115,

116, 117, and 118, termed by the Jews halel, from

halelu-yah, the first word in Psalm 113. These six Psalms were

always sung at every paschal solemnity. They sung this great

hillel on account of the five great benefits referred to in it;


1. The Exodus from Egypt, Ps 114:1.

When Israel went out of Egypt, &c.

2. The miraculous division of the Red Sea, Ps 114:3.

The sea saw it and fled.

3. The promulgation of the law, Ps 114:4.

The mountains skipped like lambs.

4. The resurrection of the dead, Ps 116:9.

I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

5. The passion of the Messiah, Ps 115:1.

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, &c.

See Schoettgen, Hor. Hebr. p. 231, and my Discource on the

nature and design of the Eucharist, 8vo. Lond. 1808.

Verse 31. All ye shall be offended] Or rather, Ye will all be

stumbled-παντεςυμειςσκανδαλισθησεσθε-ye will all forsake me, and

lose in a great measure your confidence in me.

This night] The time of trial is just at hand.

I will smite the shepherd] It will happen to you as to a flock

of sheep, whose shepherd has been slain-the leader and guardian

being removed, the whole flock shall be scattered, and be on the

point of becoming a prey to ravenous beasts.

Verse 32. But after I am risen again] Don't lose your

confidence; for though I shall appear for a time to be wholly left

to wicked men, and be brought under the power of death, yet I will

rise again, and triumph over all your enemies and mine.

I will go before you] Still alluding to the case of the

shepherd and his sheep. Though the shepherd has been smitten and

the sheep scattered, the shepherd shall revive again, collect the

scattered flock, and go before them, and lead them to peace,

security, and happiness.

Verse 33. Peter-said unto him, Though all men shall be

offended-yet will I never] The presumptuous person imagines he

can do every thing, and can do nothing: thinks he can excel all,

and excels in nothing: promises every thing, and performs nothing.

The humble man acts a quite contrary part. There is nothing we

know so little of as ourselves-nothing we see less of than our own

weakness and poverty. The strength of pride is only for a moment.

Peter, though vainly confident, was certainly sincere-he had never

been put to a sore trial, and did not know his own strength. Had

this resolution of his been formed in the strength of God, he

would have been enabled to maintain it against earth and hell.

This most awful denial of Christ, and his abandoning him in the

time of trial, was sufficient to have disqualified him for ever

from being, in any sense, head of the Church, had such a supremacy

been ever designed him. Such a supremacy was never given him by

Christ; but the fable of it is in the Church of Rome, and the mock

Peter, not Peter the apostle, is there and there only to be found.

Verse 34. Jesus said] Our Lord's answer to Peter is very

emphatic and impressive. Verily-I speak a solemn weighty truth,

thou wilt not only be stumbled, fall off, and forsake thy Master,

but thou wilt even deny that thou hast, or ever had, any

knowledge of or connection with me; and this thou wilt do, not by

little and little, through a long process of time, till the

apostasy, daily gathering strength, shall be complete; but thou

wilt do it this very night, and that not once only, but thrice;

and this thou wilt do also in the earlier part of the night,

before even a cock shall crow. Was not this warning enough to

him not to trust in his own strength, but to depend on God?

Verse 35. Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny

thee.] He does not take the warning which his Lord gave him-he

trusts in the warm, sincere attachment to Christ which he now

feels, not considering that this must speedily fail, unless

supported by the power of God.

Verse 36. A place called Gethsemane] A garden at the foot of

the mount of Olives. The name seems to be formed from gath, a

press, and shemen, oil; probably the place where the produce

of the mount of Olives was prepared for use. The garden of the

oilpress, or olive-press.

Sit ye here] Or, stay in this place, while I go and pray

yonder: and employ ye the time as I shall employ it-in watching

unto prayer.

Verse 37. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of

Zebedee] That is, James and John; the same persons who had beheld

his transfiguration on the mount-that they might contemplate this

agony in the light of that glory which they had there seen; and so

be kept from being stumbled by a view of his present humiliation.

Began to be sorrowful] λυπεισθαι, from λυω, to

dissolve-exquisite sorrow, such as dissolves the natural vigour,

and threatens to separate soul and body.

And very heavy.] Overwhelmed with anguish-αδημονειν. This

word is used by the Greeks to denote the most extreme anguish

which the soul can feel-excruciating anxiety and torture of spirit.

Verse 38. Then saith he] Then saith-Jesus:-I have added the

word Jesus, οιησους, on the authority of a multitude of eminent

MSS. See them in Griesbach.

My soul is exceeding sorrowful, (or, is surrounded with

exceeding sorrow,) even unto death.] This latter word explains

the two former: My soul is so dissolved in sorrow, my spirit is

filled with such agony and anguish, that, if speedy succour be not

given to my body, death must be the speedy consequence.

Now, the grand expiatory sacrifice begins to be offered: in this

garden Jesus enters fully into the sacerdotal office; and now, on

the altar of his immaculate divinity, begins to offer his own

body-his own life-a lamb without spot, for the sin of the world.

St. Luke observes, Lu 22:43, 44, that there appeared unto him an

angel from heaven strengthening him; and that, being in an agony,

his sweat was like great drops of blood falling to the ground.

How exquisite must this anguish have been, when it forced the very

blood through the coats of the veins, and enlarged the pores in

such a preternatural manner as to cause them to empty it out in

large successive drops! In my opinion, the principal part of the

redemption price was paid in this unprecedented and indescribable


Bloody sweats are mentioned by many authors; but none was ever

such as this-where a person in perfect health, (having never had

any predisposing sickness to induce a debility of the system,) and

in the full vigour of life, about thirty-three years of age,

suddenly, through mental pressure, without any fear of death,

sweat great drops of blood; and these continued, during his

wrestling with God to fall to the ground.

To say that all this was occasioned by the fear he had of the

ignominious death which he was about to die confutes itself-for

this would not only rob him of his divinity, for which purpose it

is brought, but it deprives him of all excellency, and even of

manhood itself. The prospect of death could not cause him to

suffer thus, when he knew that in less than three days he was to

be restored to life, and be brought into an eternity of

blessedness. His agony and distress can receive no consistent

explication but on this ground-He SUFFERED, the JUST for the

UNJUST, that he might BRING us to GOD. O glorious truth! O

infinitely meritorious suffering! And O! above all, the eternal

love, that caused him to undergo such sufferings for the sake of


Verse 39. Fell on his face] See Clarke on Lu 22:44.

This was the ordinary posture of the supplicant when the favour was

great which was asked, and deep humiliation required. The head

was put between the knees, and the forehead brought to touch the

earth-this was not only a humiliating, but a very painful posture


This cup] The word cup is frequently used in the Sacred

Writings to point out sorrow, anguish, terror, death. It seems to

be an allusion to a very ancient method of punishing criminals. A

cup of poison was put into their hands, and they were obliged to

drink it. Socrates was killed thus, being obliged by the

magistrates of Athens to drink a cup of the juice of hemlock. To

death, by the poisoned cup, there seems an allusion in Heb 2:9,

Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, TASTED death for every man.

The whole world are here represented as standing guilty and

condemned before the tribunal of God; into every man's hand the

deadly cup is put, and he is required to drink off the

poison-Jesus enters, takes every man's cup out of his hand, and

drinks off the poison, and thus tastes or suffers the death which

every man otherwise must have undergone.

Pass from me] Perhaps there is an allusion here to several

criminals standing in a row, who are all to drink of the same cup;

but, the judge extending favour to a certain one, the cup passes

by him to the next.

Instead of προελθωνμικρον, going a little forward, many eminent

MSS. have προσελθων, coming a little forward-but the variation is

of little moment. At the close of this verse several MSS. add the

clause in Lu 22:43,

There appeared an angel, &c.

Verse 40. He-saith unto Peter] He addressed himself more

particularly to this apostle, because of the profession he had

made, Mt 26:33; as if he had said: "Is this the way you testify

your affectionate attachment to me? Ye all said you were ready to

die with me; what, then, cannot you watch ONE hour?"

Instead of ουκισχυσατε, could YE not, the Codex

Alexandrinus, the later Syriac in the margin, three of the Itala,

and Juvencus, read ουκισχυσας, couldst THOU not-referring

the reproach immediately to Peter, who had made the promises

mentioned before.

Verse 41. That ye enter not into temptation] If ye cannot

endure a little fatigue when there is no suffering, how will ye do

when the temptation, the great trial of your fidelity and courage,

cometh? Watch-that ye be not taken unawares; and pray-that when

it comes ye may be enabled to bear it.

The spirit-is willing, but the flesh is weak] Your

inclinations are good-ye are truly sincere; but your good

purposes will be overpowered by your timidity. Ye wish to

continue steadfast in your adherence to your Master; but your

fears will lead you to desert him.

Verse 42. O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me]

If it be not possible-to redeem fallen man, unless I drink this

cup, unless I suffer death for them; thy will be done-I am content

to suffer whatever may be requisite to accomplish the great

design. In this address the humanity of Christ most evidently

appears; for it was his humanity alone that could suffer; and if

it did not appear that he had felt these sufferings, it would have

been a presumption that he had not suffered, and consequently made

no atonement. And had he not appeared to have been perfectly

resigned in these sufferings, his sacrifice could not have been a

free-will but a constrained offering, and therefore of no use to

the salvation of mankind.

Verse 43. Their eyes were heavy.] That is, they could not keep

them open. Was there nothing preternatural in this? Was there no

influence here from the powers of darkness?

Verse 44. Prayed the third time] So St. Paul-I besought the

Lord THRICE that it might depart from me, 2Co 12:8.

This thrice repeating the same petition argues deep earnestness of


Verse 45. Sleep on now, and take your rest] Perhaps it might

be better to read these words interrogatively, and paraphrase them

thus: Do ye sleep on still? Will no warnings avail? Will no

danger excite you to watchfulness and prayer? My hour-in which I

am to be delivered up, is at hand; therefore now think of your own

personal safety.

The Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.]

αμαρτωλων, viz. the Gentiles or heathens, who were generally

distinguished by this appellation from the Jews. Here it probably

means the Roman cohort that was stationed on festivals for the

defence of the temple. By the Romans he was adjudged to death;

for the Jews acknowledged that they had no power in capital cases.

See the note on Mt 9:10.

Verse 46. Rise, let us be going] That is, to meet them, giving

thereby the fullest proof that I know all their designs, and might

have, by flight or otherwise, provided for my own safety; but I go

willingly to meet that death which their malice designs me, and,

through it, provide for the life of the world.

Verse 47. Judas, one of the twelve] More deeply to mark his

base ingratitude and desperate wickedness-HE was ONE of the

TWELVE-and he is a TRAITOR, and one of the vilest too that ever

disgraced human nature.

A great multitude with swords and staves] They did not come as

officers of justice, but as a desperate mob. Justice had nothing

to do in this business. He who a little before had been one of

the leaders of the flock of Christ is now become the leader of

ruffians and murderers! What a terrible fall!

Verse 48. Gave them a sign] How coolly deliberate is this dire

apostate! The man whom I shall kiss-how deeply hypocritical!

That is he, hold him fast, seize him-how diabolically malicious!

Hail, Master] A usual compliment among the Jews. Judas

pretends to wish our Lord continued health while he is meditating

his destruction! How many compliments of this kind are there in

the world! Judas had a pattern in Joab, who, while he pretends to

inquire tenderly for the health of Amasa, thrust him through with

his sword; but the disciple here vastly outdoes his master, and

through a motive, if possible, still more base. Let all those who

use unmeaning or insidious compliments rank for ever with Joab

and Judas.

And kissed him.] And tenderly kissed him-this is the proper

meaning of the original word κατεφιλησεν, he kissed him again and

again-still pretending the most affectionate attachment to him,

though our Lord had before unmasked him.

Verse 50. Jesus said-Friend] Rather, companion, εταιρε,

(not FRIEND,) wherefore, rather, against whom (εφδ, the

reading of all the best MSS.) art thou come? How must these words

have cut his very soul, if he had any sensibility left! Surely, thou,

who hast so long been my companion, art not come against me, thy

Lord, Teacher and Friend! What is the human heart not capable of,

when abandoned by God, and influenced by Satan and the love of


Laid hands on Jesus] But not before they had felt that proof of

his sovereign power by which they had all been struck down to the

earth, Joh 18:6. It is strange that, after this, they should

dare to approach him; but the Scriptures must be fulfilled.

Verse 51. One of them which were with Jesus] This was

Peter-struck a servant of the high priest's, the servant's name

was Malchus, Joh 18:10,

and smote off his ear. In Lu 22:51,

it is said, Jesus touched and healed it. Here was another

miracle, and striking proof of the Divinity of Christ. Peter did

not cut the ear, merely, he cut it OFF, αφειλεν. Now to heal it,

Jesus must either take up the ear and put it on again, or else

create a new one-either of these was a miracle, which nothing less

than unlimited power could produce.

See Clarke on Joh 18:10.

Verse 52. Put up again thy sword into his place] Neither

Christ nor his religion is to be defended by the secular arm. God

is sufficiently able to support his ark: Uzzah need not stretch

out his hand on the occasion. Even the shadow of public justice

is not to be resisted by a private person, when coming from those

in public authority. The cause of a Christian is the cause of

God: sufferings belong to one, and vengeance to the other. Let

the cause, therefore, rest in his hands, who will do it ample


Shall perish with the sword] Instead of απολουνται, shall

perish, many excellent MSS., versions, and fathers, have

αποθανουνται, shall die. The general meaning of this verse is,

they who contend in battle are likely, on both sides, to become

the sacrifices of their mutual animosities. But it is probably a

prophetic declaration of the Jewish and Roman states. The Jews

put our Lord to death under the sanction of the Romans-both took

the sword against Christ, and both perished by it. The Jews by

the sword of the Romans, and the Romans by that of the Goths,

Vandals, &c. The event has verified the prediction-the Jewish

government has been destroyed upwards of 1700 years, and the Roman

upwards of 1000. Confer with this passage, Ps 2:4, 9; 110:1, 5, 6.

But how came Peter to have a sword? Judea was at this time so

infested with robbers and cut-throats that it was not deemed safe

for any person to go unarmed. He probably carried one for his

mere personal safety.

Verse 53. More than twelve legions of angels?] As if he had

said, Instead of you twelve, one of whom is a traitor, my Father

can give me more than twelve legions of angels to defend me. A

legion, at different times, contained different numbers; 4,200,

5,000, and frequently 6,000 men; and from this saying, taking the

latter number, which is the common rate, may we not-safely believe

that the angels of God amount to more than 72,000?

Verse 54. But how then] Had I such a defence-shall the

Scriptures be fulfilled, which say, that thus it must be? That

is, that I am to suffer and die for the sin of the world.

Probably the Scriptures to which our Lord principally refers are

Psa 22, 69, and especially Isa 53, and Da 9:24-27. Christ shows

that they had no power against him but what he permitted; and that

he willingly gave up himself into their hands.

Verse 55. Are ye come out as against a thief] At this time

Judea was much infested by robbers, so that armed men were obliged

to be employed against them-to this our Lord seems to allude.

See Clarke on Mt 26:52.

I sat daily with you] Why come in this hostile manner? Every

day, for four days past, ye might have met with me in the temple,

whither I went to teach you the way of salvation.

See Clarke on Mt 21:17.

Verse 56. But all this was done] This is probably the

observation of the evangelist. See Clarke on Mt 2:23.

Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.] O what is man!

How little is even his utmost sincerity to be depended on! Jesus

is abandoned by all!-even zealous Peter and loving John are among

the fugitives! Was ever master so served by his scholars? Was

ever parent so treated by his children? Is there not as much zeal

and love among them all as might make one martyr for God and

truth? Alas! no. He had but twelve who professed inviolable

attachment to him; one of these betrayed him, another denied him

with oaths, and the rest run away and utterly abandon him to his

implacable enemies! Are there not found among his disciples

still, 1st. Persons who betray him and his cause? 2dly. Persons

who deny him and his people? 3dly. Persons who abandon him, his

people, his cause, and his truth? Reader! dost thou belong to any

of these classes?

Verse 57. They-led him away to Caiaphas] John says,

Joh 18:13,

that they led him first to Annas; but this appears to have been

done merely to do him honour as the father-in-law of Caiaphas, and

his colleague in the high priesthood. But as the Sanhedrin was

assembled at the house of Caiaphas, it was there he must be

brought to undergo his mock trial: but See Clarke on Joh 18:13.

Verse 58. Peter followed him afar off] Poor Peter! this is the

beginning of his dreadful fall. His fear kept him from joining

the company, and publicly acknowledging his Lord; and his

affection obliged him to follow at a distance that he might see

the end.

And sat with the servants, to see the end.] When a man is weak

in faith, and can as yet only follow Christ at a distance, he

should avoid all dangerous places, and the company of those who

are most likely to prove a snare to him. Had not Peter got to the

high priest's palace, and sat down with the servants, he would

not thus have denied his Lord and Master.

Servants-officers, υπηρετων. Such as we term serjeants,

constables, &c.

Verse 59. All the council sought false witness] What a

prostitution of justice!-they first resolve to ruin him, and then

seek the proper means of effecting it: they declare him criminal,

and after that do all they can to fix some crime upon him, that

they may appear to have some shadow of justice on their side when

they put him to death. It seems to have been a common custom of

this vile court to employ false witness, on any occasion, to

answer their own ends. See this exemplified in the case of

Stephen, Ac 6:11-13.

Verse 60. Though many false witnesses came] There is an

unaccountable confusion in the MSS. in this verse: without stating

the variations, which may be seen in Griesbach, I shall give that

which I believe to be the genuine sense of the evangelist. Then

the chief priests and elders, and all the council, sought false

witness against Jesus, to put him to death; but they found it not,

though many false witnesses came up. At last two false witnesses

came up, saying; This man said, &c. It is the property of falsity

to be ever inconsistent, and to contradict itself; therefore they

could not find two consistent testimonies, without which the

Jewish law did not permit any person to be put to death. However,

the hand of God was in this business: for the credit of Jesus, and

the honour of the Christian religion, he would not permit him to

be condemned on a false accusation; and, therefore, at last they

were obliged to change their ground, and, to the eternal confusion

of the unrighteous council, he is condemned on the very evidence

of his own innocence, purity, and truth!

Verse 61. I am able to destroy the temple of God] 1st. These

words were not fairly quoted. Jesus had said, Joh 2:19,

Destroy this temple, and I will build it again in three days.

2dly. The inuendo which they produce, applying these words to a

pretended design to destroy the temple at Jerusalem, was utterly

unfair; for these words he spoke of the temple of his body. It is

very easy, by means of a few small alterations, to render the most

holy things and innocent persons odious to the world, and even to

take away the life of the innocent.

Verse 62. Answerest thou nothing?] The accusation was so

completely frivolous that it merited no notice: besides, Jesus

knew that they were determined to put him to death, and that his

hour was come; and that therefore remonstrance or defence would be

of no use: he had often before borne sufficient testimony to the


Verse 63. I adjure thee by the living God] I put thee to thy

oath. To this solemn adjuration Christ immediately replies,

because he is now called on, in the name of God, to bear another

testimony to the truth. The authority of God in the most

worthless magistrate should be properly respected. However

necessary our Lord saw it to be silent, when the accusations were

frivolous, and the evidence contradictory, he felt no disposition

to continue this silence, when questioned concerning a truth, for

which he came into the world to shed his blood.

Verse 64. Thou hast said] That is, I am the Christ, the

promised Messiah, (See Clarke on Mt 26:25;) and you and this whole

nation shall shortly have the fullest proof of it: for hereafter,

in a few years, ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right

hand of power, fully invested with absolute dominion, and coming

in the clouds of heaven, to execute judgment upon this wicked

race. See Mt 24:30. Our Lord appears to refer to Da 7:13:

One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, &c. This

may also refer to the final judgment.

Verse 65. The high priest rent his clothes] This rending of

the high priest's garments was expressly contrary to the law,

Le 10:6; 21:10. But it was a common method of expressing

violent grief, Ge 37:29, 34; Job 1:20,

and horror at what was deemed blasphemous or impious.

2Ki 18:37; 19:1; Ac 14:14.

All that heard a blasphemous speech were obliged to rend their

clothes, and never to sew them up again. See Lightfoot.

He hath spoken blasphemy] Quesnel's note on this is worthy of

notice. "See here a false zeal, a mask of religion, and a

passionate and seditious way of proceeding, tending only to

incense and stir up others, all which are common to those who

would oppress truth by cabal, and without proof. By crying out,

'heresy, blasphemy, and faction,' though contrary to all

appearance, men fail not to stir up those in power, to gain the

simple, to give some shadow of authority to the ill-disposed, to

cast devout but ignorant people into scruples, and thereby to

advance the mystery of iniquity, which is the mystery of all

ages." This was the very plan his Catholic brethren adopted in

this country, in the reign of Queen Mary, called the bloody queen,

because of the many murders of righteous men which she sanctioned

at the mouth of her Catholic priesthood.

Verse 66. He is guilty of death.] ενοχοςθανατουεστι, he is

liable to death. All the forms of justice are here violated. The

judge becomes a party and accuser, and proceeds to the verdict

without examining whether all the prophecies concerning the

Messiah, and the innumerable miracles which he wrought, did not

justify him. Examination and proof are the ruin of all calumnies,

and of the authors of them, and therefore they take care to keep

off from these two things. See Quesnel.

Verse 67. Then did they spit in his face] This was done as a

mark of the most profound contempt.

See Job 16:10; 30:10; Isa 50:6; Mic 5:1.

The judges now delivered him into the hands of the mob.

And buffeted him] Smote him with their fists, εκολαφισαν. This

is the translation of Theophylact. κολαφιζειν, says he, means,

"to beat with the hand, the fingers being clenched. συγκαμτομενων

τωνδακτυλων, or, to speak more briefly, to buffet with the fist."

Smote him with the palms of their hands] ερραπισανραπιζω,

says Suidas, means "παταξαιτηνγναθοναπλητηχειρι, to smite the

cheek with the open hand." Thus they offered him indignity in all

its various and vexatious forms. Insults of this kind are never

forgiven by the world: Jesus not only takes no revenge, (though it

be completely in his power,) but bears all with meekness, without

even one word of reply.

Verse 68. Prophesy unto us, thou Christ] Their conduct toward

him now was expressly prophesied of, by a man whose Divine mission

they did not pretend to deny; see Isa 50:6. It appears that,

before they buffeted him, they bound up his eyes, See Mr 14:65.

Verse 69. A damsel came unto him] A maid servant, παιδισκη.

See this translation vindicated by Kypke.

Thou also wast with Jesus] What a noble opportunity had Peter

now to show his zeal for the insulted cause of truth, and his

attachment to his Master. But, alas! he is shorn of his strength.

Constables and maid servants are no company for an apostle, except

when he is delivering to them the message of salvation. Evil

communications corrupt good manners. Had Peter been in better

company, he would not have had so foul a fall.

Verse 70. But he denied before them all] So the evil principle

gains ground. Before, he followed at a distance, now he denies;

this is the second gradation in his fall.

Verse 71. Unto them that were there] Instead of λεγειτοις

εκει. και, more than one hundred MSS., many of which are of the

first authority and antiquity, have λεγειαυτοις. εκεικαι, she

saith unto them, this man was THERE also. I rather think this is

the genuine reading. τοις might have been easily mistaken for

αυτοις, if the first syllable αυ were but a little faded in a

MS. from which others were copied: and then the placing of the

point after εκει. instead of after αυτοις. would naturally follow,

as placed after τοις, it would make no sense. Griesbach approves

of this reading.

Verse 72. And again he denied with an oath] This is a third

gradation of his iniquity. He has told a lie, and he swears to

support it. A liar has always some suspicion that his testimony

is not credited, for he is conscious to his own falsity, and is

therefore naturally led to support his assertions by oaths.

Verse 73. Thy speech] Thy manner of speech, ηλαλιασου,

that dialect of thine-his accent being different from that of

Jerusalem. From various examples given by Lightfoot and

Schoettgen, we find that the Galileans had a very corrupt

pronunciation, frequently interchanging and , and so

blending or dividing words as to render them unintelligible, or

cause them to convey a contrary sense.

Bewrayeth thee.] δηλουσεποιει, maketh thee manifest, from

the Anglo-saxon [Anglo-Saxon], to accuse, betray; a word long

since lost from our language.

Verse 74. Then began he to curse and to swear] Rather, Then he

began positively to affirm-καταθεματιζειν, from κατα intensive,

and τιθημι, I lay down, place, affirm. But the common reading is

καταναθεματιζειν, which signifies to wish curses on himself.

The former reading is supported by almost every MS. of value, and

is, beyond dispute, the true reading, and has been received by

Griesbach into the text. The business is bad enough, but the

common reading makes it worse. In Mt 26:72, Peter is said to

deny with an oath; here, he positively affirms and swears,

probably by the name of God, for this is the import of the word

ομνυειν. This makes the fourth and final gradation in the

climax of Peter's fall. From these awful beginnings it is not

unfair to conclude that Peter might have gone almost as far as

Judas himself, had not the traitorous business been effected

before. Yet all this evil sprung simply from the fear of man.

How many denials of Christ and his truth have sprung since, from

the same cause!

The cock crew] This animal becomes, in the hand of God, the

instrument of awaking the fallen apostle, at last, to a sense of

his fall, danger, and duty. When abandoned of God, the smallest

thing may become the occasion of a fall; and, when in the hand of

God, the smallest matter may become the instrument of our

restoration. Let us never think lightly of what are termed little

sins: the smallest one has the seed of eternal ruin in it. Let us

never think contemptibly of the feeblest means of grace: each may

have the seed of eternal salvation in it. Let us ever remember

that the great Apostle Peter fell through fear of a servant maid,

and rose through the crowing of a cock.

Verse 75. Peter remembered the word of Jesus] St. Luke says,

Lu 22:61,

The Lord turned and looked upon Peter. So it appears he was nigh

to our Lord, either at the time when the cock crew, or shortly

after. The delicacy of this reproof was great-he must be reproved

and alarmed, otherwise he will proceed yet farther in his

iniquity; Christ is in bonds, and cannot go and speak to him; if

he call aloud, the disciple is discovered, and falls a victim to

Jewish malice and Roman jealousy; he therefore does the whole by a

look. In the hand of Omnipotence every thing is easy, and he can

save by a few, as well as by many.

He went out] He left the place where he had sinned, and the

company which had been the occasion of his transgression.

And wept bitterly.] Felt bitter anguish of soul, which

evidenced itself by the tears of contrition which flowed

plentifully from his eyes. Let him that standeth take heed lest

he fall! Where the mighty have been slain, what shall support the

feeble? Only the grace of the ALMIGHTY God.

This transaction is recorded by the inspired penmen, 1st. That

all may watch unto prayer, and shun the occasions of sin. 2dly.

That if a man be unhappily overtaken in a fault, he may not

despair, but cast himself immediately with a contrite heart on the

infinite tenderness and compassion of God.

See the notes on Joh 18:27.

I have touched on the subject of our Lord's anointing but

slightly in the preceding notes, because the controversy upon this

point is not yet settled; and, except to harmonists, it is a

matter of comparatively little importance. Bishop Newcome has

written largely on this fact, and I insert an extract from his


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