Matthew 22


The parable of the marriage of a king's son, 1-14.

The Pharisees and Herodians question him concerning the

lawfulness of paying tribute to Caesar, 15-22.

The Sadducees question him concerning the resurrection, 23-33.

A lawyer questions him concerning the greatest commandment in

the law, 34-40.

He asks them their opinion of the Christ, and confounds them,



Verse 2. The kingdom of heaven] In Bereshith Rabba, sect. 62.

fol. 60, there is a parable very similar to this, and another

still more so in Sohar. Levit. fol. 40. But these rabbinical

parables are vastly ennobled by passing through the hands of our

Lord. It appears from Luke, Lu 14:15; &c., that it was at an

entertainment that this parable was originally spoken. It was a

constant practice of our Lord to take the subjects of his

discourses from the persons present, or from the circumstances of

times, persons, and places. See Mt 16:6; Joh 4:7-10;

Joh 6:26, 27; 7:37. A preacher that can do so can never be at a

loss for text or sermon.

A marriage for his son] A marriage feast, so the word γαμους

properly means. Or a feast of inauguration, when his son was put

in possession of the government, and thus he and his new subjects

became married together. See 1Ki 1:5-9, 19, 25, &c., where such

a feast is mentioned.

From this parable it appears plain, 1. That the KING means the

great God. 2. His SON, the Lord Jesus. 3. The MARRIAGE, his

incarnation, or espousing human nature, by taking it into union

with himself. 4. The MARRIAGE FEAST, the economy of the Gospel,

during which men are invited to partake of the blessings purchased

by, and consequent on, the incarnation and death of our blessed

Lord. 5. By those who HAD BEEN bidden, or invited, Mt 22:3,

are meant the Jews in general, who had this union of Christ with

human nature, and his sacrifice for sin, pointed out by various

rites, ceremonies, and sacrifices under the law; and who, by all

the prophets, had been constantly invited to believe in and

receive the promised Messiah. 6. By the SERVANTS, we are to

understand the first preachers of the Gospel, proclaiming

salvation to the Jews. JOHN the Baptist and the seventy disciples

(Lu 10:1,) may be here particularly intended. 7. By the OTHER

SERVANTS, Mt 22:4,

the apostles seem to be meant, who, though they were to preach the

Gospel to the whole world, yet were to begin at JERUSALEM

(Lu 24:47) with the first offers of mercy.

8. By their making light of it, &c., Mt 22:5, is pointed out

their neglect of this salvation, and their preferring secular

enjoyments, &c., to the kingdom of Christ. 9. By injuriously

using some, and slaying others, of his servants, Mt 22:6,

is pointed out the persecution raised against the apostles by the

Jews, in which some of them were martyred. 10. By sending forth

his troops, Mt 22:7,

is meant the commission given to the Romans against Judea; and,

burning up their city, the total destruction of Jerusalem by

Titus, the son of Vespasian, which happened about forty-one years


On this parable it is necessary to remark, 1.That man was made

at first in union with God. 2. That sin entered in, and separated

between God and man. 3. That as there can be no holiness but in

union with God, and no heaven without holiness, therefore he

provided a way to reconcile and reunite man to himself. 4. This

was effected by Christ's uniting himself to human nature, and

giving his Spirit to those who believe. 5. That as the marriage

union is the closest, the most intimate, solemn, and excellent,

of all the connections formed among mortals, and that they who are

thus united in the Lord are one flesh; so that mystical union

which is formed between God and the soul through Jesus Christ, by

the Eternal Spirit, is the closest, most intimate, solemn, and

excellent, that can be conceived; for he who is thus joined unto

the Lord is one spirit. 6. This contract is made freely: no man

can be forced to it, for it is a union of will to will, heart to

heart; and it is by willing and consenting that we come unto

God through his Son. 7. That if this marriage do not take place

here, an eternal separation from God, and from the glory of his

power, shall be the fearful consequence. 8. That there are three

states in which men run the risk of living without God and losing

their souls. 1st. That of a soft, idle, voluptuous life, wherein

a man thinks of nothing but quietly to enjoy life, conveniences,

riches, private pleasures, and public diversions. They made light

of it. 2dly. That of a man wholly taken up with agricultural or

commercial employments, in which the love of riches, and

application to the means of acquiring them, generally stifle all

thoughts of salvation. One went to his own field, and another to

his traffic. 3dly. That of a man who is openly unjust, violent,

and outrageously wicked, who is a sinner by profession, and not

only neglects his salvation, but injuriously treats all those who

bring him the Gospel of reconciliation. Seizing his servants,

they treated them injuriously, &c.

Verse 4. Fatlings] τασιτιστα Properly, fatted rams, or

wethers. 2Sa 6:13; 1Ch 15:26.

Verse 7. But when the king] HIMSELF or, this very king. I

have added εκεινος on the authority of nine of the most ancient

MSS. and nearly one hundred others; the later Syriac, six copies

of the Itala, and some of the fathers. Several printed editions

have it, and Griesbach has received it into the text.

Verse 8. Were not worthy.] Because they made light of it, and

would not come; preferring earthly things to heavenly blessings.

Among the Mohammedans, refusal to come to a marriage feast, when

invited, is considered a breach of the law of God. HEDAYAH, vol.

iv. p. 91. Any one that shall be invited to a dinner, and does

not accept the invitation, disobeys God, and his messenger: and

any one who comes uninvited, you may say is a thief, and returns a

plunderer.-Mischat ul Mesabih. It was probably considered in this

light among all the oriental nations. This observation is

necessary, in order to point out more forcibly the iniquity of the

refusal mentioned in the text. A man may be said to be worthy of,

or fit for, this marriage feast, when, feeling his wretchedness

and misery, he comes to God in the way appointed, to get an

entrance into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus.

Verse 9. Go ye therefore into the highways] διεξοδουςτων

αδων, cross or by-paths; the places where two or more

roads met in one, leading into the city, where people were coming

together from various quarters of the country. St. Luke adds

hedges, to point out the people to whom the apostles were sent, as

either miserable vagabonds, or the most indigent poor, who were

wandering about the country, or sitting by the sides of the ways

and hedges, imploring relief. This verse points out the final

rejection of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles. It

was a custom among the Jews, when a rich man made a feast, to go

out and invite in all destitute travellers. See in Rab. Beracoth,

fol. 43.

As many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage] God sends his

salvation to every soul, that all may believe and be saved.

Verse 10. Gathered together all-both bad and good] By the

preaching of the Gospel, multitudes of souls are gathered into

what is generally termed the visible Church of Christ. This

Church is the FLOOR, where the wheat and the chaff are often

mingled, Mt 3:12.

The FIELD, where the bastard wheat and the true grain grow together,

Mt 13:26, 27.

The NET, which collects of all kinds, both good and bad,

Mt 13:48.

The HOUSE in which the wise and foolish are found, Mt 25:1, &c.

And the FOLD, in which there are both sheep and goats,

Mt 25:33; &c.

Verse 11. When the king came] When God shall come to judge the


Wedding garment] Among the orientals, long white robes were

worn at public festivals; and those who appeared on such occasions

with any other garments were esteemed, not only highly culpable,

but worthy of punishment. Our Lord seems here to allude to

Zep 1:7, 8,

The Lord hath prepared a SACRIFICE, he hath BIDDEN his guests.

And it shall come to pass, in the day of the Lord's sacrifice,

that I will PUNISH the princes, and the KING'S CHILDREN, and ALL

SUCH as are clothed with STRANGE APPAREL. The person who invited

the guests prepared such a garment for each, for the time being;

and with which he was furnished on his application to the ruler of

the feast. It was this which made the conduct of the person

mentioned in the text inexcusable; he might have had a proper

marriage garment, if he had applied for it.

To afford accidental guests clothing suitable to a marriage

feast, was a custom among the ancient Greeks. Homer relates that

Telemachus, and the son of Nestor, arriving at Lacedaemon when

Menelaus was making a marriage feast for his son and daughter,

were accommodated with garments suited to the occasion, after

having been bathed and anointed.




Odyss. l. iv. ver. 49-51.

They entered each a bath, and by the hands

Of maidens laved, and oiled, and clothed again

With shaggy mantles and resplendent vests,

Sat both enthroned at Menelaus' side. Cowper.

Among the Asiatics, garments called caftans, great numbers of

which each nobleman has ordinarily ready in his wardrobe, are

given to persons whom he wishes to honour: to refuse to accept or

wear such a dress would be deemed the highest insult.

This marriage feast or dinner (the communication of the graces

of the Gospel in this life) prepares for the marriage supper of

the Lamb, Re 19:7-9, the enjoyment of eternal blessedness in the

kingdom of glory. Now, as without holiness no man can see the

Lord, we may at once perceive what our Lord means by the marriage

garment-it is HOLINESS of heart and life: the text last quoted

asserts that the fine, white, and clean linen (alluding to the

marriage garment above mentioned) was an emblem of the

RIGHTEOUSNESS of the SAINTS. Mark this expression: the

righteousness, the whole external conduct; regulated according to

the will and word of God. Of the SAINTS, the holy persons, whose

souls were purified by the blood of the Lamb.

Verse 12. He saith unto him, Friend] Rather, companion: so

εταιρε should be translated. As this man represents the state

of a person in the visible Church, who neglects to come unto the

master of the feast for a marriage garment, for the salvation

which Christ has procured, he cannot be with any propriety called

a friend, but may well be termed a companion, as being a member

of the visible Church, and present at all those ordinances where

Christ's presence and blessing are found, by all those who

sincerely wait upon him for salvation.

How camest thou in hither] Why profess to be called by my name

while living without a preparation for my kingdom?

He was speechless.] εφιμωθη, he was muzzled, or gagged.

He had nothing to say in vindication of his neglect. There was a

garment provided, but he neither put it on, nor applied for it.

His conduct, therefore, was in the highest degree insulting and

indecorous. As this man is the emblem, by general consent, of

those who shall perish in the last day, may we not ask, without

offence, Where does the doctrine of absolute reprobation or

preterition appear in his case? If Christ had never died for him,

or if he had applied for the garment, and was refused, might he

not well have alleged this in behalf of his soul?-and would not

the just God have listened to it? But there is not the smallest

excuse for him: Christ died, the sacrifice was offered, for him;

the ministers of the Gospel invited him; the Holy Spirit strove

with him; he might have been saved, but he was not: and the

fault lies so absolutely at his own door that the just God is

vindicated in his conduct, while he sends him to hell, not for the

lack of what he could not get, but for the lack of what he might

have had, but either neglected or refused it.

Then said the king to the servants] To the ministering angels,

executors of the Divine will.

Cast him into outer darkness] The Jewish marriages were

performed in the night season, and the hall where the feast was

made was superbly illuminated; the outer darkness means,

therefore, the darkness on the outside of this festal hall;

rendered still more gloomy to the person who was suddenly thrust

out into it from such a profusion of light. See all this largely

treated of on Mt 8:12.

Verse 14. Many are called, &c.] This verse is wanting in one

of Colbert's MSS., marked 33 in Griesbach. See the note on

Mt 20:16. Many are called by the preaching of the Gospel into

the outward communion of the Church of Christ; but few,


are chosen to dwell with God In glory, because they do not come to

the master of the feast for a marriage garment-for that holiness

without which none can see the Lord. This is an allusion to the

Roman custom of raising their militia; all were mustered, but only

those were chosen to serve, who were found proper. See the note

on Mt 20:16. Reader! examine thy soul, and make sure work for


Verse 15. In his talk.] ενλογω, by discourse: intending

to ask him subtle and ensnaring questions; his answers to which

might involve him either with the Roman government, or with the

great Sanhedrin.

Verse 16. The Herodians] For an account of this sect, see the

note on Mt 16:1. The preceding parable had covered the Pharisees

with confusion: when it was ended they went out, not to humble

themselves before God, and deprecate the judgments with which they

were threatened; but to plot afresh the destruction of their

teacher. The depth of their malice appears, 1. In their mode of

attack. They had often questioned our Lord on matters concerning

religion; and his answers only served to increase his reputation,

and their confusion. They now shift their ground, and question

him concerning state affairs, and the question is such as must be

answered; and yet the answer, to all human appearance, can be none

other than what may be construed into a crime against the people,

or against the Roman government. 2. Their profound malice appears

farther in the choice of their companions in this business, viz.

the Herodians. Herod was at this very time at Jerusalem, whither

he had come to hold the passover. Jesus, being of Nazareth, which

was in Herod's jurisdiction, was considered as his subject. Herod

himself was extremely attached to the Roman emperor, and made a

public profession of it: all these considerations engaged the

Pharisees to unite the Herodians, who, as the Syriac intimates,

were the domestics of Herod, in this infernal plot. 3. Their

profound malice appears, farther, in the praises they gave our

Lord. Teacher, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way

of God. This was indeed the real character of our blessed Lord;

and now they bear testimony to the truth, merely with the design

to make it subserve their bloody purposes. Those whose hearts are

influenced by the spirit of the wicked one never do good, but when

they hope to accomplish evil by it. Men who praise you to your

face are ever to be suspected. The Italians have a very

expressive proverb on this subject:-

Che ti fa carezze piu che non suole,

O t' ha ingannato, o ingannar ti vuole.

He who caresses thee more than he was wont to do, has either


I have never known the sentiment in this proverb to fail; and

it was notoriously exemplified in the present instance.

Flatterers, though they speak the truth, ever carry about with

them a base or malicious soul. 4. Their malice appears still

farther in the question they propose. Is it lawful to give

tribute to Caesar, or not?-Mt 22:17.

The constitution of the Jewish republic, the expectations which

they had of future glory and excellence, and the diversity of

opinions which divided the Jews on this subject, rendered an

answer to this question extremely difficult:-

1. In the presence of the people, who professed to have no other

king but God, and looked on their independence as an essential

point of their religion.

2. In the presence of the Pharisees, who were ready to stir up

the people against him, if his decision could be at all construed

to be contrary to their prejudices, or to their religious rights.

3. In the presence of the Herodians, who, if the answer should

appear to be against Caesar's rights, were ready to inflame their

master to avenge, by the death of our Lord, the affront offered to

his master the emperor.

4. The answer was difficult, because of the different sentiments

of the Jews on this subject; some maintaining that they could not

lawfully pay tribute to a heathen governor: while others held that

as they were now under this strange government, and had no power

to free themselves from it, it was lawful for them to pay what

they had not power to refuse.

5. The answer was difficult, when it is considered that

multitudes of the people had begun now to receive Jesus as the

promised Messiah, who was to be the deliverer of their nation from

spiritual and temporal oppression, and therefore had lately sung

to him the Hosanna Rabba: see Mt 21:9. If then he should decide

the question in Caesar's favour, what idea must the people have of

him, either as zealous for the law, or as the expected Messiah?

If against Caesar, he is ruined. Who that loved Jesus, and was

not convinced of his sovereign wisdom, could help trembling for

him in these circumstances?

Jesus opposes the depth of his wisdom to the depth of their

malice, and manifests it:- 1. By unmasking them, and showing that

he knew the very secrets of their hearts. Ye HYPOCRITES! why

tempt ye me? i.e. why do ye try me thus? This must cover them

with confusion, when they saw their motives thus discovered; and

tend much to lessen their influence in the sight of the people,

when it was manifest that they acted not through a desire to

receive information, by which to regulate their conduct, but

merely to ensnare and ruin him.

2. Christ shows his profound wisdom in not attempting to discuss

the question at large; but settled the business by seizing a maxim

that was common among all people, and acknowledged among the Jews,

That the prince who causes his image and titles to be stamped on

the current coin of a country, is virtually acknowledged thereby

as the governor. See Maimon. Gezel. c. v. in Wetstein. When

Sultan MAHMOUD, king of Maveralnahar, Turquestan, and the Indies,

wished to seize on the dominions of SEIDEH, queen of Persia, who

governed in the place of her young son Megededde-vlet, about A. D.

909, he sent an ambassador to her with the following order: You

must acknowledge me for your KING, cause the kootbah to be read,

i.e. pray for me in all the mosques of the kingdom, and GET YOUR

MONEY recoined, with the IMPRESSION THAT IS ON MINE: thus denoting

that she must become absolutely subject to him. See Bibliot.

Orient. de Galand. p. 453. Esau Afghan carried his conquest into

Bhatty, into the viceroyalty of Bengal, and caused the kootbah to

be read, and coin to be struck in the name of the Emperor Akbar.

Ayeen Akbery, vol. ii p. 5. See also p. 38,92,94,130,139,187.

Verse 19. They brought unto him a penny.] A denarius: probably

the ordinary capitation tax, though the poll tax in the law,

Ex 30:13, 14,

was half a shekel, about twice as much as the denarius. The

Roman denarius had the emperor's image with a proper legend

stamped on one side of it. It was not therefore the sacred shekel

which was to be paid for the repairs of the temple which was now

demanded, but the regular tribute required by the Roman government.

Verse 20. Whose is this image and superscription?] He knew

well enough whose they were; but he showed the excellency of his

wisdom, 3dly, in making them answer to their own confusion. They

came to ensnare our Lord in his discourse, and now they are

ensnared in their own. He who digs a pit for his neighbour

ordinarily falls into it himself.

Verse 21. They say unto him, Caesars.] The image was the head

of the emperor; the superscription, his titles. JULIUS CAESAR

was the first who caused his image to be struck on the Roman coin.

Tiberius was emperor at this time.

Render therefore unto Caesar] The conclusion is drawn from

their own premises. You acknowledge this to be Caesar's coin;

this coin is current, in your land; the currency of this coin

shows the country to be under the Roman government; and your

acknowledgment that it is Caesar's proves you have submitted.

Don't therefore be unjust; but render to Caesar the things which

you acknowledge to be his; at the same time, be not impious, but

render unto God the thing's which belong to God.

This answer is full of consummate wisdom. It establishes the

limits, regulates the rights, and distinguishes the jurisdiction

of the two empires of heaven and earth. The image of

princes stamped on their coin denotes that temporal things belong

all to their government. The image of God stamped on the soul

denotes that all its faculties and powers belong to the Most High,

and should be employed in his service.

But while the earth is agitated and distracted with the question

of political rights and wrongs, the reader will naturally ask,

What does a man owe to Caesar?-to the civil government under which

he lives? Our Lord has answered the question-That which IS

Caesar's. But what is it that is Caesar's? 1. Honour. 2.

Obedience. And 3. Tribute. 1. The civil government under which a

man lives, and by which he is protected, demands his honour and

reverence. 2. The laws which are made for the suppression of

evil doers, and the maintenance of good order, which are

calculated to promote the benefit of the whole, and the comfort of

the individual should be religiously obeyed. 3. The government

that charges itself with the support and defence of the whole,

should have its unavoidable expenses, however great, repaid by the

people, in whose behalf they are incurred; therefore we should pay

tribute. But remember, if Caesar should intrude into the things

of God, coin a new creed, or broach a new Gospel, and affect to

rule the conscience, while he rules the state, in these things

Caesar is not to be obeyed; he is taking the things of God, and he

must not get them. Give not therefore God's things to Caesar, and

give not Caesar's things to God. That which belongs to the

commonwealth should, on no account whatever, be devoted to

religious uses; and let no man think he has pleased God, by giving

that to charitable or sacred uses which he has purloined from the

state. The tribute of half a shekel, which the law, (Ex 30:13,14,)

required every person above twenty years of age to pay to the

temple, was, after the destruction of the temple, in the time of

Vespasian, paid into the emperor's exchequer. This sum,

Melanethon supposes, amounted annually to THREE TONS OF GOLD.

Verse 22. When they had heard these words, they marvelled] And

well they might-never man spake like this man. By this decision,

CAESAR is satisfied-he gets his own to the uttermost farthing.

GOD is glorified-his honour is in every respect secured. And the

PEOPLE are edified-one of the most difficult questions that could

possibly come before them is answered in such a way as to relieve

their consciences, and direct their conduct. See L'Evangile

Medite, and see my discourse entitled, The Rights of God and


Verse 23. The same day] Malice is ever active; let it be

defeated ever so often, it returns to the charge. Jesus and his

Gospel give no quarter to vice; the vicious will give no quarter

to him or it.

The Sadducees] For an account of these see on Mt 16:1.

Verse 24. Raise up seed unto his brother.] This law is

mentioned De 25:5. The meaning of the expression is, that the

children produced by this marriage should be reckoned in the

genealogy of the deceased brother, and enjoy his estates. The

word seed should be always translated children or posterity.

There is a law precisely similar to this among the Hindoos.

Verse 25. Seven brethren] It is very likely that the Sadducees

increased the number, merely to make the question the more


Verse 28. Whose wife shall she be of the seven?] The rabbins

have said, That if a woman have two husbands in this world, she

shall have the first only restored to her in the world to come.

Sohar. Genes. fol. 24. The question put by these bad men is well

suited to the mouth of a libertine. Those who live without God in

the world have no other god than the world; and those who have

not that happiness which comes from the enjoyment of God have no

other pleasure than that which comes from the gratification of

sensual appetites. The stream cannot rise higher than the spring:

these men, and their younger brethren, atheists, deists, and

libertines of all sorts, can form no idea of heaven as a place of

blessedness, unless they can hope to find in it the gratification

of their sensual desires. On this very ground Mohammed built his


Verse 29. Ye do err] Or, Ye are deceived-by your impure

passions: not knowing the scriptures, which assert the

resurrection:-nor the miraculous power of God (τηνδυναμιντου

θεου) by which it is to be effected. In Avoda Sara, fol. 18,

Sanhedrin, fol. 90, it is said: "These are they which shall have

no part in the world to come: Those who say, the Lord did not come

from heaven; and those who say, the resurrection cannot be proved

out of the law."

Their deception appeared in their supposing, that if there were

a resurrection, men and women were to marry and be given in

marriage as in this life; which our Lord shows is not the case:

for men and women there shall be like the angels of God, immortal,

and free from all human passions, and from those propensities

which were to continue with them only during this present state of

existence. There shall be no death; and consequently no need of

marriage to maintain the population of the spiritual world.

Verse 31. Have ye not read] This quotation is taken from

Ex 3:6, 16;

and as the five books of Moses were the only part of Scripture

which the Sadducees acknowledged as Divine, our Lord, by confuting

them from those books, proved the second part of his assertion,

"Ye are ignorant of those very scriptures which ye profess to hold


Verse 32. I am the God of Abraham] Let it be observed, that

Abraham was dead upwards of 300 years before these words were

spoken to Moses: yet still God calls himself the God of Abraham,

&c. Now Christ properly observes that God is not the God of the

dead, (that word being equal, in the sense of the Sadducees, to an

eternal annihilation,) but of the living; it therefore follows

that, if he be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, these are not

dead, but alive; alive with God, though they had ceased, for some

hundreds of years, to exist among mortals. We may see, from this,

that our Lord combats and confutes another opinion of the

Sadducees, viz. that there is neither angel nor spirit; by showing

that the soul is not only immortal, but lives with God, even while

the body is detained in the dust of the earth, which body is

afterwards to be raised to life, and united with its soul by the

miraculous power of God, of which power they showed themselves to

be ignorant when they denied the possibility of a resurrection.

Verse 33. The multitude were astonished at his doctrine.] God

uses the infidelity of some for the edification of others. Had no

false doctrine been broached in the world, we had not seen the

full evidence of the true teaching. The opposition of deists and

infidels has only served to raise up men in behalf of the truth of

God, who not only have refuted them, but shown, at the same time,

that the sacred testimonies are infinitely amiable in themselves,

and worthy of all acceptation. Truth always gains by being


Verse 34. They were gathered together.] επιτοαυτο-they came

together with one accord, or, for the same purpose; i.e. of

ensnaring him in his discourse, as the Sadducees had done,

Mt 22:23.

The Codex Bezae and several of the Itala have επαυτον,

against him. Camen togidre into oon.-Old MS. Eng, Bib.

Verse 35. A lawyer] νομικος, a teacher of the law. What is

called lawyer, in the common translation, conveys a wrong idea to

most readers: my old MS. renders the word in the same way I have

done. These teachers of the law were the same as the scribes, or

what Dr. Wotton calls letter-men, whom he supposes to be the same

as the Karaites, a sect of the Jews who rejected all the

traditions of the elders, and admitted nothing but the written

word. See Wotton's Mishna, vol. i. p. 78. These are allowed to

have kept more closely to the spiritual meaning of the law and

prophets than the Pharisees did; and hence the question proposed

by the lawyer, (Mark, Mr 12:28,

calls him one of the scribes,) or Karaite, was of a more spiritual

or refined nature than any of the preceding.

Verse 36. Which is the great commandment] We see here three

kinds of enemies and false accusers of Christ and his disciples;

and three sorts of accusations brought against them.

1. The Herodians, or politicians and courtiers, who form

their questions and accusations on the rights of the prince, and

matters of state, Mt 22:16.

2. The Sadducees, or libertines, who found theirs upon matters of

religion, and articles of faith, which they did not credit,

Mt 22:23.

3. The Pharisees, lawyers, scribes, or Karaites, hypocritical

pretenders to devotion, who found theirs on that vital and

practical godliness (the love of God and man) of which they wished

themselves to be thought the sole proprietors, Mt 22:36.

Verse 37. Thou shalt love the Lord] This is a subject of the

greatest importance, and should be well understood, as our Lord

shows that the whole of true religion is comprised in thus loving

God and our neighbour.

It may not be unnecessary to inquire into the literal meaning of

the word love. αγαπη, from αγαπαω, I love, is supposed to be

compounded either of αγαν and ποιειν, to act vehemently or

intensely; or, from αγεινκαταπαν, because love is always

active, and will act in every possible way; for he who loves is,

with all his affection and desire, carried forward to the beloved

object, in order to possess and enjoy it. Some derive it from

αγαν and παυεσθαι, to be completely at rest, or, to be

intensely satisfied; because he who loves is supremely contented

with, and rests completely satisfied in, that which he loves.

Others, from αγαν and παω, because a person eagerly embraces, and

vigorously holds fast, that which is the object of his love.

Lastly, others suppose it to be compounded of αγαω, I admire, and

παυομαι, I rest, because that which a man loves intensely he

rests in, with fixed admiration and contemplation. So that

genuine love changes not, but always abides steadily attached to

that which is loved.

Whatever may be thought of these etymologies, as being either

just or probable, one thing will be evident to all those who know

what love means, that they throw much light upon the subject, and

manifest it in a variety of striking points of view. The ancient

author of a MS. Lexicon in the late French king's library, under

the word αγαπη, has the following definition: ασπαστοςπροθεσις

επιτηφιλιατουφιλουμενουσομψυχια. "A pleasing surrender of

friendship to a friend:-an identity or sameness of soul." A

sovereign preference given to one above all others, present or

absent: a concentration of all the thoughts and desires in a

single object, which a man prefers to all others. Apply this

definition to the love which God requires of his creatures, and

you will have the most correct view of the subject. Hence it

appears that, by this love, the soul eagerly cleaves to,

affectionately admires, and constantly rests in God, supremely

pleased and satisfied with him as its portion: that it acts

from him, as its author; for him, as its master; and to him,

as its end. That, by it, all the powers and faculties of the mind

are concentrated in tho Lord of the universe. That, by it, the

whole man is willingly surrendered to the Most High: and that,

through it, an identity, or sameness of spirit with the Lord is

acquired-the man being made a partaker of the Divine nature,

having the mind in him which was in Christ, and thus dwelling in

God, and God in him.

But what is implied in loving God with all the heart, soul,

mind, strength, &c., and when may a man be said to do this? 1. He

loves God with all his heart, who loves nothing in comparison of

him, and nothing but in reference to him:-who is ready to give up,

do, or suffer any thing in order to please and glorify him:-who

has in his heart neither love nor hatred, hope nor fear,

inclination, nor aversion, desire, nor delight, but as they

relate to God, and are regulated by him.

2. He loves God with all his soul, or rather, ενολητηψυχη,

with all his life, who is ready to give up life for his sake-to

endure all sorts of torments, and to be deprived of all kinds of

comforts, rather than dishonour God:-who employs life with all its

comforts, and conveniences, to glorify God in, by, and through

all:-to whom life and death are nothing, but as they come from and

lead to God, From this Divine principle sprang the blood of the

martyrs, which became the seed of the Church. They overcame

through the blood of the Lamb, and loved not their lives unto the

death. See Re 12:11.

3. He loves God with all his strength (Mr 12:30; Lu 10:27) who

exerts all the powers of his body and soul in the service of

God:-who, for the glory of his Maker, spares neither labour nor

cost-who sacrifices his time, body, health, ease, for the honour

of God his Divine Master:-who employs in his service all his

goods, his talents, his power, credit, authority, and influence.

4. He loves God with all his mind (intellect-διανοια) who

applies himself only to know God, and his holy will:-who receives

with submission, gratitude, and pleasure, the sacred truths which

God has revealed to man:-who studies no art nor science but as far

as it is necessary for the service of God, and uses it at all

times to promote his glory-who forms no projects nor designs but

in reference to God and the interests of mankind:-who banishes

from his understanding and memory every useless, foolish, and

dangerous thought, together with every idea which has any tendency

to defile his soul, or turn it for a moment from the centre of

eternal repose. In a word, he who sees God in all things-thinks

of him at all times-having his mind continually fixed upon God,

acknowledging him in all his ways-who begins, continues, and ends

all his thoughts, words, and works, to the glory of his name:-this

is the person who loves God with all his heart, life, strength,

and intellect. He is crucified to the world, and the world to

him: he lives, yet not he, but Christ lives in him. He beholds as

in a glass the glory of the Lord, and is changed into the same

image from glory to glory. Simply and constantly looking unto

Jesus, the author and perfecter of his faith, he receives

continual supplies of enlightening and sanctifying grace, and is

thus fitted for every good word and work. O glorious state! far,

far, beyond this description! which comprises an ineffable

communion between the ever-blessed Trinity and the soul of man!

Verse 38. This is the first and great commandment.] It is so,

1. In its antiquity, being as old as the world, and engraven

originally on our very nature.

2. In dignity; as directly and immediately proceeding front and

referring to God.

3. In excellence; being the commandment of the new covenant, and

the very spirit of the Divine adoption.

4. In justice; because it alone renders to God his due, prefers

him before all things, and secures to him his proper rank in

relation to them.

5. In sufficiency; being in itself capable of making men holy in

this life, and happy in the other.

6. In fruitfulness; because it is the root of all commandments,

and the fulfilling of the law.

7. In virtue and efficacy; because by this alone God reigns in

the heart of man, and man is united to God.

8. In extent; leaving nothing to the creature, which it does not

refer to the Creator.

9. In necessity; being absolutely indispensable.

10. In duration; being ever to be continued on earth, and never

to be discontinued in heaven.

Verse 39. Thou shalt love thy neighbour] The love of our

neighbour springs from the love of God as its source; is found in

the love of God as its principle, pattern, and end; and the love

of God is found in the love of our neighbour, as its effect,

representation, and infallible mark. This love of our neighbour

is a love of equity, charity, succour, and benevolence. We owe to

our neighbour what we have a right to expect from him-"Do unto all

men as ye would they should do unto you," is a positive command of

our blessed Saviour. By this rule, therefore, we should speak,

think, and write, concerning every soul of man:-put the best

construction upon all the words and actions of our neighbour that

they can possibly bear. By this rule we are taught to bear with,

love, and forgive him; to rejoice in his felicity, mourn in his

adversity, desire and delight in his prosperity, and promote it to

the utmost of our power: instruct his ignorance, help him in his

weakness, and risk even our life for his sake, and for the public

good. In a word, we must do every thing in our power, through all

the possible varieties of circumstances, for our neighbours, which

we would wish them to do for us, were our situations reversed.

This is the religion of Jesus! How happy would Society be, were

these two plain, rational precepts properly observed! Love ME,

and love thy FELLOWS! Be unutterably happy in me, and be in

perfect peace, unanimity, and love, among yourselves. Great

fountain and dispenser of love! fill thy creation with this sacred

principle, for his sake who died for the salvation of mankind!

On the nature of self-love, see Mt 19:19.

Verse 40. On these two-hang all the law and the prophets.]

They are like the first and last links of a chain, all the

intermediate ones depend on them. True religion begins and ends

in love to God and man. These are the two grand links that unite

God to man, man to his fellows, and men again to God.

Love is the fulfilling of the law, says St. Paul, Ro 13:10; for

he who has the love of God in him delights to obey the Divine

precepts, and to do all manner of kindness to men for God's sake.

Verse 41. While the Pharisees were gathered together] Jesus

asks a question in his turn, utterly to confound them, and to show

the people that the source of all the captious questions of his

opponents was their ignorance of the prophecies relative to the


Verse 42. What think ye of Christ?] Or, What are your thoughts

concerning THE CHRIST-the Messiah; for to this title the emphatic

article should always be added.

Whose son is he?] From what family is he to spring?

They say unto him, The son of David.] This was a thing well

known among the Jews, and universally acknowledged, see Joh 7:42;

and is a most powerful proof against them that the Messiah is

come. Their families are now so perfectly confounded that they

cannot trace back any of their genealogies with any degree of

certainty: nor have they been capable of ascertaining the

different families of their tribes for more than sixteen hundred

years. Why, then, should the spirit of prophecy assert so often,

and in such express terms, that Jesus was to come from the family

of David; if he should only make his appearance when the public

registers were all demolished, and it would be impossible to

ascertain the family? Is it not evident that God designed that

the Messiah should come at a time when the public genealogies

might be inspected, to prove that it was he who was prophesied of,

and that no other was to be expected? The evangelists, Matthew

and Luke, were so fully convinced of the conclusiveness of this

proof that they had recourse to the public registers; and thus

proved to the Jews, from their own records, that Jesus was born of

the family mentioned by the prophets. Nor do we find that a

scribe, Pharisee, or any other, ever attempted to invalidate this

proof, though it would have essentially subserved their cause,

could they have done it. But as this has not been done, we may

fairly conclude it was impossible to do it.

Verse 43. How then doth David in spirit (or by the Spirit-by

the inspiration of the Spirit of God) call him Lord? saying,

Verse 44. The Lord ( Yeve or Jehovah) said unto my

Lord, ( Adni or Adonai, my prop, stay, master,

support,) Sit thou on my right hand] Take the place of the

greatest eminence and authority. Till I make thine enemies thy

footstool-till I subdue both Jews and Gentiles under thee, and

cause them to acknowledge thee as their sovereign and Lord. This

quotation is taken from Ps 110:1; and, from it, these two points

are clear: 1. That David wrote it by the inspiration of God; and

2. That it is a prophetic declaration of the Messiah.

Verse 45. How is he his son?] As the Jews did not attempt to

deny the conclusion of our Lord's question, which was, the Messiah

is not only the son of David according to the flesh, but he is the

Lord of David according to his Divine nature, then it is evident

they could not. Indeed, there was no other way of invalidating

the argument, but by denying that the prophecy in question related

to Christ: but it seems the prophecy was so fully and so generally

understood to belong to the Messiah that they did not attempt to

do this; for it is immediately added, No man was able to answer

him a word-they were completely nonplussed and confounded.

Verse 46. Neither durst any-ask him any more questions.]

"Thus," says Dr. Wotton, "our Lord put the four great sects of the

Jews to silence, in one day, successively. The Herodians and

Pharisees wanted to know whether they might lawfully pay tribute

to Caesar or not. The Sadducees were inquisitive to know whose

wife the woman should be of the seven brethren, in the

resurrection, who had her to wife. Then comes the scribe, (or

karaite,) who owned no authority beyond or besides the written

law, and asked which was the great commandment in the law. This

lawyer deserves to be mentioned here, because he not only

acquiesced in, but commended, what our Lord had said in answer to

his question." Wotton's Miscellaneous Discourses, vol. i. p. 78.

The Pharisees and Herodians were defeated, Mt 22:15-22. The

Sadducees were confounded, Mt 22:29-33. The lawyers or karaites

nonplussed, Mt 22:37-40. And the Pharisees, &c., finally routed,

Mt 22:41-46.

Thus did the wisdom of God triumph over the cunning of men.

From this time, we do not find that our Lord was any more

troubled with their captious questions: their whole stock, it

appears, was expended, and now they coolly deliberate on the most

effectual way to get him murdered. He that resists the truth of

God is capable of effecting the worst purpose of Satan.

The very important subjects of this chapter have been so amply

discussed in the notes, and applied so particularly to their

spiritual uses, that it does not appear necessary to add any thing

by way of practical improvement. The explanation of the great

command of the law is particularly recommended to the reader's

notice. See on Mt 22:36-40.

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