The question concerning the authority of Christ, and the baptism of John, 1-8. The parable of the vine-yard let out to wicked husbandmen, 9-18. The chief priests and scribes are offended, and lay snares for him, 19,20. The question about tribute, 21-26. The question about the resurrection of the dead, and our Lord's answer, 27-40. How Christ is the son of David, 41-44. He warns his disciples against the hypocrisy of the scribes, whose condemnation he points out, 45-47.
Notes on Chapter 20
One of those days
Supposed to have been one of the four last days of his life, mentioned Luke 19:47, probably Tuesday before the passover.
By what authority, See Clarke's notes on Matthew 21:23-27.
A certain man planted a vineyard, largely explained, Matthew 21:33-46. See also Clarke on ; Mark 12:4-9.
That they should give him of the fruit
The Hindoo corn-merchants, that have lent money to husbandmen, send persons in harvest-time to collect their share of the produce of the ground.
Or, Let it not be, μηγενοιτο. Our phrase, God forbid, answers pretty well to the meaning of the Greek, but it is no translation.
Grind him to powder.
See Clarke on Matthew 21:44.
They watched him
παρατηρησαντες, Insidiously watching. See Clarke on Luke 14:1.
εγκαθετους, from εν, in, and καθιημι, I let down, to set in ambush. One who crouches in some secret place to spy, listen, catch, or hurt. Hesychius explains the word by ενεδρευοντες, those who lie in wait, or in ambush, to surprise and slay. Josephus uses the word to signify a person bribed for a particular purpose. See War, b. ii. c. ii. s. 5, and b. vi. c. v. s. 2. No doubt the persons mentioned in the text were men of the basest principles, and were hired by the malicious Pharisees to do what they attempted in vain to perform.
Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar
See this insidious but important question considered at large on Matthew 22:16-22.
There were therefore seven brethren
See Clarke on Matthew 22:23-33.
The children of this world
Men and women in their present state of mortality and probation; procreation being necessary to restore the waste made by death, and to keep up the population of the earth.
Equal unto the angels
Who neither marry nor die. See the Jewish testimonies to the resurrection of the human body quoted at length on 1 Corinthians 15:42.
All live unto him.
There is a remarkable passage in Josephus's account of the Maccabees, chap. xvi., which proves that the best informed Jews believed that the souls of righteous men were in the presence of God in a state of happiness. "They who lose their lives for the sake of God, LIVE unto GOD, as do Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the rest of the patriarchs." And one not less remarkable in Shemoth Rabba, fol. 159. "Rabbi Abbin saith, The Lord said unto Moses, Find me out ten righteous persons among the people, and I will not destroy thy people. Then said Moses, Behold, here am I, Aaron, Eleazar, Ithamar, Phineas, Caleb, and Joshua; but God said, Here are but seven, where are the other three? When Moses knew not what to do, he said, O Eternal God, do those live that are dead! Yes, saith God. Then said Moses, If those that are dead do live, remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." So the resurrection of the dead, and the immortality and immateriality of the soul, were not strange or unknown doctrines among the Jews.
They durst not ask
Or, did not venture to ask any other question, for fear of being again confounded, as they had already been.
How say they
See the note on Matthew 22:42-46.
Literally, the footstool of thy feet. They shall not only be so far humbled that the feet may be set on them; but they shall be actually subjected, and put completely under that Christ whom they now despise, and are about to crucify.
Beware of the scribes
Take heed that ye be not seduced by those who should show you the way of salvation. See on Matthew 23:4-14.
1. How it can be supposed that the ancient Jewish Church had no distinct notion of the resurrection of the dead is to me truly surprising. The justice of God, so peculiarly conspicuous under the old covenant, might have led the people to infer that there must be a resurrection of the dead, if even the passage to which our Lord refers had not made a part of their law. As the body makes a part of the man, justice requires that not only they who are martyrs for the testimony of God, but also all those who have devoted their lives to his service, and died in his yoke, should have their bodies raised again. The justice of God is as much concerned in the resurrection of the dead, as either his power or mercy. To be freed from earthly incumbrances, earthly passions, bodily infirmities, sickness; and death, to be brought into a state of conscious existence, with a refined body and a sublime soul, both immortal, and both ineffably happy-how glorious the privilege! But of this, who shall be counted worthy in that day? Only those who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, and who, by patient continuing in well doing, have sought for glory and honour and immortality.
2. A bad example, supported by the authority, reputation, and majesty of religion, is a very subtle poison, from which it is very difficult for men to preserve themselves. It is a great misfortune for any people to be obliged to beware of those very persons who ought to be their rule and pattern. This is a reflection of pious Father Quesnel; and, while we admire its depth, we may justly lament that the evil he refers to should be so prevalent as to render the observation, and the caution on which it is founded, so necessary. But let no man imagine that bad and immoral ministers are to be found among one class of persons only. They are to be found in the branches as well as in the root: in the different sects and parties as well as in the mother or national Churches, from which the others have separated. On either hand there is little room for glorying.-Professors and ministers may change, but the truth of the Lord abideth for ever!