Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
JERUSALEM ON THE
DAY OF THE
For the exposition of this majestic scene--recorded, as will be seen,
by all the Evangelists--see on
HIM IN THE
CLEANSING OF THE
VINDICATION OF THE
For the exposition, see on
QUESTIONED AND THE
PARABLES OF THE
SONS, AND OF THE
Now commences, as ALFORD remarks, that series of parables and discourses
of our Lord with His enemies, in which He develops, more completely than
ever before, His hostility to their hypocrisy and iniquity: and so they
are stirred up to compass His death.
The Authority of Jesus Questioned, and the Reply
23. By what authority doest thou these things!--referring particularly
to the expulsion of the buyers and sellers from the temple,
and who gave thee this authority?
24. And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one
25. The baptism of John--meaning his whole mission and ministry, of
which baptism was the proper character.
whence was it? from heaven, or of men?--What wisdom there was in
this way of meeting their question will best appear by their reply.
If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then
believe him?--"Why did ye not believe the testimony which he bore to
Me, as the promised and expected Messiah?" for that was the burden of
John's whole testimony.
26. But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people--rather, "the
multitude." In Luke
it is, "all the people will stone us"--"stone us to death."
for all hold John as a prophet--Crooked, cringing hypocrites! No
wonder Jesus gave you no answer.
27. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell--Evidently their
difficulty was, how to answer, so as neither to shake their
determination to reject the claims of Christ nor damage their reputation
with the people. For the truth itself they cared nothing whatever.
Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things--What composure
and dignity of wisdom does our Lord here display, as He turns their
question upon themselves, and, while revealing His knowledge of their
hypocrisy, closes their mouths! Taking advantage of the surprise,
silence, and awe produced by this reply, our Lord followed it up
immediately by the two following parables.
Parable of the Two Sons
28. But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the
first and said, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard--for true religion
is a practical thing, a "bringing forth fruit unto God."
29. He answered and said, I will not--TRENCH notices the rudeness of
this answer, and the total absence of any attempt to excuse such
disobedience, both characteristic; representing careless, reckless
sinners resisting God to His face.
30. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and
said, I go, sir--"I, sir." The emphatic "I," here, denotes the
self-righteous complacency which says, "God, I thank thee that I am
not as other men"
and went not--He did not "afterward repent" and refuse to go; for
there was here no intention to go. It is the class that "say and do
--a falseness more abominable to God, says STIER,
than any "I will not."
31. Whether of them twain did the will of his Father? They say unto
him, The first--Now comes the application.
Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and
the harlots go--or, "are going"; even now entering, while ye hold back.
into the kingdom of God before you--The publicans and the harlots were
the first son, who, when told to work in the Lord's vineyard, said, I
will not; but afterwards repented and went. Their early life was a flat
and flagrant refusal to do what they were commanded; it was one
continued rebellion against the authority of God. The chief priests and
the elders of the people, with whom our Lord was now speaking, were the
second son, who said, I go, sir, but went not. They were early called,
and all their life long professed obedience to God, but never rendered
it; their life was one of continued disobedience.
32. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness--that is,
calling you to repentance; as Noah is styled "a preacher of
when like the Baptist he warned the old world to "flee from the wrath
and ye believed him not--They did not reject him; nay, they "were
willing for a season to rejoice in his light"
but they would not receive his testimony to Jesus.
but the publicans and the harlots believed him--Of the publicans this
is twice expressly recorded,
Lu 3:12; 7:29.
Of the harlots, then, the same may be taken for granted, though the
fact is not expressly recorded. These outcasts gladly believed the
testimony of John to the coming Saviour, and so hastened to Jesus when
He came. See
Lu 7:37; 15:1,
and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might
believe him--Instead of being "provoked to jealousy" by their example,
ye have seen them flocking to the Saviour and getting to heaven,
Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen
33. Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which
planted a vineyard--(See on
and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a
tower--These details are taken, as is the basis of the parable itself,
from that beautiful parable of
in order to fix down the application and sustain it by Old Testament
and let it out to husbandmen--These are just the ordinary spiritual
guides of the people, under whose care and culture the fruits of
righteousness are expected to spring up.
and went into a far country--"for a long time"
leaving the vineyard to the laws of the spiritual husbandry during the
whole time of the Jewish economy. On this phraseology, see on
34. And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants
to the husbandmen--By these "servants" are meant the prophets and
other extraordinary messengers, raised up from time to time. See on
that they might receive the fruits of it--Again see on
35. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one--see
Jer 37:15; 38:6.
and killed another--see
and stoned another--see
Compare with this whole verse
where our Lord reiterates these charges in the most melting strain.
36. Again, he sent other servants more than the first; and they did
unto them likewise--see
2Ch 36:16, 18;
37. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will
reverence my son--In Mark
this is most touchingly expressed: "Having yet therefore one son, His
well-beloved, He sent Him also last unto them, saying, They will
reverence My Son." Luke's version of it too
is striking: "Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I
will send My beloved Son: it may be they will reverence Him when they
see Him." Who does not see that our Lord here severs Himself, by the
sharpest line of demarcation, from all merely human messengers,
and claims for Himself Sonship in its loftiest sense? (Compare
The expression, "It may be they will reverence My Son," is
designed to teach the almost unimaginable guilt of not
reverentially welcoming God's Son.
38. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves--Compare
This is the heir--Sublime expression this of the great truth, that
God's inheritance was destined for, and in due time is to come into the
possession of, His own Son in our nature
come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance--that so,
from mere servants, we may become lords. This is the deep aim of
the depraved heart; this is emphatically "the root of all evil."
39. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard--compare
("without the gate--without the camp");
and slew him.
40. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh--This represents
"the settling time," which, in the case of the Jewish ecclesiastics, was
that judicial trial of the nation and its leaders which issued in the
destruction of their whole state.
what will he do unto those husbandmen?
41. They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men--an
emphatic alliteration not easily conveyed in English: "He will badly
destroy those bad men," or "miserably destroy those miserable men," is
something like it.
and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render
him the fruits in their seasons--If this answer was given by the
Pharisees, to whom our Lord addressed the parable, they thus unwittingly
pronounced their own condemnation: as did David to Nathan the prophet
and Simon the Pharisee to our Lord
&c.). But if it was given, as the two other Evangelists agree in
representing it, by our Lord Himself, and the explicitness of the
answer would seem to favor that supposition, then we can better explain
the exclamation of the Pharisees which followed it, in Luke's report
--"And when they heard it, they said, God forbid"--His whole meaning
now bursting upon them.
42. Jesus saith unto them. Did ye never read in the scriptures--
(Ps 118:22, 23).
The stone which the builders rejected, &c.--A bright Messianic
prophecy, which reappears in various forms
&c.), and was made glorious use of by Peter before the Sanhedrim
He recurs to it in his first epistle
43. Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God--God's visible
Kingdom, or Church, upon earth, which up to this time stood in the seed
shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the
fruits thereof--that is, the great evangelical community of the
faithful, which, after the extrusion of the Jewish nation, would consist
chiefly of Gentiles, until "all Israel should be saved"
(Ro 11:25, 26).
This vastly important statement is given by Matthew only.
44. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on
whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder--The Kingdom
of God is here a Temple, in the erection of which a certain
stone, rejected as unsuitable by the spiritual builders, is, by the
great Lord of the House, made the keystone of the whole. On that Stone
the builders were now "falling" and being "broken"
They were sustaining great spiritual hurt; but soon that Stone should
"fall upon them" and "grind them to powder"
(Da 2:34, 35;
--in their corporate capacity, in the tremendous destruction of
Jerusalem, but personally, as unbelievers, in a more awful sense
45. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his
parables--referring to that of the Two Sons and this one of the
they perceived that he spake of them.
46. But when they sought to lay hands on him--which Luke
says they did "the same hour," hardly able to restrain their rage.
they feared the multitude--rather, "the multitudes."
because they took him for a prophet--just as they feared to say
John's baptism was of men, because the masses took him for a prophet
Miserable creatures! So, for this time, "they left Him and went their