In this chapter we have,
I. Christ's answer to the chief priests' question concerning his
II. The parable of the vineyard let out to the unjust and rebellious
III. Christ's answer to the question proposed to him concerning the
lawfulness of paying tribute to Cæsar,
IV. His vindication of that great fundamental doctrine of the Jewish
and Christian institutes--the resurrection of the dead and the future
state, from the foolish cavils of the Sadducees,
V. His puzzling the scribes with a question concerning the Messiah's
being the Son of David,
VI. The caution he gave his disciples to take heed of the scribes,
All which passages we had before in Matthew and Mark, and therefore
need not enlarge upon them here, unless on those particulars which we
had not there.
|Christ's Enemies Nonplussed.
1 And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he
taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the
chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,
2 And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest
thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?
3 And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one
thing; and answer me:
4 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?
5 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say,
From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?
6 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for
they be persuaded that John was a prophet.
7 And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.
8 And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what
authority I do these things.
In this passage of story nothing is added here to what we had in the
other evangelists; but only in the
where we are told,
I. That he was now teaching the people in the temple, and
preaching the gospel. Note, Christ was a preacher of his own
gospel. He not only purchased the salvation for us, but
published it to us, which is a great confirmation of the truth
of the gospel, and gives abundant encouragement to us to receive it,
for it is a sign that the heart of Christ was much upon it, to have it
received. This likewise puts an honour upon the preachers of the
gospel, and upon their office and work, how much soever they are
despised by a vain world. It puts an honour upon the popular
preachers of the gospel; Christ condescended to the capacities of
the people in preaching the gospel, and taught them. And
observe, when he was preaching the gospel to the people he had
this interruption given him. Note, Satan and his agents do all they can
to hinder the preaching of the gospel to the people, for nothing
weakens the interest of Satan's kingdom more.
II. That his enemies are here said to come upon
him--epestesan. The word is used only here, and it
1. That they thought to surprise him with this question; they came
upon him suddenly, hoping to catch him unprovided with an answer,
as if this were not a thing he had himself thought of.
2. That they thought to frighten him with this question. They came
upon him in a body, with violence. But how could he be terrified
with the wrath of men, when it was in his own power to
restrain it, and make it turn to his praise? From this story
itself we may learn,
(1.) That it is not to be thought strange, if even that which is
evident to a demonstration be disputed, and called in question, as a
doubtful thing, by those that shut their eyes against the light.
Christ's miracles plainly showed by what authority he did these
things, and sealed his commission; and yet this is that which is
(2.) Those that question Christ's authority, if they be but catechized
themselves in the plainest and most evident principles of religion,
will have their folly made manifest unto all men. Christ answered these
priests and scribes with a question concerning the baptism of John, a
plain question, which the meanest of the common people could answer:
Was it from heaven or of men? They all knew it was from
heaven; there was nothing in it that had an earthly relish or
tendency, but it was all heavenly and divine. And this question
gravelled them, and ran them aground, and served to shame them before
(3.) It is not strange if those that are governed by reputation and
secular interest imprison the plainest truths, and smother and stifle
the strongest convictions, as these priests and scribes did, who, to
save their credit, would not own that John's baptism was from
heaven, and had no other reason why they did not say it was of
men but because they feared the people. What good can be
expected from men of such a spirit?
(4.) Those that bury the knowledge they have are justly denied further
knowledge. It was just with Christ to refuse to give an account of his
authority to them that knew the baptism of John to be from heaven and
would not believe in him, nor own their knowledge,
|The Husbandmen and the Vineyard.
9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain
man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went
into a far country for a long time.
10 And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that
they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the
husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.
11 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also,
and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.
12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and
cast him out.
13 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.
14 But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among
themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that
the inheritance may be ours.
15 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What
therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?
16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give
the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God
17 And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is
written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is
become the head of the corner?
18 Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on
whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought
to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they
perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.
Christ spoke this parable against those who were resolved not to own
his authority, though the evidence of it was ever so full and
convincing; and it comes very seasonably to show that by questioning
his authority they forfeited their own. Their disowning the lord of
their vineyard was a defeasance of their lease of the vineyard, and
giving up of all their title.
I. The parable has nothing added here to what we had before in Matthew
and Mark. The scope of it is to show that the Jewish nation, by
persecuting the prophets, and at length Christ himself, had provoked
God to take away from them all their church privileges, and to abandon
them to ruin. It teaches us,
1. That those who enjoy the privileges of the visible church are as
tenants and farmers that have a vineyard to look after, and rent to pay
for it. God, by setting up revealed religion and instituted orders in
the world, hath planted a vineyard, which he lets out to those people
among whom his tabernacle is,
And they have vineyard-work to do, needful and constant work,
but pleasant and profitable. Whereas man was, for sin, condemned to
till the ground, they that have a place in the church are
restored to that which was Adam's work in innocency, to dress the
garden, and to keep it; for the church is a paradise, and Christ
the tree of life in it. They have also vineyard-fruits to
present to the Lord of the vineyard. There are rents to be paid and
services to be done, which, though bearing no proportion to the value
of the premises, yet must be done and must be paid.
2. That the work of God's ministers is to call upon those who enjoy
the privileges of the church to bring forth fruit accordingly.
They are God's rent-gatherers, to put the husbandmen in mind of their
arrears, or rather to put them in mind that they have a landlord who
expects to hear from them, and to receive some acknowledgment of their
dependence on him, and obligations to him,
The Old-Testament prophets were sent on this errand to the Jewish
church, to demand from them the duty and obedience they owed to God.
3. That it has often been the lot of God's faithful servants to be
wretchedly abused by his own tenants; they have been beaten and
treated shamefully by those that resolved to send them
empty away. They that are resolved not to do their duty to God
cannot bear to be called upon to do it. Some of the best men in the
world have had the hardest usage from it, for their best services.
4. That God sent his Son into the world to carry on the same work that
the prophets were employed in, to gather the fruits of the
vineyard for God; and one would have thought that he would have
been reverenced and received. The prophets spoke as servants, Thus
saith the Lord; but Christ as a Son, among his own,
Verily, I say unto you. Putting such an honour as this upon
them, to send him, one would have thought, should have won upon them.
5. That those who reject Christ's ministers would reject Christ himself
if he should come to them; for it has been tried, and found that the
persecutors and murderers of his servants the prophets were the
persecutors and murderers of himself. They said, This is the heir,
come let us kill him. When they slew the servants, there were other
servants sent. "But, if we can but be the death of the son, there is
never another son to be sent, and then we shall be no longer molested
with these demands; we may have a quiet possession of the vineyard for
ourselves." The scribes and Pharisees promised themselves that, if they
could but get Christ out of the way, they should for ever ride masters
in the Jewish church; and therefore they took the bold step, they
cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
6. That the putting of Christ to death filled up the measure of the
Jewish iniquity, and brought upon them ruin without remedy. No other
could be expected than that God should destroy those wicked
husbandmen. They began in not paying their rent, but then
proceeded to beat and kill the servants, and at length their young
Master himself. Note, Those that live in the neglect of their duty to
God know not what degrees of sin and destruction they are running
II. To the application of the parable is added here, which we had not
before, their deprecation of the doom included in it
When they heart it, they said, God forbid, Me
genoito--Let not this be done, so it should be read.
Though they could not but own that for such a sin such a punishment was
just, and what might be expected, yet they could not bear to hear of
it. Note, It is an instance of the folly and stupidity of sinners that
they proceed and persevere in their sinful ways though at the same time
they have a foresight and dread of the destruction that is at the end
of those ways. And see what a cheat they put themselves, to think to
avoid it by a cold God forbid, when they do nothing towards the
preventing of it; but will this make the threatening of no effect? No,
they shall know whose word shall stand, God's or theirs. Now observe
what Christ said, in answer to this childish deprecation of their ruin.
1. He beheld them. This is taken notice of only by this
He looked upon them with pity and compassion, grieved to see
them cheat themselves thus to their own ruin. He beheld them, to
see if they would blush at their own folly, or if he could discern in
their countenances any indication of relenting.
2. He referred them to the scripture: "What is this then that is
written? How can you escape the judgment of God, when you cannot
prevent the exaltation of him whom you despise and reject? The word of
God hath said it, that the stone which the builders rejected is
become the head of the corner." The Lord Jesus will be exalted to
the Father's right hand. He has all judgment and all power committed
to him; he is the corner-stone and top-stone of the church, and, if so,
his enemies can expect no other than to be destroyed. Even those that
slight him, that stumble at him, and are offended in him, shall be
broken--it will be their ruin; but as to those that not only reject
him, but hate and persecute him, as the Jews did, he will fall upon
them and crush them to pieces--will grind them to powder. The
condemnation of spiteful persecutors will be much sorer than that of
Lastly, We are told how the chief priests and scribes were
exasperated by this parable
They perceived that he had spoken this parable against them; and
so he had. A guilty conscience needs no accuser; but they, instead of
yielding to the convictions of conscience, fell into a rage at him who
awakened that sleeping lion in their bosoms, and sought to lay hands
on him. Their corruptions rebelled against their convictions, and
got the victory. And it was not because they had any fear of God or of
his wrath before their eyes, but only because they feared the
people, that they did not now fly in his face, and take him by the
throat. They were just ready to make his words good: This is the
heir, come let us kill him. Note, When the hearts of the sons of
men are fully set in them to do evil, the fairest warnings both of the
sin they are about to commit and of the consequences of it make no
impression upon them. Christ tells them that instead of kissing the
Son of God they would kill him, upon which they should have
said, What, is thy servant a dog? But they do, in effect, say
this: "And so we will; have at him now." And, though they deprecate the
punishment of the sin, in the next breath they are projecting the
commission of it.
|Christ's Enemies Nonplussed.
20 And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should
feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his
words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and
authority of the governor.
21 And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest
and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any,
but teachest the way of God truly:
22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Cæsar, or no?
23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why
tempt ye me?
24 Show me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it?
They answered and said, Cæsar's.
25 And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Cæsar the
things which be Cæsar's, and unto God the things which be God's.
26 And they could not take hold of his words before the people:
and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.
We have here Christ's evading a snare which his enemies laid for him,
by proposing a question to him about tribute. We had this passage
before, both in Matthew and Mark. Here is,
I. The mischief designed him, and that is more fully related here than
before. The plot was to deliver him unto the power and authority of
They could not themselves put him to death by course of law, nor
otherwise than by a popular tumult, which they could not depend
upon; and, since they could not be his judges, they would willingly
condescend to be his prosecutors and accusers, and would themselves
inform against him. They hoped to gain their point, if they
could but incense the governor against him. Note, It has been the
common artifice of persecuting church-rulers to make the secular powers
the tools of their malice, and oblige the kings of the earth to
do their drudgery, who, if they had not been instigated, would have
let their neighbours live quietly by them, as Pilate did Christ till
the chief priests and the scribes presented Christ to him. But thus
Christ's word must be fulfilled by their cursed politics, that he
should be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles.
II. The persons they employed. Matthew and Mark told us that they were
disciples of the Pharisees, with some Herodians. Here it is added, They
were spies, who should feign themselves just men. Note, It is no
new thing for bad men to feign themselves just men, and
to cover the most wicked projects with the most specious and plausible
pretences. The devil can transform himself into an angel of
light, and a Pharisee appear in the garb, and speak the language,
of a disciple of Christ. A spy must go in disguise. These spies must
take on them to have a value for Christ's judgment, and to depend upon
it as an oracle, and therefore must desire his advice in a case of
conscience. Note, Ministers are concerned to stand upon their guard
against some that feign themselves to be just men, and to be
wise as serpents when they are in the midst of a generation
of vipers and scorpions.
III. The question they proposed, with which they hoped to ensnare him.
1. Their preface is very courtly: Master, we know that thou sayest
and teachest rightly,
Thus they thought to flatter him into an incautious freedom and
openness with them, and so to gain their point. They that are proud,
and love to be commended, will be brought to do any thing for those
that will but flatter them, and speak kindly to them; but they were
much mistaken who thought thus to impose upon the humble Jesus. He was
not pleased with the testimony of such hypocrites, nor thought himself
honoured by it. It is true that he accepts not the person of
any, but it is as true that he knows the hearts of all, and knew
theirs, and the seven abominations that were there, though they
spoke fair. It was certain that he taught the way of God
truly; but he knew that they were unworthy to be taught by him, who
came to take hold of his words, not to be taken hold of
2. Their case is very nice: "Is it lawful for us" (this is added
here in Luke) "to give tribute to Cæsar--for us Jews, us
the free-born seed of Abraham, us that pay the Lord's tribute, may give
tribute to Cæsar?" Their pride and covetousness made them loth to
pay taxes, and then they would have it a question whether it was lawful
or no. Now if Christ should say that it was lawful the people
would take it ill, for they expected that he who set up to be the
Messiah should in the first place free them from the Roman yoke, and
stand by them in denying tribute to Cæsar. But if he should say
that it was not lawful, as they expected he would (for if he had
not been of that mind they thought he could not have been so much the
darling of the people as he was), then they should have something to
accuse him of to the governor, which was what they wanted.
IV. His evading the snare which they laid for him: He perceived
Note, Those that are most crafty in their designs against Christ and
his gospel cannot with all their art conceal them from his cognizance.
He can see through the most politic disguises, and so break through the
most dangerous snare; for surely in vain is the net spread in the
sight of any bird. He did not give them a direct answer, but
reproved them for offering to impose upon him--Why tempt ye me?
and called for a piece of money, current money with the
merchants--Show me a penny; and asked them whose money it was,
whose stamp it bore, who coined it. They owned, "It is Cæsar's
money." "Why them," saith Christ, "you should first have asked whether
it was lawful to pay and receive Cæsar's money
among yourselves, and to admit that to be the instrument of your
commerce. But, having granted this by a common consent, you are
concluded by your own act, and, no doubt, you ought to give tribute to
him who furnished you with this convenience for your trade, protects
you in it, and lends you the sanction of his authority for the value of
your money. You must therefore render to Cæsar the things that
are Cæsar's. In civil things you ought to submit to the civil
powers, and so, if Cæsar protects you in your civil rights by
laws and the administration of justice, you ought to pay him
tribute; but in sacred things God only is your King. You are not
bound to be of Cæsar's religion; you must render to God the
things that are God's, must worship and adore him only, and not any
golden image that Cæsar sets up;" and we must worship and adore
him in such way as he had appointed, and not according to the
inventions of Cæsar. It is God only that has authority to say
My son, give me thy heart.
V. The confusion they were hereby put into,
1. The snare is broken; They could not take hold of his words before
the people. They could not fasten upon any thing wherewith to
incense either the governor or the people against him.
2. Christ is honoured; even the wrath of man is made to praise him.
They marvelled at his answer, it was so discreet and
unexceptionable, and such an evidence of that wisdom and sincerity
which make the face to shine.
3. Their mouths are stopped; they held their peace. They had
nothing to object, and durst ask him nothing else, lest he should shame
and expose them.
|The Cavil of the Sadducees.
27 Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that
there is any resurrection; and they asked him,
28 Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man's brother
die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother
should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
29 There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a
wife, and died without children.
30 And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.
31 And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also:
and they left no children, and died.
32 Last of all the woman died also.
33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for
seven had her to wife.
34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this
world marry, and are given in marriage:
35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that
world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are
given in marriage:
36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the
angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the
37 Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush,
when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of
Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all
live unto him.
This discourse with the Sadducees we had before, just as it is here,
only that the description Christ gives of the future state is somewhat
more full and large here. Observe here,
I. In every age there have been men of corrupt minds, that have
endeavoured to subvert the fundamental principles of revealed religion.
As there are deists now, who call themselves free-thinkers, but
are really false-thinkers; so there were Sadducees in our
Saviour's time, who bantered the doctrine of the resurrection of the
dead and the life of the world to come, though they were plainly
revealed in the Old Testament, and were articles of the Jewish faith.
The Sadducees deny that there is any resurrection, any future
state, so anastasis may signify; not only no return
of the body to life, but no continuance of the soul in
life, no world of spirits, no state of recompence and retribution
for what was done in the body. Take away this, and all religion falls
to the ground.
II. It is common for those that design to undermine any truth of God to
perplex it, and load it with difficulties. So these Sadducees did; when
they would weaken people's faith in the doctrine of the resurrection,
they put a question upon the supposition of it, which they thought
could not be answered either way to satisfaction. The case perhaps was
matter of fact, at least it might be so, of a woman that had seven
husbands. Now in the resurrection whose wife shall she be?
whereas it was not at all material whose she was, for when death puts
an end to that relation it is not to be resumed.
III. There is a great deal of difference between the state of the
children of men on earth and that of the children of God in heaven, a
vast unlikeness between this world and that world; and we
wrong ourselves, and wrong the truth of Christ, when we form our
notions of that world of spirits by our present enjoyments in this
world of sense.
1. The children of men in this world marry, and are given in
marriage, hyioi tou aionos toutou--the children of
this age, this generation, both good and bad, marry themselves and
give their children in marriage. Much of our business in this world is
to raise and build up families, and to provide for them. Much of our
pleasure in this world is in our relations, our wives and children;
nature inclines to it. Marriage is instituted for the comfort of human
life, here in this state where we carry bodies about with us. It is
likewise a remedy against fornication, that natural desires might not
become brutal, but be under direction and control. The children of
this world are dying and going off the stage, and therefore
they marry and give their children in marriage, that they may furnish
the world of mankind with needful recruits, that as one generation
passeth away another may come, and that they may have some of their own
offspring to leave the fruit of their labours to, especially that the
chosen of God in future ages may be introduced, for it is a godly
seed that is sought by marriage
a seed to serve the Lord, that shall be a generation to him.
2. The world to come is quite another thing; it is called that
world, by way of emphasis and eminency. Note, There are more worlds
than one; a present visible world, and a future invisible world; and it
is the concern of every one of us to compare worlds, this world
and that world, and give the preference in our thoughts and
cares to that which deserves them. Now observe,
(1.) Who shall be the inhabitants of that world: They that shall
be accounted worthy to obtain it, that is, that are interested
in Christ's merit, who purchased it for us, and have a
holy meetness for it wrought in them by the Spirit, whose
business it is to prepare us for it. They have not a legal
worthiness, upon account of any thing in them or done by them, but an
evangelical worthiness, upon account of the inestimable price
which Christ paid for the redemption of the purchased
possession. It is a worthiness imputed by which we are glorified,
as well as righteousness imputed by which we are justified;
kataxiothentes, they are made agreeable to that
world. The disagreeableness that there is in the corrupt nature is
taken away, and the dispositions of the soul are by the grace of God
conformed to that state. They are by grace made and counted worthy
to obtain that world; it intimates some difficulty in
reaching after it, and danger of coming short. We must so run as
that we may obtain. They shall obtain the resurrection from the
dead, that is, the blessed resurrection; for that of
condemnation (as Christ calls it,
is rather a resurrection to death, a second death, an eternal
death, than from death.
(2.) What shall be the happy state of the inhabitants of that world we
cannot express or conceive,
1 Corinthians 2:9.
See what Christ here says of it.
[1.] They neither marry nor are given in marriage. Those that
have entered into the joy of their Lord are entirely taken up with
that, and need not the joy of the bridegroom in his bride. The love in
that world of love is all seraphic, and such as eclipses and loses the
purest and most pleasing loves we entertain ourselves with in this
world of sense. Where the body itself shall be a spiritual body, the
delights of sense will all be banished; and where there is a perfection
of holiness there is no occasion for marriage as a preservative from
sin. Into the new Jerusalem there enters nothing that defiles.
[2.] They cannot die any more; and this comes in as a reason why
they do not marry. In this dying world there must be marriage,
in order to the filling up of the vacancies made by death; but, where
there are no burials, there is no need of weddings. This crowns the
comfort of that world that there is no more death there, which sullies
all the beauty, and damps all the comforts, of this world. Here death
reigns, but thence it is for ever excluded.
[3.] They are equal unto the angels. In the other evangelists it
was said, They are as the angels--os angeloi, but
here they are said to be equal to the angels,
isangeloi--angels' peers; they have a glory and
bliss no way inferior to that of the holy angels. They shall see the
same sight, be employed in the same work, and share in the same joys,
with the holy angels. Saints, when they come to heaven, shall be
naturalized, and, though by nature strangers, yet, having
obtained this freedom with a great sum, which Christ paid
for them, they have in all respects equal privileges with them that
were free-born, the angels that are the natives and aborigines of that
country. They shall be companions with the angels, and converse with
those blessed spirits that love them dearly, and with an innumerable
company, to whom they are now come in faith, hope, and love.
[4.] They are the children of God, and so they are as the
angels, who are called the sons of God. In the inheritance of
sons, the adoption of sons will be completed. Hence
believers are said to wait for the adoption, even the
redemption of the body,
For till the body is redeemed from the grave the adoption is not
completed. Now are we the sons of God,
1 John 3:2.
We have the nature and disposition of sons, but that will not be
perfected till we come to heaven.
[5.] They are the children of the resurrection, that is, they
are made capable of the employments and enjoyments of the future state;
they are born to that world, belong to that family, had their
education for it here, and shall there have their inheritance in it.
They are the children of God, being the children of the
resurrection. Note, God owns those only for his children that are
the children of the resurrection, that are born from above, are allied
to the world of spirits, and prepared for that world, the children of
IV. It is an undoubted truth that there is another life after this, and
there were eminent discoveries made of this truth in the early ages of
Moses showed this, as it was shown to Moses at the bush, and he
hath shown it to us, when he calleth the Lord, as the Lord
calleth himself, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the
God of Jacob. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were then dead as
to our world; they had departed out of it many years before, and their
bodies were turned into dust in the cave of Machpelah; how then could
God say, not I was, but I am the God or Abraham?
It is absurd that the living God and Fountain of life should continue
related to them as their God, if there were no more of them in being
than what lay in that cave, undistinguished from common dust. We must
therefore conclude that they were then in being in another world; for
God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Luke here
adds, For all live unto him, that is, all who, like them, are
true believers; though they are dead, yet they do live; their
souls, which return to God who gave them
live to him as the Father of spirits: and their bodies shall live again
at the end of time by the power of God; for he calleth things that are
not as though they were, because he is the God that quickens the
But there is more in it yet; when God called himself the God of
these patriarchs, he meant that he was their felicity and portion, a
God all-sufficient to them
their exceeding great reward,
Now it is plain by their history that he never did that for them in
this world which would answer the true intent and full
extent of that great undertaking, and therefore there must be
another life after this, in which he will do that for them that will
amount to a discharge in full of that promise--that he would be
to them a God, which he is able to do, for all live to him, and
he has wherewithal to make every soul happy that lives to him; enough
for all, enough for each.
39 Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou
hast well said.
40 And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.
41 And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David's
42 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said
unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
43 Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
44 David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?
45 Then in the audience of all the people he said unto his
46 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes,
and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the
synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;
47 Which devour widows' houses, and for a show make long
prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.
The scribes were students in the law, and expositors of
it to the people, men in reputation for wisdom and honour, but the
generality of them were enemies to Christ and his gospel. Now here we
have some of them attending him, and four things we have in these
verses concerning them, which we had before:--
I. We have them here commending the reply which Christ made to the
Sadducees concerning the resurrection: Certain of the scribes said,
Master, thou hast well said,
Christ had the testimony of his adversaries that he said well; and
therefore the scribes were his enemies because he would not
conform to the traditions of the elders, but yet when he
vindicated the fundamental practices of religion, and appeared in the
defence of them, even the scribes commended his performance, and owned
that he said well. Many that call themselves Christians come short even
of this spirit.
II. We have them here struck with an awe of Christ, and of his wisdom
They durst not ask him any questions at all, because they say
that he was too hard for all that contended with him. His own
disciples, though weak, yet, being willing to receive his doctrine,
durst ask him any question; but the Sadducees, who contradicted
and cavilled at his doctrine, durst ask him none.
III. We have them here puzzled and run aground with a question
concerning the Messiah,
It was plain by many scriptures that Christ was to be the Son of
David; even the blind man knew this
and yet it was plain that David called the Messiah his Lord
his owner, and ruler, and benefactor: The Lord said to my Lord.
God said it to the Messiah,
Now if he be his Son, why doth he call him his Lord? If
he be his Lord, why do we call him his Son? This
he left them to consider of, but they could not reconcile this seeming
contradiction; thanks be to God, we can; that Christ, as God,
was David's Lord, but Christ, as man, was David's Son. He was
both the root and the offspring of David,
By his human nature he was the offspring of David, a
branch of his family; by his divine nature he was the root of
David, from whom he had his being and life, and all the supplies of
IV. We have them here described in their black characters, and a public
caution given to the disciples to take heed of them,
This we had, just as it is here,
and more largely
Christ bids his disciples beware of the scribes, that is,
1. "Take heed of being drawn into sin by them, of learning their
way, and going into their measures; beware of such a spirit as they are
governed by. Be not you such in the Christian church as they are in the
2. "Take heed of being brought into trouble by them," in the
same sense that he had said
"Beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the councils;
beware of the scribes, for they will do so. Beware of them, for,"
(1.) "They are proud and haughty. They desire to
walk about the streets in long robes, as those that are above
business (for men of business went with their loins girt up),
and as those that take state, and take place." Cedant arma
togæ--Let arms yield to the gown. They loved in their hearts
to have people make their obeisance to them in the markets, that
many might see what respect was paid them; and were very proud of the
precedency that was given them in all places of concourse. They
loved the highest seats in the synagogues and the chief rooms
at feasts, and, when they were placed in them, looked upon
themselves with great conceit and upon all about them with great
contempt. I sit as a queen.
(2.) "They are covetous and oppressive, and make their religion
a cloak and cover for crime." They devour widows' houses, get
their estates into their hands, and then by some trick or other make
them their own, or they live upon them, and eat up what they have; and
widows are an easy prey to them, because they are apt to be
deluded by their specious pretences: for a show they make long
prayers, perhaps long prayers with the widows when they are in
sorrow, as if they had not only a piteous but a pious
concern for them, and thus endeavour to ingratiate themselves with
them, and get their money and effects into their hands. Such devout men
may surely be trusted with untold gold; but they will give such
an account of it as they think fit.
Christ reads them their doom in a few words: These shall receive a
more abundant judgment, a double damnation, both for their abuse of
the poor widows, whose houses they devoured, and for their abuse
of religion, and particularly of prayer, which they had made use of as
a pretence for the more plausible and effectual carrying on of their
worldly and wicked projects; for dissembled piety is double