Verse 20. "Teaching them to observe all things" - Men are ignorant of Divine things, and must be taught. Only those can be considered as proper teachers of the ignorant who are thoroughly instructed in whatsoever Christ has commanded. Persons who are entrusted with the public ministry of the word should take care that they teach not human creeds and confessions of faith, in place of the Sacred Writings; but those things, and those only, which Jesus has commanded.
"And, lo, I am with you alway" - kai idou egw mequmwn eimi pasav tav hmerav-literally, Behold, I am with you every day. A minister of Christ should consider, that while his soul simply and uniformly follows Jesus, he shall be made a constant instrument of bringing many sons and daughters to glory. The dark, it is true, must be enlightened, the ignorant instructed, the profligate reclaimed, the guilty justified, and the unholy sanctified; and who is sufficient for this work? He with whom the Son of God is EVERY DAY, and none other.
"Unto the end of the world." - Some translate, ewv thv sunteleiav tou aiwnov, to the end of this age; meaning the apostolic age, or Jewish dispensation; and then they refer the promise of Christ's presence to the working of miracles, and explain this by Mark xvi. 17-19. By my name they shall cast out demons, &c., &c. But though the words are used in this sense in several places, see chap. xiii. 39, 40, Matt. xiii. 49; xxiv. 3, yet it is certain they were repeatedly used among the primitive ecclesiastical writers to denote the consummation of all things; and it is likely that this is the sense in which they are used here, which the Anglo-Saxon has happily expressed: -And I, be with you all days, until world ending; and this is indispensably necessary, because the presence and influence of Jesus Christ are essentially requisite in every age of the world, to enlighten, instruct, and save the lost. The promise takes in not only the primitive apostles, but also all their successors in the Christian ministry, as long as the earth shall endure.
Amen.] This word is omitted by some of the oldest and most authentic MSS., and by some versions and fathers. When it is considered that the word amen simply means so be it! we may at once perceive that it could not be added by our Lord. For our Lord could not pray that his own will might be done, or his own promise fulfilled. The word is, therefore, utterly impertinent as a part of the sacred text, and could neither have been added by our Lord, nor by the evangelist. The amens at the end of the sacred books have no other authority than what they derive from the transcribers of copies; and, at best, are only to be considered as the pious wish of the writer, or of the Church, that the promises contained in the sacred volume may be accomplished. Indeed, it seems often to have no other meaning than our finis at the end of our books.
In the MSS. and versions there are various subscriptions, or epigraphs, to this Gospel: the following are the principal:-" The Gospel according to Matthew-written by him in Jerusalem- in Palestine-in the east-in the Hebrew dialect-in Hebrew- eight years after the ascension of Christ-interpreted by John-by James the brother of the Lord." The subscription in some copies of the Arabic version is very full: "The end of the copy of the Gospel of Matthew the Apostle. He wrote it in the land of Palestine, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the Hebrew tongue, eight years after the bodily ascension of Jesus the Messiah into heaven, in the first year of the reign of Claudius Caesar, king of Rome." These are sufficient to show how little credit should be attached to the subscriptions found at the end of the sacred books, either in the MSS., or in the versions.
1. IN concluding my notes on this evangelist, I cannot express myself better than in the words of the late Mr. Wakefield, to whom this commentary has been in many instances indebted. "I have now finished my observations on the Gospel of Matthew: a piece of history, it must be acknowledged, the most singular in its composition, the most wonderful in its contents, and the most important in its object, that was ever exhibited to the notice of mankind. For simplicity of narrative, and an artless relation of facts, without any applause or censure, or digressive remarks, on the part of the historian, upon the characters introduced in it; without any intermixture of his own opinion, upon any subject whatsoever; and for a multiplicity of internal marks of credibility, this Gospel certainly has no parallel among human productions." 2. One thing the pious and intelligent reader has, no doubt, already noticed: there is not one truth, or doctrine, in the whole oracles of God, which is not taught in this evangelist. The outlines of the whole spiritual system are here correctly laid down: even Paul himself has added nothing; he has amplified and illustrated the truths contained in this Gospel; but, even under the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost, neither he nor any other of the apostles have brought to light any one truth, the prototype of which has not been found in the words or acts of our blessed Lord, as related by Matthew, in the work which has already passed under review. The Gospel by St. Matthew is the grand text-book of Christianity; the other Gospels are collateral evidences of its truth, and the apostolic epistles are comments on the text. In the commencement of this work, I stated my wish, "to assist my fellow labourers in the vineyard to lead men to HIM who is the fountain of all excellence, goodness, truth, and happiness;-to magnify his LAW, and make it honourable;-to show the wonderful provision made in his GOSPEL for the recovery and salvation of a sinful world;-to prove that God's great design is to make his creatures HAPPY; and that such a salvation as it becomes God to give, and such as man needs to receive, is within the grasp of every human soul."--General Preface, before Genesis. And having thus far done what I could, in reference to these great and important purposes, here I register my thanks to the ever-blessed God, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit, that he has permitted me to cast my mite into this sacred treasury, to add my feeble testimony to his Eternal Truth; and has spared me, in the midst of many infirmities and oppressive labours, to see the conclusion of this Gospel, a consummation which I had long devoutly wished, but which I had scarcely hoped ever to see realized.
May the Divine Author of this sacred book give the reader a heart-felt experience of all the truths it contains; make and keep him wise unto salvation; build him up in this most holy faith; and give him an inheritance among the blessed, through Christ Jesus, the Friend of mankind, and the saviour of sinners, who is the object and end of this glorious system of truth! And to Him, with the Father and Eternal Spirit, be glory and dominion, thanksgiving and obedience, for ever and ever, Amen and amen!