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Ver. 1. After these things , etc.] After the calling and mission of the twelve apostles, and giving them their powers, commissions, and instructions, with other things that followed thereon; ( Luke 9:1) the Lord appointed other seventy also ; not that he had appointed before seventy, and now made an appointment of seventy more; but as the Syriac version renders it, “Jesus separated out of his disciples, seventy others” that is, besides the twelve, whom he chose and called out, from among the multitude of the disciples, and ordained them apostles, he selected and ordained seventy others, in allusion to the seventy elders of Israel, ( Numbers 11:16,24,25). The Vulgate Latin and Persic versions read, “seventy two”, and so does Epiphanius f334 . The Jewish sanhedrim is sometimes said to consist of seventy one f335 , and sometimes of seventy two f336 ; though commonly said to be of the round number seventy, as these disciples might be. The above mentioned ancient writer gives the names of some of them, as the seven deacons; Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas; together with Matthias, Mark, Luke, Justus, Barnabas, Apelies, Rufus, and Niger. The names of all these disciples, according to ancient traditions, though not to be depended on, are given in an alphabetical order, with the places where they afterwards presided as bishops, or pastors, by a late learned writer f337 , and are as follow, viz. Agabus, the prophet; Amphias, of Odyssus, sometimes called Amphiatus; Ananias, who baptized Paul, bishop of Damascus; Andronicus, of Pannonia, or Spain; Apelies, of Smyrna, or, according to others, of Heraclea; Apollo, of Caesarea; Aristarchus, of Apamea; Aristobulus, of Britain; Artemas, of Lustra; Asyncritus, of Hyrcania; Barnabas, of Milgin; Barnabas, of Heraclea; Caesar, of Dyrrachium; Caius, of Ephesus; Carpus, of Berytus, in Thracia; Cephas, bishop of Konia; Clemens, of Sardinia; Cleophas, of Jerusalem; Crescens, of Chalcedon, in Galatia; Demas, a priest of idols; Epaenetus, of Carthage; Epaphroditus, of Andriace; Erastus, of Paneas, or, according to others, of the Philippians; Evodus, of Antioch; Hermas, of Philippi, or Philippolls; Hermes, of Dalmatia; Hermogenus and Phygellus, who followed Simon Magus; Hermogenus, bishop of the Megarenes; Herodion, of Tarsus; James, the brother of our Lord, of Jerusalem; Jason, of Tarsus; Jesus Justus, bishop of Eleutheropolis: Linus, of Rome; Luke, the evangelist: Lucius, of Laodicea, in Syria; Mark, who is also John, of Biblopohs, or Byblus; Mark the evangelist, bishop of Alexandna; Mark, the sister's son of Barnabas, bishop of Apolloma; Matthias, added to the apostles; Narcissus, of Athens; Nicanor, he died when Stephen suffered martyrdom; Nicolaus, of Samaria; Olympius, a martyr at Rome; Onesiphorus, bishop of Corone; Parmenas, of the Soli, Patrobulus, the same with Patrobas, in ( Romans 16:14) of Puteoli, or as others, of Naples; Philemon, of Gaza; Philemon (in the Acts he is called Philip), by whom the eunuch of the queen of Ethiopia was baptized, of Trallium, of Asia; Philologus, of Sinope; Phlegon, bishop of Marathon; Phygellus, of Ephesus; Prochorus, of Nicomedia, in Bithynia; Pudens; Quartus, of Berytus; Rhodion, a martyr at Rome; Rufus, of Thebes; Silas, of Corinth; Sylvanus, of Thessalonica; Sosipater, of Iconium; Sosthenes, of Colophon; Stachys, of Byzantium; Stephen, the first martyr; Tertius, of Iconium; Thaddaeus, who carried the epistle of Jesus to Edessa, to Abgarus; Timon, of Bostra, of the Arabians; Trophimus, who suffered martyrdora with the Apostle Paul; Tychicus, bishop of Chalcedon, of Bithynia; Tychicus, of Colophon; Urbanus, of Macedonm; and, Zenas, of Diospolis. According both to this account, and Epiphanius, Luke was one of these seventy, and he is the only evangelist that makes mention of the appointment of them: and sent them two and two before his face : as he did the twelve before, to be his harbingers and forerunners: into every city and place, whither he himself would come : which he intended to visit: he sent them beforehand to acquaint the inhabitants of it; and prepare them by their ministry, for the reception of him; as John the Baptist, who was in a more eminent sense the harbinger and forerunner of Christ, went before him in his ministry, and prepared the way for him.
Ver. 2. Therefore said he unto them , etc.] That is, the “Lord Jesus”, as the Ethiopic version expresses it; he said to the seventy disciples, what he had before said to the twelve apostles in ( Matthew 9:37,38) where are the same words as here: the harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few, pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers into his harvest ; for though there was such a number of disciples called to the ministerial work, and sent out, there was still need of more; so great was the harvest of souls, or number of hearers, that the labourers were yet but few; and therefore the Lord of the harvest and whose all souls are, was to be prayed unto to send forth more laborious preachers; (See Gill on “ Matthew 9:37”). (See Gill on “ Matthew 9:38”).
Ver. 3. Go your ways , etc.] Into all the villages, towns, cities, and places, where he directed them to go, to make ready for him. Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves ; as harmless, innocent, profitable, and defenceless creatures, among spiteful, malicious, cunning, and cruel men; (See Gill on “ Matthew 10:16”).
Ver. 4. Carry neither purse , etc.] The Syriac version reads, “purses, “to put money, gold, silver, and brass in; and the prohibition regards the money in the purse chiefly: nor scrip ; the Syriac version here also reads in the plural number, “scrips”, to put victuals in, provisions or any sort for their journey, which they were not to carry with them, any more than money, to buy food with Nor shoes ; any more than those they had upon their feet; (See Gill on “ Matthew 10:9-10”) and salute no man by the way; that they might not be retarded, and hindered in their journey by tedious ceremonies, and long inquiries into the health of persons and friends, and the business they were going about, and places where; and by discourses and confabulations, drawn out to great length, as was often the case at meeting on the road: and, for the same reason, a like charge is given to Gehazi, ( 2 Kings 4:29), and which, as the Jewish commentators on the place observe f338 , was, that he might not multiply words with persons he met with, and might not be stopped by the way; and that his intention might be in his work, and his mind might not turn to any other thing, either by word or deed. So our Lord's intention, by this order was, not to teach them incivility, or to be morose and uncourteous; but that they might dispatch their business with the utmost expedition, and rather forego some common civilities and ceremonies, than to neglect, or, in the least, to hinder a work of so much importance they were sent about: and this was the more necessary, since, according to the Jewish maxim f339 , “prevent every man with a salutation;” they saluted all that they met, which took up time, and hindered business.
Some sorts of persons indeed were excused, as those who were mourners for the dead, and such as kept fasts for rain f341 : but such were not these disciples; they neither mourned, nor fasted, nor could they, so long as the bridegroom was with them.
Ver. 5. And into whatsoever house ye enter , etc.] When ye come into any city, town, or village, first say, peace be to this house : salute the inhabitants in the usual form, saying, peace be to you; wishing them all happiness and prosperity, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. This shows our Lord did not disapprove of civil salutations.
Ver. 6. And if the son of peace be there , etc.] If there be any elect person or persons in the house, whom God has chosen to partake of peace by the blood of Christ, and the benefits arising from it; and of a conscience peace in their souls, upon the best foundation; and of eternal peace in the world to come, though yet in a state of nature; and which may be known by this sign; your peace shall rest upon it : the salutation, or wish of peace, shall be well taken, and gratefully received; and upon this you will be kindly invited into the house, and used well by, those of the family; if not, it shall turn to you again : if there are no sons of peace, no elect persons there, your salutation, or wish of peace and prosperity to the family, will be despised and rejected, and will return to you without any good effect upon them.
Ver. 7. And in the same house remain , etc.] Where the sons of peace are, and the peace rests, and into which you are invited, and kindly received and used: eating and drinking such things as they give ; or rather, “such things as are with them”, as the Vulgate Latin renders it; or “of that which is theirs”, as the Syriac version; all one, and with as much freedom, as if they were your own; the reason follows, for the labourer is worthy of his hire ; what you eat and drink is your due; what you ought to have; your diet is a debt, and not a gratuity; (See Gill on “ Matthew 10:10”) go not from house to house ; as if fickle and inconstant, as if not satisfied with your lodging and entertainment, and as seeking out for other and better, or as if burdensome where they were; (See Gill on “ Matthew 10:11”). The Jews have a proverb, expressing the inconvenience and expensiveness, and the danger of moving from place to place: “he that goes, tybl tybm , “from house to house”, (loses his) shirt, (i.e. comes to distress and poverty,) from place to place (his) life f342 ;” or he is in great danger of losing his life.
Ver. 8. And into whatsoever city ye enter , etc.] Into whatsoever house in it ye go, and apply to for lodging and entertainment, and they receive you , readily and cheerfully, eat such things as are set before you ; though ever so mean, accept of them, and do not object to them on that account, lest it should be thought you serve your own bellies, and seek to gratify your appetites; nor, on the other hand, do not think anything too good for you, or that you are burdensome and chargeable, but eat as if it were your own; nor ask questions about the cleanness and uncleanness of it, or whether it has been tithed or not; but feed upon it without any scruple.
Ver. 9. And heal the sick that are therein , etc.] Of all their bodily diseases, which would not only show their power and warrant, theft mission and commission, but also their goodness and beneficence to men; and would be a sufficient return for what they ate and drank: and say unto them ; not only to the sick that are healed, and those in the house in which they were, but to all the inhabitants of the city; the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you : the Gospel dispensation, the kingdom of the Messiah, and even the Messiah himself, as might be concluded from the miracles they wrought; and thus by their ministry and works, were they to go before Christ, and prepare his way.
Ver. 10. But into whatsoever city ye enter , etc.] On the other hand Christ here directs how to behave towards other cities they should come to, and be rejected: and they receive you not ; refuse to admit them into their houses, or provide in any shape for them, nor hear their message: go your ways out into the streets of the same . The Ethiopic version reads, “cast the dust off your feet into the streets of it: and say”; aloud, in the most public manner, in the ears of all the people, as follows.
Ver. 11. Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us , etc.] The Syriac version adds, “to our feet”; and so in Beza's most ancient copy, and the Arabic and Persic versions read, “which cleaves to our feet”; which agrees with ( Matthew 10:14, Mark 6:11). we do wipe against you : for a testimony against them, that they had been with them, and were rejected by them; (See Gill on “ Matthew 10:14”) (See Gill on “ Mark 6:11”) notwithstanding be ye sure of this ; they might assure themselves of this, and which will be an aggravation of their guilt, and increase their punishment another day: that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you ; was at their very doors, since the ministers of it, of the Gospel dispensation, the harbingers of the Messiah, who were sent to publish his Gospel, to proclaim him as king, and de clare that his kingdom was at hand, had been with them, and they had despised them.
Ver. 12. But I say unto you , etc.] The same that he said to the twelve apostles, when he sent them out, ( Matthew 10:15), that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city . By “that day” is meant, the famous day to come, the last day; the day of judgment, as it is expressed in Matthew; and so the Ethiopic version reads here, “it shall be better in the day of judgment”. Sodom was a very wicked city, and was destroyed by fire from heaven for its iniquity, and its inhabitants suffer the vengeance of eternal fire: and there was also Gomorrha, a neighbouring city, guilty of the same crimes, and shared the same fate; and which is mentioned along with Sodom in Matthew; and is here read in the Persic version. And the sense of the whole is, that though the iniquities of Sodom and Gomorrha were very great, and their punishment very exemplary; yet, as there will be degrees of torment in hell, the case of such a city, which has been favoured with the Gospel, and has despised and rejected it, will be much worse than the case of those cities, which were devoured by fire from heaven; and than that of the inhabitants of them in the future judgment, and to all eternity; (See Gill on “ Matthew 10:15”).
Ver. 13. Woe unto thee Chorazin , etc.] (See Gill on “ Matthew 11:21”). Woe unto thee Bethsaida ; a city of Galilee, a fishing town, from whence it has its name, and was the native place of those two fishermen, Peter and Andrew: very likely Chorazin was near it, since they are here, and in Matthew, mentioned together; and woe is pronounced upon them both for their impenitence and unbelief, which were attended with aggravating circumstances: for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you ; meaning both the ministry of the word by Christ, which was with power and authority, and the miracles of Christ, which were the works of almighty power, and showed him to be the mighty God: these were not done in Tyre and Sidon, cities in Phoenicia; for though our Lord was on the borders of those places, yet not in them, they being Gentile cities, to which he was not sent, and in which he did not preach, nor do miracles; but he did both in Bethsaida and Chorazin, and they repented not of their sins; nor did they embrace his doctrine, though confirmed by miracles; whereas, in all likelihood, humanly speaking, had the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon had the like advantages, they had a great while ago repented : they would have repented immediately, it would have been soon visible in them, of which they would have given proof, by sitting in sackcloth and ashes ; which was an outward token of repentance, used by penitent sinners, as by the Ninevites, and others. The same things are said at another time, and on another occasion, as here; (See Gill on “ Matthew 11:21-24”) Ver. 14. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment , etc.] Or “in the day of judgment”, as read the Syriac, Persic, Ethiopic, and Gothic versions; and as it is in ( Matthew 11:22) than for you ; the inhabitants of Chorazin and Bethsaida, who will be more severely punished than these Gentile cities; for by how much greater were their light, privileges, and advantages against which they sinned, by so much will be their severer punishment.
Ver. 15. And thou Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven , etc.] Referring either to the situation of it, which was on a very high hill; or to its privileges, through the ministry and miracles of Christ; or the phrase may be expressive of the pride and loftiness of the inhabitants of it, who were elated with the mercies they enjoyed, it being a most delightful, pleasant, and comfortable place to live in, as its name signifies. It was a famous port, commodiously situated by the sea of Tiberias; and, as Josephus says, was in an excellent temperament of the air, and watered with a most choice fountain, called by the same name. Shalt be thrust down into hell ; meaning either the low condition to which it was to be, and has been reduced in a temporal sense, and continues in to this day; there being nothing of it now remaining, as travellers, who have been eyewitnesses of it, say f344 , but a few little houses and cottages; or else the sad and miserable condition of the inhabitants of it hereafter: and so it is, that such who have lived in great plenty and pleasure in this life, and have thought themselves to be the favourites of heaven, and that they should enter there, shall be thrust down to hell by the arm of vengeance, with the utmost indignation in God, and shame to themselves: it follows in Matthew, “for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day; but I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for thee”.
Ver. 16. He that heareth you, heareth me , etc.] This is said for the encouragement of the seventy disciples, that though they would be rejected by some, they would be received by others, who would hear them, and embrace their doctrine, as if the Messiah himself had been among them; they looking upon them as representing him: and so Christ himself considers them as ambassadors in his name, and as representing his person, taking what is done to them, as done to himself; (See Gill on “ Matthew 10:40”) and he that despiseth you, despiseth me : every degree of contempt cast upon them by words or actions, Christ looked upon as cast on himself, and will resent it another day, and punish for it. The despising of wise men, or doctors, and their disciples or scholars, was accounted with the Jews a very heinous crime, and was severely punished both by excommunication and fines: for thus it is said f345 , “a great iniquity it is to despise the wise men, or to hate them.
Jerusalem was not destroyed until the disciples of the wise men were despised in it, as it is said, ( 2 Chronicles 36:16) “but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets”: as if he should say, they despised those that taught his words: and thus saith the law, “if ye despise my statutes”; they that teach my statutes ye will despise; and every one that despiseth the wise men, hath no part in the world to come; and lo! this is included in that general rule, “for he hath despised the word of the Lord”. Although he that despiseth the wise men hath no part in the world to come, if witnesses come (and depose) that he hath despised them even in words, he is guilty of excommunication: and the sanhedrim excommunicate him publicly, and fine him a pound of gold in every place, and give it to the wise men: and he that despiseth a wise man by words, even after his (the wise man's) death, the sanhedrim excommunicate him; and they free him when he returns by repentance: but if the wise man is alive, they do not free him till he pleases.” And he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me : this is said to aggravate the sin of the despisers of Christ's ministers, and to deter from it; since the contempt does not terminate in them, nor even in Christ, but reaches his Father also. The Ethiopic version adds, “and he that heareth me, heareth him that sent me”: but is not supported by any copy, or any other version.
Ver. 17. And the seventy returned again , etc.] The Syriac version adds, “whom he had sent”: these disciples having received orders and instructions from Christ, went as he directed them; and when they had finished their embassy, they returned again to him, and gave him an account of their journey and success. The Vulgate Latin and Persic versions read here, “the seventy two”, as they do in ( Luke 10:1) with joy ; with great joy, as read the Syriac and Persic versions; notwithstanding the difficulties that had attended them, reproaches cast upon them, the ill treatment they might have met with in some places, and the labours and fatigues of their journey, and the dangers they had been exposed to: saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name : they found the miraculous power conferred on them was greater than they at first imagined, or could collect from what Christ said to them, who only bid them heal the sick, ( Luke 10:9), but when they came to make use of it they found they had a power of casting out devils; not in their own name and strength, but in the name, and through the power, and by the authority of Christ; and this had thrown them into an ecstasy of joy, and in a sort of a rapture: they express themselves as men astonished at the powers bestowed on them.
Ver. 18. And he said unto them , etc.] In order to abate their surprise, and reduce their transport of mind: I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven ; meaning, that this was no news to him, nor any surprising event, that devils should be cast out of men, and be in a state of subjection; for as he existed as the eternal Son of God before his incarnation, he was present, and saw him and his angels fall from heaven, from their first estate, their habitation of bliss and glory, down to hell, upon their sin and rebellion, as violently, swiftly, and suddenly, as the lightning falls from heaven to earth; and when he sent out these his disciples, as soon as they began their work, and all along in it, he, by his divine omniscience, saw the powers of darkness falling before their ministry and miracles; and he also foresaw how Satan hereafter, in a more conspicuous manner, would fall before the preaching of his Gospel by his apostles, not only in Judea, but especially among the Gentiles, where he, the prince of this world, would be cast down from his throne, and out of his kingdom; so that what they related, as it was what he knew before, it was but little in comparison of what he himself had seen long ago, and of what he foresaw would be; and even he would give them power to do other miraculous works besides these.
Ver. 19. Behold, I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions , etc.] Which may be literally understood, as in ( Mark 16:18, Acts 28:3), or figuratively of the devil, and his principalities and powers, and all his emissaries, who, for their craft and cunning, and for their poisonous and hurtful nature and influence, may be compared to serpents and scorpions: and over all the power of the enemy ; of mankind in general, and of the seed of the woman, Christ and his people in particular, Christ has a power over all his power, his whole posse of devils, even the power of the air, of which he is prince; and he communicated this power to his disciples, even to the seventy: adding, and nothing shall by any means, hurt you ; not the most hurtful and poisonous animals, nor the most malicious persecutors on earth, nor all the devils in hell: as the former venomous creatures, when took up in their hands, should not hurt, their bodies; so the other, whatever they might be permitted to do with respect to their lives, and outward estate, should never hurt their souls, and the eternal welfare of them; nor even hinder the work of God prospering in their hands.
Ver. 20. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not , etc.] That their power was enlarged, or that they had, the same as before: that the spirits , evil spirits, devils, are subject unto you; and come out of men at your command; rejoice not so much in this, or chiefly and principally; not but that it was matter of joy both with respect to the gift bestowed upon them, and the benefits men received by it, and the glory that was brought to Christ through it; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven ; in the book of life, called the Lamb's book of life, written from the foundation of the world: in divine predestination to everlasting glory and happiness: which shows that God's election to eternal life is of particular persons, of persons by name; that it is sure, and certain, and immutable, being in opposition to what is written in earth, ( Jeremiah 17:13), that the knowledge of this may be attained to, through the grace of God, the revelation of Christ, and the witnessings of his Spirit; and that this is matter of the greatest job, since it is the foundation and security of all the blessings of grace and glory.
Ver. 21. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in Spirit , etc.] In his human soul: his heart was filled with joy, not so much at the success of the seventy disciples, and the subjection of the devils to them, as in the view he had of the spread of the Gospel, and of the revelation and application of the truths of it to multitudes of mean and despicable persons, while it was rejected by the wise and learned; and particularly at the sovereign and distinguishing grace of God towards the elect, whose names are written in heaven; upon the mention of which his soul was so affected, that he broke out in, an exulting strain, into thanksgivings to God, in the following manner, and said, I thank thee, O Father , etc.] In three ancient copies of Beza's, and in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions it is read, “in the Holy Spirit”; and the Persic version reads, “he spake, or confabulated with the Holy Spirit”: but the former reading and sense are best. (See Gill on “ Matthew 11:25-26”) Ver. 22. All things are delivered to me of my Father , etc.] In some ancient copies, and in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, before these words, are read, “and turning to his disciples he said, all things”, etc. and no man knoweth who the Son is ; what is his name, his nature, his perfections and glory; and how he is the Son of God, his only begotten Son: but the Father ; who begat him, and whose own, and proper Son he is: and who the Father is ; what are his perfections, purposes, grace, greatness, mind, and will: but the Son ; who is of him, and lay in his bosom: and he to whom the Son will reveal him : in himself, by his Spirit; (See Gill on “ Matthew 11:27”).
Ver. 23. And he turned him unto his disciples , etc.] Both to the twelve apostles, and seventy disciples; and said privately ; or to them apart: the phrase “privately” is wanting in the Vulgate Latin version: blessed are the eyes that see the things that ye see ; the person of the Messiah, his kingdom setting up in the world, miracles wrought by him, and Satan falling before him; (See Gill on “ Matthew 13:16”).
Ver. 24. For I tell you that many prophets and kings , etc.] As Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, who were prophets, as well as patriarchs, and David, Solomon, and others: have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them , meaning himself, doctrines, and miracles; (See Gill on “ Matthew 13:17”).
Ver. 25. And behold a certain lawyer stood up , etc.] From his seat, having been hearing Christ preach, very likely, in some synagogue; when and where this was, is not certain. The Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions call this man a Scribe; and a lawyer and a Scribe were the same, as appears from ( Matthew 22:35) compared with ( Mark 12:28) and tempted him; or tried him whether he understood the law, or whether he would say any thing contrary to it, and see if he could gain any advantage against him, and expose him, and get credit and applause to himself: saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life ? the same question as was put by the young ruler in ( Mark 10:17) for they were both of the same complexion, and upon the same foundation, seeking eternal life by their own works: (See Gill on “ Matthew 19:16”) he said unto him ; that is, Jesus, as all the Oriental versions express it.
Ver. 26. What is written in the law? etc.] Christ, with great propriety, sends him to the law, to see and observe what was written there, what are the terms and conditions of life, as fixed there; partly, because this man, by his office and character, was an interpreter of the law; and partly, because his question was, what shall I do? how readest thou ? in the law, every day; referring to the “Keriat Shema”, the reading of the Shema, i.e. those words in ( Deuteronomy 6:4), etc., “Hear, O Israel, etc.” morning and evening as appears by his answer Ver. 27. And he answering said, thou shalt love the Lord thy God , etc.] This was part of their phylacteries, which they recited every day; (See Gill on “ Matthew 22:37-39”) (See Gill on “ Mark 12:28-29”) Ver. 28. And he said unto him, thou hast answered right , etc.] It is so written, and read; and this, as if he should say, is the sum and substance of the law, and what that requires men should do; wherefore, do this, and thou shalt live ; for the bare reading of it was not sufficient; though these men placed great confidence in reading this passage, or in reciting their phylacteries, of which this was a part, morning and night. Our Lord intimates by this, that, according to the tenor of the law, eternal life was not to be had without a complete and perfect performance of the duties of love to God, and to the neighbour, contained in these words; and this he suggests, in order to convict him of the impossibility of obtaining life by the works of the law, since such a performance cannot be made by man.
Ver. 29. But he willing to justify himself , etc.] Upon the foot of his own righteousness, and to make himself appear to be righteous to others; for this the Jews thought themselves able to do, both to justify themselves before God by their own works, and make it out to men, that they were truly righteous persons; and it is a maxim with them, that “every one wmx[ ta qydxmh that justifies himself, below (on earth), they justify him above (or in heaven) f347 .”
No wonder then that this man was desirous of justifying himself; and in order to which he said, and who is my neighbour ? he takes no notice of God, and love to him, as coming into the account of his justification, only of his neighbour; thinking when this question was answered, he should be very able to make it out, that he was not wanting neither in doing justice between himself and his neighbour, nor in showing kindness and beneficence to him; for by his neighbour he meant only an Israelite; one of the same nation and religion with him. So the Jews commonly interpret the word neighbour, either of one that is related to them in nature, wbwrq , that is, near akin to them in blood f348 ; or that professes the same religion as they do, and whom they call a neighbour in the law; and so they explain the passage now cited, “and thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself”, hrwtb Æ[r awhç ; “that is, who is thy neighbour in the law” f349 : for they will not allow a Gentile, no, not even a proselyte of the gate to be a neighbour: for thus they say f350 , “an Israelite that slays a proselyte of the gate, or the stranger that dwells with him, is not slain for him by the sanhedrim; for it is said, ( Exodus 21:14) but if a man comes presumptuously upon his neighbour to slay him, etc. and there is no need to say he is not slain for a Gentile.”
And again f351 , “when a man sees one of them (the Gentiles) fall into the sea, he need not take him up; as it is said, ( Leviticus 19:16) “neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour”, Æ[r hz ˆyaw “but this is not thy neighbour.”” This notion Christ opposes and disproves in the following parable, which is an answer to the lawyer's question.
Ver. 30. And Jesus answering, said , etc.] The following things; which may either be considered as a narrative of matter of fact, or as a supposed case, and delivered by way of parable; and in either way, though the general design of it is in answer to the lawyer's question, to show who may be called a neighbour; and that a man who is a stranger, and accounted an enemy, yet doing acts of mercy, kindness, and beneficence, to one in distress, ought to be accounted a neighbour: and has a much better title to such a character, than one of the same nation and religion, who takes no notice of a distressed object; yet it may be considered, as representing the sad estate and condition of mankind by the fall, and their recovery by Christ; whereby he shows himself to be their best neighbour, and truest friend: a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho . The distance between these two places, the Jews say f352 , was ten “parsas”, that is, forty miles; for every “parsa” was four miles, and ten “parsas” are expressly said to be forty miles; which must be understood of the lesser miles, otherwise a parsa itself was but a mile: the Jews had two sorts of miles, the greater was 2000 cubits, the lesser 1000 cubits: the man is said to go down from the one to the other, because Jerusalem stood on high ground, and Jericho in a valley. This “certain man”, may represent mankind failing in Adam, from a state of happiness, into misery: human nature was originally in one man, but one man was created at first, and he had all human nature in him, and was the representative of mankind; he was made upright, but sinned, and fell from his uprightness, and all mankind in him: he may be said to go down, from Jerusalem, which signifies peace, and the vision of it; and was a city compact together, beautiful and well situated; where were the worship of God, and his Shekinah, or divine presence; to Jericho, a city accursed by Joshua, and a very wicked place in the days of Christ: since man by sinning against God, departed from his happy and peaceful state, from a state of peace and tranquillity with God, with the holy angels, and even with the beasts of the field; and also from peace and serenity in his own conscience, as well as from communion with God; and from his pure worship and service, to a sensual, earthly, worldly, wicked, and accursed state: and fell among thieves : in the way to Jericho, was a place called Adomim, which signifies “bloods”, because much blood was shed there, by the frequent incursions of thieves and robbers, as Jerom observes f354 ; and was about four hours journey from Jericho f355 : and by the man's falling among thieves, may be expressed mankind coming into the hands of sin and Satan, which are as robbers, that steal, kill, and destroy; since these have robbed man of his honour, defaced the image of God in him, and deprived him of the glory of God, and were murderers of him from the beginning: which stripped him of his raiment ; as thieves and robbers are used to do; signifying the loss of original righteousness, by sin, which was a covering to man, in which he could appear before God; and was very ornamental to him, being pure and perfect in its kind, though only a creature's righteousness, and a created one; and which was natural and loseable, as the event has shown: hence man is become a naked creature, has nothing to cover himself with, but stands exposed to the law, justice, and wrath of God; is destitute of a righteousness, nor can he work out one that will stand him in any stead, or justify him before God: and wounded him : which is the common usage of such men; and may set forth the morbid and diseased condition that sin has brought man into; being from the crown of the head, to the sole of the foot, full of wounds, bruises, and putrefying sores; and such as are in themselves mortal, and incurable by any, but the great physician of souls, the Lord Jesus Christ; and yet men are naturally insensible of them, and unconcerned about there: and departed, leaving him half dead ; or “near death”, as the Arabic version renders it; which may be applied to death natural, spiritual, and eternal: to death natural, which comes by sin, seeing it is but one part, or half of the man that dies this death, namely, his body; and to a spiritual death, or the death of the soul, which is dead in trespasses and sins, whilst the body is alive; and to eternal death, to which men are exposed for sin, and are under the sentence of it, though not executed; and in each of these senses may be said to be “half dead”: and which is no ways to the advantage of the doctrine of man's freewill, and the powers and abilities of; as if man was not in a spiritual sense so dead, that he can do nothing in a spiritual manner; but the phrase is used, to show the power of sin, and the malice of Satan, and yet that man is still recoverable by the grace of God.
Ver. 31. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way , etc.] Who had been at Jerusalem, to take his turn in the courses, and was now returning to Jericho, where the stationary men were, to which he belonged: for it is said f356 , that “the former prophets appointed twenty and four courses; and for every course there was a station at Jerusalem, of priests, and of Levites, and of Israelites; and when the time of the course came to go up, the priests and Levites went up to Jerusalem. The Rabbins teach, that there were twenty four courses in the land of Israel, and there were twelve at Jericho.”
And which is elsewhere related thus; “the former prophets appointed four and twenty courses, and for every course there was a station at Jerusalem, of priests, of Levites, and of Israelites; the tradition is, that four and twenty thousand were the station from Jerusalem, and half a station from Jericho; though Jericho was able to furnish out a perfect station itself; but for the sake of dividing the glory to Jerusalem, it produced but half a station.”
So that it is no wonder to hear of priests and Levites passing to and fro in this road. Nor was this a chance matter with respect to God, by whose providence all things are ordered, directed, and governed; nor any wonderful thing with respect to men, which fell out in an uncommon way, beyond expectation; the phrase only signifies, that so it came to pass: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side : when he saw him naked, and in such a bloody condition, he might take him for one really dead, and therefore crossed the way on purpose, lest he should any ways touch him, and be defiled by him, and so break the law, and incur the penalty of it, mentioned in ( Numbers 19:16) or to shun so horrible a sight; or rather, through hardness of heart, and want of compassion.
Ver. 32. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place , etc.] Where the poor man lay in this deplorable condition: came and looked on him ; and that was all; but neither spoke a comfortable word, nor administered any relief to him, or in the least assisted him: and passed by on the other side ; as the priest had done before him: by the “priest” may be meant, the moral law, and by the Levite the ceremonial law; and so by both, the whole law of Moses; and intimates, that no mercy is to be expected from thence: the law makes no abatement in its demands, nor any allowance for the fall and weakness of man: nor is it become milder under the Gospel dispensation; nor will it accept of an imperfect, though sincere obedience, in the room of a perfect one; and is deaf to all repentings, cries, and tears: no relief is to be had from thence, for a naked, wounded, and dead man; no robe of righteousness to cover a naked soul; for by the law is the knowledge of sin, but not a justifying righteousness by the deeds of it: for the deeds of the law, performed by sinful men, are impure and imperfect; and were they pure and perfect, they would be unprofitable, and could not justify in the sight of God from former sins; for could they, they would establish boasting, and disannul the death of Christ, and frustrate the grace of God; and therefore righteousness cannot be by the law, that leaves a man as naked as it finds him: nor is there any healing by it to a wounded conscience; there is no pity from it, no justification by it, no pardon through it, no expiation or atonement of sin, by obedience to it; no word of comfort is spoken by it; so far from it, that when it comes with power, it opens the wounds of sin, fills the conscience with wrath and terror, destroys all the man's former hopes of happiness, and leaves him where it found him; without healing him itself, or pointing out a physician to him: much less can it give life to a dead sinner: spiritual life is not communicated by it, nor can eternal life, or any true hope of it, be attained through it; it is so far from it, that it is the killing letter, and the ministration of condemnation and death.
Ver. 33. But a certain Samaritan , etc.] By whom Christ may be meant; not that he was really so, for he was a Jew, a son of Abraham, and of David, according to the flesh, but he was so called by the Jews, ( John 8:48) and was treated as such by them: and since it is the design of the parable in general to show, that he that does acts of kindness and mercy to persons in distress, is a neighbour in the truest sense, though he is not an Israelite, but even a Samaritan, who was, above all men, hated by the Jews; why may it not be thought to be the view of Christ in particular, to prove himself the best neighbour and friend of men, though he was traduced by the Jews as a Samaritan? as he journeyed ; which may design the assumption of human nature, which is sometimes expressed, by his coming from his Father, by his descending from heaven, and coming into this world; which phrases intend his incarnation, and carry in them the idea of journeying: for as his ascent to heaven is expressed by taking a journey, ( Matthew 25:15) so may his descent from heaven; and while he was here on earth, he was as a stranger and pilgrim, as a sojourner and traveller: came where he was ; put himself in the legal place, and stead of his people, who fell with the rest of mankind in Adam; he became their surety from eternity, and clothed himself with their nature in time; he took upon him their sins, as their representative, and fulfilled the righteousness of the law on their account, and bore the penalty of it in their room: and when he saw him ; Christ saw the elect before the fall, as they were chosen in him, and given unto him, in all the glory they were to be brought into; when he loved them, and his delight was with them: and when he came to redeem them, he saw them as follows; as lost, as weak and strengthless, as wicked, and as the worst of sinners, as ungodly, and enemies, as children of wrath by nature, as others; and he shed his blood for them, and washed them from their sins, that he might present them to himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; just such an one he had seen them to be, in the glass of his Father's purposes, in his council and covenant; and he sees them in their blood, and in the impurity of their nature, when he comes to call them by his grace: and he had compassion on him . The compassion of Christ on his elect, is to be seen in his eternal covenant engagements; for his tender mercies have been ever of old; and in his assumption of their nature, which was through his own, as well as the tender mercy of his Father; and in the redemption of them, which was in love and pity; and also in their regeneration and conversion, for the great things there, and then done for them by him, are owing to his compassion.
Ver. 34. And went to him, and bound up his wounds , etc.] Which sin had made; it being part of the work of Christ, to bind up the broken-hearted, to heal wounded sinners, and restore comforts to mourners; and which he does, by pouring in oil and wine : by which, in general, may be designed, the blood of Christ, applied to the conscience of a wounded sinner; which cleanses from all sin, heals all the wounds and diseases of sin, cheers and revives fainting spirits, gives ease, peace, and pleasure, and is therefore exceeding valuable and precious: and in particular by “oil” may be meant, the grace of the Spirit of God; compared unto it, for its sweet smell, its cheering and refreshing virtue and efficacy, and its cooling, softening, supplying, and healing nature: and by “wine”, the doctrines of the Gospel; such as free justification by Christ's righteousness, and pardon through his blood; which when applied to distressed minds, cause joy and gladness, and them to forget their sorrow, and remember their misery no more: and the pouring in of these, may denote the plentiful effusion of Christ's blood, and the riches of his grace in the application of it; and the freeness and generousness of this action, which is his own: for man cannot do it. It was usual with the Jews, to mix oil and wine together, for the healing of wounds: hence those rules and traditions f358 ; “they anoint a linen cloth for a sick man on the sabbath; when? when they mingle the oil and the wine on the sabbath eve, but if they do not mingle it on the sabbath eve, it is forbidden; it is a tradition, says R. Simeon ben Eleazer, R. Meir pronounced it lawful, ˆmçw ˆyy Pwrjl to mingle wine and oil, and to anoint the sick on the sabbath.”
So oil and wine were mingled together, and used to heal the sore occasioned by circumcision f359 and set him on his own beast ; by which may be meant, either the red horse of Christ's humanity, ( Zechariah 1:8) to which he has united all his people; and in which he has bore their persons, and has represented them, and still bears them on his heart: or the white horse of the Gospel, ( Revelation 6:2) compared to a horse for its strength, swiftness, and usefulness in battle; and to a “white” one, for the purity of its doctrines, the joy and peace it brings, and the victory it obtains: and this is Christ's own, and on which he himself rides, and shows his glory, and goes forth conquering and to conquer: and on which he sets his people, and they are carried out of the reach of men and devils to destroy them, and are caused to ride on the high places of the earth: and brought him to an inn ; a church of Christ, where the Gospel guides, directs, and carries souls: saints are not at home in their proper city and country, they are travellers here, and need refreshment by the way; and a church of Christ is as an inn, for the entertainment of such: it is large, and has room enough for as many as come to it; and is well stored with provisions of all sorts, signified by bread, and milk, and wine, a feast of fat things, a furnished table, Zion's provisions, the goodness and fatness of God's house; and has rivers of pleasure, and very good lodgings, sure dwellings, and quiet habitations; all which is agreeable to weary travellers: and hither Christ brings his people, whom he saves and calls; it is his will that they should be in a church state, and it is his own act to bring them there, and it is their great privilege to be thither brought: and took care of him ; clothed him with his righteousness, fed him with the choicest of provisions, gave him reviving cordials of love, refreshing promises, exceeding great and precious ones; and larger supplies of grace, with protection and preservation from all evils.
Ver. 35. And on the morrow when he departed , etc.] Having taken care of him all night, and put him into a comfortable way, leaves him, though in good hands; as Christ does his people, to learn to live by faith upon him: and he took out two peace ; two Roman denarii, or pence; which amount to about fifteen pence of our money, and were equal to the half shekel, paid for the redemption of an Israelite: by which may be meant, not the law and Gospel; for though these both bear the image and superscription of God, and are his current coin, and are both delivered by Christ, and to be regarded and dispensed by the ministers of the word; yet they are not of equal value and use, as these two pence seem to be: wherefore, rather the two Testaments, Old ann New, may be designed, since they are both inspired by God, and dictated by the same Spirit, and bear the same impress; and are alike, and exactly agree, as two pence do; and are given to the ministers of the Gospel to handle, and make use of for the good of souls: unless the two ordinances of baptism, and the Lord's supper, should rather be thought to be intended: these bear the same stamp and authority, and are both jointly necessary to communion, and church order; and are given by Christ to his ministers, to be administered by them, for the good of his church; and are similar, as two breasts are, they being both breasts of consolation, and agree in setting forth the sufferings and death of Christ: or rather, the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, to qualify men for the work of the ministry; which both come from the selfsame Spirit of God, and are jointly necessary to fit a man for such service; and are given for the benefit and advantage of the Lord's people, and in an eminent manner by Christ, on his departure from hence, when he ascended on high, and received gifts for men, and gave them to them: and gave them to the host ; or the keeper and master of the inn; by whom are meant, the ministers of the Gospel; who are governors, in the church, the masters of that spiritual inn; who have the provisions of God's house under their care, and whose business it is to invite travellers in, and to dress their food for them, and set it before them, and bid them welcome: and said unto him, take care of him : which is the work of Christ's ministers to do, by feeding souls with the words of faith and sound doctrine; by ministering the Gospel to them in a faithful manner; and by a constant administration of the ordinances of it; and by keeping a diligent watch over them, both with respect to principles and practice; and by speaking a word in season to them: and whatsoever thou spendest more : faithful ministers spend much, and are at great expense in taking care of the souls of men; in fervent and frequent prayer to God; in diligent searching the Scriptures; in the laborious ministry of the word and ordinances; and in the constant exercise and improvement of their spiritual gifts; and in the loss of reputation and credit, and of health, and sometimes of life itself: when I come again, I will repay thee : Christ will certainly come again a second time, to judge both quick and dead; and then he will recompense his ministers, for all their toil and labour, care and expense; he will then bid them, as good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of their Lord; and when they shall every one receive the reward of his own work, in a way of grace, and shall shine as the stars in the firmament, for ever and ever.
Ver. 36. Which now of these three , etc.] The priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan, thinkest thou, was neighbour to him that fell among the thieves ? the priest and Levite that passed by, and took no notice of him, and gave him no relief, neither by words nor actions; or the Samaritan, that did all the above kind and generous things to him?
Ver. 37. And he said, he that showed mercy to him , etc.] Meaning the Samaritan; which he was obliged to declare, though of another country and religion, and accounted as an enemy; yet the case was so plain, as put by Christ, that he could not with any honour or conscience, say otherwise: then said Jesus unto him, go and do thou likewise ; such like acts of beneficence and kindness, though to a person of a different nation and religion, and though even an enemy; and by so doing, thou wilt not only appear to be a good neighbour thyself, but to love thy neighbour as thyself.
Ver. 38. Now it came to pass as they went , etc.] As Christ and his disciples went from Jerusalem, having been at the feast of tabernacles, ( John 7:2,10) or at the feast of dedication, ( John 10:22) to some other parts of Judea: that he entered into a certain village ; called Bethany, which was about fifteen furlongs, or two miles from Jerusalem, ( John 11:1,18) and a certain woman named Martha . This is a common name with the Jews; hence we read of Samuel bar Martha f360 , and of Abba bar Martha f361 , and of Isaac bar Martha f362 ; and of Martha, the daughter of Baithus f363 , who is said to be a rich widow; and this Martha here, is thought by Grotins to be a widow also, with whom her brother Lazarus, and sister Mary lived: though sometimes, this name was given to men; so we read of Martha, the uncle of Rab, who had five brethren; and the same writer observes f365 , that it is not known whether Martha is, a man or a woman, but this is determined here: received him into her house ; in a very kind and courteous manner, she being mistress of it; and having known Christ before, or at least had heard much of him, and believed in him, as the true Messiah.
Ver. 39. And she had a sister called Mary , etc.] Which also was a common name with the Jews, and is the same with Miriam; so we read of Mary, the daughter of Nicodemon, the same perhaps with Nicodemus; and the same person that is before called Martha, the daughter of Baithus, is sometimes called Mary, the daughter of Baithus f366 , though these two names are certainly distinct: which also sat at Jesus' feet ; was a disciple of his, as well as Martha; for it was usual for disciples, or the scholars of the wise men, to sit at the feet of their masters, to which the allusion is in ( Deuteronomy 33:3), (See Gill on “ Acts 22:3”) The Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Coptic versions, read “at the Lord's feet”: so Beza's ancient copy, and one of Stephens's; and the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions read, “at our Lord's feet”. The phrase is expressive of her great affection for Christ, her humble deportment, and close attention: and heard his word ; or discourse; for as soon as he entered into the house, he began to preach to those that were in it, and that came along with him, improving every opportunity for the good of souls; and Mary heard him with great eagerness and diligence, affection, pleasure, and profit.
Ver. 40. But Martha was cumbered about much serving , etc.] “Or was drawn off”, from hearing the word, from attending on Christ; being taken up in providing for him, and those that came with him; in dressing food, or in ordering her servants, how she would have every thing done, and in overlooking them, that every thing was done in proper order; so that she had a great deal of business upon her head and hands, which distracted her thoughts, or took them off of divine things, and put her in great hurry and concern. The Ethiopic version renders it, “Martha laboured in preparing many things for him”; making a large and sumptuous entertainment: and the Persic version, which is rather a comment than a translation, renders it, “Martha was busied in preparing food, and making a feast”: sparing no cost nor pains, thinking nothing too good, nor too grand, for such a guest she had in her house: and she came to him and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone ? she came to him; that is, to Jesus, as the Persic version expresses it: she came out of the room where she was getting ready the entertainment, into the room where Christ was preaching; and, as the Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, “she stood and said”: she did not sit down at his feet, as Mary did, to hear his word, but stood as about to go away again, after she had said what she came about: she did not think fit to speak to Mary herself, though perhaps she might do that first; who, showing an unwillingness to go with her, she therefore applies to Christ, as believing that he would, with her, look upon it as a very reasonable thing that she should take her part with her; and that a word from him would go a great way with her sister. And she seems to speak, not only by way of complaint of Mary, who had left her to prepare and serve up this entertainment alone; but even of Christ himself, in some sort, as if he had not showed that care and concern in this matter, which she thought was necessary. However, she was willing to have his sense of her sister's conduct, and hoped, and even doubted not, but that he would be of the same mind with herself: bid her therefore that she help me ; that she join, assist, and put an helping hand in this service; speak but a word to her, give her orders, and she will observe and obey.
Ver. 41. And Jesus answered and said unto her , etc.] Calling her by her name, and repeating it, Martha, Martha, which expresses great intimacy and friendship, and much earnestness, and, as it were, pitying her present situation and circumstances: thou art careful and troubled about many things ; intimating, that she was over anxious, and too solicitous, and more thoughtful and careful than she need be: he did not require such preparations for him, and so much attendance; she gave herself an unnecessary trouble in providing so many things for his entertainment, when less would have sufficed; so that instead of joining with her in her request, he reproves her for her over anxious care and solicitude, to have a nice and plentiful feast. The Persic version gives a sense quite contrary to the design of the text, rendering the words thus, “thou art adorned in all things, and hast the preference above many women”.
Ver. 42. But one thing is needful , etc.] Meaning not that one dish of meat was sufficient, and there was no need of any more, in opposition to Martha's carefulness in preparing many; for this is too low a sense of the words; which yet some ancient writers have given into: but rather the hearing of the word, the Gospel of Christ, which Mary was engaged in; and which, ordinarily speaking, is necessary to the knowledge of Christ, and salvation by him, and to faith in him, ( Romans 10:14,17) not that this is the only needful thing; nor does Christ say there is but one thing needful, but that there is one thing needful; for there are other things that are also needful, and useful, as meditation and prayer, and attendance on, and submission to the ordinances of baptism, and the Lord's supper, and all the duties of religion: but Christ's meaning seems plainly to be, that Mary hearing the word from his mouth, and at his feet, was one necessary thing, in opposition to Martha's many unnecessary ones, about which she was cumbered: and Mary hath chosen that good part ; or “the good part”, or “portion”; Christ, the sum and substance of the word she heard, and eternal life and salvation by him. God himself is said to be the portion of his people, and a good one he is, and a portion that lasts for ever; and so is Christ; (see Psalm 73:26 Lamentations 3:24) where the Septuagint use the same word as here. The heavenly inheritance also, eternal glory and happiness, is the saints' portion; it is called in ( Colossians 1:12) the part, or portion of the inheritance with the saints in light. The word answers to the Hebrew word, qlj ; as in that saying of the Misnic doctors f367 , ``all Israel have, qlj , “a part”, or “portion” in the world to come.”
All the Oriental versions add, “for herself”, and this choice she made, not from the natural power of her own freewill, but as directed, influenced, and assisted by the Spirit and grace of God, and in consequence of God's eternal choice of her unto salvation by Jesus Christ: and the part she chose is, that which shall not be taken away from her ; by men or devils: faith which comes by hearing of the word, and so every other grace of the Spirit is what can never be lost; nor an interest in God, as a covenant God, or in Christ as a Saviour, nor a right and title to, nor meetness for eternal life, nor that itself, can be taken away, or the believer ever be deprived thereof.