PARABLE OF THE
"night and day."
faint--lose heart, or slacken.
2. feared not . . . neither regarded--defying the
vengeance of God and despising the opinion of men.
widow--weak, desolate, defenseless
which is taken from this).
3. came--kept coming. See
"her continual coming."
Avenge me--that is, rid me of the oppression of.
5. continual coming--coming for ever.
6-8. the Lord--a name expressive of the authoritative style in
which He interprets His own parable.
7. shall not God--not unjust, but the infinitely righteous Judge.
avenge--redeem from oppression.
his own elect--not like this widow, the object of indifference and
contempt, but dear to Him as the apple of the eye
cry day and night--whose every cry enters into the ears of the Lord
and how much more their incessant and persevering cries!
bear long with them--rather, "in their case," or "on their account"
"for it"), [GROTIUS, DE
8. speedily--as if pained at the long delay, impatient for the
destined moment to interpose. (Compare
Nevertheless, &c.--that is, Yet ere the Son of man comes to redress
the wrongs of His Church, so low will the hope of relief sink, through
the length of the delay, that one will be fain to ask, Will He find any
faith of a coming avenger left on the earth? From this we learn: (1)
That the primary and historical reference of this parable is to
the Church in its widowed, desolate, oppressed, defenseless
condition during the present absence of her Lord in the heavens; (2)
That in these circumstances importunate, persevering prayer for
deliverance is the Church's fitting exercise; (3) That notwithstanding
every encouragement to this, so long will the answer be delayed, while
the need of relief continues the same, and all hope of deliverance will
have nearly died out, and "faith" of Christ's coming scarcely to be
found. But the application of the parable to prayer in general is so
obvious as to have nearly hidden its more direct reference, and so
precious that one cannot allow it to disappear in any public and
PARABLE OF THE
PHARISEE AND THE
11, 12. stood--as the Jews in prayer
God, &c.--To have been kept from gross iniquities was undoubtedly a
just cause of thankfulness to God; but instead of the devoutly humble,
admiring frame which this should inspire, the Pharisee arrogantly severs
himself from the rest of mankind, as quite above them, and, with a
contemptuous look at the poor publican, thanks God that he has not to
stand afar off like him, to hang down his head like a bulrush and beat
his breast like him. But these are only his moral excellencies. His
religious merits complete his grounds for congratulation. Not
confining himself to the one divinely prescribed annual fast
he was not behind the most rigid, who fasted on the second and fifth
days of every week [LIGHTFOOT], and gave the tenth
not only of what the law laid under tithing, but of "all his gains."
Thus, besides doing all his duty, he did works of
supererogation; while sins to confess and spiritual wants to be
supplied he seems to have felt none. What a picture of the Pharisaic
character and religion!
13. standing afar off--as unworthy to draw near; but that was the
way to get near
would not lift up--blushing and ashamed to do so
smote, &c.--kept smiting; for anguish
be merciful--"be propitiated," a very unusual word in such a sense,
only once else used in the New Testament, in the sense of "making
reconciliation" by sacrifice
There may therefore, be some allusion to this here, though not
a sinner--literally, "the sinner"; that is, "If ever there was
one, I am he."
14. rather than the other--The meaning is, "and not the other"; for
the Pharisee was not seeking justification, and felt no need of it. This
great law of the Kingdom of God is, in the teaching of Christ,
inscribed, as in letters of gold, over its entrance gate. And in how
many different forms is it repeated
(Ps 138:6; 147:6;
To be self-emptied, or, "poor in spirit," is the fundamental and
indispensable preparation for the reception of the "grace which
bringeth salvation": wherever this exists, the "mourning" for it which
precedes "comfort" and the earnest "hungerings and thirstings after
righteousness" which are rewarded by the "fulness" of it, will, as we
see here, be surely found. Such, therefore, and such only, are the
(Job 33:27, 28;
15. infants--showing that some, at least, of those called in Matthew
simply "little" or "young children," were literally "babes."
touch them--or, as more fully in Matthew
"put His hands on them and pray," or invoke a "blessing" on them
according to venerable custom
(Ge 48:14, 15).
rebuked them--Repeatedly the disciples thus interposed to save
annoyance and interruption to their Master; but, as the result showed,
always against the mind of Christ
Lu 18:39, 40).
Here, it is plain from our Lord's reply, that they thought the
intrusion a useless one, as infants were not capable of
receiving anything from Him. His ministrations were for grown
16. But Jesus--"much displeased," says Mark
and invaluable addition.
said--"SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN TO COME UNTO
ME"--"AND FORBID THEM NOT,"
is the important addition of Matthew
What words are these from the lips of Christ! The price of them is
above rubies. But the reason assigned, "FOR OF
SUCH IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD," or "of heaven," as in
completes the previous information here conveyed; especially as
interpreted by what immediately follows: "AND
HE TOOK THEM UP IN HIS ARMS,
PUT HIS HANDS UPON THEM, AND BLESSED THEM"
It is surely not to be conceived that all our Lord meant was to inform
us, that seeing grown people must become childlike in order to
be capable of the Kingdom of God, therefore they should not hinder
infants from coming to Him, and therefore He took up and blessed
the infants themselves. Was it not just the grave mistake of the
disciples that infants should not be brought to Christ, because only
grown people could profit by Him, which "much displeased" our Lord? And
though He took the irresistible opportunity of lowering their pride of
reason, by informing them that, in order to enter the Kingdom,
"instead of the children first becoming like them, they must
themselves become like the children" [RICHTER
in STIER], this was but by the way; and, returning
to the children themselves, He took them up in His gracious
arms, put His hands upon them and blessed them, for no conceivable
reason but to show that they were thereby made capable, AS INFANTS, of the Kingdom of God. And if so,
then "Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized
which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"
But such application of the baptismal water can have no warrant here,
save where the infants have been previously brought to Christ
Himself for His benediction, and only as the sign and seal
of that benediction.
This case presents some remarkable points. (1) The man was of
irreproachable moral character; and this amidst all the temptations of
youth, for he was a "young man"
and wealth, for "he was very rich"
(2) But restless notwithstanding, his heart craves eternal life. (3)
Unlike the "rulers," to whose class he belonged
he so far believed in Jesus as to be persuaded He could authoritatively
direct him on this vital point. (4) So earnest is he that he comes
"running" and even "kneeling before Him," and that when He was gone
forth into the war
--the high-road, by this time crowded with travellers to the passover;
undeterred by the virulent opposition of the class he belonged to as a
"ruler" and by the shame he might be expected to feel at broaching such
a question in the hearing of a crowd and on the open road.
19. Why, &c.--Did our Lord mean then to teach that God only ought
to be called "good?" Impossible, for that had been to contradict all
Scripture teaching, and His own, too
Unless therefore we are to ascribe captiousness to our Lord, He could
have had but one object--to raise the youth's ideas of Himself,
as not to be classed merely with other "good masters," and declining to
receive this title apart from the "One" who is essentially and
only "good." This indeed is but distantly hinted; but unless this is
seen in the background of our Lord's words, nothing worthy of
Him can be made out of them. (Hence, Socinianism, instead of
having any support here, is only baffled by it).
20. Thou knowest, &c.--Matthew
is more complete here: "but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the
commandments. He saith unto him, Which--as if he had said, Point me out
one of them which I have not kept?--"Jesus said, Thou shalt," &c.
(Mt 19:17, 18).
Our Lord purposely confines Himself to the second table, which
He would consider easy to keep, enumerating them all--for in Mark
"Defraud not" stands for the tenth (else the eighth is twice
repeated). In Matthew
the sum of this second table of the law is added, "Thou shalt
love thy neighbor as thyself," as if to see if he would venture to say
he had kept that.
21. All these, &c.--"what lack I yet?" adds Matthew
Ah! this gives us a glimpse of his heart. Doubtless he was perfectly
sincere; but something within whispered to him that his keeping of
the commandments was too easy a way of getting to heaven. He felt
something beyond this to be necessary; after keeping all the
commandments he was at a loss to know what that could be; and he came to
Jesus just upon that point. "Then," says Mark
"Jesus beholding him loved him," or "looked lovingly upon him." His
sincerity, frankness, and nearness to the kingdom of God, in themselves
most winning qualities, won our Lord's regard even though he turned his
back upon Him--a lesson to those who can see nothing lovable save in
22. lackest . . . one thing--Ah! but that a fundamental, fatal lack.
sell, &c.--As riches were his idol, our Lord, who knew if from the
first, lays His great authoritative grasp at once upon it, saying, "Now
give Me up that, and all is right." No general direction about the
disposal of riches, then, is here given, save that we are to sit loose
to them and lay them at the feet of Him who gave them. He who does this
with all he has, whether rich or poor, is a true heir of the kingdom of
23-25. was very sorrowful--Matthew
more fully, "went away sorrowful"; Mark still more, "was sad" or
"sullen" at that saying, and "went away grieved." Sorry he was, very
sorry, to part with Christ; but to part with his riches would have cost
him a pang more. When Riches or Heaven, on Christ's terms, were the
alternative, the result showed to which side the balance inclined. Thus
was he shown to lack the one all-comprehensive requirement of the
law--the absolute subjection of the heart to God, and this want
vitiated all his other obediences.
24. when Jesus saw--Mark says
He "looked round about"--as if first following the departing youth with
His eye--"and saith unto His disciples."
How hardly, &c.--with what difficulty. In Mark
an explanation is added, "How hard is it for them that trust in
riches," &c.--that is, with what difficulty is this idolatrous trust
conquered, without which they cannot enter; and this is introduced by
the word "children"--sweet diminutive of affection and pity
25. easier for a camel, &c.--a proverbial expression denoting
literally a thing impossible, but figuratively, very difficult.
26, 27. For, &c.--"At that rate none can be saved": "Well, it does
pass human power, but not divine."
28-30. Lo, &c.--in the simplicity of his heart (as is evident from
the reply), consc