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pertaining to washings and purifying, &c. • The law. The word ‘law' means, commonly, in the bible, as it does here, the law given by Moses.
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mark says, that he introduced this by referring to the doctrine of the unity of God—“ Hear, O Israel! the Lord thy God is one Lord”-taken from Deut. vi. 4. This was said, probably, because all true obedience depends on the correct knowledge of God. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,' &c. Thou shalt love him supreniely, more than all other beings and things, and with all the ardour possible. To love him with all the heart is to fix the affections supremely on him, more strongly than on anything else, and to be willing to give up all that we hold dear at his command. With aīl thy soul. Or, with all thy life. This means, to be willing to give up the life to him, and to devote it all to his service. With all thy mind.' To submit the intellect to his will. To love his law and gospel more than we do the decisions of our minds. With all thy strength.' (Mark.) With all the faculties of soul and body. To labour and toil for his glory, and to make that the great object of all our efforts.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
This commandment is found in Deut. vi. 5. It is the first and greatest of all; first, in importance; greatest in dignity, in excellence, in extent and duration. It is the fountain of all others. All beings are to be loved according to their excellence. As God is the most excellent and glorious of all beings, he is to be loved supremely.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
• The second is like unto it.' Lev. xix. 18. Resembles it in importance, dignity, purity, and usefulness. Por its meaning, see note, Matt. xix. 19. See also Rom. xiii. 9. Mark adds, there is no greater commandment than these. They are the fountain of all.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
That is, these comprehend the substance of what Moses in the law, and what the prophets have spoken. Love to God and man comprehends the whole of religion, and to produce this has been the design of Moses, the prophets, the Saviour, and the apostles.
Mark, xii. 32–31, adds that the scribe said, “Well Master, thou hast said the truth ;' and that he assented to what Jesus had said, and admitted that to love God and man in this manner
was more than all burnt-offerings and sacrifices; that is, was of more value or importance. Jesus, in reply, told him that he was
not far from the kingdom of heaven;' that is, by his reply he nad shown that he was almost disposed to receive the doctrines of the gospel.
41 | While the pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,
See Markxii.35–37. Lukexx.41–44. Jesus proceeds in his turn to propose to them a question for their solution. This was done, to show them how ignorant they were of their prophecies, to humble them in view of their ignorance, to bring to their attention he true doctrine respecting the Messiah.
42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is ne ? They say unto him, The son of David.
• What think ye of Christ ? What are your views respecting the Messiah, or the Christ, especially respecting his genealogy? He did not ask them their views respecting him in general, but only respecting his ancestry. The article should have been retained in the translation—the Christ, or the Messiah.
'Whose son is he?' Whose descendant. Note, Matt. i. 1. 'The son of David.' The descendant of David, according to the promise.
43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord ? saying,
" How then,' &c. How is this doctrine, that he is descended from David, consistent with what David says, when he calls him Lord ? That is recorded in Psa.cx. 1. A lord or master is a superior. David calls him his superior, his lord, bis master, his lawgiver ; expresses his willingness to obey him. If the Messiah was to be merely a descendant of David, as other men descend from parents-if he did not exist when David wrote—with what propriety could he, then, call him his lord ? 'In spirit.' By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As a prophet. Acts ii. 30; i. 16. 2 Sam, xxiii. 2.
44 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool ?
• The Lord said,' &c. This is the language of David. 'Jehovah said to my lord—the Messiah-Sit thou,' &c. prediction respecting the exaltation of Christ. To be raised to the right hand of a king was significant of favour, trust, and power. Note, Matt. xx. 21. This was done respecting Christ. Mark xvi. 19. Acts vii. 55. Rom. viii. 34. Eph. i. 20. Heb. i. 3; viii. 1; x. 12. “Thine enemies thy footstool.' He shall put all enemies under his feet-all his spiritual foes—all that rise up against him, Psa. ii. 9, 12. Heb. x. 13. 1 Cor. xv. 25,
This was a
45 If David then call him Lord, how ís he his son ?
If David,' &c. If he was then David's lord-if he had an existence at that time-how could he be descended from him? They could not answer him. Nor is there any way of answering the question but by the truth, that the Messiah was divine as well as human. That he had an existence at the time of David, and was his Lord and Master, his God and King—and that as man he was descended from him—thus being the root as well as the offspring of David, Rev. xxii. 16.
46 And no man was able to answer him a word ; neither durst any man, from that day forth, ask him any more questions.
Neither durst any man,' &c. Mark xii. 34. Luke xx. 40. He had confounded all their sects: the Herodians, ver. 15—22; the sadducees, 23–33; and last, the pharisees, 34–40.
CHAPTER XXIII. | THEN spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying, The scribes and the pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
'Scribes and pharisees. Note, Matt. iii. 7. 'Moses' seat.' Moses was a legislator of the Jews. By him the law was given; and the office of explaining that law devolved on the scribes and pharisees. In the synagogues they sat while expounding the law, and rose when they read it. By sitting in the seat of Moses, we are to understand, authority to teach the law,
3 All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do ; but do not ye after their works : for they say, and do not.
'All, therefore, whatsoever,' &c. That is, all that they teach consistent with the law of Moses; all the commands of Moses which they read to you and properly explain. See Matt. xv. 1–6. They say and do not. The interpretation they give to the law is in the main correct, but their lives do not correspond with their teaching. It is not the duty of men to imitate their teachers, unless their lives are pure.'
4 For they bind heavy búrdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders ; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
• They bind heavy burdens,' &c. This phrase is derived from the custom of loading animals. The load or burden is bound up,
and then laid on the beast. So the pharisees appoint weighty burdens, or precepts grievous and heavy, and insist that the people should obey them, though they lent no assistance. They were rigid in requiring that all should pay the taxes, give of their property, comply with every part of the law with the utmost rigour, yet indulged themselves, and bore as little of the expense and trouble as possible; so that where they could avoid it, they would not lend the least aid to the people in the toils and expense of their religious ritus. With one of their fingers.' In the least degree.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
Their phylacteries. These were small slips of parchment or vellum, on which were written certain portions of the Old Testament. They were bound either round the wrists or foreheads. They wore them, as they supposed, in obedience to the requirements of the law-understanding that literally which was evidently intended to be understood figuratively, Ex. xiii. 9. Deut. vi. 8. These phylacteries were commonly about an inch in width, and of various lengths, from a foot to a foot and a half. They were bound with fillets round the arm, or to the forehead, so as to be seen conspicuously. The pharisees enlarged them, or made them wider than other people, either that they might maké ihe letters larger, or write more on them; to show, as they supposed, that they had peculiar reverence for the law. The passages commonly written on them were, Ex, xiii. 1-10, 11–16; Deut. vi. 6–9; xi. 13—21. 'Enlarge the borders of their garments. This refers to the loose threads which were attached to the borders of the outer garment as a fringe. This fringe was commanded in order to distinguish them from other nations, and that they might remember to keep the commandments of God, Numbers xv. 38–40. Deut. xxii. 12. They made them broader than other people wore them, to show that they had peculiar re spect for the law.
And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
The uppermost rooms at feasts. It would be more correctly rendered the uppermosť places or couches at feasts. To understand this it is necessary to remark that the custom among the Jews was not to eat sitting, as we do, but reclining on couches. The table was made by three tables, placed so as to form a square, with a clear space in the midst, and one end quite open. On the sides of them were placed cushions, capable of containing three or more persons. On these the guests reclined leaning on their left side, with their feet extended from the table, and so lying
that the head of one naturally reclined on the bosom of another, John xiii. 23. Luke xvi. 22, 23. As the feet were extended from the table, it was easy to approach the feet behind, and even unperceived. Thus in Luke vii. 37, 38, while Jesús reclined in this manner, a woman that had been a sinner came at his feet behind him, and washed them with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. She stood on the floor, on the outside of the couches. So our Saviour washed the feet of his disciples as they reclined on a couch in this manner, John xii. 4–12. Whenever we read in the New Testament of sitting at meals, it always means reclining in this manner, and never sitting as we do. The chief seat or the uppermost one, was the middle couch at the upper end of the table. This the pharisees loved, as a post of honour or distinction. Chief seats in the synagogues.' The seats usually occupied by the elders of the synagogue, near the pulpit. Note, Matt. iv. 23.
7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
Greetings in the markets.' Marks of particular respect shown to them in public places. Greetings.' Salutations. See note, Luke x. 4." "To be called Rabbi, Rabbi.' This word literally signifies great. It was a title given to eminent teachers of the law among the Jews; a title of honour and dignity, denoting their authority and ability to teach.
8 But be not ye called Rabbi : for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Jesus forbade his disciples to seek such titles of distinction. The reason he gave was that he was himself their Master and Teacher. They were on a level; they were to be equal in authority; they were brethren; and they should neither covet nor receive a title which implied either an elevation of one above another, or which appeared to infringe on the absolute right of the Saviour to be their only Teacher and Master.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father which is in heaven.
• And call no man your father,' &c. The word 'father' also denotes authority, eminence, superiority, a right to command and a claim to particular respect. In this sense it is used here. In this sense it belongs eminently to God, and it is not right to give it to men. Christian brethren are equal. God only has supreme authority: He only has a right to give laws, to declare doctrines, to bind the conscience, to punish disobedience. Christ taught that the source of all life and truth was God; and men ought not to seek or receive a title which properly belongs to him.