|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:37-54 We should all look to our hearts, that they may be cleansed and new-created; and while we attend to the great things of the law and of the gospel, we must not neglect the smallest matter God has appointed. When any wait to catch something out of our mouths, that they may insnare us, O Lord, give us thy prudence and thy patience, and disappoint their evil purposes. Furnish us with such meekness and patience that we may glory in reproaches, for Christ's sake, and that thy Holy Spirit may rest upon us.
Verse 41. - But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. The translation here should run, but rather give the things that are in them as alms, etc. The thought of the contents of these cups and dishes - a thought which came out, as we have seen, so prominently in St. Matthew - here is evidently in the Lord's mind. "Ah!" he seems to say, "what you Pharisees and your schools of formalism indeed want is the knowledge of that great law of love" (the law Jesus was ever teaching in such parables, for instance, as that of the good Samaritan). "I will tell you how really to purify, in the eyes of God, these cups and dishes of yours. Share their contents with your poorer neighbors." "Let them do one single loving, unselfish act, not for the sake of the action itself, not for any merit inherent in it; but out of pure good will towards others, and their whole inward condition would be different" (Bishop Basil Jones, in the 'Speaker's Commentary').
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But rather give alms of such things as ye have,.... The phrase , is variously rendered, and so furnishes out various senses: the Syriac version renders it, "give that which is", which is yours; or "which is given to you", as the Persic version, and agrees with ours, "such things as ye have"; and which carries in it but a very odd sense; for none can give of that which they have not. The Vulgate Latin version reads, "that which is over and above"; superfluous substance, and which may be easily spared without hurting a man, or his family: others, "as much as you can": according to a man's ability, and as God has prospered him in the world. The Ethiopic version renders it, "that which is necessary"; which the necessities of the poor call for, and is right and proper to give them: and the Arabic version, very foreign from the sense of the phrase, reads, "before every thing"; above all things give alms. But the true sense of it is contained in the literal version of it, "things that are within"; that is, that are within the cup and the platter; give meat and drink to the poor, your platters and cups are full of, gotten by injustice and oppression. Some read it not imperatively, "give", but indicatively, "ye do give": you oppress and defraud men, devour widows' houses, and fill your own with the spoils of others; and then give out of your cups and platters drink to the thirsty, and meat to the hungry, to make atonement for your avarice and extortion:
and behold all things are clean unto you; that is, according to their own opinion, who fancied that alms deeds justified them in the sight of God, cleansed them from their sins, delivered them from hell, and gave them a title to eternal life; See Gill on Matthew 6:1 for it can never be thought to be our Lord's meaning in earnest, that either their persons, or what they had, should be pure and clean unto them, by giving a part of their ill-gotten goods to the poor; but he speaks their sense, in an ironic way. From this opinion of theirs it is, that the Hebrew word, which signifies "to be clean", is used by them for giving alms: so it is said (y), that
"R. Jonathan and Resh Lekish went down to bathe themselves in the baths of Tiberias; and a certain poor man met them, and said unto them, , "give me alms"; they said unto him, when we come back we will , "give thee alms":''
and so the Mahometans call alms by the same name, because they imagine that they cleanse their other substance from pollution, and their souls from avarice.
(y) Vajikra Rabba, Sect. 34. fol. 174. 2. Vid. fol. 173. 3, 4. & 174. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
41. give alms … and … all … clean—a principle of immense value. As the greed of these hypocrites was one of the most prominent features of their character (Lu 16:14; Mt 23:14), our Lord bids them exemplify the opposite character, and then their outside, ruled by this, would be beautiful in the eye of God, and their meals would be eaten with clean hands, though never so fouled with the business of this worky world. (See Ec 9:7).
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