|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.
Verses 47, 48. - Ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. There are still existing four singular tombs at the foot of Olivet, in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Remarkable objects now to the modern traveler at Jerusalem, in all their fresh beauty they would be still more striking in the days of our Lord. The peculiar composite nature of the architecture of these great tombs has decided antiquaries to ascribe the building of these to the days of the later Herods. It is, therefore, not improbable that these conspicuous objects in the landscape, seen from the temple platform, and possibly others like them, which have since perished, were the tombs and sepulchres especially in our Lord's mind when he was speaking to the lawyer, and later at Jerusalem, when he' repeated, with some slight variations, the same awful woe (Matthew 23:29). It was, indeed, a speech of awful and cutting irony, these words of Jesus. "Your fathers," he said, "killed the prophets; you complete their evil work by building tombs for these slain men of God. In other words, you pretend to make amends for the crimes of past generations by this show of ostentatious piety; but if you really differed from your wicked fathers in spirit, if you indeed honored, as you profess to do by this gorgeous tomb-building, the holy men of God whom they slew, would you be acting as you now are doing - trying, as you know you are, to take my life? Is not my life like the lives of those old murdered prophets? are not my words resembling theirs?"
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Woe unto you,.... Meaning particularly the lawyers or Scribes, together with the Pharisees, and even the whole body of the people, who in general were of the cast and complexion here described:
for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets; See Gill on Matthew 23:29.
and your fathers killed them; the prophets; "or whom your fathers killed", as read the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions; the one put them to death, and the other erected stately monuments over them, or adorned them; and yet both had the same malignant spirit against the faithful servants and messengers of God; and which showed their great hypocrisy.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
47, 48. ye build, &c.—Out of pretended respect and honor, they repaired and beautified the sepulchres of the prophets, and with whining hypocrisy said, "If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets," while all the time they "were witnesses to themselves that they were the children of them that killed the prophets" (Mt 23:29, 30); convicting themselves daily of as exact a resemblance in spirit and character to the very classes over whose deeds they pretended to mourn, as child to parent.
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