|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:22-40 Christ largely insisted upon this caution not to give way to disquieting, perplexing cares, Mt 6:25-34. The arguments here used are for our encouragement to cast our care upon God, which is the right way to get ease. As in our stature, so in our state, it is our wisdom to take it as it is. An eager, anxious pursuit of the things of this world, even necessary things, ill becomes the disciples of Christ. Fears must not prevail; when we frighten ourselves with thoughts of evil to come, and put ourselves upon needless cares how to avoid it. If we value the beauty of holiness, we shall not crave the luxuries of life. Let us then examine whether we belong to this little flock. Christ is our Master, and we are his servants; not only working servants, but waiting servants. We must be as men that wait for their lord, that sit up while he stays out late, to be ready to receive him. In this Christ alluded to his own ascension to heaven, his coming to call his people to him by death, and his return to judge the world. We are uncertain as to the time of his coming to us, we should therefore be always ready. If men thus take care of their houses, let us be thus wise for our souls. Be ye therefore ready also; as ready as the good man of the house would be, if he knew at what hour the thief would come.
Verse 33. - Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wan not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not. "Those of you who have riches, see, this is what I counsel you to do with them." In considering these much-disputed words of the Master, we must remember
(1) to whom they were spoken: they were addressed to men and women who, if they would follow him, must set themselves free from all worldly possessions; they must literally forsake all to follow him.
(2) We must bear in mind
(a) that the only community which attempted, as a community, to obey this charge literally was the Church of Jerusalem, and the result was that for long years this Church was plunged into the deepest poverty, so that assistance had to be sent even from far-distant Churches to this deeply impoverished Jerusalem community. [This we learn from Paul, the real compiler of this very Gospel, where the charge is reported. See many passages in his letters, notably the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, passim.]
(b) The mendicant orders in the Middle Ages, with no little bravery and constancy, likewise attempted to carry out to the letter this direction. The impartial student of mediaeval history, while doing all justice to the aims and work of these often devoted men, can judge whether or no these mendicant orders can be reckoned among the permanently successful agencies of the cross. We conclude, then, that these words had a literal meaning only for those to whom they were specially addressed, viz. the disciples. While to the Church generally they convey this deep, far-reaching lesson, a lesson all would-be servants of Christ would do well to take to heart - it is the Master's will that his followers should sit loose to all earthly possessions, possessing them as though they possessed not. Thus living, the heart will be free from all inordinate care for earthly treasure, and will, in real earnest, turn to that serene region where its real and abiding riches indeed are - even to heaven.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Sell that ye have, and give alms,.... Since they had a kingdom bequeathed them by their heavenly Father, they should be so far from indulging an anxious care about food and raiment, that when there was a call in providence for it, and rather than the poor should go without a supply, it became them to sell their houses and lands, and whatever possessions they had, and relieve them; and so they did not long after; for some of those who sold their estates, and brought the money to the apostles, Acts 4:34, might be now present; and the more readily and cheerfully do what they did, remembering these words of Christ:
provide yourselves bags which wax not old; as do the bags of misers: their bag is, , "a bag pierced through", or that has a hole in it, which lets the money out as it is put in, Haggai 1:6 and which the Targum renders by, "for a curse"; as money hoarded up in bags by covetous persons generally is: Christ would have his followers put their money up in other bags; not in such which rot through age, or are worn out, and are full of holes through use; but into the hands and bellies of the poor, the fruit and reward of which will always abide;
a treasure in the heavens that faileth not: whereas treasure on earth does, being either taken away from the possessors of it by various ways, or they from that:
where no thief approacheth; can come near to steal it away, which is often the case here on earth:
neither moth corrupteth; as it does the best of garments, wore by men: but the robes of glory and immortality can never be corrupted: See Gill on Matthew 6:20.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
33, 34. Sell, &c.—This is but a more vivid expression of Mt 6:19-21 (see on Mt 6:19-21).
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