|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 38. - And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so. Among the Jews at the time of our Lord, the old division of the night into three watches had given place to the ordinary Roman division into four. They were reckoned thus: from six to nine, from nine to midnight, from midnight to three, and from three to six. In this parable the second and third watches are mentioned as necessary for the completeness of the picture; for the banquet would certainly not be over before the end of the first watch, and in the fourth the day would be breaking. The second and third watches, then, represent the still and weary hours of the night, when to watch is indeed a task of difficulty and painfulness; and here again the Lord repeats his high encomium on such devoted conduct in his second "blessed are those servants." It is perfectly clear that in this parable the master's return signifies the coming of Christ. The whole tone, then, is a grave reminder to us, to all impatient ones, that the great event may be long delayed, much longer than most Christian thinkers dream; but it tells us, too. that this long delay involves a test of their loyalty. "The parousia does not come so quickly as impatience, nor yet so late as carelessness, supposes" (Van Oosterzee).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And if he shall come in the second watch,.... Of the night, that is, after nine o'clock, or any time between nine or twelve; for the second watch was from nine o'clock till twelve; and this was coming early from an entertainment, or a wedding, which were commonly kept in the night, and late;
or come in the third watch, or after twelve o'clock, or any time between twelve and three; for the third watch was from twelve o'clock to three, which was late; See Gill on Matthew 14:25 The Persic version reads, "in the second, or third part of the night"; and the Ethiopic version, "in the second or third hour of the night";
and find them so. The Arabic version adds, "doing"; as above described, with their loins girt, lights burning, and they watching for their Lord's coming:
blessed are those servants; since they shall be used and treated as before related.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
38. second … third watch—To find them ready to receive Him at any hour of day or night, when one might least of all expect Him, is peculiarly blessed. A servant may be truly faithful, even though taken so far unawares that he has not everything in such order and readiness for his master's return as he thinks is due to him, and both could and would have had if he had had notice of the time of his coming, and so may not be willing to open to him "immediately," but fly to preparation, and let his master knock again ere he admit him, and even then not with full joy. A too common case this with Christians. But if the servant have himself and all under his charge in such a state that at any hour when his master knocks, he can open to him "immediately," and hail his "return"—that is the most enviable, "blessed" servant of all.
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