|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:32-45 Christ's going on with his undertaking for the salvation of mankind, was, is, and will be, the wonder of all his disciples. Worldly honour is a glittering thing, with which the eyes of Christ's own disciples have many times been dazzled. Our care must be, that we may have wisdom and grace to know how to suffer with him; and we may trust him to provide what the degrees of our glory shall be. Christ shows them that dominion was generally abused in the world. If Jesus would gratify all our desires, it would soon appear that we desire fame or authority, and are unwilling to taste of his cup, or to have his baptism; and should often be ruined by having our prayers answered. But he loves us, and will only give his people what is good for them.
Verse 40. - But to sit on my right hand or on my left hand is not mine to give; but it is for them for whom it hath been prepared. The Arians gathered from this that our Lord was not of one substance with the Father. But this arose from a misunderstanding of the words. For the antithesis is not here between Christ and the Father; but between James and John on the one side ambitiously seeking the pre-eminence, and those on the ether side to whom it ought of right to be given. St. Jerome wisely says, "Our Lord does not say, 'Ye shall not sit,' lest he should put to shame these two. Neither does he say, 'Ye shall sit,' lest the others should be envious. But by holding out the prize to all, he animates all to contend for it." Our Lord is also careful to point out that he who humbles himself shall be exalted. But Christ is the Giver, not indeed by way of favor to any one who asks, but according to the eternal and unalterable principles laid down by the Father. That Christ is the Giver is plain from St. Luke (Luke 22:29). "I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father appointed unto me."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But to sit on my right hand and on my left, is mine to give,.... There being no such places in his kingdom in the sense they petitioned; and as for the glories of the heavenly state or eternal life, the gift of these was not to be settled now it being done already: and though he had a power to give yet only to them who were given him of his Father and who were ordained to such happiness as it follows:
but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared; that is, of his Father as is expressed in Matthew 20:23 which is not to be understood as excluding these two persons but as including all others with them for whom the kingdom was prepared before the foundation of the world: the Ethiopic version therefore wrongly renders the words "but to sit on my right hand and on my left, I do not give to you, it is prepared for other": the Jew (g) very badly concludes from hence against the deity of Christ and his unity with the Father he not having power to do this; whereas Christ does not say he had no power to give this honour, but only describes the persons to whom he should give it; and these being persons for whom it, is prepared by his Father instead of destroying, proves their unity.
(g) R. Isaac, Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 20. p. 409.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
40. But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand in not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared—"of My Father" (Mt 20:23). The supplement which our translators have inserted is approved by some good interpreters, and the proper sense of the word rendered "but" is certainly in favor of it. But besides that it makes the statement too elliptical—leaving too many words to be supplied—it seems to make our Lord repudiate the right to assign to each of His people his place in the kingdom of glory; a thing which He nowhere else does, but rather the contrary. It is true that He says their place is "prepared for them by His Father." But that is true of their admission to heaven at all; and yet from His great white throne Jesus will Himself adjudicate the kingdom, and authoritatively invite into it those on His right hand, calling them the "blessed of His Father"; so little inconsistency is there between the eternal choice of them by His Father, and that public adjudication of them, not only to heaven in general, but each to his own position in it, which all Scripture assigns to Christ. The true rendering, then, of this clause, we take it, is this: "But to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not Mine to give, save to them for whom it is prepared." When therefore He says, "It is not Mine to give," the meaning is, "I cannot give it as a favor to whomsoever I please, or on a principle of favoritism; it belongs exclusively to those for whom it is prepared," &c. And if this be His meaning, it will be seen how far our Lord is from disclaiming the right to assign to each his proper place in His Kingdom; that on the contrary, He expressly asserts it, merely announcing that the principle of distribution is quite different from what these petitioners supposed. Our Lord, it will be observed, does not deny the petition of James and John, or say they shall not occupy the place in His kingdom which they now improperly sought:—for aught we know, that may be their true place. All we are sure of is, that their asking it was displeasing to Him "to whom all judgment is committed," and so was not fitted to gain their object, but just the reverse. (See what is taught in Lu 14:8-11). One at least of these brethren, as Alford strikingly remarks, saw on the right and on the left hand of their Lord, as He hung upon the tree, the crucified thieves; and bitter indeed must have been the remembrance of this ambitious prayer at that moment.
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