|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:28-34 Those who sincerely desire to be taught their duty, Christ will guide in judgment, and teach his way. He tells the scribe that the great commandment, which indeed includes all, is, that of loving God with all our hearts. Wherever this is the ruling principle in the soul, there is a disposition to every other duty. Loving God with all our heart, will engage us to every thing by which he will be pleased. The sacrifices only represented the atonements for men's transgressions of the moral law; they were of no power except as they expressed repentance and faith in the promised Saviour, and as they led to moral obedience. And because we have not thus loved God and man, but the very reverse, therefore we are condemned sinners; we need repentance, and we need mercy. Christ approved what the scribe said, and encouraged him. He stood fair for further advance; for this knowledge of the law leads to conviction of sin, to repentance, to discovery of our need of mercy, and understanding the way of justification by Christ.
Verse 34. - And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly (νουνεχῶς), he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. It would appear from this answer that our Lord regarded him as one who approached him with the sincere desire to know the truth, and so he encouraged him. This shows how powerful an influence our Lord's teaching had already exercised amongst all classes of the Jews. This scribe, notwithstanding the prejudices of his class, had reached the border-land of the kingdom. He had learnt that the true way to the kingdom was by the love of God and of our neighbor. He was not far from the kingdom - not far from "the Church militant here on earth," by which is the way to the Church triumphant in heaven. He was not far from the kingdom, but still he wanted that which in the true pathway to the kingdom - faith in Christ as the Savior of the world. And no man after that durst ask him any question. St. Matthew (Matthew 22:46) places these words after the next occurrence. But there is no inconsistency in the two narratives, because in this next incident our Lord puts the question to them; and this silenced both their questioning and their answering. All felt that there was such a vast reach of wisdom and knowledge in all that he said, that it was in vain to contend with him.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly,.... Wisely and prudently, as a man of sense and understanding; by taking in the several parts of our Lord's answer very distinctly, and reasoning upon them, and confirming them:
he said unto him, thou art not far from the kingdom of God: not meaning from heaven, and eternal happiness; for right and distinct notions of the above commandments, and even the performance of the in by a sinful and imperfect creature, can neither give a man a title to, or bring him near, or introduce him into the heavenly glory, which is a pure gift of God's grace; but our Lord's sense is, that he was not far off from the Gospel dispensation, and was in a fair way of entering into it; his sentiments were very near to such, who became followers of Christ, and embraced the doctrines, and submitted to the ordinances of the Gospel state: since he preferred those things, which related to the knowledge of the being and perfections of God, to the love and worship of God, and to the good of his neighbour; before the ceremonies of the law; which were quickly to be abolished, and make way for the setting up of the kingdom of God, or of the Messiah, in a more glorious and visible manner. Indeed there are some persons, who seem not far off from the kingdom of God, in the other sense of the phrase, as it may respect eternal glory and happiness, who will never enter into it: there are some that seem very devout and religions; hear the word, attend on all ordinances, join themselves with a church, submit to baptism, and sit down at the Lord's table, and live a moral life and conversation, and yet are destitute of the grace of God: yea, there are some who have clear notions of the Gospel, and make a bright profession of it, and yet have no experience of the power of it upon their hearts, and have not the oil of grace there: and even hold this profession to the end, and yet come short of the kingdom and glory of our Lord Jesus: such are almost Christians, but not altogether; virgins, but foolish ones; have lamps, but no oil; come as far as the door, but that is shut upon them.
And no man after that durst ask him any question; in any captious matter in order to ensnare him; finding they could get no advantage, or occasion against him that way; he having silenced the Herodians, Sadducees, Scribes, and Pharisees.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
34. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly—rather, "intelligently," or "sensibly"; not only in a good spirit, but with a promising measure of insight into spiritual things.
he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God—for he had but to follow out a little further what he seemed sincerely to own, to find his way into the kingdom. He needed only the experience of another eminent scribe who at a later period said, "We know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin": who exclaimed, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me?" but who added, "I thank God through Jesus Christ!" (Ro 7:14, 24, 25). Perhaps among the "great company of the priests" and other Jewish ecclesiastics who "were obedient to the faith," almost immediately after the day of Pentecost (Ac 6:7), this upright lawyer was one. But for all his nearness to the Kingdom of God, it may be he never entered it.
And no man after that durst ask any question—all feeling that they were no match for Him, and that it was vain to enter the lists with Him.
Christ Baffles the Pharisees Regarding David (Mr 12:35-37).
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