|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:1-13 Here is a prediction of the near approach Christ's kingdom. A glimpse of that kingdom was given in the transfiguration of Christ. It is good to be away from the world, and alone with Christ: and how good to be with Christ glorified in heaven with all the saints! But when it is well with us, we are apt not to care for others, and in the fulness of our enjoyments, we forget the many wants of our brethren. God owns Jesus, and accepts him as his beloved Son, and is ready to accept us in him. Therefore we must own and accept him as our beloved Saviour, and must give up ourselves to be ruled by him. Christ does not leave the soul, when joys and comforts leave it. Jesus explained to the disciples the prophecy about Elias. This was very suitable to the ill usage of John Baptist.
Verses 10, 11. - Questioning among themselves what the rising again from the dead should mean; that is, his own rising from the dead, of which our Lord had just been speaking. No doubt the general resurrection at the end of the world was an article of faith with which the disciples were familiar. But they could not understand, when he spake of his own immediate rising from the dead. So their perplexities led them at last to ask him the question; or rather to make the remark to him, The scribes say that Elijah must first come; with a view to obtaining some clearer understanding. They had just seen Elijah in the Transfiguration, and they had seen him disappear. They wondered why he should have departed. They thought, it may be, that he ought to have remained, that he might be the forerunner of Christ and of his kingdom and glory, according to the prophecy of Malachi (Malachi 4:6). This the scribes taught; but they erred in the confusion of times, for they did not distinguish the first coming of Christ in the flesh from his second advent to judgment. The thought upon the mind of the disciples appears to have been this: They heard Christ speak of his own resurrection as close at hand, and they had seen the type of it in his transfiguration; and they thought that immediately after that, Christ's kingdom would come, and he would reign gloriously. Why, then, had not Elijah remained, that he might be his precursor? St. Matthew (Matthew 17:13) tells us that our Lord's words which follow showed the disciples that when he said that Elijah was to come first and restore all things, he meant them to understand" that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." Upon the question of a future coming of Elijah, it seems safest to confess our ignorance. The prophecy of Malachi was no doubt in part fulfilled in the coming of John the Baptist; but it would be rash to affirm that it may not receive another and more literal fulfillment before the second advent. A host of ancient Christian expositors have held that Elijah will appear in person before the second advent of Christ. St. Augustine, in his 'City of God' (20:29), says, "Not without reason do we hope that before the coming of our Judge and Savior Elias will come, because we have good reason to believe that he is now alive; for, as Holy Scripture distinctly informs us, he gas taken up from this life in a chariot of fire. When, therefore, he is come he shall give a spiritual explanation of the Law which the Jews at present understand carnally, and will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers; that is, the Jews who are the children will understand the Law in the same sense as their fathers the prophets understood it." Indeed, this is one of the principal reasons assigned by the Fathers for this appearance of Elijah, that he may convert the Jews.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they kept that saying with themselves,.... "They retained it in their own mind", as the Persic version renders it; "they kept it close", as Luke says, Luke 9:36, among themselves, and acquainted no man with it: and which refers either to the whole of Christ's charge, relating to the vision on the mount; or else only to what he said about his resurrection from the dead; and which they took notice of particularly, and laid hold upon, as the word will bear to be rendered; and so the Ethiopic version does render it, "and they observed his saying"; what he last said concerning the son of man's rising from the dead;
questioning with one other what the rising from the dead should mean: they inquired, disputed, and reasoned with one another, what should be the meaning of such an expression: not that they were ignorant of the general resurrection of the dead; for this was the hope of Israel, and the general sense of the Jewish nation: but they did not know what he meant by his particular rising from the dead: whether he meant it in a literal sense, which supposed his death; and that though he had lately told them of, they knew not how to reconcile to the notions they had of a long and flourishing temporal kingdom of the Messiah; or whether he meant a and interest, in such manner as they expected.
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