|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:16-42 Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind. The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent's wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves. Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God. The disciples of Christ must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of God's opening. The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God's love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known, Ac 20:27. Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel. When God calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing Christ's work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God's people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him. That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love. Religion is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it. Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him. Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ's disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.
Verse 29. - Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? The form of the saying in Luke 12:6 is practically equivalent ("Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings?"); for sparrows are so common and cheap that if a man buys two farthings' worth he gets one thrown in. "At the present day the markets of Jerusalem and Jaffa are attended by many 'f owlets,' who offer for sale long strings of little birds of various species, chiefly sparrows, wagtails, and larks. These are also frequently sold ready plucked, trussed in rows of about a dozen on slender wooden skewers, and are cooked and eaten like kabobs" (Tristram, in Smith's 'Dict. of Bible,' 3:1366, where is added an into-resting account of the various methods of catching them). A farthing (ἀσσαρίου). This might either be one of the coins of the Herods (ver. 9, note), or, as it seems, a "second brass" Antiochene as (cf. Madden, 'Coins of the Jews,' p. 301, etc.). And one of them shall not fall - and not one of them shall fall (Revised Version, more idiomatically) - on the ground. Dead. In the parallel passage in Luke, more generally, "Not one of them is forgotten in the sight of God," even in life. Origen and Chrysostom read, "fall into the snare" (cf. Ames 3:5). Without (ἄνευ). Ξωρίς would deny merely physical connexion (cf. John 15:5), and the sentence would then imply that God causes their death; ἄνευ is only negative, and the sentence implies that their death is not outside of his knowledge and care. In Amos 3:5 the thought is that for every event there is a cause; here that every event is taken notice of by God. Sennacherib's boast (Isaiah 36:10) contained a truth other than he intended. Your Father. For this and nothing less is God's relation to you. There is a Talmudic tale told in various forms, of which the earliest seems to be that R. Simon ben Jochai, after hiding thirteen years in a cave, saw from the entrance of it a fowler snaring birds, but that these could not be taken if the Divine voice (Bath Qol) said, "Released" (dimus,' dimissus). "A bird," said the rabbi, "perishes not without God, much less a man," and he returned to the city (Talm. Jeremiah, 'Shebiith,' 9:1).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?.... A farthing, with the Jews, was a very small coin; according to them it contained four grains of silver (b); was the ninety sixth part of a "sela", or shilling (c); and sometimes they make it to be of the same value with an Italian farthing: for they say (d), it is of the value of eight "prutahs": and a "prutah" is the eighth part of an Italian farthing: it is used proverbially to signify a very little thing in the Misna (e);
"if of a command, which is light "as a farthing", which Bartenora explains a "very little thing", the law says, "that it may be well with thee", much more of the weighty commands in the law.''
Hence, in Munster's Hebrew Gospel, it is rendered by , "a little piece of money"; and this was the common price of two sparrows. Our Lord appeals to his disciples, for the truth of it, as a thing well known: according to the question in Luke, five sparrows were sold for two farthings, which makes them somewhat cheaper still. This shows they were of little account.
And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father: some copies add, "which is in heaven"; meaning, that one of them should not be shot, or be killed, without the knowledge, will, and pleasure of God. The design of Christ is to assert the doctrine of providence, as reaching to all creatures and things, even the most minute and worthless: he instances not in men, nor in the beasts of the field, but in the fowls of the air, and in those of the inferior sort, and more useless, in sparrows, yea in little sparrows; as the word may be rendered; whose price was so low, that two are obliged to be put together to fetch the least sum of money current: and yet the providence of God is concerned with each of these; so that not one of them is taken in a snare, or killed with a stone, or shot flying, or sitting, but by the will of God: from whence it may be strongly concluded, that nothing comes by chance; that there is no such thing as contingency with respect to God, though there is to men, with respect to second causes; that all things are firmly ordained by the purpose of God, and are wisely ordered by his providence: and our Lord's further view is, from this consideration, to animate his disciples to a free, open, and constant preaching of his Gospel, not regarding their lives for his sake; for since their heavenly Father, in his providence, takes care of the meanest, even of the most irrational creatures, so that the life of one of them is not taken away without his will, much more will he take care of them; nor could their valuable lives be lost without his will and pleasure. Much such a way of arguing is used by the Jews, who (f) say, , "a bird without God does not perish, much less a man"; or, as it is elsewhere (g) expressed,
"a bird "without God" is not hunted, or taken, how much less does the soul of a man go out of him?''
And again (h),
"a bird "without God" does not fly away, much less the soul of a man.''
Two birds, or sparrows, as the word may be rendered, in Leviticus 14:4 were used in cleansing the leper; one was killed, and the other let loose into the open field: and though it might be a contingent thing with men which was killed, and which preserved, yet not with God; and some think the allusion is here to that case.
(b) Maimon. in Misn. Peah, c. 8. sect. 1.((c) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Maaser Sheni, c. 4. sect. 3.((d) Ib. in Misn. Eracin, c. 8. sect. 1.((e) Cholin, c. 12. sect. 5. (f) T. Hieros. Sheviith, fol. 38. 4. (g) Bereshit Rabba, fol. 69. 3.((h) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 81. 2. & Midrash Esther, fol. 89. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
29. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?—In Luke (Lu 12:6) it is "five sparrows for two farthings"; so that, if the purchaser took two farthings' worth, he got one in addition—of such small value were they.
and one of them shall not fall on the ground—exhausted or killed
without your Father—"Not one of them is forgotten before God," as it is in Luke (Lu 12:6).
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