|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
14:1-12 The terror and reproach of conscience, which Herod, like other daring offenders, could not shake off, are proofs and warnings of a future judgment, and of future misery to them. But there may be the terror of convictions, where there is not the truth of conversion. When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility; but the most powerful enemies can go no further than the Lord sees good to permit. Herod feared that the putting of John to death might raise a rebellion among the people, which it did not; but he never feared it might stir up his own conscience against him, which it did. Men fear being hanged for what they do not fear being damned for. And times of carnal mirth and jollity are convenient times for carrying on bad designs against God's people. Herod would profusely reward a worthless dance, while imprisonment and death were the recompence of the man of God who sought the salvation of his soul. But there was real malice to John beneath his consent, or else Herod would have found ways to get clear of his promise. When the under shepherds are smitten, the sheep need not be scattered while they have the Great Shepherd to go to. And it is better to be drawn to Christ by want and loss, than not to come to him at all.
Verse 2. - And said unto his servants. According to Luke, the following assertion was brought forward by some, but was, it would seem, summarily rejected by Herod (Luke 9:7, 9); according to Mark (ἔλεγον, Westcott and Hort, text) it was common talk, and agreed to by Herod (Mark 6:14, 16). If a reconciliation of so unimportant a verbal disagreement be sought for, it may perhaps lie in Luke representing Herod's first exclamation, and Matthew, with Mark, his settled belief. Clearly Herod did not originate it, as the summary account in our Gospel would lead us to suppose. This is John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1 and Matthew 4:12, notes). (For this opinion about our Lord, compare, besides the parallel passages referred to in the last note, also Matthew 16:14.) He (αὐτός, Matthew 1:21, note) is risen from the dead. The other dead still lie in Hades (ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν). Plumptre, on Mark, adduces a curious passage from Persius, 5:180-188, which he thinks is based on a story that when Herod celebrated another of his birthdays (cf. ver. 6) in Rome, in A.D. , he was terrified by a Banquo-like appearance of the murdered prophet. The superstition that already suggested to Herod the resurrection of John might well act more strongly on the anniversary of the murder, and after he had connived at the death of the One who, by his miracles, showed that he possessed greater power than John. And therefore; "because he is no ordinary man, but one risen from the dead" (Meyer). Mighty works do show forth themselves in him (αἱ δυνάμεις ἐνεργοῦσιν ἐν αἰ τῷ) do these powers work in him (Revised Version). "These" (αἱ, the article of reference), i.e. these which are spoken of in the report (ver. 1). Αἱ δυνάμεις may be
(1) specifically miracles (cf. Matthew 13:58), in which case they are regarded as potentially active in John before their completion in history; or
(2) the powers of working miracles, as perhaps in 1 Corinthians 12:28. Observe that this passage confirms the statement of John 10:41, that John performed no miracle. Observe that it is also an indirect witness to the fact of our Lord performing miracles. For Herod's utterance is not such as a forger would have imagined.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And said unto his servants,.... Those of his household, his courtiers, with whom he more familiarly conversed; to these he expressed his fears, that it might be true what was suggested by the people, and he was ready to believe it himself;
this is John the Baptist: some copies add, "whom I have beheaded", as in Mark 6:16 the guilt of which action rose in his mind, lay heavy on him, and filled him with horror and a thousand fears:
he is risen from the dead; which if he was a Sadducee, as he is thought to be, by comparing Matthew 16:6 with Mark 8:15 was directly contrary to his former sentiments, and was extorted from him by his guilty conscience; who now fears, what before he did not believe; and what he fears, he affirms; concluding that John was raised from the dead, to give proof of his innocence, and to revenge his death on him:
and therefore mighty works do show themselves in him, or "are wrought by him"; for though he wrought no miracles in his lifetime, yet, according to a vulgar notion, that after death men are endued with a greater power, Herod thought this to be the case; or that he was possessed of greater power, on purpose to punish him for the murder of him; and that these miracles which were wrought by him, were convincing proofs of the truth of his resurrection, and of what he was able to do to him, and what he might righteously expect from him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. And said unto his servants—his counsellors or court-ministers.
This is John the Baptist: he is risen from the dead, &c.—The murdered prophet haunted his guilty breast like a specter and seemed to him alive again and clothed with unearthly powers in the person of Jesus.
Account of the Baptist's Imprisonment and Death (Mt 14:3-12). For the exposition of this portion, see on Mr 6:17-29.
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