Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.Chap. 13:1-52.] The seven parables. (The parallels, see under each.)
1, 2.] Mark 4:1.
1. ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ] These words may mean literally in the same day, But it is not absolutely necessary. The words certainly do bear that meaning in Mark 4:35, and important consequences follow (see note there): but in Acts 8:1 they are as evidently indefinite. The instances of their occurrence in John (14:20; 16:23, 26) are not to the point, their use there being prophetical.
ἀπὸ τῆς οἰκ. perhaps implies that the foregoing discourse was delivered in a house, as some have thought: but the article need not (any more than τό before πλοῖον, see notes on ch. 9:1, 28) imply any particular house.
3. ἐν παραβολαῖς] The senses of this word in the N.T. are various, and may be found in the lexicons. My present concern with it is to explain its meaning as applied to the “parables” of our Lord. (1) The Parable is not a Fable, inasmuch as the Fable is concerned only with the maxims of worldly prudence, whereas the Parable conveys spiritual truth. The Fable in its form rejects probability, and teaches through the fancy, introducing speaking animals, or even inanimate things; whereas the Parable adheres to probability, and teaches through the imagination, introducing only things which may possibly happen. ἔστι παραβολὴ λόγος ὡς περὶ γενομένου, μὴ γενομένου μὲν κατὰ τὸ ῥητόν, δυναμένου δὲ γίνεσθαι. Origen, cited by Trench on the Parables, p. 4. (2) Nor is the Parable a Myth: inasmuch as in Mythology the course of the story is set before us as the truth, and simple minds receive it as the truth, only the reflective mind penetrating to the distinction between the Vehicle and the thing conveyed; whereas in the Parable these two stand distinct from one another to all minds, so that none but the very simplest would ever believe in the Parable as fact. (3) Nor is the Parable a Proverb: though παραβολή is used for both in the N.T. (Luke 4:23; Luke 5:36: Matthew 15:14, Matthew 15:15), and παροιμία in John for a Parable (John 10:6; John 16:25, John 16:29). It is indeed more like a Proverb than either of the former; being an expanded Proverb, and a Proverb a concentrated Parable, or Fable, or result of human experience expressed without a figure. Hence it will be seen that the Proverb ranges far wider than the Parable, which is an expansion of only one particular case of a Proverb. Thus ‘Physician heal thyself’ would, if expanded, make a parable; ‘ne sus Minervam,’ a fable; ‘honesty is the best policy,’ neither of these. (4) Nor is the Parable an Allegory: inasmuch as in the Allegory the imaginary persons and actions are placed in the very places and footsteps of the real ones, and stand there instead of them, declaring all the time by their names or actions who and what they are. Thus the Allegory is self-interpreting, and the persons in it are invested with the attributes of those represented; whereas in the Parable the courses of action related and understood run indeed parallel, but the persons are strictly confined to their own natural places and actions, which are, in their relation and succession, typical of higher things. (5) It may well hence be surmised what a Parable is. It is a serious narration, within the limits of probability, of a course of action pointing to some moral or spiritual Truth (‘Collatio per narratiunculam fictam, sed veri similem, serio illustrans rem sublimiorem.’ Unger, de Parabolis Jesu (Meyer)); and derives its force from real analogies impressed by the Creator of all things on His creatures. The great Teacher by parables therefore is He who needed not that any should testify of man; for He knew what was in man, John 2:25: moreover, He made man, and orders the course and character of human events. And this is the reason why none can, or dare, teach by parables, except Christ. We do not, as He did, see the inner springs out of which flow those laws of eternal truth and justice, which the Parable is framed to elucidate. Our parables would be in danger of perverting, instead of guiding aright. The Parable is especially adapted to different classes of hearers at once: it is understood by each according to his measure of understanding. See note on ver. 12.
The seven parables related in this chapter cannot be regarded as a collection made by the Evangelist as relating to one subject, the Kingdom of Heaven and its development; they are clearly indicated by ver. 53 to have been all spoken on one and the same occasion, and form indeed a complete and glorious whole in their inner and deeper sense. The first four of these parables appear to have been spoken to the multitude from the ship (the interpretation of the parable of the sower being interposed); the last three, to the disciples in the house.
From the expression ἤρξατο in Mk. compared with the question of the disciples in ver. 10,—and with ver. 34,—it appears that this was the first beginning of our Lord’s teaching by parables, expressly so delivered, and properly so called. And the natural sequence of things here agrees with, and confirms Matthew’s arrangement against those who would place (as Ebrard) all this chapter before the Sermon on the Mount. He there spoke without parables, or mainly so; and continued to do so till the rejection and misunderstanding of his teaching led to His judicially adopting the course here indicated, χωρὶς παρ. οὐδὲν ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς. The other order would be inconceivable: that after such parabolic teaching, and such a reason assigned for it, the Lord should, that reason remaining in full force, have deserted his parabolic teaching, and opened out his meaning as plainly as in the Sermon on the Mount.
3.] For the explanation of the parable see on vv. 19-23. ὁ σπ., generic, singular of οἱ σπείροντες—a sower; he that soweth. 4.
4.] παρὰ τ. ὁδ., by (by the side of, along the line of) the path through the field. Luke inserts καὶ κατεπατήθη, and after τὰ πετ.,—τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.
5.] τὰ πετρώδη (= τὴν πέτραν Luke), stony places where the native rock is but slightly covered with earth (which abound in Palestine), and where therefore the radiation from the face of the rock would cause the seed to spring up quickly, the shallow earth being heated by the sun of the day before.
6.] ῥίζαν = ἰκμάδα Luke. If the one could have struck down, it would have found the other.
7.] ἐπὶ τ. ἀκ. = εἰς τὰς ἀκ. Mark; = ἐν μέσῳ τῶν ἀκ. Luke. In places where were the roots of thorns, beds of thistles, or such like.
ἀνέβησαν.… καί = συμφυεῖσαι Luke; ἀπέπν. = συνέπν, Mark, who adds καὶ καρπὸν οὐκ ἔδωκεν.
8.] ἐδίδου = φυὲν ἐποίησεν Luke. After καρ. Mark inserts ἀναβαίνοντα καὶ αὐξανόμενον. Luke gives only ἑκατονταπλασίονα.
9.] is common to all three Evangelists (Mark and Luke insert ἀκούειν).
10.] οἱ μαθηταί = οἱ περὶ αὐτὸν σὺν τοῖς δώδεκα Mark. This question took place during a pause in our Lord’s teaching, not when He had entered the house, ver. 36. The question shews the newness of this method of teaching to the disciples. It is not mentioned in Mark: only the enquiry into the meaning of the parable just spoken: nor in Luke; but the answer implies it.
11.] The Kingdom of Heaven, like other Kingdoms, has its secrets (μυστήριον,—see a definition by St. Paul in Romans 16:25 f.,—viz. χρόνοις αἰωνίοις σεσιγημένον, φανερωθὲν δὲ νῦν) and inner counsels, which strangers must not know. These are only revealed to the humble diligent hearers, ὑμῖν: to those who were immediately around the Lord with the twelve; not ἐκείνοις = τοῖς λοιποῖς Luke, = ἐκείνοις τοῖς ἔξω Mark. (1Corinthians 5:12, 1Corinthians 5:13.)
οὐ δέδοται = ἐν παραβολαῖς Luke, and τὰ πάντα γίνεται Mark.
12.] In this saying of the Lord is summed up the double force—the revealing and concealing properties of the parable. By it, he who hath,—he who not only hears with the ear, but understands with the heart, has more given to him; and it is for this main purpose undoubtedly that the Lord spoke parables: to be to His Church revelations of the truth and mysteries of His Kingdom. But His present purpose in speaking them, as further explained below, was the quality possessed by them, and declared in the latter part of this verse, of hiding their meaning from the hard-hearted and sensual. By them, he who hath not, in whom there is no spark of spiritual desire nor meetness to receive the engrafted word, has taken from him even that which he hath (“seemeth to have,” Luke); even the poor confused notions of heavenly doctrine which a sensual and careless life allow him, are further bewildered and darkened by this simple teaching, into the depths of which he cannot penetrate so far as even to ascertain that they exist. No practical comment on the latter part of this saying can be more striking, than that which is furnished to our day by the study of the German rationalistic (and, I may add, some of our English harmonistic) Commentators; while at the same time we may rejoice to see the approximate fulfilment of the former in such commentaries as those of Olshausen, Neander, Stier, and Trench. In ch. 25:29, the fuller meaning of this saying, as applied not only to hearing, but to the whole spiritual life, is brought out by our Lord.
13.] ὅτι βλ. οὐ βλέπουσιν κ.τ.λ. = (in Mark, Luke; similarly below) ἵνα βλ. μὴ βλέπωσιν κ.τ.λ. In the deeper view of the purpose of the parable, both of these run into one. Taking the saying of ver. 12 for our guide we have ὅστις οὐκ ἔχει = ὅτι βλέπ. οὐ βλέπουσιν,—and καὶ ὃ ἔχει ἀρθ. ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ = ἵνα βλ. μὴ βλέπωσιν. The difficulties raised on these variations, and on the prophecy quoted in vv. 14, 15, have arisen entirely from not keeping this in view.
ἀναπληροῦται, is being fulfilled, ‘finds one of the stages of its fulfilment:’ a partial one having taken place in the contemporaries of the prophet. The prophecy is cited verbatim from the LXX, which changes the imperative of the Hebrew (‘Make the heart of this people fat,’ &c., E. V.) into the indicative, as bearing the same meaning.
αὐτοῖς is a dat. of relation, ‘with regard to them:’ see Kühner, Gramm. § 581.
ἐπαχύνθη, grew fat; from prosperity:—‘torpens, omni sensu carens’ (Simonis Lex. under שָׁמַן).
βαρέως ἤκουσαν, heard heavily, sluggishly and imperfectly.
ἐκάμμυσαν, closed (Heb. ‘smeared over’) their eyes. All this have they done: all this is increased in them by their continuing to do it, and all lest they should (and so that they cannot) hear, see, understand, and be saved.
ἰάσομαι αὐτ. = ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς Mark. This citation gives no countenance to the fatalist view of the passage, but rests the whole blame on the hard-heartedness and unreadiness of the hearers, which is of itself the cause why the very preaching of the word is a means of further darkening and condemning them (see 2Corinthians 4:3, 2Corinthians 4:4). On the fut. indic. after μήποτε, “verentis ne quid futurum sit, sed indicantis simul, putare se ita futurum esse ut veretur,” see Winer, § 56. 2: Herm. ad Soph. Aj. 272.
16, 17.] See ref. Prov. These verses occur again in a different connexion, and with the form of expression slightly varied, Luke 10:23, Luke 10:24. It was a saying likely to be repeated. There it is μακάρ. οἱ ὀφθ. οἱ βλέποντες ἃ βλέπετε: and for δίκαιοι we have βασιλεῖς. On the fact that prophets, &c. desired to see those things, see 2Samuel 23:5: Job 19:23-27: also Exodus 4:13, and Luke 2:29-32.
18.] ἀκούσατε, in the sense of the verse before—hear the true meaning of, ‘hear in your hearts.’ With regard to the parable itself, we may remark that its great leading idea is that μυστήριον τῆς βασιλείας, according to which the grace of God, and the receptivity of it by man, work ever together in bringing forth fruit. The seed is one and the same every where and to all: but seed does not spring up without earth, nor does earth bring forth without seed; and the success or failure of the seed is the consequence of the adaptation to its reception, or otherwise, of the spot on which it falls. But of course, on the other hand, as the enquiry, ‘Why is this ground rich, and that barren?’ leads us up into the creative arrangements of God,—so a similar enquiry in the spiritual interpretation would lead us into the inscrutable and sovereign arrangements of Him who ‘preventeth us that we may have a good will, and worketh with us when we have that will’ (Art. X. of the Church of England). See, on the whole, my Sermons before the University of Cambridge, February, 1858.
19.] In Luke we have an important preliminary declaration, implied indeed here also: ὁ σπόρος ἐστὶν ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ. This word is in this parable especially meant of the word preached, though the word written is not excluded: nor the word unwritten—the providences and judgments, and even the creation, of God. (See Romans 10:17, Romans 10:18.) The similitude in this parable is alluded to in 1Peter 1:23: James 1:21.
The sower is first the Son of Man (ver. 37), then His ministers and servants (1Corinthians 3:6) to the end. He sows over all the field, unlikely as well as likely places; and commands His sowers to do the same, Mark 16:15. Some, Stier says, (Reden Jesu, ii. 76, Exo_2,) have objected to the parable a want of truthful correspondence to reality, because sowers do not thus waste their seed by scattering it where it is not likely to grow; but, as he rightly answers,—the simple idea of the parable must be borne in mind, and its limits not transgressed—‘a sower went out to sow’—his sowing—sowing over all places, is the idea of the parable. We see him only as a sower, not as an economist. The parable is not about Him, but about the seed and what happens to it. He is the fit representative τοῦ διδόντος θεοῦ πᾶσιν ἁπλῶς καὶ μὴ ὀνειδίζοντος, James 1:5.
παντὸς κ.τ.λ.] an anacoluthon, to throw the emphasis on παντὸς κ.τ.λ., for ὁ πονηρὸς … κ. ἁρπάζει τὸ ἐσπ. ἐν τῇ καρδ. παντὸς κ.τ.λ.
καὶ μὴ συνιέντος is peculiar to Matthew, and very important; as in Mark and Luke this first class of hearers are without any certain index to denote them. The reason of μὴ συνιέντος is clearly set forth by the parable: the heart is hardened, trodden down; the seed cannot penetrate.
ὁ πονηρὸς = ὁ σατανᾶς (Mark, who also inserts εὐθύς), = ὁ διάβολος (Luke). The parable itself is here most satisfactory as to the manner in which the Evil One proceeds. By fowls of the air—passing thoughts and desires, which seem insignificant and even innocent—does Satan do his work, and rob the heart of the precious seed. Luke adds the purpose of Satan in taking away the word: ἵνα μὴ πιστεύσαντες σωθῶσιν.
ὁ … σπαρείς: not ‘he that received seed by the way side,’ but he that was sown by the way side. This is not a confusion of similitudes,—no ‘primary and secondary interpretation’ of σπόρος,—but the deep truth, both of nature and of grace. The seed sown springing up in the earth, becomes the plant, and bears the fruit, or fails of bearing it; it is therefore the representative, when sown, of the individuals of whom the discourse is. And though in this first case it does not spring up, yet the same form of speech is kept up: throughout they are οἱ σπαρέντες, as, when the question of bearing fruit comes, they must be. We are said to be ἀναγεγεννημένοι διὰ λόγου ζῶντος θεοῦ, 1Peter 1:23. It takes us up into itself, as the seed the earth, and we become a new plant, a καινὴ κτίσις: cf. also below, ver. 38, τὸ δὲ καλὸν σπέρμα, οὗτοί εἰσιν κ.τ.λ.
20, 21.] In this second case, the surface of the mind and disposition is easily stirred, soon excited: but beneath lies a heart even harder than the trodden way. So the plant, springing up under the false heat of excitement, having no root struck down into the depths of the being, is, when the real heat from without arises which is intended to strengthen and forward the healthy-rooted plant, withered and destroyed.
πρόσκαιρός ἐστιν, not only ‘endureth for a while,’ but also ‘is the creature of circumstances,’ changing as they change. Both ideas are included.
γενομ … σκανδ. = ἐν καιρῷ πειρασμοῦ ἀφίστανται Luke, thus accommodating themselves to that καιρός.
22.] In this third sort, all as regards the soil is well; the seed goes deep, the plant springs up; all is as in the next case, with but one exception, and that, the bearing of fruit—ἄκαρπος γίνεται = οὐ τελεσφοροῦσι Luke. And this because the seeds or roots of thorns are in, and are suffered to spring up in, the heart, and to overwhelm the plant. There is a divided will, a half-service (μέριμνα from μερίζω, see on ch. 6:25) which ever ends in the prevalence of evil over good. This class is not confined to the rich: πλοῦτος in Scripture is not riches absolutely, as possessed, but riches relatively, as estimated by the desire and value for them. Mark adds καὶ αἱ περὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἐπιθυμίαι, viz. the τὰ λοιπά which shall be added to us if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. The identity of the seeds sown with the individuals of these classes, as maintained above, is strikingly shewn in Luke here: τὸ δὲ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας πεσόν, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἀκούσαντες κ.τ.λ. (8:14.) We may notice: (I) That there is in these three classes a progress, and that a threefold one:—(1) in time:—the first receives a hindrance at the very outset: the seed never springs up:—the second after it has sprung up, but soon after:—the third when it has entered, sprung up, and come to maturity: or while it is so coming.—(2) in apparent degree. The climax is apparently from bad to better;—the first understand not: the second understand and feel: the third understand, feel, and practise. But also (3) in real degree, from bad to worse. Less awful is the state of those who understand not the word and lose it immediately, than that of those who feel it, receive it with joy, and in time of trial fall away: less awful again this last, than that of those who understand, feel, and practise, but are fruitless and impure.
It has been noticed also that the first is more the fault of careless inattentive childhood; the second of ardent shallow youth; the third of worldly self-seeking age. (II) That these classes do not exclude one another. They are great general divisions, the outer circles of which fall into one another, as they very likely might in the field itself, in their different combinations.
23.] Here also the fourth class must not be understood as a decided well-marked company, excluding all the rest. For the soil is not good by nature: the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; but every predisposition to receive them is of God:—even the shallow soil covering the rock, even the thorny soil, received its power to take in and vivify the seed, from God. So that divine grace is the enabling, vivifying, cleansing power throughout: and these sown on the good land are no naturally good, amiable, or pure class, but those prepared by divine grace—receptive, by granted receptive power. The sowing is not necessarily the first that has ever taken place: the field has been and is continually resown, so that the care of the husbandman is presupposed. Again, no irresistible grace or absolute decree of God must be dreamt of here. God working not barely upon, but with man, is, as we said above, the μυστήριον τῆς βασιλείας here declared,—see Jeremiah 4:3: Hosea 10:12: Galatians 6:7. See note on Luke 8:15.
ἑκατόν, ἑξήκοντα, τριάκοντα, the different degrees of faithfulness and devotedness of life with which fruit is brought forth by different classes of persons. There is no point of comparison with the different classes in the parable of the talents: for he who had five talents yielded the same increase as he who had two.
συνιῶν] So συνιοῦσιν ver. 13, and 2Corinthians 10:12 (.), and this word itself Romans 3:11, from συνιέω, i. q. συνίημι,—of which the inf. συνιεῖν is found in Theognis, 565. It should be accented συνιῶν, or συνίων (from συνίω), not συνιών, which would be from σύνειμι. See Winer, § 14. 3.
24-30.] Second parable. The tares of the field. Peculiar to Matthew. For the explanation of this parable see below, vv. 36-43.
24.] ὡμοιώθη … ἀνθρώπῳ, ‘is like the whole circumstances about to be detailed; like the case of a man,’ &c. A similar form of construction is found in ch. 18:23, and in other parables in Matthew.
25.] τοὺς ἀνθ. not, ‘the men’ belonging to the owner of the field, but men generally: and the expression is used only to designate ‘in the night time,’ not to charge the servants with any want of watchfulness.
ἐπέσπ.] ‘superseminavit,’ sowed over the first seed. ζιζάνια,
ζιζάνια,apparently the darnel, or bastard wheat (lolium album), so often seen in our fields and by our hedgerows; if so, what follows will be explained, that the tares appeared when the wheat came into ear, having been previously not noticeable. It appears to be an Eastern word, expressed in the Talmud by זוֹנִין.
Our Lord was speaking of an act of malice practised in the East:—persons of revengeful disposition watch the ground of a neighbour being ploughed, and in the night following sow destructive weeds. (Roberts’s Oriental Illustrations, p. 541, cited by Trench on the Parables, p. 68.) (The practice is not unknown even in England at present. Since the publication of the first edition of this commentary, a field belonging to the Editor, at Gaddesby in Leicestershire, was maliciously sown with charlock (sinapis arvensis) over the wheat. An action at law was brought by the tenant, and heavy damages obtained against the offender.)
29.] Jerome in loc. says: ‘Inter triticum et zizania quod nos appellamus lolium, quamdiu herba est, et nondum culmus venit ad spicam, grandis similitudo est, et in discernendo nulla aut perdifficilis distantia.’ Jerome, it must be remembered, resided in Palestine. As regards the construction, ἅμα is not a prep. governing αὐτοῖς, but merely an adv. used for elucidation; see Klotz, Devar. p. 97. Still the construction here would hardly bear its omission.
31, 32.] Third parable. The grain of mustard seed. Mark 4:30-34.Luk 13:18Luk 13:18, Luke 13:19. On the connexion of this parable with the two last, Chrysostom observes (Hom. in Matt. xlvi. 2, p. 483), ἐπειδὴ γὰρ εἶπεν ὅτι ἀπὸ τοῦ σπόρου τρία μέρη ἀπόλλυται, καὶ σώζεται ἕν, καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ πάλιν τῷ σωζομένῳ τοσαύτη γίνεται βλάβη, ἵνα μὴ λέγωσι ‘καὶ τίνες καὶ πόσοι ἔσονται οἱ πιστοί;’ καὶ τοῦτον ἐξαιρεῖ τὸν φόβον, διὰ τῆς παραβολῆς τοῦ σινάπεως ἐνάγων εἰς πίστιν αὐτοὺς καὶ δεικνὺς ὅτι πάντως ἐκταθήσεται τὸ πρᾶγμα.
31.] ἐν τ. ἀγρῷ = εἰς τ. κήπ. Luke.
32. μικρότερον κ.τ.λ.] less than all, not for the superlative. The words are not to be pressed to their literal sense, as the mustard seed was a well-known Jewish type for any thing exceedingly small.
The mustard tree attains to a large size in Judæa. Lightfoot quotes (Hor. Hebr. in l.) Hieros. Peah. fol. 20. 2, ‘Caulis erat sinapis in Sichin, e quo enati sunt rami tres; e quibus unus decerptus co-operuit tentoriolum figuli, produxitque tres cabos sinapis. Rabbi Simeon ben Chalaphta dixit, Caulis sinapis erat mihi in agro meo, in quam ego scandere solitus sum, ita ut scandere solent in ficum.’
This parable, like most others respecting the kingdom of God, has a double reference—general and individual. (1) In the general sense, the insignificant beginnings of the kingdom are set forth: the little babe cast in the manger at Bethlehem; the Man of sorrows with no place to lay His Head; the crucified One; or again the hundred and twenty names who were the seed of the Church after the Lord had ascended; then we have the Kingdom of God waxing onward and spreading its branches here and there, and different nations coming into it. “He must increase,” said the great Forerunner. We must beware however of imagining that the outward Church-form is this Kingdom. It has rather reversed the parable, and is the worldly power waxed to a great tree and the Churches taking refuge under the shadow of it. It may be, where not corrupted by error and superstition, subservient to the growth of the heavenly plant: but is not itself that plant. It is at best no more than (to change the figure) the scaffolding to aid the building, not the building itself. (2) The individual application of the parable points to the small beginnings of divine grace; a word, a thought, a passing sentence, may prove to be the little seed which eventually fills and shadows the whole heart and being, and calls ‘all thoughts, all passions, all delights’ to come and shelter under it. Jerome has a comment on this parable (in loc.) too important to be passed over: ‘Prædicatio Evangelii minima est omnibus disciplinis. Ad primam quippe doctrinam, fidem non habet veritatis, hominem Deum, Deum mortuum, et scandalum crucis prædicans. Confer hujuscemodi doctrinam dogmatibus Philosophorum et libris eorum, et splendori eloquentiæ, et compositioni sermonum, et videbis quanto minor sit cæteris seminibus sementis Evangelii. Sed illa cum creverit, nihil mordax, nihil vividum, nihil vitale demonstrat, sed totum flaccidum, marcidumque et mollitum ebullit in olera et in herbas quæ cito arescunt et corruunt. Hæc autem prædicatio quæ parva videbatur in principio, cum vel in anima credentis, vel in toto mundo sata fuerit, non exsurgit in olera, sed crescit in arborem.’
33.] Fourth parable. The leaven. Luke 13:20, Luke 13:21. Difficulties have been raised as to the interpretation of this parable which do not seem to belong to it. It has been questioned whether ζύμη must not be taken in the sense in which it so often occurs in Scripture, as symbolic of pollution and corruption. See Exodus 12:15, and other enactments of the kind, passim in the law; and ch. 16:6: 1Corinthians 5:6, 1Corinthians 5:7. And some few have taken it thus, and explained the parable of the progress of corruption and deterioration in the outward visible Church. But then, how is it said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like this leaven? For the construction is not the same as in ver. 24, where the similitude is to the whole course of things related, but answers to κόκκῳ σινάπεως, ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθ.: so ζύμῃ, ἣν λαβοῦσα γυνή. Again, if the progress of the Kingdom of Heaven be towards corruption, till the whole is corrupted, surely there is an end of all the blessings and healing influence of the Gospel on the world. It will be seen that such an interpretation cannot for a moment stand, on its own ground; but much less when we connect it with the parable preceding. The two are intimately related. That was of the inherent self-developing power of the Kingdom of Heaven as a seed containing in itself the principle of expansion; this, of the power which it possesses of penetrating and assimilating a foreign mass, till all be taken up into it. And the comparison is not only to the power but to the effect of leaven also, which has its good as well as its bad side, and for that good is used: viz. to make wholesome and fit for use that which would otherwise be heavy and insalubrious. Another striking point of comparison is in the fact that leaven, as used ordinarily, is a piece of the leavened loaf put amongst the new dough—(τὸ ζυμωθὲν ἅπαξ ζύμη γίνεται τῷ λοιπῷ πάλιν. Chrys. Hom. xlvi. 2, p. 484)—just as the Kingdom of Heaven is the renewal of humanity by the righteous Man Christ Jesus.
The Parable, like the last, has its general and its individual application: (1) in the penetrating of the whole mass of humanity, by degrees, by the influence of the Spirit of God, so strikingly witnessed in the earlier ages by the dropping of heathen customs and worship:—in modern times more gradually and secretly advancing, but still to be plainly seen in the various abandonments of criminal and unholy practices (as e.g. in our own time of slavery and duelling, and the increasing abhorrence of war among Christian men), and without doubt in the end to be signally and universally manifested. But this effect again is not to be traced in the establishment or history of so-called Churches, but in the hidden advancement, without observation, of that deep leavening power which works irrespective of human forms and systems. (2) In the transforming power of the ‘new leaven’ on the whole being of individuals. “In fact the Parable does nothing less than set forth to us the mystery of regeneration, both in its first act, which can be but once, as the leaven is but once hidden; and also in the consequent (subsequent?) renewal by the Holy Spirit, which, as the ulterior working of the leaven, is continual and progressive.” (Trench, p. 97.) Some have contended for this as the sole application of the parable; but not, I think, rightly.
As to whether the γυνή has any especial meaning, (though I am more and more convinced that such considerations are not always to be passed by as nugatory,) it will hardly be of much consequence here to enquire, seeing that γυναῖκες σιτοποιοί would be every where a matter of course.
ἐγκρύπτω has given rise to a technical word ἐγκρυφίας, signifying a leavened cake (which however, Passow, Lex. explains to be a cake baked under hot ashes, thus applying the ἐγκρύπτω differently: cf. ref. Ezek.). See reff.
σάτον, סְאָה (Aram. סָאתָא), = the third part of an ephah = μόδιον καὶ ἥμισυ Ἰταλικόν, Jos. Antt. ix. 4. 5. Three of these, an ephah, appears to have been the usual quantity prepared for a baking: see Genesis 18:6: Judges 6:19: 1Samuel 1:24. This being the case, we need not perhaps seek for any symbolical interpretation: though Olsh.’s hint that the body, soul, and spirit may perhaps be here intended can hardly but occur to us, and Stier’s, that “of the three sons of Noah was the whole earth overspread,” is worth recording.
34. καὶ χωρ. π. οὐδ. ἐλ.] κατὰ τὸν καιρὸν ἐκεῖνον δηλαδή· πολλὰ γὰρ πολλάκις ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς δίχα παραβολῆς.
35. ὅπως πλ.] in order that &c., not ‘so that thus,’ or ‘and in this way’ (?) as Webst. and Wilk.,—here, or any where else. See note on ch. 1:22. The prophet, according to the superscription of Psa_78, is Asaph, so called 2Chronicles 29:30, LXX. The former clause of the citation is identical with the LXX; the latter = φθέγξομαι προβλήματα ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, LXX. When we find De Wette, &c. maintaining that the Psalm contains no parable, and that consequently these words can only be cited out of their context, we must remember that such a view is wholly inconsistent with any deep insight into the meaning of the Scripture record: for the whole Psalm consists of a recounting of events which St. Paul assures us τύποι ἡμῶν ἐγενήθησαν … τυπικῶς συνέβαινον ἐκείνοις, ἐγράφη δὲ πρὸς νουθεσίαν ἡμῶν. 1Corinthians 10:6, 1Corinthians 10:11.
36-43.] Interpretation of the parable of the tares of the field. Peculiar to Matthew.
38.] This verse has been variously interpreted, notwithstanding that its statements are so plain. The consideration of it will lead us into that of the general nature and place of the parable itself. The field is the world; if understood of the Church, then the Church only as commensurate with the world, πορευθέντες εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἅπαντα κηρύξατε τὸ εὐαγγέλιον πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει (Mark 16:15); the Church standing for the world, not, the world for the Church. (This latter view, Stier says, Augustine upholds against the Donatists: but I cannot find it in his Ep. contra Donatistas (vol. ix.), where he several times plainly asserts the field to be commensurate with the world, and the Church to be the ‘triticum inter zizania.’) And the parable has, like the former ones, its various references to various counter-workings of the Evil One against the grace of God. Its two principal references are, (1) to the whole history of the world from beginning to end; the coming of sin into the world by the malice of the devil, the mixed state of mankind, notwithstanding the development of God’s purposes by the dispensations of grace,—and the final separation of the good and evil at the end. The very declaration ‘the harvest is the end of the world’ suggests the original sowing as the beginning of it. Yet this sowing is not in the fact, as in the parable, one only, but repeated again and again.
In the parable the Lord gathers as it were the whole human race into one lifetime, as they will be gathered in one harvest, and sets that forth as simultaneous, which has been scattered over the ages of time. But (2) as applying principally to the βασ. τ. οὐρ. which lay in the future and began with the Lord’s incarnation, the parable sets forth to us the universal sowing of good seed by the Gospel: it sows no bad seed: all this is done by the enemy, and further we may not enquire. Soon, even as soon as Act_5 in the history of the Church, did the tares begin to appear; and in remarkable coincidence with the wheat bringing forth fruit (see Acts 4:32-37). Again, see Acts 13:10, where Paul calls Elymas by the very name υἱὸς διαβόλου. And ever since, the same has been the case; throughout the whole world, where the Son of Man sows good seed, the Enemy sows tares. And it is not the office, however much it may be the desire, of the servants of the householder, the labourers in His field, to collect or root up these tares, to put them out of the world literally, or of the Church spiritually (save in some few exceptional cases, such as that in Act_5); this is reserved for another time and for other hands,—for the harvest, the end; for the reapers, the angels. (3) It is also most important to notice that, as the Lord here gathers up ages into one season of seed time and harvest, so He also gathers up the various changes of human character and shiftings of human will into two distinct classes. We are not to suppose that the wheat can never become tares, or the tares wheat: this would be to contradict the purpose of Him who willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; and this gracious purpose shines through the command ἄφετε συναυξάνεσθαι ἀμφότερα—let time be given (as above) for the leaven to work. As in the parable of the sower, the various classes were the concentrations of various dispositions, all of which are frequently found in one and the same individual, so here the line of demarcation between wheat and tares, so fixed and impassable at last, is, during the probation time, the time of συναύξησις, not yet determined by Him who will have all to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. In the very first example, that of our first parents, the good seed degenerated, but their restoration and renewal was implied in the promises made to them, and indeed in their very punishment itself; and we their progeny are by nature the children of wrath, till renewed by the same grace. The parable is delivered by the Lord as knowing all things, and describing by the final result; and gives no countenance whatever to predestinarian error. (4) The parable has an historical importance, having been much in the mouths and writings of the Donatists, who, maintaining that the Church is a perfectly holy congregation, denied the applicability of this Scripture to convict them of error, seeing that it is spoken not of the Church but of the world: missing the deeper truth which would have led them to see that, after all, the world is the Church, only overrun by these very tares.
τὸ δὲ καλὸν σπ., οὗτοί εἰσιν strikingly sets forth again the identity of the seed, in its growth, with those who are the plants: see above on ver. 19.
οἱ υἱοὶ τ. βασ.] not in the same sense as in ch. 8:12,—sons there, by covenant and external privilege: here,—by the effectual grace of adoption: the kingdom, there, in mere paradigm, on this imperfect earth: here, in its true accomplishment. in the new heavens and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness: but in their state among the tares, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.
41. τὰ σκάνδ.] generally understood of those men who give cause of offence, tempters and hinderers of others: Stier would rather understand it of things, as well as men, who are afterwards designated. On ὁ κλ. κ. ὁ βρ., see note at ch. 8:12.
43. ἐκλάμψουσιν] shall shine out (their light here being enfeebled and obscured), as the sun from a cloud. τοῦ πατρός, answering to οἱ υἱοί, ver. 38. This sublime announcement is over and above the interpretation of the parable.
44.] Fifth parable. The hidden treasure. Peculiar to Matthew. This and the following parable are closely connected, and refer to two distinct classes of persons who become possessed of the treasure of the Gospel. Notice that these, as also the seventh and last, are spoken not to the multitude but to the disciples.
In this parable, a man, labouring perchance for another, or by accident in passing, finds a treasure which has been hidden in a field; from joy at having found it he goes, and selling all he has, buys the field, thus (by the Jewish law) becoming the possessor also of the treasure. Such hiding of treasure is common even now, and was much more common in the East (see Jeremiah 41:8 (cf. Hitzig in loc.): Job 3:21: Proverbs 2:4).
This sets before us the case of a man who unexpectedly, without earnest seeking, finds, in some part of the outward Church, the treasure of true faith and hope and communion with God; and having found this, for joy of it he becomes possessor, not of the treasure without the field (for that the case supposes impossible) but of the field at all hazards, to secure the treasure which is in it: i.e. he possesses himself of the means of grace provided in that branch of the Church, where, to use a common expression, he has “gotten his good:” he makes that field his own.
45, 46.] Sixth parable. The pearl of great price. In this parable our Lord sets before us, that although in ordinary cases of finding ‘the truth as it is in Jesus,’ the buying of the field is the necessary prelude to becoming duly and properly possessed of it; yet there are cases, and those of a nobler kind, where such condition is not necessary. We have here a merchantman,—one whose business it is,—on the search for goodly pearls; i.e. a man who intellectually and spiritually is a seeker of truth of the highest kind. “He whom this pursuit occupies, is a merchantman; i.e. one trained, as well as devoted, to business. The search is therefore determinate, discriminate, unremitting. This case then corresponds to such Christians only as from youth have been trained up in the way which they should go. In these alone can be the settled habits, the effectual self-direction, the convergence to one point of all the powers and tendencies of the soul, which are indicated by the illustration.” (Knox’s Remains, i. 460.) But as the same writer goes on to observe, even here there is a discovery, at a particular time. The person has been seeking, and finding, goodly pearls; what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report: but at last he finds one pearl of great price—the efficacious principle of inward and spiritual life. We hear of no emotion, no great joy of heart, as before; but the same decision of conduct; he sells all and buys it. He chooses vital Christianity, at whatever cost, for his portion. But here is no field. The pearl is bought pure—by itself. It is found, not unexpectedly in the course of outward ordinances,—with which therefore it would become to the finder inseparably bound up,—but by diligent search, spiritual and immediate, in its highest and purest form. Trench instances (Parables, p. 100) Nathanael and the Samaritan woman as examples of the finders without seeking;—Augustine, as related in his Confessions (we might add St. Paul, see Philippians 3:7), of the diligent seeker and finder. Compare with this parable Proverbs 2:3-9, and to see what kind of buying is not meant, Isaiah 55:1: ch. 25:9, 10. Also see Revelation 3:18.
47-52.] Seventh parable. The draw-net. Peculiar to Matthew.
47.] σαγήνη is a drag, or draw-net, drawn over the bottom of the water, and permitting nothing to escape it. The leading idea of this parable is the ultimate separation of the holy and unholy in the Church, with a view to the selection of the former for the master’s use. We may notice that the fishermen are kept out of view and never mentioned: the comparison not extending to them. A net is cast into the sea and gathers of every kind (of fish: not of things, as mud, weeds, &c., as Stier supposes); when this is full, it is drawn to shore, and the good collected into vessels, while the bad (the legally unclean, those out of season, those putrid or maimed) are cast away. This net is the Church gathering from the sea (a common Scripture similitude for nations: see Revelation 17:15: Isaiah 8:7: Psalm 65:7) of the world, all kinds (see Revelation 7:9); and when it is full, it is drawn to the bank (the limit of the ocean, as the συντέλεια is the limit of the αἰών), and the angels (not the same as the fishers, as Olshausen maintains; for in the parable of the tares the servants and reapers are clearly distinguished) shall gather out the wicked from among the just, and cast them into everlasting punishment. It is plain that the comparison must not be strained beyond its limits, as our Lord shews us that the earthly here gives but a faint outline of the heavenly. Compare the mere ἔξω ἔβαλον of the one, with the fearful antitype of vv. 49, 50. On ὁ κλ. κ. ὁ βρ. see note on ch. 8:12.
51, 52.] Solemn conclusion of the parables. When our Lord asks, ‘Have ye understood all these things?’ and they answer, ‘Yea, Lord,’ the reply must be taken as spoken from their then standing-point, from which but little could be seen of that inner and deeper meaning which the Holy Spirit has since unfolded. And this circumstance explains the following parabolic remark of our Lord: that every γραμματεύς (they, in their study of the Lord’s sayings, answering to the then γραμματεῖς in their study of the Law) who is μαθητευθείς, enrolled as a disciple and taught as such, is like an householder (the Great Householder being the Lord Himself, compare ch. 24:45), who puts forth from his store new things and old; i.e. ‘ye yourselves, scribes of the Kingdom of Heaven, instructed as ye shall fully be in the meaning of these sayings, are (shall be) like householders, from your own stores of knowledge respecting them hereafter bringing out, not only your present understanding of them, but ever new and deeper meanings.’
And this is true of πᾶς γρ. κ.τ.λ. Every real spiritually-learned scribe of the Kingdom of Heaven is able, from the increasing stores of his genuine experimental knowledge of the word (not merely from books or learning, or the Bible itself, but ἐκ τοῦ θησ. αὐτοῦ), to bring forth things new and old.
The διὰ τοῦτο is an expression of consequence, but not a strong one: answering nearly to our Well, then.
This is perhaps the fittest place to make a few general remarks on this wonderful cycle of Parables. We observe, (1) How naturally they are evolved from the objects and associations surrounding our Lord at the time (see on this the very interesting section of Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, ch. xiii. § 2, p. 420 ff., “On the Parables”). He sat in a boat in the sea, teaching the people who were on the land. His eye wandered over the rich plain of Gennesareth (where πᾶν πεφυτεύκασιν οἱ νεμόμενοι, Jos. B. J. iii. 10. 8, and Robinson, iii. 290):—the field-paths, the stony places, the neglected spots choked with wild vegetation (οὔτε γὰρ αὐτή τι φυτὸν ἀρνεῖται διὰ τὴν πιότητα, ib.), the plots of rich and deep soil, were all before him. The same imagery prevails in the parable of the tares of the field, and in that of the mustard seed; and the result of the tilling of the land is associated with the leaven in the lump. Then He quits the sea-shore and enters the house with the disciples. There the link to the former parable is the exposition of the tares of the field. From the working of the land for seed to finding a treasure in a field the transition is easy—from the finding without seeking to seeking earnestly and finding, easy again: from the seed to the buried treasure, from the treasure to the pearl,—the treasure of the deep,—again simple and natural. The pearl recalls the sea; the sea the fishermen with their net; the mixed throng lining the beach, the great day of separation on the further bank of Time. (2) The seven Parables compose in their inner depth of connexion, a great united whole, beginning with the first sowing of the Church, and ending with the consummation. We must not, as Stier well remarks, seek with Bengel, ., minutely to apportion the series prophetically, to various historical periods: those who have done so (see Trench, p. 142, edn. 4) have shewn caprice and inconsistency; and the parable, though in its manifold depths the light of prophecy sometimes glimmers, has for its main object to teach, not to foretell. More than a general outline, shewn by the prominence of those points to which the respective parables refer, in the successive periods of the Church, we can hardly expect to find. But as much we unquestionably do find. The apostolic age was (1) the greatest of all the seed times of the Church: then (2) sprang up the tares, heresies manifold, and the attempts to root them out, almost as pernicious as the heresies themselves: nay the so-called Church Catholic was for ages employed in rooting up the wheat also. Notwithstanding this (3) the little seed waxed onward—the kingdoms of the earth came gradually in—(4) the leaven was secretly penetrating and assimilating. Then is it, (5) during the period of dissensions, and sects, and denominations, that here and there by this man and that man the treasure shall be found: then is it, (6) during the increase of secular knowledge, and cultivation of the powers of the intellect, that merchantmen shall seek goodly pearls up and down the world, and many shall find, each for himself, the Pearl of Price. And thus we are carried on (7) through all the ages during which the great net has been gathering of every kind, to the solemn day of inspection and separation, which will conclude the present state.
53, 54.] τὴν πατ. αὐ., viz. Nazareth. Perhaps the proceedings of ch. 8:18-9:34 are to be inserted between these two verses. In Mark 4:35, the stilling of the storm and voyage to the Gadarenes are bound to the above parables by what appears a distinct note of sequence: ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ὀψίας γενομένης: for we can hardly interpret ὀψ. γεν. on any other hypothesis than that ἐν ἐκ. τ. ἡμ. means ‘on the same day.’ The teaching was on the Sabbath (Mark).
55. οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ] It is an enquiry of much interest and some difficulty, who these were. After long examination of the evidence on the subject, I believe that the truth will best be attained by disencumbering the mind in the first place of all à priori considerations, and traditions (which last are very inconsistent and uncertain), and fixing the attention on the simple testimony of Scripture itself. I will trace the ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ or ἀδ. κυρίου through the various mentions of them in the N.T., and then state the result; placing at the end of the note the principal traditions on the subject, and the difficulties attending them. (I) The expression οἱ ἀδ. αὐτοῦ occurs nine times in the Gospels, and once in the Acts. Of these the three first are in the narratives of the coming of His mother and brethren to speak with Him, Matthew 12:46: Mark 3:31: Luke 8:19: the two next are the present passage and its ║ in Mark 6:3, where they are mentioned in connexion with His mother and sisters; the four others are in John 2:12; John 7:3, John 7:5, John 7:10, in the first of which He and his mother and brethren and disciples are related to have gone down to Capernaum: and in the three last His brethren are introduced as urging Him to shew Himself to the world, and it is stated that they did not believe on Him. The last is in Acts 1:14, where we read that the Apostles ‘continued in prayer and supplication with the women, and with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.’ In another place, 1Corinthians 9:5, Paul mentions οἱ λοιποὶ ἀπόστολοι, καὶ οἱ ἀδ. τ. κυρίου, κ. Κηφᾶς. Such are all the places where the meaning is undoubted, that persons called, and being in some usual sense, brethren of the Lord, are mentioned. (Besides these the Lord Himself uses the words οἱ ἀδελφοί μου Matthew 28:10: John 20:17, but apparently with a wider meaning, including at least the eleven Apostles in the term, as He does in Matthew 12:49 ║.) Now I would observe (α) that in all the mentions of them in the Gospels, except those in Joh_7, they are in connexion with His mother: the same being the case in Acts 1:14. (β) That it is no where asserted or implied that any of them were of the number of the twelve; but from John 7:5, following upon 6:70 (by μετὰ ταῦτα 7:1), they are excluded from that number. John would certainly not have used the words οὐδὲ γὰρ οἱ ἀδ. αὐτ. ἐπίστ. εἰς αὐτόν, had any of them believed on Him at that time (see this substantiated in note ad loc.):—and again in Acts 1:14, by being mentioned after the Apostles have been enumerated by name, and after the mother of Jesus, they are indicated at that time also to have been separate from the twelve, although then certainly believing on Him. (γ) Their names, as stated here and in Mark 6:3, were Jacob, Joseph (or Joses), Simon, and Judas, all of them among the commonest of Jewish names. Of Joseph (or Joses;—certainly not the Joseph Barsabas Justus of Acts 1:23; see ib. ver. 21) and Simon (not Simon Cananæus or Zelotes: see above) we know from Scripture nothing. Of the two others we have the following traces—(δ) Jacob (James) appears in the apostolic narrative as ὁ ἀδελφὸς τοῦ κυρίου, Galatians 1:19: he is there called an apostle. This however determines nothing as to his having been among the twelve (which is a very different matter); for Paul and Barnabas are called apostles, Act_14:(4) 14, and Paul always calls himself such. See also Romans 16:7: 1Thessalonians 2:7 compared with 1:1. That he is identical with the James of Galatians 2:9, whom Paul mentions with Cephas and John as having given him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, fourteen years after the visit related ib. 1:19, does not appear for certain, but has been pretty generally assumed. (See this whole subject discussed in the prolegg. to the Epistle of James.) (ε) The Jude who has left an epistle, and was brother of James, not only does not call himself an apostle, ver. 1 (as neither does James, nor indeed John himself, so that this cannot be urged), but in ver. 17 (see note there) seems to draw a distinction between himself and the Apostles. Whether this indicate that the James and Jude, the authors of the Epistles, were two of these ἀδελφοὶ τ. κυρίου, is uncertain; but it may at least be mentioned in the course of our enquiry.
I shall now state the result of that enquiry, which has been based on Scripture testimony only. (1) That there were four persons known as οἱ ἀδ. αὐτοῦ or τ. κυρίου, not of the number of the twelve. (2) That these persons are found in all places (with the above exception) where their names occur in the Gospels, in immediate connexion with Mary, the mother of the Lord. (It is a strange phænomenon in argument, that it should have been maintained by an orthodox writer, that my inference from this proves too much, because Joseph is here introduced as His father: as if a mistake of the Jews with regard to a supernatural fact, which they could not know, invalidated their cognizance of a natural fact which they knew full well.) (3) That not a word is any where dropped to prevent us from inferring that the ἀδελφοί and ἀδελφαὶ αὐτοῦ were His relations in the same literal sense as we know ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ to have been; but that His own saying, where He distinguishes His relations according to the flesh from His disciples (ch. 12:50 ║), seems to sanction that inference. (4) That nothing is said from which it can be inferred whether Joseph had been married before he appears in the Gospel history;—or again, whether these ἀδ. were, according to the flesh, older or younger than our Lord. (5) That the silence of the Scripture narrative leaves it free for Christians to believe these to have been real (younger) brethren and sisters of our Lord, without incurring any imputation of unsoundness of belief as to His miraculous conception. That such an imputation has been cast, is no credit to the logical correctness of those who have made it, who set down that, because this view has been taken by impugners of the great Truth just mentioned, therefore, it eventually leads, or may fairly be used, towards the denial of it (see Dr. Mill on the Brethren of our Lord, p. 224); for no attempt is made to shew its connexion with such a conclusion. The fact is, that the two matters, the miraculous conception of the Lord Jesus by the Holy Ghost, and the subsequent virginity of His Mother, are essentially and entirely distinct; see note on Matthew 1:25: see also, respecting a supposed difficulty attending this view, note on John 19:27. (II) I will now state the principal traditionary views respecting the brethren of the Lord. (1) That they were all sons of Alphæus (or Clopas) and Mary the sister of the mother of our Lord; and so cousins of Jesus, and called agreeably to Jewish usage His brothers.
This is the view taken in the remarkable fragment of Papias, quoted in Dr. Mill, p. 238, adopted by Jerome (cont. Helvidium 13, vol. ii. p. 219), and very generally received in ancient and modern times. But it seems to me that a comparison of the Scripture testimonies cited above will prove it untenable. One at least of the sons of this Alphæus was an apostle, of the number of the twelve, viz. Ἰάκωβος ὁ τοῦ Ἀλφαίου (see all the lists, on ch. 10:3); which (see above) would exclude him from the number of the brethren of the Lord. But even if one of the four could be thus detached (which, from John 7:5, I cannot believe), it is generally assumed that Ἰούδας Ἰακώβου (see Luke’s two lists as above) is Jude the brother of James; and if so, this would be another son of Alphæus, and another subtraction from the number who did not believe on Him. Again Matthew (see note on Matthew 9:9), if identical with Levi (Mark 2:14), was another son of Alphæus: which would make a fifth brother, and leave therefore, out of five, three believing on Him at the time when it was said οὐδὲ γὰρ οἱ ἀδ.… κ.τ.λ. This view besides labours under the difficulty arising from these brethren accompanying and being found in connexion with Mary the mother of our Lord, whereas throughout that time their own mother was living. The way in which the assertors of this view explain John 7:5, is either by supposing that all the brethren are not there implied, or that all are not here mentioned; both suppositions, it seems to me, very unlikely (compare e.g. John’s minute accuracy where an exception was to be made, ch. 6:23, 24). (2) That they were children of Joseph by a former marriage (or even by a later one with Mary wife of Clopas, to raise up seed to his dead brother,—as Clopas is said to have been: but this needs no refutation). This view was taken by several early Fathers, e.g. Hilary, Epiphanius, and mentioned by Origen, who (Winer, Realwörterbuch, i. p. 663) says respecting it, οἱ ταῦτα λέγοντες τὸ ἀξίωμα τῆς Μαρίας ἐν παρθενίᾳ τηρεῖν μέχρι τέλους βούλονται. This however, while by no means impossible, and in some respects agreeing with the apparent position of these brothers as older (according to the flesh) than the Lord (John 7:3), has no countenance whatever in Scripture, either in their being called sons of any other woman, or in any distinct mention of Joseph as their father, which surely in this case would be required. (III) On the à priori considerations which have influenced opinions on this matter, see note on Matthew 1:25; and on the traditional literature, see the tract of Professor Mill on the Brethren of our Lord. See also Winer, Realwörterbuch, Art. Jesus, § 3. Greswell, Dissertations, vol. ii. Diss. iii. Blom, Disputatio Theologica de τ. ἀδ. τ. κ. Lug. Bat. 1839. Wieseler, Stud. und Kritiken, 1842, i. 96 ff. (these two last I have not seen); also, a letter on this my note, referred to above under I. 2, in the Journal of Sacred Literature for July, 1855. This letter is too much based on à priori considerations, but contains some valuable suggestions on this confessedly difficult question.
Neander, Leben J. p. 48, brings out the importance of the view which I have above, under (I), endeavoured to justify, as shewing that the account of the miraculous conception is not mythical, in which case all would have been arranged to suit the views of virginity from which it had arisen,—but strictly historical, found as it is with no such arrangements or limitations.