Matthew 22
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,
Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.
B. The Attach of the Herodians or the Politicians, and the Victory of the Lord. MATTHEW 22:15–22

(Mark 12:13–17; Luke 20:20–26. The Gospel for the 23d Sunday after Trinity.)

15Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle [ensnare, en trap] him in his talk [with a word, ἐν λόγῳ].12 16And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians,13 saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teaches the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man [one, οὐοὐδενός]: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cesar, or not? 18But Jesus perceived [knowing, γνούς] their wick- edness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19Shew me the tribute money [to νόμισμα τοῦ κήνσου], And they brought unto him a penny denary].14 20And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription [the inscription, ἡ ἐπιγραφή]? 21They say unto him, Cesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render15 therefore unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s [the things of Cæsar to Caesar, τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι]; and unto God the things that are God’s [the things of God to God, τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ]. 22When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.


Matthew 22:15. Then went the Pharisees.—The Pharisees formed the main element in the deputation of the Sanhedrin, which aimed to annihilate the Lord by a stroke of authority. But their blow He had made to recoil upon themselves. They stood as persons who were stripped of their spiritual authority; while He, by the same words which stripped them, demonstrated His own Messianic power, and remained in the temple as its actual Lord. His authority with the people, which it was sought to impair, was thus strengthened anew. His enemies enter into the fact of their position; yet not with repentance and obedience, but with a hypocritical acknowledgment, that they might again ensnare Him by cunning. This they could compass only by bringing Him into suspicion of the crime, of which they were themselves conscious, of exciting machinations against the Roman government. They wanted a political Messiah: that He would not become. They now sought to involve Him in the appearance of being a political Messiah, in order that they might band Him over to the Roman authorities as an insurrectionary. They would suggest to Him, or impose upon Him, the sedition of their own hearts, that thus they might ruin Him. Thus they went further and further into the most Abandoned course of lying, urged by the exasperation which His last great warning parables had provoked to the uttermost. How great this exasperation was, appears from the fact that it was the Pharisees of the Sanhedrin, the bitterest enemies of Rome, who made this attack, and connected themselves, for the accomplishment of their purpose, with the Herodian political party. And the greatness of their obduracy and blindness appears in this, that after all they actually brought Him to the cross under the charge of being a political Messiah, although He rebuked and repelled every solicitation to utter a seditious word. They hoped to succeed in their temptation, because they were blinded by the spirit of absolutism which regards every departure from its laws and demands as rebellion and revolution.

And took counsel.—It is a counsel of cunning. Their purpose is now to confront Him as private persons, who have much respect for His person; and for this purpose they have a perilous question ready. Hence the new assault upon our Lord assumes the form of a series of distinct party attacks. The Pharisees take the lead with theirs; and theirs was, indeed, the most cunningly devised. The Sadducees then follow, in an attack more direct and outspoken, though equally disguised as to its ultimate purpose. And then come, lastly, the scribes of the Pharisees’ party, and try their strength on His.

Matthew 22:16. Their disciples with the Herodians.—It was part of the cunning of this new attack, that the Pharisees—the most dignified members of the Sanhedrin—who had just officially encountered Jesus, did not now appear before Him in the new character of hypocritical submission. He should by no means know their design. Hence they sent their disciples, young and unknown persons, who were students of the science of expounding Scripture. But for these they had been able to provide an accompaniment of political partisans, Herodians, probably also of the younger sort. They were the high-born academical youth of Jerusalem: an appropriate organ to use in a temptation to theocratical revolution around the temple of Zion. Meyer :“The Herodians were that party of the Jews who were devoted to the royal house of Herod—a party political, not hierarchical, yet not purely Roman; popular royalists, in opposition to the pure principle of the theocracy, but also to the unpopular Roman dominion (against Cæsar), Biding with the powerful Pharisees from policy and according to circumstances. For other and in part very singular interpretations, see Wolf and Köcher in loc.16 The passage in Joseph. Antiq. xiv. 15, 10, refers to other circumstances, comp. Ewald, p. 196. To regard them as adherents of the Roman government generally (and not specifically a faction devoted to the Herodian family), is forbidden by the special name which they bore. It was deep cunning in the hierarchy to unite themselves with this royalist faction; for thus they hoped to embolden Jesus to utter a word which might be interpreted against the census-tribute. Their flattering introduction had this design; and their further plan was to urge a political complaint against Him before the Roman authorities. Comp. Luke 20:20. But, should an affirmative answer upset this scheme, they would at least succeed in placing the Herodians in antagonism to Him.” Rather, they would in this case make Him hateful to the people, in consequence of His unconditional testimony in favor of subjection to the Roman dominion. The Herodians were, after all, anti-theocratic in their sentiments, and could only wear the mask of a patriotic royalism, which might serve as a temptation to the Lord. A third contingency, that Jesus might decline giving any answer, His opponents seem scarcely to have at all contemplated. It may have occurred to their minds, however, that they might possibly use Him yet as a tool in a gigantic rebellion.

Master, we know.—A cunning hint,17 that they were ready to pay Him honor as the Messiah. In a sincere spirit Nicodemus said the same thing, John 3:2.

That Thou art true: truthful.—With all their deceit, they actually thought this. The most abandoned falsehood is constrained to acknowledge His pure sincerity.

Thou teachest the way of God in truth.—Hypocritical recognition, (1) of His doctrine, and (2) of His manner of teaching or His orthodoxy. The way of God, in the Jewish scholastic sense; emphatically, the practical instruction which came from God Himself and represents His will; the revelation of God as the standard for human conduct. See Bretschneider, sub ὁδός.

Neither carest Thou for any one.—A cunning temptation to lift Himself, in His proud consciousness, above all respect or care for the Roman authorities. They had indeed found that their power had no effect to intimidate Him in the way of truth. But they might have known that His independence was always connected with the purest submission to the powers that are. Their involuntary acknowledgment shines through their false speech.

Regardest not the person of man.—ΙΙ ρόσωπον is the outward appearance: the representative of an authority. Ο βλέπιες πρόσωπονis essentially the same as Luke’s οὐ λαυβάνεις πρόσωπον, Matthew 22:21, but stronger.

Matthew 22:17. Is it lawful ?—To the Jew. De Wette “According to theocratical principles, which regard ed Jehovah as the only King in Israel.” The theocratical prerogative, however, had not interfered with the representation of Jehovah by human kings in Israel; and the Israelites had paid tribute always to them. In fact, they had in past times paid tribute even to foreign potentates—the Babylonians, Persians, etc. How then, in the face of such precedents, could the question be urged as it was urged on the present occasion ? The explanation is to be found in the fact, that the Jewish fanaticism had increased from generation to generation, and that it was now rapidly approaching the point of culmination which it reached at last in the Jewish war. And the hope of the Messiah was also increasing in strength. Thus, while the payment of tribute to a human king might generally be lawful, it was otherwise with a heathen king, especially Caesar, who threatened to take the place of the Messiah as His dark rival in the rule of the world: this might appear apostasy from the theocracy and the hope of Messiah’s kingdom. In this spirit Judas the Gaulonite (Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 1; Acts 5:37) had refused the census of the Romans; regarding it as the decisive sign of servitude. And certainly the Jews might have been justified in refusing all political homage to the Caesar, if the history of the theocracy had not established a distinction between the religious and the political element, and introduced and accustomed them to such a difference between the Church and the State. But fanaticism ignored this distinction as a temporary abuse, and supposed that with the advent of the Messiah it would disappear; meanwhile it was a disorder that must be cunningly submitted to as a necessity. Christ opposes to their temptation the perfect and clear distinction as it was appointed by God. The question: “Is it lawful?” of itself obscures the supposition of duty; and the question: “Must we, as servants of the theocracy, refuse the tribute ?” meant, in other words: Must we resist the dominion of the Romans, and rise up in rebellion ?

Or not ?—The not lawful they would fain have put in His mouth.

Matthew 22:18. Hypocrites.—Bengel: “Jesus verum se eis ostendit ut dixerant, Matthew 22:16.”

Matthew 22:19. The tribute money.—The coin in which the tribute is paid. Ubicunque numisma regis alicujus obtinet, illic incolæ regem istum pro domino agnoscunt. Maimon. in Gezelah, v. 18.

Matthew 22:20, 21. Whose is this image?—The Lord’s answer gains infinitely in emphasis when we connect it with the action in which He clothes it Bearing this coin in their hands, they were obliged to appear before Him as the subjects of Cæsar, and themselves read the decision of their own question in the. word “Cæsar.” But the truth of the answer consists in this, that every one has subjected himself to the actual obligations of a State who has entered into its rights, as symbolized by its currency. Or, he who acknowledges the ruler’s right of coining, acknowledges also his right to tribute; he who takes the coin from Cæsar, must give it back to him again. Thus Jesus makes the payment of tribute a duty of virtual obligation. The coin is already Cæsar’s. But the word is τὰΚαίσαρος, the things of Cæsar, and it includes therefore all the obligations to the State. But this obedience must ever be conditioned by obedience to God, to whom all must pay the trib.ute of τὰτοῦ Θεοῦ, the things of God. And here we must not think merely of any particular tribute—the temple tribute (the usual interpretation), or repentance (Ebrard)—but of all religious obligations. Erasmus: Give to God that which has the image and inscription of God, the soul (quod Dei habet inscriptionem et imaginem, i.e,, animum).

Matthew 22:21. And unto God the things that are God’s.—The word was not only a precept, but also a correction; since they denied to the father Himself, in the person of Jesus, the honor due to Him. And so also the word: “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s,” might have spared them the Jewish war, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the downfall of their nation.

[The answer of our Saviour in Matthew 22:21 is perhaps the wisest answer ever given to any question, certainly the wisest which could possibly be made in this case, and we need not wonder that the enemies who elicited it, “marvelled and left Him.” It establishes the rights, regulates the duties, and distinguishes the jurisdiction of the spiritual and temporal powers and their subjects. It contains the fundamental principle and guide for the settlement of the vexed question of Church and State, which has created so much trouble and persecution in the history of Christianity. If men would always strictly adhere to this rule, there never would be a hostile collision between the two powers, which are both of divine origin and authority, the one for the temporal, the other for the eternal welfare of man, and which ought to be kept distinct and independent in their respective spheres without mixture and confusion, and yet without antagonism, but in friendly relation in View of their common origin in God, and their common end and completion in the βασιλεία τῆς δόξης,, where God shall be all in all.—P. S.]


1. The temptation of Christ to revolution, through the students and aristocracy of Jerusalem, as the instruments of His enemies.

2. The Messiah Himself divides here the theocracy, which was both Church and State, into Church and State as two distinct parts: He consigns the kingdom of this world to Caesar, while He limits and conditions it by the kingdom of God.

3. Render unto Cæsar that which is Cæsar’s.—Here the duty of obedience is deduced from the fact of the existing dominion. Cæsar had the coin, therefore it should be given to him; Cæsar had the power, therefore he should be obeyed. De Wette distinguishes in a futile way between the principles of conscience, of right, and of power and prudence. Prudence is also matter of conscience. To revolt against authority, is contrary to conscience. Political obligations have entered in, as matter of fact, wherever people have settled themselves in the enjoyment of political rights. Hence the passages, Rom. 13:1; 1 Tim. 2:1; 1 Pet. 2:13, 17, belong here. On the distinction between legitimate and unrighteous dominion, this text says nothing. But it does say that he who has accepted the protection of an actual government, has entered into its political constitution, and acknowledged thereby its rights. The legitimist feeling of devotion to an oppressed power must maintain its propriety by banishment and suffering with it. It can co-exist with the new bond of subjection only as a wish, a sentiment, a longing for deliverance. Enjoying the protection of the exist power, it must submit to the obligations which thence arise. But the antithesis, “Unto God that which is God’s,” is self characterized as the higher or absolute principle, which is the condition of the former. Comp Acts 4:19 [which contains the right of disobedience to the temporal power, where it clearly contradicts the laws of God.—P. S.].

4. Money represents the palpable earthly side of government and civil relations. He who, in the impress of the coin, is acknowledged as the ruler over the money of the land, is thereby marked out as the ruler of the land. In a certain sense, therefore, the money circulation is a permanent symbol of political subjection and mark of allegiance.18 But, over against the external and visible dominion of Cæsar over tho civil life, there is the immediate dominion of God over the internal and unseen life. These two dominions are not indeed coordinate; the latter is supreme over the former; but it has a pre-eminence which admits of a certain appearance of division between the power of Cæsar and the power of God. But the impress of God is upon the spirit; therefore the life of the soul must be given to God. By the requirement: “Give unto God the things that are God’s,” Christ certainly, as Gerlach remarks, pointed out to them the way in which they might become really free again; yet not in any such sense as would encourage them to hope for a return of the old theocracy. Obedience to God will make Christendom free from the violence of secular power, and ready for admission into the perfect kingdom of God.

5. The right distinction between that which is God’s and that which is Cæsar’s, must lead to the true unity of life; while the confusion of these two must lead to division, lie, and hypocrisy. The Jewish hierarchy, in their superstition, made some scruple whether they should pay Cæsar his tribute; and then they threw their own Messiah to him, whose golden fidelity displayed most gloriously the image of God.

6. Langii opus Bibl.: We may easily imagine how ashamed these conceited young men must have felt when they departed: wicked as they were they could not but feel that they and their teachers must have nothing but confusion to expect from their encounters with Christ.

7. The peculiar case where the magistrate confounds political and spiritual subjugation, and exerts tyranny over conscience, as Antiochus Epiphanes did and many others, is here not taken into account, inasmuch as the Roman government at the time of Christ tolerated and respected the rights of conscience, and for some time even protected the Christians (though not Christ Himself) against the fanaticism of the Jews.


The temptation of our Lord to pronounce a watchword of rebellion: 1. The cunning attempt of the enemies; 2. the instruments; 3. the issue.—The political temptations of Christians: 1. To refuse tribute (insurrection and rebellion); 2. to sacrifice the conscience (servility).19—Christ supreme victor over all the cunning and all the violence of His enemies.—The counsel of the ungodly, Ps. 2.; their snares, Prov. 29:5.—Canning, the ancient fellow of violence, especially in the government of the hierarchy.—Christ’s victory over cunning is the victory of God’s kingdom over cunning.—The contest of the Lord with the cunning of His foes tended to the glorification of His wisdom. 1. They take counsel: He is thoroughly prepared. 2. They would entangle Him: He seeks to deliver them out of their own snare. 3. They praise Him in order to His destruction: He rebukes them, in order to arouse and save them. 4. They would fain involve Him in their own wicked designs: He punishes them in His righteousness. 5. They wish to judge Him as guilty: He dismisses them as Judge.—The covenant of the hierarchs and Herodians in order to overwhelm Christ.—The various decisions of Christ touching money.—The salutary distinction of Christ between Church and State.—The decision of Christ upon the rights of Cæsar: 1. They are rights which are derived from God; 2. they are co-ordinate to the spiritual rights of the church; 3. they are subordinate to the rights of God.—The weight of the clause, “And to God that which is God’s.”—Only he who rightly distinguishes between religious and civil duties will know how to connect them aright.—The hypocritical blending of religion and policy: 1. By withholding the dues to the civil government, under pretext of saving the rights of God; 2. by sacrificing the most sacred rights of God and His church to the secular power.—The enemies of the Lord gather strength from every new humiliation to harden themselves afresh.—The three kinds of assault which His enemies make upon the cause of Christ: 1. With violence; 2. with cunning; 3. with cunning and violence combined.

STARKE:—Canstein: Wicked hearts are only more wicked and malicious by faithful warning.—The two kinds of serpents, the crooked and Um straight (Isa. 27:1; first cunning, then might).—Zeisius: When Christ is to be opposed, Herod and Pilate soon become one.—Hypocrites and Bars have honey on their lips, and gall in their hearts, Ps. 55:21.—Quesnel: The praise of ungodly men is full of snares.—Zeisius: No attack and no cunning of any avail against the Lord.—He who has God’s word and truth on his side is sure to carry off the victory.—Osiander: He who would put to shame God’s servants will himself be put to shame.—The cunning which would entrap wisdom is itself caught.

Lisco:—Christ shows here that it is not His purpose to effect any change in earthly political relations (that is, in a political and earthly way).

Heubner:—The Truth, Christ, stands hero in the presence of falsehood.—It is the vocation of the pious to have to move among those who continually pervert their words.—The Christian’s bearing toward the various political parties in the world.—What they did in cunning and malice, we should do in earnest sincerity: ask Christ’s advice in all cases of doubt and conflict of duties.—The Christian living under a wicked government must submit in all things that do not molest his conscience.—The voice of the gospel on the duties of subjects.—The Christian should recommend his religion by his civil and political honesty.—Christ’s dignity in the answer to these questions concerning the duties of subjects and rulers.

Reinhard:—The right of subjects to judge the rule and commands of their governors.—T. W. Wolf:—How little the Lord is served by false praise.—Rambach:—The most pious Christian is the best citizen.


[12] Matthew 22:15—[̔́Ο πως αὐτὸν παγιδεύσωσιν (from παγίς, a snare, a trap) ἐνλόγῳ, Lange: um ihn (mit List) zu fangen in einem Aunspruch; Ewald: durch sin Wort. The word here refers to the artful question in Matthew 22:17, to which, they thought, He must either answer yes or no, and In either ease fatally compromise Himself. MEYER: ἐνλόγῳ, in ciner Rede, d. h., in cinem Auespruche, welchen er ihun wûrde. Dieser ist als Fatte oder Schlings (παγις) gedacht” In Cod. Sinait. the words: ἐν λόγῳ, are omitted.—P. S.]

[13] Matthew 22:16.—[Dr. Lange inserts after Herodians In small type: “Politicians, adherents of the Roman party of the Herodian house,”—P. S.]

[14] Matthew 22:19.—[Δηνάριον. See the Critical Notes on 18:28 and 20:2.—P. S.]

[15] Matthew 22:21.—[̓Α πόδοτε, reddite, render as a due, not: δότε, date, as a gift. Comp. Rom. 8:7: ἀπόδοτε οῦ̔ν πᾶσι τὰς ὀφειλάς, Render unto all their dues. Tertullian (De idol. 15): "Reddite imaginem Cœsari quae in nummo est, el imaginem Dei Deo quœ in homine est.”—P. S.]

[16][The Edinb trsl. reads here: “For some remarkable hint, see Woif,”—mistaking probably the sehr sonderbare deutungen of the original or wunderbare Andeutungen. Mistakes of this kind, whether of carelessness or ignorance of the German language, and ail sorts of arbitrary omissions and changes, occur on every page, yes almost in very sentence of this and several preceding chapters, and make the revision a more tedious and disagreeable task than a new translation.—P. S.]

[17][A cunning and malignant captatio benevolentiœ, as Meyer calls it.—P. S.]

[18][Comp. QUESNEL. in loc.: “The image of princes stamped on their coin denotes that temporal things belong all to their grovernance; and the image of God imprinted on the null of man teaches that whatever use he makes either of himself or of the creatures, ought to be referred to God. . . . Princes [Rulers] being more the images of God than other men, ought aim to render to God whatever they receive from men, by directing it all to His glory.”—P. S.]

[19][The preceding sentences in the Homiletical and the concluding paragraphs of the Doctrinal sections, nearly half a column, are omitted entire in the Edinb. trsl., and the Homiletical Hints which follow are either omitted or arbitrarily abridged.—P. S.]

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,
C. The Attack of the Sadducees, and the Victory of the Lord. Matthew 22:23-33

(Mark 12:18–27; Luke 20:27–40.)

23The same day came to him the20 Sadducees, which [who] say that there is no resur- rection, and asked him, 24Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 25Now there were with us seven brethren [brothers]: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue,21 left his wife unto his brother: 26Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh [unto the seven, ἕως τῶν ἑπτά. 27And last of all the woman died also. 28Therefore in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. 29Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err [Ye err, go astray, πλανᾶσθε], not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. 30For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God22 in heaven. 31But as touching [concerning] the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which wasspoken unto you by God, saying, 32I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (Ex. 3:6)? God is not the God23 of the dead, hut of the living 33And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at this doctrine


Matthew 22:23. Sadducees.—See Exeg. Notes on Matthew 3:7, p. 71, and Winer’s article upon them.

Who say (teach).—The οἱ before λέγοντες must not be given up, though wanting in B., D., and other codices. See de Wette,

There is no resurrection.—It may be asked, how far and in what sense we are to regard the question of the Sadducees as a temptation; for, doubtless, their question also, like that of the Pharisees, was framed with a view to entangle our Lord in some matter of accusation; and therefore we may assume that their malice was the counterpart of the malice of the Pharisees. It was the last consequence of Pharisaism—which no Pharisee, however, would openly express)—that no tribute was to be given to Caesar, but that his government was to be overturned. Now, this was the position to which they wished Jesus to commit Himself. And so also the Sadducees—though they did not come forward with an outspoken denial of the resurrection—hoped that they would make the Lord appear nothing but a Sadducee, and thereby effectually rob Him of all His influence and authority with the people. Should they not thus get the better of Him before the multitude, it was probable that Jesus would give some interpretation of the passage and of the doctrine which would bring Him into collision with Moses and the law. But they scarcely expected such a solution as Jesus gave; it never entered their thoughts that He would make so clear and definite a distinction between this life and the next. They hoped that they should constrain Him publicly to tow their secret doctrine, even as the Pharisees had hoped that they might make Him declare Himself a consummate Pharisee.

Matthew 22:24. Master, Moses said.—Deut. 25:5. They freely quoted the Mosaic law concerning the Levirate marriage. It was ordained, for the preservation of families, that if a man died without male issue, his brother should marry the widow, and that the first born son should be held in the registers to be the son of the dead brother. (MICHAELIS: Mosaischen Recht, 2. p. 98.) On this passage they construct a startling example, which in all probability was purely fictitious and boldly and unscrupulously carried out: their argument taking it for granted that, if there were ever a resurrection, the marriage must needs be renewed in another world. Thus, their design was to show, out of the law itself, that the doctrine of a resurrection was something untenable, and a gross absurdity.

Matthew 22:26. Unto the seven.—That is, unto the seventh.

Matthew 22:29. Not knowing the Scriptures, etc.—There is here a twofold source of knowledge: Holy Scripture, and spiritual experience; or, as the theologian would say, a formal and a material principle. Out of the ignorance of the one source24 or the other spring the Sadducee and the Rationalist tendencies to error. It is very observable that our Lord does not confront them with the rebuke, that they did not hold tradition sacred. Pharisaism which stuck to the traditions was no cure for Sadducism. The latter could never be set free from its negations, without learning more profoundly to study and apply its own positive principles, Scripture and the spiritual life. In what sense, then, was it that they did not understand Scripture ? In so far as they failed to discern in it its own living substance, its peculiar meaning in reference to the doctrine of immortality. But they understood not the power of God, inasmuch as they put no trust in the power of God over death, in His power to raise the dead; and therefore had no ability to conceive of or anticipate the glorification of the present body into a higher state, into a life in which present sexual relations should no longer subsist.

Matthew 22:30. In the resurrection.—Fritzsche: In the resurrection life. Meyer, on the other hand: In the rising. It does not, however, point merely to the moment of the commencement of the new life; but to the state in which that issues, as in ἐν τῇ παλιγγενεσία, Matthew 19:28.—Nor given in marriage.—This has reference to the custom of the Jews, that the female members of the family were given in marriage by their father. The resurrection is a higher state of things, in which death is extinguished in the glorification of life, and all things pertaining to marriage and the sexes done away (Luke 20:36; 1 Cor. 15:44).

As the angels in heaven.—That is, the angels who are in heaven. Meyer: The risen are not yet in heaven. But compare 2 Cor. 5:1; 1 Thess. 4:17. With the first resurrection begins the transition of earthly nature into the heavenly; and with the general resurrection earth and heaven will have become one in a glorified heavenly domain. “We find among the Rabbins similar notions of the future relations of the body and of the sexes (see Wetstein); but also such a low sensual view as this: mulier illa, quæ duobus nupsit in hoc mundo, priori restituitur in mundo futuro. Sohar.” Meyer.

Matthew 22:31. But concerning the resurrection of the dead.—Jesus demonstrates the resurrection by the passage, Exod. 3:6. They drew their argument from the Thorah, from the books of Moses; and He finds His proof in the same.25 De Wette: “From this the erroneous conclusion was deduced, even by the Fathers. (Tertull de Præsc, cap. 45; Hieron, ad loc), and by later divines, that the Sadducees accepted only the five books of Moses as canonical (an error which Olshausen seems to retain). Comp, Winer, art Sadducüer.” So also Meyer; but both of them have rather too confidently adopted Winer’s views.26 The remark of Josephus (Contra Apion. i. 8), that the whole of the twenty two books were esteemed divine by the Jews without exception, has no particular weight; for he is speaking only of the Jews generally, and in mass; and it is well known that the Sadducees did not dare to make a public dogma of their rejection of the post-Mosaic Scriptures, and of the doctrine of the resurrection. It is plain that the assertion of Josephus cannot be strictly applied to all parties, in view of the relation of the Essenes to the law of sacrifices, and other matters in the Old Testament. (See the Pseudo Clementines.) The passage, quoted by Winer, from Josephus (Antiq. xiii. 10, 6), declares that the Sadducees taught: δεῖν ἡγεῖσθαι νόμιμα ψὰ γεγραμμένα, that the holy writings must be honored. But these Scriptures were previously defined to be the law of Moses (so Josephus himself says, 18:1,4). At the same time they rejected the tradition of the fathers. Thus they definitely acknowledged only the Mosaic Scriptures, and definitely rejected only tradition. Their position, meanwhile, toward the remainder of the Scripture, was officially an ambiguous one. That bad antithesis between Mosaic and non Mosaic Scriptures, which Josephus adduces, was attributed to them also by the Talmud: Negarunt legem ore traditam, nee fidem habuerunt nisi ei, quod in lege (the Thorah) Scriptum erat. They certainly did not express any positive rejection of the non Mosaic Scriptures, because they durst not; but their bad antithesis plainly enough disclosed that they did not acknowledge them, but would be disposed to class them with the traditions, which they did reject. The ancient testimonies, among which that of Origen is prominent, will maintain their force, therefore, in spite of Winer’s view.27

Matthew 22:32. I am [not: I was] the God of Abraham.—This argumentation has been treated by Hase, Strauss, and others, as a specimen of rabbinical dialectics or exegesis. (Comp. contra Ebrard, Kritik, etc., p. 606.) But a kind of dialectics which dealt in a merely deceptive demonstration we cannot ascribe to the Lord. The nerve of the argumentation lies in this, that God appears in the passage quoted as a personal God, who bears a personal covenant-relation to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The thought here expressed is this: God it the living, the God of the living (major premiss); He then calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (minor); consequently, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not simply dead, but they must continue to live as those to whom God is a God. The idea of personality is the root of all arguments for the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. “The similar argument in Menasseh, f. Isr. de Resurr. i. 10, 6, appears to have been derived from this passage. Comp. Schöttgen, p. 180.” Meyer.

[It is certain that this argument of our Saviour could not have been discovered by any amount of Rabbinical learning and acumen; and yet being once presented to our mind, it strikes us, not as an arbitrary imposition (like most of the Rabbinical, and many of the patristic allegorical interpretations), but as a real exposition of the true meaning of the passage quoted; throwing a flood of light over it, and filling us with wonder at the hidden depths and comforts of the Scriptures. But strictly taken, the argument of Christ avails only for those who stand in personal covenant relations with the God of Abraham, and are thus partakers of the Divine life which can never be destroyed, and implies an admonition to the Sadducees to enter into this relation. The immortality and resurrection of the wicked, which is as terrible a doctrine as the resurrection of the just is comfortable, is not denied here, but must be based on other passages of the Scripture.—P. S.]


1. The Temptation.See above. The Sadducees hoped that either the Lord would publicly sanction their petty and frivolous denial of the doctrine of the resurrection, or contradict the law of Moses. To this we may add the following consideration:—If the Sadducees already knew of the prophecy of Jesus, that He would rise from the dead (and probably Judas had revealed this to them, see chap, 27:63), then their temptation would have a special significance: it would be a hint that His hope of the resurrection was delusive enthusiasm, that He might well pause, and, before the determination of the highest authorities should take effect in His death, retreat from His pretensions and His whole work. Caiaphas and many of the Sanhedrin were Sadducees. Probably, therefore, there was here a concealed threatening of death, and a temptation to renounce and retract.

2. “They professed to be those who knew,—the illuminated in Israel. But their knowledge was delusion; and a delusion which rested on a twofold ignorance.”

3. The Lord speaks, according to Luke, of an attaining unto the resurrection. This is the more precise representation of the resurrection of the glorified, which, however, presupposes the basis of the general resurrection, of which Matthew speaks.

4. He incidentally showed the Sadducees, who opposed the doctrine of angels (Acts 23:8), how little He thought of their rejection of it; for He designedly referred to the angels in heaven as persons, whose personal existence in heaven we may confidently assume.

5. The Sadducees had changed the positive law of God into an abstract law of ethics; turn being in a double sense like the Stoics; in their one-sided morality, and in their denial of the personal fundamental elements and relations of life.28 The consequence of their system was heathen pantheism. Thus, the question here was not merely the evidence for the resurrection, and that as taken from the law of Moses; a demonstration was to be given which should exhibit the very roots of the doctrine of the resurrection, that is, the doctrine of a personal God, and of His personal bond with human persons, as the foundation of their eternal personal life. And in this case also Christ proved Himself the supreme Teacher, by the quotation which He adduced in proof. The astonished people felt the power of His argument.

6. The doctrine of Paul, 1 Cor. 15 (comp. Matthew 6:13), is in obvious harmony with this resurrection-doctrine of the Lord, which exhibits the second life as a state of imperishableness, sublimely elevated above death, and birth, and procreation, and thus above all the state of becoming.

7. We must be on our guard against the common unhistorical parallel drawn between the Sadducees and systems of Epicurean, selfish, sensual, and immoral tendency. They are to be regarded, however, as worldly-minded secularists in a more refined sense, who had fallen into a heathen view and estimation of this world.

[8. The Bible, viewing man in his completeness and integrity as a being consisting of body, soul and spirit, teaches the doctrine of immortality of the soul in inseparable connection with the resurrection of the body, and not in the abstract, unreal and shadowy form of naturalistic and rationalistic theology which would maintain the first and deny the second. Nast: “That the Scriptures attach more importance to the resurrection of the body, than to the mere self-conscious existence of the soul in its disembodied state, arises from the fact that the disembodied state of the soul is considered in the Scriptures as something imperfect, abnormal, so much so that even the souls of the just look forward with intense desire to their reunion with their bodies (Rom. 8:11, 23). Without the body man has not his whole full life.”—P. S.]

[9. Lavater, Stier and Alford justly regard the Lord’s answer, Matthew 22:32 (comp. πάντες γὰρ αὐτῷ ζῶσιν in Luke 20:38), as implying a conclusive argument against the doctrine of psychopanychia, or of the sleep of the soul in the intermediate state between death and the resurrection. The first theological treatise of Calvin was directed against this error, then entertained by the Anabaptists.—P. S.]


The Sadducees and Pharisees—the unbelievers and the legalists—leagued against Christ in the temple.—The Sadducees’ attack, a perfect type of the style of infidelity: 1. Supposing themselves free, they further tradition; 2. seemingly unprejudiced, they are inwardly bitter; 3. prating about the spirit, they are entangled in sensual notions; 4. pretending to be inquirers, they are only fabling misleaders, doubly ignorant; 5. proud and confident, with nothing but stupidity in art and weapons.—Ignorance the main source of unbelief: 1. Want of scriptural knowledge, or of honest perseverance in seeking it; 2. want of spiritual experience, or at least of sincerity in purpose.—Ignorance in spiritual things the guilt of life.—Christ the great witness of the resurrection.—The roots of that doctrine in the Old Testament.—The bond of believers with the living God a pledge of their resurrection.—The beautiful idea of the future life: 1. Elevated above temporal transitoriness; 2. like the angels of God; 3. a life in heaven.—God not the God of the dead, but of tin living.—The life of believers as secure as the life of God, according to the testimony of Christ.—God the eternal pledge of the resurrection.—Our bond with God abolishes death as well as sin.—The absolute and indissoluble connection between the doctrine of immortality and the doctrine of the resurrection: 1. The former requires the latter; 2. the latter presupposes the former.—Have ye not read what is written? Or: There is a reproving and correcting word for every form of unbelief in the Scripture.—Christ the conqueror of unbelief.—Christ the glorifier of this world and the next: 1. He illustrates to us this world by the next, and the next world by this; 2. He brings to perfection this world and the next.—In the controversy between faith and unbelief, the people usually side with faith.

Starke:—When Christ is to be persecuted in His people, those combine together who are not agreed in anything else.—Canstein: Satan never ceases to lay snares for Christ and His Church.—Hedinger: The mockers are many who deny the resurrection.—Zeisius: The ground of all errors and contentions among converted people is their ignorance of Holy Scripture: not so much of its letter, as of the living and blessed apprehension of the mind of the Spirit,—Canstein: God’s word is not merely what is written there in express letters, but also all that may be deduced therefrom by sound reasoning.—Quesnel: God knows how to bring good out of evil, light out of darkness, and the glory of truth out of false doctrine and maliciousness.

Heubner:—Quoting from Lavater: “The Sadducees and Pharisees are the two great parties in misleading the human race; they change their position in succeeding ages, one of them ordinarily being pre-eminent. These spirits are always to be contended against, even now: sometimes superstition united with hypocrisy; now unbelief united with the semblance of wisdom and illumination. Against both Christ protests continually; and against both the Church teacher must protest. The former appeal to authority, antiquity, tradition, the sanctity of the letter; the latter, to reason, doubt, freedom.”—The same (Lavater as quoted by Heubner): “The angel who appeared in the burning bush in the name of God, is a pledge of that which ye deny: he was a symbol that God can preserve what nature seems to destroy.”—Christ shows how we must read the Scripture, and use the key for the true knowledge of God.


[20] Matthew 22:28.—[The article is wanting In Greek and should be omitted in the trsl.—P. S.]

[21] Matthew 22:25.—[Literally: and the first, hating married, died (or: married and died), and having no teed, left his wife to his brother, γαμήσας ἐτελεύτησε καὶ μὴ ἕχων σπέρμα, ἀφῆκε, κ.τ.λ.—P. S.]

[22] Matthew 22:17.—Τοῦ Θεοῦ is omitted in B., D., etc., according to Meyer on account of Mark 12:36 [ὡς ἅγγελοι ἐν αοῖς ὐρανοῖς].

[23] Matthew 22:32.—The second Θεός [before νεκρῶν is stricken out by Lachmann on the authority of B., L., and other ancient MSS. But here, too. Meyer defends it, and explains the omission from the desire of copyists to conform to Mark and Lake. [Omitted in Cod. Sinait]

[24][The Edinb. trsl. omits the igorance of (aus dem Eichtwissen der eineti Quelie, etc.), and thus makes the errors of Sadducism and Rationalism actually spring from the Holy Scriptures and spiritual experience!—P. S.]

[25][The passage occurs in connection with the appearance of Jehovah to Moses in the burning bush, which wits itself striking symbol of the power of God to preserve what in the course of nature must perish. Alford: “Our Lord does not cite the strong testimonies of the Prophets, as Isa. 26:19; Ezek. 37:1–14; Dan. 12:2 but says, as in Luke(20:37), ‘even Motes has shewn,’ etc., leaving those other witnesses to be supplied. The books of Moses were the great and ultimate appeal for all doctrine: and thus the assertion of the Resurrection comes from the very source whence their difficulty had been constructed.” Thus the burden of the law, ‘I am the Lord thy God,’ contains the seed of immortality and the promise of the resurrection. The law Is the bard shell which contains and protects the precious kernel of the gospel.—P. S.]

[26][So has ALFORD in loc.: “The Sadducees acknowledged the prophets also, and rejected tradition only (see this abundantly proved by Winer, Realworterbuch, saddueder).”— P. S.]

[27][In German: Anffassung, which the Edinb. trsl. falsely jenders incorrect statements; thus doing injustice to the late Dr. Winer, who is one of the most conscientious, accurate, and reliable writers in all quotations and statements of facts- P. S.]

[28][It seems to me that the Pharisees rather correspond to the Stoics, the Sadducees to the Sceptics and Epicureans, the Essenes to the Platonists; the first representing the error of orthodoxism and legalism, the second that of rationalism and worldly indifferentism, the third that of mysticism. No doubt many of the Greek and Roman Sceptics and Epicureans, as well as the Sadducees, maintained a respectable show of outward morality and decency.—P. S.]

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
D. The Attack of the Pharisees, and the Victory of the Lord. MATTHEW 22:34–46

(Mark 12:28–37; Luke 20:41–44.—The Gospel for the 18th Sunday after Trinity.)

34But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together [collected in the same place, συνήχθησαν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό]. 35Then one of them, which [who] was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,29 36Master, which is the great commandment [what kind of commandment is great] in the 37law? 30 Jesus31 said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Deut. 6:5). 38This is the first and great [the great and first]32 commandment. 39And the second [But a second, δευτέρα δέ] is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Lev. 19:18). 40On these two commandments hang all the law [hangs the whole law, ὅλος ὁ νόμος κρέμαται and [also] the prophets.33 41, While the Pharisees were gathered [collected] together, Jesus asked them, 42Saying, What think ye of [concerning the, περὶ τοῦ] Christ? whose son is he [of whom is he the son? τίνος υἱός ἑστι]? They say unto him, The son34 of David. 43He saith unto 44them, How then doth David in spirit [by the Spirit]35 call him Lord, saying, The LORD [in Hebrew: Jehovah] said unto my Lord [Adonai], Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool [till I put thine enemies under thy feet]?36 (Ps. 10:5.) 45, If David then call37 him Lord, how is he his son? 46And no man [no one] was able to answer him a word, neither [nor] durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.


Matthew 22:34–40. The Question of the Great Commandment, General Remarks.—Mark gives it in an enlarged form; the narrative of Luke 10:28–37 has a kindred element. De Wette: “Probably the three accounts are different forms of the evangelical tradition, derived from the same historical materials; although there are traces in Luke of some dependence on Matthew.” Strauss: “Three free variations of the same primitive Christian tradition.” Meyer: “The difference of time and place in Luke’s account shows that the accounts of Matthew and Mark only may be considered As variations of the same tradition.” We may add, that the occasion and the whole transaction are different in Luke. There, Jesus puts the question: here, the scribe. The account of Mark refers to the same fact, but under a different point of view. Matthew has in his eye the tempting assault which the sect of the Pharisees made upon Christ by one of their agents, without regard to the person of this agent. Mark, on the contrary, has taken pains to describe this latter in full, showing that his spirit was better than that of his party. There is nothing improbable in this; and in Matthew’s account also, the rich young man separates himself from the mass of Christ’s enemies, as having a nobler disposition than they. Those overpowering influences which Christ exerted upon some individuals in the ranks of the enemy, detaching them from the midst of their party, are among His greatest triumphs, and are anticipations of the power which converted Saul on the way to Damascus.

Matthew 22:34. But when the Pharisees bad heard.—What was the motive of the new assault? Strauss: “In order to avenge the Sadducees”—against all probability. The Pharisees were rather rejoiced that Jews had reduced their enemies to silence; and this Matthew intimates in his ἐφἰμωσεν. (Luther: That He had stopped the mouths of the Sadducees.) Ebrard: “In order to make evident their superiority to the Sadducees;” which, although Meyer objects, seem very obvious. But they must have had, besides that, another and independent design. Meyer: “They would extort from Jesus an answer to a question of their own which would compromise Him.” But what answer? De Wette: “We cannot see the embarrassing nature of their question. The Rabbins distinguished between great and small, weighty and light, commandments (Wetstein on Matthew 5:19; 23:28); such a distinction is the basis of all casuistry in morals. Probably, it was very customary at that time; and even if Jesus had declared Himself very freely on the question, it would not have involved Him in any danger.” Meyer: “The temptation of the question lay in the Rabbins’ distinctions of weighty and light commandments. If Jesus had mentioned any particular ποιότης of a great commandment, His answer would have been measured by the standard of particular distinctions in schools of casuistry; and somehow He would have been compromised.” Olshausen understands the πειράζων of an honest desire to search out the views of Jesus.38—Thus exegesis leaves us in the dark here.

But the tempting element of the question is explained by the answer and the counter-question of Jesus. The Pharisees doubtless took it for granted that Jesus would answer them: “Thou shalt love God above all,” or: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me;” certainly He would mention the sanctity of monotheism. But their monotheism was altogether deistical in its bias, and had in it no christological principle. They argued from the unity of God, like Mohammed afterward (compare also the history of Ebionitism and Socinianism), that God could have no son. But they knew that Christ made Himself the Son of God; for this they had charged Him somewhat before (John 10) with blasphemy, asserting that He thereby made Himself equal with God. They intended, therefore, to found upon His expected answer, “to love God above all,” a charge of blasphemy, in making Himself equal to that supreme God by pretending to be His Son. But Jesus disturbed this tempting design by adding to the statement of the great and first commandment, “to love God supremely,” the declaration that the second was equal to it, “to love our neighbor as ourselves.” This elevated the human nature into a higher relation to the Divinity; and He said in effect: “As the second commandment is subordinate to the first, and yet like unto it, so the Son of Man is subordinate to the Father, and yet like unto Him.” The Pharisees felt at once the t His addition of the love to man had traversed their whole design. But that the argument referred to was really prepared by them, is plain from the question which the Redeemer based upon theirs; that is, the question how David could call the Messiah, his Son (therefore man), his Lord (therefore God, or God’s Son). The correctness of our exposition is shown also by the following consideration. The two charges under which the council placed Jesus before Pilate’s judgment-seat were these: 1. That He had made Himself the Son of God; 2. that He had made Himself king of the Jews in a political sense. This accusation was derived by them, in their embarrassment and affected daring, from that preliminary single but ambiguous charge, that He had made Himself the king of the Jews, that is, the Messiah (see the process in John 18:19). The same ambiguous word: “king of the Jews,” they first construed into a religious crime, and then, since that availed nothing, they construed it into a political crime. On this day of temptations, they strove to extract from Him a confession of both these charges. The temptation of making Him a political Messiah had come to nought. They then thought that at least they would involve Him in another, and more perilous condemnation, that of blasphemously impugning monotheism, or undermining the fundamental idea of the Jewish religion: this charge, though not quite so serviceable before Pilate, would serve them better before the people. We are warranted in this supposition by the questioning before Caiaphas, Matthew 26:63, and the condemnation to death winch ensued upon the answer of Jesus.

They were collected on the same spot.—We may ascribe to a wide diversity of motives the excitement which caused the Pharisees to flock to the spot in masses: delight at the humiliation of the Sadducees; the desire to do bettor than they had done; despair that all means had failed to extort from Jesus any ground of accusation; among some of them, a nobler complacency in the victory won for the doctrine of the resurrection; probably, also, the wish to induce Him to give up His extravagant pretensions to be the Messiah and the Son of God, and, as an orthodox teacher of the people (in an Ebionite sense), would make Himself useful to them against the Sadducees. Ἐπὶτὸαὐτό, as in Acts 1:15, referring to place, not sentiment.

Matthew 22:35. A lawyer, νομι κό ς.—A word often used by Luke; by Matthew only here. Paulus understands it, one who acknowledged only the Pentateuch and Scripture, rejecting tradition; that is, a Sadducee (or Scripturist, Karaite;—though these last did not yet exist, they were germinally present in the Sadducees). But this, as de Wette objects, is contradicted by the ἐξ αὐτῶν, which necessarily must be referred to the Pharisees. Meyer: “He was a Mosaic jurist: νομοδιδάσκαλος designates the same as teacher; γραμματεύς. is only an enlargement of the idea of νομικόςone versed in Scripture, a Biblical scholar, whose calling was the study and exposition of Holy Writ. Comp. Gfrörer in the Tühinger Zeitschrift for 1838, 1:146.”

Matthew 22:36. Which is the great commandment?—Meyer lays stress39 upon the ποία, and explains: How must a commandment be, or what character must it have, in order to be called great? But the answer of Jesus does not suit this. Yet certainly the ποία indicates the quality of the commandment. The great, μεγάλη, says more than the greatest. The greatest might be brought into comparison with the less great; but the great must, strictly viewed as a principle, include them all.

Matthew 22:37. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.—The passage, Deut. 6:5, freely after the Septuagint. Fritzsche: “God as thy Lord.” But it would be better to invert it—the Lord as thy God: in the original, Jehovah thy God. And this introduces a new significance in relation to Christ. Jehovah, God of the Revelation, the God of the incarnation, was to be Israel’s God, and not the God of a deistical perversion.

With all thy heart.—The ἐνὅλῃτῇ follows the original Hebrew בְּכָל, and not the Septuagint ἐξ. The heart is the entire inner nature of man; the soul is then rather the vitality of the heart animating the body; the mind, its spiritual and intellectus part (inlellectus, mens). Meyer, following Beck (Biblische Seelenlehre, p. 109), makes καρδια the whole energy of the reason and the intellect; ψυχή, the whole energy of sentiment and passion; and διάνοια, the whole energy of thought and will in its manifestation.40

Matthew 22:39. But a second is like unto it, ὁμιία.—This refers to the preceding declaration of Jesus, “The great and the first” (according to the true reading). Hence the article may be omitted. The commandment of the love of God is regarded in two lights: 1. As the great, which embraces in their unity all commandments, including that of love to our neighbor; 2. as the first, inasmuch as it is a special commandment, which precedes the commandment of love to man.—Is like unto it.—Compare 1 John 4:20, 21: Rom. 13:9. Even the love of God itself is to manifest and actualize itself by love to man,—more generally by love to all men, more particularly by brotherly love.41 The commandment is according to the Septuagint of Lev. 19:18. Meyer: “ἀγαπήσεις signifies a tender regard, and conduct in harmony with it; this, therefore, may be commanded, but not φιλεῖν, which is the love of affection or sentiment. Compare Tittmann’s Synonyms.” By this answer, Jesus not only penetrated and convicted the wicked design of the Pharisees, but also reproved the error which lurked in their question. He acknowledged a distinction between the great commandment and the rest, so far as the former is the principle, and all others derived from it. But in another sense, He acknowledged no distinction: the derived commandment of love to man is equal to the first in its absolute value, and as representing the first.

[As thyself.—“W. BURKITT: Every man may, yea, ought to love himself, not his sinful self, but his natural self, and especially his spiritual self, the new nature in him. This it ought to be his particular care to increase and strengthen. Indeed there is no express command in Scripture for a man to love himself, because the light of nature directs, and the law of nature binds and moves every man so to do. God has put a principle of self love and of self-preservation into all His creatures, but especially in man. Man ought to love his neighbor, 1. not as le docs love himself, but as he ought to love himself; 2. no; in the same degree, but after the same manner, i. e., freely and readily, sincerely and unfeignedly, tenderly and compassionately, constantly and perseveringly.”—There are cases, however, where man ought to love his neighbor more than himself, and sacrifice his life for his fellows, his country, and the church, in imitation of the example of Christ and the martyrs.—P. S.]

Matthew 22:40. Hangs, κρέμαται (according to the true reading).—The figure is taken from the door on its hinges, or from the nail on the wall; and aptly indicates dependence upon one common principle, and development from it; and hence it follows that the two great commandments have a higher unity in the one great commandment, that we love Jehovah, the incarnate God of revelation, as our God.—And also the prophets.—By the position of ἱπροφῆται after κρέμαται the prophets are made especially prominent. And the sense is this: Even the prophets who predicted the Messiah, the Son of God, do not contradict the great commandment of monotheism; they rather proceed from that law,—that is, from the word of the God of revelation flow the prophetical words concerning His revelation.

Matthew 22:41–46. The counter-question of Jesus. Its object.—Paulus; “Jesus aimed to lead His opponents to the point, that the Psalm was not of David, and not Messianic.” (!) De Wette: “He thereby intimated that He was not a political Messiah.” Weisse: “He wished to give a bint that He did not spring from David.” (?) Meyer: “He thus convicted them of their own ignorance and helplessness concerning the nature of the Messiah.” But, connecting the Lord’s question with the tempting question that preceded it, it appears plain that Jesus would prove by a Messianic utterance of the Psalm, that the Messiah might be at once the Son of David, i.e., a Son of Man, and at the same time the Lord of David, i.e., the Son of God.42

Matthew 22:41. While the Pharisees.—A significant circumstance. The whole body of Pharisaism is convicted and confuted by an Old Testament word, showing the consistency of the doctrine concerning the Son of God with Scripture.

Matthew 22:43. How then doth David by the Spirit call Him Lord?—Here πῶς is not: “With what propriety, how is it possible?” but: “In what sense?” or: “What can he mean by it?”—Doth call:—in the sense of formal designation, solemn title.

Matthew 22:44. The Lord said unto my Lord.—Quotation from Ps. 110. There are different views on its authorship and Messianic bearing. De Wette: “The poet (who is not David) calls the king, of whom the Psalm speaks, his Lord. The difficulty is thus taken away by the historical exposition. Jesus assumes the authorship of David, and its Messianic interpretation, simply as being prevalent in His time. But it is not necessary to suppose that Jesus agreed with the common notion. If stress is laid upon the words Δαβὶδἐ πνεύμα·ι, it must be remembered that we cannot rely upon the genuineness of these words sufficiently to build anything upon them. See Luke 20:42.” But here it is not Luke, but Matthew who speaks. Meyer agrees with de Wette, but while the latter assumes an accommodation of Jesus to the popular opinion, the former supposes that Jesus shared in the prevailing view as to the historical origin of the Psalm. But in our opinion, the correctness of the application of the word in the Psalm does not depend upon the question, whether David himself composed it or not. That Psalm is manifestly a poetical reproduction of the historical promise of Jehovah, which David received from the lips of the prophet Nathan, according to 2 Sam. 12, and of the last words of David referring to it, 2 Sam. 23:3 sqq. David is introduced as speaking on that basis of what Jehovah had promised the Messiah his offspring.43 That the Psalm is Messianic, and in the stricter sense prophetically Messianic, is evident from the tenor of its whole connection. Similarly, in the prophet Daniel we must first distinguish the historical basis and the composition, and then again identify them; since both are combined in the ἐν πνεύμστι of Scripture. Compare Matthew 24:15.

By the Spirit—Luke 2:27; 1 Cor. 12:3; Rom. 8:15. Not indeed impulsu Spiritus; but in the element of the Spirit, of the Spirit of God, which is the principle of unity in the Scripture.

Him.—The Son of David as the Messiah. The Rabbins saw in this Psalm one of the most clear and decisive Messianic prophecies. It was not till a later period that they retracted this interpretation. See Hengstenberg, Christologie, on this Psalm [vol. 1 p. 140 sqq.].

Matthew 22:45. How is He then his Son?—The answer is Rom. 1:3, 4; Acts 2:25. It was not the ignorance, but the unbelief, of the Pharisees which declined the answer.

Matthew 22:46. And no one could answer Him a word.—Decisive mandatum de supersedendo.—Nor durst any one from that day question Him any more.—The great point of severance between the rabbinical, deistic Judaism, and Christian and believing Judaism. Bengel: Nova dehinc quasi Scena Me pandit.


See the preceding remarks. They will, we think, have shown that the question about the great commandment, and the Lord’s counter-question concerning David’s Son, the Greater than David, have a much higher significance than exegesis has hitherto discerned in them. It is the spiritual process of severance between the deistical apostasy of Judaism, and the true Messianic faith of Judaism—that is, Christianity itself. The silence of the Pharisees, after Christ’s question, marks the crisis of their hardening. Hence the decisive and final rebuke of Jesus, and the departure from the temple: symbol of their desolation and judgment.


The last assault of His enemies upon the Lord in the temple.—The last question of the Pharisees, and the last counter-question of the Lord.—The inquiry about the great commandment meant as a temptation of Christ: 1. He will either lay aside His own majesty in presence of the majesty of God; or, 2. asserting His own majesty, He will dishonor the majesty of , God.—How the Pharisees misunderstood the great commandment, to love God with all the heart: 1. In opposition to the love of man: 2. in opposition to the dignity of Christ.—The one great commandment in its all-comprehensive significance: 1. It unfolds itself into the gospel, as a prophecy of salvation in the doctrine that the Lord, the incarnate Jehovah, was to be loved as God (the supreme Personality must reveal Himself); 2. it unfolds itself into the law of the Spirit, in the two commandments, the ten, and all other subordinate ones.—To love God with all our life: 1. With all our heart; 2. with all our soul; 3. with all our mind.—The commandment of the love to God a strong testimony for His sacred and mysterious personality,—a witness also of His own glorious love.—Since God is love, love to Him must at once be kindled by the contemplation of Him.—How can the first commandment be the greatest, and yet the second be like unto it? 1. The first is the greatest, because it is the ground of the second, and embraces it; 2. the second is equal to it, because it is the copy of the first, and love to God is to be demonstrated by love to man.—The measure of the love of God: nothing is sufficient, neither our life nor all things.44 The measure of love to man: our love to ourselves.—In love to our neighbor we are to prove our love to God.—The two commandments are inseparable: 1. We cannot love God without loving our neighbor (against superstition); we cannot love our neighbor without the love of God (against unbelief).—Self-love has two conditions and guarantees: the love of God, and the love of man.—How far is self-love not commanded, and how far commanded? 1. It is not directly commanded, because it is a natural impulse of life; 2. it is indirectly commanded in the whole law and gospel; since this natural impulse is diseased, and has become selfishness,45—But a second is like unto it; or, how one word of our Lord cuts through the wicked motive and the wicked error of the Pharisees.—How far are the commandments different, and how far alike?—The empire of love is an empire of personal life.—Love is the fulfilling of the law, Rom. 13:10—The counter-question of the Lord; or, the proof of the divinity of Christ from the Old Testament.—As the commandment of love to man is related to the commandment of love to God, so Christ is related to the Father: subordinate, yet equal.—The severance between Christianity and apostate Judaism in the temple.—They asked no more questions: no Jew dares ask a Christian any question, or commence an attack upon him; the missionary impulse, to work among the Gentiles, also gradually died away among the Jews since the time of Christ.

Starke:—Zeisius: However the wicked hate one another, they unite against Christ, His kingdom and members.—If you would ask, cultivate a sincere heart.—Hypocrites inquire about the greatest commandment, but they do not keep the least.—Osiander: As no man is able thus perfectly to love God, no man can be justified by the law.—The question concerning Christ the most important and the most necessary.—A correct knowledge of Christ necessary to salvation,—It is not enough to acknowledge Christ as the Son of Man.—Christ is God and Man in one undivided person.

Heubner:—The Rabbins were fond of discussing the relative greatness of commandments. The Jews counted 613 precepts: 365 prohibitions, and 248 commands.—It is dangerous to make a distinction between great and little commandments.—The nature of the love to God which Christianity requires.—Aristotle: There is no love to God (connection between this word and the heathen denial of the supreme Personality).—Consult the representations of Fenelon and the earlier mystics concerning the stages of the lore to God.—Piety toward God should be kind to man; and the love of men should be religious.—All commandments centre in love.—The whole ethical doctrine of Christianity very simple.—What think ye of Christ? always the question which finds out the genuine Christian.—Christ the Lord.—The dominion of Christ a dominion of love.—Faith and love closely connected in Christianity. Bachmann:—What think ye of Christ f 1. Manifold answers; 2. how important the right one!—Lisco: The supreme command, and the supreme article of faith.

[Quesnel:—On the great and first commandment, Matthew 22:38: Love is the great and first commandment: 1. In antiquity, being as old as the world and engraven in our nature; 2. in dignity, as directly respecting God; 3. in excellence, being the commandment of the new covenant; 4. in justice, as preferring God above all things, and rendering to Him His due; 5. in sufficiency, in making of itself man holy in this life, and blessed in that which is to come; 6. in fruitfulness, in being the root of all other commandments; 7. in virtue and efficacy; 8. in extent; 9. in necessity; 10. in duration, as continuing for ever in heaven.—The same, on Matthew 22:46:—Truth at length triumphs, but the defender of it will notwithstanding be oppressed by men. Hence we should not judge the truth by the sufferings of its defenders. The more triumphant it is, the more they must expect to suffer, that they may be made more conformable to Christ and capable of greater reward.—P. S.]


[29] Matthew 22:35.—The words: καὶ λέγεν (and saying), are omitted by Lachmann and Tischendorf [also by Tregelles, but not by Alford] on the authority of B., L., etc Meyer: An insertion from Mark 12:28, and contrary to the uniform style of Matthew ( Matthew 12:10; 17:10, etc.).

[30] Matthew 22:36.—[Πεία ἐντο λὴυγάλη ἐννόμῳ; literally: What kind of commandment, or: What commandment is great in the low? Meyer: Was für ein Gebot ist gross im Gesetze? (Wie muse ein Gebot beschaffen sein. um ein GROSSES Gebot su seint?). ΙΙ οία is qualitative, qualis, what kind (comp. 19:12), and the article before ἐντολή is omitted. But the Authorized Version agrees better with the answer, and Dr. Lange likewise translates: Welches ist das grosse Gebot im Gesetz? The Lat. Vulg.: Quid est mandatum magnum, in lege? See Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

[31] Matthew 22:37.—B., L., al., Lachmann, Tischendorf: ὁ δὲ ἔφη.

[32] Matthew 22:38.—L., Z.: ἡ υεγάλη καὶ πρώτη [for πρώτη καὶ ηεφάλη]. Cod. D. likewise, yet without . So Cod. Z. with a second before πρώτη. The sense of the text is in favor of this reading. The transposition arose from the idea that πρώτη was the principal predicate. [Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Alford unanimously adopt ἡ μεγάλη καὶ πρώτη, which is now sustained also by Cod. Sinalt.—P. S.]

[33] Matthew 22:40.—[The true reading of the best ancient authorities, including Cod. Sinait, recommended by Griesbach, and adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Alford, is: ἐν ταύταις ταῖς δςσιν ἐντολαῖς ὅλος ὁ νόμος κρέμαται καιοἱ προφῆται, instead of the text, rec.:…ὅλος ὁ νόμος καὶ οί προφῆται κρέμανται. Dr. Lange follows the former in his German Version: In. diesen zweien Geboten hängt das gante Gesetz und auch die Propheten. It is also preferable on internal reasons. The lawyer had asked what commandment was great in the law; the Saviour answers to this question by naming the great law of love on which hangs the whole law, and the prophets besides.—P. S.]

[34] Matthew 22:42.—[The Interpolation: The son, must be omitted, if the question is translated: Of whom is he the son?—P. S]

[35] Matthew 22:43.—[̓Εν πνεύματι is here not opposed to Εν πνεύματι, but refers to the Holy Spirit as the inspirer of the Scriptures. See Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

[36] Matthew 22:44.—The Recepta reads: ὑποπόδιον (footstool), from the Septnagint. But most MSS. and the critical editions: ὐποκάτω (τῶν ποδῶν σον), under. [So also Cod. Sinait As to the sense, Bengel remarks: The warlike kingdom will come to an end; but the peaceful kingdom will have no end, comp. 1 Cor. 15:25.—P. S.]

[37] Matthew 22:45.—[Codd. D., K.„M., al., insert ἐνπνεύματι, by the Spirit, before καλεῖ, and Lange puts it in the text, but in small type. But Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford reject it as insufficiently supported, and superfluous.—P. S.]

[38][So also Alford in loc., referring to the more detailed account in Mark 12:28–84. Bui Nast regards Lange’s interpretation as the only Intelligible one. It is certainly very Ingenious.—P. S.]

[39][Not: LESS stress, as the Edirib. trsl. has It, In direct opposition to the original: Meyer betont ποία und er kldrt, etc. Comp. my critical note above.—P. S.]

[40][OLSHAUSEN: “The Lord by culling the commandment to love God supremely the first and great commandment, does evidently not de sign to represent it as one out of many, though greater in decree than others. On the contrary, the love of God is the commandment, and the whole law, with all its injunctions and prohibitions, is only a development of this one commandment: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.’ By this love we have to understand the unqualified surrender of our whole being to God. Of such a love man Js capable, though not by his own strength, but by Divine grace, because he finds in God alone all his wants fully and everlastingly satisfied.”—P. S]

[41][The original reads: Christusliebe (Edinb. trsl.: lore of Christ; or, better: to Christ); but this is probably a printing error for Christensliebe; for we love Christ not as our neighbor, but as the God-Man.—P. S.]

[42][QUESNEL: “Jesus here asks a question in His turn, not to tempt, but to instruct His disciples; to confound the obstinate; to point out the source of all their captious questions, namely, their ignorance of the prophecies which foretold the Messiah; to furnish His church with weapon against the Jews in all ages; and, by His last public instruction, to establish the truth of His divinity. Incarnation, power, and kingdom, as the foundation of all religion.—P. S.]

[43][This sentence, so necessary to give Lange’s view, is enthely omitted in the Edinb. trsl. For other expositions on the Messianic character of the Psalm, see especially Hengstenberg (Christology of the O. T., and his Com. on the Psalms), also Stier and Nast in loc. Alford and Wordsworth do not touch the difficulty at all.—P. S.]

[44][BURKITT in loc.: “The measure of loving God, is to love Him without measure.”—P. S.]

[45][Comp. the practical remarks of Burkitt inserted in the Exeg. Note on Matthew 22:39, p. 404.—P. S.]

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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