Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
JESUS in the Consummation of His High-Priesthood; or, the History of the Passion
CHAPTERS 26 AND 27
(Mark 14 and 15; Luke 22 and 23; John 12–19)
The prophetic office of Jesus was historically finished in His eschatological discourses: in the history of His sufferings, His high-priestly office, as to its historical aspect, was completed. It was necessary, in the very nature of the case, that the idea of the high-priestly sufferings should be prominent in all the Evangelists; but we find it made specially prominent in the account of Matthew. Thus he lays stress upon the fact, that the fallen priesthood in Israel determined to put Him to death (Matthew 26:3, etc); and he most sharply of all delineates the traitor who delivered Him up. Matthew alone mentions the thirty pieces of silver, as the price of Him who was sold. In Matthew’s account of the Supper, and in his alone, it is said that the sacrifice of Jesus availed for His people, εις ά̓φεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν (Matthew 26:28). The struggle in Gethsemane is described with particular minuteness; and the threefold repetition of the same prayer is expressly recorded. The reproof of Simon Peter when he drew his sword, the declaration that the twelve legions of angels might be summoned to help—that is the exhibition of our Lord’s voluntary submission at that time—occur in Matthew, and scarcely in any other. (Comp. John 17:11.) The suicide of Judas, and the history of the field of blood, are peculiar to Matthew (Matthew 27:8–10): as also, Pilate’s wife’s dream (Matthew 26:19), Pilate’s washing of his hands, the people’s invocation of the curse on themselves (Matthew 26:24, 25), and specially the blasphemy against Christ on the cross (Matthew 26:43). The rending of the vail of the temple is recorded chiefly by Mark also; but the specific meaning of this event is unfolded only by Matthew (Matthew 26:51–53). So also is the very important circumstance of the sealing and watch set by the Sanhedrin on the sepulchre. Thus in his Gospel Christ appears from the beginning as sacrificed, and in purpose destroyed by the corrupt high-priesthood; and the signs of propitiation in His death are made sharply prominent. On the other hand, many dramatic traits of the synoptical Gospels are given very briefly by Matthew. Like Mark and Luke, he omits the washing of the feet (John 13:1 sqq.), and records instead the institution of the Supper. He passes over the contention of the disciples, Luke 22:24; and the further expansion of the warning to Peter, John 13:33; Luke 22:31. Like them also, he omits the farewell discourses in John. (Mark alone gives the account of the young man who fled, Matthew 14:51.) Matthew, with the other Synoptists, says nothing of the examination before Annas, John 18:13, or of the details of the examination before Pilate, John 18:29. He omits also the sending to Herod, which Luke records, Matthew 23:7; the scourging, John 19:1; the transaction between Pilate and the Council concerning the title, “King of the Jews,” John 19:19; the Saviour’s words to the weeping women, Luke 23:27; His last saying to His mother, John 19:25; and the circumstances of John 19:31, etc.
Of all the words from the cross, Matthew records only the exclamation, “My God, My God!” and he alone makes the observation, that Jesus departed with a loud cry. In these, as in similar traits, Mark approaches him most nearly; but it is very plain that in Matthew the thought of the high-priestly suffering is most strongly impressed upon the whole narrative.
As it respects the chronology, the departure of Jesus from the temple, on Tuesday evening, after His great condemning discourse, had introduced the final crisis. We have seen how much more probable it is that Jesus announced on Wednesday to His disciples, that after two days He should be crucified, than that He announced it late on Tuesday evening. This refers the session of the Council, Matt. 26:3, to Wednesday (not to Tuesday night, Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1307). From this fixed date the narrative goes back to the anointing in Bethany, which took place some days before—that is, on the evening of the Saturday before Palm Sunday. Then follows the preparation of the Passover on the first day of unleavened bread—that is, on the 14th Nisan, the morning of Thursday, Matthew 26:17. On the evening of the 14th Nisan, the beginning of the 15th, comes the Passover itself.
The question here arises, whether there is any difference between the Synoptists and John in the account of the Passover.1 As the Synoptists agree in the statement that Jesus ate the Passover at the legal time with His disciples, it is John who gives rise to a seeming difference; and the discussion of the question might therefore be deferred. It is better, however, to attempt a brief settlement at once.
On the first day of unleavened bread,—that is, on the 14th Nisan,—the paschal feast was, according to Matthew, made ready. On that day the leavened bread was to be removed. On the evening of that day, before six o’clock, and thus at the point of transition from the 14th Nisan to the 15th, the lega Passover was introduced by the feet-washing. This explains the representation of John. (1) John 13:1–4: “Before the feast of the Passover,…Jesus riseth from supper, and layeth aside His garments ” (that is, to perform the washing). The feast itself began about six o’clock; and it would be very strange if the expression, “before the feast,” must be made to mean “a day before.” It would be much nearer to say, “some minutes before;”2 but the real meaning is, “an indefinite time previous.” (2) John 13:27: Jesus said to Judas, “What thou doest, do quickly;” and some present thought that he was commanded to go at once, before the opening of the feast, and buy what provisions were necessary for it. But they could not possibly have entertained such a thought, if the whole of the next day had been open to them for the purpose; although it was a very natural one, if the time allowed for secular purposes was fast drawing to a close.3 (3) John, Matthew 18:28, narrates that the Jews, on the morning of the crucifixion, might not enter with Jesus into the Prætorium, “lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover ” (χλλ̓ ἴνα φάγασι τὸ πάοχα). Since the defilement occasioned by entering a Gentile house lasted only one day, they might very well have gone into the Prætorium, and yet eat the Passover after six o’clock; for the defilement would cease at six o’clock in the evening.4 But, if they had eaten the Passover the evening before, they could not have entered the hall on the morning of the 15th Nisan, lest they should desecrate the paschal feast. John uses here the common and ordinary expression, in the brief form, φαγεῖν5 τὸ πάσχα Wieseler thinks πάσχα an unusual and peculiar form, and understands it of the Chagigah [feast-offering] on the 15th Nisan; others refer it to the whole paschal feasts, Deut. 16:2; 2 Chron. 30:22: “they did eat the paschal feast seven days, offering peace offerings;” but the peculiarity, we think, lies in the φαγεῖν, meaning the continuance of the paschal feast. Examples of such concise expressions are frequent enough, e.g., to eat fish for to fast; to celebrate Christmas (Weihnacht) for Christmas-day (Christtag), etc.6 (4) John 19:31; The Jews urged on the burial of the crucified, that the bodies might not hang upon the crosses on the Sabbath, the day of preparation. Wieseler: The day of preparation, πυρασκεμή, does not signify the preparation before the Passover, but before the first sabbath of the Passover. To the Jews, the Friday was the eve of the Sabbath, or day of preparation; and, if the Passover chanced to begin on a Friday, the next Saturday or Sabbath became a high day, the great day of the feast. “That Sabbath was a high day.” From this permanent παρασκευή for the Sabbath, John distinguishes a day of preparation for the feast generally, John 13:1 and Matthew 26:29.7—Other reasons alleged in favor of the supposed difference of days are these: (1) Improbability of an execution on a feast day. Against this we have Rabb Akiba: Great transgressors were taken to Jerusalem, in order that they might be put to death at the feast, before the eyes of the people (according to Deut. 17:12, 13). Executions had a religious character. They were symbols of judgment, for warning and edification. Sad analogies are the Spanish auto da fés as popular religious festivals.8 (2) The women prepared their spices on the day of Jesus’ death. But we answer that on the mere feast days (not Sabbaths) spices might be prepared, and other things might be done: labor only was excluded (Lev. 23:7, 8). (3) The Synoptists as well as John describe the day of Christ’s death as παρασκευή and προσθ́ββυτος. We answer that the second of these terms simply proves the day to have been Friday.—Thus all the evidences brought forward to support the theory of a difference in the days may be used on the opposite side.
In addition to this we must urge the following positive reasons in favor of our view: 1. It cannot be conceived that Jesus, led always by the Father through the path of legal ordinance, would celebrate the paschal feast a day before the time, and thereby voluntarily hasten His own death. 2. Pilate releases a prisoner to the Jews ἑν τῷ πάσχα John 18:39. 3. John, according to the testimony of the Quarto-decimans of the Easter controversy, kept the feast on the evening of the 14th Nisan, and therefore at the same time with the Jews. 4. The argument used by the Fathers, Clemens and Hippolytus, against the Quartodecimans, that Jesus died on the legal day of the Passover, because He was the real Passover, may be made to support the claim for the 15th Nisan (although there is an evident confusion among these fathers in the counting of the days, and too much stress laid on the fact that the paschal lamb was slain on the 14th Nisan).9 If Jesus died on the 15th Nisan, He died on the day of the legal Passover; for that day began at six o’clock of the 14th Nisan. If, on the other hand, it was at three o’clock in the afternoon of 14th Nisan that He died, it would have been one day before the legal paschal day, which did not begin till six o’clock. Neglect of the difference between the Jewish and the Roman (and our own) reckoning from midnight has tended much to confuse this question.
The chronological difference in the account of the Evangelists has been maintained by Bretschneider, Usteri, Theile, de Wette, Meyer, Lücke, Bleek, Ebrard, and many others, who decide the question, some in favor of the Synoptists, some in favor of John. On the other hand, the agreement of John with the other three has been established by Hengstenberg, Tholuck, Wieseler, and, temporarily, by Ebrard.10 Others, again, have striven to explain the Synoptists according to the supposed meaning of John; among the more recent writers Movers, Krafft, and Maier [of Freiburg, in his Commentar über das Evangelium des Johannes, p. 280 sqq.—not to be confounded with the Protestant Meyer so often quoted in this work]. The latter urges that, according to John, the meal of which the Lord partook fell upon the evening of the 13th Nisan. The term ἑν πρώτῃ των ἀζύμων, in the Synoptists, is then explained by the custom of the Galileans; according to which the whole preparation day of the feast, the 14th Nisan, had been already kept. “According to their custom, this day fell into the Passover season, and might as including the last part of the 13th Nisan, when the leaven was removed, be described as πρώτη τῶιἀζύμων” Thus he explains Matthew as meaning that the meal, no proper Passover, took place on the evening of the 13th Nisan. But this is untenable. For, 1. Maier himself acknowledges that Mark and Luke expressly describe the Lord’s meal as a Passover celebrated at the legal time; and it is highly improbable that Matthew would here place himself on the side of John, in opposition to Mark and Luke. 2. The circumstance, that the Galileans removed the leaven earlier than the Jews—so soon as the morning of the 14th Nisan, even the evening before—may be accounted for by the obligations of their journey. They came as travellers and guests to Jerusalem, and were therefore obliged to fix an earlier time for the beginning of the preparation. But it was not possible that they should begin the feast of unleavened bread a day earlier, because this would have been opposed to all Jewish ordinance, and because they must in that case, during that whole day, have avoided all social intercourse with the Jews. 3. Jesus is said to have anticipated the day, because He foresaw His own death. But Jesus also foresaw that the betrayal of Judas would be connected with the PassoMatthew 26:4. It is plain that Matthew speaks of a legal Passover which could not be anticipated; for the disciples remind the Lord that the time of the Passover was at hand. Matthew does not say that the first day of the feast of unleavened bread was approaching, but that it was come.—On other artificial attempts at reconciliation, see Winer, Reallexicon, art. Pascha.
All the Evangelists plainly agree in recording that Christ rose again on a Sunday, that He lay during the preceding Sabbath in the sepulchre, and that He died on the Friday before this Sabbath. According to Wieseler (p. 386 sqq.), Jesus was crucified on the 15th of Nisan of the year 30 A. D., or 783 from the foundation of Rome; and that day was a Friday.
[I call attention here to a different view on the day of Christ’s death, not hitherto noticed by commentators, but worthy of a respectful examination. Dr. GUSTAV SEYFFARTH, formerly professor extraordinary in the university of Leipzig, now residing in New York, the author of a number of learned works on Egyptiology, Astronomy, and Chronology, and the propounder of a new theory of the Egyptian hieroglyphics (see his Grammatica Ægyptiaca; Theologische Schriften der alten Ægypter, etc.), deviates from the traditional view, and holds that Christ died on Thursday, the 14th (not the 15th) of Nisan (the 19th of March), and lay full three days and three nights in the grave till Sunday morning. See his Chronologia Sacra, Leipzig, p. 8 sq. and p. 120 sqq. He thus solves the difficulty concerning the three days and three nights which the Saviour was to lay in the grave according to repeated statements, Matt. 12:40 (τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τοεῖς νύκτας); 27:63 (μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμἑρας); John 2:19 (ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις); Apoc. 11:9 (ἡμέρας τρεῖς). Dr. Seyffarth supports this view also by astronomical calculations of the eclipse of the sun at the death of our Saviour, into the details of which I cannot here follow him. In fact, he bases ancient chronology largely on astronomy. As to the year of Christ’s death, Dr. Seyffarth, considering the Æra Dionysiaca correct in the date of the year and the day of Christ’s birth, puts it the year 33 post Christum natum, or 787 Anno Urbis. Other dates of Christ’s death assigned by various writers are: A. U. 783 (Wieseler, Friedlieb, Tischendorf, Greswell, Ellicott, Lange, Andrews); 781 (Jarvis); 782 (Browne, Sepp, Clinton); 786 (Ebrard, Ewald).—P. S.]
The Meaning of the Sufferings and Death of Jesus.—Here is the sacred centre of history, the history of histories, the end and the summing up of all past time, the beginning and the summing up of all the new ages, the perfected judgment, and the perfected redemption. Therefore, also, it is a perfected revelation: it is the supreme revelation of Jesus and of the depths of His heart; of the deep things of the Godhead; of the divine wisdom, righteousness, and grace; of the depths of humanity, the most manifold characteristics of which are here laid bare in the contrast between the holy Son of Man and the sinful children of men; the depths of nature, living and suffering in fellowship with humanity; the deep things of the spiritual world, and the depths of Satan. As it is said in Isa. 53, concerning the Redeemer: “Who shall declare His length of life?” so it may here be said: “Who shall declare the depths of His death?”
We can only hint here at the riches of the contrasts—revealing the fulness of the revelation of judgment and redemption—which the history of our Lord’s passion includes. 1. The contrast of the sufferings of Christ with His last eschatological predictions concerning His own future judicial majesty. Chrysostom: “At the fitting time He speaks now of His sufferings, when His future kingdom, with its rewards and punishments, was so present to His thoughts.” 2. The contrast of His passion with His past official work in life: suffering as the counterpart of action, passive obedience of active. Lisco; “The history of the Redeemer’s passion is related at large, and with peculiar preference, by the Evangelists. In His sufferings (as in His actions) the God-man reveals Himself in His dignity and glory But while the active virtues exhibit themselves in His whole life, the no less great virtues of patience, gentleness, longsuffering, and supreme submission to God, prominently express themselves in His sufferings. These were not so much the consequence of the cunning, malice, and power of His enemies, as His own free-will offering for the redemption of a sinful world: in this He manifested Himself as the innocent and patient Lamb of God, bearing and putting away the sins of the world in obedience to His heavenly Father. The suffering, dying, and victoriously rising Redeemer, amidst all the diversified concomitants of His passion, gives us a perfect image of the great conflict between the kingdoms of light and of darkness. Far from all passionless indifference, the Redeemer exhibited in His sufferings the tender emotions of sorrow and grief, and even of anguish and fear—thus becoming to us also a symbol of that endurance of suffering which is well-pleasing to God,” 3. The contrast of the perfected passion to the suffering course of His whole life. 4. The contrast between the great fulfilment, and the types and the predictions concerning the suffering Messiah (Ps. 22; Isa. 53). 5. The contrast with the ancient martyrs from the blood of Abel downward. 6. The contrast between the woes of Christ and the sorrows and pleasures of the old world. 7. The contrast of His passion with His original divine glory, and his final human glorification.—A new series of such antitheses is then opened in the contrast of the sufferings of the personal Christ with the sufferings of His people, with the contrast of death and resurrection, to the end of the world. And, on the other side, there are the contrasts of reconciliation: the reconciliation of God and man, of heaven and earth, of this world and the next, of life and death, of the crown and the cross, of judgment and mercy. Heubner: “The history of the passion is the highest and holiest history; it is the turning-point in the history of the world, both in itself, and its design and effect.”
In the homiletical treatment of this event care should ever be taken not to forget the central-point, the Lord Himself, while contemplating the prominent figures surrounding Him. The suffering Redeemer Himself is always the essential object in every section;—the point of view from which to regard all the other persons, Judas, Peter, Pilate, and the rest, who must be seen in the light which He sheds upon them. Then, also, we should remember to regard these guilty and failing characters not with feelings of human excitement, and the rage of judicial revenge against Pilate and Judas (as in the Ash-Wednesday services of mediæval Catholicism), but in the spirit of conciliation which the atoning sacrifice before us suggests. And, lastly, the redeeming power of the victorious love of Christ should be supreme in our thoughts; from it we should derive our arguments and pleas.
LITERATURE on the History of Christ’s Passion.11—See full lists of works in LILIENTHAL: Bibl. Archivartus, 1745, p. 118 sqq.; DANZ: Wörterbuch der theol. Literatur, p. 732, and Supplement, p. 80; WINER: Handbuch der theol Literatur, ii. p. 155, Supplement, p. 258; HEUBNER, p. 376.—We mention the following: HUGO GROTIUS: Christus Patiens, a Latin drama, 1616; KLOPSTOCK: Messias (heroic poem); LAVATER: Pontius Pilatus; RAMBACH: Meditations on the Whole History of Christ’s Passion (German). Berlin, 1742; RIEGER: Sermons on the Passion (German), Stuttgart, 1751; CALLISEN: The Last Days of our Lord (German), Nürnberg, 182; F. W. KRUMMACHER: The Suffering Saviour, Bielefeld, 1854 [English translation, Boston, 1857]; J. WICHELHAUS: A complete Commentary on the History of Christ’s Passion (German), Hale, 1853. [L. H. FRIEDLIEB: Archæology of the History of the Passion, Bonn. 1843; W. STROUD: Physical Cause of the Death of Christ, London, 1847; the relevant sections in the Lives of Christ by HASE, NEANDER, SEPP, LANGE, LICHTENSTEIN, EBBARD. EWALD. RIGGENBACH, BAUMGARTEN, VAN OOSTERZEE, KITTO, ELLICOTT, ANDREWS. On the doctrinal aspect of the History of the Passion, compare also W. MAGEE (archbishop of Duslin, † 1831): Discourses and Dissertations on the Scriptural Doctrines of Atonement and Sacrifice, 1801 and often (Works, London, 1842, vol. lst).—P. S.]
On the development of the Catholic celebration of the Passion of Christ during Lent and the. Holy Week to Good Friday, we refer to the archæological works of AUGUSTI and RHEINWALD [BINGHAM..BINTEIM]; a so to FR. STRAUSS: The Evangelical Church-Year (German), p. 177, and LISCO: The Christian-Church Year (German), p. 19 etc.
Comp. on this intricate question WINER: Realwörterbuch, sub Pascha; DE WETTE. and MEYER: on John 12:1; 13:1; 18:28, and the other disputed passages; BLEEK: Beitrüge zur Evangelien-Kritik, p. 107; WIESELER: Chronologische Synopse, p. 339; EBRARD: Kritik der Evang. Geschichte; WEIZEL.: Die christliche Paschafeier der ersten Jahrhunderts; LANGE: Leben Jesu, i. p. 187; ii. p. 1166, and Geschichte des Apot,. Zeitalters, i. p. 71.—[Also GUST. SEYFFARTH: Chronologia Sacra. Untersuchungen über das Geburtsjahr des herrn, Leipz. 1846, pp, 119–148; and among English works, E. GRESWELL: Dissertations upon the Principles and Arrangement of an Harmony of the Gospels, 2d ed. Oxf. 1837, 4 vols.; vol. iii. p. 133 sqq.; ALFORD: Com. on Matt. 26:17–19 (p. 248 sqq.); ROBINSON: Harmony, etc.; SAM. L ANDREWS: The Life of our Lord upon the Earth, New York, 1863, pp. 425–460. Of English writers Andrews, Robinson, and Wordsworth agree with Dr. Lange’s view that Christ ate the regular Jewish Passover on Thursday evening, at the close of the 14th of Nisan, and was crucified on Friday the 15th, the first day of the feast; while Greswell, Alford, Ellicott, and others, side with the opposite view according to which Christ instituted the holy communion (either in connection with the real, or a merely anticipatory passover, or a πάσχα μνημονευτικόν, as distinct from the πάσχα θύσιμον, or an ordinary meal—for their views differ in these details) on the 13th of Nisan (Thursday evening), and died on the 14th (Friday afternoon) when the paschal lamb, of which He was the type, was slain and the Jewish Passover proper began. Seyffarth agrees with the latter as to the date of the month, but differs from both parties and from the entire tradition of the Christian Church as to the day of the week, by putting the crucifixion on a Thursday instead of Friday, and by extending the Saviour’s rest in the grave to the full extent of three days and three nights till Sunday morning. (See below, p. 457.) The chronological difficult) concerning the true date of Christ’s death and the true character of His last Supper divides the Greek and Latin Church, but was not made an article of faith in either. The Greek writers generally hold that Christ, as the true Paschal Lamb, was slain at the hour appointed for the sacrifice of the Passover (the 14th of Nisan), and hence the Greek Church uses leavened bread in the Eucharist. The Latin Church, using unleavened bread in the Eucharist, assumes that Christ Himself used it at the institution of this ordinance, and that He ate therefore the true Paschal Supper on the first day of unleavened bread, i.e., the 14th of Nisan, and died on the day following. In this whole controversy it should be constantly kept in mind that the Jewish day commenced six hours before the Julian day, and run from sunset to sunset, or from six o’clock in the evening till six o’clock in the evening, and that the day when Christ instituted the holy communion, embraces the whole history of the passion, crucifixion, and burial.—P. S.]
[This is the interpretation of W. Bäumlein, the latest commentator on the fourth Gospel. He explains the πρὸ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πασχα unmittelbar vor dem Paschafeste, i.e., immediately before the Passover. Compare such expressions as πρὸ δείπνου, πρὸ ἡμέρας. Ewald, however (Commentar, p. 343), explains: “AM TAGE VOR dem Pascha-feste, i.e., a day before the Passover (the 14th of Nisan).—P. S.]
[Comp. the same argument more fully stated by ANDREWS: Life of our Lord, p. 446—P. S.]
[LIGHTFOOT, ad John 18:28, makes the same remark.—P. S.]
[The German original reads here and afterward φάγειν (infin. from ἔφαγον, used as aor. ii. of ἐσθίω); but the Edinb. trsl. ought not to have copied such an obvious typographical error.—P. S.]
[Comp. the remarks of Andrews l. c. p. 447 sqq.. who urges that John in six out of the nine times in which he uses the word πάσχα, applies it to the feast generally; that he, writing last of all the Evangelists, speaks of Jewish rites indefinitely as of things now superseded: that therefore the term, to eat the Passover, might very well be used by him in a more general sense with reference to the sacrifices which followed the paschal supper on the 14th of Nisan. The most recent commentary on John’s Gospel, by W. Brumlein, Stuttgart, 1863, p. 166, arrives at the same conclusion with Wieseler, that πάσχα here means the חֲגִ־גָה or feast offering, i.e., the voluntary sacrifices of sheep or bullock which the Jews offered on the festivals.—P. S.]
[The term: παρασκευή, preparation, occurs six times in the Gospels (Matt. 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14, 31, 42), and in all these cases it means προσάββατον, “the day before the Sabbath,” as Mark 15:42 expressly explains it. So the Germans call Saturday Sennabend, the Sunday-eve. Hence it is equivalent to Friday, and so rendered in Syriac. The Jews observed Friday afternoon from 3 o’clock as the time for preparation for the Sabbath which commenced at sunset (Joseph. Antiq. xvi. 6, 2). The only difficulty is with John 19:14: “it was the preparation of the Passover,” which Dr Lange should have mentioned before John 19:31, as an argument urged by the friends of the opposite view, inasmuch as it seems to place the trial and crucifixion before the beginning of the Passover. But we have no clear proof that there was a special preparation day for a feast (a Passover eve) as well as for the weekly sabbath; BOCHART, Hieroz. p. 567: Sacri scriptores aliam Parasceven seu Præparationem non norunt, quam Sabbuti. And, then, if παρασκευτή became the usual term for Friday, the phrase must mean the Friday of the Passover, i.e., the paschal week, according to the wider usage of πάσχα in John. Campbell translates: “Now it was the preparation of the paschal Sabbath;” Norton: “The preparation day of the paschal week.” As the 14th of Nisan was universally regarded as the beginning of the Passover, it is very unlikely that John should have gone out of his way to give it the came of the preparation for the Passover in the sense of Passover eve. Tholuck and Wieseler quote from Ignatius ad Phil. c. 18, the expression: σάββατον τοῦ πάσχα, and from Socrates, Ilist. Eccl. 5:22: σάββατον τῆς ἑορτῆς. Bäumlein in loc.: “Esist der Rüsttag der Paschazeit; denn wie wir gesehen haben, τὸ πάσχα bezeichnet bei Johannes die ganzs Paschafestzeit. Johannes wollte hervorheben, an welchem WOCHENTAGE der Paschazeit Jesus gekreusigt ward, wie nachher hereorgehoben wird, duss die Auferstehung aufden ersten Tug der Woche, also den dritten Tag nach der Kreuzigung fiel.” To this we may add the higher reason that John wished to expose the awful inconsistency and crime of the Jews in putting the Saviour to death on the very day when they should have prepared themselves for the service of God in His temple on the coming sabbath doubly sacred by its connection with the great Passover.—P. S.]
[It may be added that the Jews attempted several limes to seize Jesus on sabbaths or festival days, Luke 4:26, 29 (on a sabbath); John 7:30, 32 (in the midst of the feast of tabernacles, τῆς ἑορῆς μεσούσης, Matthew 26:14); 7:37, 44, 45 (on the last day if the feast); 10:22, 39 (at the feast of the dedication).—P. S.]
[The church fathers have the tradition that Christ died on the viii Cal. Apriles, i.e., on the 25th of March, three days after the vernal equinox. The most definite testimony is that of Tertullian, which may be turned, however, against the view of Dr. Lange: “Quœ passio facta est sub Tiberio Cœsare, Consulibus Rubellio Gemino et Fusio Gemino, mense Martio, temporibus Paschœ, die viii. Calend. Aprilium, die primo asumorum [this seems to be the 14th of Nisan, as in Matt. 26:17 and parallels], quo agnum ut occiderent ad vesperum, a Moyse fuerat præceptum.’ Adv Jud. 8. De Bapt. c. 19.—P. S.]
[Ebrard held originally the other view, that Christ died on the 14th of Nisan, and was rather suddenly converted to the opposite side by Wieseler (Chronol. Synopse, Hamburg, 1848, pp. 333–390), but then he again returned to his first view in consequence of the clear, calm, and thorough investigation of Bleek (Beiträge zur Exangelien-Kritik, Berlin, 1846, pp. 107–156). Comp. EBRARD: Daniel Evangelium Johannis, p. 42 sqq., where he defends Wieseler’s view, and his Wissen schafhiche Kritik der Evang. Geschiehte, 2d ed. 1850, p. 506 sqq, where he returns is to his first view with the honest confession: “The plausible and acute arguments of Wieseler have since been so thoroughly refuted by Bleek that no false pride of consistency can prevent me from returning openly to my original opinion as expressed in the first edition of this work.”—P. S.]
[All omitted in the Edinb. trsl.—P. S.]
And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,*[All omitted in the Edinb. trsl.—P. S.]
THE CERTITUDE OF CHRIST, AND THE INCERTITUDE OF HIS ENEMIES. THE DIVINE COUNSEL: AT THE FEAST OF THE PASSOVER
(Mark 14:1, 2; Luke 22:1, 2)
1And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, 2Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover [comes the passover, τάπάσχα γίνεται], 3and the Son of man is betrayed [delivered up]12 to be crucified. Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes,13 and the elders of the people, unto 4the palace [in the court, αὺλή]14 of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted [together, συ νεβουλεύσαντο] that they might take Jesus by subtilty [craft, δόλω], and kill him [put him to death]. 5But they said, Not on the feast day [at the feast, ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ],15 lest there be an uproar [tumult, θόρυβος] among the people.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Matthew 26:1. Had ended all these sayings.—With these savings [ch. 14 and 25] the Lord completed His historical prophetic office. He now foreannounces the fulfilment of His priestly office. He has marked out the figure of His future, the Son of Man in His majesty and glory. This assurance is the basis on which He stands at the commencement of His sufferings and deepest humiliation, and the basis on which He seeks to place His disciples.
Matthew 26:2. After two days.—[Day after to-mor-row, on Thursday.] See the introductory remarks on the chronology of the history of the Passion.
The Passover.—פֶּסַח, Aram. פַּסְחָא; according to Ex. 12:13, from פִּסַח, to pass over, to spare, with allusion to the sparing of the first-born of Israel when the first-born of Egypt were slain by the destroying angel: thus, the passing over (of the destroying angel).16 This passing over has a threefold meaning: 1. The deliverance of the people out of Egypt through the judgment upon the Egyptians—the typical redemption; 2. the spiritual offering up of the Israelite first-born with the Egyptian, expressed by the blood of the lamb sprinkled on the doorposts—the typical death of Christ; 3. the actual sparing of the Israelite first-born in connection with that sacrifice—the raising up of the new life of Christ out of the sacrificial death. Accordingly, the Passover is a feast of thank-offering, a peace-offering, a sacrifice of salvation, which rests upon the basis of a sacrifice devoted to curse (the death of the Egyptian first-born), and of a propitiatory sacrifice (the sacrifice of the Israelite first-born in the blood of the lamb). The feast of deliverance is the seal and sacrament of salvation, the festival of new life and redemption, won out of the judgment of death. The type has thus its threefold relation to Christ. As Christ in His life was the true burnt-offering, so in His death He was: 1. The sacrifice of curse cherem (Gal. 3:13), through the blindness of the world and the judgment of God, in order to the awakening and spiritual judgment of the world; 2. the sin-offering, chattah (2 Cor. 5:21), for the reconciliation of the world; 3. the thank-offering in the new life, in the infinite fulness of life which He obtained in death. In all these senses He was the true and real Passover (1 Cor. 5:7); and Easter, but especially the holy Supper, is the New Testament paschal foast, the feast of salvation, grounded upon propitiation through the condemnation of sin. And, inasmuch as with the deliverance from Egypt was connected separation from the leaven of Egyptian idolatry, and disciplinary wandering through the desert, the Passover is at the same time the feast of unleavened bread (הַג הִמִּצּדת). This view of the feast has two main points: 1. Separation from the leaven, the spiritual fellowship of Egypt (Matt. 16:6; 1 Cor. 5:7); 2. wandering through all the tests and discipline of privation in the wilderness (Deut. 16:3). With this twofold religious significance of the feast, there was, in process of time, connected the festival of spring-time and the beginning of harvest, or the first-fruits. (Some modern archæologists have without cause reversed the order, and made the natural feast the basis of the churchly or spiritual. Compare Winer, sub Pascha.) The Passover was the first of the three great feasts of Israel, and was celebrated in the first month of the year, Abib or Nisan, about the time of full moon—from the 14th to the 21st of Nisan—and in the central sanctuary. Concerning its rites, see below.
And the Son of Man is delivered up to be crucified.—The predictions of the crucifixion generally are here taken for granted: the prophecy here specifically lies in the definition of the date.
Matthew 26:3. Then assembled together.—To the clear prospect and certitude of the Lord concerning the period of His death, is characteristically opposed the perfect uncertainty of the Sanhedrin concerning it, and the decree, which circumstances soon rendered vain, “not on the feast-day.”
In the court [in der Halle],—Not the palace of the high-priest itself, but the atrium, or court enclosed by its buildings. The common place of meeting for the Sanhedrin was called Gazith, and joined, according to the Talmud, the south side of the temple. Lightfoot, p. 459.17
Who was called Caiaphas.—“Probably equivalent to בַּיְפָּא, depressio.” This was a standing surname, which passed into a proper name. He was originally called Joseph (Joseph. Antiq. xviii:2, 2). [Some ancient fathers confounded him with Josephus the Jewish historian, and supposed that he was secretly converted to Christianity.—P. S.] Caiaphas was one of those high-priests who marked the desecration of the institution by party spirit and the influence of foreign power. The Procurator Valerius Gratus bad given him the office, and he lost its dignity through Vitellius (Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 2, 2; 4, 3). He was the son-in-law of Annas. The evangelical history paints his character in his deeds.
Matthew 26:4. By craft, δόλω.—The impression which the spiritual victories gained over them in the temple by Jesus had made upon the people, and also upon themselves, is here very plainly marked.
Not at the feast.—The people were, in their congregation at the feast (often to the amount of two millions), generally inclined to insurrection (Joseph. Antiq. xvii. 9, 3; 20:5, 3); and a tumult on behalf of Jesus was all the more to be provided against, because He had so many dependents among the people, especially among the bold and quarrelsome mountaineers from Galilee. The decree was presently invalidated—not through the first offer of Judas (Meyer), which had already been made, and had led them to settle the form of betrayal and His sudden surprise—but through the later appearance of the traitor, when he came from the supper in the night, and announced to them the favorable opportunity of seizing Christ in the garden. Bengel: Sic consilium divinum successit. Their counsel was fulfilled only so far as the taking the Lord by craft. It was a vain imagination that such a person as Jesus was, could be surreptitiously and without noise removed out of the way.
[COMP. WORDSWORTH: “Observe Christ’s power over His enemies in His death. Oftentimes when they endeavored to take Him, He escaped from them (John 10:39). But at the time when they had desired not to take Him, viz., at the Passover (comp. Luke 22:6), then He willed to be taken, and they, though unwilling, took Him; and so they fulfilled the prophecies in killing Him who is the true Passover, and in proving Him to be the Christ. (Comp. Leo, Serm. 58; Theophylact in Marc. 14:2.)” Dr. Lange, Meyer, Wordsworth, and others, assume that the priests intended to crucify the Lord after the feast of the Passover, when the crowds of strangers, sometimes amounting to two millions, should have left, but were frustrated in their design by the favorable opportunity soon offered. Ewald, on the contrary (Geschichte Christus’, p. 410), supposes that they intended to crucify Him before the feast, and actually did so, viz., on the 14th of Nisan. There is no doubt that the words μὴἐντῇἑορτῇ, not at the feast! admit of both views. But in the latter case we would involve the Synoptists in self-contradiction; and then the time was already so far advanced, that the people, whose tumult they feared, must have already been at Jerusalem when the Sanhedrin resolved to crucify Christ. In any case their words in Matthew 26:5 imply that they had no religious scruples against a public execution on the feast, but were restrained only by motives of policy and expediency. Probably such executions did take place sometimes on high festivals—as religious acts, and as a warning to the people. The law nowhere expressly prohibits them. Hegesippus relates in Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 2:23, that James the Just, the brother of the Lord, was stoned and killed on the day of the Passover. See above, p. 456. Consequently this verse cannot be pressed as an argument against the view that Christ died on the 15th of Nisan, as is done by Bleek and others who advocate the 14th as the day of the crucifixion.—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Jesus in divine assurance ready for death, familiar with the time of His death; while His murderers themselves know not whither they are proceeding.
2. Jesus the real Passover, or Paschal Lamb. See above.
3. The Sanhedrin, in its decree: “Not on the feast” is the type of the policy of a sinful world, which is violently moved by the powers of hell, and urged whither they will more impetuously than itself desires.
4. In the way of obedience, Jesus came to the feast of the Passover. He was separated from the temple, but not from His people and His religious obligations and customs. As an Israelite, He must keep the feast in Jerusalem; although this feast should result in His own death. And this very fact makes it an untenable notion, that Jesus kept the Passover a day earlier than was the custom. He would then have arbitrarily altered and belied at the end the legal propriety of His whole life. His submission to the law brought Him to His death. Concerning the high-priestly office of Christ, compare dogmatical treatises.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Christ, in the full anticipation of His judicial glory, is prepared for His death: 1. He is notwithstanding ready for death; 2. He is on that account ready for death.—The divine assurance of the Lord, in contrast with the perfect and helpless uncertainty of His enemies: 1. The fact itself: (a) He as the sacrifice knows the day of His death, which the murderers themselves do not yet know; (b) He marks out a definite day, which they by their decree in council reject. 2. The explanation of the fact: (a) Christ is perfectly familiar with the spirit of Scripture (the meaning of the ancient Passover)—with the government of His Father (He knows the machinations of the powers of evil to which His enemies are given over); (b) His enemies suppose in their despotic counsels that they are above events, while they have become the helpless instruments of hell, (c) hell itself knows not all things, and knows wrongly all that it knows; it is decreed by God that it shall be now condemned.—What is it that the Lord lays most stress upon when He announces His passion? 1. Not that He should be nailed to the cross; but, 2. that He should be betrayed.—Perfect faithfulness mourning over consummate treachery in the deepest grief.—The sufferings of Christ the consummation of all Joseph’s sufferings: to be betrayed and sold by His brethren.—The uncounselled confusion of the High Council—The mixing up of politics with the Church must ruin both.—The last sittings of the Jewish ruling Council in the Church, according to Matthew: 1. A council without counsel18 devoted to subtilty (Matthew 26:5); 2. a shameless council, devoted to lying and calumniation (Matthew 27:1); 3. a profligate council, devoted to hypocrisy (Matthew 26:7); 4. a blind council, devoted to bribery (Matthew 28:12).—The greatest of all insurrections (against the Lord’s Anointed) must always be in dread of the phantom of insurrection: 1. They lift themselves up against the Lord; and, 2. brand the possible uprising for His defence as rebellion.—The shallow farce of hierarchical pride condemned: 1. They think they can triumphantly trifle,—(a) with circumstances; (b) with men; (c) with sin. 2. They become a spectacle of judgment,—(a) through unforeseen accident; (b) through the spirits of hell (working in the soul of Judas); (c) through the sacred supervision of God.—The counsel of the wicked set at nought: 1. It half succeeds (they take the Lord with subtilty); 2. it seemed to have succeeded beyond expectation (the people made an insurrection in their favor at the feast); 3. but it was absolutely put to shame (the crucifixion of Christ at this feast was the end of all their feasts).—The warning thought, that the obduracy of the Jews reached its climax precisely at the feasts, when Jesus came to them—The question, whether Christ should die at the feast? The enemies say: “Not at the feast;” the Lord says: “On the feast-day, and no other.”19 The corruption of the Jewish feasts, out of which the great Christian feasts have sprung: Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day, and Whitsuntide.—The counsel of God, that Christ should die at the feast of the PassoMatthew 26:1. The appointment: (a) in the holiest place of the earth; (b) at the highest feast; (c) in the midst of an assembly which represented the whole of mankind; (d) thus with perfect publicity. 2. The reason: (a) for the realization of all the symbols, especially the Passover; (b) to establish that the feast of the typical deliverance was changed into the feast of the real redemption; (c) for a manifestation of the judgment of the world, and of the reconciliation of the world, in the greatest assembly of Jews and Gentiles.—God can make sacrifices of His own, but He does not give them up to secret murder.—They might crucify Him openly before all the world; but secretly do away with Him they could not.—The blood of the saints does not sink silently into the ground; it publicly flows, and preaches aloud.
Starke:—Christ’s words inseparable from His sufferings.—Happy he who, when his death comes, can speak and hear about it with satisfaction.—Christ would suffer and die at the Passover: 1. Because the paschal lamb was a type of Himself, 1 Cor. 5:1; 2. that His sufferings and death might the sooner be everywhere known.—Zeisius:—In the first Passover, the Israelites were brought out of the literal slavery of Egypt; in the last Passover, Christ has delivered us by His death from spiritual slavery. Titus 2:14, 15.—Christ delighted to speak of His sufferings; let us delight in hearing of them, especially during Lent.—The great mass of the High Council are spoken of (Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and some others, were excepted): happy those who do not make themselves partakers of the sins committed in the fraternity of their colleagues.—Bibl. Würt.:—The worst wickedness is practised at the most holy times: men never play and debauch themselves, and rage more in iniquity, than on the feast-days; but what on other days is simple sin, on such days is ten fold.—Canstein:—The visible Church of Christ may reach such a point, that its most eminent and greatest members may not only not tolerate Christ and His truth, but even seek to destroy them.—Quesnel:—The human schemes, Gen. 50:20.—Canstein:—The ancient hypocritical serpent-subtilty (Matthew 26:4, by subtilty), Gen. 3:16.—Zeisius:—The world can bear with Jews, Gentiles, Turks, Epicureans, but not with the honest witnesses of truth.—The Messiah was to suffer and die in the midst of a great multitude of people.—Cramer:—The counsel of the ungodly passes away, but the decree of God shall stand.—Unpriestly priests,20 who, instead of attending to devotion, are dealing in political and ofttimes diabolical schemes.
Heubner:—All these sayings (Matthew 26:1). He had told His people and His disciples all that was needful for salvation, and had confirmed all by works and miracles: nothing now was left but to die.—He spoke of His sufferings, that His disciples might see how little chance had to do with them, but that all was after the will of His heavenly Father.—A pattern to us, that we should accustom ourselves to think and speak without fear of our final sufferings.—They thought not that He well knew all that was passing in their council.—The higher a man rises in influence and authority, the greater is his temptation to ambition, pride, love of power, and envy.—Those who are mighty in this world, its great men and rulers, are mostly indisposed to any new and better ordinance.—Fear of the people: vigor and openness are peculiar to the righteous cause.—“Not at the feast:” the feast was the wrong time, not because of any fear of God, but because of their fear of man. The decree must have cost them after all some pangs of conscience.
Matthew 26:2.—[So Lange renders παραδίδοται here. Comp. Matthew 5:25; 15:5; 18:34; 27:18, 26; Mark 15:1 Luke 20:20; Rom. 8:32 But παραδιδόναι is used sometimes, like προδιδόναι and the Lat. prodere, with the collat eral notion of treachery, as in Matthew 10:4.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:3.—Καὶ οι γραμματεῖς (and the scribes) must be omitted according to Codd. A., B., D., L., etc. Probably inserted from Mark 14:1; Luke 22:2. [The words are also wanting in Cod. Sinait. and in the critical editions.)
Matthew 26:3.—[Dr. Lange: Halle. Αὐλή means usually, and so here, not the palace, but the atrium, the inner court or enclosed square around which the house was built, and which was used also for business. This is evident from Matthew 26:69 Πέτρος ἐκάθητω ἔξω έν τῇ αὐλῃ, sat without in the court (not: without in the palace, which involves a contradiction in terms), and from Luke 22:55, where it is said that they kindled a fire ἐν μέσῳ τῆς αυλῆς, in midst of the court. Comp. Meyer and Conant in loc., and Lange’s Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:5.—[The word feast here means the whole period of seven days during which the passover lasted. Meyer: Sie meinen die gunze siebentägige Festzeit.—P. S.]
[The word πάσχα (originally transitus, ὑπέρβασις, פֶּסח) is used in a threefold sense in the N. T. (1) Agnus paschalis, the paschal lamb; hence the phrase to kill the passover, Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7. (2) The sacrificial lamb and the supper, Matt. 26:17; Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11. (3) The whole feast of unleavened bread, ἡ ἑορτὴ τῶν ἀζόμων or τὰ ἄζυασ, which lasted seven days. Matt. 26:2; Luke 22:1, and so generally in John 2:13; 6:4; 11:15; 12:1; 13:1, etc. Some of the Greek and Latin fathers connected the passover with the Greek verb πάσχα, to suffer, and with the death of Christ which was typified by the sacrifice of the paschal lamb Dr. Wordsworth finds a deep mystic meaning in his.—a mistake, which evidently arose from the ignorance of Hebrew, a language known to very few of the fathers and schoolmen down to the period of the Reformation. He also sees a providential paronomasia in Luke 22:15 between τουτο τὸ παʼσχα φαγεῖν and πρὸ τοῦ με παθειν.—P. S.]
[Comp. Crit.Note, No. 8, above, p.459—P. S.]
[Ein rathloser Rath—ein schamloser Rath—ein ruchloser Rath—ein sinnloser Rath.—]
[This theme, of course, implies the chronological view held by Lange, Tholuck, Wieseler, and Hengstenberg, who fix upon the 15th Nisan as the day of crucifixion: but it is of no avail if Christ died on the 14th Nisan or before the regular Jewish Passover, according to Seyffarth, Ebrard, Bleek, and others.—P. S.]
[This comes nearer the original: Geistlose Geistlche, than the Edinb. trsl.: Unspiritual clerics.—P. S.]
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,SECOND SECTION
THE ANOINTING AT BETHANY
(Mark 14:3–11; Luke 22:3–6; John 12:1–8)
6Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper [four days previous, on Saturday], 7There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat [reclined at table, ἀνακειμένου] 8But when his [the]21 disciples saw it, they had indignation [were indignant, or displeased, ἠγανάκτησᾱν, saying, To what purpose is this waste? 9For this ointment22 might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. 10When Jesus understood it, he [And Jesus knowing it, γνοὺς δὲ ὁ ’Ιησ.] said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11For ye have the poor [the poor ye have, τοὺς πτωχοὺς ἒχετε always with you; but me ye have not always. 12For in that she hath poured [in pouring, βαλοῦσα] this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial 13[for my embalmment, or to prepare for my burial, πρὸς τὸ ἐνταφιάσαι με]. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done [this also that she hath done, καὶ ὁ ἐποίησεν αὕτη], be told for a memorial of her. 14Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, 15went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for [promised him]23 thirty pieces16[shekels] of silver.24 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Matthew 26:6. Now, when Jesus was in Bethany, or lit.: And Jesus being in B.—On the Saturday before [six days before the Passover nee John 12:1]. Meyer, indeed, thinks that to remove this abode of Jesus at Bethany before the note of time, Matthew 26:2, is a device of the Harmonists, from which the τότε of Matthew 26:14 should have deterred them. Certainly that would be true if this τότε were found in Matthew 26:6. But the τότε in Matthew 26:14 manifestly refers to the previous anointing. A similar retrogression to an earlier event may be found in Matt. 14:3; as an anticipation in Matthew 27:7, where Meyer himself is obliged to give up the external succession.25
Of Simon the leper.—Probably Jesus had healed this Simon of his leprosy. He dwelt in Bethany. It is natural to suppose that he had made Jesus a feast in gratitude. According to a tradition in Nicephor. Hist. Eccl. i .27, he was the father of Lazarus; according to others, he was the husband of Martha, or Martha his widow. All this is very uncertain; but it is not an arbitrary supposition, that he was in some way related to the family of Lazarus.
Matthew 26:7. There came to Him a woman.—“This anointing, which Mark also (Matthew 14:3) relates, is not that recorded in Luke 7:36 sqq.; it is so essentially distinguished from the latter in time, place, circumstances, person, as also in its whole historical and ethical connections and bearings, that we are not warranted even by the peculiarity of the event to assume different aspects of one transaction (against Chrysostom, Grotius, Schleiermacher, Strauss, Weisse, Ewald). See Calov. Bibl. Illustr. But it is not different from that which is recorded in John 12:1 (against Origen, Chrysostom, Euth. Zigabenus, Osiander, Lightfoot, Wolf, etc.).” Meyer. Similarly de Wette; who, however, gives some supposed deviations in the two accounts. 1. According to John, the anointing took place six days before the Passover; according to Matthew, two days. This has been set aside. 2. According to Matthew and Mark, the meal was in the house of Simon; according to John, in the house of Lazarus. But the expression, “they made Him a feast,” is not necessarily to be referred to the family of Lazarus; certainly not to be limited to them. It is possible that all the believers in Bethany gave Him this feast.; and the fact that Lazarus was among the guests to the Lord’s honor, that Martha waited upon Him, and Mary anointed Him, conclude nothing against the place being Simon’s house; especially as we know nothing of the near connection between the family of Lazarus and Simon. [Both families may have occupied the same house, especially if they were related, according to the ancient tradition; or, Simon may have been the owner, Lazarus the tenant, of the house.—P. S.] 3. According to Matthew and Mark, Jesus was anointed on the head; according to John, on the feet. But according to Matt. 26:12, the body of Jesus generally was anointed. The connection shows why John makes prominent the anointing of the feet. 4. In the Synoptists, the disciples express their displeasure; in John, Judas Iscariot. But Matthew, Matthew 26:14, intimates that Judas was the instigator of the murmuring, and carried the mass of the disciples with him. And for John, the glance at the traitor was the main point. According to Augustine and others, Judas might have made the remark, and the rest harmlessly consented. Meyer supposes that the original account, as given by John, had been disturbed in the Synoptists through blending it with that of Luke 7; and that hence the name of Simon, the host, was obtained. An arbitrary assumption; since the name of Simon was very common, and the related features might have been repeated very naturally through their inner significance.
A woman.—John calls her Mary, the well-known, whose noble character he had drawn before in Matthew 11; see also Luke 10:39.
Having an alabaster-box.—More precise statement in John 12:3. Anointing with oil was a primitive custom of consecration, Gen. 28:18. It was then used for the ritual consecration of priests, Lev. 8:12; of kings, 1 Sam. 10:1; Matthew 16:13; occasionally also of prophets, 1 Kings 19:16. By anointing was the Old Testament David marked out as the Mashiach, as also his sons; and especially the ideal David, the Saviour, Ps. 2:2. But the anointing was interpreted of the fulness of the Spirit, Isa. 11:2; 61; Heb. 1:9, after Ps. 45:7, 8. The anointing of the head was also a distinction which was conferred upon the guest of honor, Luke 7:46,—not only among the Jews, but generally in the East and among the ancients: Plato, De Republ. 3 See Grotius in Matt. p. 501. In connection with the anointing of the head, was the washing of the feet with water. Thus it was an elevation of the custom to the highest point of honor, when the head and the feet were alike anointed with oil. Thus the anointing of the feet in Luke 7 was not simply dictated by the woman’s prostration and humility: Jesus was on His journey, and the anointing of the feet was therefore primarily mentioned. And in John’s account also, the fact that Jesus came as a traveller to Bethany will account for his giving special prominence to the anointing of the feet. But Matthew leaves this circumstance unnoticed. De Wette: “A whole pound of ointment (she had so much, according to John), poured out at once upon the head, would have been improper; probably it was easier for Mary to approach His feet than His head.” Friedlieb supposes that the litra (pound) here mentioned, was the ancient and genuine litra of the Sicilian-Greek system, about 7/20 of a Cologne pound. We learn from Mark, Matthew 26:3, that she broke the alabaster-flask at the top, in order to pour out the ointment. “The ointment of nard was highly esteemed in antiquity as a precious aromatic, and a costly luxury, Plinius, 12:26. It was brought chiefly from Asia Minor in little alabaster flasks; and the best were to be had in Tarsus. Yet the plant grew in Southern India.” See Winer, sub Narde. The best was very high in price.
Matthew 26:8. They became indignant.—According to John, Judas expressed this displeasure; according to Mark, some of them were indignant within themselves; according to Matthew, the body of the disciples. Matthew is wont to generalize; but his words here mean only, that the disciples collectively were led astray by the hypocritical word of Judas: symptoms of murmuring appeared in many.
To what purpose is this waste?—’Α πώλεια, wasting. The active meaning must be held fast. It marks the supposed useless squandering of a costly possession. Meyer, however, takes the sense passively: loss.
Matthew 26:9. Sold for much.—Pliny says that a pound of this ointment cost more than four hundred denarii. [A denáry, or “penny” in the English Version, is about 15 American cents. See note, p. 352.] Mark mentions that three hundred was the amount specified by the murmuring disciples: about equal to 65 2/3 Prussian dollars [about §45].
And given to the poor.—The money realized from the sale of the ointment. John gives the explanation, that Judas had the bag (as manager of the common exchequer), and was a thief in the management of it. The money, he takes for granted, should have gone into his bag. Under the present circumstances, with a mind darkened by desperation as to the cause of Christ, which he had begun now to renounce, he might perhaps have “deserted with the bag.”
Matthew 26:10. But when Jesus saw it—That is, the secret ungracious murmuring; for none durst speak aloud save Judas.
Why trouble ye the woman, τί κόπους παρέχετε τῇ γυναικι,—inflict not upon her any burden or disquietude by confusing her conscience, by disturbing her love, or by disparaging her noble act of sacrifice.
For she hath wrought a good work.—Literally, a beautiful work, marking its moral propriety and grace. Meyer: “The disciples turned away from the moral quality to the expediency of the question.” Rather, they measured moral quality by practical utility, Judas doing so as a mere hypocrite. But Jesus estimated moral quality according to the principle of believing and active love from which the act sprang.
Matthew 26:11. Me ye have not always.—Not simply a “sorrowful litotes,” to signify His speedy departure through death; but also intended to impress the unexampled significance of the occasion. Only once in the whole course of history could this particular act of reverence occur, which, humanly speaking, cheered and animated the Lord before His passion. This hour was a fleeting, heavenly opportunity which could never return; while the care of the poor would be a daily duty to humanity down to the end of time. But, at the same time, there is a general reference to the contrast between festal offerings and every day offerings. Only on certain special occasions may Christ be anointed; but we may always do good to the poor.
Matthew 26:12. She hath poured out this ointment.—She poured it all out, as desirous to offer the last drop. And she thereby expressed an unconscious presentiment which the Lord now interprets.
She did it for My burial [lit.: to prepare Me for burial, to embalm Me.]—She hath anointed and embalmed for solemn burial My body, as if it were already a corpse. The Lord gives this significance to the occasion, on account of the prophecy of his death contained in the traitor’s temper: He would intimate all to Judas, and at the same time humble the disciples. The woman was not, in her act, conscious of all this inducement; but she had some presentiment which made her act as if she thought, We have come to the end; hereafter there will be no need of anointing.
Matthew 26:13. This gospel.—The tidings of salvation, with special reference to the death of Jesus.
Shall be told for a memorial of her.—Promise of a permanent justification and distinction for this eminent woman, which has been in the most glowing manner fulfilled. [Even now, while we write or read these lines, we fulfil the Saviour’s prophecy. Alford well observes on this, the only case in which our Lord has made such a promise: “We cannot but be struck with the majesty of this prophetic announcement: introduced with the peculiar and weighty ὰμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν,—conveying, by implication, the whole mystery of the εὐαγγέλιον which should go forth from His death as its source,—looking forward to the end of time, when it shall have been preached in the whole world,—and specifying the fact that this deed should be recorded wherever it is preached.” He sees in this announcement a distinct prophetic recognition of the existence of written gospel records by means of which alone the deed related could be universally proclaimed.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:14. Then one of the twelve went.—Now did the secret of the murmuring of the disciples disclose itself, as if an old sore in the sacred circle had broken open. The woman with her ointment has hastened the healing crisis. As the obduracy of the Jews was developed at the great feasts when Jesus visited them, so the hardening of Judas was completed at the feasts where Jesus was the centre.—Τότε. Meyer, unsatisfactorily, says: “After this meal; but not because he was aggrieved by Jesus’ saying, which, in its tenderness of sorrow, was not calculated to wound him.” The answer of the Lord approved the act of the woman, punished the complaint of Judas, sealed and confirmed the prospect of His death: all this was enough for the exasperated confusion of Judas’ mind. He now began to dally with the thought of treachery (compare Schiller’s Wallenstein), when he went over the Mount of Olives (probably the same evening) to Jerusalem, and asked a question of the enemies of Jesus which should clear up matters. But after the paschal supper the thought began to dally with him; for Satan entered into his soul (John 13:27). Meyer, de Wette, and Strauss, are unable to see this progress in the development of evil, and hence find here contradictions. Meyer thinks that Luke 22:3 more particularly is in conflict with John upon this point; though John 6:70, compared with John 13, has more the semblance of contradiction. But it must be remembered that the expression “Satan entered into him,” may be used in a larger and in a more limited sense.
Matthew 26:15. But they promised [or: secured] to him.—Meyer: “They weighed out to him, after the old custom. There had been in the land a coined shekel since the time of Simeon (143 B. C.); but weighing seems to have still been customary in the temple treasury. At any rate, we are not authorized to make έ̔στησαν signify simply: they paid ... The explanation of others, ‘they made secure to him., or promised’ (Theophylact, Grotius, al.), is contradicted by Matt. 27:3, where τὰ ἀργύρια points to the shekels as received already, as also by the prophecy of this fact in Zech. 11:12.” But Meyer overlooks the fact, that Judas, after the Passover, went again to the high priests, and that then, according to John, the matter was finally decided. They hardly gave him the money before that.
Thirty pieces of silver.—Silver shekels. The shekel, שֶׁקֶל, σίκλος, one of the Hebrew weights from early times, and one that was most in use (“like our pound”). By the weight of the silver shekel all prices were regulated in commerce and barter, down to the time of coinage in Israel after the exile. Hence the silver shekel was the current medium in all transactions of the sanctuary. The shekel of the sanctuary and the royal shekel were probably somewhat heavier than the common shekel. The half-shekel was the personal tribute to the temple, two Attic drachmas (see Matthew 17:24). The value of the shekel has been estimated at about 25 Silbergroschen26 [a little over two English shillings, or 50 American cents]. Consequently 30 shekels amount to 25 [Prussian] dollars [between three and four pounds sterling, or about fifteen American dollars]. Gerlach counts 20, Lisco only 15 [Prussian] dollars. De Wette: About 42 florins.—Meyer: “Matthew alone specifies the thirty pieces of silver; and the triviality of this gain, as measured by the avarice of Judas, makes it probable that the unknown recompense of treason was fixed by evangelical tradition, according to Zech. 11:12.” Here Meyer follows de Wette, who often follows in the track of Strauss. As if Satanic avarice and treason had any reasonable tax, or as if any sum of money could more easily explain and justify the betrayal of the person of Jesus! The most improbable sum is here the most probable. Thirty pieces of silver were, according to Exod. 21:32, the price of a slave.27 Hence, in Zech. 11:12, the price at which the Shepherd of nations is valued, was thirty pieces of silver. The literal fulfilment of this word should not make the round sum suspicious. We should rather assume that the Sanhedrin designedly, and with cunning irony, chose the price of the slave in Exod. 21. If Judas demanded more from them, they would answer that they needed not his help, and that at most they would give him the ancient price of a slave.
Matthew 26:16. And from that time he sought opportunity.—This does not exclude a later and final decision. He was now the wretched and vascillating watcher of events, making his last act dependent on casual opportunity. Fritzsche: Ut eum tradere POSSET.
To betray him.—General Remarks on the Betrayal of Judas.—For the dualistic exaggeration of the moral importance of the man, see Daub: Judas Ischarioth. For the under-valuation of his significance, see Paulus, Goldhorn, Winer, Theile, Hase, etc. According to the latter view, it was his design to excite an insurrection of the people at the feast, and to constrain the tardy Messiah to base His kingdom upon popular power. In that case, the conduct of Judas would, judged by its motive, be rather that of a blinded enthusiast than of a supremely wicked man. Ewald rightly assumes that he had been mistaken in his Master; but the aims and motives which he further attributes to Judas as a consequence (that he felt it his duty to deliver Him to the Sanhedrin,—and that he wished to try the experiment and see what would follow next), are not very consistent with each other. The repentance of Judas and his suicide must be taken in connection with his betrayal; and then his state of mind will be determined to have been an ambition, excited by Satan, which sought its ends in the carnal kingdom to be set up by the Messiah, and which, therefore, when Christ’s determination and that of His enemies concurred to point to His death, was changed into a deep despondency and exasperation against his Master. In this frame of mind, the scene at Bethany presented to him only a wasteful company, in which all things were going to dissolution; and he felt himself personally aggrieved by the Lord’s rebuke, marking him out as an alien to His circle of disciples. Then he viewed the rulers of the people as invested with power: they had the government of the temple, and guarded its treasure—they had this world with them. It seemed to him worth his trouble to see what was to be gained on their side; thus there was the evening journey, an audience, a question—only at first, he might think, a question. In the high priest’s palace, the favor of the great perfectly intoxicated him; so that even the thirty pieces of silver, which the avarice of the priests offered to his avarice, was a tempting bait. At this point he may have thought that Jesus would in the hour of need save Himself by a miracle, and go through the midst of his enemies, as He had done more than once before (Luke 4:30; John 10:39); or that he would resort to a political kingdom in the sense of the tempter, Matt. 4:9. On the other hand, he may have flattered himself with the prospect of the greatest favors and gains from the Sanhedrin. Under his last exasperation at the paschal supper, the thought of treason became a passionate decision. He saw himself detected and unmasked: the man of hypocrisy was then lost; the treachery was accomplished. But, when Jesus did not save Himself, and the Council no longer cared for the traitor, the thirty pieces of silver lost all their magical glitter for him. On the one hand, the scorn of the world weighed on him as a burden; and, on the other hand, the dark mystery of the death of Jesus, the possible realization of His dread predictions, and the woe of the Master still ringing in his ears. His rancorous dejection was now turned into burning despair. How he still sought to save himself, the narrative of his exit tells us. In our view of his history, such an important character among the Apostles was certainly no weak, contracted, and unawakened man. He was a man of enthusiasm, but led away by appearances; therefore, when the first manifestation of Christ paled, he lost his faith, despaired of Christ, and perished. How he could ever have entered the company of the Apostles, see Com. on Matt. 10. The main motive of his gloomy course we may regard as a combination of covetousness and ambition carried to the verge of madness, and lost in the labyrinths of hypocrisy.28
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. In the midst of the company of disciples at Bethany, we see, represented in a living type, the contrast between Christianity and Antichristianity—an exhibition of the manner in which the one wrestles with the other, and the one is brought by the other to its ripe perfection. The lurking treachery of Judas, and the death threatening the Lord, were the dark spirit which raised the soul of the woman to a sublime, solemn, and joyous feeling of self-sacrificing love. And this noble disposition, with the anointing, the odor of which filled the whole house, became the bitterest and most decisive offence to the soul of the traitor. The fundamental characteristics of this reciprocal influence are drawn in 2 Thess. 2.
2. For the last time, Judas by his hypocrisy drew a large part of the disciples into the snare of his evil spirit. This circumstance, and the fact that he had the bag, throw some light upon his relations to the disciples generally. He was a man of fleeting enthusiasm, of deceitful appearances, of alluring promises, among the Apostles; his power of demoniacal eloquence misled most of the company, and ensnared them into sympathy. For the sake of the greater number of the Apostles, the Lord was constrained to tolerate this adversary, until he excluded himself by a spiritual judgment and an act of self-reprobation. Hence the moment of his departure was to the Lord one of the highest significance. (See John 13:31; Leben Jes, ii. 3. p. 1328.)
3. The justification of festal offerings of love, in opposition to sacrifices for the proper necessities of the poor, is strictly connected with the contrast already pointed out. Judas knew nothing of Christ in the poor, when he took offence at the anointing of Christ. To his glance the world appeared (for the sentiment was assumed) to be sinking into infinite necessity and pauperism, because the ideal of worldly abundance and pleasure had demoniacally enkindled his avarice. Mary, on the contrary, poured out lavishly her store, because in her pure self-denial she let the world go, and found her peace and her blessedness in the kingdom of love and of the Spirit.
4. John looked deeper into the heart of Judas than the other disciples. Nevertheless, the woman went to a significant extent in advance of the disciples in the way of the New Covenant. She is a symbol of the quicker development of the female spiritual life. (Eve, the Virgin Mary.) Its perfect development and consummation, on the other hand, belongs to the man. The believing woman is here justified by the mouth of the Lord.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The house of Bethany a type of the Church: 1. The Church of the Spirit darkened by the Church of hypocrisy; 2. the Church of hypocrisy condemned by the Church of the Spirit.—The self-sacrificing woman and the covetous apostle in the company of the disciples.—The self-seeking heart in the Church turns balsam into poison: 1. It turns a joyous feast into an hour of temptation; 2. the purest offering of love into an offence; 3. the sacred justification of fidelity into a motive for exasperation; 4. the most gracious warnings against destruction into a doom of death.—Even among the Lord’s own company, the heart that is truly devoted to the Saviour must be prepared for the bitterest trials.—Judas the type of a fiendish spirit, which has in all times sent traitors abroad in the Church.—How he with a double mind looked always askance: 1. At the goods of this world; 2. at the favor of the great; 3. at the fellowship of the priestly order; 4. at the reward of treachery.—The little treasury of the disciples in its significant relation to the future.—Covetousness in the garment of hypocrisy.—Covetousness and ambition develop and perfect each other.—Christ and His poor.—The attempt to relieve poverty at the expense of Christ is to increase it.—The spirit of love to Christ can alone regulate the use and expenditure of earthly goods.—The pious presentiment of a loving heart thinks beyond and above its own clear consciousness. The imperishable remembrance of believers bound up with the eternal praise of the Lord.—The gospel makes all its children in two senses immortal.—“Then went one of the twelve” (Matthew 26:14); or the fearful fall: 1. An image of the sinner’s life; and, 2. a warning for every Christian.—“What will ye give me?” (Matthew 26:15.) The commercial spirit in its light and its dark side: 1. Abraham’s intercession for Sodom; his purchase of a sepulchre; the pearl of great price, etc. 2. The treachery of Judas; Simony in the Church, etc.—Christ could be sold only for the price of a slave, thirty pieces of silver: for 1. the highest price would in relation to Him be a mere mockery; 2. the lowest price for which He is surrendered up is enough for perfect treachery.—Many of His disciples are looking only for a good opportunity of betraying Him.—The beginning of the passion: Christ, like Joseph, sold by His brethren.—The apostate Christian a seducer of the enemies of Christ.—The dark mixture of sense, of calculation, and insanity in the death-path of the backslider.—The house of Bethany and the palace of the high-priest.—Christ the everlasting Defender of true Christendom against all the assaults of hypocrisy.
Starke:—God often employs weak instruments for the accomplishment of His hidden purposes, who surpass the men in Christ.—Canstein: He who heartily loves Christ, will gladly give up all to His service.—Quesnel: Riches are of no value, unless they are helpful to Christ and His people.—Canstein: Many perform acts out of love to Christ on which the world puts an evil construction.—He that touches one who loves Jesus, touches the apple of His eye, Zech. 2: 8.—What is given to Christ is well laid out.—An act must be estimated according to its source in the heart.—That there shall always be poor, is God’s ordinance; but that there should always be beggars, might be prevented by good human ordinances.—Quesnel: In the actions of God’s children there are often secrets which they themselves do not understand.—.The memory of the just is blessed for ever, Ps. 112:3, 6.—Their name is as ointment poured out, Eccl. 7:1.—Fellow-Christian, be not disquieted when your own companions, relatives, and dependants, to whom you have done nothing but good, give you an evil return; console yourself with Christ.—Hedinger. O cursed avarice, which still sells Christ, religion, fidelity, and faith!—How evil are often the uses of gold!—Luther: There is no greater enemy to man, after the devil, than a niggard, Prov. 15:27.—He who sets out in sin will easily go on; for the opportunity to perfection is never wanting.
Gerlach:—Love to Christ urged this woman.—Her whole heart was thrown into this act.—He who loves Jesus does not love a mere man or creature, but the true God, and eternal life.—Whoso thus inwardly loves Jesus, seeing Him present, must love Him always, when no longer seen, in His brethren, the poor.—No man among you, He says, would blame it, if so much were spent upon My burial and embalming; why do you blame her now, since I shall really die in a few days?
Heubner:—The last token of honor which Christ received before His death.—The sufferings of His last hour were softened to Him by these proofs of love. And so God often orders it with ourselves.—The inwardness and tenderness of which woman is susceptible in her love.—It was love to the Saviour of her soul.—It was reverential love, set upon the Son of God.—Sacrifice is the nature and nourishment of love.—In the service and love of Christ all things are dignified and made holy.—This anointing had a symbolical meaning. It was the figure of that full stream of love which poured from her heart on Jesus; the type of the inexhaustible streams of love which will proceed from the redeemed upon Jesus throughout eternity.—Application of the anointing to the missionary cause.—Jesus was manifestly moved deeply in His heart by her act. Of Himself, and the dishonor done to Him, He says nothing. It grieves Him that the woman was so badly treated. To grieve a noble soul in the performance of a glorious act, is a heavy offence.—In hurting Christlike souls, we injure Christ Himself. We should always hasten to manifest all love and sympathy toward the living. It is vain to wish them back when they are gone.—The final and highest honor done to goodness.—Christ assures her of everlasting remembrance in requital of this brief dishonor, and thereby gives her a pledge of her eternal honor in His heavenly kingdom.—What Christ determines to keep in lasting credit will be truly immortalized.—The command of John 11:57 might have occasioned in Judas the thought which he expressed.—Pitiable the Satan’s wages.
Braune:—Here a table is spread for Him in the presence of His enemies, and His head is anointed with oil, Ps. 23:5.
Matthew 26:8.—The for His; αὐτοῦ being omitted here and Matthew 26:45 by the best authorities.
Matthew 26:9.—A., B., D., L., and other MSS, omit τὸ μύρον, ointment. [So also Cod. Sinait. which reads simply τοῦτο.]
Matthew 26:15—[Dr. Lange translates ἔστησαν αὐτῷ: sie setzten ihm aus, i.e., they appointed or fixed upon that price for him they secured or promised him. So Vulgata, Jerome (in loc.), Theophylact, Luther. E. V., Grotius, Elsner, Fritzsche, Alford, etc. The other translation is: they weighed out to him. So Euthym., Beza, Wahl (appendo, zuwägen, darwägen. Matt. 26:15), Bretschneider, Kuinoel, de Wette, Ewald, Meyer (see quotation in the Exeg. Notes), Robinson, T. J. Conant, Wordsworth, etc. Comp. the Lexica, sub ἵστημι; Wetstein in loc.; Winer, B. R. W. B., sub Geld; and Valekenner ad Eurip. Fragm. p. 288: “Qui lances œquato sustinebat examine, cujuscunque rei pondus ad libram œstimaturus, dicebatur eximie ἱστᾳν etiam veteribus, Herodoto ii. p 135, 89, Platoni De Republ. x. p. 602. D... Interpres Jobi xxxvi. 6 ἱστᾷ με ἐν ζυγῷ δικαίῳ.” Compare, however, Dr. Lange’s objection to Meyer’s explanation in the Exeg. Notes. To this may be added that the συνεθεντο of Luke and the ἐπηγγειλατο of Mark are rather in favor of the first translation.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:15.—[Dr. Lange inserts here shekels of silver. The τριάκοντα ἀργύρια were probably sacred shekels, which were heavier than the common shekels, and hence paid by weight.—P. S.]
[WORDSWORTH: “An instance of recapitulation. This incident took place before our Lord’s betrayal, but St. Matthew introduces it here to mark the contrast between Mary and Judas Iscariot. Judas murmured against her (John 12:4), because she had bestowed on our Lord the offering of this precious ointment which might have been sold for 300 pence (Mark 14:5), and he sells his Master for thirty pieces of silver or 60 pence.” But in this case Matthew would have expressly mentioned Judas instead of the disciples generally in Matthew 26:8.—P. S.]
[Not: dollars, as the Edinb. transl. has it, which omits the other estimate; for it takes thirty Silbergroschen to equal one Prussian dollar.—P. S.]
[Joseph was sold by his brothers for twenty pieces of silver, Gen. 36:28. Jerome on Matt. 26:15 says: “Joseph non, ut multi putant, juxta Septuaainta interpretes, viginti aureis venditus est, sed juxta Hebraicam veritatem viginti argenteis; neque enim pretiosior poterat esse servus, quam Dominus.” But Jerome did not see, nor any of the fathers, that thirty pieces of silver was the regular price for the life of a slave, which explains this sum in our case as a deliberate insult of the Sanhedrin to our Lord who died the death of a slave and a malefactor, that He might redeem us from the slavery and eternal misery of sin. Origen compares the 30 pieces of silver with the 36 (rather 33) years of the Saviour’s life. Augustine allegorizes in another way about the number.—P. S.]
[Comp. Alford’s estimate of the character and motives of Judas, in Com. on Matt. 26:14–16 (p. 247, 4th ed.) which agrees with that of Neander (Leben Jesu, p. 688) also Ewald, Meyer, Olshausen, and Ebrard.—P. S.]
Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?THIRD SECTION
CHRIST THE PASCHAL LAMB, AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
(Mark 14:12–26; Luke 22:7–39; John 13:1–18:1)
17Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where will thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? 18And he said, Go into the city to such a man [to a certain man, πρὸς τὸν δεῖνα], and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. 19And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed [directed, συνέταξεν] them; and they made [and made] ready the passoMatthew 26:20Now when the even [evening] was come, he sat down [reclined at table]29 with the twelve [disciples]. 30 21And as they did eat [were eating, ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν, comp. Matthew 26:26], he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall [will] betray me. 22And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them [each one]31 to say unto him, Lord, is it I? 23And he answered and said, 24He that dippeth his [the, τήν] hand with me in the dish, the same shall [will] betray me. The Son of man goeth [departeth, ὑπάγὲι] as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been [it were] good for that man if he had not been born.32 25Then Judas, which [who] betrayed him, answered and said, Master [Rabbi, ῥαββί], is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said [it].
26And as they were eating, Jesus took bread,33 and blessed34 it,35 and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27And he took the [a] cup,36 and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28For this is my blood of the [new]37 testament [my blood, the blood of the new covenant, τὸ αῖ̓μά μου, τὸ τῆς καινῆς διαθήκης],38 which is shed for many for the remission [for remission, εἰς ἄφεσιν] 29of sins. But [And] I say unto you, I will not [in no wise]39 drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. 30And when they had sung a hymn [the hymn of praise, i.e., the great Hallel, Ps. 115–118], they went out into the mount of Olives.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Matthew 26:17. The first day of unleavened bread.
On the 14th of Nisan the leaven was removed, and the unleavened loaves (המצות) took their place. It was the first day of unleavened bread, forming the foundation of the Passover, which did not begin till the 15th of Nisan. The feast of faith rested upon a feast of renunciation. Hence the feast was reckoned to last eight days by Josephus (Antiq. ii. 15, 1). These words are express against the ancient notion, that Jesus celebrated the Passover a day earlier. Comp Meyer, p. 488.
The words τῇδὲπρώ τῃ τῶνἀζύμων are equivalent to the first day of the Passover, and important for the settlement of the chronological difficulty. All are agreed that this was Thursday, since Christ died on Friday (except Dr. Seyffarth, who makes it Wednesday, since he puts the crucifixion on Thursday). But the question is as to the day of the month, viz., whether it was the 14th of Nisan, at the close of which the paschal lamb was slain, as Dr. Lange, Wieseler, Hengstenberg, Bäumlein, Andrews, and most modern commentators of this passage assert, or the 13th of Nisan, according to the view of the Greek Church and of those commentators who, from a different point of view, try to harmonize the Synoptists with John. Had we no other guide in this matter than the Synoptists, every commentator would probably adopt the former view, for the following reasons: 1. It is the obvious meaning of the term used by all the Synoptists: “the first day of unleavened bread,” especially if we compare Mark, who characterizes the day more fully by adding: “When they killed the Passover (i.e., here the paschal lamb), and Luke, who says in equally clear terms: “When the Passover must be killed.” It was toward the close of the 14th of Nisan (probably from three o’clock till dark), that the paschal lamb was slain, and all preparations made for the feast which began with the paschal supper at evening, i.e., at the close of the 14th of Nisan and the beginning of the 15th of Nisan (which day was, strictly speaking, the first day of the feast, although, in popular language, the 14th was called the first day of Passover or of unleavened bread). See Ex. 12:18: “In the first month (Nisan), on the 14th day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.” Comp. Lev. 23:5; Num. 28:16. Dr. Robinson says (Harm. p. 214): “Their language (of the Synoptists) is full, explicit, and decided, to the effect that our Lord’s last meal with His disciples was the regular and ordinary paschal supper of the Jews, introducing the festival of unleavened bread on the evening after the 14th day of Nisan.” Comp. Meyer in loc.: “Es ist der 14. Nisan (nach den Synoptikern, Donnerstag) gemeint, mit dessen Abend das Passah begann, welcher aber schon ganz unter den Festtagen mitgezählt ist, nach der populär ungenauen Weise, in welcher auch Josephus, Antiq. ii. 15, 1, Acht Festtage zählt.” 2. It is very improbable that Christ, who came not to destroy but to fulfil, should have violated the legal time of the Passover, and if He did so, we would have some intimation of the fact in the Gospels. 3. An anticipatory sacrifice of the paschal lamb in the court of the temple, on the 13th of Nisan, a day before the legal time, would not have been permitted by the priests. Greswell quotes from Philo to the effect, that each man was then his own priest, and could slay the lamb in his own dwelling. But the weight of authority goes to show that the lamb must be slain in the temple and the blood be sprinkled on the altar (Deut. 16:5, 6; Ezra 6:20; 2 Chron. 35:11). Hence the Jews, after the destruction of the temple, have only a Memorial Passover, confined to the use of unleavened bread and bitter herbs with the usual psalms and prayers. The difficulty then arises not from the plain statements of the Synoptists, but from certain passages in John which seem to contradict the former, and from the seeming improbability that Christ should have been tried, condemned, and crucified on the 15th of Nisan, which was the most solemn day of the Passover. But it has been shown in the introduction to this chapter that these difficulties are not insurmountable, and in fact not so great as those presented on the other side. It is certain that John and the Synoptists can be harmonized on the chronological question concerning so important a part of primitive tradition as the date of the Saviour’s death.—P. S.]
To prepare the Passover.—To this appertained the slaying of the paschal lamb, which usually the Jewish householder attended to, and which took place in the outer court of the temple; the preparation of the unleavened loaves; the provision of the other requisites of the feast; with the preparation of the chamber. “The ποῦ shows that this last is here intended.” Probably all had been done on the present occasion by the unknown friend of the Lord, to whom Matthew 26:18 points, without the disciples knowing anything about it beforehand. The male young lamb or goat must be one year old, and without blemish (Ex. 12:2, 3 sqq.). It was slain “between the evenings;” that is, doubtless, between the decline of 14th Nisan, or the first evening, which extended to sundown, and the second evening, commencing at six o’clock. This is the chronological explanation of Josephus and the Rabbins; the more rigorous explanation of the Karaites and the Samaritans was, “between sundown and twilight.” The blood of the lamb was now no longer sprinkled on the door-posts, but was taken up by a priest, and then poured or sprinkled on the altar. Starke, after Lundius (Jüd. Alterthümer): A crowd of Israelites was received into the court, the gates were shut, the trumpets sounded. The householders slew their lambs. The priests formed a row which extended to the altar, received the blood in silver basins, which they passed on from one to another; and those who stood nearest the altar poured it out at its feet, whence it flowed subterraneously into the brook Kedron. The householder lifted the slain lamb to a hook on a pillar, took off its skin, and removed the fat. This last the priest burned on the altar. The householder uttered a prayer, and carried the lamb to his house, bound in its skin. The head of the house where the feast was held received the skin. When the first crowd departed, another followed, and so forth.
Matthew 26:18. Go into the city.—The abode of Jesus at that time was in Bethany. According to Luke, the intimation was given to Peter and John.
To a certain man; πρὸς τὸν δεῖνα.—The Evangelist had his reasons for not mentioning the name of the man intended by Jesus. According to Calvin, Jesus did not give his name, and the disciples found it out by a miracle. According to Theophylact and others, He would not mention the name in the presence of Judas, that he might not execute his purpose of betrayal at the meal. Mark and Luke give expressly the manner in which He pointed out the man:—at their entrance into the city a man should meet them with a pitcher of water, whom they were to follow to the house whither he went. And they have the watchwords given to them which they were to speak, just as they were given to those who should fetch the two asses for the entrance into the city. Here, therefore, as there, it is to be presupposed: 1. That the man marked out was in both cases a believer; 2. that there was some kind of understanding between the Lord and the man; 3. that the understanding, especially in the present case, contemplated caution. 4. The Lord’s assurance, as it regards this man, reveals the certain knowledge of the Master, and the marvellous influence of His authority. And, in the present case, this cautious action would hinder the premature accomplishment of Judas’ purpose.
My time is at hand.—1. Kuinoel and others: The time of My PassoMatthew 26:2. Ewald: The time of My Messianic manifestation from heaven. 3. De Wette, Meyer: The time of My death. The text gives only the meaning: the certain period of the decisive crisis. De Wette: According to the view of the Synoptists (rather, of all the Evangelists), the Passover and the passion of Christ were inseparably connected. This expression proves also the unsoundness of the old hypothesis, that Jesus ate the Passover a day earlier than the proper time.
Matthew 26:20. He reclined at table.—According to the ancient custom of reclining at the table, with the left hand resting upon the couch. It is remarkable that the Jews themselves ventured to modify the legal prescription, which required them to eat the Passover standing, with staff in hand, Exod. 12:11. The rabbinical explanation is this: Mos servorum est, ut edant stantes, at nunc comedunt recumbentes, ut dignoscatur, exiisse eos a servitute in libertatem. [Dr. Wordsworth makes a liberal remark here, which is doubly to be appreciated as coming from a strict Episcopalian: “God had commanded the attitude of standing in the reception of the paschal meal; the Jewish church having come to the land of promise, and being there at rest, reclined at the festival, and our Lord conformed to that practice,—a proof that positive commands of a ceremonial kind, even of Divine origin, are not immutable if they are not in order to a permanent end.”—P. S.]
Matthew 26:21. And as they were eating.—The Celebration of the Passover.—The company at table might not be less than ten persons (Joseph. Bell. Jud. vi. 9, 3). It generally included from ten to twenty, according to the family, or as enlarged by strangers. The image of a complete Church in the house. The rites of the feast were regulated by the succession of the cups, filled with red wine, commonly mixed with water. 1. Announcement of the Feast.—The head of the house uttered the thanksgiving or benediction over the wine and the feast, drinking the first cup. Then followed the remainder of the household. The washing of hands, after praise. 2. They then ate the bitter herbs, dipped in vinegar or salt water, in remembrance of the sorrows which their fathers underwent in Egypt. Meanwhile the paschal dishes were brought in—the well-seasoned broth (called charoseth), the unleavened loaves, the festal offerings, and the lamb. All these things were then explained. They sang the first part of the Hallel, or song of praise, Ps. 113, 114, and the second cup was drunk. 3. Then began the feast proper (at which they reclined): the householder took two loaves, broke one in two, laid it upon the whole loaf, blessed it, wrapped it with bitter herbs, dipped it, ate of it, and handed it round with the words: “This is the bread of affliction, which our fathers ate in Egypt.” He then blessed the paschal lamb, and ate of it; the festal offerings were eaten with the bread, dipped in the broth; and finally the lamb. The thanksgiving for the meal followed the blessing and drinking of the third cup. 4. The remainder of the Hallel was sung, Ps. 115–118, and the fourth cup drunk. Occasionally a fifth cup followed, while Ps. 120–127 were pronounced, but no more. The first cup was thus devoted to the announcement of the feast; and Luke tells us that with this cup Christ announced to the disciples that this was the last feast which He would celebrate with them in this world; and that He would celebrate with them a new feast in His Father’s kingdom. The second cup was devoted to the interpretation of the festal act: with it the Apostle Paul connects the exhortation: “As oft as ye eat of this bread,” etc., “ye show forth the Lord’s death.” The third cup followed the breaking of the loaves, which celebrated the unleavened bread, and was the cup of thanksgiving: this the Lord consecrated as the cup of the New Covenant, as He had consecrated the breaking of bread as the remembrance of His broken body, the bread of life. Thus, as in baptism He loosed from the Old Testament circumcision the sacred washing which accompanied it, and made it the New Testament sacrament of the covenant entered into, so also now He severed the breaking of bread and the cup of thanksgiving from the Old Testament Passover, and made it a sacrament of the New Testament redemption.
Two questions concerning the several modifications of the original Passover-rites, may here be briefly discussed (comp. also my Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1422): 1. As it respects the relation of this account to the Gospel of John: he relates the washing of the feet, which introduced the Passover, with its interpretation; and he presupposes the institution of the Lord’s Supper itself as well known. We find it hinted at in the ἐντολὴ καινή, John 13:34. The contention as to which was the greatest, Luke 22:24, probably preceded the feet-washing, and was its immediate occasion. 2. As to the participation of Judas in the Lord’s Supper, we learn from John (13:30) that the traitor went away immediately after he had received the sop dipped in the vessel of the charoseth. As the sop can hardly be supposed to mean only the bitter herbs, the distribution of the bread must have preceded, if the rites had gone on as usual, but not the distribution of the third cup. Thus it might seem that Judas departed between the breaking of the bread and the cup of thanksgiving. The account of Luke, indeed, and it alone, appears to pre-suppose the participation of Judas in the full supper of both bread and wine. But his chronological sequence is not exact; for it is his purpose to mark strongly the contradiction between the spirit and feelings of the disciples, and the sacred meaning of the feast. Hence the contention follows at the close, Matthew 26:24, although it had doubtless taken place before the washing of the feet. But Luke likewise assures us that Christ blessed the cup μετὰ τὸ δειπνν͂σαι, so that the later declaration: “The hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table,” must be referred to an earlier moment. After the third cup nothing more was eaten. But if we mark Matthew’s account more carefully, we may conclude that the breaking of the bread was deferred a little beyond the exact ritual time. It took place after the traitor was indicated as such, and after he had doubtless departed. Hence, then, the glorification of the Son of Man, according to John, in the symbolical act of the Supper, might proceed, John 13:31. Most of the Fathers and schoolmen were in favor of Judas’ participation: Cyprian, Jerome, Augustine,40 Thomas Aquinas, Calvin,41 Beza, etc. Against it were Tatian, Ammonius, Hilary,42 etc., and many Reformed theologians [also Nast, p. 572]. The discussion of the point cannot, without forcing, be made theologically important in the confessional controversies between Romanists and Protestants, Lutherans and Reformed. Comp. Wichelhaus, 100:50 p. 257.
[Matthew 26:21. One of you will betray Me.—Wordsworth: “Observe how tenderly He deals with the traitor. Before supper He washed his feet; and He did not say: he will betray Me, but ‘one of you,’—in order to give him an opportunity for repentance; and He terrifies them all, in order that He may save one. And when He produced no effect on his insensibility by this indefinite intimation, yet, still desirous of touching his heart, He draws the mask off from the traitor, and endeavors to rescue him by denunciations.”—Similar remarks are made by the Fathers, Chrysostom, Jerome, and Leo M. See Catena Aurea.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:22. Lord, is it?—See the particulars of this scene in Com. on St. John.
Matthew 26:23. Into the dish.—According to John, an allusion to Ps. 41:10. Meyer, following de Wette: “Yet no such plain intimation as that which, in John 13:26, Jesus gave to John. For it is not probable that the dipping took place after the expression of Jesus in Matthew 26:21, and after the sensation of Matthew 26:22, but rather before, when certainly several of the disciples had had their hand in the dish.” The last is quite doubtful. Comp. my remarks on Mark 14:20.—Meyer: “What is meant here was the sop of charoseth (חרוסת), which was prepared of dates, figs, etc., and which was of a brick color (in remembrance of the Egyptian bricks; Maimonides, ad Pesach, 7, 11).”
Matthew 26:24. The Son of Man departeth.—That is, to death.
As it is written of Him.—De Wette: “This indicates the necessity of death or fate, after the Jewish view.” It rather indicates the Father’s counsel according to the knowledge of Christ.
But woe!—De Wette calls this an imprecation, as in Matthew 18:6; confounding the Christian and the heathenish spirit, as before. The expression was a proverbial one, and very common, as Wetstein shows by many rabbinical passages. Here, it is to be remembered, the man as that particular man in his act is meant; not the man in himself, as that would throw an imputation upon his original creation. [Stier: This woe is the most affecting and meltinglamentation of love, which feels the woe as much at holiness requires or will admit.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:25. Thou hast said it.—Formula of affirmation common among the Jews, Greeks, and Romans, De Wette and Meyer consider this passage contradictory to John 13:26. But it is no other than one of those cases in which John supplements the rest. Without doubt, Judas only at the last moment asked,) “Is it I?” and the answer of Jesus, spoken probably with softened voice, was lost in the exclamation, “What thou doest, do quickly!”
Matthew 26:26. As they were eating, Jesus took bread.—Not after the finished paschal feast, as Wetstein, Kuinoel, and Scholz suppose. Rather, as we have seen, the breaking of the bread, and the cup of thanksgiving, were taken from two elements in the Passover-rite. But the act of the breaking of the bread is brought down somewhat later; unless we assume that it had already taken place in a preparatory way, and thus was in some sense repeated. [The Fathers refer here to the consecration of bread and wine by Melchisedek, the priest-king, as a type of the Eucharist (Gen. 14:18 sqq.; Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:1–15). Bengel observes on the order εὐλογήσαςἔκλασε (comp. Luke 22:19 and 1 Cor. 11:24, εὑχαριστήσας, έ̓κλασε: “FREGIT post BENEDICTIONEM; contra transubstantiationem. Accident enim, quale post benedictionem panem esse ajunt, non potest frangi.” From the giving of thanks (εὐχαριστήσας) and blessing (εὐλογήσας) the offering, the holy communion is called εὐ χαριστία. see the patristic passages in Suicer’s Thesaurus, sub verbo.—P. S.]
Take, eat; this is My body.—This, in the neuter (τοῦτο). Therefore not directly ὁ ἄρτος. So, in what follows, this is not the cup, but what was presented. Starke: “The expression: ‘The bread is the body of Christ, the wine Christ’s blood,’ is not properly scriptural, but a propositio ecclesiastica; although it is not incorrect, rightly understood.” Against the doctrine of transubstantiation.43 So, in 1 Cor. 11 it is not, “This cup is My blood.” Meyer (a Lutheran by profession) thus explains the words of institution: “Since the whole Passover was a symbolical festival of remembrance; since, further, the body of Jesus was still unbroken, and His blood still unshed: none of those present at the table could have supposed that they were doing what was impossible,—that is, that they were in any sense actually eating and drinking the body and blood of the Lord. Again, the words spoken, according to Luke and Paul, in connection with the cup (ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη), absolutely exclude the sense that the wine in the cup was actually itself the New Covenant. For all these reasons, ἐστί can be no other than the copula of symbolical relation. ‘This broken bread here which you are to take and to eat is symbolically My body, or the symbol of My body which is about to be offered up.’ ” So far Meyer. He then contends against the reference of the σῶμα to the mystical body of Christ, the Church (a view held by Œcolampadius, Schulthess, and Weisse). We distinguish, in conformity with the tenor of all the ritual usages of the Old Covenant, between the allegorical, the symbolical, and the typical meaning, as they all concur in the sacramental. 1. The allegorical (commonly called symbolical): The paschal lamb was an appropriate didactic figure of the ideally sacrificed first-born and their deliverance, a figure which at the same time signified the deliverance of Israel:—the breaking of the bread and the cup signify the broken body and the shed blood of Christ. 2. The symbolical: The paschal lamb was the symbol and assuring sign or pledge of the propitiatory offering up of the spiritual first-born, the priests of Israel set apart for the people:—the bread and the cup are the sealing signs of the redeeming propitiation which was accomplished by Christ in His perfect high-priestly sacrifice, which was changed from a sin-offering of death into a thank-offering of life. 3. The typical: The feast of the Passover was a prophecy in act; that is, the medium and the sign of the future of the suffering and triumphing Christ:—the bread and the cup are the type; they are the media of the spiritual transformation of believers through fellowship with the glorified Christ. Thus, didactic spiritual enlightenment, a sealed covenant redemption, and real participation in the glorified Christ, are the three elements which make the Supper a mysterious seal or sacrament of finished salvation. According to Meyer, the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics agree in the exegetical interpretation of ἐστί, since both take the word as the copula of actual being. He thinks they only differ in their dogmatic definition of the manner of the being. Similarly there is an exegetical agreement and a dogmatic disagreement between Zwingli and Calvin, who both take the ἐστί as a symbolical copula. But doctrine goes back to exegesis. The ἐστί of the Romanists means in fact: “it has become in a hidden manner;” that of the Lutherans: “it is in a certain sense and partially;” that of Zwingli: “it is in an exclusively spiritual sense;” that of Calvin: “it is in a concrete, spiritual-real manner.” On the allegorical and symbolical occurrence of ἐστί (which, however, was not spoken in Aramaic), see Exod.12:11; John 15:1; Luke 7:1; Gal. 4:24; Heb. 10:20.
[De Wette, Meyer, Alford, and others agree with Lange that the verb is was not spoken in the original Aramaic (הָא גוּשְׁמִי or בְּשָׂרִי) Alford, whose lengthy explanation of the words of institution does not seem to me very clear, infers from this probable omission that the much controverted ἐστί should not be urged at all. “In the original tongue in which the Lord spoke, it would not be expressed; and as it now stands, it is merely the logical copula between the subject this and the predicate My body.” But the verb is in the Greek text, and has to be disposed of in some way. De Wette thinks that ἐστί may be real (Luther), or symbolical = significat (Zwingli); but that here the latter alone is admissible in view of the symbolical character of the whole discourse and action, and in view of the impossibility of Christ’s real living body being then offered to the disciples as food. He refers to Luke 12:1; Heb. 10:20; Gal. 4:24; John 14:6; 15:1, 5, etc., as instances of this symbolical meaning of ἐστί A very large number of other passages have been quoted over and over again in the various stages of the sacramental controversy, by Ratramnus, Berengarius, Zwingli, Schulz, and others, in favor of the figurative interpretation. It is an acknowledged law of thought and language that the copula never really identifies two things essentially different, but brings simply the subject and predicate into a relation, the exact nature of which depends upon the nature of the subject and predicate. This relation may be real or symbolical, may be full or partial identity, or mere resemblance. But it is perhaps more correct to say, that the figure in these cases does not lie, as is usually assumed, in the auxiliary verb (ἐστί), but, as Œcolampadius suggested, and as Maldonatus maintains in his lengthy exposition of Matt. 26:26 (though he denies the figure in this case), either in the subject, or more usually in the predicate. If I say of a picture: “This is Martin Luther,” I mean to say: This is (really and truly) a picture of Martin Luther, or the man which this picture represents is M. L. If I say: “The dove is the Holy Spirit,” I mean to identify the dove with the Holy Spirit only in a symbolical or figurative sense. In both these cases the figure lies in the subject. But if I say: “Peter, thou art rock,” or “Christ is the rock, the lamb, the door, the bread, the vine,” etc., etc., the figure lies in the predicate, and I mean to convey the idea that Christ is really all this, not in a literal and physical, but in a higher spiritual sense, the rock of ages, the lamb of God, the bread of eternal life. As to the words of institution, already Tertullian explained them by circumscribing: hoc est figura corporis mei, but he also uses the term reprœsentat for est (Adv. Marc. 1:14; 3:19; 4:40). That there is something figurative in the words of the Saviour, is conclusively evident from the text according to St. Luke and St. Paul: τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον (not: οὗτος ὁ οἶνος) ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐστὶν ἐν τῷ ἐμῷ αἵματι, where the cup is used for the wine,—a clear case of a synecdoche continentis pro contento,—and the covenant for the blood. Maldonatus, the Jesuit commentator, to get rid of this difficulty, boldly declares that Christ never spoke these words (“Nego Christum hœc verba dixisse,” etc.); but this does not help the case, since the inspired Luke and Paul must certainly be regarded as authentic expounders of the Saviour’s meaning, and Paul moreover expressly declares that he derived his account of the institution of the holy supper directly from the Lord. We see then that even the Romish interpretation, which otherwise is the most consistently literal, cannot be carried out exegetically, much less philosophically, and in order to maintain the thesis, that the bread is no bread at all as to substance, but the real body of Christ and nothing else, it must contradict the laws of reason, the testimony of the senses (the eyes, the smell, the taste), the declaration of Paul, who calls the eucharistic bread still bread, even after the consecration (1 Cor. 10:16; 11:26, 27, 28), and must overthrow the true nature of the sacrament by destroying the natural elements. But the figurative exposition of the words of institution does by no means force us to stop with that sober, jejune, common-sense view of the Lord’s Supper, which regards it as a purely commemorative ordinance; it is perfectly consistent with the deeper view that it is at the same time the feast of a vital union of the soul with the whole person of the Saviour, and a renewed application, of all the benefits of His atoning sacrifice, so significantly exhibited and offered in this holy ordinance. See the further Exeg Notes, and the Doctrinal Thoughts below.—P. S.]
Eat.—Meyer: Eating and drinking are the symbol of the spiritual appropriation of the saving virtue of the sacrifice of Christ in His crucifixion and blood-shedding (comp. Paul: τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν), in living and saving faith (comp. John 6:51 sqq.); so that this symbolical participation of the elements represents a spiritual, living, and vivifying κοινωνία with the body and blood (1 Cor. 10:16). De Wette (after Olshausen): “We must not suppose that Jesus Himself ate The paschal lamb was an appropriate didactic figure of the ideally sacrificed first-born and their deliverance, a figure which at the same time signified the deliverance of Israel:—the breaking of the bread and the cup signify the broken body and the shed blood of Christ. 2. The symbolical: The paschal lamb was the symbol and assuring sign or pledge of the propitiatory offering up of the spiritual first-born, the priests of Israel set apart for the people:—the bread and the cup are the sealing signs of the redeeming propitiation which was accomplished by Christ in His perfect high-priestly sacrifice, which was changed from a sin-offering of death into a thank-offering of life. 3. The typical: The feast of the Passover was a prophecy in act; that is, the medium and the sign of the future of the suffering and triumphing Christ:—the bread and the cup are the type; they are the media of the spiritual transformation of believers through fellowship with the glorified Christ. Thus, didactic spiritual enlightenment, a sealed covenant redemption, and real participation in the glorified Christ, are the three elements which make the Supper a mysterious seal or sacrament of finished salvation. According to Meyer, the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics agree in the exegetical interpretation of ἐστί, since both take the word as the copula of actual being. He thinks they only differ in their dogmatic definition of the manner of the being. Similarly there is an exegetical agreement and a dogmatic disagreement between Zwingli and Calvin, who both take the ἐστί as a symbolical copula. But doctrine goes back to exegesis. The ἐστί of the Romanists means in fact: “it has become in a hidden manner;” that of the Lutherans: “it is in a certain sense and partially;” that of Zwingli: “it is in an exclusively spiritual sense;” that of Calvin: “it is in a concrete, spiritual-real manner.” On the allegorical and symbolical occurrence of ἐστί (which, however, was not spoken in Aramaic), see Exod.12:11; John 15:1; Luke 7:1; Gal. 4:24; Heb. 10:20.
Matthew 26:27. And He took the cup.—The article is doubtful. But it is defined, not only by Luke and Paul, but also by Matthew, as the well-known cup in connection with or after the meal, which could only be the third,—as is proved also by the mention of the communion cup as the cup of thanksgiving in 1 Cor. 10:16, which corresponds with the name of the third cup in the Jewish Passover. Meyer, on the contrary, asks: “Where would then have been the fourth cup, over which the second part of the Hallel was sung?” And he thinks it improbable that Jesus, after the cup of symbolical significance, would have added another cup without any such significance, also that Matthew 26:29 excludes any additional cup. But the fourth cap marked the conclusion of the whole feast, and as such needed no particular mention. Moreover, it had no special reference to the paschal lamb, as Maimonides testifies (Lightfoot): Deinde miscet poculum quartum, et super illud per-ficit Hallel, additque insuper benedictionem Cantici, quod est: “Laudent te, domine, omnia opera tua,” etc., et dicit: “Benedictus sit, qui creavit fructum vitis”—et postea non quidquam gustat illa nocte.
[Drink all ye of it—The πάντες, which stands in connection with the drinking of the cop, but not with the eating of the bread, supplies a strong argument against the withdrawal of the cup from the laity; for the disciples represent here the many, Matthew 26:28, or the whole church of the redeemed, and not the ministry alone. The same may be said of the words of the Saviour: ὁσάκις εἂν πινητε, according to the report of St Paul. BENGEL: “Si una species sufficeret, bibendum esset potius. Etiam 1 Cor. 15:25 τό QUOTIES: in poculi mentione ponitur. Locuta sic est Scriptura, PRÆVIDENS (Gal. 3:8) quid Roma esset factura.” Still stronger, CALVIN: “Cur de pane simpliciter dixit ut ederent, de calice, ut OMNES biberent? Ac si Satanœ calliditati ex destinato occurrere voluisset.” Maldonatus, who dwells with undue length on this section to prove the Romish dogma of transubstantiation, notices the objection of Calvin, but disposes of it in a lame and is sophistical manner.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:28. This is My blood.—That is, the wine. Meyer: “The symbol does not lie, as Wetstein and others think, in the (red) color, but in the being poured out.” But also, we add, in the nature of wine, the noble blood of the grape (see John 15:1 Gen. 49:11, 12).—The blood of the covenant, Body and blood are something like counterpart terms, but they are not precisely parallels: else we would read: “This is My flesh;—this is My blood” (John 6:53). It is usual to pay regard to the parallel terms as such; but to forget the sequence of the two expressions. The body signifies the whole, as the broken and dying outer life; the blood then signifies the whole as the inner life (the principle of the soul) poured out in sacrifice to God, by Him given back to the Redeemer for the world. The idea that the blood was to be drunk, is intelligible only when it is regarded as the new life received by God and given back to the offerers, that is, as the wine of the New Covenant. The Jews were not allowed to eat the flesh of a burnt-offering: the priests alone ate of the sin-offering; the laity of the thank-offerings. But the sacrificial blood, which belonged to God, it was permitted to none to drink. So far was this carried, that the eating of blood in any form was absolutely forbidden. And now Christ gives to His people His blood to drink. That cannot mean as the blood yet to be offered to God; but as the blood of the new risen life, which, having been poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins, was accepted of God and given back to the New Covenant High Priest and to His Church. In the distribution of the body, the act of death is ideally presupposed, as the fulfilled and perfected expiation; and so, in the distribution of the blood, the act of reconciliation. But the consummate and sealed reconciliation is connected rather with the resurrection of Christ and its influence. And this is the predominant element in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Baptism represents fellowship with the whole Christ, fellowship with both His death and His resurrection; yet with special emphasis upon the death. The Lord’s Supper, again, signifies fellowship with the whole Christ; yet with special emphasis upon the resurrection. Hence the cup is the chief thing in the Eucharist; and a communion in bread alone (as in the Roman Church) bears too much resemblance to a new baptism.
The blood of the (new) covenant.—דַּם הַבְּרִית, Exod. 24:8. Meyer: “My blood, serving for the establishment of a covenant with God.” Rather, “My blood which ratifies and seals the covenant already established.” For the covenant is in Exod. 24. supposed to have been entered into when the lamb was slain; and hence the offering of burnt-offerings and thank-offerings. The blood of the thank-offering is now in part poured out upon the altar, and in part sprinkled upon the people. Here first enters in the idea of a sacrificial blood which Jehovah gives back to the offering people—the essential germ of the sacramental participation of the blood in the Lord’s Supper. This blood serves also unto purification, according to Heb. 9:14. But this purification is no longer the negative expiation, which abolishes the sin of the old life; it is the sanctification which completes positively the new life. The ordinary symbol of purification was water, though not without the addition of blood (Lev. 14:6). The higher purification was the sprinkling with blood (the idea of the baptism of blood was the consummation of life in the ancient Church). This cleansing is not merely the removal of the impure, but also the positive communication of a new life, which cannot be lost. Hence, in the Old Testament, the sprinkling of blood was followed by eating and drinking on the part of Moses and the priests and the elders upon the Mount of God: Exod. 24:11,—a very manifest type of the New Testament.
Which is shed (or: being shed) for many (τὸπερὶ πολλῶν ἐκχυνόμενον)—Present tense. [Compare the addition to σῶμα in Luke: τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν διδόμενον, which is being given.] The sacrifice is already virtually accomplished, and the future act realized in the Lord’s first Supper. Hence, this, eternal ideal presence of the atoning death is continued throughout all ages in the sacrament, because the offering was presented in the Eternal Spirit; but the Romish repetition of the sacrifice reduces the great atonement to a mere act of the past, a temporary event, however significant in its bearings and effects. Matthew writes περί, Luke ὑπέρ. While these prepositions are often interchanged, ὑπέρ is the more definite expression. Matthew, however, adds the explanation, εἰς ἄφεσιν; and therefore, in accordance with biblical typology, only an expiatory offering can be meant, yet at the same time an expiatory offering which is transformed by the grace of the reconciled God into a thank-offering. For the blood of the sin-offering as such belonged to God alone. The objective sprinkling of the blood, and the subjective act of faith, are both supposed.
Matthew 26:29. I will not drink henceforth—Meyer refers this to the fourth cup as the eucharistic cup;44 but it seems rather to intimate that this fourth cup was drunk, as usual, in addition (after the eucharistic ποτήριον τῆς εὐλογίας), at the close of the feast, as the thanksgiving for the blessing of the wine. Hence the expression, “fruit of the vine.” At the same time, Christ marks this moment as His perfected renunciation of all things: His enjoyment of all things in this world had come to its end. It was the last cup of this world. Hence He consecrates this sad moment as the anticipatory festival of a common enjoyment in the world of glory. Bengel: Novitatem dicit plane singularem. Kuinoel: The expression is figurative, signifying the nighest happiness. The new wine of the glorified world, or of the kingdom of heaven, is a symbol of the future festal blessedness of the heavenly world, even as that earthly cup (especially the fourth one) was a symbol of the festal enjoyment of the spiritual life in this divinely created world.
[This verse implies that the Lord’s Supper has not only a commemorative and retrospective, but also a prophetic and prospective meaning. It not only carries us back to the time of the crucifixion, strengthening our vital union with the Redeemer, and conveying to us anew, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through faith, all the blessings of His atoning sacrifice; but it is also a foretaste and anticipation of the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb which He has prepared for his Church at His last advent, when all eucharistic controversies will cease forever, and give place to perfect vision and fruition in harmony and peace.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:30. And when they had sung the hymn of praise, ὑμνήσαντες.—The second part of the Hallel, Ps. 115–118.
To the Mount of Olives: that is, to Gethsemane, Matthew 26:36. Meyer: The tradition, that people were obliged to spend this night in Jerusalem (Light, foot), seems not to have had a universal application. But ancient Jerusalem extended as far as the eastern declivity of the mount. And it is at least remarkable, in relation to this tradition, that Jesus did not go to Bethany.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The relations between the typical and the real salvation by judgment, between the typical and the real redemption, the typical and the real Passover, the typical and real covenant institution, the typical and real feast of the covenant (Exod. 24:3–11). On the significance of the Passover, compare also the typological writings of Bähr, Kurtz, Sartorius, [Fair-bairn], etc.
2. The Woe Pronounced on Judas.—It were better for him that he had never been born. This is held, and rightly so, to prove the perdition of the traitor. But when his endless perdition is established by this text, and the words are taken literally, orthodoxy must take care lest the consequence be deduced, that it would have been better for all the condemned generally never to have been born, and evil inferences be drawn as to their creation. But our Lord’s expression cuts off such abstract discussions; it says only that it were better that he, ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐκεῖνος, had never been born. This may be said of every sinner generally, inasmuch as his sin is the beginning of eternal death; but it held good especially, and in an immeasurably heightened sense, in the case of the traitor. We should feel and realize the full force of this most fearful word; yet without overstraining it, remembering that it is no final judicial sentence, but a burning expression rather of infinite pity.
3. That the first holy communion was at the same time an institution of the ordinance for His perpetual commemoration, is manifest from the express declaration of the Lord in Luke, from the account given by all the Evangelists, and from the testimony of the Church.
4. And it appears, further, from the particulars of the first supper, that it could not have been celebrated according to the Catholic, the Lutheran, or the Reformed doctrine; but that it was celebrated rather as an annunciation of the saving death of Jesus. It was the reconciliation of the disciples with the death of reconciliation; and, as Dietlein says (1857), a confession in the form of action, and not of doctrinal teaching. The development of the doctrine of the sacrament, however, became an ecclesiastical necessity, although by no means the confusion of Christian disputants about the doctrine. On the dogmatic question we must refer to the doctrinal histories generally, and to the monographs of Ebrard on the Reformed side (1845), of Kahnis on the Lutheran (1851), and also of Dieckhoff (1854).45
Meyer, p. 443,46 sums up the views of Ebrard and Kahnis with the remark: “It would be easy on the way which is supposed to lead to the Lutheran theory, to arrive at the dogma of transubstantiation, because both theories rest on doctrinal premises to which the exegetical treatment is made to conform.” The different interpretations of the various evangelical confessions are not necessarily contradictory and exclusive, but may, with certain modifications, be reconciled under a higher theory. Comp. my Positive Dogmatik, p. 1144. The Reformed divines will always insist on the allegorical and symbolical interpretation of the words of institution as a proper starting point (comp. Martensen, § 262); while the Lutherans, on the other hand, will maintain that the holy communion is not only the sign and seal of the negative abolition of the guilt of sin by the death of Christ, but also a positive celebration and communication of the new life of Christ, as also the symbolical anticipation and typical foundation of the final glorification of the spiritual life of believers.47
[Dr. Lange refers here, without naming it, to MARTENSEN’S Christliche Dogmatik (German translalation from the Danish, 2d ed. Kiel, 1853, § 262, p. 491), where this distinguished Lutheran divine of Denmark concedes the relative truth of Zwingli’s symbolical interpretation, but combines with it the Lutheran, at least as to its substance, concerning the actual fruition of Christ. As this interesting work is not accessible to the English reader, as far as I know, I will translate the passage in full: “The Romish doctrine of transubstantiation resolves the natural elements into an empty show, and violates the order of nature in order to glorify the order of grace. Against this the whole Evangelical Church protests, and maintains the natural identity of the sensual signs. ‘Bread is bread, and wine is wine,’ both are symbols only (nur Sinnbild) of the body and blood of Christ. In this sense, as a rejection of transubstantiation, the entire Evangelical Church owns and adopts Zwingli’s interpretation: ‘this signifies’ (dies bedeutet). And in this church-historical connection Zwingli’s sober common-sense view acquires a greater importance than Lutheran divines are generally disposed to accord to it. Zwingli himself almost stopped with this negative protest; while Luther held fast to the real presence of the Lord (comp. Conf. Aug. art. x.), but a presence which is veiled and hid under the natural signs, and communicates the heavenly gifts of grace in, with, and under the same. Calvin sought out a medium path between Zwingli and Luther, but his theory of the real presence represents a one-sidedness the very opposite to that of the doctrine of transubstantiation [?], by separating dualistically what Romanism mixes and confounds.”—P. S]
[In this connection it may be proper to refer to a recent controversy, as far as it bears on the exegetical aspect of the eucharistic question, among Lutheran divines. Dr. C. FR. AUG. KAHNIS, who is quoted above by Meyer and Lange as the chief modern champion of the Lutheran doctrine of the eucharist,48 as EBRARD is of the Calvinistic,49 has recently changed his view on the exposition of the words of institution, and thus superseded the lengthy note of Meyer (Com. on Matthew, p. 498 sq. 4th ed.) above quoted in part by Dr. Lange. In his recent work on didactic theology,50 he gives up the literal interpretation of the ἐστί, to which Luther always resorted as the strongest bulwark for his theory of the real corporeal presence of Christ in the sacramental elements (in, cum et sub pane et vino). I will translate the exegetical results (without the arguments) at which Kahnis arrives in the first volume of his Dogmatics: “Where such difficulties are to be overcome, it is well to proceed from principles which command assent. 1. It is beyond a doubt that the sentence: ‘The bread is the body, the wine is the blood of Jesus,’ taken literally, is logically an impossibility.... Bread and body are heterogeneous conceptions which can no more be identified as subject and predicate than: Hegel is Napoleon, or, this wood is iron.... 2. It is beyond controversy that the sentence: ‘This is my body,’ may be figurative (metaphorical). The Scriptures contain innumerable figurative sentences....3. The words of institution say plainly that the body of Christ is here spoken of as the one which was to be offered up in death....If bread and wine are the subject, then the literal interpretation must be given up, and to this we are forced even by the sentence: ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood,’ which...must mean: This cup is a sign of the new covenant….” Dr. Kahnis then goes on to prove that the Lord’s Supper is not a mere memorial, but also a feast of the life union of believers with the whole Christ, etc., but adds expressly, that Christ can only be received in a spiritual manner (not by oral munducation), i.e., by faith. In his self-defence against Dr. Hengstenberg (Zeugniss von den Grundwahrheiten des Protestantismus, etc., Leipzig, 1862, p. 26 sqq.) he discusses the question again, and arrives at the conclusion (p. 28) that “the Lutheran interpretation of the words of institution must be given up,” but that this matter affects only the Lutheran theology, not the Lutheran faith, which he thinks is substantially right, though resting on an untenable exegetical basis. He also expresses his conviction (p. 29) that there is a possibility of a higher union and reconciliation of the Lutheran and Reformed doctrine on the eucharist. Dr. Francis Delitzsch, of Erlangen, another prominent divine and Biblical scholar of the strict Lutheran type, in his pamphlet: Für und wider Kahnis, Leipzig, 1863, p. 28, thus speaks of his friend’s recent change on this particular point: “In the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, Kahnis has no intention of giving up the Lutheran dogma, he only thinks it necessary to drop the Lutheran exposition of the words of institution. He admits, indeed, that in themselves considered, they may be understood synecdochically, as it may be said of the dove which descended at the baptism of John: ‘This dove is the Holy Spirit;’ but he regards this synecdochical relation inapplicable in this case on account of the words of Luke and Paul: τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη. We think, on the contrary, that these words confirm the Lutheran exegesis; for they present evidently a synecdoche continentis pro contento: the cup is the New Testament in Jesus’ blood, because it contains and exhibits this very blood of the Testament which is the ground, bond, and seal of the New Covenant. As Kahnis does not mean to discredit, but rather to save the I.uther. an dogma, we may hope that he may find out at last that the words of institution which have become uncertain and unsettled to his mind, still stand fast, and that his new doctrine of the Lord’s Supper is only a shadow, not the substance, of the Lutheran dogma.” Dr. Ebrard, on the other hand, a distinguished champion of the Reformed Confession, in the second edition of his Christliche Dogmatik, Königsberg, 1863, vol ii. p. 638, expresses his satisfaction that Kahnis has come over, as he thinks, to his own view on the Lord’s Supper, which he formerly opposed, but censures him rather severely for not giving him credit for indebtedness to his (Ebrard’s) argument. Dr. Kahnis will take care of his originality. But we firmly believe that the Lutheran and Reformed views can be essentially reconciled, if subordinate differences and scholastic subtleties are yielded, and that the chief elements of reconciliation are already at hand in the Melanchthonian-Calvinistic theory. The Lord’s Supper is: 1. A commemorative ordinance, a memorial of Christ’s atoning death. (This is the truth of the Zwinglian view which no one can deny in the face of the words of the Saviour: Do this in remembrance of Me). 2. A feast of living union of believers with the Saviour, whereby we truly, though spiritually, receive Christ with all His benefits and are nourished by His life unto life eternal. (This was the substance for which Luther contended against Zwingli, and which Calvin retained, though in a different scientific form, and in a sense confined to believers.) 3. A communion of believers with one another as members of the same mystical body of Christ. See below, No. 9.—P. S.]
5. The Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice, but a festal thank-offering. Hence the name Eucharist, which connects itself with the cup of thanksgiving. Gregory the Great was the first who changed the idea of the New Testament thank-offering into that of a sin-offering; and those evangelical theologians who are anxious to establish in the Supper a continued propitiation, have already passed the Rubicon between the Evangelical Confession and Romanism.
6. Meat and drink; bread and wine: type of the whole nourishment and invigoration of life, the spiritual life being also presented under this twofold aspect in Scripture (Ps. 23, green pastures or meadows, and fresh waters). The Lord’s Supper embraces both in one: it is the sacrament of the glorification of the new life derived from the bloody fountain of the atoning death of Jesus.
7. The materia terrestris and cœlestis in the Eucharist. Its religious and moral influence. Either salvation or condemnation.
8. For the history of the rites of the Lord’s Supper, see the works on church history and archæology. The Church passed over from the use of unleavened to the use of leavened bread. Contentions arose, in consequence, between the Eastern and the Western Churches. Other differences concerning the kind of bread, the use and withdrawal of the wine, the posture (kneeling, standing, sitting) of the communicants, etc.
[9. It is a sad reflection, that the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, this feast of the unio mystica and communio sanctorum, which should bind all pious hearts to Christ and each other, and fill them with the holiest and tenderest affections, has been the innocent occasion of the bitterest and most violent passions, and the most uncharitable abuse. The eucharistic controversies, before and after the Reformation, are among the most unrefreshing and apparently fruitless in church history. Theologians will have much to answer for at the judgment-day, for having perverted the sacred feast of Divine love into an apple of discord. No wonder that Melanchthon’s last wish and prayer was, to be delivered from the rabies theologorum. Fortunately, the blessing of the holy Communion does not depend upon the scientific interpretation and understanding of the words of institution—however desirable this may be—but upon the promise of the Lord, and upon childlike faith which receives it, though it may not fully understand the mystery of the ordinance. Christians celebrated it with most devotion and profit before they contended about the true meaning of those words, and obscured their vision by all sorts of scholastic theories and speculations. Fortunately, even now Christians of different denominations, and holding different opinions, can unite around the table of their common Lord and Saviour, and feel one with Him and in Him who died for them all, and feeds them with His life once sacrificed on the cross, but now living for ever. Let them hold fast to what they agree in, and charitably judge of their differences; looking hopefully forward to the marriage-supper of the Lamb in the kingdom of glory, when we shall understand and adore, in perfect harmony, the infinite mystery of the love of God in His Son our Saviour.—P. S.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The Passover and the Lord’s Supper.—Both in their relation to circumcision and baptism.—The question of the disciples, Where wilt Thou, etc. (Matthew 26:17)? an expression of their feelings and state: 1. Of their legal anxiety; 2. of their painful embarrassment and sad presentiments; 3. of their want of decision.—The disciples helped forward the doom of their Master: 1. unconsciously, and yet 2. inevitably.—(a) as instruments of the Lord, and (b) as representatives of mankind.—The Lord’s silent guests.—The secret friends of God in all times concealed in Jerusalem, ready at the critical moment to do the Lord service (the friend at Bethphage, the friend in Jerusalem, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus).—When it was evening (Matthew 26:20): the supper in the Egyptian night of fear, and in that of Mount Zion.—The feelings with which the Lord celebrates the institution of the Supper, in presence of the traitor: 1. The moral horror which shook His whole being; 2. the stern solemnity which amazed all the disciples; 3. the compassion which revealed itself in the severest self-denial; 4. a boldness of love which established the feast of heaven in spite of all the murmurs of hell.—The traitor amidst the preparations of the Passover; or, how hardness of heart ripens under the midday sun of tender love.—The deportment of the Lord toward the traitor, an everlasting type of all true ecclesiastical discipline: a holy frame of mind, a penetrating eye, a general, all-comprehensive judgment.—One of you (Matthew 26:21).—The important question, Is it I? a question of preparation for the sacrament.—The decisive conflict at the table of grace, or the most quiet and the greatest victory of the Lord (see my Leben Jesu, ii. 3, p. 1327).—Judas, master of hypocritical dissimulation, unmasked by the Master of divine simplicity. 1. The points of development in his hypocrisy:—(a) his receiving the bag, and deceiving the disciples; (b) the pretence of care for the poor; (c) the question, Is it I? (d) the kiss. 2. His detection in its corresponding points of interest.—The institution of the Supper an expression of the Lord’s supreme certainty of victory before His final conflict.—How the Lord transfused the Old Testament into the New: 1. In all its parts generally; 2. in the institution of the Eucharist especially.—Christ present at the first supper, and present at all others: 1. Always present, because present the first time. He alone can distribute, interpret, and make it effectual. 2. Always present, as present the first time. Distinguished from the sacrament; presenting Himself in it.—The bread and the wine in their inseparable unity: 1. With each other: the broken body, the expiating blood; 2. one after the other: the assurance of reconciliation, the new life.—The Eucharist, the great feast of the Church: 1. A true feast (for the nourishment of the spiritual life); 2. a sacred feast (separating from all sinful enjoyment); 3. a covenant feast (sealing redemption); 4. a love feast (uniting the redeemed); 5. a supper feast (fore-festival of death, of the end of the world, of the coming of Christ).—The Lord’s Supper a glance of light into the new world of glory in the shadows of the present world: 1. A sure pledge that the old world is perishing as Christ’s body was broken; 2. a sure pledge that the new world will appear penetrated by the eternal resurrection life of Christ.—And when they had sung a hymn (Matthew 26:30).—The Christian enters upon his final conflict strengthened by the Supper: 1. Upon the deciding conflict of youth (over the brook Kedron); 2. upon the repeated conflicts of adult life (Gethsemane); 3. upon the final conflict of death (imprisonment and Calvary).—Judas the infinitely dark riddle of Christianity; Christ its eternally bright mystery.—The Lord’s household company the figure and the germ of the Church.
Starke:—Nov. Bibl. Tub.; Out of the depths of the humiliation of Jesus stream forth the brightest rays of His Divine omniscience, and power over the human heart.—Happy he into whose heart Jesus comes! 1 Cor. 5:7, 8.—Hedinger: Is it marvellous that there should have been a wicked one, and a hypocrite, among the disciples?—We may publicly speak of prevailing sins, but should not mention the sinner by name.—Cramer: Many have enemies and traitors frequenting their tables.—Osiander: Foreknowledge and prediction do not make sinners sin, 1 Cor. 11:27.—Quesnel: The communion of the body and blood of Christ a pledge of the fellowship of Heaven.—In the worthy participation our hope of perfect enjoyment of the transcendent blessings of the kingdom of glory is strengthened.—The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament which must abide in the Church until the Lord comes.
Lisco:—In the glorified world a glorified feast.
Heubner:—Jesus was subject to the law, observed all the feasts as a perfect Israelite; thus approving Himself a true lover of His Church and His country—To Him must all hearts and all doors fly open.—Love deals forbearingly with the greatest sinners.—The anxiety of the disciples a joy to Jesus.—The saints are always troubled lest sin should be lying hidden in their hearts.—The fact that all questioned, shows that they did not suspect Judas; they were deserved in him.—It was not with Judas as Terence says, erubuit, salvus est.—Where shame is, there is not yet full perdition.—The earthly supper a type and pledge of the heavenly.—Heaven an eternal feast of love and friendship.—Christ sang with his disciples: thus He sanctified Church psalmody.
F. W. Krummacher (The Suffering Saviour):—The institution of the Lord’s Supper.—The doctrine of the Lord’s Supper.—Judas Iscariot the New Testament Achitophel.—Ahlfeld: The Lord’s Supper the means of grace, through which Jesus makes His abode in His Church and in us. Maunday Thursday.—Harless: The true guests at the Lord’s table.—Kern: The holy Supper a Supper of the New Covenant.—A. Knapp: The Lord’s Supper the holy of holies in the new dispensation.
[QUESNEL:—(on Matthew 26:11.) See here the extreme poverty of Christ, who had no house of His own on earth! He who would fain settle himself here, as in his native country, is not His disciple.—(Matthew 26:20.) The Son of God, in this last assembly, which contains an abridgment, as it were, of the whole church, shows us the mixture of the good, the weak, and the wicked, who are all united in the participation of the same sacraments [? this depends upon the unsettled question of the presence of Judas at the institution of the Lord’s Supper].—(Matthew 26:21.) Prudence and charity require that we should use the greatest sinners tenderly to the last; admonishing without discovering them.—When a heart is once hardened, it has no longer any ears to hearken to admonitions. It is the property of hardness of heart to make us, like Judas, deaf, obdurate, and insensible, without perceiving that we are so.—(Matthew 26:26) Holy and adorable words! which contain the establishment of the Christian worship, the institution of the new law, the contract of the true covenant, the testament of a dying Father, a commandment of the greatest importance, the foundation of a true religion, the substitution of reality in the room of shadows, and the end of all types and figures.—(Matthew 26:30) A communion-day is a day entirely set apart for thanksgiving, adoration, and hymns of joy, which are to be the beginning of the hymns and anthems of eternity.—BURKITT:—On Judas: 1. His character: a professor of religion, a preacher, an apostle, one of the twelve; 2. his crime: he betrayed Jesus, a man, his master, his maker; 3. the cause and occasion: covetousness, the root sin, [add 4. his sad repentance (the worldly sorrow leading to death, contrasted with the godly sorrow of Peter unto life); 5. his terrible end].—(Matthew 26:23.) Eternal misery is much worse than non-entity. Better to have no being, than not to have a being in Christ.—The Lord’s Supper: 1. The author: Jesus took bread; 2. the time of the institution: the night before He was betrayed; 3. the sacramental elements: bread and wine; 4. the ministerial action: the breaking of the bread and the blessing of the cup; 5. the object: Do this in remembrance of Me, etc.; 6. Thanksgiving after communion.—Comp. similar reflections and suggestions in Matthew Henry, Thomas Scott, Ph. Doddridge, and other practical commentators.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:20.—[Ἀνέκειτο. Dr. Lange renders ἀνάκειμαι and ἀνακλίνομαι: uniformly and correctly: sich zu Tischelagern, to recline at table, i.e., according to the oriental fashion of eating, upon a couch or triclinium, which was usually higher than the low table itself. Hence John could learn at the last supper on Jesus’ bosom, John 13:23. See Crit. Note 4 on p. 150, and the Commentators on Luke 7:36.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:20.—Lachmann adds μαθητῶν according to A., L., M., etc [Also Cod. Sinait.]
Matthew 26:22.—[The text. rec. reads: ἕκαστος αὐτῶν. But Dr. Lange, with Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, and the majority of witnesses prefers: εἷς ἕκαστος, each one, without αὐτῶν.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:24—[Καλὸν ἦν αὐτῷ, εἰ οὐκ ἐγεννήθη ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐκεῖνος. Lange: Für ihn wäre es besser, wenn er nicht geboren wäre, FÜR JENEN MENSCHEN; it were better for him, if that man had not been born. The English Versions, except Wiclif’s, take the liberty of transposing the pronoun and the noun.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:26.—The art. τόν before ἄρτον is omitted by Lachmann [and Tregelles] on the authority of B., C., D., L., etc. Meyer favors the article, [so also Tischendorf and Alford], and explains the omission from liturgical usage. [Cod. Sinait. mits the article both before ἄρτον and before ποτήριον, Matthew 26:27. It is not found in the parallel texts: Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:26.—For εὐλογήσας: B., D., Z., and a number of later MSS., Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Alford]. For εὐχαριστήσας: Scholz with A., E, F., H., etc, consequently a larger number of witnesses. Mark has the former reading, Luke and also Paul, 1 Cor. 11:24, the latter, and it is supposed that the liturgical expression of the Church influenced our text. [Cod. Sinait. reads εὐλογήσας, like B., D., L., Z., the Syriac, and Vulgate Versions (benedixit). Comp. Mark 14:22—P. S.]
Matthew 26:26.—[Dr. Lange translates: sprach den Segen, i.e., pronounced the blessing, or gave thanks, blessed, without it, which is omitted in the Greek, as in the following clauses and in the next verse.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:27.—The article before cup is omitted by the best critical authorities. Lachmann has it according to A., D., and Recepta. Meyer thinks that it was inserted from liturgical language. [Cod. Sinait. and the editions of Tischendorf and Alford, omit τό. The genius both of the English and German languages, however, requires here the article, definite or indefinite, while it may be omitted in both before bread.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:28.—καινῆς is omitted by B., L., Z., etc., [Cod. Sinait.], and given up by Tischendorf and Meyer (who regard it as an insertion from the ancient liturgies); while A., D., etc., Irenæus, and Cyprian favor it, and Lachmann retains it. [So also Alford, but in brackets.] The adjective is omitted also in Mark, Codd. B., C., D. The Pauline tradition which had it, prevailed, the more so as it corresponds with the nature of the case.
Matthew 26:28.—[Dr. Lange translates διαθήκη Bund, covenant. So also Castalio, Beza, Doddridge, Campbell, Norton, de Wette, Ewald (mein Bundesblut), Meyer, Crosby, Conant. The new covenant refers by contrast to the old covenant, that of Moses, which was consecrated by the blood of calves and goats. See the Exeg. Notes. The English Version renders διαθήκη by testament in thirteen passages, and by covenant in nineteen passages of the N. T.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:29.—[In Greek: οὐ μή, which Dr. Lange translates more emphatically: mit nichten, by no means, in no wise; Meyer: gewisslich nicht. The Bishops’ Bible translates the double negation here: in no wise; in Matthew 26:35 still stronger: by no manner of means. Other Engl. and Germ. Verss, (also Lange in Matthew 26:35) overlook the emphasis.—P. S.]
[Augustine: “Peter and Judas received of the same bread, but Peter to life, Judas to death.”—P. S.]
[Calvin is not positive on this point, Compare his remarks on Luke 22:21 (in Tholuck’s edition of Calvin’s Com. on the Harmony of the Gospels, i. p. 307): “Ideo apud Lucam poscitur adversaria particula, veruntamen ecce manus prodentis me mecum est in mensa. Etsi autem peracta demum cœna hoc Christi dictum Lucas subiicit, NON POTEST tamen inde certa colligi temporis series, quam scimus SÆPE ab Evangelistis NEGLIGI. PROBABILE TAMEN ESSE NON NEGO, JUDAM AFFUISSE, quum corporis et sanguinis sui symbola Christus suis distribueret.”—P. S.]
[Hilary: “The passover was concluded … without Judas, for he was unworthy of the communion of eternal sacraments.”—P. S.]
[Similarly Alford: “The form of expression is important, not being οὗτος ὁ ἄρτος, or οὗτος ὁ οἶνος, but τοῦ. το, in both cases, or τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον, not the bread or wine itself, but the thing itself in each case; precluding ιἄ idea of a substantial change.”—P. S.]
[The Edinb. trsl. reads: “Meyer thinks this excludes the fourth cup;” and thus attributes to him the very opposite opinion. Comp. note on Matthew 26:27, and Meyer’s Com. on Matt. p. 500 (4th ed.): “ὅτι οὐ μὴ πίω DASS ICH GEWISSLICH NICHT TRINKEN WERDE Diess setzt...voraus, dass es der LETZTE [the fourth], nicht der vorletzte [the third] Becher des Mahles war, welchen er V. 27 f. gegeben hatte....Es war der SCHLUSS becher, bei dessen Genuss its weites Theil des Hallel gesungen wurde”—P. S.]
[Comp. also the able work of Dr. I. W. NEVIN: The Mystical Presence, Philadelphia, 1846 (a defence of the Calvinistic theory with some modification), together with Dr. CH. HODGE’S review of it in the Princeton Review for 1848 (from the Zwinglian stand-point), and Dr. NEVIN’S defence In the Mercersburg Review for 1849.—P. S.]
[In the third edition of his Commentary, to which Dr. Lange always refers. In the fourth edition of 1858 it is p. 499.—P. S.]
[The Edinb. trsl. omits the greater part of the original, sub No. 4.—P. S.]
[See his Lehre vom Abendmahle, Leipzig, 1851, p. 472. —P. S.]
[In an elaborate History of the Dogma of the Lord’s Supper, in 2 vols., Frankf. 1845–’46, also in his Dogmatics, and in a review of Dr. NEVIN’S Mystical Presence in ULLMANN’S Studien und Kritiken, but I do not remember for which year, probably 1850.—P. S.]
[Lutherische Dogmatik vol. i. Leipzig, 1861, p. 618 sqq.—P. S.]
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.FOURTH SECTION
PROMISES TO THE DISCIPLES; AND CHRIST IN GETHSEMANE
(Mark 14:27–42; Luke 22:31–46; John 13:36–18:1)
31Then [in going out to the Mount of Olives] saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall [will] be offended because of me [at me] this night: for it is written, I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad (Zech. 13:7). 32But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. 33Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee [at thee],51 yet will I never be offended. 34Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the [a] cock crow 35[crows], thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not [in no wise, οὐ μή] deny thee.52 [But]53 Likewise also said all the disciples.
36Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy [full of, or, overwhelmed with, sorrow and anguish, λυπεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν]54. 38Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39And he went a little farther,55 and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What,56 could ye not [then, οὕτως] watch with me one hour? 41Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup57 may not pass away from me,58 except I drink it, thy will be done. 43And he came and 44[again] found them asleep again:59 for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time,60 saying the same words. 45Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Matthew 26:31. Then saith Jesus unto them, τότε—For a time Jesus remained in the room of the Passover, as is evident from John 14:31. At this point comes the departure from the house. The prediction of the flight of the disciples and of Peter’s denial took place, according to John 13:37, in the Passover-room itself. Hereupon followed the farewell discourses, John 13 to 17 spoken partly within the room, and partly on the way to Gethsemane.
Will be offended at Me, σκανδαλισθήσεσθε ἐν ἐμοί—That is, My sufferings ye will make an offence and snare to yourselves.
For it is written.—What the Lord knew by immediate prevision, He nevertheless connects with a prophetic word: partly for the sake of the disciples, partly on account of His relation to the law; and further to prove that the course of His suffering was not contrary to Old Testament predictions, but that the carnal notions of the Jews as to a Messiah exempt from suffering were in direct contradiction to the Old Testament. The passage, Zech. 13:1: “Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow [My equal], saith the Lord of hosts: smile the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn Mine hand upon the little ones’—is indeed quoted freely,61 yet not inconsistently with the connection of the text. In the original, Jehovah commands the sword to smite His Shepherd; but here He appears to lift up the sword Himself. The Messianic import of the passage is without reason resolved by Meyer (after Hitzig) into a merely typical significance. For the passage is closely connected with Zechariah’s previous reference to a future time, when prophecy should be silenced, and when he who should arise as a prophet would be exposed to the most bitter sufferings. That prediction stretched forward beyond the prophetless period after Malachi to the period of the new prophets, John the Baptist and Christ. But if we recognize the prophetical spirit in this passage at all, we cannot refer it to John the Baptist. It foretold, however, the universal dispersion of the people in consequence of their rejection of Christ. “The Shepherd indicated by the prophet is the same who, in Matthew 11:4, feeds the miser; able sheep, the Jewish people; His death is the sign for the scattering of the flock, yet the Lord immediately stretches out His hand to save the little ones, the faithful, His disciples. Hence the profound meaning of the passage is this: When the Jewish people had rejected their last Deliverer and Saviour, they underwent the punishment of dispersion. This was preparatorily typified in the actual scattering of the disciples on the death of Jesus; just as their eternal salvation in their bodily deliverance when Jesus was taken” (John 18:9). Gerlach.62
Matthew 26:32. Go before you into Galilee.—Meyer denies the genuineness of this declaration, for the groundless reason, that Jesus could not so definitely predict His own resurrection. The announcement of a particular meeting in Galilee, does not exclude the previous appearances of Jesus to the disciples in Jerusalem. He says this to those who had come with Him from Galilee to the feast: “Before ye shall have returned to your homes, I will rise again.” In Galilee He collected together again all the scattered disciples: Matthew 28:16; John 21; 1 Cor. 15:6. Gerlach. [The Lord seems to allude in this comforting prediction to the remaining words of the prophecy of Zech. 13:7: “And I will turn Mine hand upon the little ones.” To go before, προάγειν is a verbum pastorale, as Bengel remarks, comp. John. 10:4.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:34. Before a cock crows.—De Wette: “If Jesus said these words, He meant merely (de Wette’s mere assertion) the division of the night called ἀλεκτοροφωνία קְרִיאַת הַגֶּבֶר; but the Evangelists referred it to a real cock-crowing.” Gerlach: “Before the cock-crowing between midnight and morning. But it came to pass literally, like so many other predictions.” It must be regarded as fixed, that the definite specification of that time of the night was the main point; but since, where cocks were found, their cry would not be wanting, we must hold fast the circumstance, that the cock-crowing was appointed to be the warning sound for Peter. Meyer seems to suppose that the first cock-crowing took place at midnight, and the second about three in the morning. It is not established that the ἀλεκτοροφωνία marked always the time from midnight till three; since the Talmudists reckoned only three divisions of the day, and regarded the fourth, πρωί̈ as the morning of the day following. Comp. Winer, sub Nachtwache.63
Deny Me thrice.—De Wette: Deny knowing Me (!). Better Meyer: Deny that thou belongest to Me. But the denial of faith in Christ, the Son of God, is contained in it; and not merely the denial of a personal relation.
Matthew 26:36. Gethsemane.—Most probably גַּת שְׁמָנֵא oil-press. The most approved form is Γεθσημανεί: see de Wette. A piece of land at the foot of the Mount of Olives, which was provided with a press, and perhaps also with a dwelling-house, or at least the usual garden-tower. See Winer and Robinson. Through the Stephen Gate or the Gate of Mary (according to Schulz, identical with the ancient Fish Gate), there is a descent to the valley of Kedron, by which the traveller went over the bridge of the same name into the garden of Gethsemane. Kedron means Black brook; it flowed with perturbed waters, which were still more darkened by the blood of the temple-sacrifices, down through the valley toward the Dead Sea. Gethsemane lay on the right of the path to the Mount of Olives. It scarcely deserves now the name of a garden, as the place is covered with stones, and there are only eight old olive-trees remaining. The place is in possession of the Franciscans, who in 1847 erected a new wall around it, in length two hundred paces, and in breadth one hundred and fifty. There is no ground for doubting the identity of the present and the ancient Gethsemane; yet it must be confessed that there is no reason why the place on the left of the road may not be preferred (Wolff). C. von Raumer: “The olives are not of the time of our Lord; for Titus, during the siege of Jerusalem, had all the trees of the district cut down; and, moreover, the tenth legion were encamped on the western declivity of the mountain. The great age of the eight trees is inferred from the fact, that each of them pays a particular tribute which goes up to the time of the capture of Jerusalem by the Saracens (A. D. 636).64
And He saith to the disciples.—There were eight of them; the three selected ones, and Judas, being excluded. Only those three, who had seen His transfiguration on the Mount, might be witnesses of the conflict of His soul. But this appointment of Christ formed also a kind of watch against premature surprise on the part of the traitor. In the foreground of the garden sat the eight disciples; beyond them are the three confidential ones; into the Holiest Of His Passion He goes alone. These stations are not without symbolical significance.65
Matthew 26:37. He began to be overwhelmed with sorrow and anguish (to mourn and to tremble); λυρεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν.—Suidas explains ἀδημονεῖν to be λίαν λυπεῖσθαι, ἀπορεῖν. But the latter expression is probably not an intensification of the for me; it is a kind of contrast to it. Λυπεῖσθαι is the passive: being troubled or afflicted. Thus it signifies, absolutely taken, the experience of an infinitely afflicting influence. All the woe of the world falls upon Him, and oppresses His heart. Mark has the stronger expression: ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι. The contradictory impressions66 which Christ experienced extended to horror and amazement. Ἀδημονεῖν, on the other hand, related to ἀπορεῖν—according to Buttmann from ἄδημος—expresses in the absolute sense the being forsaken of all the world and bereft of every consolation, the uttermost anxiety and experience of woe.
Matthew 26:38. My soul is exceeding sorrowful, or girt round with sorrow, περίλυπος.—Compare John 12:27. The soul is the intermediate in man between body and spirit. The spirit expresses the relation to God; the body, the relation to earth; the soul, the relation to the world at large, especially the world of spirits. Hence the soul is the specific organ of spiritual experiences and emotions of pleasure and sorrow (BECK, Bibl. Seelenlehre, 10).—Even unto death.—The extremest degree. Even unto death, so that sorrow might bring Me to death, Jon. 4:9. “Anguish even unto death, the woes of one struggling with death, I now experience. The words of Ps. 22:16; 40:13; seem to have been present to His thoughts.” Gerlach.
Tarry ye here, and watch with Me—Intimation of the deepest agony. Bengel: In magnis tentationibus juvat solitudo, sed tamen ut in propinquo sint amici.
Matthew 26:39. And He went a little farther.—Μικρόν belongs to προελθών, a little distance. Luke gives here the vivid and dramatic statements of the spiritual excitement of the Lord,—of the bloody or blood-like sweat which poured from Him,—of His being strengthened by an angel. See Com. on Luke 22:41–44.
If it be possible.—Not as opposing the notion of an unbending decree; but in living harmony with the Father’s government and perfect submission. Luke: εἰ βούλει. The πάντα δυνατά in Mark is no contradiction.
This cup.—The suffering is a cup filled with a bitter potion. See above, Matthew 20:22. Meyer (after de Wette): “This suffering and dying now before Me.” The signification of the cup is the same as the signification of the suffering of His soul. But the modern interpretation, of an anguish in the presence of death which extorted a prayer for its removal, is in opposition to all the earlier declarations of Christ, and especially to the institution of the Supper, and the high-priestly prayer, John 17. On this farther on.
But as Thou.—As Thou wilt, let it be. See Mark. Not My will, but Thine be done. “The feeling of profound emotion speaks in broken language.” Meyer. [This passage figures very prominently in the Monothelite controversy as one of the principal proofs that Christ had two wills, a human and a divine, as He had two natures. It should not be overlooked, however, that the contrast is not as between His human and His divine will, but as between His will (as the God-Man in the state of humiliation and intense agony) and the will of His heavenly Father.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:40. And findeth them sleeping.—“The sleeping of the disciples, and of these three favorite disciples, under these circumstances, and with so unconquerable a drowsiness, is psychologically mysterious, even after Luke’s explanation, ἀπὸ τῆς λύπης (Matthew 22:45); but the certainly genuine words of Jesus, Matthew 26:40 and 45, constrain us to regard the circumstance as historically true.” Meyer. We must connect with this the equally mysterious sleeping of the same three men during the transfiguration; and this will confirm the supposition, that higher spiritual influences and transactions almost overpowered the feeble flesh. Yet the Lord expressly declares that the disciples were morally responsible for being in such a condition. An analogous influence we see under preaching. Sermons stimulate some, and send others to sleep, according to their several dispositions and preparation. The simple law, that extraordinary tension raises the highly developed spiritual life, while it stupefies the less developed, finds here its strongest illustration in the most absolute contrast of spiritual watchfulness and sleep.
He saith unto Peter.—He had promised most was in the greatest danger; and probably he was psychical respects the strongest.—So then, ο ὕτως,—with displeasure: with allusion to his great promises.—Not one hour.—Incidental intimation of the duration of our Lord’s first conflict.
Matthew 26:41. That ye enter not into temptation; εἰσέλθητε.—That the situation in which they would soon be placed, might not be a cause of offence to them, through lack of their own preparation. The simple test, which comes from God alone, becomes πειρασμός, an assault dangerous to the soul, partly through the accession of tempting influences from without (“the devil, the world”), and partly through a blameable internal bias (“our own flesh and blood”). The Lord’s words were fully explained when the band soon afterward came upon them.
The spirit indeed is willing.—A general declaration; but, like the passage, Rom. 7:22, 25, qualified and particularized by its relation to the disciples, and the progress of the Christian life. In the unconverted the willingness of the πνεῦμα is not yet unbound; in mature Christians the σάρξ is purified and governed by the spiritual principle. But, even in the first case, the willingness of the spirit is faintly expressed in indefinite desires; and in the last case, the opposition of the flesh is not absolutely suppressed and abolished until the consummation. The proper conflict between the πνεῦμα, the higher principle of life, and the old ungodly nature, falls into the domain of the Christian discipleship, the life that is being matured. The πνεῦμα is here the human spiritual life, awakened by the Holy Spirit. It is not only willing, but πρόθυμον, ready and willing. The σάρξ which opposes is not simply the sensual nature, but the sensuous nature disordered by the ψυχή. The Scripture presents the σάρξ—that is, the natural life in its inclinations and impulses,—in three stages: 1. As innocent σάρξ (Gen. 2); 2 as sinful σάρξ (Gen. 6.); 3. as sanctified σάρξ (John 6). But the sinful σάρξ is even in the regenerate excited to a diseased contradiction; it is not merely weak, but ἀσθενής as the πνεῦμα is πρόθυμον. Hence, above all things, watchfulness is needed. Calovius: σάρξ is here the homo animalis; πνεῖμα the homo spiritualis. This is too dogmatical. [Stier, Alford, and Nast take flesh here in its original sense as a constituent part of human nature, which in itself is not sinful, but has an inherent weakness, which the soul, standing between the spirit and the flesh, must overcome by deriving strength from the spirit through watching and prayer. They also maintain that Christ Himself is included in this declaration, with the difference that He gave as high and pre-eminent an example of its truth, as the disciples afforded a low and ignoble one: He, in the willingness of the spirit, yielding Himself to the Father’s will to suffer and die, but weighed down by the weakness of the flesh; they, having professed, and really having, a willing spirit to suffer with Him, but, even in the one hour’s watching, overcome by the burden of drowsiness. Observe, it is here πνεῦμα, the higher spiritual being, and not ψυχή, the human soul, the seat of the affections and passions, as in Matthew 26:38 and John 12:27.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:42. Again the second time.—No pleonasm. The ἐκ δευτέρου defines the ἀπελθών; the πάλιν defines the προσηύξατο in a significant manner. In the second supplication, the resignation and self-sacrifice comes more prominently forward.
Matthew 26:44. The third time.—Apart from the textual uncertainty, this presents no difliculty. It is in harmony with life, and especially spiritual life, that intense and decisive conflicts develop themselves in a succession of acts, with intermissions of pause. The rhythm here assumes a threefold rise and fall, according to the nature of the spirit and of spiritual conflict, as in the conflict of the Apostle Paul, 2 Cor. 12:8. Luke does not record this threefold repetition literally; but he describes it in the growing intensity of the struggle, the bloody sweat, and the word of the strengthening angel.
Matthew 26:45. Sleep on now, and take your rest.—1. Chrysostom, Grotius, Winer, and others: “Jesus needed no longer the co-operation of His disciples, and gives them rest.” But, on the other hand, we read: “The hour is come.” 2. H. Stephanus, Heumann, [also Greswell and Robinson], and others, make it a question: Sleep ye still? but this is opposed by τὸ λοιπόν 3. Grulich (on the Irony of Christ, p. 74): Sleep and take your rest for the time to come, that is, in future, when ye shall have more security. But this would not be τὸ λοιπόν. 4. Euthymius Zigab., [Calvin], and Beza, call it “rebuking irony.” [Also Chrysostom.] Meyer: “The common objection against the ironical view, that it is not in harmony with the present feeling of Jesus, is psychologically arbitrary. The profoundest grief of soul, especially when associated with such clearness of spirit, has its own irony. And what an apathy had Jesus here to encounter!” But if the essential principle of irony is security and perfect composure of spirit, we recognize here the sacred irony which does not speak in contempt of weakness, but in the triumphant consciousness that the fight was already won. Another token is, that it passes over at once into the most solemn language. See the divine irony in Ps. 2 Meanwhile, we must be careful not to overlook the symbolical element in the saying. The disciples had slept in the body, because they slept in the spirit And, because they had not watched, there was a necessity now that they should outwardly watch while they slept on in spirit, until they were awakened by the cock-crowing, the Redeemer’s death, and the resurrection morning.
The hour is at hand.—The great hour of decision. Comp. Luke 22:53.
Shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners.—Grotius: The Romans. Meyer: The Sanhedrin. De Wette, better: The Romans and the Jews. For that the betrayal was twofold, Jesus had before declared.
Matthew 26:46. Arise, let us go hence.—“Remark the haste which is expressed in ἐγείρεσθε, ἄγωμεν, ἰδού.” Meyer.
THE RELATION OR THE THREE EVANGELISTS TO JOHN.—The silence of John upon the conflict in Gethsemane has been explained in various ways. According to Olshausen and others, he took for granted an acquaintance with the synoptical narratives. I have explained the omission of this event, as well as of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, from the peculiar composition and aim of the fourth Gospel, with reference to the three already existing.67 So also Meyer. John has something analogous to the agony of Gethsemane in the spiritual conflict of Jesus in the temple, John 12:27, though the two are of course not to be identified.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1.The perfect fidelity of Jesus to the law is seen in His not going over the Mount of Olives to Bethany. It was necessary for every one to spend that night in Jerusalem. His calmness is seen in the fact of His going to His accustomed place of prayer (Luke 22:39), although knowing that Judas was acquainted with the place. The time for hiding Himself was past; for throughout the whole land there was no longer freedom for His steps. But no more did Jesus go prematurely to meet danger, which He would have done had He celebrated the Passover a day earlier than usual. “Just at the commencement of His public teaching (Matthew 4), He retired, before His extremest agony, into silence; that there He might in prayer await and overcome in His inmost spirit the fiercest assaults of Satan (John 14:30), before He entered upon His external mortal passion.” Gerlach.
2. The Agony of the Saviour in Gethsemane.—The final form of an anxious presentiment which had pervaded His whole public life, and which constantly came out more and more distinctly into utterance: Luke 12:50; Mark 8:12; John 12 There is nothing improbable, though something mysterious and wonderful, in the record that Christ’s agony followed the high festival of His soul in the sacerdotal prayer (John 17). A similar transition in feeling often appears: 1. From joy to sorrow in the entry with palm-branches in Luke, in the temple, John 12, in Gethsemane; 2. from sorrow to joy at the departure from Galilee, at the dismissal of Judas from the company of disciples, John 13, after the cry, “My God, My God,” on the cross. All this shows the elasticity and absolute depth and vigor of His inner life. We distinguish three great conflicts and triumphs in the passion: 1. The victory over the temptation of the kingdom of darkness in His Spirit, at the institution of the holy Supper (John 13:31); 2. the victory over temptation in His soul, in Gethsemane; 3. the victory over temptation in His bodily life, on the cross. These three great crises, indeed, are not to be separated abstractly, as if in the one case His spirit only was tried, in the other, His soul, etc. But the assault made the life of the spirit the medium of trial in the one case, in the other, the life of the soul; and the victory which preceded became an advantage in the conflict which followed. And this serves to show the real import of the specific suffering of the soul of our Lord. It is in its nature one of the deepest mysteries of the evangelic history; but it receives some light from the position of the soul-conflict between the spirit-conflict and the conflict of bodily distress, from its relation to the temptation in the wilderness, and by definite declarations of Christ Himself. Interpretations:—1. Origen, De martyrio, c. 29: Christ desired a yet deeper suffering; an ascetically strained view.68 Contra Celsum: He would have averted the destruction of Jerusalem. So Ambrose, Basil, Jerome. 2. He suffered the wrath of God in our stead and our behalf. Melanchthon: Jacuit filius Dei prostratus coram æterno Patre, sentiens tram adversus tua et mea peccata. So Rambach, “the cup of wrath.” 3. Assaults of hell. Knapp: “The last and most terrible attacks of the kingdom of darkness, in which the prince of death sought to wrest from Him the victory.” 4. Ebrard: “His trembling in Gethsemane was not dread of His sufferings, but was part of His passion itself; it was not a transcendental and external assumption of a foreign guilt, but a concrete experience of the full and concentrated power of the world’s sin.” 5. Olshausen: Actual abandonment on the part of God; the human ψυχή of Jesus alone was in conflict here, while the fulness of the divine life had withdrawn. 6. Rationalists like Thiess and Paulus refer it to physical illness and exhaustion,69 to which Schuster adds the distress of abandonment by friends.70 7. De Wette: Fear of death (“a moral weakness!”). 8. Meyer: Horror and shudder in confronting the terror of such cruel sufferings and death. So most modern interpreters. Neander proves against Strauss that a change of feeling in the life of the Saviour is by no means improbable. But we cannot admit a change of thought, least of all a change of the fundamental thoughts of His life. A supplication for the turning away of the suffering of death, even as a conditional and resigned request, is not to be imagined after so many foreannouncements of His passion, after the institution of the Supper, and His continuance in the scene of danger at Gethsemane. This would be to make Jesus directly contradict Himself. The agony in Gethsemane was not dread of the agony on Calvary, but it was a specific agony of itself; therefore He prays, according to Mark, that, if it were possible, the hour of this suffering might pass,—similarly as in John.
It was the hour of nameless woe, of an excitement and commotion of soul,71 in which He would not appear before His disciples, in which He could not appear before His enemies. 1. It was then first a specific conflict of soul (“My soul is surrounded by sorrow,” περί λυπος): He was assaulted by the severest experience of woe and distressing anxiety. And this disposes of the opinions of those who make the suffering either predominantly pneumatic, or predominantly corporeal. 2. It was a counterpart to the temptation in the wilderness. See Luke 4:13. Christ was tempted in the wilderness by the pseudo-messianic and carnal hopes and desires of His people, in connection with the vanities of the world. But in Gethsemane He was tempted by the pseudo-messianic, carnal grief and disappointment of His people, and the whole misery of the world, which culminated in the fearful treachery of Judas, and revealed itself in a milder form in the sleeping of the disciples for sorrow. The whole tempting power of the desperation of humanity pressed hard upon Jesus: that was His λυπεῖσθαι. And in His own internal defence He stood alone, invigorated by no sympathy and help of mortals: that was His ἀδημονεῖν.—Comp. Isa. 63:3. In this temptation through the despair of humanity lay indeed the strength of the fiercest assault of hellish powers upon His lonely soul. It was also the judgment of God upon humanity which Jesus experienced in His soul; not God’s judgment upon Himself, but a judgment upon humanity, which He received into His own soul, in order to change it into redemption. Of the former—the despair of the world—Judas’ treachery was the concentrated and terrific expression: it was the demoniac fruit of his demoniac grief, an act of mad contempt of salvation and of self. Hence the Lord again alludes here to the traitor (Matthew 26:46). The great double-betrayal of His people and of the whole world committed against His life, was the extreme suffering of the Saviour, the fulfilment of Joseph’s type, sold with fearful anguish on his part by his brothers (Gen. 42:21). Thus the agony of Jesus’ soul in the garden was related to the despairing sorrow of the world, as the victory in the wilderness was related to the enticing and disguised pleasures of this world.
3. Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.—Opposed to the Monothelite heresy. This preserves the truth and truly human character of His conflict, without disparaging His constant accordance in all things with the will of the Father. Contrast and suspense do not amount to contradiction. Difference is not discord. See the decrees of the Council of Constantinople, A. D. 680.
4. Christ, in His threefold supplication in Gethsemane, perfected the doctrine of prayer, and sanctified the prayers of sinners. His petition rises from the full expression of His woe to the full expression of submission to the Father’s will. And His being heard consisted in this, that in the Father’s strength He drank the cup, and enjoyed the perfect security of victory before the sharpest conflict took place.
5. It was not the treachery of Judas in its external aspect, but that treachery as the expression of the disciples’ and the world’s sorrow and disappointment and of their despair of Christ’s honor and victory, that constituted the temptation which the Saviour here suffered. But He had overcome this temptation already, when the external and actual betrayal came upon Him.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
I. THE TWO SECTIONS.—The passage from the Supper to Gethsemane; or, spiritual invigoration experienced in the way of duty: a. The appointment of spiritual strengthening; b. how it is experienced by Christ and by His disciples.—The warning voice of their Master scarcely heard amidst the expressions of the disciples’ self-confidence.—Divine and human care in provision against assaults at hand: 1. Christ is careful, and therefore free from care; 2. His disciples were careless, and therefore burdened with care and anxiety.—Christ in His work of redemption overcame the unfaithfulness of His disciples: 1. Their unbelief in its presumption; 2. their unbelief in its despondency.—The sudden and decisive turning-point: 1. Of destiny; 2. of feeling; 3. of the issue.—The watchman and the sleepers: 1. God and men; 2. Christ and the disciples; 3. the spirit and the earthly cares.
II. THE WAY TO THE MOUNT OF OLIVES.—The fore-announcement of the Lord, and the unbelief of the disciples.—The spirit of Christ and the spirit of Scripture of one accord in their judgment upon the weakness of believers.—The promise of seeing them again in Galilee, bound up with the prediction of their coming fall: 1. A testimony of His supreme hope above His sorrows; 2. of His continued faithfulness to the disciples in their wavering.—The assurances of Peter.—His self-complacent boasts the token of his deep fall.—Mark his presumptuous and boasted superiority: 1. To his enemies: 2. to the other disciples; 3. to the warning word of his Master.—Strong professions, miserable apostacy.72—The last unholy contention of the disciples.—The measure of our false self-estimation the measure of our humiliation in life.—Night and the offence.—The strength of fidelity which can look beyond and overlook the offence of weakness, and turn it to salvation.—The offence of weakness (Peter), and the offence of wickedness (Judas).
III. GETHSEMANE.—The Mount of Olives and the Oil-Press (Gethsemane), symbols of the production and maturity of the Christian life: 1. The mount is a figure of the Church, in which the spiritual life grows; 2. the oil-press is a figure of suffering, through which the spiritual life is purged or set free.—The three great things of eternal significance connected with the Mount of Olives: 1. The palm-entry into Jerusalem; 2. Gethsemane; 3. the ascension.—Gethsemane the turning-point between the old and the new Paradise.—The reserve and the familiarity of Jesus in His agony.—The concealment of the agony: 1. It is altogether hidden from the world; 2. the greater number of His disciples see only the signs of this suffering; 3. the confidential ones only see it in amazement and trembling; 4. only God views Him stretched out, as a worm in the dust.—The soul of Jesus oppressed by the distress of all, and bereft of the help of all.—Or, the soul of the agonized treader of the wine-press (Isa. 63:3); alone in His suffering, over whom all the billows roll (Ps. 22:21; Isa. 54:11); resigned entirely to God, and hidden in Him (Ps. 27:5).—How Christ in the garden overcame the sorrow of all the world: 1. Human sorrow, in its vain imaginations and despair; 2. devilish sorrow, in its betrayal and mockery.—The conflict in the wilderness, and the conflict in the garden.—The three great conflicts of Jesus: at the Supper, in Gethsemane, and on Calvary.—Gethsemane and Calvary.—The horror of Jesus in prospect of the kiss of Judas.—The Judas-kiss evermore the bitterest cup of the Lord and of His Church.—The world gave Him toil; His disciples gave Him trouble.—The suffering of Christ the suffering of priestly sympathy with the misery of the world: 1. He feels its perfect woe; hence His suffering. 2. He experiences the whole power of sin in this woe; hence the dread assault and conflict. 3. He begins to expiate its whole guilt in this woe: hence His persevering prayer.—Even in the agony of His soul He is the Christ: 1. The prophetic Revealer of all the depths of man’s misery; 2. the high-priestly Expiator of them; 3. the kingly Deliverer from them.—The severest suffering is but a cup: 1. Rigorously measured; 2. surrounded and adorned by the cup; 3. prepared, presented and blessed by the Father.—Christ in the apparent annihilation of the work of His life: the seeming invalidation of His mission; the seeming dissolution of His company; the seeming succumbing of His disciples under grief, despondency, and self-reprobation; the seeming contempt of His love.—His faithful heart the dove with the olive-branch high above the floods.—Christ in His great conflict of prayer: teaches us to pray; makes our prayer acceptable; and becomes its Mediator.—Prayer is most acceptable in its absolute submission to the will of God.—The disciples as the outposts and watchmen of the Church.—The sleep of the disciples; or, the death-like collapse which follows over-strained self-confidence.—The two divisions of the disciples: a watch-company toward the world, and a watch-company around the Lord.—The Lord’s request to His disciples a token of infinite humility.—The three words of the Lord to the disciples: 1. Watch with Me; 2. watch for yourselves; 3. sleep on now (whether waking or sleeping, ye will sleep till the awakening of My resurrection).—Watch and pray, because of: 1. Temptation; 2. weakness.—The three witnesses of His transfiguration and His humiliation (of the glorious beams and the bloody sweat).—The divine majesty with which the Lord comes out of His human sorrow.—The strength and solidity which the soul acquires from communion with Christ in all the conflicts of life and death.
Selections from other Homiletical Commentators
I. THE WAY TO THE MOUNT OF OLIVES.—Starke:—From Cramer: He is a true friend who warns of danger; but flesh and blood is too secure, and will not take warning, 1 Thess. 5:3.—How easily may even the best men lapse into sin! James 3:2.—Osiander: The cross and tribulation a great offence to the weak.—Professions: not to promise good is unbelief; to promise without earnest will is hypocrisy; to promise in reliance upon our own strength is presumption.—Hedinger: Good-will must guard carefully against arrogance.—Trust none less than thine own heart, Jer. 17:9.—Canstein: Nothing is so hidden from us as our own hearts.—We never come to know thoroughly our own weakness and unsteadiness.—The imagination which we have formed concerning ourselves prevents our seeing what we are and what we are not.—Hard work it is to wean a man away from his false imaginations about himself.—To contradict the voice of truth is the sum of shame.
Lisco:—The Searcher of hearts.—Peter trusts more the strength of his feeling than the word of Jesus.
Gerlach:—The Lord quotes the language of Scripture oftener in His sufferings than in any other circumstances. So in the temptation in the wilderness, Matthew 4:1–11.
Heubner:—This prediction of the Lord shows His supreme peace and victory over self.—The suffering Messiah was a riddle to them.—Christ is the only bond of His people: take Him away, and all is dissolved.—He would give them all a proof of His unlimited knowledge of men’s hearts: that was of importance for their whole life.—The over-hasty, the presumptuous, and the self-confident, are those whom God suffers to fall.—There is a great difference between arrogance of flesh and alacrity of spirit.—The honest humility with which the disciples relate their own faults.—Warning to us all not to take offence at the Lord in anything.
II. GETHSEMANE:—Starke:—The transfiguration upon the high mountain; the humiliation in the deep valley.—It is not wise for every one to reveal everywhere and indiscriminately his heart and all its impulses, Gen. 22:5; for there are weak people, who cannot bear the strong.—Osiander: We can disburden ourselves most confidently in the ears of out God when we have no one, or but few, near us.—Canstein: Christ enters upon His passion with prayer; He carries it on and ends it with prayer; and so teaches us that our own sufferings cannot be overcome and made to subserve our salvation without much prayer.—The three Apostles called in Gal. 2:9 pillars: Peter, the first who opened to Jews and Gentiles the door of the kingdom of heaven; James, the first martyr; John, the longest liver, to whom the most glorious revelations were vouchsafed.—The trials of Abraham, Paul, Luther (great saints, great trials).—Canstein: The faithful God ministers trials according to the measure of the ability of those who are to bear them (1 Cor. 10:13).—When it is time to fight and to pray, we ought not to sleep.—God lets His weak children for a long time see others in the conflict, before they themselves are exposed to the contest.—The cup of Christ’s suffering has consecrated the cup of our cross.—Trust not to men, Ps. 118:7.—Our best security against temptation is to watch and pray.—The daily contest of the spirit with the flesh absolutely necessary, Gal. 5:17.—Thy will be done.—We may pray for mitigation.—When Jesus is suffering in His members, our eyes are, alas! commonly full of sleep.—Perseverance in prayer without fainting, Luke 18:1.—A faithful father warns his children of danger.—He who feels safe in the time of danger may easily be ruined; he who is cautious and self-distrustful will escape.—When one hour of trial is passed, we must prepare for another.—When we in God’s strength have overcome the first assaults and terrors of death, all is more and more tolerable, until the cross itself is gloriously triumphed over.—Jesus our Forerunner.—Christ went freely and joyfully to meet His passion, for an example to us, Phil. 2:5.
Lisco:—Heb. 5:7. The threefold prayer reminds us of the threefold victory over Satan, when he tempted Jesus, Matthew 4:1.
Gerlach:—From Luther: “We men, born and bound in sin, have an impure, hard, and leprous skin, which does not soon feel. But, because Christ’s body, His flesh and blood, is fresh, and pure, and sound, without sin, while ours are full of sin, we feel the terror of death in a far less degree from what He felt it.” The disciples should watch with Him, and they should pray; but with Him they could not pray; in His mediatorial conflict no man could stand by and help Him.—He desired the fellowship of these as the first-fruits of the men who were to be redeemed by Him.—In this severe agony of the passion, the divine will ever more and more penetrates and exalts the human.
Heubner:—It was a garden, as in Gen. 3—Not all the disciples were fitted to be witnesses of this profound and mysterious humiliation of our Lord.—Rambach: It is not expedient that the child of God should reveal to every one the depths of his heart.—It is the highest grace to be companion of the most secret sorrows of Jesus.—Jesus is the source of consolation and encouragement for all burdened and heavy-laden souls.—The greater the anguish, the greater the joy.—Rieger: And He went to a little distance. So the high-priest went into the Holiest.—The Son of God bows down to the uttermost before His Father, to make us acceptable.—O that we better learned the lesson to bow down before God!—Jacob’s wrestling in the night, Hos. 12:4, 5.—Sleepiness and inconsiderateness among Christians, monitors of fall.—Christ awakens out of sleep.—The second petition takes for granted an answer of God, that His will was fixed on this (as indeed did the first); hence the more direct expression of resignation.—In prayer we do not depend upon many and beautifully arranged words; the heart is the gr[illegible] thing (as in the prayers of Moses, David, Daniel, and Christ).—The Holy One falls absolutely into the power of the unholy.—Is at hand: the betrayal, now brought to its consummation, troubled the soul of Jesus afresh.—There is a difference between the mere expectation, albeit certain, and the fulfilled reality.—Kapff: Jesus suffering in Gethsemane: 1. Its depth; 2. its cause; 3. its fruit.
Matthew 26:33.—Εἰ (καὶ) πάντες σκανδαλισθήσονται ἐν σοί. Καί is omitted in A., B., C., D., etc., Lachmann, and Tischendorf.
Matthew 26:35.—Codd. A., E., G., al., read the somewhat milder subj. ἀπαρνήσ ω μαι [for ἀπαρνήσ ο μαι]. Probably a gloss.
Matthew 26:35.—Several uncial Codd. add δέ. Probably from Mark 14:31. [But implies here an extenuation of the guilt of Peter, as much as to say, Peter made these professions, but we all did the same, and have nothing to boast of. But Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Alford omit it—P. S.]
Matthew 26:37.—[Lange: ZU TRAUERN (schaudern) UND ZU BANGEN (beben) Doddridge complains that “the words which our translators use here, are very flat, and fall short of the emphasis of those terms in which the Evangelists describe this awful scene.” The verb ἀδημονεῖν is derived by some from δῆμος, people, and the alpha privativum, hence, to feel lonely, solitary; expression of a sorrow that makes man unfit for company and shunning it, and pressing like a weight of lead upon the soul. F. H. Scrivener (A Supplement to the Authorized English Version of the N. T., London, 1845, vol. i. p. 304) thinks that no single Greek word can be more expressive of deep dejection than ἀδημονεῖν, and renders it: “to be overwhelmed with anguish.” Tyndale and Coverdale: grievously troubled. Conant less forcibly: troubled. Meyer teems to agree with Suidas’ definition of ἀδημ.=λίαν λυπεῖσθαι, and adds: “Es bezeichnet die unheimliche Beunruhigung der Angst und Verlegenheit.” I regret, that the scholarly work of Scrivener, just alluded to, has not sooner come to hand. It would have been of considerable assistance to me in the Critical Notes on the English Version.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:39.—The reading προσελθών [for προελθών] is probably a writing error. [Cod. Sinait. likewise reads προσελθών.]
Matthew 26:40.—[What! is an interpolation and, as Conant remarks, “violates the tone of feeling and manner of the Saviour.” The οὕτως can best be rendered by then. Lange: So also.— P. S.]
Matthew 26:42.—Many Codd., A., B., C., etc., [also Cod. Sinait.], read here only τοῦτο without ποτήριον, which seems to be supplemented from Matthew 26:39, and is omitted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, [and Alford].
Matthew 26:42.—Codd. B., D., etc., [also Cod. Sinait], omit the words: ἀπ̓ ἐμοῦ from me. [Lange puts them in brackets.]
Matthew 26:43.—Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Tregelles, Alford], read with the best authorities, [including Cod. Sinait.] πάλιν εὗρεν (again found) αὐτούς [instead of εὑρίσκει αὐτοὺς πάλιν finds them again].
Matthew 26:44.—A., D., K., omit ἐκ τρίου. Lachmann puts it in brackets, Tischendorf omits it. [In the large ed of 1859 Tischondorf retains the words in the text, but Alford omits them. Cod. Sinait. has them, but between τὸν αὐτόν and λόγον, instead of before τὸν αὐτόν.—P. S.]
[The quotation is verbatim after the Alexandrian MS. of the LXX., except that the imperative πάταξον, strike, is changed into the future πατάξω, I will strike, God who commands the striking into God who strikes Himself.— P. S.]
[Comp. here STIER, Reden Jesu, vi. 176 sqq., who goes at length into the meaning of this prophecy, and especially the word עֲמִיתִי, “my fellow,” “my equal,” i.e., the Messiah. Also Nast ad loc.—P. S.]
[The difficulty derived from the Mishna, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests everywhere, were forbidden to keep fowls, because they scratched up unclean worms, is easily removed, first, in view of the inconsistency of the Talmud on this point (see Lightfoot), and secondly, by the consideration that such a prohibition could in no case affect the Roman residents, over whom the Jews had no power. The scarcity of cocks in Jerusalem is, however, intimated by the absence of the definite article before ἀλέκτωρ in all the four Gospels. Hence it should be omitted in the English Version, Matthew 26:34, 74, 75; Mark 14:30, 68, 72; Luke 22:34, 60, 61; John 13:38; 18:27. At any rate the whole history of Peter’s denial is evidently drawn from real life, and presents one of the strongest evidences for the originality and truthfulness of the Gospel records.—P. S.]
[Dr. Wordsworth, following the ancient fathers and the older Protestant commentators, sees a providential and prophetical adaptation of the names of Scripture localities generally, and of Gethsemane in particular, to the events which occurred there. In this oil press, in which the olives were crashed and braised, Christ was bruised for oar sins, that oil might flow from His wounds to heal our souls. Comp. Matthew Henry: “There He trod the wine-press of His Father’s wrath, and trod it alone.” In like manner Wordsworth allegorizes on Bethlehem, the house of bread, where the bread of life was born; Nazareth, where He grew up as a branch; Bethsaida, the house of fishing, where He called the apostles; Capernaum, the house of consolation, where He dwelt; Bethany, the place of palm-dates, which speaks of the palms and hosannahs of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem; Bethphage, the house of figs, which is a memento of the withering of the barren fig-tree; the Mount of Olives, whence Christ ascended to heaven, to hold forth the olive branch of peace between God and man.—P. S.]
[The Edinb. transl. has insignificance.—P. S.]
[Not: passions, as in the Edinb. transl.—P. S.]
[The Edinb. edition altogether misunderstand this passage, and translates: “The issue (as if Ausfall was the same with Ausgang!) of this event ... are illustrated by John in his own way.” John does not illustrate these events at all, but passes them by in complete silence. But Lange illustrates this silence in his Leben Jesu, to which he here al ludes.—P. S.]
[Origen explains the words: “My soul is sorrowful unto death. Sorrow is begun in me, but not to endure forever, but only till the hour of death; when I shall die for sin, I shall die also for all sorrow, whose beginnings only are in me.”—P. S.]
[In German: körperliche Abspannung, which is just the reverse of “corporeal intensity of feeling,” as the Edinb, edition renders it.—P. S.]
[Renan, in his Life of Jesus, Matthew 23, adds the sad memory of “the clear fountains of Galilee, where He might have refreshed Himself; the vineyard and fig-tree, under which He might have been seated; and (hear, hear!) the young maidens who might perhaps have consented to love Him!” Only a French novel-writer would profane this sacred scene by such erotic sentimentalism. Renan places the agony in Gethsemane several days before the night of the Passion, contrary to the unanimous testimony of the Synoptists as well as the inherent probability of the case. But his opinions on such subjects are worth nothing at all.—P. S.]
[In German: Gemüthserschütterung. Gemüth is here, like the Greek θυμός (from θύω, to rush on, to storm; to burn in sacrifice), the inmost soul, as the principle of life, feeling, and thought, especially as the seat of strong feeling and passion. The Edinb edition obliterates the meaning of the original by turning it into: unrest and amazement which is no translation at all. The next sentences are still more diluted and mutilated, or entirely omitted.—P. S.]
[In German: Die starken Zusagen und die kläglichen Absagen,—a paronomasia which I cannot imitate in English.—P. S.]
And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.FIFTH SECTION
JESUS ON THE NIGHT OF HIS BETRAYAL: JESUS AND THE TRAITOR; JESUS AND THE DEFENDER; JESUS AND THE MULTITUDE; JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES GENERALLY; OR THE GLORY OF JESUS IN THE NIGHTLY ASSAULT AND THE CONFUSION OF THE IMPRISONMENT.73
(Mark 14:43–52; Luke 22:47–53; John 18:1–11)
47And while he yet spake [was yet speaking, ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος], lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves [clubs, ξύλων],74 from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever [Whom, ὅν] I shall kiss, that same is he; hold him fast. 49And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail [χᾶρε], Master [Rabbi];75 and kissed him. 50And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? [do that for which thou art here!]76 Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him [held him fast, as in Matthew 26:48]. 51And, behold, one of them which [that] were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a [the] servant77 of the high-priest, and smote off his ear. 52Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all 53they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.78 [Or, ἤ] Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently79 give me [place beside me, παραστήσει μοι]80 more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then [How then, πῶς οὖν]81 shall [can] the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? [fulfilled? For thus it mustbe.] 55In that same hour [in that hour, ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ] said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief [robber, λῃστήν]82 with swords and staves [clubs] for83 to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples [the disciples all]84 forsook him, and fled.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Matthew 26:47. Then came Judas.—He knew the spot, as being the place where Jesus often met His disciples, John 18:2. During the completion of the meal, the final discourses of Jesus, and His agony in Gethsemane, Judas went out into the night, and consummated the work of his villany. His impetuosity induced the Sanhedrin to rescind their resolution of not taking Jesus at the feast. This it was first necessary that they should decide upon, and then summon the temple-guard; after which the permission of the Roman governor was to be obtained, and the requisite military protection. Judas had reckoned upon all this delay, and had calculated that time enough would be allowed for Jesus to hare reached Gethsemane. But that the preparation which the high-priests in league with Judas appointed, was exaggerated and excessive, all the Evangelists agree. According to John, Judas brought the Roman cohort (σπεῖρα). Even if we do not understand this literally—as the one Roman cohort which was stationed in the Castle Antonia consisted of 500 men—yet we may assume that the disposable portion of that force, representing the cohort, was there. To these must be added, according to Luke, the temple-watch. Such a watch belonged to the temple, and was commanded by a στρατηγός, Acts 4:1. The plural στρατηγοί (Luke 22:52), refers to the presence of other and subordinate officers. The torches also betray the excess of the preparation; although even the paschal full moon would not render these needless, when searching among the shady caverns of the gloomy valley of the Kedron.
One of the twelve.—The significance of this expression here rests upon this, that Judas no longer comes in the train of the disciples as a follower of Jesus, but at the head of the hostile multitude.
With him a great multitude.—The swords85 indicate that the Roman cohort (John 18:3) was the centre of this multitude: while the clubs, and so forth, indicate that the Jewish temple-watch, and other miscellaneous fanatics, were there also. According to Luke 22:52, there were also fanatical priests and elders who mingled in the procession,—a circumstance which Meyer refers to a later and incorrect enlargement of the tradition. But Luke appears to regard representatives of the Sanhedrin as requisite for such a religious capture as this was (see Acts 4:1); and Meyer under-estimates the fanatical impulses of Jewish fanaticism.
With swords and olubs, from the high-priests.—Here we see the mingled religious and political relations. The Sanhedrin had the decision in all matters of spiritual jurisdiction. Thus it was for them to settle the question whether any one was a false prophet, and therefore worthy of stoning,—the appointed punishment of that crime. That question they had already settled in the affirmative some time before, having determined to put Jesus to death (John 11:47); although they found themselves wanting in grounds of action, which therefore they endeavored by cunning to obtain from Himself, but failed. The right of putting offenders to death had been taken from them by the Roman government (John 18:31); hence the Roman crucifixion was afterward substituted for the Jewish stoning. Thus their undertaking was, on the whole, a daring experiment of wickedness. They were as yet without false witnesses and without grounds of accusation; they had not the thorough consent of Pilate; and they must silence and win over, by some sudden stimulant, the common people. On this account they aimed to give the capture, in which the Roman soldiers were at their disposal, a spurious character of importance; their excessive preparation would have the effect of creating the presumption that Jesus must be a very great criminal.
Matthew 26:48. Gave them a sign.—Meyer: “The ἔδωκεν is commonly, but improperly, regarded as having a pluperfect sense. The Vulgate has it right, dedit. As he came he gave them a sign.” [So also Alford].—Whom I shall kiss.—The kiss was among the ancients a sign of affectionate and cordial intimacy, and particularly a token of fidelity, Gen. 29:11. More commonly, the teachers kissed their pupils; but examples of the converse are not wanting. Lightfoot, Horœ, p. 484. It is doubtful whether the kiss of reverent submission (Ps. 2:12) was impressed on the lips: probably on the hands or the feet.
Hold Him fast, seize Him.—We take the κρατήσατ εαὐ τόν as emphatic. Possibly there was a touch of irony in the language of the archtraitor, who expected that Jesus might in a magical manner elude them after all. For the darkened mind of Judas had now come to regard Him as a magician.
Matthew 26:49. And forthwith he came.—Excited, but also dissembling. He pretended that he did not belong to the procession of enemies, that he would precede them, point out the danger, and separate from his Master with sorrow.—Kissed Him.—The κατεφίλησεν must be understood in all its emphasis, to kiss very tenderly, to caress. Comp. Xenoph Mem. 2:6, 33; Luke 7:38, 45; Acts 20:37. Meyer: “The sign was the simple kissing; but the performance was more emphatic, a caressing, corresponding with the purpose of Judas to make sure, and with the excitement of his feelings.” The kiss of Joab, 2 Sam. 20:9 (comp. 2 Sam. 3:27). “The early Christians, who kissed each other at the Lord’s Supper, did it as appropriate to the time when the sufferings of Christ were remembered; they did not thereby intend to express their abhorrence of Judas’ kiss.” Heubner.
Matthew 26:50. Friend, ἑταῖρε.—Comp. Matthew 20:13 [and Crit. Note No. 4, p. 352.]
[Why did the Lord call Judas friend—a term of civility, though not necessarily of friendship—and not a villain, or a traitor, and why did He not turn away, in holy indignation, from this Judas-kiss, the vilest, the most abominable piece of hypocrisy known in history, which the infernal inspirer of treason alone could invent? To give us an example of the utmost meekness and gentleness under the greatest provocation, surpassing even the standard which He holds up for His disciples, Matt. 5:39. If the face of the Saviour was not disgraced by the traitor’s kiss, no amount of injury and insult heaped upon His followers by the enemies of religion can really dishonor the former, but falls back with double effect upon the latter. At the same time the words ἐφ ̓ ὄ πάρει, whether they be taken as a question, or as an exclamation, or as an elliptical assertion or command—together with the question recorded by Luke: “Betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?” conveyed a most stinging rebuke to Judas, whose force was doubled by the use of the word friend, and the deep emotion and holy sadness with which they were uttered. The effect appears from the subsequent despair of Judas.—P. S.]
Do that for which thou art here!86 [Authorized Version: Wherefore art thou come?—Meyer: “Since the relative ὅς (ἐφ̓ ὅ πάρει) is never used in direct question, but only in indirect, the common acceptation of this as a question is not correct; and it is quite groundless (Winer, 192) to assume a corruption in the declining Greek in relation to ὅς. Fritzsche explains it as an appeal ad qualem rem perpetrandam ades! But the Greek would require this also to take the form of a question. The words are broken off with an aposiopesis: Friend, that for which thou art here come—do! Jesus thereby denounces the traitorous kiss.”—Ewald: “I need not thy kiss; I know that thou meanest it in hypocrisy; do rather that which is thy business.” Similarly Euthym. Zigab. This would certainly accord with the declining of the kiss in Luke: Betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss? But, in this case, it is better to assume that it is a concise form only: τοῦτο πρᾶττε, ἐφ̓ δ̀ πάρει. Or: παρέστω, ἐφ̓ ὅ πάρει. By the Lord’s going out to meet the watch, the hypocritical play of Judas was interrupted. John alone relates the falling to the ground on the part of the multitude. But Jesus hastened to meet the multitude, in order to protect, not only the three, but also the other disciples on the outside of the garden.
Matthew 26:51. And, behold, one of them.—When the evangelical tradition first assumed shape and form, prudence required that the name of Peter should not be publicly mentioned. Hence the indefinite expression in the Synoptists. But this necessity did not exist when John wrote his Gospel: therefore he gives the name. The same remark applies to the omission of the raising of Lazarus in Bethany, which the Synoptists may have had good reasons for ignoring, but not John who wrote so much later.
Drew his sword.—When he saw that they laid sands on the Lord. According to Luke, the question was first asked from among the disciples, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? (On the two swords, compare Luke.) Immediately thereupon followed the blow of Peter’s sword; and it struck the servant of the high-priest, called Malchus, according to John. He had cut off his right ear: Matthew and Mark, τὸ ὠτίον; but Luke, τὸ οὖς, the ear itself, and not merely the lobe. It seemed that he would have split his head. The separation of the ear must have been not quite perfect; and Jesus healed the servant, according to the narrative of Luke the physician. Meyer, following Strauss, attributes this healing to a later tradition. The other Evangelists, however, appear to have regarded this healing as self-understood; as, otherwise, Peter would have remained a criminal, and the mutilation of Malchus would have furnished good ground of an accusation, which, however, was not preferred.
Matthew 26:52. Put up again thy sword into its place.—The sheath, John 18:11. Peter, therefore, still stood there with his drawn and brandished sword in his hand.—For all they that take the sword.—This is a judicial sentence, but also a threatening warning. In the former light, it rests upon an absolutely universal principle. The sword is visited by the sword in war; the sword of retribution opposes the arbitrary sword of rebellious sedition; and the sword taken up unspiritually in a spiritual cause, is avenged by the certain, though perhaps long-delayed, sword of historical vengeance. Peter was, in all these three aspects, in a bad position, and the representative of wrong. The warrior exposed himself to the superior force of the legions of Rome, the rebel to the order of the magistrate, and the abuse of the sword in the service of religion provoked, and seemed to justify, the same abuse on the part of the world. Peter had really forfeited his life to the sword; but the Lord rectified his wounded position by the correcting word which He spoke, by the miraculous healing of the ear, and by the voluntary surrender of Himself to the authorities. But Peter had not only with wilful folly entered on the domain of this world, he had also brought his Master’s cause into suspicion. Indeed, he sought to bring his fellow-disciples, and his Lord Himself, into this wrong position, and to make his own Christ a Mohammed. Therefore the Lord so solemnly denounced his act, pronounced an ideal sentence of death upon his head, which, however, was graciously repealed. The Lord’s word from that hour became a maxim of Christianity (comp. Rev. 13:10); and it was probably spoken to Peter with a typical significance. Even the Church of Rome says: ecclesia non sitit sanguinem, but only to have recourse to the stake and faggot, of which certainly the letter of this passage says nothing.
[Shall perish.—Alford: “ἐν μαχαίρῃ ἀπολῦται is a command; not merely a future, but an imperative future; a repetition by the Lord in this solemn moment of Gen. 9:6. See the parallel in Rev. 13:10: δεῖ αὐτὸν ἐν μαχ. ἀποκτανθῆναι. This should be thought of by those well-meaning but shallow per sons, who seek to abolish the punishment of death in Christian states.” Comp. also Rom. 13:4. Thus the passage justifies capital punishment as a measure of just retribution for murder in the hands of the civil magistrate, but condemns at the same time the resort to all carnal and violent measures on the part of the Church, which is a spiritual body, and should only use spiritual weapons. Comp. 2 Cor. 10:3, 4. Rome agrees in theory (Ecclesia non sitit sanguinem), but violates it in practice by handing the heretics, wherever she has the power, to the state for execution, and thus using the civil magistrate as an instrument. Quod quis per alium facit, id ipse fecisse dicitur.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:53. Or thinkest thou?—If Christ had refused to take the way of the passion, He might have adopted quite another way than that of wilful and violent opposition to the world: the way, namely, of coming to judgment upon it. Thinkest thou not that, if I did not desire to be a long-suffering Redeemer, I might at once appear to the whole world as its supreme Judge, rather than enter upon thy hypocritical way of half-spirituality and half-worldliness, half-patience and half-violence, of civilization with a sword in its hand? For, the twelve legions of angels which He might have prayed for, doubtless signified that multitude of angels which will actually attend Him when He returns to judgment (Matthew 25:31). If the Church of the Middle Ages had not the courage to achieve the evangelization of the world in the way of Christ’s passion, she should have had faith to supplicate for the last day to come; but she did wrong to make Christ another Mohammed, and to continue His work by a hypocritical mixture of religious preaching and carnal violence. Meyer: “The number twelve corresponds to the number of the Apostles, because it was one of those who had just endeavored to defend Him.” But it is also and always the number of the developed perfection of life. The legion is the symbol of a great fighting host. SCHAAF, Alterthumskunde: “By legio (a legendo) was originally understood the aggregate of the Roman military collected for war. When that force increased, it became a great division of the host, which contained, at various times, from 2400 to beyond 6000 infantry, and from 300 to 400 horsemen. Since the time of Marius, the legion had reached more than 6000.”—It is well worthy of notice that Christ here numbers the angels by legions, as the counterpart of the Roman power, now leagued against Him with His enemies.
Matthew 26:54. How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled? for, etc.—Meyer: “We must not supply λέγουσαι before ὅτι (Beza, Maldonatus, and others); but there must be a question after γραφαί, and ὅτι is for. For thus (in no other way) must it (that which now befalls Me) be.” Thus there are two reasons: 1. The fulfilment of the Scripture concerning the suffering Messiah: Ps. 22; Isa. 53; Dan. 9:26 Zech. 13:7. 2. The counsel of God Himself for the salvation of a sinful world, which is the foundation of all the prophetical Scriptures.
Matthew 26:55. In that hour said Jesus to the multitudes.—According to Luke, especially to the rulers and the guard of the temple, which Meyer vainly seeks to set aside.—Starke: “Jesus did not say this before he had been seized and bound. He would give no indication that He was not willing to be taken; and therefore not till after they had done their will did He rebuke their injustice.”—In the temple;—that is, in the forecourt of the temple. In this space the Rabbins placed a synagogue (comp. Luke 2:46). Here also was to be sought Solomon’s porch (John 10:23; Acts 3:11), with other halls—the region of teaching and preaching.—And ye laid no hold on Me.—Certainly, because they durst not; but that exhibits their surprise by night as the work of evil conscience and malignity.
Matthew 26:56. But all this is done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.—Luke: “But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” The one supplements the other. Of this hour of darkness, and of the seeming triumph of evil, all the prophets prophesied: Isa. 53; Dan. 9:26, etc. The supposition of Erasmus, de Wette, and others, that this last word in Matthew was a remark of the Evangelist, takes off the point of our Lord’s address, as Meyer rightly observes. It was this last word which indicated His settled purpose to take the path of death. Hence it also gave occasion for the flight of the disciples. Their courage now failed them, and they fled. The flight, however, was not absolute, as appears from the narrative of the young man in Mark 14:51, and the conduct of Peter and John, according to John 18:15. They followed Him, but afar off. In reality, the scattering and flight was complete. [But while the eleven forsook the Lord, other disciples, as Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea, took a more decided stand for Him. The Church can never fail; new Christians always take the place of the old ones. Comp. Lange’s notes on Mark 14:51, 52.—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The Kiss of Judas.—Its dark history in the world and the Church. This combination, the betrayal and the kiss of respect in one, could have been invented by no man, least of all by the soul of an Evangelist. He only who executed it could have devised it; or, rather, hell alone.
2. This wild combination of enemies—soldiers, temple-servants, and priests—for the accomplishment of an act of hypocritical violence against Christ, is also a typical world-historical scene.87 Not less so is the surprise and capture of the Holy One in His Holiest of All, under the pretext of serving the sanctuary.
3. Peter showed by his first stroke that he was no soldier; happily he had missed his blow. That it was the ear of Malchus which he struck, is very significant. It has always been the ear, the spiritual hearing, and willing susceptibility, which carnal defenders of Christ’s cause have taken away from their opponents, when they have had recourse to the sword of violence.
4. They who take the Sword shall perish by the Sword.—That this was said to Peter, had its typical historical meaning. “The early Christians, amidst all the slanders heaped upon them, were never charged with having risen in insurrection against their Gentile oppressors. Comp. Tertull. Apol. cap. 37. Luther (in the peasant insurrection) quoted this passage against the peasants. Duels also are by this sentence absolutely forbidden. The punishment of death for certain offences is clearly enjoined. See Rothe’s Ethik, iii. 877.” Heubner. How far a Christian state may be justified in giving this punishment another form, may be matter of reasonable question. In its essential significance the death penalty is an inalienable legal ordinance, but the form of social death and its execution has been in many ways subject to modification.
5. Thinkest thou that I cannot.—Christ rejects once for all that unholy and disturbing mixture of judgment and salvation into which carnal zeal is so much disposed to turn His cause. What He here says applies to every moment in the history of Christianity. If it were God’s will that at any time (before the end) the economy of grace, effectual through the sacred cross, should be suspended, at that moment the infinite preponderance of heavenly forces over the violence of the enemy of earth would at once be exhibited. But then the work of salvation would be broken off before its consummation. This no man should ever think of. Whenever men act on this principle, they tempt God, and summon such powers against the cause of evil as prove themselves to be, not angels of light, but disguised powers of darkness; and the enmity which these exhibit against the cause of evil is only apparent. Of such carnal violence against conscience we must distinguish educational legal discipline within the Church, as we must distinguish also between theocracy and hierarchy.
6. The assurance of Christ to those who came against Him with weapons in the night,—that He had been ready to give them an account in broad day,—has also a symbolical meaning for all ages. The persecutions of the faithful are always stamped with the mark of calumny.
7. The last word of Christ is the expression of His consummate preparation for His passion. Therefore it is the crisis when the disciples, not yet mature in faith, forsook Him. Old Testament martyrdom had in it some affinity with the self-sacrifice of a hero in battle: they hoped for the speedy triumph of the theocracy. The New Testament martyr must, in the patience of the saints (Rev. 13:10; 14:12), tarry for the manifestation of victory until the last day. For this the disciples were not ripe: they had not the joyful testimony of victory within their own spirits. This New Testament martyrdom could flourish only after the blood of Christ was shed.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The betrayal.—The first betrayal as the germ of the second.—Jesus and His company in the hour of betrayal.—An old and always new event, and yet an event standing alone.—No place upon earth is a perfectly secure refuge for the Church: God alone is that. (Luther sung: “A tower of strength our God is still,” but many sing: “A tower of strength our Church is still.”)88—Gethsemane: 1. Consecrated by Christ’s prayer; 2. desecrated by the betrayal; 3. for ever consecrated by the voluntary resignation of Jesus.—The temple dishonored in the name of the temple.—Judas, having left the company of the Twelve, now at the head of Christ’s enemies: a fearful image of a deep apostasy.—The sign of treachery, the self-condemnation of the traitor: 1. As the hypocritical sign of his acquaintance, of his discipleship, of his apostolical vocation; 2. as the token of his apostasy, of his ingratitude, of his reprobation.—The kiss of Judas, the most cunning and the maddest imagination of hell.—The serpent’s bite in its historical consummation and spiritual meaning: 1. Consummated in the connection of hellish betrayal with the sign of heavenly honor (Ps. 2:12); 2. the sign of all treason against all faith and fidelity, taken from the sign of love and confidence.—Supreme cunning, one with supreme infatuation (stupidity).—Friend, wherefore art thou here; or, the counter-greeting of Christ to the traitor: 1. Infinitely gentle (although “friend” in Greek was no more than “companion”):89 a mild allusion to his ingratitude. 2. Infinitely earnest and severe: Take the mask away! Stand forth as thou art! 3. Infinitely effectual: the subsequent despair of Judas.—How different, although related, the kiss of Judas and the sword-stroke of Peter!—The unholy use of the sword, and all the acts of spiritual violence do but dull the spiritual ear in their false zeal.—Christ between His friends and His enemies: oppressed by both, righteous to both.—The decree of the Lord, “All who take the sword,” etc.: 1. A decisive action (the perfect action of perfect suffering); 2. a sacred principle; 3. a prediction scarcely half-fulfilled.—The connection between Peter’s smiting with the sword and his denial: 1. Presumption, despondency; 2. wounded conscience, anxiety (John 18:26, Malchus’ relation); 3. his misinterpretation of the word: “He that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword;” as if it were to be at once literally fulfilled.—Christ enters upon the path of His passion in the full consciousness of His heavenly glory (Thinkest thou that I could not?)—Not weakness restrains the judgment upon the wicked, but only the divine compassion.—One of the deadliest evils to Christ’s cause is the intermixture of gospel and judgment in carnal zeal for the advantage of the Church: it makes both the gospel mercy and the judicial severity matter of contempt and scorn.—The protest of the Lord against the cunning violence of the assault, an eternal protest of the spirit of truth.—The cunning violence of the enemies of the truth condemns itself: 1. The violence and force condemns the cunning; 2. the cunning condemns the force.—Swords and staves mixed, and both lost: the honor of the sword, of the State; the dignity of the staff, of the Church.—The Scriptures of the prophets concerning Christ taken and bound.—Christ’s peace in the great word that the dark hour of uttermost darkness was perfectly in accordance with the word and will of God.—The flight of the disciples at the end of their human enthusiasm was their guilt, and yet mercifully they were delivered from its consequences by their Lord’s protection.—Christ the great Martyr, the Founder of New Testament martyrdom.
Starke:—Wickedness is often stupid and shameless. The wicked* are bold, Matt. 7:22.—Zeisius: The Lord abhors the bloody and deceitful man, Ps. 5:6.—Ps. 2:12, the kiss of genuine homage and love.—Quesnel: The world is full of deceitful courtesies and flatteries.—Everywhere we should be able to answer the question: Wherefore art thou come?—Osiander: When Christians are bound and put in prison without any guilt of their own, they should reckon it no disgrace, but rather the highest honor.—Even among the saints is much lust of revenge, Rom. 12:19.—Provocation to anger and vengeance the most deadly temptations of Satan in the time of external tribulation.—Young and rash preachers are too apt to brandish Peter’s sword, before they have learned to use the sword of the Spirit90.—But when our carnal zeal smites wrongly, the injury is done to the ear, which should hear the word of God.—Canstein: God rules the sins and infirmities of His people in such a way, that they cannot do more evil than He has decreed to permit, Rom. 13:4.—Luther: They take the sword who use it without orderly authority. They have fallen under the judgment of the sword, although repentance may prevent the execution of the decree. Thus Christ approves a right use of the sword.—Rambach: Peter says (1 Ep. 4:15): “Let no man suffer as a murderer or as an evildoer,” probably with allusion to this very event. If he had cut off the servant’s head, he would have fallen under the condemnation of the law as a murderer, and then could never have died as a martyr.—1 Pet. 2:13: No man must oppose lawful authority.—Hedinger: Christ’s kingdom needs no sword; suffering and praying are the best weapons.—Cramer: The seditious go never unpunished, 2 Kings 9:31; 2 Sam. 18:14.—The angels of Dan. 7:10; Heb. 1:14.—That all the angels of God serve the Saviour, a great consolation for God’s children.—Canstein: When God suffers His people to be overcome in external trouble, that is no sign of His weakness, but that these sufferings are decreed for His own glory and His people’s good.—Nova Bibl. Tub.: The weapons of the false Church are swords and staves, external violence.—True Christians never shun the light: their words and deeds are manifest.—The heart, Jer. 17:9, 10, with reference to Peter.
Braune:—Jesus’ suffering His greatest deed.—Gerlach: The sword out of its sheath is not in its place, except when it is subserving the wrath of God.
Lisco:—The sad fall of Judas should be a warning to every one not to indulge a vain reliance in the mere external fellowship of Christ.
Heubner:—The frightful transformation of Judas.—Judas at their head.—A studied dishonor to the Lord,—that they should come with so great a multitude.—Jesus, taken and suffering in the night, atones for the sins which are done in the night.—There is always a Judas-kiss among us (insincerity of profession, in office, in sacramental pledges, in the holy communion).—Jesus endures still the kiss of many false members of His Church.—Jesus, according to Luke 22:48, names his name: Judah! Thou art named confessor, and art become a traitor.—This Bound One is the Captain of God’s host, the Leader of all mankind.—Jesus is free even in His bonds.—Peter not yet free from revenge and ambition.—How often must the Lord repair what the rashness and folly of His disciples have done amiss!—He who has full faith in God, his Father, sees himself without amazement surrounded by enemies; invisible defenders are around him, and the Almighty is his help.—Look on all sufferings as the Lord’s good pleasure; so will all their bitterness be gone.—Wrong for ever shuns the light.—Goodness can always appeal to its open, frank, and known behavior before the world.—The forsaken Jesus is the atonement of our unfaith-fulness.—He knows what the forsaken feel.
Kapff:—What we may learn from Jesus when taken captive: 1. Courage and strength; 2. humility and submission to the will of God; 3. meekness and love for our enemies.—Brandt: Because Adam would not be bound by God’s commandment and his own obedience, Christ must be bound by human bonds.—Grammlich: Christ’s fettered hands tear away the bonds of our death.
[BURKITT:—None sin with so much impudence and obstinacy, as apostates.—There is so much hypocrisy in many, and so much corruption in all, that we must not be too confident. Peter’s heart was sincere, but his head rash in drawing the sword.—God’s intentions are no warrant for irregular actions.—Christ will thank no man to fight for Him without a warrant and commission from Him.—Christ was more concerned for our salvation than for His own temporal preservation.—Had He been rescued by the power of angels, we would have fallen into the paw of devils. MATTHEW HENRY:—Many betray Christ with a kiss, and Hail, Master, who, under pretence of doing Him honor, betray and undermine the interests of His kingdom.—Mel in ore, fel in corde—Honey in the mouth, gall in the heart.—Καταφιλεῖν οὐκ ἐστιφιλεῖν—To embrace is one thing, to love another.—Jacob’s kiss and Judas’s kiss were much alike.—Religio cogi non potest, et defendenda non occidendo, sed moriendo. [From Lactantius: Institutiones div. Similar remarks might be quoted from Tertullian’s Apologeticus, and other ante-Nicene writers, who opposed religious persecution and claimed toleration as an inalienable right of conscience.—P. S.] Men hasten and increase their own troubles by blustering, bloody methods of self-defence.—Persecutors are paid in their own coin, Rev. 13:10.—God has no need of us, of our services, much less of our sins, to bring about His purposes; and it argues our distrust and disbelief of the power of Christ, when we go out of the way of our duty to serve His interests.—There is an innumerable company of angels, Heb. 12:22. (Twelve legions=above seventy-two thousand, and yet a mere detachment which would not be missed in heaven.)—Let God’s word be fulfilled and His will be done, whatever may become of us.—The Scriptures are fulfilling every day.—What folly, to flee, for fear of death, from Him who is the fountain of life! Lord, what is man!—Christ, as the Saviour of souls, stood alone; as He needed not, so He had not the assistance of any other. He trod the wine-press alone, and when there was none to uphold, then His own arm wrought salvation, Isa. 63:3, 5.—P. S.]
All these significant headings are omitted in the Edinb. trsl.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:47.—[The Vulgate translates μετὰ μαχαιρῶν καὶ ξύλων: cum gladiis et fustibus; Lange: mit Schwertern und mit Keulen; other German Versions: Stangen, or Knitteln, or Prügeln; staves was introduced by Tyndale, and retained in the subsequent English Version, except that of Rheims, which renders ξύλα: clubs. Staff is the proper translation for ῥάβδους in Matthew 10:10; Mark 6:8; but the Authorized Version renders ξύλα and ῥάβδους alike. Comp. Matthew 26:55; Luke 22:52. John mentions also lantern and torches, to search perhaps in the secret parts of the garden and the dark caverns of the valley of the Kedron.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:49.—[The colder and more formal Rabbi ought be retained here and in Matthew 26:25 in the translation, as Matthew retained it from the Hebrew for διδάσκαλε, and as the English Version itself did in Matthew 23:7, 8.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:50.—[The words: ἐφ̓ ὅ πάρει, are generally understood as a question and so punctuated in most editions; but Fritzsche takes them as an exclamation: For what (dreadful deed) art thou here! Meyer, Ewald, Lange, as an elliptical command, as to say: Away with your hypocritical kiss; do rather that for which thou art here! See the Exeg. Notes. But the ellipsis might also be supplied by an οἶδα: I know for what thou art here.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:51.—[Τὸν δοῦλον, the well known servant, viz., Malchus, John 18:10. Comp. Mark 14:47, where the English Version likewise substitute’s the indefinite article.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:52.—Some uncial Codd. read άποθανοῦνται [for ἀπολοῦνται].
Matthew 26:53.—[Presently should be omitted, as it arose from confounding two readings in the text, some authorities placing ἅρτι, now, after παραστήσει, others after δύναμαι, but none repeating it. Cranmer’s Bible first put now (over now) after both verbs, while Tyndale, the Genevan Bible, and the Bishops’ Bible have it only after cannot, and the Rheims N. T. (following the Vulgate) after give me. King James revisers substituted presently for the second now.— P. S.]
Matthew 26:53.—[Or: cause to stand by, as the Bishops’ Bible literally renders παραστήσει, and Scrivener commends Conant prefers “send” with Coverdale. Campbell: “send to my relief.”—P. S.]
Matthew 26:54.—[But is an insertion to make the connection plainer, or it was supposed to be implied in οῦ̓ν. But the meaning is: Considering then that God could place such a mighty force at My disposal, how is it possible, etc.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:55.—[Not: κλέπτης, which is expressly distinguished from λῃστής in John 10:1, 8. Comp. Matt. 21:13, and note. Scrivener; “All these precautions would be futile against a petty thief, though very proper against a bandit, such as Barnabas for example.”—P. S.]
Matthew 26:55.—[For before the infinitive is obsolete and should be omitted in a revised translation—P. S.]
Matthew 26:56.—[This is the emphatic form of the Greek: οἱ μαθηταὶ πάντες, and so rendered by Conant and others.— P. S.]
[Not: these words, as the Edinb. edition reads.—P. S.]
So Lange: “Freund! (nur das) wozu du da bist! Similarly Ewald: “Freund, das wozu du da bist! But Luther, de Wette, and other German Versions, agree with the English in taking the phrase as a question.—P. S.]
[Not: symbolical, as the Edinb. trsl. reads. In German: ein tupisches weltnistorisches Bild, i.e., an event of typical significance which is frequently repeated and fulfill ed in history.—P. S.]
[Dr. Lange alludes, of course, to the famous hymn of Luther: Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (based upon Ps. 46 and composed 1529), which may be called the spiritual [illegible]r-song of the Reformation, and which has been very often translated into English, by Thomas Carlyle, Mills, Cath. Winkworth. Bunting, and others. It is omitted in the Edinb. edition, together with a number of homiletical hints in this section.—P. S.]
[Comp. note 4 on p. 352.—P. S.]
[The Edinb. edition has godly,—no doubt typograpical error for godless.—P. S.]
And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.SIXTH SECTION
CHRIST BEFORE CAIAPHAS
(Mark 14:53–65; Luke 22:54–71; John 18:12–24)
57And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high-priest where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58But Peter followed him afar off unto the high-priest’s palace [the court of the high-priest],91 and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. 59Now the chief priests and [the] elders,92 and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to [that they might, ὅπως] put him to death; 60But [And, καί] found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none.93 At the last [But at last, ὕστερον δέ] came two false witnesses, 61And said, This fellow [man]94 said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in [within] three days. 62And the high-priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? [what do these witness against thee?] 63But Jesus held his peace [was silent].95 And the high-priest answered [spoke to the meaning of His silence]96 and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us Whether thou be [art] the Christ, the Son of God. 64Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said [it]: nevertheless [besides, πλήν] I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in [on] the clouds of heaven. (Dan. 7:13) 65Then the high-priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have [ye have now] heard his blasphemy. 66What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty 67[worthy, ἔνοχος]97 of death. Then did they spit [they spit] in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,98 68Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Chronological Order of Event.—1. The preparatory examination by Annas, John 18:13; 2. the examination during the night before Caiaphas; 3. the formal and final examination before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin on Friday morning (Matt., Mark, Luke). This threefold examination by the ecclesiastical tribunal was followed by another threefold examination on the part of the secular authorities,—first, by Pilate; then by Herod (Luke); and, lastly, a second time by Pilate. Between these examinations the following events intervened:—1. The mocking and buffeting on the part of the servants of the temple, between the second and the third examination by the ecclesiastical authorities. 2. The being set at nought after the second examination by the secular rulers, or before Herod; the white robe. 3. The setting at nought and buffeting after His third examination; the scarlet robe.—Matthew and the other two Evangelists pass over the examination of the Lord by Annas. It is, however, related with all its particulars by John; and, indeed, was quite in accordance with the views of the Jews. Though Annas had been deposed, the Jews seem still to have considered him as their real high-priest; while, at the same time, they were obliged in an official capacity to acknowledge Caiaphas, whom the Romans had appointed “that same year.” As Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas, they would, in all probability, order their domestic arrangements so as to meet the views of the Jews without giving offence to the Romans. Accordingly we would suggest that both lived in one and the same palace; which would also account for the fact, that while the examination was successively carried on in two different places, the guard seems to have remained in the same inner court of the palace. This is evident from a comparison of the narrative of Peter’s denial as given by John, in its relation to that of the same event as recorded by the other Evangelists. Similarly, this would also explain the fact, that in the three first Gospels we only read of Christ being led before Caiaphas. From the peculiar practical view taken by Matthew, we can readily understand why he should have only recorded the official examination. In general, we infer that the examination by Annas was mainly an attempt on the part of the old priest (whom Klopstock, without adequate grounds, represents in a milder light) to ensnare the Lord in His words, and thus to elicit some tenable grounds of accusation. The examination by Caiaphas was merely a formal matter. The only importance attaching to it is, that the testimony of Christ, to the effect that He was the Christ, the Son of God, was there declared to be blasphemy, and deserving of death. The circumstances as now detailed will enable us to understand how Matthew and Mark relate first the examination by the high-priest, and then the denial by Peter, while this order is reversed in the Gospel by Luke. Evidently the threefold denial on the part of Peter extended from the first to the second examination of the Master.
Matthew 26:57. Where the scribes and the elders were assembled.—In accordance with our former remarks, we conclude that this was a preliminary meeting of the Sanhedrin, quite distinct from the regular and formal meeting which took place early on the following morning. It is quite characteristic of the Evangelists, that John details the first examination, Luke the third, while Matthew and Mark record the second. John evidently apprehended the rejection of Christ by the Jews as originating in the hatred of Annas and the priests, which decided the rest of the procedure; Luke viewed it in the light of its political bearing; the other two Evangelists described it in its relation to the central idea of the hierarchy as this unfolded itself to their intuitions.
Matthew 26:58. Afar off.—As it were, not with the cordial closeness of a disciple, but like a mere spectator or observer.
Unto the court or hall.—Not the palace, as in Luther [and in our authorized version]. The expression αὐλή was applied, among the Greeks, both to the hall or court in front of the house, and to the dwelling itself. In Eastern and Jewish houses it was the inner court surrounded by side halls.99 Here the hall of the palace, the court-yard. According to the account given by John, He had obtained immediate access into the inner hall, and then procured admission for Peter. Tradition asserts that John had become acquainted with the family of the high-priest while still engaged in his original calling as fisherman. “As in all eastern houses, so in this palace, the windows of the room or the openings of the hall in which Jesus was examined, would open into the inner court, which, according to Mark 14:66, must have been somewhat lower than the rest of the house. There Peter, and perhaps John also, heard part of the examination that went on. Accordingly, the accounts in the three first Gospels bear evident marks of having been derived from eyewitnesses, who, however, had not heard all that had passed. But the account given by John was manifestly supplemented from more full and satisfactory reports.” Gerlach.
Matthew 26:59. And all the council.—So Matthew adds from his ideal theocratic point of view. The expression must evidently be taken in a general sense. In their official capacity as a council, the whole assemblage were animated by the same spirit of hatred and murder. Individual exceptions, such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, are left out of view by the historian. Besides, they may not have been present at this meeting. It will be remembered, that when, on a much earlier occasion, Nicodemus attempted to speak in favor of Jesus, he was threatened with excommunication, John 7:50, etc. Again, according to John 9:22, the council had formerly passed a resolution to excommunicate any person who should own Jesus as the Christ. Hence it seems probable that Nicodemus had taken no further part in the deliberations of the council against Jesus. Similarly, we conceive that Joseph of Arimathea had also, on an earlier occasion, spoken in the same spirit as Nicodemus, Luke 23:51. Other members of the Sanhedrin may have been frightened and kept away in like manner by the threat of excommunication. From Luke 22:70 we infer that these members of the council were not present even at the formal and official examination which took place in the morning. Finally, it deserves notice that the procedure of the Sanhedrin against Jesus may be said to have extended, from first to last, throughout the whole of His official career. This appears most clearly from the account furnished in the Gospel of John. Matthew 2:18: first attendance at the Passover in the year 781; comp. Matthew 4:1; 5:16: festival of Purim, 782. Commencement of the persecutions in Galilee.—Matthew 7:1; 9:14: feast of Tabernacles, in the year 782. Excommunication pronounced upon the adherents of Jesus, Matthew 9:22. Open and full persecutions in Galilee.—John 10:22: feast of the Dedication of the Temple, in the winter of the year 782. Matthew 10:31: attempt to stone Jesus. Matthew 11:57: pronouncing of the ban or injunction, that any one who knew where Jesus was, should immediately indicate the same to the council.—Matthew 12:10: the decisive meeting of the council on the evening before Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, when the resolution was also taken to kill Lazarus. Then followed the three examinations during the night of the betrayal, when it was no longer a matter of question whether Jesus should be put to death,—the main object only being to observe some kind of legal form, and to fix upon a sufficient ground of accusation. Of course, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea could not be present on these occasions.
Sought false witness against Jesus.—Meyer: ψευδομαρτυρίαν, i. e., as viewed by the historian.” But it ought to be kept in mind that the priests acted not merely under the impulse of fanaticism, but with a fixed determination to find proof against Christ, whether it were rightly or wrongly obtained. The remark of de Wette, that they would have preferred to have found true witness, and did not purposely seek for false, seems somewhat superfluous, as this would of course be the case. It is sufficient, that they were fully conscious that true witness could not be obtained.
Matthew 26:60. But found none.—According to Mark 14:56, “their witness agreed not together.” By the law of Moses, at least two witnesses were required to agree if the accusation was to be sustained (Num. 35:30 Deut. 17:6; 19:15). Hence in the following clause the emphasis rests on the word two. At last the smallest requisite number was found!
Matthew 26:61. This man said.—A perversion of the statement of Jesus in John 2:19 (λύσατε), which had referred to His body. “Misunderstood and altered,” observes Meyer; “but whether intentionally or not, cannot be decided.” But a witness is fully responsible, if not for his understanding of the words which he reports, yet for the accuracy of his quotation. A witness from hearsay, who professes to have himself heard a certain statement, or an accuser who has not accurately heard what he reports, must also be regarded as a false witness.
Within three days, διά, not after three days.—From this passage, as well as from the treatment of Stephen (Acts 6:13), we learn that statements derogatory to the temple were treated as blasphemy. Nor is it difficult to infer the reason of this—the temple being regarded as the symbol of the Jewish religion. Jesus held his peace, “in lofty self-consciousness,” not merely because the witness was false, but also because, even if true, it was really no evidence of hostility to the temple, since, along with the statement of its destruction, it had held out the promise of its restoration; and because the whole of this preliminary questioning pointed forward to His avowal of His Messianic character, to which, after all, the inquiry must ultimately come.
Matthew 26:62. And the high-priest arose.—“The chief-priest loses his self-possession, and rises up.” Perhaps more accurately it may be characterized as a piece of theatrical affectation, the high-priest pretending to be filled with holy indignation.—Answerest Thou nothing?—Meyer: The arrangement of the following clause into two distinct queries is exceedingly characteristic of passionate hatred, and quite warranted by the phraseology, as ἀπο κρίνεσθαίτι may mean to answer something, and τί may be equivalent to ὅ, τι.
Matthew 26:63. And the high-priest answered.—He understood the meaning of Christ’s silence, and hence answered His silent speech. Meyer rightly observes: “He replied to the continuous silence of Jesus by formally proposing to Him to answer on oath the question, whether He was the Messiah. On this everything depended, in order to secure that the sentence of death pronounced against Him should be confirmed by the Roman authorities.” Comp. John 18:19.
I adjure Thee.—Gen. 24:3; 2 Chron. 36:13. When such a formula of adjuration was employed, a simple affirmation or negation was regarded in law as sufficient to constitute a regular oath. See Michaelis, Laws of Moses, § 302. Grotius: ἐξορκίζειν, Hebraice השביע, modo est jurejurando adigere, interdum vero obsecrare. Solebant judices talem δρκισμόν adhibere, ut aut testibus testimonium aut reis confessionem exprimerent. Another formula of the same kind is mentioned in John 9:24. “The judge adjured the witness, who, by a simple Yea and Amen, made the oath his own.”
By the living God.—Not in the sense of “pointing Thee” to Him, but in that of putting the oath as in His presence, and in view of Him as the judge and avenger. The living God Himself was invoked as the witness and the judge of any untruth, Heb. 6:13; 10:31.—Thou hast said, εῖπας.—An affirmation (Matthew 26:25), and consequently an oath. The conduct of Christ is not inconsistent with Matthew 5:34, since in the present instance the Lord was placed before the constituted authorities of the land, and acted as bound in law. “Rationalists have understood the words of Jesus as implying: Thou sayest it, not I!” “He tells them now that He is the Christ.” Braune.
The Son of God.—More fully reported in Luke 22:67, and Matthew 26:70. From that passage it appears that the expression, Son of God, was not merely intended as a further addition to the term Christ (de Wette), but meant to express the Christian idea attaching to the latter designation.
Matthew 26:64. Besides, πλήν.—A particle of transition, intended to introduce a new statement, Luke 19:27. “Not profecto (Olshausen), nor quin (Kuinoel), [nor nevertheless, as in the authorized Engl, version], but, besides, or over, beyond My affirmation of this adjuration.” Meyer.100 Besides this, I shall henceforth manifest Myself as the Messiah over you; My Messianic glory shall appear before your eyes. Thus, of His own accord did Jesus now add His royal testimony to the confession which He had been forced to make.—From hence shall ye see.—The expression must not be limited to the final appearing of Christ, but refers to His whole state of exaltation,—to that personal exaltation which reveals itself in the almighty power and universal influence exercised by Him throughout the course of history.—Sitting on the right hand of power.—Τῆςδυνάμεως=הַיְבוּרָה (Buxtorf, Lex. Talm., p. 3855). Power, one of the main attributes of the Deity, here the abstract for the concrete, to indicate how, under this influence, His apparent impotence would at once be transformed into omnipotence. According to Ps. 110:1, “sitting at the right hand” refers to the exaltation of the Messiah, and to the manifestation of His δόξα; more especially to His share in the government of the world, in the form of festive rest and absolute supremacy.—And coming in the clouds of heaven.—The expression does not merely refer to His final advent (de Wette), but to the whole judicial administration of Christ, which commenced immediately after His resurrection, but especially at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and shall be completed in the end of the world.
Matthew 26:65. Then the high-priest rent his clothes.—“He rent his Simla, or upper garment (not his high-priestly robe, which he only wore in the temple; comp. Reland, Antiq. ii, 100, 50, §11). A mark of indignation, Acts 14:14; on other occasions, of mourning (2 Sam. 1:11); and in this sense interdicted to the high-priest (Lev. 10:6; 21:10), but only on ordinary occasions. This prohibition, however, does not seem to have applied to extraordinary occurrences: 1 Macc. 2:14; Joseph. Bell. Jud. 2, 15, 4.” De Wette. The practice of rending the clothes on occasions of supposed blasphemy was based on 2 Kings 18:37. Buxt. Lex., p. 2146. Originally it was simply a natural outburst of most intense pain, such as grief or indignation, or of both these emotions. Hence it would be voluntary, and not subject to a special ordinance. But at a later period, when many of these outbursts were more theatrical than real, their exercise was regulated by special rules, according to Maimonides, quoted by Buxtorf, just as similar manifestations were made the subject of regulation in the mediæval Church. The rent made in the garment was from the neck downward, and about a span (palmus) in length. The body dress and the outer garment were left untouched: “in reliquis vestibus corpori accommodatis omnibus fit, etiamsi decem fuerint” Hence τὰἱμάτια.—Saurin: Here was an infallible high-priest; was it duty implicitly to trust and to follow him? An argument against the Romish conception of faith as a blind submission to the absolute authority of the Church and the pope.101
He hath spoken blasphemy.—An explanation of his symbolical action, and at the same time the pronouncing of sentence, which, according to the law, would in such a case be that of death. On the supposition of their unbelief, and of their view that the statement of Christ was false, His declaration that He was the Messiah, as well as of the manner in which He sustained that office, would be peculiarly repugnant to them. But then, even on the high-priest’s own showing, it was he, and not Christ, who was guilty of blasphemy, since he had, in his authoritative capacity, obliged Jesus to take this oath. Thus the conduct of the judges themselves led to what they regarded as the crime, which in turn they condemned, thus condemning themselves. But viewed in its true light and spirit, the presumptuous high-priest alone and his compeers were the blasphemers.
What further need have we of witnesses?—An involuntary admission that they were at a loss for witnesses. At the same time, it also implies that they wished to found the charge against Jesus solely upon His own declaration that He was the Messiah. In point of fact, a confession of guilt would render a further examination of witnesses unnecessary. Caiaphas, however, presupposes that the members of the Sanhedrin shared his own unbelief. In his hot haste he takes this for granted: Behold, ye have now heard His blasphemy.
Matthew 26:66. He is worthy of death.—As they imagined, according to the law, Lev. 24:16; comp. Deut. 18:20. A full statement of the sentence, which Caiaphas had already implied when he declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy. According to de Wette and Meyer, this was merely a preliminary expression of opinion on the part of the Sanhedrin, while the formal resolution was only arrived at next morning, Matthew 27:1. In our view, this sentence was already full and final, although in point of form it may not have been quite complete. For, (1) the Sanhedrin had probably to be convoked in a formal manner; (2) that tribunal was, according to Jewish law, prohibited from investigating any capital crime during the night. Besides, all haste in pronouncing condemnation was interdicted; nor could a sentence of death be pronounced on the same day on which the investigation had taken place. Probably the Sanhedrin may have wished to elude this provision by entering on the examination during the night. But this object was not in reality secured, since the Jewish day commenced in the evening. See Friedlieb, Archœol. of the History of the Passion, p. 95. On other violations of the proper legal procedure in this case, see p. 87. (3) According to Roman law, a sentence pronounced before the dawn was not regarded as valid (Sepp. Leben Jesu, 3:484). (4) What was most important, the Jews were required to couch their sentence of condemnation in the form of a charge which they might hope Pilate would sustain; for the Roman governor was required to confirm the Jewish verdict of death (Joseph. Arch. 20:9, 1). The ill-treatment of the Lord immediately afterward shows that the Sanhedrin regarded even this first sentence as final. “It is sad that many modern Jews are still found attempting to defend the sentence of death pronounced upon Jesus. Thus the Liber Nizzachon, ed. by Wagenseil, 1681, p. 50; and SALVADOR, Histoire des Institutions de Moise et du Peuple Hebr., Paris, 1828, 2:85. They maintain that Jesus was rightly condemned, because, 1. He arrogated to Himself Divine dignity (Deut. 13:1), and because, 2. His work and mission tended toward the overthrow of Judaism, the undermining of the authority of the highest tribunal, and consequently the ruin of the people. Compare, on the other hand, VON AMMON, Fortbild d. Christenth., vol. iv.” Heubner.
Matthew 26:67. Then they spit in His face.—With reference to the ill-treatment to which the Lord was subjected before the Sanhedrin, we must call to mind that, even in the house of Annas, He was struck by one of the officers (John 18:22). De Wette and Meyer are mistaken in supposing that this ill-treatment is recorded in another connection in Luke 22:63. Manifestly the latter Evangelist there refers to what had taken place at a period intermediate between the first examination before Caiaphas and the final examination on the following morning, related in Matthew 26:66, which describes this final meeting, in terms similar to the narrative of the first examination given by Matthew. That the two meetings must have resembled each other, is evident from the circumstance that the second was in part merely a repetition of the first, certain formalities being now observed. There are, however, certain peculiarities about each of them. In reference to the account of the ill-treatment itself, we notice that the narratives of the various Evangelists supplement, but do not contradict, each other. In all probability, the spitting in His face occurred immediately after His condemnation. It may be regarded as a consequence of the sentence, spitting being considered among the Jews as the expression of the greatest contempt (Deut. 25:9; Num. 12:14). “This insult was punished with a fine of four hundred drachmas [the drachma being equal to about 15 American cents]. Even to spit before another was regarded as an offence, and treated as such, by heathen also. Thus Seneca records that it was inflicted at Athens upon Aristides the Just, adding, at the same time, that with considerable difficulty one individual was at last found willing to do it.” Braune. But as those who were excommunicated were regarded as beyond the pale of the law, this expression of contempt was specially applied to them (comp. Isa. 50:6). Accordingly, the members of the Sanhedrin may have considered themselves warranted to take part in this manifestation of sanctimonious zeal. Their conduct served as the signal for bodily maltreatment on the part of the officers by striking Him with fists (described by the term κολαφίζειν). The other particulars added by Matthew took place on a later occasion. From the narratives of Mark and Luke (see my Life of Jesus, 2:3, p. 1477) we gather that, after the sentence pronounced by Caiaphas, Jesus was led through the hall, where the servants were warming themselves, into another prison, and that at the very moment when Peter denied Him for the third time. There the guard which was to watch the person of Jesus till the final examination on the following morning, commenced to maltreat Him, as fully detailed in the Gospel by Luke. This guard was, therefore, different from the officers who had formerly insulted Him. The expression ἐῤῥάπισαν is generally referred to smiting with the hand [so also in the E. V.: they smote Him with the palms of their hands]; but Beza, Ewald, Meyer, and others, apply it to smiting with rods102 Both renderings are equally warranted by the text. From Luke and Mark we infer that the scoffing which now took place was accompanied and followed by smiting with rods.
Matthew 26:68. Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ.—The scoffing was directed against His prophetic dignity, or, as they supposed, against the prophetic title which He claimed. According to Luke 22:64, they blindfolded and then struck Him on the face, asking Him to prophesy which of them had inflicted the indignity. Fritzsche interprets it as meaning: Predict to us who shall smite Thee; but in that case it would have been needless to have covered His face. As a prophet, He was to tell them what He could not see. The devilish fanaticism of the superiors had communicated itself to the lowest officials, and spread in the way of sympathy from the Jewish temple guard even to the Roman soldiers. The officers became a band of murderers around Him (see Ps. 22; the bulls of Bashan).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Jesus, silent before His accusers, a living expression of the truth, in its concrete form, as confidently relying on its eternal victory. Before His bright consciousness of truth all false testimonies melted away, as shadows and mist are chased by the rays of the sun. The last false testimony, for which the requisite number of witnesses had been procured (although the expressions in Matthew and Mark differ in reference to it), could scarcely weigh against Him, since, along with the miraculous destruction of the temple, it spoke of its miraculous restoration. After all, it only implied that He asserted His ability to perform the works of the Messiah. Thus His enemies were ultimately obliged to try Him simply upon the issue whether He was the Messiah. This alone, of all the charges, now remained. In other words, they dared to set their own miserable authority against all the glorious evidences by which He was accredited as the Messiah and the Son of God.
2. Properly speaking, the saying of Christ, “Destroy this temple,” etc., which two years previously He had uttered at the time of the Passover, properly meant—You seek to kill Me; kill Me then: I shall rise again. It was the curse of their fanatical dulness and misunderstanding, and of their false hearing, that they converted this very saying into a charge on which they condemned Him to death.
3. The ancient Church allegorically interpreted Christ’s silence before the secular and the ecclesiastical tribunals, as implying that He answered not a word because, as poor, guilty sinners, we must and would have been silent at the judgment-seat of God. But the tribunals of Caiaphas and Pilate could only in point of form and appearance serve as an emblem of the judgment-seat of God. In reality, they exhibited the fact, that the secular and religious authorities of the ancient world were wholly devoted to the service of darkness, and hence given up by the Lord to the judgment of self-condemnation. On the other hand, however, this judgment of self-condemnation, which sinful humanity executed upon itself in condemning the Christ of God, is the sentence which Christ by His silence took upon Himself as the woe of humanity, in order to transform, by His sympathy and self-surrender, the punishment of the world into an expiatory atonement.
4. Christ, the Son of God.—“The former title was probably mentioned first, because, as it did not embody the real ground of accusation, the high-priest may have expected that Jesus would more readily assent to the query when couched in that form. For, even in the eyes of such a tribunal, the mere claim to Messiahship could not by any possibility be regarded as a crime deserving of death, so long as no attempt whatever had been made to prove the falseness of the assertion. All this appears still more plainly from the narrative as given by Luke, in which the question, ‘Art Thou then the Son of God?’ is put separately from the other, seemingly called forth by the announcement that they would see Him sitting on the right hand of the power of God.—Many, in fact most Jews at that time, understood that title (Son of God) as only referring to the Messianic kingship of Jesus, without connecting with it the idea of eternal and essential Sonship. But Caiaphas evidently intended this expression to imply something more than the former designation of Christ. He and the Sanhedrin wittingly attached to it the peculiar meaning which, on previous occasions, had been such an offence to them (John 5:18; 10:33); and Jesus, fully understanding their object, gave a most emphatic affirmation to their inquiry. Of all the testimonies in favor of the divinity of Christ, this is the most clear and definite.” Gerlach.
5. The testimony and the oath of Christ.—Calmly did He utter the reply which insured His death. The Faithful Witness (Rev. 1) did not falter or fail. And at the very moment when He surrendered Himself to an unrighteous judgment unto death, did the full consciousness of His kingly glory burst upon Him.
6. By the sentence of the Sanhedrin, the people of Israel rejected their Messiah, apparently with all due observance of legal forms (although in contravention of several legal ordinances), but in utter violation of the spirit and import of the law. Thereby the nation rejected itself, and destroyed the theocratical and political import of its temple. See Eph. 2:15. It was in reality the Sanhedrin itself which, by condemning Jesus, condemned the temple, the city, the theocracy, and the whole ancient world. From this sentence of death upon the Lord, the world can only recover in and through the new life in Christ.
7. Besides, I say unto you, etc.—On the right hand of power—of the majesty of God, Ps. 110—“Jesus here announces to His judges the judgment of His future advent. He intimates that henceforth they were to be continually visited by dreadful visions of His sovereignty. They would ever see Him. Wherever omnipotence would manifest itself, there would He also appear along with it, since all its operations should be connected with His kingdom. Above all the clouds which were to darken the sky, would He ever and again appear as the light of new eras, as the morning star, and the sun of a brighter and better future,—and that from this time onward, until the final revelation of His glory over the last clouds which would ascend from a burning world” (Leben Jesu). “These words of our Lord show that His coming in the clouds of heaven referred not only to His final and visible advent at the last day, but also to the events heralding and typifying His return.” Gerlach.
8. With this grand utterance the Lord Jesus directly met His enemies on the very ground of Scripture to which, in their hypocrisy, they had appealed. The reference here is to the prediction of Daniel, in Matthew 7:13, concerning the glory of the Son of Man; hence also the final application of this prophecy to the Son of Man, who from the first had referred it to Himself.
9. We might reasonably have expected that, after Christ had been condemned by an ecclesiastical tribunal on the charge of blasphemy, such accusations would not again have been laid by or before any who professed to be His disciples, but that all such questions would have been left to be settled by the Lord Himself. But the Inquisition has pursued the path first trodden by Caiaphas. The Church of Christ must commit the judgment upon such sins to God Himself, while the State may enact such laws against blasphemy and crimes of sacrilege as it may deem necessary for the well-being of the land.
10. The last council of traditionalism in its full and final blindness, an antitype of similar councils in the Christian Church.
11. The spitting upon Jesus, as predicted in Isa. 53. Gerlach: “Condemned as a blasphemer, He was treated as an outlaw, and exposed to every indignity and attack.”
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The Son of God surrendered into the hands of sinners.—The holy Judge before the iniquitous judgment of the world.—The judgment of the world upon the Judge of the world: 1. The false witnesses over against the Faithful Witness of God; 2. the criminal occupying the seat of the high-priest, and the High-Priest standing in the place of the criminal; 3. blasphemy in the garb of zeal, for God, and the loftiest praise of God designated as blasphemy; 4. the suicide of the world in the sentence pronounced upon the Prince of life, and the life of the world in the readiness of Christ to submit unto death; 5. the picture of hell and the picture of heaven in the insults heaped upon the Lord.—The judgment of man on the Saviour (a judgment of God): 1. The world given up to complete and full blindness and guilt unto death; 2. the Son of God given up to complete and full suffering, and to love of redemption.—In the judgment of man, that of God is ever present. It appears either: 1. By means of the judgment of man; or else, 2. beyond and above the sentence of man.—How frequently have spiritual tribunals pronounced their own sentence!—False witness as gradually developing and appearing in the course of history.—The misapprehensions of fanaticism the source of its mistakes.—The holy silence of the Lord, a most solemn divine utterance: 1. Concerning the guilt of the world, and His own innocence; 2. concerning its implacableness and His gracious compassion.—The holy utterance of the Lord after His holy silence.—His oath; in taking it, Jesus, the Eternal One, swore by Himself (Isa. 45:23).—The oath of Jesus the seal of truth.—The Faithful Witness who seals and confirms all that God has said, 2 Cor. 1:20; Rev. 3:14.—The assumed appearance of zeal and genuine holy indignation.—“What further need have we of witnesses?” or, how malice always betrays itself.—“Hereafter (or, henceforth) ye shall see;” or the roll of thunder in the distance.—Christ’s abiding consciousness of His royal rank as appearing in, and standing the test of, the hour of its severest trial.—The appeal of Christ to His own judgment-seat as unto the tribunal of God.—The insults offered unto the Lord, or the bitter mocking of Satan in the fury of man.—How hell seeks to scoff at the King of heaven.—The dark shadows which ever follow hypocritical religiosity: 1. It is always connected with coarseness and rudeness; 2. it seems to take pleasure in satanic malice and love of mischief.—How ingenious fanaticism has ever proved in calling for the torments of hell, while boasting that it alone possessed the keys of the kingdom of heaven.—Infectious character of the evil example set by spiritual leaders.—The peace of Christ during that dreadful night, like the moon above dark lowering clouds.—The long and anxious hours.—Daniel in the lion’s den; Christ among tigers and serpents.—The spiritual prison-house.—When led before the secular authorities, He was set free from the authority of the spiritual rulers.—The sorrow and pain which the enemies of the Lord prepared for themselves, when inflicting pain upon Him.—The moral desolation which, from the beginning to the end, ever accompanies a spurious zeal for religion: 1. It falsifies and perverts testimony; 2. it applies the law against truth and righteousness; 3. turns judgment into mockery of judgment; 4. it transforms the ministers of justice and the people into lawless murderers; 5. it involves even the secular power in its guilt and ruin.—Moral rudeness also in the service of the evil one.—Moral rudeness, the delight and the instrument of hypocritical cunning.—The sufferings and the gentleness of Jesus amidst the coarse rudeness of the world.—The sufferings of the members of Christ (His martyrs) amidst the coarse gibes of the world.—The covering of the face of Jesus a sign that, even while setting Him at nought, they dared not encounter the light of His eyes.—The spitting in His face a scoffing of the highest personality and individuality, implying at the same time self-rejection of their own human individuality.—An emblem also of all sin, as it tends to efface personality.—The impotence of human and satanic malice against the triumphant self-consciousness of the Divine Saviour,—The heavenly pattern of perfect patience and endurance.—The sins which He there bore, He bore for all, and for us among the number.
Starke:—Canstein: Even the true Church and its whole solemn assembly may err and fail, if they set aside the word of God, Ex. 32:7–10.—We may “follow” Jesus, yet not in the right spirit or manner.—Danger of fellowship with men of the world (Peter warming himself by the fire of coals).—If we are weak, we must avoid fellowship with those whose intercourse might have a tendency to render us still more weak.—Solemn ordinances of God against false witnesses, Ex. 23:1; Deut. 19:18. But these wicked judges not only admitted, but even suborned false witnesses.—While seeking to entangle Jesus, they entangled themselves.—Canstein: Even the most sacred ordinances of God are capable of being desecrated by men.—Zeisius: The enemies of Christ at one and the same time accusers, witnesses, and judges: thus frequently even in our own day.—Quesnel: A most vivid picture of what envy still does every day against the people of God.—Hedinger: Attend, O my soul; thy Saviour suffers for the false witness of thy tongue, for thy hypocrisy, etc.—When wicked rulers and judges occupy the high places, vile persons will always be found ready to lend themselves as their tools.—Zeisius: If the words of Christ, who was eternal Wisdom and Truth, were perverted, why should we wonder that His servants and children suffer from similar misrepresentations?—The testimony of Christ after His silence; similarly, may we not remain silent when the glory of God or His truth are in question.—Zeisius: The confession that Christ is the Son of God, to this day the rock of offence (to Jews, Turks, heathens, and unbelieving professors of Christianity).—Judicial blindness of the servants of Satan in declaring truth to be blasphemy, and blasphemy truth.—Canstein: by this Christ expiated the sins which are committed in judicial procedures.—Zeisius: The spitting upon Jesus, etc., the expiation of our sins, that our faces might not be ashamed before God, but that we might obtain eternal honor and glory.—Quesnel: You who adorn and paint your faces, behold the indignity offered to the face of Jesus, for your sakes!—The members of Christ should willingly and readily submit to every kind of scorn and insult.—Men dare to insult the Almighty as if He could be “blindfolded.”
Gerlach:—While Peter denied Jesus, He confessed before Caiaphas that good confession by which our souls are saved.—Here we behold Jesus taking a solemn and judicial oath, to the effect that He was the Son of God; which He still further confirmed by adding that they would see Him again in the glory of His exaltation, as Judge of the world, and as their Judge.—The vast contrast between Jesus, who entered watching and praying into the temptation, which He had overcome within before He encountered it without, and Peter, who in self-confidence rushed into danger, without any preparation.—The insults heaped upon Jesus were not only the expression of the personal hatred of His enemies, but intended, if possible, completely to destroy His influence and position in popular estimation.
Heubner:—For our sakes, Christ had to go many a road of sorrow, surrounded by the band of the wicked. Let us count: 1. The road from Gethsemane to Annas; 2. that from Annas to Caiaphas; 3. from Caiaphas to Pilate; 4. from Pilate to Herod; 5. from Herod to Pilate; 6. from Pilate to the hall of judgment (although Pilate lived in the Prœtorium, the soldiers occupied another part; hence it was not “from Pilate to the judgment-hall,” but from the hall of judgment to where the soldiers were); 7. from thence to Golgotha. These sorrowful roads Jesus would not have been obliged to tread, had not our feet declined from the ways of God.—Christ led before Caiaphas: the true High-Priest before the spurious, the Just before the unjust, the Innocent One before His bitter enemies, who had long before resolved upon His death, John 11:50.—A night trial. The prince of darkness himself presided unseen over this meeting.—The members of the Sanhedrin deceived themselves and each other by the tacit assumption of possessing divine authority.—(Rambach.) Let us not be deceived by the semblance of outward dignity and position, but seek grace to have our eyes opened so as to penetrate through the mist, and the pretensions of those who at heart are the enemies of Christ.—Christ was arraigned before two tribunals: the ecclesiastical, which took cognizance of the first, and the secular tribunal, which took cognizance of the second, table of the law. We have transgressed both tables of the law.—They sought false witness: the sentence had been beforehand resolved upon.—Falsehood must enter into the service of murder.—Though many false witnesses came: society abounds in venal instruments of iniquity.—Every false witness is in opposition to the holy God of truth; hence such will not only be put to shame, but even their false testimony must ultimately subserve the truth.—Calumny omits or adds (or perverts), as it may serve its purpose, so as to give falsehood the semblance of truth.—It is the peculiar artifice of the evil one to mix some element of truth in every lie.—Thus have the enemies of revelation frequently perverted the Bible.—The silence of Jesus: 1. Wise; 2. dignified; 3. putting His enemies to shame and condemning them; 4. conciliatory; 5. a holy example to His followers. (The biographies of Franke, Rengeltaube, Boos, Zinzendorf, and others.)—The great and grievous damage often resulting from controversies is solely caused by our own premature and hasty conduct.—The solemn confession of Jesus: 1. Wise and necessary: 2. holy and sacred; 3. heroic, or unshrinking, 1 Tim. 6:13; 4. unhesitating and decided; 5. an example to His martyrs.—The different bearing and relationship in reference to the truth (on the part of Jesus, of Pilate, of the high-priests, of the false witnesses, of Judas).—Nevertheless (but, besides), I say unto you. A most solemn thunder-call to His enemies. Its confirmation appeared immediately on His death (the darkness, the earthquake, etc.).—They who will not believe in the divine character of Jesus must soon experience it to their terror and confusion.—It is terrible to His enemies, but most comforting to His friends.—The faithfulness of the Lord met by the mere semblance of the fear of God.—A painful and sleepless night to the Lord. Under the Old Testament, the high-priest was wont to spend the night before the day of atonement waking; so the true High-Priest also. A consolation this to sufferers during their sleepless nights.—Subordinates imitate their superiors and the higher classes, 1 Cor. 2:8.—The face of man the characteristic and special index of his individuality; to spit upon the face, is to set at nought the peculiar individuality of the man. In the present instance it was Jesus. His face was the face of God, John 14:9. His holy face, which angels adore, veiling their countenances, was here insulted. A setting at nought of His person, and at the same time of His prophetical office.—Beware of a scoffing spirit, and of fellowship with scorners, Ps. 1:1—Alas! how frequently is Christ still set at nought among us, wittingly and unwittingly, by neglect and contempt of His word, or by jokes and witticisms in connection with it! For the present He bears with it, but the time shall come when judgment will be passed upon those daring scoffers.—Let the reproach of Christ be our choicest adorning.
J. W. König:—What a change! In the night (of the nativity), when heaven descended upon earth, etc., the seraphim opened their song of joy and praise, etc. In this, the last night of His life, the Lord of heaven is set at nought.—Rieger:—This question, whether Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, still proves the testing-point of unbelief and worldly mindedness. He that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God overcometh the world.—Braune:—No criminal has ever endured what Jesus had to suffer; at least in no other case have cruelty and malice been so grievously at work.—As on that occasion, in the obscurity of night, so still, many an attempt against Christ is made in the darkness of the world of this life.
Matthew 26:58.—[Comp. Crit. Note 3 on Matthew 26:3, p. 459, on the true meaning of αὐλή.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:59.—B., D., L., al., [also Cod. Sinait.], omitκαὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι. Probably an unnecessary insertion from Matthew 26:57. [Lachmann and Alford omit it, but Tischendorf retains, and Meyer defends it.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:60.—The second οὐχ εῦ̓ρον is omitted in B., C., and Origen. Comp. Meyer on the probability of an insertion and the manner of its origin. [The text. rec., which is supported by the majority of MSS., reads: καὶ πολλῶν ψευδομαρτύρων προσελθόν των, οὐχ εῦ̔ρον, but Griesbach and the critical editors omit καί before πολλῶν, and οὐχ εῦ̔ρον, or at least the last two words, on the authority of three Alexandrine uncials (B., C., L.), to which must now be added also Cod. Sinait., and the Vulgate (cum multi falsi testes accessissent) and later versions. Dr. Conant, following this reading, renders: though many false witnesses came. Lachmann, however, while he omits καί, retains οὐχ εῦ̔ρον in brackets. So Lange in his German Version. The case is hardly clear and important enough to justify us to disturb the Authorized English Version.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:61.—[In the original simply οῦ̔τον, which the English Version generally renders: this; in some cases: this man. Fellow is too disrespectful in modern English, especially if applied to Christ, and should be omitted here, Matthew 26:71, and 12:24.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:63.—[Lange, and all the German Versions: Schwieg stille. This is all the Greek ἐσιώπα expresses, while to hold one’s peace seems to imply the suppression of feeling or emotion. Silence is often better than speech, and in this case was the best answer.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:63.—B., C., and other MSS., and some translations (Vulgata) omit the ἀποκριθείς, probably on account of the difficulty of its meaning in its connection with the previous silence.
Matthew 26:66.—[Or: “worthy to die,” Tyndale, Cranmer, Cheke, Genevan, Bishops’; or: “he deserves to die,” Campbell; or: “he is deserving of death,” Scrivener. The rendering of ἔνοχος θανάτου in the Authorized Version is borrowed from Wiclif, Coverdale, and the Rhemish N. T., and retained by Conant and the revised Version of the Am. Bible Union, but it is hardly justifiable now after the old Saxon sense of guilt (=debt) has become obsolete. In the same antiquated sense guilty is used Mark 14:64; 1 Cor. 11:27.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:67.—[The words: with the palms of their hands, should be omitted as not necessarily implied in ἐῤ ῥάπισαν, which means to strike with a stick as well as with the hand. Hesychius derives ῥαπίζειν from ῥάβδος. The margin of the Authorized Version reads: Or, rods, following the Genevan Version and Beza (“le frappait de leur verges).” So also Bengel, Meyer, Ewald, and Lange. This is preferable here, since οἱ δέ, and others, introduces a new kind of abuse differing from buffeting, and since Mark (14:65) ascribes the ῥαπίζειν to the servants. But the word is better left indefinite. Older English Versions add: on the face. So Lange: schlugen ihm in’s Angesicht. See Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]
The entrance to this enclosed area, or court-yard, was through the porch, πυλών, Matthew 26:71, or προαύλιον, Mark 14:68. Comp. Crit Note on Matthew 26:3. p. 459.—P. S.]
[So also Alford: “There shall be a sign of the truth of what I say, over and above this confession of mine.”—P. S.]
[The Edinb. ed. omits the last sentence, and turns Saurin, the well-known French Reformed pulpit orator who died at the Hague in 1730, Into Saurin is, as if he were some old Latin divine.—P. S.]
[Comp. the Crit. Note No. 8, p. 490,—P. S.]
Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.SEVENTH SECTION
CHRIST AND PETER
(Mark 14:66–72; Luke 22:56–62; John 18:15–27)
69Now Peter sat [was sitting] without in the palace [court, αὐλῇ]103 and a damsel 70came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee [the Galilean].104But he denied before them105 all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 71And when he was gone out into [going toward] the porch, another maid [ἄλλη] saw him, and said unto them106 that were there, This fellow [man, οὗτος] was also with Jesus of Nazareth [the 72Nazarene].107 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. 73And after a while came unto him they that stood by [they that stood by came], and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth [betrayeth, or discovereth, δῆλόν σε ποιεῖ] thee. 74Then began he to curse108 and to swear, saying,109 I know not [I do not know, οὐκ οἶδα, as in Matthew 26:72] the man. And immediately the [a]110 cock crew. 75And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him [when he said],111Before the [a] cock crow, thou shalt [wilt] deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
On the manner and circumstances under which Peter gained access to the palace of the high-priest, see the Gospel of John.
Matthew 26:69. Now Peter was sitting without.—“The expression ἔξω must be taken relatively to the interior of the house in which Jesus underwent examination. In Matthew 26:58 the term ἔσ ω was used, because Peter is represented as going from the street into the court.” Meyer.
Matthew 26:69. A damsel,—i. e., a female slave, as contradistinguished from the other mentioned in Matthew 26:71. The former (who, according to John 18:17, “kept the door”) said: “Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean;” the latter: “with Jesus the Nazarene.” Both maids had gathered their information by hearsay; but, although ignorant, they were malevolently disposed. Probably the statement was made in both cases in malicious banter, or light ridicule, as the charge evidently led to no further consequences.
Matthew 26:70. He denied before them all.—Before the servants of the high-priest and the officials.—I know not what thou sayest.—A mode of expression which might be taken is denying the denial: I do not even understand what thou meanest. Of course this, however, implied a denial of the charge itself, although Meyer lays undue emphasis upon it when interpreting it: So far from having been with Him, I do not even know, etc.
Matthew 26:71 and 72. And when he was going out into (toward) the porch.—After his first and indirect denial, Peter began to feel the painfulness of his situation, and wished to go away, or at any rate to be nearer the door, so as to secure a retreat. But in order to conceal his intention of leaving, he continued still for a short time in the porch. Accordingly, he went from the court or αὐλή, which enclosed the house, toward the porch. In our opinion, the δπυλών refers to the same as the προαύλιον in Mark 14:68 (which Meyer denies). It was then that, according to Mark, Peter denied Jesus a second time, after having risen from warming himself at the fire. “Another maid saw him (when going away), and (following him) said unto them that were there (probably the guard at the gate): This one was also with Jesus the Nazarene.” Then the second distinct denial ensued, confirmed by an oath, and by the contemptuous expression: “I do not know the man.” The circumstance that Peter made use of an oath is recorded by Matthew alone. The particle ὅτι probably refers to the confirmation by the oath.
Matthew 26:73. And after a while, they that stood by came and said to Peter.—Primarily referring to those who had been at the gate. But the language of the text does not prevent our understanding it to mean, that in the interval a number of persons had come from the court and joined the group. In fact, according to Luke, a considerable interval had elapsed, before general attention had been called forth and fixed on Peter.—Surely thou also art one of them.—An oath against the oath of Peter.—For thy speech also betrayeth thee.—“Beside other circumstances, by which the maid recognized thee. The pronunciation, the dialect, ἡλαλία of the Galilæans was defective in the utterance of the gutturals, so that no distinction was perceptible between ה ,ע ,א. Besides, the Galilæns also pronounced the שׁ like ח.” De Wette. The pronunciation of the people of Galilee was uncouth and indistinct; hence they were not allowed to read aloud in the Jewish synagogues. The Talmudists relate a number of amusing anecdotes about the curious misunderstandings occasioned by the indistinctness of pronunciation in Galilee. See Friedlieb, p. 84.
Matthew 26:74. Then began he.—He meets and out does the asseveration “Surely,” used by the servants, by beginning to invoke curses on himself and to swear.
Matthew 26:74. And immediately a cock crew.—De Wette: “The statement in Mishna, Baba Kama vi. 7, that fowls were not allowed to be kept in Jerusalem, is probably incorrect. It is contrary to what is related in Hieros. Erubin, fol. 26, cp. 1; comp. Lightfoot ad v. 34.”—It was indeed contrary to the Levitical law of purity to keep fowls in Jerusalem, because these animals pick their food in dirt and mud, and might thus occasion the defilement of sacrifices and other dedicated offerings. But is it likely that the Roman soldiers in the castle of Antonia would care for such Jewish ordinances? And even with reference to the Jews, we read that the Sanhedrin had on one occasion ordered a cock to be stoned, because it had picked out the eyes of a little child, and thereby caused its death. (SEPP, Leben Jesu, iii. 475.)—Plinius observes that the second crowing of the cock (gallicinium) took place during the fourth watch of the night Friedlieb, p. 81.
Matthew 26:75. Thou wilt thrice deny Me.—Bengel has, in his Gnomon, given the following satisfactory explanation of the fact, that the Gospels speak only of a threefold denial on the part of Peter: “Abnegatio ad plures plurium interrogations, facta uno paroxysmo, pro una numeratur.” By dint of that pressure of the letter at the expense of the import and spirit of history, which is so common with a certain school of critics (Leben Jesu, ii. 3, 1490), Strauss and Paulus have maintained that the Gospels record more than three denials on the part of Peter (Paulus speaks of eight distinct denials). But a closer inquiry shows that the three occasions are specially and separately enumerated in the Gospels:—
First denial.—Immediately on entering the palace, John 18:17, and on the charge of the maid who kept the door. According to Matthew (Matthew 26:69), in the court; according to John and Mark, at the fire, where the servants warmed themselves; according to Luke, by the light of the fire.
Second denial.—According to John’s narrative, Peter was still standing by the fire and warming himself, probably with the design of covering a speedy retreat by assuming the appearance of unconcern. According to Matthew, he was now about to leave, when another maid attacked him, and people gathered around him in the porch. Luke reports one of these bystanders as already expressing the general feeling in the words: “Thou art also of them.”
Third denial.—Again Peter had tarried for some time in the porch. The false oath which he had taken had allayed the rising indignation of the people, when another fancied that he recognized him by his speech. Soon the servants declared that his speech betrayed him. Such a recognition would involve imminent peril of life. For, according to John, a relative of Malchus maintained that he had seen him in the garden with Jesus. Then Peter began to curse and swear, and immediately the cock crew (a second time), reminding and warning him. It appears that he had scarcely given any heed to the first crowing of the cock (Mark).
[On the different accounts of the threefold denial of Peter compare also the tables in the Greek and English Harmonies, ANDREWS’ Life of our Lord, p. 491 sqq., and the remarks of Alford on Matt. 26:69–75, 4th ed. (p. 268 sqq.). These minor variations with essential coincidences prove the independence of the Evangelists and confirm the truth of their narrative. “Whether we can arrange them or not, being thoroughly persuaded of the holy truthfulness of the Evangelists, and of the divine guidance under which they wrote, our faith is in no way shaken by such discrepancies. We value them rather, as testimonies to independence: and are sure, that if for one moment we could be put in complete possession of all the details as they happened, each account would find its justification, and the reasons of all the variations would disappear. And this I firmly believe will one day be the case.” Alford (p. 269, in the 4th edition, where he corrects the errors of the corresponding note in the former edition).—P. S.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. This picture of the denial of the Lord as exhibited by the fall of that disciple who had been the first to confess Christ, has its peculiar and eternal import in the history of the Church. Hence we should study it: 1. In the source and antecedents of this denial; 2. in its various phases and stages; 3. in the repentance which followed, and which led to the only true and lasting spiritual confession.
2. The fall of Peter a significant type of the Romish Church.
3. The look of the Lord, recorded in the Gospel of Luke, in its historical and in its eternal, ideal import for the Church.
4. The deep sorrow and suffering of the Lord caused by the denial of Peter, in its lasting import for the Church.
5. Peter went out into the black night, but not as Judas into the darkness of despair. Weeping bitterly, he awaited the dawn of another and a better morning. The angel of mercy accompanied him on that heavy road to spiritual self-condemnation which issued in the death of his old man, more especially of his former pride and self-confidence. And thus it came that he really accompanied Christ unto death, though in a very different and much better sense than he had intended. His repentance had to be completed,—he had to obtain peace and reconciliation from the mouth of Christ Himself, before he could offer the requisite satisfaction for his guilt toward man by making such a grand confession as would efface and obliterate the offence of his grand denial. It deserves special notice, that this progress of repentance and conversion in the case of Peter may serve as the prototype of the economy of genuine grace; while this procedure was reversed in the case of Judas, who wished first to offer human satisfaction before those enemies whose guilt he had shared, but who failed, in that manner, to come to Christ.
[6. WORDSWORTH: “Even soon after he had received the Holy Communion Peter denied his Master. But he repented and was pardoned. Hence then we may confute the Novatians, who refuse to restore those who fall into grievous sin after Baptism and the Holy Communion. And St. Peter’s sin, and the sins of other saints, are written in Holy Scripture that we may not be high-minded, but fear; and that when we fall into sin we may repent. The grace given in the Holy Communion was improved by St. Peter into the means of godly repentance; but it was perverted by Judas to his own destruction. It was used as medicine by the one; and was abused into poison by the other.” But the presence of Judas at the institution of the Lord’s Supper is a matter of critical uncertainty (comp. John versus Luke) and of inherent improbability. The weight of patristic authority is in favor of his presence; but some of the best modern harmonists and commentators, as Meyer, Tischendorf, Robinson, Lichtenstein, Lange, Wieseler, Ellicott, and Andrews, deny it, and assume that the traitor left the paschal supper before the institution of the eucharist, for which in John’s narrative we can find no place for insertion prior to the departure of Judas.—P. S.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Internal connection between the denial of Peter and the condemnation and injuries which Christ suffered at the hands of His enemies.—The denial of a disciple the most poignant sorrow to the Lord in the midst of His confession.—The Faithful Witness and the unfaithful disciple.—The denial of Peter intervening between his former and his later confession, or different kinds of confession.—The causes of the denial of Peter: 1. Self-exaltation on account of his former confession; 2. a morbid desire after confession beyond the measure of the strength of his faith; 3. want of sufficient maturity for the confession in life and in deed.—The giddiness and the stumbling of Peter, before his actual fall: 1. He underrated and neglected the warnings of Jesus; 2. he exalted himself above his fellow-disciples; 3. he neglected the proper preparation by watching and prayer; 4. he voluntarily and presumptuously rushed into danger.—How it deserves special notice, in the fall of Peter, that he had
attempted to come forward as a witness for Christ with a conscience that was not void of blame and offence.—The sad after-history of the sword assault upon Malchus; or, how frequently times of fanatical defence of the faith are followed by seasons of open denial.—How it could come to pass that a poor maid, standing at the gate, could terrify into a denial him to whom the keys of the kingdom of heaven had been promised.—The triumph of the fear of man over that of God the source of denial.—He who tempts the Lord is on the way to deny Him.—The fatal boldness which rushes into the battle-field without having been sent: 1. Its portraiture as here presented: it wants a proper call, proper weapons, and proper spiritual courage. 2. Its fate: despondency, defeat, and the most imminent peril of soul.—How those who confess Jesus have to endure the most varied temptations to deny Him.—How the children of the world and the ministers of darkness combine, in the spirit of the evil one, to change our confession into a denial of Christ.—The unfailing mark of the disciples in their language and tone, also the indication of their fate: 1. It is to their highest spiritual benefit, if they are faithful; 2. or, again, to their shame and confusion, when they turn aside from the Lord.—The gradation of guilt in the denial of Peter: 1. Ambiguous evasion (a supposed unimportant falsehood); 2. distinct denial with a false oath: “I know not the man” (contemptuously); 3. awful abjuration, with solemn imprecations upon himself.—Every ban pronounced upon genuine Christians, an imprecation, in confirmation of the denial of Christ.—Peter did not wish to forsake the Lord, but he would fain have attempted to save both Jesus and himself by crafty policy.—In his view, everything formed part of this policy: the evasion, the false oath, and even the imprecations, were intended to carry out this plan.—How, as “the Faithful Witness,” the Lord has expiated even the denials of His honest disciples, into which they have fallen through weakness.—How the faithfulness of Christ alone restores the unfaithful servant from imminent judgment: 1. Only His faithfulness: (a) in His gracious warning; (b) in His look of compassion and love; (c) in giving that warning and rousing sign (the crowing of the cock); (d) in His readiness to restore again the fallen disciple. 2. Blessed effects of that faithfulness on the part of Jesus: “He went out, and wept bitterly.”—The warning tokens in nature, as accompanying the warning and rousing voice of the Spirit.—The repentance of Peter a constant call to repentance in the Church.—The marks of genuine repentance: 1. All the pride of self-righteousness ceases and is given up; 2. it is connected with a going out from the world; 3. it is characterized by a going forth with tears through night to light.—Bitter weeping, or a broken and contrite heart, the evidence of reconciling grace.—How the humiliation of the heart and the grace of our God always meet as eye to eye: 1. True humiliation and humility find no other resting-place than the loftiest height, even the grace of God; 2. the grace of God descends and rests only in the lowest depth, even the broken and contrite heart.—Divine grace transforming the fall of Peter, as formerly that of David, into the introduction to a genuine and thorough conversion.—Will the so-called Romish Peter ever go forth from the palace of the high-priest, where he has denied Jesus, to weep bitterly?
Starke:—Hedinger: Self-confidence and presumption bring sorrow.—Marginal Note by Luther: Peter may have thought that his untruth could not injure any person, while it might profit him and insure his safety, and hence that it was lawful, or at least a matter of small moment; but he soon experienced what consequences the commencement of sin entailed.—Canstein: The fear of death.—Zeisius: Observe how sin grows and increases when it is not resisted. Therefore, be very careful to resist it in its commencement.—To stumble is human, to rise again Christian, to persevere in sin is devilish.
Lisco:—The denial of Peter.—1. Its source, (a) Its more remote occasion: (aa) transgression of the injunction of Jesus, John 13:36; (bb) neglect of the admonition, Matt. 26:41. (b) Its deeper ground: (aa) unbelief in the word of the Lord, Matthew 26:36; (bb) confidence in the strength of his love to Jesus and in his own firmness of will; (cc) proud presumption in the midst of danger. 2. The denial itself, (a) Manifestation of his fear of man, thoughtless haste, and impotence. (b) Starting-point: a lie. (c) Gradual and increasing development: at first merely a denial, then a false oath, and at last imprecations upon himself. 3. The conversion, (a) The crowing of a cock and the look of Jesus awaken him to a sense of the real state of matters. (b) He perceives the truthfulness and faithfulness of Jesus, and his own weakness, (c) Godly sorrow and repentance.—Thus we also learn from this history, how a man may be restored after having sadly declined and fallen into grievous sin.
Heubner:—Peter was here in the midst of a multitude of the ungodly.—The disciples of Christ cannot be long hid when among the men of this world.—Isa. 19:18: the language of Canaan.—The more poignant our repentance, the more sweet and precious afterward the enjoyment of grace.—Wherein consisted the denial of Peter? 1. It was not a determined denial of the heart, nor a final or thorough renunciation of Jesus; 2. it was a concealment of his faith and allegiance, a denial of his discipleship.—Survey of the conduct of Peter: 1. It involved deep guilt; 2. grade of that guilt—(a) not a sin of malicious intent, (b) but of weakness.—In the sin of Peter, Jesus had to bear our human weaknesses.—Application: 1. The fall of Peter reminds us of the weakness of our own hearts, against which we must always be on our guard, despite our better feelings and aspirations; 2. a call to self-examination; 3. we must learn to place our whole confidence in the grace and intercession of Jesus. Hold fast your faith.
Braune:—Even down to the maid who guarded the gate, the servants of the high-priest were involved in the sin and injury committed against the Saviour.—Peter wished to do better than the other disciples, who all forsook Jesus and fled, but fell lower than they.—The world knows well how to remind us of such sword-cut, or how to avenge supposed or real injury.—These Jewish servants seem to have been proud of their pure pronunciation of the language; similarly, most of us try to shine and to outshine others.—After that, Peter also strengthened his brethren, as the Lord commanded him.—Godly sorrow worketh, etc.—From the Lord Jesus comes forgiveness of sin.
H. Müller:—Peter warms his hands and feet, while in the meantime, however, the heart freezes so far as the love of Jesus is concerned.—If a man for-sakes the way in which the Lord calls him to walk, and seems to slink into corners, etc, he is outside of God’s protection, and the devil has power over him—If thy foot offend thee, etc.—He who warms himself by the fire of the ungodly, will deny Christ along with the ungodly.—Ahlfeld:—He that walks in his own strength, will assuredly meet with a speedy fall.—Kapff:—Why did Peter recover from his fall, and not Judas? 1. Because their sins differed; 2. because their repentance differed.
[QUESNEL:—Every one carries in him the possibility of renouncing Christ.—There is nothing on which we can depend but the grace of God.—One temptation unresisted seldom fails of bringing on another and a third.—Peter joins perjury to infidelity. Let the example of an apostle make us tremble.—A small matter (a mean servant) makes us fall when God does not support us; a small matter (the crowing of a cock) raises us again, when His grace makes use of it.—P. S.]
[BURKITT:—The denial of Peter: 1. The sin: (a) a lie; (b) an oath (perjury); (c) an anathema and curse. 2. The occasion of it: (a) Peter followed Christ afar off, from fear and frailty; (b) he kept bad company with the enemies of Christ; (c) presumptuous confidence in his own strength and standing. 3. The repetition of the sin. If we yield to one temptation, Satan will assault us with more, and stronger: progress from bare denial to perjury and thus to imprecation. 4. The aggravating circumstances: (a) the person thus falling, a disciple, an apostle, the chief apostle, a special favorite of Christ; (b) the person denied, his Master, his Saviour and Redeemer, who just before had washed his feet and given him the sacrament; (c) the company of high-priests, and scribes, and elders, and their servants before whom Peter denied his Master; (d) the time of the denial, but a few hours after the communion; (e) the smallness of the temptation: a mere question of a servant girl, a door-keeper. Ah, Peter, how unlike thyself art thou at this time, not a rock, but a reed, a pillar blown down by a woman’s breath. O frail humanity, whose strength is weakness!—In most of the saints’ falls recorded in Scripture, either the first inciters or the accidental occasions were women. Adam, Lot, Sampson, David, Solomon, Peter. A weak creature may be a strong tempter.—The recovery and repentance of Peter: 1. Its suddenness. His sin was hasty and sudden under a violent passion of fear, contrary to his settled purpose, and hence much sooner repented of. 2. The means of his repentance: (a) the crowing of a cock; (b) Christ’s looking upon Peter with an eye of mercy and pity which melted his heart and dissolved it into tears; (c) Peter’s remembrance of Christ’s prediction with a close application of it to his conscience. The manner of his repentance: (a) it was secret, he went out (vere dolet qui sine teste dolet; solitariness is most agreeable to an afflicted spirit); (b) sincere, he wept bitterly; (c) lasting and abiding, showing its effect on the whole subsequent life of Peter. “History (tradition) reports, that ever after, when St. Peter heard the crowing of a cock, he fell upon his knees and mourned; others say, that he was wont to rise at midnight and spend the time in penitent devotion between cock-crowing and day-light. And the Papists, who love to turn everything into superstition, began that practice of setting a cock upon the top of towers, and steeples, and chimneys, to put the people in mind of this sin of Peter and his repentance by that signal.” (d) The repentance of peter was attended with an extraordinary zeal for the service as Christ to the end of his life.—P. S.]
[Similar reflections and improvements in MATTHEW HENRY, GILL, DODDRIDGE, A. CLARKE, TH. SCOTT, and other practical English commentators. We add the last of the “Practical Observations” of THOMAS SCOTT: “If any have fallen even in the most dreadful manner, let them think of Peter’s recovery and not despair; and let them recollect the words of Christ, as well as their own sins; that their tears, confessions, and humiliations may be mingled with hope. And let us all frequently remember oar past follies, and manifold instances of ingratitude; that we may learn watchfulness, humility, caution, and compassion for the tempted and fallen, by the experience of our own numerous mistakes, sins, and recoveries.”—P. S.]
Matthew 26:69.—[The ἔξω, without, plainly shows that αὐλή; cannot mean here the palace itself, but the interior, quadrangular and open hall, or court-yard, to which there was a passage (sometimes arched) from the front part of the house, called πυλών or προαύλιον, Matthew 26:71; Mark 14:68. See Crit. Note on Matthew 26:3, p. 459. The place where the Saviour stood before Caiaphas was probably an audience-room on the ground-floor, in the rear or on the side of the court-yard.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:69.—[Literally after the Greek: τοῦ Γαλιλαίου, which, in the mouth of the enemies of Christ in Judæa, had a contemptuous meaning. So Julian the Apostate used to call Christ, and he is reported (although on insufficient authority) to have died with the exclamation: “Galilean, thou hast conquered!”—P. S.]
Matthew 26:70.—The αὐτῶν is doubtful, as many authorities are against it. Still the fact that it is more difficult, speaks in its favor, inasmuch as the αὐτοί are not mentioned. [The English Version italicizes it; it may as well be omitted, being superfluous.]
Matthew 26:71.—Αὐτοῖς ἐκεῖ [for τοῖς ἐκει] is best supported.
Matthew 26:71.—[Τοῦ Ναζωραίου has a similar contemptuous meaning as τοῦ Γαλιλαίου, Matthew 26:69, and Nazarœans, as well as Galilœans became nicknames of the Christians.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:74.—[To curse is somewhat ambiguous for καταναθεματίζειν. The meaning is: he invoked curses on himself in confirmation of the truth of his assertion. Lange: Da fing er an mit Bannfluch (Verwünschung) und Eidsich zu verchwören.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:74.—[This interpolation should be omitted, since it “destroys the proper connection, and gives a false sense to the preceding words.” (Conant.)—P. S.]
Matthew 26:74.—[All the four Evangelists omit the definite article before ἀλέκτωρ for the reason stated in the note on Matthew 26:34, p.478.—P. S.]
Matthew 26:75.—[Ἰησπῦ εἰρηκότος, quod dixerat, in the Vulgate and Syriac Version. To refer it to ῥήματος,, as in the English Version, would require τοῦ εἰρηκότος. The best authorities omit αὐτῷ, but Lange retains it.— P. S.]