Matthew 10:23
But when they persecute you in this city, flee you into another: for truly I say to you, You shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) When they persecute you The counsel is noteworthy as suggesting at least one form of the wisdom of the serpent. Men were not to imagine that they were “enduring to the end “when, in the eagerness of their zeal, they courted martyrdom; but were rather to avoid danger instead of courting it, and to utilise all opportunities for the continuance of their work. The effect of the command thus given may be traced in all the great persecutions under the Roman Empire, Polycarp and Cyprian furnishing, perhaps, the most conspicuous examples.

Till the Son of man be come.—The thought of another Coming than that of the days of His humiliation and of His work as a Prophet and a Healer, which had been implied before (Matthew 7:21-23), is now explicitly unfolded. The Son of Man should come, as Daniel had seen Him come (Daniel 7:13), in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, to complete the triumph of His kingdom. It is more difficult to understand the connection of the words with the preceding limit of time, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel.” The natural result of such a promise was to lead the disciples to look forward to that coming as certain to be within the range of their own lifetime, and was the ground of the general expectation of its nearness which, beyond all doubt, pervaded the minds of men in the Apostolic age. Explanations have been given which point to the destruction of Jerusalem as being so far “a day of the Lord” as to justify its being taken as a type of the final Advent, and they receive at least a certain measure of support from the way in which the two events are brought into close connection in the great prophetic discourse of Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. But the question meets us, and cannot be evaded, Were the two events thus brought together with a knowledge of the long interval by which they were in fact to be divided from each other, and if so, why was that knowledge kept from the disciples? Some reasons for that reticence lie on the surface. That sudden widening of the horizon of their vision would have been one of the things which they were not able to bear (John 16:12). In this, as in all else, their training as individual men was necessarily gradual, and the education of the Church which they founded was to be carried on, like that of mankind at large, through a long succession of centuries. The whole question will call for a fuller discussion in the Notes on Matthew 24. In the meantime it will be enough humbly to express my own personal conviction that what seems the boldest solution is also the truest and most reverential. The human thoughts of the Son of Man may not have travelled in this matter to the furthest bound of the mysterious horizon. He Himself told them of that day and that hour, that its time was known neither to the angels of heaven, nor even to the Son, but to the Father only (Mark 13:32).

Matthew 10:23. But, &c. — As if he had said, I do not say this with a view to encourage you to rush upon martyrdom before you have a plain and lawful call to it; on the other hand, it will rather be your duty to prolong your useful lives to the utmost limits you lawfully may. Therefore, when they persecute you in one city, flee to another — And though this may contract the time of your abode in each, be not discouraged at that, which may, on the whole, be no inconvenience: for ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel — To preach the gospel in each of them, make what haste you will, until the Son of man shall come — To destroy their capital city, temple, and nation. The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus is often called the coming of the Son of man. See Matthew 24:27; Matthew 24:37; Matthew 24:39; Matthew 24:44; Luke 18:5.10:16-42 Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind. The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent's wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves. Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God. The disciples of Christ must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of God's opening. The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God's love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known, Ac 20:27. Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel. When God calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing Christ's work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God's people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him. That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love. Religion is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it. Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him. Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ's disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.When they persecute ... - The apostles were not permitted to "throw away" their lives. Where they could preserve them without denying their Lord, they were to do it. Yet all the commands of Christ, as well as their conduct, show that they were rather to lay down their lives than deny their Saviour. We are to preserve our lives by all proper means, but we are rather to die than save ourselves by doing anything wrong.

Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel ... - That is, in fleeing from persecutors from one city to another, you shall not have gone to every city in Judea until the end of the Jewish economy shall occur. See the notes at Matthew 24:28-30. By "the coming of the Son of Man," that is, of "Christ," is probably meant the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened about thirty years after this was spoken. The words are often used in this sense. See Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27, Luke 21:32.

23. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another—"into the other." This, though applicable to all time, and exemplified by our Lord Himself once and again, had special reference to the brief opportunities which Israel was to have of "knowing the time of His visitations."

for verily I say unto you—what will startle you, but at the same time show you the solemnity of your mission, and the need of economizing the time for it.

Ye shall not have gone over—Ye shall in nowise have completed.

the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come—To understand this—as Lange and others do—in the first instance, of Christ's own peregrinations, as if He had said, "Waste not your time upon hostile places, for I Myself will be after you ere your work be over"—seems almost trifling. "The coming of the Son of man" has a fixed doctrinal sense, here referring immediately to the crisis of Israel's history as the visible kingdom of God, when Christ was to come and judge it; when "the wrath would come upon it to the uttermost"; and when, on the ruins of Jerusalem and the old economy, He would establish His own kingdom. This, in the uniform language of Scripture, is more immediately "the coming of the Son of man," "the day of vengeance of our God" (Mt 16:28; 24:27, 34; compare with Heb 10:25; Jas 5:7-9)—but only as being such a lively anticipation of His second coming for vengeance and deliverance. So understood, it is parallel with Mt 24:14 (on which see).

Directions for the Service of Christ in Its Widest Sense (Mt 10:24-42).

Whether this text at all warrants ministers’ flight in a time of persecution I doubt; it seemeth to be a special command given to the apostles, that they might have a time before the coming of Christ, here spoken of, to preach the gospel over all the cities of Israel. But that in some cases it is lawful to flee I do not at all doubt, though I do question whether it be to be warranted from this text. What those cases are is largely discoursed, particularly by Mr. Torshell. Generally it is said, wherever the glory of God, or the good of others, calls to us for such a flight. But what may be judged such cases is a more particular question. Augustine to Honoratus speaketh well in the case. Ministers ought not to flee rashly, nor out of cowardice, nor that they might live elsewhere lazily, nor when their flight will betray the church of God: not where the persecution is general; but where the persecution is particular, against some of them, and there will be enough left for the care of the church in their absence, and with the consent of the church, they may flee. But this is too large a case to be spoken to here; especially considering (as I said) that I do not think that any flight is to be justified from this text, the precept being particular for special reasons.

Till the Son of man be come. There is a wonderful variety of interpreters’ senses of this text, founded upon the various comings of Christ mentioned in holy writ. He was already come in the flesh, so as it, speaking of a time to come, could not be meant of that: nor can it be understood of his second coming to judgment, for they have gone through the cities of Israel long ago. Christ is therefore said in Scripture to come, when he appeareth in some great work of providence, whether of judgment or mercy. This makes some interpret it of the destruction of Jerusalem; in which sense some think the coming of Christ is mentioned, Matthew 24:1-51. Some, of the resurrection of Christ, from whence they say Christ’s epocha commenced. Others understand it of the effusion of the Spirit in the day of Pentecost; this they ground on John 14:17,18, where they think Christ’s coming, promised John 14:18, is the coming of the Spirit, promised John 14:17. Undoubtedly, in the general, our Saviour means, till the time be accomplished when you must leave preaching to the Jews and go to the Gentiles, and my kingdom shall be further extended than it is at present; which dispensation of God may for aught I know be called the coming of Christ, being an eminent act of God’s providence, by which Christ was more showed to the world, and his kingdom further extended. But when they persecute you in this city,.... Or any city into which they went, and preached the Gospel; and would not suffer them to go on in their work, they were not to desist, but to go elsewhere, where they might hope for a better reception, and a longer continuance, and so of doing more good:

flee ye into another; not so much for their own safety, though this, according to the circumstances of things, is lawful, but for the further spreading of the Gospel. The exhortation is not to take methods to avoid persecution, or to make an escape from it, but to perseverance under it: the sense is, they were not to be discouraged, and to leave off, because of persecution in one place, but to persist in the ministration of the Gospel, by carrying it to other cities; and it seems to be a spur to them to make haste, and fulfil their office of preaching the Gospel, in the land of Judea: nor need they fear going on too fast, lest they should have no places to preach in;

for verily I say unto you, this is a certain and indisputable truth not to be called in question, being strongly affirmed by truth itself,

ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, or "finished" them; that is, their tour through them, and their ministry, or the preaching of the Gospel in them,

till the son of man be come; which is not to be understood of his second coming to judgment, but either of his resurrection from the dead, when he was declared to be the Son of God, and when his glorification began; or of the pouring forth of the Spirit at the day of Pentecost, when his kingdom began more visibly to take place, and he was made, or manifested to be the Lord and Christ; or of his coming to take vengeance on his enemies, that would not have him to rule over them, and the persecutors of his ministers, at the destruction of Jerusalem.

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have {i} gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

(i) Bring to an end, that is, you will not have gone through all the cities of Israel and preached in them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 10:23. Ταύτῃ and τὴν ἄλλην are to be understood δεικτιῶς. Jesus points with the finger in the direction of various towns. Your sphere is large enough to admit of your retreating before persecution in order to save others.

γάρ] A ground of encouragement for such perseverance.

οὐ μὴ τελέσητε, κ.τ.λ.] You will not have completed your visits to the towns of the people of Israel; i.e., you will not have accomplished in all of them your mission, associated as it will be with such flights from town to town Comp. the analogous use of ἀνύειν (Raphel, Krebs, Loesner, on this passage), explere, in Tibull. i. 4. 69 (Heyne, Obss. p. 47); consummare, in Flor. i. 18. 1 (see Ducker on the passage). The interpretation: to bring to Christian perfection (Maldonatus, Zeger, Jansen, following Hilary; Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erfüll. II. p. 267 f.), is an erroneous makeshift, by way of removing the second coming farther into the future. Observe that here, too, as in Matthew 10:5, the apostolic ministry is still confined to Israel.

ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ] until the Son of man will have come, i.e. the Messiah, such as He has been promised in Daniel’s vision (Matthew 8:20), who will then put an end to your troubles, and receive you into the glory of His kingdom. Jesus means neither more nor less than His second coming (Matthew 24), which He announces even at this early stage, and as being so near, that Matthew 24:14, and even Matthew 26:28, are not to be reconciled with this view. Different elements of the tradition, which, in the course of experience, came to view the prospect as more remote,—a tradition, however, that was still the product of the existing γενεά (Matthew 24:34, Matthew 14:28). The interpretations which explain away the final coming, content themselves, some with the idea of a vague coming after or coming to their help (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Beza, Kuinoel; even Origen and Theodoret, Heracleon in Cramer’s Cat. p. 78); others with the coming through the Holy Spirit (Calvin, Grotius, Calovius, Bleek), or with supposing that the, as yet too remote, destruction of Jerusalem is referred to (Michaelis, Schott, Glöckler, Ebrard, Gess); and others, again, explaining it allegorically of the victory of Christ’s cause (Baumgarten-Crusius). On the prediction of the second coming itself, see on ch. 24.Matthew 10:23. ὅταν δὲ: the thought takes a new comforting turn, much needed to reconcile disciples to the grim prospect. With courage and loyalty effort for self-preservation is quite compatible. Therefore, when they persecute here flee there.—ἐν τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ, in this city, pointing to it, this standing for one.—φεύγετε, flee, very un-heroic apparently, but the bravest soldier, especially an old campaigner, will avail himself of cover when he can. εἰς τὴν ἑτέραν: the reading of [62] [63] is to be preferred to ἄλλην of the T.R., the idea being: flee not merely to another city numerically distinct, but to a city presumably different in spirit (vide Matthew 6:24 and Matthew 11:16), where you may hope to receive better treatment. Thus the flight, from being a mere measure of self-preservation, is raised to the dignity of a policy of prudence in the interest of the cause. Why throw away life here among a hostile people when you may do good work elsewhere?—Αμὴν γὰρ: reason for the advice solemnly given; an important declaration, and a perplexing one for interpreters.—οὐ μὴ, have no fear lest, ye will certainly not have finished—τελέσητε. In what sense? “gone over” (A.V[64]) in their evangelising tour, or done the work of evangelising thoroughly? (ad fidei et evangelicae virtutis perfectionem—Hilary). The former is the more natural interpretation. And yet the connection of thought seems to demand a mental reference to the quality of the work done. Why tarry at one place as if you were under obligation to convert the whole population to the kingdom? The thing cannot be done. The two views may be combined thus: ye shall not have gone through the towns of Israel evangelising them in even a superficial way, much less in a thorough-going manner. Weiss takes the word τελ. as referring not to mission work but to flight = ye shall not have used all the cities as places of refuge, i.e., there will always be some place to flee to. This is beneath the dignity of the situation, especially in view of what follows.—ἕως ἔλθῃ ὁ υἱὸς τ. . Here again is the peculiar title Song of Solomon of Man: impersonal, but used presumably as a synonym for “I”. What does it mean in this connection? And what is the coming referred to? The latter question can be best answered at a later stage. It has been suggested that the title Son of Man is here used by Christ in opposition to the title Song of Solomon of David. The meaning of Matthew 10:23 on that view is this: do not think it necessary to tarry at all hazards in one place. Your work anywhere and everywhere must be very imperfect. Even success will mean failure, for as soon as they have received the tidings of the kingdom they will attach wrong ideas to it, thinking of it as a national kingdom and of me as the “Son of David”. No thorough work can be done till the Son of Man has come, i.e., till a universal Gospel for humanity has begun to be preached (Lutteroth). This is a fresh suggestion, not to be despised, on so obscure a subject. We are only feeling our way as to the meaning of some of Christ’s sayings. Meantime, all that we can be sure of is that Christ points to some event not far off that will put a period to the apostolic mission.

[62] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[63] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[64] Authorised Version.23. when they persecute you] Such words indicate that these “instructions” have a far wider range than the immediate mission of the Apostles. They are prophetic, bringing both warning and consolation to all ages of the Church.

till the Son of man be come] The passage in Luke 21, which is to a great extent parallel to this, treats of the destruction of Jerusalem; and no one who carefully weighs our Lord’s words can fail to see that in a real sense He came in the destruction of Jerusalem. That event was in truth the judgment of Christ falling on the unrepentant nation. In this sense the Gospel had not been preached to all the cities of Israel before Christ came. But all these words point to a more distant future. The work of Christian missions is going on, and will still continue until Christ comes again to a final judgment.Matthew 10:23. Τὴν ἄλληνκἂν ἐκ ταύτης διώκωσιν ὑμᾶς φεύγετε εἰς ἑτέραν, the other[469]—and if they persecute you from this city, flee ye into another) This is the most ancient Latin reading,[470] and also that of Orige[471][472] contra Celsum (p. 51, Ed. Hoesch.[473]), where, instead of φεύγετε εἰς τὴν ἄλλην” [as in E.M.], we find φεύγετε εἰς τὴν ἑτέραν· κἂν ἐν τῇ ἑτέρᾳ δίωκωσι, πάλιν φεύγετε εἰς τὴν ἄλλην.” Flee ye into the other;[474] and if they persecute you in that other, flee ye again into the other.[475] Francis Lucas[476] of Bruges quotes old Latin Codices in favour of that reading. Thence, too, the Anglo-Saxon version has—“and thonne hi on thœre eovv ehtath, fleoth on tha thryddan;” i.e. “and when they persecute you in that [city], flee to the third.” Ambrose[477] also, in his treatise, De Fugâ Seculi (ch. 4), says, “But if they shall persecute you in one, flee ye into another.” And Juvencus[478] renders the passage thus:—

[469] E. V. another.—(I. B.)

[470] The words κἄνἑτέραν are not found in E. M.—(I. B.)

[471] rigen (born about 186 A.D., died 253 A.D., a Greek father: two-thirds of the N. Test. are quoted in his writings). Ed. Vinc. Delarue, Paris. 1733, 1740, 1759.

[472] ORIGEN was born at Alexandria, in Egypt, about A.D. 185; and died at Tyre, about A.D. 254.—(I. B.)

[473] DAVID HOESCHELIUS, born at Augsburgh 1556. He was a laborious and successful Editor. Among the authors he edited were Origen, Philo Judæus, Basil, and Photius. He died 1617.—(I. B.)

[474] τὴν ἑτέρκν.—ἕτερος signifies originally, other in opposition to one, though it has also the force of other in opposition to many.—(I. B.)

[475] τὴν ἁλλην.—ἄλλος signifies originally, other in opposition to many, though it is used also to represent other in opposition to one. Here τὴν ἄλλην appears to have the force of the former.—(I. B.)

[476] FRANCIS LUCAS was born at Bruges in the sixteenth century. He studied under Arius Montanus, and became a Doctor of Louvain, and Dean of the Church of St Omer. He was profoundly skilled in the Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, and Chaldee languages, and is considered a judicious critic. he died in 1619.—(I. B.)

[477] Born at Treves A.D. 340; consecrated, in 374, Bishop of Milan, where he died in 397. he was an eloquent preacher, and an able and voluminous writer.—(I. B.)

[478] C. AQUILINUS VETTIUS (al. VECTIUS, or VESTIUS) JUVENCUS, a Spanish priest of good family, who flourished in the fourth century. He wrote, besides other works, a history of our Lord in good hexameter verse, considered both poetical and faithful, and published it about 330.—(I. B.)

“Profugite e tectis quæ vos sectabitur urbis

Inde aliam, mox INDE ALIAM, conquirite sedem.”

Flee from the roofs of the city which persecutes you; thence seek another and THEN AGAIN ANOTHER abode.” Thus Augustine; thus the Armenian Version. The Codex Cantabrigiensis, the Codices Colbertini 2467 and 3947, Parisiensis 6, and the Codex Stephani η (to which some add the Codex Gonvillianus), contain this passage in various forms of words. The variety of the Greek words[479] suggests the suspicion that this verse has been rendered from Latin into Greek: on the other hand, the antiquity and celebrity of the Latin text is proved by the very multitude and discrepancy of these Greek codices. The omission appears to have arisen from the carelessness so frequently manifested by transcribers, where similar words recur: the facility with which the mistake may occur, appears from the fact that Gelenius, in his Latin version of Orige[480], omits this very clause [which undoubtedly exists in the original]. Athanasius more than once substitutes ἑτέραν for ἄλλην, as is at present the case with the Codex Colbertinus, and from which you may conjecture, that another omission[481] might soon be made by other transcribers.

[479] Lachm. reads ἐτέραν, with Bd Orig. 1,295; 380; 3,473c; 709; cod. 4,398. But Tischend. ἄλλην, with Dabc Vulg. Origen 3,709, and Rec. Text. Lachm. adds in brackets, κἄν ἐν τῇ ἑτέρᾳ διώκωσιν ὑμᾶς, φεύγετε δεἰς τὴν ἄλλην, with DL (ἐκ τάυτης ἐκδιώξωσιντ. ἑτέραν) ab Orig. 1,295b; 380a; Hil. 656. But Bc Vulg. and Rec. Text omit these words. Probably they come from a transcriber who fancied that φεύγετε εἰς τὴν ἑτέραν, sc. “a second city,” was incomplete without a clause, “And when they persecute you in that second city, flee into another, i.e. a third city.” To avoid the need for this, I believe the reading ἄλλην for ἐτέραν arose. The shorter is generally preferable to the longer reading, as it was the tendency of transcribers to insert all added matter, lest their copy should be incomplete.—ED.

[480] rigen (born about 186 A.D., died 253 A.D., a Greek father: two-thirds of the N. Test. are quoted in his writings). Ed. Vinc. Delarue, Paris. 1733, 1740, 1759.

[481] “hiatus,” hiatus, gap. See Author’s Preface viii. 14, and App. Crit. Part I. § xxii., obs. xxvii., etc.—(I. B.)

Οὐ μὴ τελέσητε, ye shall not finish[482]) cf. כלה,[483] in 2 Chronicles 31:1.—τὰς πόλεις, the cities) not to say, villages, of Israel.—See Matthew 10:6. Our Lord tells them that there was no fear of their not having where to preach, and that they were not to remain long in one place, as they would have the opportunity of remaining longer in other places.—ἕως ἄν ἔλθη ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, until the Son of Man be come) Concerning this coming, see Matthew 10:7; Matthew 11:1.[484]

[482] E. V. Ye shall not have gone over.—(I. B.)

[483] כָּלָה—(1) To be completed, finished.—GESENIUS.—(I. B.)

[484] To wit, there is here meant that very advent, whereby. through His full presence, beneficence, and preaching, the preparatory announcement of His ambassadors in those days was, as it were, completed and fulfilled by Him, whom it behoved to come, to proclaim the Gospel, and to see that it was proclaimed by others, Matthew 11:3; Matthew 11:5. In a similar manner, He commanded the Seventy disciples also to announce the approach of the divine kingdom, and followed up that announcement by His own very presence in those same places, Luke 10:1; Luke 10:9.—Harm., p. 293.Verse 23. - Matthew only; but even this verse is not free from what appear to be reminiscences of the words recorded in Matthew 24:14, 16). But when they persecute you in this city. Act wisely (ver. 16); flee to another city; you will find work there. Flee ye (cf. Matthew 23:34, and supra, ver. 17, note) into another; into the next (Revised Version); εἰς τὴν ἑτέραν. There are occasions when the duty is rather to spread the message than to seal it with death or to have one's lips closed by imprisonment. But only "he that is spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:15) will be able to understand which course of action the special circumstances require. Our Lord's example (Matthew 12:15) was followed by Christians in the earliest (Acts 8:1; Acts 9:25, 30; Acts 14:6; Acts 17:10, 14) and in later times (e.g. Polycarp, n.y. 155; Dionysius of Alexandria, A.D. 249-251; Cyprian, A.D. 250; Athanasius, A.D. 340). Codex Bezae and some Western authorities, including Tatian's 'Diatess.,' add, "And if out of this they persecute you, flee into another;" but this is a not unnatural gloss upon the true text. For verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over; through (Revised Version); οὐ μὴ τετέσητε: literally, hare completed, like the harvest (Ruth 2:23). The cities of Israel (cf. ver. 6) till the Son of man (Matthew 8:20, note) be come. The mere fact that there was no persecution of the kind just spoken of until after our Lord's death in itself refutes the opinion (found, perhaps, in Tatian's 'Diatess.,' "Donee venero ad yes;" vide Resch, 'Agrapha,' p. 270) that these words refer to his rejoining his disciples on their mission (Matthew 11:1; cf. Luke 10:1). They may, perhaps, refer to his coming in the fall of Jerusalem, but rather look forward to h is complete return in his second advent, as apparently Agathangelus, in Resch, loc. cit. (cf. also p. 404), understands them. The cities of Israel are named because work among the Jews lay at the basis of the commission. If an exact fulfilment of the words is demanded, it is perhaps to be seen in the fact that there will be some Jews unconverted until the Lord's return.
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