Matthew 11:13
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
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(13) All the prophets and the law.—The usual order is inverted, because stress is laid on the prophetic rather than the legislative aspect of previous revelation. They did their work pointing to the kingdom of heaven in the far-off future of the latter days, but John saw it close at hand, and proclaimed its actual appearance.

11:7-15 What Christ said concerning John, was not only for his praise, but for the people's profit. Those who attend on the word will be called to give an account of their improvements. Do we think when the sermon is done, the care is over? No, then the greatest of the care begins. John was a self-denying man, dead to all the pomps of the world and the pleasures of sense. It becomes people, in all their appearances, to be consistent with their character and their situation. John was a great and good man, yet not perfect; therefore he came short of glorified saints. The least in heaven knows more, loves more, and does more in praising God, and receives more from him, than the greatest in this world. But by the kingdom of heaven here, is rather to be understood the kingdom of grace, the gospel dispensation in its power and purity. What reason we have to be thankful that our lot is cast in the days of the kingdom of heaven, under such advantages of light and love! Multitudes were wrought upon by the ministry of John, and became his disciples. And those strove for a place in this kingdom, that one would think had no right nor title to it, and so seemed to be intruders. It shows us what fervency and zeal are required of all. Self must be denied; the bent, the frame and temper of the mind must be altered. Those who will have an interest in the great salvation, will have it upon any terms, and not think them hard, nor quit their hold without a blessing. The things of God are of great and common concern. God requires no more from us than the right use of the faculties he has given us. People are ignorant, because they will not learn.All the prophets ... - It is meant by this verse that John introduced a new dispensation; and that the old one, under which the prophets and the law of Moses were the guide, was closed when he preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. By the "law" is meant here the five books of Moses; by the prophets, the remainder of the books of the Old Testament. 2. Now when John had heard in the prison—For the account of this imprisonment, see on [1261]Mr 6:17-20.

the works of Christ, he sent, &c.—On the whole passage, see on [1262]Lu 7:18-35.

It is no wonder that there was such a heat kindled in the souls of people upon John the Baptist’s coming, for they understood that Christ, typified in the law, and only foretold by the prophets, was now come. So as the ceremonial law from his time began to die, and all the prophecies of Christ in the prophets began then to have their complement. John showed them with his finger him who before had been only darkly revealed under types and figures, and in the prophecies of the prophets; men came to see that they had not hoped or waited in vain for the salvation of Israel.

Prophesied, in this verse, signifies, made dark revelations of Christ and the kingdom of heaven.

For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. These words are to be considered in connection with Matthew 11:11 and are a further proof of John's being greater than any of the prophets; because all the inspired writers and prophets, who were before him, prophesied of the Messiah as to come; and either spoke of him in obscure terms, or represented him under dark shadows and figures: whereas John spake of him as already come, and in plain terms, and directed to his very person; and since his time, there have been no prophecies concerning the Messiah and his kingdom; vision and prophecy are now sealed up; all which are acknowledged by the Jews themselves, who (b) say, , "all the prophets did not prophesy but to, or of the days of the Messiah". This was the subject, and these the limits of their prophecies; for they own (c), that

"from the day that the temple was destroyed, , "prophecy was taken away from the prophets".''

Since that time, they confess they have had no prophet (d), and that they are not able to observe their signs.

(b) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 34. 2. Sabbat, fol. 63. 1. Sanhedrim, fol. 99. 1.((c) T. Bava Bathra, fol. 12. 1.((d) Abarbinel in Dan. fol. 63. 4.

For all the prophets and the law {d} prophesied until John.

(d) They prophesied of things to come, which are now present, and clearly and plainly seen.

Matthew 11:13-14 are by way of showing how it happens that, since the commencement of the Baptist’s ministry, the Messiah’s kingdom has been the object toward which such a violent movement has been directed. All the prophets, and even the law, have prophesied up till John’s time; John was the terminus ad quem of the period of prophecy which he brought to a close, and he who forms the termination of this epoch then steps upon the scene as the immediate forerunner of the Messiah—as the Elias who was to come. Accordingly, that new violent stirring of life among the people must be connected with this manifestation of Elias. Others interpret differently, while Bleek and Holtzmann are even inclined to suppose that originally Matthew 11:13 was uttered before Matthew 11:12.

καὶ ὁ νόμος] for even with this the era of prophecy began, John 5:46; Acts 7:37; Romans 10:6; Romans 11:19; although prophecy was not the principal function of the law, for which reason the prophets are here mentioned first. Different in Matthew 5:17.

εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι] if you—and on this it depends whether by you also he is taken for what he is—will not reject this assurance (see on 1 Corinthians 2:14), but are disposed to receive it with a view to fuller consideration. The reason for interposing this remark is to be found in the fact that the unhappy circumstances in which John was then placed appeared to be inconsistent with such a view of his mission.

αὐτός] no other than He.

Ἠλίας] in accordance with Mal. 3:23 (Malachi 4:5), on which the Jews founded the expectation that Elias, who had been taken up into heaven, would appear again in bodily form and introduce the Messiah (Wetstein on this passage; Lightfoot on Matthew 17:10; Schoettgen, p. 148),—an expectation which Jesus regarded as veritably fulfilled in the person and work of the Baptist; in him, according to the ideal meaning of the prophecy, he saw the promised Elias; comp. Luke 1:17.

ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι] the usual predicate. Bengel: “sermo est tanquam e prospectu testamenti veteris in novum.”

Matthew 11:13-15. Conclusion of speech about John.

13. For] gives the reason why the wonderful growth of the kingdom should be witnessed now.

Matthew 11:13. Γὰρ, for) Now is fulfilled that which had been predicted up to the time of John.—προφῆταινόμοςἸωάννου, prophets—law—John) Cf. Mal. 1:1, 3:22, 23; and see Gnomon on Matthew 3:12. There were prophets also before Moses; and the law being put in the second place, makes a regular gradation; for Moses was the greatest of the prophets of the Old Testament. The law also is mentioned in this passage on account of its prophetic office. Where the Old Testament concludes at the end of Malachi, there the New Testament commences at the beginning of Mark. This phrase, therefore, even until John, holds good of Scripture. Its application extends also beyond Malachi, even to the father of John. Sec Luke 1:67. Even until, without change. Here was the boundary of prophecy and of the Old Testament dispensation; thenceforward is the fulfilling.—προεφήτευσαν, prophesied) This was the whole of their office, to bear witness to future things. John was something more. See Matthew 11:9.

Verse 13. - For. It is only right that there should be such a seizing of the kingdom of heaven, for in a certain sense the function of the prophets and the Law ceased with John. All. Not one alone, but all, however various their teaching. The prophets and the law. In Luke (Luke 16:16) the Law is mentioned first, because the context is there dealing chiefly with the Law. Here our Lord has said that John was more than a prophet, and he naturally continues to speak of prophets first. The mention of the Law comes in almost as an afterthought, and yet without it the Jews might have fallen back on the Law when the prophets failed them (cf. ver. 11, note). Prophesied. Including the ideas both of predicting Messiah and of making known the will of God (cf. Matthew 5:19, note). Until John. The message of the written Word was considered as active - the prophets and the Law still spoke - until, in tact, he came who was the close of that epoch. Matthew 11:13
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