Matthew 11:18
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
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(18) He hath a devil.—The phrase was a common one, asserting at once the fact of insanity, and ascribing it to demoniacal possession as its cause. (Comp. John 7:20; John 8:48.) This was the explanation which the scribes gave of John’s austerities. The locusts and wild honey were to them the diet of a madman.

11:16-24 Christ reflects on the scribes and Pharisees, who had a proud conceit of themselves. He likens their behaviour to children's play, who being out of temper without reason, quarrel with all the attempts of their fellows to please them, or to get them to join in the plays for which they used to assemble. The cavils of worldly men are often very trifling and show great malice. Something they have to urge against every one, however excellent and holy. Christ, who was undefiled, and separate from sinners, is here represented as in league with them, and polluted by them. The most unspotted innocence will not always be a defence against reproach. Christ knew that the hearts of the Jews were more bitter and hardened against his miracles and doctrines, than those of Tyre and Sidon would have been; therefore their condemnation would be the greater. The Lord exercises his almighty power, yet he punishes none more than they deserve, and never withholds the knowledge of the truth from those who long after it.But whereunto shall I liken ... - Christ proceeds to reprove the inconsistency and fickleness of that age of people. He says they were like children - nothing pleased them. He refers here to the "plays" or "sports" of children. Instrumental music, or piping and dancing, were used in marriages and festivals as a sign of joy. See the notes at Isaiah 5:11-12. Compare Job 21:11; 2 Samuel 6:14; Judges 11:34; Luke 15:25. Children imitate their parents and others, and act over in play what they see done by others. Among their childish sports, therefore, was probably an imitation of a wedding or festal occasion. We have seen also (the notes at Matthew 9:23) that funerals were attended with mournful music, and lamentation, and howling. It is not improbable that children also, in play: imitated a mournful funeral procession. One part are represented as sullen and dissatisfied. They would not enter into the play: nothing pleased them. The others complained of it. We have, said they, taken all pains to please you. We have piped to you, have played lively tunes, and have engaged in cheerful sports, but you would not join with us; and then we have played different games, and imitated the mourning at funerals, and you are equally sullen; "you have not lamented;" you have not joked with us. Nothing pleases you. So, said Christ, is this generation of people. "John" came one way, "neither eating nor drinking," abstaining as a Nazarite, and you were not pleased with him. I, the Son of man, have come in a different manner, "eating and drinking;" not practicing any austerity, but living like other people, and you are equally dissatisfied - nay, you are less pleased. You calumniate him, and abuse me for not doing the very thing which displeased you in John. Nothing pleases you. You are fickle, changeable, inconstant, and abusive.

Markets - Places to sell provisions; places of concourse, where also children flocked together for play.

We have piped - We have played on musical instruments. A "pipe" was a wind instrument of music often used by shepherds.

Neither eating nor drinking - That is, abstaining from some kinds of food and wine, as a Nazarite. It does not mean that he did not eat at all, but that he was remarkable for abstinence.

He hath a devil - He is actuated by a bad spirit. He is irregular, strange, and cannot be a good man.

The Son of man came eating and drinking - That is, living as others do; not practicing austerity; and they accuse him of being fond of excess, and seeking the society of the wicked.

Gluttonous - One given to excessive eating.

Wine-bibber - One who drinks much wine. Jesus undoubtedly lived according to the general customs of the people of his time. He did not affect singularity; he did not separate himself as a Nazarite; he did not practice severe austerities. He ate that which was common and drank that which was common. As wine was a common article of beverage among the people, he drank it. It was the pure juice of the grape, and for anything that can be proved, it was without fermentation. In regard to the kind of wine which was used, see the notes at John 2:10. No one should plead the example, at any rate, in favor of making use of the wines that are commonly used in this country - wines, many of which are manufactured here, and without a particle of the pure juice of the grape, and most of which are mixed with noxious drugs to give them color and flavor.

Wisdom is justified of her children - The children of wisdom are the wise - those who understand. The Saviour means that though that generation of Pharisees and fault-finders did not appreciate the conduct of John and himself, yet the "wise," the candid - those who understood the reasons of their conduct - would approve of and do justice to it.

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.

See Poole on "Matthew 11:19".

For John came neither eating nor drinking,.... This and the following verse are an explanation of the foregoing "parable"; and this shows, that John and his disciples are the persons that mourned, of which his austere life was a proof: for when he "came", being sent of God, and appeared as a public preacher, he was "neither eating nor drinking"; not that he did not eat or drink at all, otherwise he could not have lived, and discharged his office: but he ate sparingly, very little; and what he did eat and drink, was not the common food and drink of men; he neither ate bread nor drank wine, but lived upon locusts and wild honey; he excused all invitations to people's houses, and shunned all feasts and entertainments; he abstained from all free and sociable conversation with men, in eating and drinking: and though the Scribes and Pharisees pretended to much abstinence and frequent fastings, yet they did not care to follow his very severe way of living, and lament, in answer to his mournful ditty; but in a calumniating way,

they say he hath a devil; is a demoniac, a madman, one that is unsociable and melancholy; under a delusion of Satan, and influenced by him to abstain from proper food and company of men, under a pretence of religion.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
Matthew 11:18-19. Μήτε ἐσθίων μήτε πίνων] hyperbolical; ἡ μὲν Ἰωάννου δίαιτα δυσπρόσιτος καὶ τραχεῖα, Euth. Zigabenus. Comp. Matthew 3:4; Luke 1:15; Daniel 10:3. In contrast to the liberal principles of Jesus, who ate and drank without imposing upon Himself Nazarite abstinences (like John) or regular fastings (Matthew 9:14), or without declining (like the Pharisees) to go to entertainments provided by those in a different rank of life from His own.

δαιμόνιον ἔχει] which, through perverting His judgment, leads Him into those ascetic eccentricities; comp. John 10:20.

φαγός] glutton, is a word belonging to a very late period. See Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 434; on the accent, Lipsius, gramm. Unters. p. 28.

καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς] not a continuation of the words of the Jews, in which case ἐδικαιώθη would have to be taken ironically (in answer to Bornemann), but the closing observation of Jesus in reference to the perverse manner in which His own claims and those of John had been treated by the Jews; and justified (i.e. shown to be the true wisdom) has been the wisdom (the divine wisdom which has been displayed in John and me) on the part of her children, i.e. on the part of those who reverence and obey her (Sir 4:11), who, through their having embraced her and followed her guidance, have proved how unwarranted are those judgments of the profanum vulgus; comp. Luke 7:29. The (actual) confirmation has come to wisdom from those devoted to her (ἀπό, comp. on Acts 2:22; Hermann, ad Soph. El. 65; Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. vi. 5. 18; not ὑπό). Those disciples of wisdom are the same who in Matthew 11:12 are said βιάζειν τὴν βασιλείαν; but the καί which introduces the passage “cum vi pronuntiandum est, ut saepe in sententiis oppositionem continentibus, ubi frustra fuere, qui καίτοι requirerent,” Stallbaum, ad Plat. Apol. p. 29 B. Such a use of καί occurs with special frequency in John. Wolf, ad Lept. p. 238; Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 147. This view is in the main that of (though in some cases the τέκνα τῆς σοφίας has been too much limited by being understood as referring merely to the disciples of Jesus) Jerome (“ego, qui sum Dei virtus et sapientia Dei, juste fecisse ab apostolis meis filiis comprobatus sum”), Münster, Beza, Vatablus, Calovius, Hammond, Jansen, Fritzsche, Olshausen, de Wette, Ebrard, Bleek, Lange, Hofmann, Keim, Weiss. Yet many, while also retaining the meaning given above, take the aorist, though without any warrant from the text, or any example of it in the New Testament, in the sense of cherishing (see Kühner, II. 1, p. 139; Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 305), as Kuinoel (“sapientia non nisi a sapientiae cultoribus et amicis probatur et laudatur, reliqui homines eam rident,” etc.). Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Castalio understand the words as expressing the thought that the wisdom manifested in Jesus has nothing to answer for with regard to the Jews (similarly Weizsäcker); a view to which it may be objected—first, that δικαιοῦσθαι ἀπό τινος cannot be taken in the sense of to be free from the guilt of any one (δικ. ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας τινός; comp. Sir 26:29; Romans 6:7); and secondly, that the Jews, unless something in the context should specially suggest or lead to it, cannot straightway be spoken of as the children of wisdom. The latter objection is equally applicable to the explanation of Schneckenburger: and so wisdom (which is supposed to mean God’s care for His people; comp. also Euth. Zigabenus and Grotius) has been treated cavalierly (has been arrogantly condemned) by her own children, which, moreover, is precluded by the fact that δικαιοῦσθαι is never used in this sense in the New Testament. Oppenrieder, p. 441 f., likewise understands the children of wisdom to refer to the Jews, inasmuch, that is, as they were subjected to the discipline of divine wisdom. The doings of σοφία were demonstrated to be righteous by the conduct of the Jews; that is to say, they had desired, instead of John, a divine messenger of a less ascetic character (and him the divine wisdom sent them in the person of Christ); while, on the other hand, instead of Christ, with His freer manner of life, they desired one more rigorously disposed (and this wish the divine wisdom had gratified by giving them the Baptist). So far Schneckenburger. But this conduct of the Jews was capricious and wilful, and was ill calculated to display the justice of the divine dealings, which it could have done only if it had been supposed to proceed from a feeling of real moral need, for which, however, in Matthew 11:16-19, Jesus shows Himself by no means inclined to give them credit. Besides, one is at a loss to see, even if this view were adopted, how the Jews with their foolish and obstinate behaviour should come to be called τέκνα τῆς σοφίας. According to Ewald (Gesch. Chr. p. 432), Jesus means to say that it is just her wrong-headed children (who quarrel with her) that do most to justify the divine wisdom by their not knowing, with all their wisdom, what they would really like. But this view, again, which necessitates an antiphrastic interpretation of the τέκνα τῆς σοφίας, finds no support in the text, besides involving accessory thoughts to which there is no allusion. Similarly Calvin even understood the words to refer to the Jews who thought themselves so wise; before whom, however, wisdom is supposed to assert her dignity and authority through the medium of her genuine children.

Matthew 11:18. he commentary on the parable showing that it was the reception given to John and Himself that suggested it.—μήτε ἐσθ. μήτε πιν.: eating and drinking, the two parts of diet; not eating nor drinking = remarkably abstemious, ascetic, that his religious habit; μήτε not οὐτε, to express not merely the fact, but the opinion about John. Vide notes on chap. Matthew 5:34.—δαιμόνιον ἔχει: is possessed, mad, with the madness of a gloomy austerity. The Pharisee could wear gloomy airs in fasting (Matthew 6:16), but that was acting. The Baptist was in earnest with his morose, severely abstinent life. Play for them, grim reality for him; and they disliked it and shrank from it as something weird. None but Pharisees would dare to say such a thing about a man like John. They are always so sure, and so ready to judge. Ordinary people would respect the ascetic of the wilderness, though they did not imitate him.

Matthew 11:18. Ἦλθε, came) A striking instance of Anaphora;[531] cf. Matthew 11:19.—ΜΉΤΕ ἘΣΘΊΩΝ, neither eating) John did not eat with others, nor even in the presence of others. His mode of life agreed with the character of his teaching, and so did that of Christ [with the character of HIS teaching.] Therefore the one is, as it were, implied by the other.—μήτε πίνων, nor drinking) See Luke 1:15.—λέγουσι, they say) The world disparages virtue, representing it as the extreme; it advocates the cause of vice, representing it as the mean.—δαιμόνἱον, a devil) in common parlance, a familiar spirit.—ἔχει, He has) A reproach common to the Jews, by which they denoted one who was mad, or silly, or proud. They who abstain from the society of men, easily incur this suspicion.

[531] See Append. The same word repeated in the beginnings of sentences or sections, in order to mark them.—ED.

Verse 18. - For John came neither eating (Matthew 3:4) nor drinking (Luke 1:15), and they say, He hath a devil; i.e. he is possessed of strange and melancholy fancies (see Bishop Westcott on John 7:20). Matthew 11:18
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