Matthew 11:19
The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
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(19) Eating and drinking—i.e., as in the feast in Matthew’s house, or at the marriage-feast of Cana, sharing in the common life of man. The words point almost specifically to the two instances just named, and the very form and phrase recall the question which the Pharisees had asked of the disciples, “Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?” (Luke 5:30).

Wisdom is justified of her children.—Literally, was justified. This is our Lord’s answer for Himself and the Baptist to the contradictory calumnies of the Jews. Men might accuse wisdom, true heavenly wisdom, on this ground or that, but she would be, or rather (the tense implying a generalised fact) is evermore acquitted, justified, acknowledged as righteous, alike in her severer or more joyous forms, by all who are indeed her children, i.e., by all who seek and love her as the mother of their peace and joy. Like so many of our Lord’s other sayings, the parable stretches far and wide through the ages. The evil world rejects all who seek to overcome its evil, some on one pretext, some on another; but true seekers after wisdom will welcome holiness in whatever form it may appear, cheerful or ascetic, Protestant or Romish, Puritan or liberal, so long as it is real and true.

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.

Ver. 18,19. Luke hath the same words, Luke 7:33-35. The sense of the words is this: God hath by his providence used all means to win this people to the gospel. The doctrine of John the Baptist and Christ was the same, but their temper and converse was very different: John was an austere and morose man, Christ was of a more free and familiar conversation; but these men would neither give the one nor the other a good word; they reviled both of them, and rejected them both, and the doctrine which they brought.

John came neither eating nor drinking, that is, not as other men ordinarily do; he was a man that lived most in the wilderness, and fed upon very ordinary diet, not eating with publicans and sinners, not coming at any feasts, &c.; and they said of him, He hath a devil; he is a melancholic, hypochondriac fellow, a kind of a madman.

The Son of man came eating and drinking, he was of a more affable, pleasant temper, of a more free and less reserved converse, eating and drinking as other men (though keeping to the law of temperance) such things as the country afforded, not refusing to be present at feasts, though publicans and sinners were there. They said of him, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners: he displeased them with the two great freedom of his conversation; from whence, by the way, they may be better instructed, who place some perfection, or merit, in living like monks and hermits; by that rule John the Baptist was to be preferred before Christ. But Christ could please the Pharisees and lawyers, and their followers, no more than John did. They could not say he was melancholic or morose; but they blasphemed him to a higher degree, calling him a glutton and drunkard, and a friend of publicans and sinners. A godly man, let his temper and converse be what it will, pleaseth none who hateth the truth of the gospel, and the power of godliness. If he be reserved, then he is a morose, melancholic man; if he be of a more free and open converse, then he is a drunkard, or a glutton; something or other they must have to say against a man that will not run with them to the same excess of riot, though they lay to their charge things that they know not. The business is, they hate the power of godliness in them. This instance of these men’s thus treating John the Baptist and Christ, is of mighty use to strengthen those who meet with the very same things.

But wisdom is justified of her children. There is a great variety amongst interpreters in giving the sense of these words. Some think them spoken ironically, for the Pharisees went for the children of wisdom. Some think them spoken plainly, and think it should be, wisdom is judged, or condemned, of her children; but though the word dikaioomai, signifying to justice or do justice to another, which, according to the merit or demerit of the person, may be by justifying or condemning, upon which account it was true here that wisdom was condemned of those who pretended to be her children, and the word is so used in other authors, yet we have no such usage of it in Scripture. Not to reckon the various senses others put upon the words, the plain sense of them seems to be this. It is a proverbial speech, something like that, Ars non habet inimicum praeter ignorantem, Learning hath no enemies but the ignorant.

1. I, who am the Wisdom of God, am justified by you, who truly believe on me: you know I am no glutton, no winebibber, no friend of publicans and sinners. Or;

2. Grace is justified of all that are partakers of it. Godly men that are wise will own the grace of God in all men, whether they be of John’s temper or of mine, whether of more austere or more pleasant tempers. Or;

3. The wise counsel of God, making use of several instruments of several tempers to win these people unto his gospel, will be justified, that is, acquitted, defended, praised, adored of those who belong unto God, and are acquainted with his wisdom and counsels.

Luke saith, The people justified God, Luke 7:29. Some, by the children of wisdom, understand the scribes and Pharisees themselves, (who thought themselves the children of wisdom), or the generality of the Jews, who were condemned in their own consciences, and could not but in heart justify Christ, though in their speeches they condemned him. But Christ never called them the children of wisdom. This interpretation therefore seemeth something strained. That which seemeth the most natural is what I before hinted. Though those that pretend to be the children of wisdom thus speak of John and of me, yet those who are truly wise will justify me, and also the counsels and wisdom of my Father in the use of all means to bring them to receive the glad tidings of salvation, brought to them both by my more austere and reserved forerunner, and by myself, who have chosen, though a holy and unblamable, yet a more free and pleasant way of converse with them.

The son of man came eating and drinking,.... Meaning himself, who ate and drank as men usually do, lived in the common way of life, was free and sociable, went to feasts, entertainments, and weddings, when he was invited; and was affable, courteous, and friendly in his deportment, to all men;

and they say, behold a man gluttonous, a voracious man, an epicurean, one that indulges his appetite to a very great degree, and in a scandalous manner;

a winebibber, a common tippler, one that drinks to excess; whom the Rabbins call (k), who is one, they say, that drinks up his cup at one draught; one that is given to wine, and is greedy of it:

a friend of publicans and sinners; such as are openly and notoriously wicked; and loves their company, for the sake of tippling with them; and encourages them in their revelling and drunkenness; a very black charge this!

But wisdom is justified of her children; either the wisdom of God, in making use of ministers of a different disposition and deportment, whereby some are gained, and others left inexcusable: or the Gospel, in which there is such a display of divine wisdom, which is vindicated from the charge of licentiousness, by the agreeable lives and conversations of the children of God: or rather Christ himself, who is the wisdom of God; and in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; who, however he may be traduced by ignorant and malicious men, yet will be acquitted from all such charges, as here insinuated, by all the true sons of wisdom; or by such, who are made wise unto salvation. We may learn from hence, that no sort of preachers and preaching will please some men; that the best of Gospel ministers may be reproached as libertines, or madmen; and that they will be sooner, or later, justified and cleared from all such aspersions.

(k) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 86. 2. Betza, fol. 25. 2.

The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. {4} But {f} wisdom is justified of her children.

(4) That which the many refuse, the elect and chosen embrace.

(f) Wise men acknowledge the wisdom of the gospel when they receive it.

Matthew 11:19. ὁ υἱὸς τ. .: obviously Jesus here refers to Himself in third person where we might have expected the first. Again the now familiar title, defining itself as we go along by varied use, pointing Jesus out as an exceptional person, while avoiding all conventional terms to define the exceptional element.—ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων: the “Son of Man” is one who eats and drinks, i.e., non-ascetic and social, one of the marks interpretative of the title = human, fraternal.—καὶ λέγουσι, and they say: what? One is curious to know. Surely this genial, friendly type of manhood will please!—ἰδοὺ, lo! scandalised sanctimoniousness points its finger at Him and utters gross, outrageous calumnies.—φάγος, οἰνοπότης, φίλος, an eater with emphasis = a glutton (a word of late Greek, Lob., Phryn., 434), a wine-bibber; and, worse than either, for φίλος is used in a sinister sense and implies that Jesus was the comrade of the worst characters, and like them in conduct. A malicious nick-name at first, it is now a name of honour: the sinner’s lover. The Son of Man takes these calumnies as a thing of course and goes on His gracious way. It is not necessary to reflect these characteristics of Jesus and John back into the parable, and to identify them with the piping and wailing children. Yet the parable is so constructed as to exhibit them very clearly in their distinctive peculiarities by representing the children not merely employed in play and quarrelling over their games, which would have sufficed as a picture of the religious Jews, but as playing at marriages and funerals, the former symbolising the joy of the Jesus-circle, the latter the sadness of the Baptist-circle (vide my Parabolic Teaching of Christ, p. 420).—καὶ ἐδικαιώθη, etc. This sentence wears a gnomic or proverbial aspect (“verba proverbium redolere videntur,” Kuinoel, similarly, Rosenmüller), and the aorist of ἐδικ. may be taken as an instance of the gnomic aorist, expressive of what is usual; a law in the moral sphere, as elsewhere the aorist is employed to express the usual course in the natural sphere, e.g., in Jam 1:11. Weiss-Meyer strongly denies that there are any instances of such use of the aorist in the N. T. (On this aorist vide Goodwin, Syntax, p. 53, and Bäumlein, § 523, where it is called the aorist of experience, “der Erfahrungswahrheit”.)—ἀπὸ, in, in view of (vide Buttmann’s Gram., p. 232, on ἀπὸ in N. T.).—ἔργων: the reading of [68] [69], and likely to be the true one just because τέκνων is the reading in Luke. It is an appeal to results, to fruit (Matthew 7:20), to the future. Historical in form, the statement is in reality a prophecy. Resch, indeed (Agrapha, p. 142), takes ἐδικ. as the (erroneous) translation of the Hebrew prophetic future used in the Aramaic original = now we are condemned, but wait a while. The καὶ at the beginning of the clause is not = “but”. It states a fact as much a matter of course as is the condemnation of the unwise. Wisdom, condemned by the foolish, is always, of course, justified in the long run by her works or by her children.

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

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

19. But wisdom is justified of her children] Wisdom = “divine wisdom”—God regarded as the All Wise. Justified = “is accounted righteous”—“is acquitted of folly.” Of her children = “by the divinely wise.” The spiritual recognise the wisdom of God, both in the austerity of John and in the loving mercy of Jesus who condescends to eat with publicans and sinners.

The word translated but should be and. Either the adversative force lies rather in the whole sentence than in the particle, or the Greek καί is put for the Hebrew connecting particle vau, which is sometimes adversative.

Matthew 11:19. Ἄνθρωπος φάγος, κ.τ.λ., a gluttonous man, etc.) They distinguish Him, as one out of many, by a distinction opposed to that mentioned in the preceding verse.—τῶν τέκνων, children) we have shown, in the Apparatus,[532] that τῶν ἔργωνworks—was anciently a widely received reading. Ambrose, on Luke 7:35, says:—“Therefore wisdom is justified of all her children.[533] It is well said ‘of all,’ because justice is observed towards all [i.e. in God’s dealings with all], so that the faithful may be accepted, the unfaithful rejected. Very many of the Greeks adopt the reading, ‘Wisdom is justified of all her works,’ because it is the work of justice to observe the due measure towards the merit of every single individual.” He, however, appears to mean the codices of St Matthew, not those of St Luke, for he is in the habit of recurring to them from time to time, although he is commenting on St Luke.[534]—ΑὐΤῆς[535]) Valla[536] thinks that this refers to γενεᾶς; but see Luke 7:35, where there are more remarks on the present passage. Cf. Luke 11:31. [No doubt Christ is the Wisdom meant. The children of Wisdom are those who suffer themselves to be gathered by her into her company. It is for this reason that Wisdom is blamed on the ground of too simple and ready indulgence towards such persons, and she is therefore thus compelled at last to justify herself. Luke 15:1-2, etc.—V. g.]

[532] In the Apparatus, p. 117, he says—

[533] The first sentence is not quoted by Bengel, but, on referring to the original. I considered the meaning so much plainer with it than without it, that I took the liberty of inserting it. The passage in Ambrose stands thus:—

[534] Luke, Luke 7:35, adds πάντων. B corrected later, reads, as the MSS. alluded to by Ambrose, τῶν ἔργων: so MSS. in Jerome, both Syriac and Memph. Versions. But Dac Vulg., Orig., Hil. and Rec. Text, read τέκνων.—ED.

[535] Gen. fem. sing, of αὐτὸς. E. V. renders it her, sc. Wisdom’s. Valla would render it of it, sc. of this generation.—(I. B.)

[536] LAURENTIUS VALLA, one of the most distinguished Latin scholars of the fifteenth century. Born in Rome about 1406; became Professor of Eloquence, first at Pavia, and afterwards at Milan; went to Rome in 1443, and became canon of St John the Lateran. Died 1457. He published, besides many other works, annotations on the N. T.—(I. B.)

Justificata est ergo Sapientia ab omnibus filiis suis. Bene ab omnibus, quia circa omnes justitia servatur; ut susceptio fiat fidelium rejectio perfidorum. Undeplerique Græci sic habent: Justificata est Sapientia ab omnibus operibus suis; quod opus justitiæ sit, circa unius cujuscunque meritum servare mensuram.”—(I. B.)

“19) τέκνων) operibus notat Hieronymus in Evangeliis quibusdam legi, in Comm. ad h. l. sic vero etiam Æth. Copt. Pers. Syr. Videtur Græcus librarius antiquissimus pro τῶν τέκνων in maxima literarum similitudine, legisse τῶν ἔργων. Quæ strictura docere nos possit, ex Græco Matthæi Evangelio deductum esse Evangelium Nazarenorum [an apocryphal gospel so called], quippe quod hoc loco sine dubio respexit Hieronymus. Eundem varietatem, ex Hieronymo, ut apparet, notavit Hafenrefferus in edit. suâ N. T.”—(I. B.)

Verse 19. - The Son of man (Matthew 8:20, note) came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold (ἰδού, simply demonstrative, as in the LXX. of 1 Samuel 24:12; 2 Samuel 24:22) a man gluttonous (a gluttonous man, Revised Version, for the Greek, ἄνθρωπος φάγος, merely reproduced the original Semitic order), and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners (Matthew 9:10, note). A friend. The idea of affection, which through common use of the words has fallen so much into the background both in the Greek φίλος and our English "friend," is brought out clearly in the Syriac roh'mo, which is, perhaps, the very word that our Lord spoke. But; and (Revised Version); καί: i.e. and yet, whatever you may say. Wisdom; i.e. the Divine wisdom, by which all creation was made (Proverbs 8:22-31; Wisd. 7:22), and which is the source of all true understanding (Proverbs 8:12-16), particularly of the will of God (Wisd. 7:27, 28; comp. Luke 11:49, "The Wisdom of God" speaking in Scripture). Is justified (ἐδικαιώθη). The aorist is used either as expressing what is wont to happen (Madvig, § 111, Romans a), or perhaps as expressing the completeness of the justi fication, (cf. ἐβλήθη, John 15:6). Nosgen, contrary to New Testament usage, under stands ἐδικαιώθη as meaning "is condemned because of her works" ("So haben sie die Weisheit... um ihrer Werke willen ve rurtheilt"), but the ordinary interpreta tion holds good that she is acquitted of any error or wrong. Of her children; works (Revised Version); ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῆς, with the Sinaitic manuscript and the original hand of the Vatican, besides some of the versions. The common reading, τέκνων, has come from Luke. In these words lie the chief difficulty of this difficult sentence. Of (ἀπό) may be used of agents (comp. James 1:13; James 5:4: Luke 6:18, almost as though it were ὑπό), but it is more natural to understand it here of the causes or reasons for the verdict. And ἀπό thus gives au excellent sense. Our Lord says that the Divine Wisdom is justified in the minds of men from the results she brings about. Of what is he thinking? Doubtless moral results, and probably those found in the change that might be seen in the publicans and sinners of which he has just been speaking. The Divine Wisdom, which appeared to the careless and unsympathetic so strange and changeable in her methods, is, notwithstanding, pronounced to be in the right, because of the results of her activity, the men and the women brought under her influence. These κανιναὶ κτίσεις (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) are always the best justification of misunderstood plans. While, however, this seems the best interpretation of the sentence as recorded in Matthew, it must be confessed that in Luke it appears more natural to understand "her children" as those who justify her; and further, this was probably St. Luke's own interpretation. For he seems to purposely give an explanation of the apothegm in the verses (Luke 7:29, 30) by which he joins the equivalent of our vers. 16-19 to the equivalent of our ver. 11. He there tells us that all the people and the publicans "justified God," having been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God's plan towards them, not having been baptized by him. Wisdom's children justified her; others did not. Anyhow, ἔργων would appear to be the more original of the two terms, for with the explanation preferred above, τέκνων would be very easily derived from it. It may, indeed, be due to a more primitive confusion between עֹבָדָהָא ("her works," cf. Ecclesiastes 9:1) and עַבְדָּהָא ("her servants," Hebrew עֶבֶד), this last word being commonly rendered δοῦλοι, and, perhaps through παῖδες, even υἱοί and τέκνα (cf. Reseh, ' Agrapha,' p. 277), but even then it is unlikely that the former and harder reading should be only due to a mistake for the latter. That the harder and metaphorical should be changed into the easier and more literal, even as early as St. Luke's time, appears much more probable. Matthew 11:19
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