Matthew 11:2
Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
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(2) When John had heard in the prison.—The position of the Baptist was so far that of a prisoner treated with respect. Herod himself observed him, and heard him gladly. Herodias had not yet found an occasion of revenge. His disciples came and went freely. Some of these we have seen (Matthew 9:14) as present when our Lord was teaching, and certain to hear of such wonders as those narrated in Matthew 8, 9. He himself, in the prison of Machærus, was languishing with the sickness of hope deferred for the Messianic kingdom, which he had proclaimed. His disciples brought back word of what they had seen and heard (Luke 7:18), and yet all things continued as before, and there was no deliverance either for himself or Israel. Under the influence of this disappointment, he sent his two disciples with the question which the next verse records.

Matthew 11:2-6. Now when John had heard in the prison (into which he had been cast by Herod Antipas, a little after he began his public ministry, chap. Matthew 4:12, and Matthew 14:3, &c.) of the works of Christ — That is, of some of his many miracles, &c. — He sent two of his disciples — Not, as is probable, because he doubted himself, but to confirm their faith. And said, Art thou he that should come — Namely, the Messiah? Or look we for another — Under that character? “Considering what clear evidence John had received by a miraculous sign from heaven that Jesus was the Messiah, (see John 1:33,) and what express and repeated testimonies he himself had borne to this truth, it cannot reasonably be supposed that he now doubted of it. But some of his disciples, offended and discouraged by his long imprisonment, as well as the freedom of Christ’s conversation, so different from the austerity used by their master and his disciples, might begin to call it in question, and therefore John might think it necessary to put them in the way of obtaining further satisfaction.” — Doddridge. Now at this very time, according to Luke, (Luke 7:21,) Jesus cured many of their infirmities and plagues, &c. He therefore said to these disciples, Go and show John those things which ye hear and see — Which are a stronger proof of my being the Messiah than any bare assertions can be. Comp. Isaiah 35:5-6; Isaiah 61:1. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me — Or brought to doubt my being the Messiah on account of the mean circumstances in which I appear. For many will be induced to question it, notwithstanding all the evidences I have given, and shall give of it.

11:2-6 Some think that John sent this inquiry for his own satisfaction. Where there is true faith, yet there may be a mixture of unbelief. The remaining unbelief of good men may sometimes, in an hour of temptation; call in question the most important truths. But we hope that John's faith did not fail in this matter, and that he only desired to have it strengthened and confirmed. Others think that John sent his disciples to Christ for their satisfaction. Christ points them to what they heard and saw. Christ's gracious condescensions and compassions to the poor, show that it was he that should bring to the world the tender mercies of our God. Those things which men see and hear, if compared with the Scriptures, direct in what way salvation is to be found. It is difficult to conquer prejudices, and dangerous not to conquer them; but those who believe in Christ, their faith will be found so much the more to praise, and honour, and glory.The account contained in this chapter of Matthew, to the Matthew 11:19, is found, with no material variation, in Luke 7:18-35. John was in prison. Herod had thrown him into confinement on account of his faithfulness in reproving him for marrying his brother Philip's wife. See Matthew 14:3-4.

It is not certainly known why John sent to Jesus. It might have been to satisfy his disciples that he was the Messiah; or he might have been desirous of ascertaining for himself whether this person, of whom he heard so much, was the same one whom he had baptized, and whom he knew to be the Messiah. See John 1:29.

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 11:3".

Now when John had heard in the prison,.... The person here spoken of is John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, who was now in the prison of Machaerus; being put there by Herod, for his reproving him for taking Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; and whilst he was there, an account was brought him by his own disciples, see Luke 7:18 of

the works of Christ, the miracles he wrought; as the healing of the centurion's servant, the raising from the dead the widow's son of Nain, and the like; upon hearing of which,

he sent two of his disciples, who might be the most prejudiced against Christ, because of the increase of his followers, and the decrease of their master's; and because he did not live such an austere life as John did; and who, notwithstanding all that they had heard, and their master had told them of Jesus, were not easily persuaded that he was the true Messiah. Moreover, two of them were sent, both because it was more honourable to Christ, and that they might be proper witnesses of what they saw and heard; and since it was not so much for himself, as for the sake of his disciples, that these messengers were sent.

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
Matthew 11:2 ff. Comp. Luke 7:18 ff., where the account is introduced somewhat earlier, and where nothing is said about the prison (but see Luke 3:20).

ἀκούσας, κ.τ.λ.] Occasion of the message. See the note after Matthew 11:5.

ἐν τῷ δεσμωτ.] in the fortress of Machaerus. Joseph. Antt. xviii. 5. 2. See on Matthew 14:3. How John could hear anything of Jesus’ works in prison was possible in various ways; most naturally it was through his disciples, with whom he was permitted to have intercourse. Luke 7:18.

τὰ ἔργα] are the deeds, the first element in the ποιεῖν τε καὶ διδάσκειν (Acts 1:1). These were for the most part miracles, though there is no reason to suppose that they were exclusively so. See on John 5:36.

πέμψας] absolutely, Xen. Anab. vii. 1. 2; Hell. iii. 2. 9; Thuc. i. 91. 2; Bornem. Schol. in Luc. p. lxv. The following διὰ τῶν μαθητ. αὐτοῦ belongs to εἶπεν αὐτῷ, not to πέμψας (de Wette), because this latter connection would involve the supposition of a Hebraism, שָׁלַח בְּיַד, 1 Samuel 16:20, 1 Kings 2:25, Exodus 4:13, which is in itself unnecessary.

Matthew 11:2-6. Message from the Baptist (Luke 7:18-23).

2–19. Concerning John the Baptist

His message to Jesus 2–6. His position as a Prophet 7–14. His relation to Jesus and to his contemporaries 15–19.

St Luke 7:18-352. in the prison] At Machærus. See note, ch. Matthew 14:3. For “two of his disciples” read, on the best MS. authority, by means of his disciples.

Matthew 11:2. Τοῦ Χριστοῦ, of Christ) Those works which it was the part of the Messiah to perform.[508]—μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, of His disciples) whom He wished to confirm and resign to Christ.[509]

[508] Jesus had done similar works before John was imprisoned; but now. He did such works in much greater numbers.—V. g.

[509] He does not seem to have entertained any doubt himself as to Christ.—V. g.


(1) Vers. 2-6: The Baptist's question, and its answer: the Coming One has come.

(2) Vers. 7-15: Jesus' recognition of the greatness of John as herald.

(3) Vers. 16-19: Yet both John and he himself are rejected.

(4) Vers. 20-24: Woe on those who disregard the signs of God's work. Verses 2-6. - The Baptist's question, and its answer. Parallel passage: Luke 7:18-23. Verse 2. - Now when John had (omit, with the Revised Version) heard in the prison; i.e. Machaerus (Schurer, 1. 2:27; comp. Matthew 3:1, note; Matthew 14:1, note). Matthew alone tells us that he was already in prison. The works of Christ; of the Christ (Revised Version); τοῦ Ξριστοῦ. Not the proper name, but the official title (Matthew 1:16, 17, notes). The title may be merely due to the evangelist's narrative, or may represent the actual terms in which the message was brought to John. It brings out the pathos of the situation. John had prepared the way of the Christ, and had at the baptism taken part in his anointing. Yet of all the works that the Christ now did there was none to set his kinsman and herald free. He sent two of his disciples; by his disciples (Revised Version). Possibly the slight difference between διά, the true reading here, and δύο, which is genuine in Luke, points to the common source (observe here a Greek source) having been written, but with the close similarity in sound this need not have been the case. Observe that the true reading lays slightly more emphasis on the fact of the inquiry coming from John himself (vide infra). "Sent by" is the equivalent of the Hebrew שלח ביד (Exodus 4:13; 1 Samuel 16:20; 1 Kings 2:25; comp. also Revelation 1:1). Matthew 11:2Two of his disciples (δύο)

But the correct reading is διά, by. He sent by his disciples. So Rev.

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